Mark Twain Letter To His Mother Jane Lampton Clemens and Family as Twain prepared to sail on ship Quaker City to Europe and Middle East which is the trip he wrote the book Innocents Abroad about >
“Jane Lampton Clemens and Family 1 June 1867 • New York, N.Y.
Westminster Hotel, New York, June 1.
I know I ought to write oftener (just got your last,) & more fully, but I can not overcome my repugnance to telling what I am doing or what I expect to do or propose to do. Then, what have I left to write about? Manifestly nothing.
It isn’t any use for me to talk about the voyage, because I can have no faith in that voyage or any other voyage till the ship [ un ]is under way. How do I know she will ever sail? I My passage is paid, & if the ship sails, I sail in her—but I make no calculations, have bought no cigars, no sea-going clothing,—have made no preparation whatever—shall not pack my trunk till the morning we sail. Yet my hands are full of what I am going to do the day before we sail—& what isn’t done that day will go undone.1
All I do know or feel, is, that I am wild with impatience to move—move—Move! Half a dozen times I have wished I had sailed long ago in some ship that wasn’t going to keep me chained here to chafe for lagging ages while she got ready to go. Curse the endless delays! They always kill me—they make me neglect every duty & then I have a conscience that tears me like a wild beast. I wish I never had to stop anywhere a month. I do more mean things, the moment I get a chance to fold my hands & sit down than ever I can get forgiveness for.”
One of the great impersonators of Mark Twain in the last few decades is McAvoy Layne who calls Incline Village, Nevada on the north shore of Lake Tahoe home. Layne has played Mark Twain on stage over 4,000 times and below is a video of one of those performances that McAvoy calls the “Ghost of Mark Twain” and a great performance it is!
In 2016 John Burke of the Las Vegas PBS program Outdoor Nevada caught up with McAvoy Layne at Lake Tahoe for “A Day with Mark Twain” which takes folks to Virginia City, Carson City, and the spot where Samuel Clemens first spotted Lake Tahoe on the eastside of the Lake. McAvoy Layne’s website is —–> www.ghostoftwain.com
Samuel Clemens and a friend hiked from Carson City to Lake Tahoe, a distance of 20-something miles, in August/September 1861 and spent two weeks at the Lake which Mark Twain later detailed in his book Roughing It >
“It was the end of August, and the skies were cloudless and the weather superb. In two or three weeks I had grown wonderfully fascinated with the curious new country and concluded to put off my return to “the States” awhile. I had grown well accustomed to wearing a damaged slouch hat, blue woolen shirt, and pants
North Lake Tahoe, Nevada + California
crammed into boot-tops, and gloried in the absence of coat, vest and braces. I felt rowdyish and “bully,” (as the historian Josephus phrases it, in his fine chapter upon the destruction of the Temple). It seemed to me that nothing could be so fine and so romantic. I had become an officer of the government, but that was for mere sublimity. The office was an unique sinecure. I had nothing to do and no salary. I was private Secretary to his majesty the Secretary and there was not yet writing enough for two of us. So Johnny K——and I devoted our time to amusement. He was the young son of an Ohio nabob and was out there for recreation. He got it. We had heard a world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally curiosity drove us thither to see it. Three or four members of the Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp. We strapped a couple of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started—for we intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy. We were on foot. The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback. We were told that the distance was eleven miles. We tramped a long time on level ground, and then toiled laboriously up a mountain about a thousand miles high and looked over. No lake there. We descended on the other side, crossed the valley and toiled up another mountain three or four thousand miles high, apparently, and looked over again. No lake yet. We sat down tired and perspiring, and hired a couple of Chinamen to curse those people who had beguiled us. Thus refreshed, we presently resumed the march with renewed vigor and determination. We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”
“Livy, my darling, I want you to be sure and remember to have, in the bathroom when I arrive, a bottle of Scotch whiskey, a lemon, some crushed sugar, and a bottle of Angostura bitters. Ever since I have been in London I have taken in a wine glass what is called a cock-tail (made with these ingredients) before breakfast, before dinner, and just before going to bed.” Mark Twain, Letter to his wife Olvia, 1874
“Training–training is everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us.” Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, 1889
“Behold, the fool saith, “Put not all thine eggs in the one basket” – which is but a matter of saying, “Scatter your money and your attention”; but the wise man saith, “Pull all your eggs in the one basket and – WATCH THAT BASKET.” Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson, 1893