Mark Twain, 1866.
The artist Edward Jump (1831-83) will always be best known for his caricatures of San Francisco notables. His lithographs uniquely preserve the appearance of the city and its people in the 1860s. We are told of Jump that "men whom he had never before seen he would reproduce on his stone after having had but a glance of them." The dead metaphor "thumbnail sketch" springs to life when we learn that he really did sketch difficult faces on his thumbnail, "being able sometimes to draw ten heads on a single nail" (1).
I believe Jump also deserves credit for the earliest known graphic depiction of his friend, Mark Twain.
Edward Jump was born in Paris on 8 February 1831 to an English father and a French mother. He was raised and educated in France and in Australia. Of training in art we hear nothing; his friend and fellow caricaturist, Frank Bellew, later said that "being a genius he of course did not feel the necessity for study, and so was always decidedly defective in technique" (2). Aged twenty, he sailed from Le Havre to San Francisco, arriving on 10 November 1851. He tried mining in Tuolumne County, but found it easier to support himself as an artist. Constantly moving around Northern California, he learned the trade of lithography in San Francisco, where by 1863 his caricatures had a local following (3). Mark Twain puffed his friend's work in the papers, and spoke, in his debut as a public lecturer, of publishing a book on his recent Hawaii experiences "with illustrations by Jump" (4). This, without illustrations by Jump, would eventually become the second half of Roughing It.
A contemporary gave this description of Jump:
Just imagine a dark eyed, dark haired individual, about five feet in height, complexion slightly florid-more particularly after meeting with many friends; pale and nervous at other times, always moving with a nervous, jerking motion, occasionally rubbing his hands, more especially when a comical portraiture flits along beneath his shaggy brow . . . His eyes have the appearance of a cunning leer, or a foxy look. A detective officer would take him up upon suspicion; but a more plain, frank and firm person never looked square into the eyes of another (5).
In February 1866 Jump published his lithograph titled San Francisco Swimming Bath. It shows prominent citizens enjoying the city's latest innovation: a heated swimming pool. The facility, located on Third Street opposite South Park, had opened to the public the month before.
San Francisco Swimming Bath, by Edward Jump. February 1866. California Historical Society.
The figure in the lower left-hand corner must be Mark Twain: the moustache, the aquiline nose, the sloping shoulders, the angular jaw, are recognizable. More dapper than Bohemian, he tapers to a point, with tiny hands and feet. His hat is distinctively reportorial. But it is the figure standing to the left of him that clinches the identification.
Detail, San Francisco Swimming Bath.
L to R: Albert S. Evans; Mark Twain; Michael Reese.
This is certainly rival journalist Albert S. Evans (1831-72). He and Mark Twain are not in swimming costume, because they are not patrons: they are journalists covering the opening of the baths. They studiously avoid each other's gaze; for almost two years they had been embroiled in a war of words in their various newspapers. That this figure is Evans tends to corroborate the appearance that the other is Mark Twain.
At this time, Mark Twain was the San Francisco correspondent for Nevada's leading newspaper, the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and Evans was the local editor of the San Francisco Alta California. Both men really did attend the opening, which Mark Twain tells us was by invitation only--"two or three dozen invited guests in the new bath and a free champagne blow-out served up for them in an ante-room." Evans, writing in the bourgeois Alta, omits the blow-out and congratulates the owners on a promising new concern (6).
Journalistic feuds were a common enough way of generating copy, but no one doubts that this one was firmly grounded in authentic mutual distaste. They did not battle under their own names, but by their journalistic sobriquets: Samuel L. Clemens was "Mark Twain" or "the Bohemian of the Sage-Brush," Evans was "Stiggers" or "Fitz Smythe." Their deadliest shots were fired in the Nevada papers, beyond the reach of California's libel laws. In his weekly letter to the Gold Hill (Nevada) Evening News, Evans publicized Mark Twain's arrest for drunkenness, referring to "a stench which is only second in horrible density to that which prevails in the Police Court room when the Bohemian of the Sage-Brush is in the dock for being drunk over night" (7). Addressing his accuser as "Fitz Smythe," Mark Twain dealt the scorn out in slaps:
Fitz, you won't do. I have told you so fifty times, and I tell you again, that you won't do. I can warm you up with ten sentences, and make you dance like a hen on a hot griddle, any time, Fitz Smythe. I know your weak spot. I can touch you on the raw whenever I please, make you lose your temper and write the most spiteful, undignified things. You see you will always be a little awkward with a pen, Fitz, because your head isn't sound -- isn't well balanced; you have good points, you know, but they are kept down and crowded out by bad ones (8).
