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Sender: Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
From: Victor Fischer <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 11:34:00 -0800
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Dear Mr. Severtson:
        For Clemens's comments on marriage, you might want to take a
look at his letters written during his courtship of Olivia Langdon and
just before and after their wedding (*Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 3:
1869,* and *Volume 4: 1870-1871* [University of California Press, 1992
and 1995]). There are so many good ones that it is hard to choose, but here
are a few samples:

        "This is your birthday darling, & you are 24. May you treble your
age, in happiness & peace, & I be with you to love you & cherish you all
the long procession of years! I have kept this day & honored this
anniversary alone, in solitary state--the anniversary of an event which
was happening when I was a giddy school-boy a thousand miles away, &
played heedlessly all that day & slept heedlessly all that night
unconscious that it was the mightiest day that had ever winged its
viewless hours over my head--unconscious that on that day, two journeys
were begun, wide as the poles apart, two paths marked out, which,
wandering & wandering, now far & now near, were still narrowing, always
narrowing toward one point & one blessed consummation, & these the goal
of twenty-four years' marching!--unconscious I was, in that day of my
heedless boyhood, that an event had just transpired, so tremendous that
without it all my future life had been a sullen pilgrimage, but with it
that same future was saved!--a sun had just peered above the horizon
which should rise & shine out of the zenith upon those coming years &
fill them with light & warmth, with peace & blessedness, for all time."
[28 November 1869, written just after their formal engagement, *Volume
3,* 412-13]

"I plainly see, now, why Joe Goodman gradually lost all interest in his
poetry (he was a born poet) & finally lost all ambition in that direction
& ceased to write. The one whose applause would have been dearer to him &
more potent than that of all the world beside, could not help him, or
encourage him or spur him, because she was far below his intellectual
level & could not appreciate the work of his brain or feel an interest in
it. When I told him you took care of my sketches for me & listened with a
lively interest to any manuscript of mine before it was printed, he
dropped an unconscious remark that was so full of pathos--so fraught with
'It might have been'--that my heart ached for him. He *could* have been
so honored of men, & so loved by all for whom poetry has a charm, but
for the dead weight & clog upon his winged genius, of a wife whose soul
could have no companionship save with the things of the dull earth.
        "But I am blessed above my kind, with *another self*--a life
companion who is *part of me*--part of my heart, & flesh & spirit--& not
a fellow-pilgrim who lags far behind or flies ahead, or soars above me.
Side by side, my darling, we walk the ways of life; & the ray of light
that falls upon the one, illumines the face of the other; the cloud that
darkens the hope of one casts its sable shadow upon the other; & the
storms that come will beat upon no single head, but both will feel their
might & brave their desolation." [10 January 1870 to Olivia L. Langdon,
written less than a month before their wedding, *Volume 4,* 17-18]

        "I have had so much to do of late (had so much 'setting around'
to do, being now in the fourth week of the honeymoon,} that I have had no
comfortable opportunity to answer your welcome letter.
        "I wish you had told me--you experienced people--if it is always
as pleasant as it is now. If all one's married days are as happy as these
new ones have been to me, I have deliberately fooled away 30 years of my
life. If it were to do over again I would marry in early infancy instead
of wasting time cutting teeth & breaking crockery." [6 March 1870 to
Robert M. and Louise M. Howland, *Volume 4,* 87]

I hope this is helpful. Yours sincerely,

Victor Fischer
Mark Twain Project