Mark Twain In Hartford: The Happy Years

PrintPrintEmailEmail

Ah, well, Susy died at home. She had that privilege. … If she had died in another house—well, I think I could not have borne that. To us, our house was not unsentient matter—it had a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us with; and approvals, and solicitudes, and deep sympathies; it was of us, and we were in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benediction. We never came home from an absence that its face did not light up and speak out its eloquent welcome—and we could not enter it unmoved.

Almost two years alter Susy’s death, Twain wrote the following entry in his notebook:

June 11, ’98. Clara’s birthday three days ago. Not a reference to it has been made by any member of the family in my hearing; no presents, no congratulations, no celebrations. Up to a year and ten months ago all our birthdays from the beginning of the family life were annually celebrated with loving preparations followed by a joyous and jovial outpouring of thanksgivings. The birthdays were milestones on the march of happiness. Then Susy died. All anniversaries of whatever sort perished with her. As we pass them now they are only gravestones. We cannot keep from seeing them as we go by but we can keep silent about them and look the other way and put them out of memory as they sink out of sight behind us.

And later:

The spirits of the dead hallow a house for me—Susy died in the house we built in Hartford. Mrs. Clemens would never enter it again. But it made the house dearer to me. I visited it once since ; when it was tenantless and forlorn, but to me it was a holy place and beautiful.

On April 19, 1902, the following notice appeared in the Hartford Courant: