April 30, 1894

Mark Twain on the French: No Humor, No Depth, No Compass, No Balance, No…

Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages
SMC 1695
It isn’t any use, Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) begins: Madame Blanc has got herself into a snit and there is nothing he can do about it. He did not mean to offend her; it is her French obtusenesses, and not he, which is to blame. In fact, she owes herself an apology...
If she had been properly constructed she would not have perceived any offense: I didn't construct her, & am not responsible for her defects. Whenever I try to lie in earnest I fail to deceive.  If I should try to make her believe I am distressed because I have offended her, I shouldn't "arrive." I have committed no offense, either by fact, act or intention, & so I know I couldn't successfully pretend to be sorry - for a thing which hasn't occurred.  You see, the whole trouble lies in the French character. It hasn't a shed of humor in it, consequently there is no depth to it: its compass, regulator, balance-wheel, is lacking.  When you have hurt a Frenchman, you have hurt a child: you can't reason with him, you can only kiss him & pet him & flatter him. If I come across Mme. B I mean to tell her I was not intending to hurt her. I don't imagine it will do any good: but I couldn't say any more & make it sound sincere.

Added is that he that he leaves for Paris soon to join the family in going to Aix-les-Bains for Livy’s gout; Susy is getting stronger and healthier; and he hopes they all might again soon get together.
Autograph Letter Signed ("S.L. Clemens"), 4 pages, octavo, The Players, 16 Gramercy Park (N.Y., N.Y.), April 30, 1894. To Grace E. King.
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