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A Visit to His House in Hartford - His Singular Behavior
The New York Sun has the following extract from a private letter to a gentleman in New York City:
HARTFORD, Oct. 18. - I called yesterday upon our old friend Clemens, better known to the police as Mark Twain, for the purpose of ascertaining the truth of certain stories which have reached me of late regarding the present condition of his fine mind.
Clemens lives in a surprising house on Farmington avenue, in the outskirts of the city. The resources of taste and wealth have been lavished upon this residence, and the result is a structure architecturally midway between a medieval church and a modern game of baseball. Herein Mark lives the elegant life of a man of leisure, cutting coupons, smoking long and strong pipes from morning to night, and drinking lager beer, which he buys by the keg, and often.
I was shown into the library, the appointments of which are characteristic of the owner's originality. The tints are all neutral and the furniture of the homeliest and plainest description. On the study table stood a plaster bust of John Calvin, on whose face somebody had inked a goatee and festooned moustaches. The charm of the room is in the immense open fireplace, where generous logs were burning upon old-fashioned brass andirons. The mantlepiece is of heavy black oak, purchased by Mr. Clemens in England. Over the fireplace is a brass plate, on which the following inscription is engraved in old English text:
"A HANDSOME MAN IS THE ORNAMENT
OF HIS OWN HOUSE."
While I was reading this legend our friend came in. He is as tall and as sad-eyed as ever. The unequal disposition of flesh upon his face, which is pulpy in places and lean in others, tells of the struggle for supremacy that is going on within his tissues between the fat-producing beer and the fat-destroying tobacco. The tobacco appears to be getting the better of the beer.
Clemens came in, wearing a long dressing gown of sombre hue, and after glancing furtively around the room advanced and took my hand. "Hush!" he said. "You must go instantly. We are observed. Do you not hear their derisive laughter? Fly, my friend, fly at once!"
"They are not laughing at us," I replied, humoring his strange fancy. "They are laughing over your books -- your jokes."
"Now look here, pard," he said, laying his sinewy hand upon my shoulder and dragging me toward the door. "That was a million, ten million years ago. I know the humorous laugh, and I know the political laugh. Escape without delay. If they capture us here together they will make you president and me inspector of elections for this ward."
I tried to soothe him, but in vain.
"There was a time, ages and ages now gone by," he continued, gazing abstractedly into the fire, "when it was my ambition to be inspector of elections for this ward. I worked for it; I pulled wires for it; I prevaricated, aye, falsehooded, to compass it. They promised to make me inspector of elections if I would preside at a political meeting in Hartford -- a town on the Connecticut river -- and make a funny speech. Ha! I hear their fiendish laughter still. It has rung in my ears these centuries. They gave the place to another man. I staked my soul and lost it. You come here to jeer at me, to scoff! But I am a desperate man. See here!"
He seized the tongs and with one powerful blow scattered John Calvin into a thousand fragments. Then he turned on me. Seeing that it was useless to reason with him in his present frame of mind I fled.
Clemens has done many things lately which give his friends natural alarm. Last week he hoisted a little flag of black crape on each of the numerous lightning-rods which adorn his mansion. Last Sunday he walked slowly up the aisle of the Rev. Mr. Twichell's church, stood a moment before the desk, and then turned and fled, uttering piercing shrieks. Yesterday he attended a match game of the California polo players, who are exhibiting at the trotting park, insisting upon mounting an almost unmanageable mustang, known as the "bucking horse," and rode wildly up and down Asylum street shouting, "woe! woe unto Israel!" His actions are especially queer at or near the full of the moon.