While there is scant evidence that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) ever visited Pfaff's bar (only one source suggests that he did [Rawson 99]), he was connected to the Pfaff's bohemians in a number of ways.
Twain was born in Missouri and lived in Hannibal (1839-1853) on the Mississippi River which provided much of the background for his most well-known works, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). After the death of his father left the family in straitened circumstances, young Clemens was apprenticed to a printer, which stimulated his interest in journalism and writing; using his skills as a printer, he traveled up the East coast and back to the Midwest. In 1857 he served an apprenticeship to a river pilot, earning his pilot's license by learning to read the river and gathering material for his later Life on the Mississippi. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Twain traveled west with his brother and tried his hand at prospecting.
By 1862 he was a reporter in Virginia City using the pseudonym "Mark Twain"--a river pilot's catchphrase measuring depth--when he met humorist lecturer Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne), who encouraged him to take up his pen. Twain journeyed next to California where he met Bret Harte, into whose literary circle Pfaff's regular Adah Menken would later venture. During this period he wrote the "Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog" (1865), which was published in Clapp's Saturday Press. The story launched his career and led to the publication of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, and Other Sketches (1867) by Charles Henry Webb, a visitor to Pfaff's. In "A Private History of the 'Jumping Frog' Story" (1890), Twain states that he wrote up the story at Artemus Ward's urging for Ward's publisher Carleton who then sent it to Henry Clapp, "and Clapp put it in his Saturday Press, and it killed that paper with a suddenness that was beyond praise. At least the paper died with that issue, and none but envious people have ever tried to rob me of the honor and credit of killing it. The 'Jumping Frog' was the first piece of writing of mine that spread itself through the newspapers and brought me into public notice" (Twain 456).
While publishing his novels and essays, Twain lectured abroad and in the United States and wrote pieces for the Buffalo Express newspaper and the Galaxy. He also befriended William Dean Howells, who was repelled by the Bohemian permissiveness he found at Pfaff's. In 1894 Twain's investment in the type-setting machine and his failed publishing house led to bankruptcy, so he embarked on a lecture tour to repay his debts, which he did by 1898. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature by Oxford in 1907 and was at work on his autobiography (published posthumously in 1924) when he died at his home in Connecticut.
Clemens and Aldrich began their "episolatory acquaintance" with "a very savage letter which Mark Twain had written to Mr. Aldrich, not as a comrade and fellow worker, but to the unscrupulous and unreliable editor of 'Every Saturday.'" Aldrich had taken some "rhymes" from another periodical (where they were credited to Mark Twain), printed them in "Every Saturday" and criticized them as being poor imitations of Bret Harte's "Heathen Chinee." Twain corrected the error and demanded a printed correction, which Alrich fulfilled (127).
After a year of "belligerent correspondence" between the two men, Aldrich and Clemens first met. Aldrich brought his new friend to his home for dinner. Mrs. Aldrich recounts her displeasure at her husband's dinner invitation to a seemingly intoxicated man; after an icy evening which included several attempts by Mr. Aldrich to warm up his wife's demeanor, the guest excused himself. After a bout of hysterics prompted by her husband's questions as to why she was so rude to their guest, Mrs. Aldrich found out that Mark Twain had been their intended dinner guest and that the behavior she mistook for intoxication was really his mannerisms and speech patterns. Twain did not learn of her mistake for several years (127-132).
Mark Twain worked with Bret Harte on the "Golden Era," where he became famous for his columns. "The 'Golden Era' was said to be the cradle and grave of many a high hope of budding genius" (139).
The Aldriches were invited to visit the Clemenses in Hartford, Conn. Other guests included Mr. Howells and Mr. Osgood (143). Of their first dinner during their visit, Mrs. Aldrich writes: "Never again can there be such talk as scintillated about the table that night," where Alrich, Howells, Clemens, and Charles Dudley Warner were gathered (at the Warner's home)(145). When they returned to the Clemens' house that evening, the group stayed up practically all night talking and laughing (146). The first morning they arrived, Twain reprimanded the Aldriches for walking too heavily and upsetting and worsening his wife's headache. The Aldriches moved around on tiptoe and found out later, at breakfast, that Twain had played a practical joke on them (147-148).