Jump's Swimming Bath lithograph followed just days after Mark Twain's own (verbal) caricature of Evans, printed in the San Francisco Golden Era on 21 January:
You ought to see him with his soldier coat on, and his mustashers sticking out strong like a cat-fish's horns, and them long laigs of his'n standing out so, like them two prongs they prop up a step-ladder with (9).
These characteristics, visible in Jump's picture, are confirmed by Evans's authorized portrait.
Albert S. Evans. Frontispiece to Our Sister Republic (1870).
One apparent obstacle to finding Mark Twain in Jump's picture is Evans's own claim that Mark Twain is not in it. In the Gold Hill Evening News of 3 March 1866, Evans wrote:
A Bohemian, well known to the denizens of the land of silver and sage-brush, and to the San Francisco police, has received a bitter disappointment during the past week. He had done his level best to get himself before the public in some manner, no matter how ridiculous, and had set his heart on being caricatured by Jump, as an acknowledgment of his being worthy of being ranked with the Emperor Norton, Dr. Ewer, and Mike Reese, among the characters of San Francisco. But alas, for the vanity of human ambition! Jump got out his grand caricature of the San Francisco swimming baths, and Washoe was unrepresented. Jump alleges as a reason for this slight, that he deals only in caricatures, and that the sage-brush Bohemian's face does not admit of caricaturing; it is a grand caricature by Dame Nature herself, beside which the proudest efforts of the eminent contortionist of other people's physiognomies is as nothing. But this reason does not satisfy the "great left-out," who still insists that something funny might be made out of his face, by hard work, in spite of the fact that Jump declares that he has turned the fellow's head in every possible direction -- it is not the first time it has been turned -- and examined it in all sorts of positions, and still finds nothing whatever in it (10).
Direct testimony that Clemens is not in Jump's picture must certainly be taken into account. Damaging as it must seem, however, it cannot be taken at face value: it is just one salvo of many in a long campaign of disinformation about Mark Twain, written for a distant readership. It is odd that Evans omits to mention that he himself has the honor of being caricatured in the "Bath." Is it possible he hadn't seen it? It may also be remembered that Mark Twain had already razzed Evans by claiming that he himself ("Fitz Smythe") was pictured among the swimmers, "naked or clad in tights, it is impossible to determine which," on the painted panorama on the front of the Swimming Bath building (11).
"Mike Reese," mentioned by Evans as one of the habitual "denizens" of Jump's pictures, is the massive individual to the right of the figure I am identifying as Mark Twain. He, too, is someone with whom Mark Twain was currently entangled. One of the city's richest men, Michael Reese (1817-78) was much in the news in February 1866, and Mark Twain, among others, handled him pretty roughly. Reese was being sued for $100,000 by a seamstress who claimed he had promised to marry her. In fact, at this moment, Reese was being sued by Jump himself, the artist claiming that Reese had not paid for a portrait he commissioned (12). Reese's reputation as a miser would later be redeemed by his many charitable bequests, which included $50,000 to the fledgling University of California Library; the Michael Reese Fund is still being used today to build the collections. Mark Twain's letters containing his comments on Reese, not reprinted since their original publication and surviving in just a single copy, are included in the Mark Twain Project's forthcoming edition of the San Francisco Correspondence, 1865-1866.
Richard Bucci, to whose research on the early journalism I am much indebted, suggests that Mark Twain may be depicted in a still earlier Jump lithograph. Earth Quakey Times commemorates the San Francisco earthquake of 8 October 1865.
Earth Quakey Times, by Edward Jump. October 1865. The Bancroft Library.
The figure clutching a lamp-post in the lower right corner could be intended for Mark Twain, but I am not sure. The discrepancy between this physiognomy and that in the Bath is jarring; Jump's caricatures are usually more consistent than this. The Earth Quakey Times figure, with its round head and baggy clothing, might be Bret Harte.
