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[There is an error in this article pertaining to Mark Twain's children; his only son died in 1872.]

The New York Times, January 2, 1881


In a recent letter from Hartford, Conn., to the Burlington (Iowa) Hawk-Eye, Mr. R. J. Burdette writes:

"The pleasantest view I had of the city was from the cozy fireside in that wonderful home of Mr. S. L. Clemens, who was my host during my stay in Hartford. I am not a man addicted to cold weather. I am not sufficiently 'British' to wander through December and January in short checked coat and no ulster. I am given to much wrapping up when I do go out in the snow, and to very little going out in the snow at all. I begin to shiver with the first frost, and I keep it up until the following April. And so when I can sit down before a bright wood fire, and burn up cigars while somebody entertains me, I love the icy Winter.

"I think I have never been in a home more beautiful home-like than this palace of the king of humorists. The surroundings of the house are beautiful, and its quaint architecture, broad East Indian porticos, the Greek patterns in mosaic in the dark-red brick walls attract and charm the attention and good taste of the passer by, for the home, inside and out, is the perfection of exquisite taste and harmony. But with all its architectural beauty and originality, the elegance of its interior finish and decorations, the greatest charm about the house is the atmosphere of 'homelikeness' that pervades it. Charmingly as he can entertain thousands of people at a time from the platform, Mr. Clemens is even a more perfect entertainer in his home. The brightest and best sides of his nature shine out at the fireside. The humor and drollery that sparkle in his conversation is as utterly unaffected and natural as sunlight. Indeed, I don't believe he knows or thinks that most of his talk before the sparkling fire, up in the pleasant retirement of his billiard-room study, is marketable merchandise worth so much a page to the publishers, but it is. And it is not all drollery and humor. He is so earnest that his earnestness charms you fully as much as his brighter flashes, and once in a while there is in his voice an inflection of wonderful pathos, so touched with melancholy that you look into the kind, earnest eyes to see what thought has touched his voice. And he has a heart as big as his body; I believe there does not live a man more thoroughly unselfish and self-forgetful. Two little girls and a boy baby, bright-eyed, good-tempered, and wit a full head of hair as brown as his father's, assist Mrs. Clemens to fill the heart of the reigning humorist, and they do it most completely. Personally, Mr. Clemens is, perhaps, a little above the medium height, of good symmetrical physique, brown hair, scarcely touched with gray that curls over a high, white forehead; friendship in his eyes, hearty cordiality in the grasp of a well-shaped white hand, strong enough and heavy enough to be a manly hand; his age is 40 something, and he looks 35; in the evening after the lamps are lighted his face has a wonderfully boyish look, and he loves a good cigar even better than Grant does."

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