Mrs. Aldrich also writes of Mrs. Clemens' deep religious belief, and how "doctrines and creeds" would later become distant to the pair. She also recounts how the two met, and how Clemens had fallen for his wife after seeing a miniature of her in her brother's (Charles Langdon) room on the steamship Quaker City, in 1867 (149). He would meet her after the cruise, when he was invited to dine with the Langdon family in New York, at the St. Nicholas Hotel (151). After this meeting, he was invited to visit with the family whenever he was in New York; Clemens had many speaking engagements in New York and was able to visit quite often (154-155). When the Aldriches visited the Clemens's in Hartford, they had been married four years (156). Mrs. Aldrich recalls that Mrs. Clemens used to refer to her husband as "Youth! O, Youth!" (160).
According to Mrs. Aldrich, 1867 was also Clemens' first year of literary success and recognition on the East Coast, with "The Jumping Frog" seeing publication in several periodicals. While waiting in the shipping office of the Quaker City, Clemens overheard a clerk list his name with pride when asked what "notables" were on the ship (149-150).
Mrs. Aldrich provides a description of Clemens in these early days: "Mr. Clemens was at this time thirty-one or two years old; a sparely built man of medium height; a finely shaped, classical head, covered with thick, shaggy red-colored hair; a mustache of the same tawny hue; eyes which glimmered, keen and twinkling, under overhanging, bushy eyebrows, each hair of which ruffled itself, taking part with unwarrantable intrusion in Mr. Clemens's moods, were they grave or gay. Once, in my remembrance, so belligerant and fierce was their aspect, that his listener, who had the temerity to differ with the views he was expressing, begged the privilege of brushing the eyebrows down, that she might have courage to continue the argument" (150).
Mrs. Aldrich claims that Clemens's coarseness of manner was developed after his years on the Mississippi and in California: "With that sharp schooling he had become too well acquainted with the coarser types of human nature." She continues: "He was born with a marvellous gift of phrase, and his one-time friends could not resist the temptation of developing his profanity to an incomparable perfection. He said to a friend who remonstrated with him on the habit, 'In certain trying circumstances, desparate circumstances, urgent circumstances, profanity furnished a relief denied even to prayer'" (150-151).
Clemens, Aldrich, Curtis, and Howells were among the speakers at the "Authors' Reading" done by the friends of Longfellow for the Longfellow Memorial Fund (256). Twain spoke first and announced the title of his talk as "English as She is Taught" (257-258).[pages:127-132,139,143-160,219,229-231,256,257-258]
Twain was one of several parties who contributed ten dollars to purchase a horse and buggy for Whitman in the winter of 1884-1885 to help him get around in light of his worsening lameness (522). Twain was also one of the notable attendees at Whitman's Lincoln lecture at Madison Square Garden in the spring of 1887 (525).[pages:96,182,390,522,525]
"This same discipline was enjoyed-among later American authors-by Mark Twain, Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Walt Whitman, all of whom were scrupulously careful writers" (49).
Howells wrote: "'I did not care,' said Mr. Howells of Mr. Clemens, 'to expose him to the critical edge of that Cambridge acquaintance which might not have appreciated him at, say, his transatlantic value. In America his popularity was as instant as it was vast. But it must be acknowledged that for a much longer time here than in England polite learning hesitated his praise.... I went with him to see Longfellow, but I do not think Longfellow made much of him, and Lowell made less" (293).
"[Mark Twain's] home from 1871-1891 was in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was a neighbor of Charles Dudley Warner and an intimate of the Reverend Joseph Twitchell (the original of Harris in 'A Tramp Abroad'), and where William Dean Howells, his friend of over forty years, often visited him" (384).
Howells wrote a poem called "My Mark Twain" (393).[pages:mentioned all throughout]
Twain's publication of the story that would come to be known as "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" in the Saturday Press is recounted here.[pages:9]
Clemens was a "new friend" of Aldrich's in 1870, when the Aldrich's were living in Boston. According to Greenslet, the two shared a "lifelong intimacy" (94). Greenslet reprints some of Aldrich's correspondence with Clemens (97-98).
