CLEMENS, SAMUEL LANGHORNE. 1835-1910.
Autograph Letter Signed ("Sam."), 3 pp recto and verso, 8vo, Elmira, NY, February 5, 1869, to his "Dear Mother & Brother & Sisters & Nephew & Niece, & Margaret," with autograph envelope with imprint of his future father-in-law, Jervis Langdon, and addressed to Clemens' sister, Mrs William A. Moffett of St. Louis, envelope worn, letter fine.
Provenance: prominent Twain scholar and collector Chester L. Davis, 1903-1987 (Christie's New York, June 9, 1992, lot 35).
"LO! THE PROPHECY IS FULFILLED." TWAIN ANNOUNCES HIS ENGAGEMENT TO LIVY LANGDON. Ardent and characteristic letter in which Mark Twain announces his engagement to his entire family in no blushing terms. In full: "My dear Mother & Brother & Sisters & Nephew & Niece, & Margaret: This is to inform you that on yesterday, the 4th of February, I was duly & solemnly & irrevocably engaged to be married to Miss Olivia L. Langdon, of Elmira, New York. Amen. She is the best girl in all the world, & the most sensible, & I am just as proud of her as I can be.
It may be a good while before we are married, for I am not rich enough to give her a comfortable home right away, & I don't want anybody's help. I can get an eighth of the Cleveland Herald for $25,000, & have it so arranged that I can pay for it as I earn the money with my unaided hands. I shall look around a little more, & if I can do no better elsewhere, I shall take it.
I am not worrying about whether you will love my future wife or notif you know her twenty-four hours & then don't love her, you will accomplish what nobody else has ever succeeded in doing since she was born. She just naturally drops into everybody's affections that comes across her. My prophecy was correct. She said she never could or would love mebut she set herself the task of making a Christian of me. I said she would succeed, but that in the meantime she would unwittingly dig a matrimonial pit & end up tumbling into it& lo! the prophecy is fulfilled. She was in New York a day or two ago, & George Wiley & his wife Clara know her now. Pump them, if you want to. You shall see her before very long. Love to all. Affect'ly / Sam. P.S. Shall be here a week."
Twain and Langdon first met at the end of 1867 and attended a reading by Charles Dickens together. Twain courted her mainly by letter throughout 1868; she rejected his first proposal but accepted his second and they were married a year later. Their union lasted 34 years and, despite the death of two children and periodic financial troubles, the marriage itself was a happy one. Published in Love Letters of Mark Twain, p 64.