October 23, 1902

Mark Twain: "The American Historian of Joan of Arc Makes his Best Compliments..."

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Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), beginning in the third person,  declares that “the American historian of Joan of Arc” thanks Depew for the proffered opportunity of  meeting the Ambassador of that great country whose redemption Joan achieved “by her genius & consecrated with her life.” Then, switching to the first person, he regretfully declines the invitation, trusting that Depew will make the occasion a success: “this I do with full confidence, as knowing your all-comprehensive competency these many many pleasant years.”
 
Joan of Arc was Clemens’ favorite historical figure and in the early 1900s, he told her story in the form of a novel, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. It was his last novel, and he considered it his best.

Autograph Letter Signed (twice: as "Mark" in closing and as "S.L. Clemens" in the text), 1 page recto verso, octavo, on black-bordered mourning stationery, Riverdale-on-the Hudson [New York], no date [1902]. To Senator Chauncey Depew.

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Transcript

Riverdale
on the Hudson

Oct. 23.

Dear Depew:

The American historian of Joan of Arc makes his best compliments O-you, Sir, & thanks you for the opportunity you offer him of meeting the Ambassador of the great country whose redemption she achieved by her genius & consecrated with her life.

That is enough of third person & formality. I dearly wish I could be there, but as I cannot, I will trust you to make the occasion all it ought to be: &  this I do with full confidence, as knowing your all-comprehensive competency these many many pleasant years.

Sincerely & always yours,

MARK.

To Chauncey Depew, L.L.D., from S.L. Clemens ditto.