Greenslet mentions that in December, 1874, when Aldrich requested a photograph of Mark Twain, he was deluged with daily photographs from the author. This reached a head when Aldrich protested after two weeks of photographs and was sent twenty separate photos on New Year's Day, 1875. Greenslet reprints the correspondence that discussed this (112-117).[pages:94--99, 112-117]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Samuel Langhorne Clemens (61).[pages:61]
Clemens is identified as a contributor to The Saturday Press.[pages:58]
Clemens was a Pfaff's visitor after the war.[pages:as Samuel Clemens, 115]
Levin refers to Twain as the "Sagebrush Bohemian" of the Golden Era (7). Twain was published in The Saturday Press.[pages:7,91,94,116,147,166-174,176,198]
As a young writer, Twain was helped by Henry Clapp, Jr.[pages:25]
Mott mentions the publication of Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" in The Saturday Press.[pages:40]
Twain gave a "humorous lecture May 15, 1867, at Irving Hall on "The Sandwich Islands, then delivered 'prior to his departure for the Holy Land.'" Odell mentions that this was most likely a witty and amusing event. Twain also gave this talk at Cooper Institute on May 6 (227-228). On May 10, 1867, Twain spoke about the Sandwich Islands at the Athenaeum; these lectures were described as "serio-comic" (253). Twain lectured March 16, 1869, at the Newton Y.M.C.A. on "American Vandals Abroad" (553). He lectured at the Bedford Avenue Reformed Church for the Brooklyn Library Association, E.D., Dec.1, 1869, on "The Sandwich Islands" (686).[pages:227-228,253,553,686]
Parry mentions that the second run of the Saturday Press ended by "introducing Mark Twain and his 'Jumping Frog' to the Atlantic coast and actually starting the snowball of his nation-wide fame" (25). Twain is also mentioned as a contributor to the Golden Era (29). Twain and Bret Harte would be made honorary members of the California Bohemian Club in 1873 (219).[pages:25,29,219,267]
There is an illustration in Rawson of Josh Billings, Mark Twain, and Petroleum V. Nasby, where the three men are identified as "Three American humorists, in the Pfaffian Days" (99).[pages:99]
"Mark Twain, however, was not as taken with Menken as other male writers were and was actually quite critical of what Thomas Schirer calls Menken's 'substitution of sexual illusion for acting ability.' Twain lambasted her unmotivated cavorting in Mazeppa, and referred to her as 'that manly young female,' [...]" (73).
Sentilles notes that Twain compared Pfaff's to the San Francisco bohemians who called themselves "companions of the jug."[pages:193]
Stansell notes that like Howells and Whitman, Twain got his start in journalism as a printer (114).[pages:114]
In reference to the problem of "intelligent contrabands" and incorrect reporting that occurred in the rush to get news to press during the Civil War, Mark Twain asked everyone present at an 1869 New York Press Club dinner to "raise their glasses to 'the journalist's truest friend -- the late "Reliable Contraband," one whose fervent fancy wrought its miracles solely for our enrichment and renown." Twain continued:
"...When armies fled in panic...and the great cause seemed lost beyond all hope of succor, who was it that turned the tide of war and gave victory to the vanquished? The Reliable Contraband...Who took Richmond the first time? The Reliable Contraband. Who took it every time until the last? The Reliable Contraband. When we needed a bloodless victory, to whom did we look to win it? The Reliable Contraband...Thunder and lightning never stopped him; annihilated railroads never delayed him; the telegraph never overtook him; military secrecy never crippled his knowledge...
No journalist among us can lay his hand on his heart and say he never lied with such pathos, such unction, such exquisite symmetry, such sublimity of conception and such fidelity of execution, as when he did it through and by the inspiration of this regally gifted marvel of mendacity, the lamented Reliable Contraband. Peace to his ashes!"
Mark Twain was not a war correspondent (246-247).
Starr mentions that after his days as a war correspondent, Charles Henry Webb was a close friend of Mark Twain (260).[pages:246-247,260,PlateXII (ill)]
Twain recounts how "Professor Van Dyke, of Princeton" sought to show him that the "Jumping Frog" story was thousands of years old (446). Twain concedes that the story the "professor" sent him is the same as his own, "in every essential. It is not strung out as I have strung it out, but it is all there" Twain gives several reasons why this is both "curious" and "interesting" (447). Twain then presents both the Greek and Californian stories for the "reader's examination" (448-50). Twain also presents his re-translations of the story from the French back to English (451-53).[pages:446-453]
While mining for gold in Nevada, Twain became the editor for the Virginia City "Enterprise" in 1862.[pages:648-649, 648(ill.)]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015