Detail, Earth Quakey Times; and photo of Bret Harte, 1861. Note the hats!
Jump left San Francisco for the East -- what Californians used to call "the States" -- late in 1866. His farewell to the city was The Last Jump, an unsigned and, we are told, freely distributed print. The artist's self-caricature shows him, small and hairy, departing the city in a hot air balloon.
The Last Jump, by Edward Jump. October 1866. M. H. De Young Memorial Museum.
In 1868 he married Emily Rogers, a light-opera soprano; they had a daughter, Mora Josephine. (Some sources give her name as Maria Josephine Jump.) Portrait-painting and cartooning, he moved his family from Washington D.C. to New York, Cincinnati, New Orleans, St. Louis, Montreal, and Chicago. In 1883, Jump shot himself in the head; newspapers across the country told lurid tales of alcoholism and penury. In a letter to the New York Tribune, Frank Bellew countered these, up to a point, from personal knowledge, but certain stubborn facts remain. Jump and his wife were heavy drinkers, their daughter had been placed in a convent in St. Louis, and their constant removals bespeak a troubled existence. Emily Rogers Jump was committed to an inebriate asylum in 1885 (13).
Albert Evans prospered, promoted a mining boom that went bust, published a book on Mexico, and worked hard to attach himself to the great and powerful. He made himself prominent in the Associated Press, and obtained a position on the staff of California's Governor which carried with it the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the National Guard. After 1 January 1869 he invariably goes under his military title. "Colonel Albert S. Evans's trip through Mexico! Who made him a Colonel?" thundered Clemens. "He would run from a sheep." Evans died in 1872 when the steamship Missouri was lost at sea (14).
Mark Twain left for the East around the same time Jump did. Steadily gaining fame, he corresponded for newspapers in Washington, New York, and San Francisco, and courted Olivia Langdon, whom he would marry in 1870. He always affected to despise newspaper work, yet it had been the rough-and-tumble of the frontier press that fired his spirit and showed him "the way to write -- peppery and to the point. Mush-and-milk journalism gives me the fan-tods" (15).
Selected San Francisco Lithographs
(3) "Jump, Edward," in Peter E. Palmquist and Thomas R. Kailbourn, Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000), 342; Claudine Chalmers, "Splendide Californie! Selections by French Artists in California History, 1786-1900," California History 79 (2000-2001), 154-79 (pp. 166-68).
(5) "Linn C. Doyle," "Letter from San Francisco," Stockton Evening Herald, 2 June 1866, 1. The San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle observed that Doyle understated Jump's height: five feet four inches ("Jump Jumped," 7 June 1866, 3).
(6) Mark Twain, "Opening of the New Swimming Bath," San Francisco Alta California, 6 January 1866, 1; "San Francisco Letter," 11 January 1866. I quote Clemens's journalism from the texts prepared by Richard E. Bucci for the forthcoming Mark Twain Project edition of the San Francisco Correspondence, 1865-1866.
(12) Charles H. Cutter, "Michael Reese: Parsimonious Patron of the University of California," California Historical Society Quarterly 42 (June 1963): 127-44; "The Troubles of a Millionaire," Puck 2 (March 1866): 18; "The Troubles of Michael Reese--He Uttereth Vulgar and Profane Language and Is Ordered to Appear for Sentence," San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 8 March 1866, 3.
(13) Palmquist and Kailbourn; Chalmers, 168; Chicago Tribune: "Jump, the Artist. He Blows His Brains Out in a Fit of Drunken Despair," 21 April 1883, 6; "Edward Jump. The Coroner's Inquest -- His Last Letters," 22 April 1883, 8; "Jump is a name . . . ," New York Sun, 25 April 1883, 2; Bellew, "Jump, the Caricaturist" (see note 2 above); "From Footlights to the Island," New York Herald, 26 June 1885, 6.
(14) The National Guard of California," San Francisco Alta California, 1 January 1869, 3; Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 4: 1870-1871, ed. Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, and Lin Salamo (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 216. An unusually frank obituary is "Albert S. Evans," Los Angeles Star, 6 November 1872, 3. See also "California Authors: A Few Personal Sketches and Reminiscences," San Francisco Chronicle, 1 May 1881, 1.