Mark Twain, at 46, Yearned to Be Boy, But on His Terms
DALLAS, Tex., Nov. 5 (AP) - When he was 46 years old, Mark Twain dreamed of being a boy again but only on condition that summer always reign, that he be a cub pilot on a Mississippi boat, and that the magnolias always bloom.
His dreams were made public this week. They were contained in five letters written in 1881 to a 12-year-old Dallas boy, David Watt Bowser, member of a pioneer Dallas family. The letters were found in an old and forgotten lockbox.
Bowser, long since dead, wrote the humorist asking if he would like to be a boy again. Twain answered with an emphatic "no" unless certain "modifying stipulations" could be met.
"The main conditions would be that I should emerge from boyhood as a cub pilot on a Mississippi boat and that by and by become a pilot and remain one," Twain wrote.
He also demanded "summer always," that the magnolias always bloom and that on the boat he not be given the midnight watch "because it makes one feel so dreary and low spirited and forlorn to rise out of a pleasant sleep at dead midnight and go perch away up there in the pilothouse in the midst of wide darkness with apparently nobody alive in the desperate world but him."
"Yes, under such conditions, Master Wattie, I would be a boy again," he wrote, signing himself S. L. Clemens, his real name.
The letters are in the possession of Mrs. E. C. Stradley of Dallas and will be given to the University of Texas.
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