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    Samuel Clemens' ("Mark Twain") Reading Copy of The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay, by His Nephew George Otto Trevelyan. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1876. 415pp, 8vo (9" x 6.25"). Publisher's black cloth, brown-coated endpapers; top edge Gilt, spine about gone, extremities rubbed, text shaken. The first twelve signatures have come free of the binding, and several pages are loose. Volume 1 (only). From Clemens' library, copiously annotated and likely used as a source book for delivering a lecture about Macaulay.

    Containing more than 70 pencil annotations (totaling about 330 words) on 44 pages; an 32 additional pages are heavily marked with marginal rules, underlinings, and other markings (all in pencil). In 1876, the same year this work appeared, Clemens prepared a paper, "Life of Lord Macaulay," for the "Saturday Morning Club in Hartford" (meetings were held at his home). The majority of the notes in the first 90 pages were likely made in preparation for this lecture (the original lecture program is in the Mark Twain papers, but there are no known copies of the actual lecture). It is known that Clemens' lecture focused on Macaulay's advanced intellectual development from a very young age. The book is marked in such a way that Twain could have read from it during his talk; and the lengthy annotations and emendations may indeed be talking points.

    The notes after page 90 are of a different sort, and seem more like reflections upon the text, personal notes, and grammatical corrections. On page 116 Clemens marks the passage "Every magazine must contain a certain quantity of mere ballast, of no value but as it occupies space;" and in the margin writes, "Send that to Howells with next article" (William Dean Howells , editor of Harper's Monthly who edited Adventures of Huckleberry Finn). Clemens has marked passages on pages 150 and 151 that describe the state of the British Parliament at the end of the Napoleonic War. He notes in the margin of page 150, "America to-day - 1876", and makes the identical note in the margin of 151. Clearly a reflection of Clemens' thoughts on the challenges America faced during Reconstruction after the Civil War. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published this same year; its sequel Huckleberry Finn would follow eight years later and would take a markedly dark turn, and Clemens' notes bear evidence that his thoughts were heavy with the state of the nation. Also on page 150 (and in a much lighter vein), Clemens records a charming moment with his daughter Susie: "Susie's aphorism (aged 4) 'How easy it is to break things.' Her first remark in the morning sitting up in bed." Susie was born March 19th 1872.

    Clemens long held Macaulay in high regard and Trevelyan's Life & Letters of Macaulay was one of his favorite books on Macaulay. According to Isabel Lyon (Clemens' personal assistant during 1902-1909), Clemens was reading this work as late as August 25, 1907, when after dinner she "found him lying with his beautiful feet uncovered and reading Macaulay's Life & Letters. He dropped it to his breast and chatted a few minutes." Lyon records a few other times Clemens referred to this work, most notably on Sunday March 25, 1906: "It was a delight to hear Mr. Clemens and Mr. Howells talk of Macaulay and Trevelyan's Life and Letters."

    This book remained in the family until 1951 until it was sold at auction by Clara Clemens at the "Mark Twain Library Auction". Volume II of this set was inadvertently separated from the present and sold separately as lot 14c. Its present location is not traced in Gribben (volume 2, p. 712).

    Provenance: Chester L. Davis, Karanovich Collection.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
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