January 17, 1886

Mark Twain Can’t Remember Recent Things or Much from Virginia City, But Vividly Recalls His “Hannibal Courier” Co-Workers

Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages
SMC 1699
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) declares that “recent names & things take no hold” on his “bald-headed memory; they slip-up & slide off” so he isn’t sure about Mrs. Brackett - but to the mention of names and things from thirty-five years ago, his memory is alert. Virginia City is a blur: he made such an innumerable host of acquaintances, he cannot name twenty from then with certainty. But the associates of his youth in Hannibal he recalls vividly; new acquaintances there averaged only about one a year, causing less wear & tear to the memory. He pleasantly remembers the printer Urban Hicks, and his young Hannibal Courier co-workers Pet McMurry & Wales McCormick, too:
 
& also the fencing-matches with column rules & quack medicine stereotypes; & lots of other things which would be rubbish in another man's mind, maybe, but I don't consider them so.

He saw Pet McMurry & Wales McCormick just the year before for the first time in 30 years – and if he could see Hicks in Hartford, he would “receive him with a barbecue & a torchlight procession.” He inquires what Hicks has been doing all these years, and says he shakes him by the hand and wishes him luck. Clemens’ adds that he is due to speak at a printer’s dinner that very night, and thanks his correspondent for giving him a text.
Autograph Letter Signed (“S.L. Clemens”), 3 pages, octavo, Hartford, January 17, 1886. To “Dear Sir.”
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