“…It is my prayer, it is my longing that we may pass from this life together; a longing which shall never perish from the earth, but shall have place in the heart of every wife that loves, until the end of time; and it shall be called by my name. But if one of us must go first, it is my prayer that it shall be I; for he is strong, I am weak; I am not so necessary to him as he is to me — life without him would not be life…”
Mark Twain, the writer referred here after to by his real name Sam Clemens, was far deeper in thought and feeling than most realize today. It is the way of history to over time smooth the corners and keep as the known truth a narrow vein of who a person actually was. The first paragraph above was written by Mr. Clemens in 1905 at the end of a fictional short story called “Eve’s Diary”.
The story was part of a series called “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” he began releasing portions of in 1904, the year his wife died. It is widely accepted that these stories were largely part of Clemens’ way of dealing with the loss of his beloved wife Olivia, who he called “Livy” for short. He called her his “rudder” and seemed to lose a good deal of his energy for living after her passing. Clemens’ health grew steadily worse after his wife’s death and Sam passed away less than six years after she did.
Before I was ten years old I had taken several wonderful adventures with Mr. Clemens and his friends Tom Sawyer, Edward Tudor, Huckleberry Finn, Jim, Becky Thatcher, Injun’ Joe, and Captain Bixby. I did not begin to discover Clemens’ Adam and Eve stories until three years ago I purchased a used Harper book published in 1935 called “The Family Mark Twain”. Within it I read for the first time Clemens’s story called “Eve’s Diary”. From there I sought out not only the full set of stories of “The Diaries of Adam and Eve”, but also discovered and became enamored with the love story between Olivia and Sam Clemens. No one to whom I have ever mentioned Twain’s Adam and Eve stories ever heard of them, nor has any one ever been aware of Sam’s love letters to Livy. In a small and humble way I hope to lend change to that.
From a letter Clemens wrote to his wife to be on January 6, 1869: “…I cannot speak of you in tame commonplace language – I must reserve that for the more commonplace people. Don’t scold me, Livy – let me pay my due homage to your worth; let me honor you above all women; let me love you with a love that knows no doubt, no question – for you are my world, my life, my pride, my all of earth that is worth the having. Develop your faults, if you have them – they have no terrors for me – nothing shall tear you out of my heart. Livy, if you only knew how much I love you! But I couldn’t make you comprehend it, though I wrote a year…”
Later Sam wrote “… I have at this moment the only sweetheart I ever loved, and bless her old heart she is lying asleep upstairs in a bed that I sleep in every night. If all of one’s married days are as happy as these I have deliberately fooled away 30 years of my life. If it were to do over again I would marry in early infancy instead of wasting time cutting teeth and breaking crockery…”
“…Was there ever such a darling as Livy? I know there never was. She fills my ideal of what a woman should be in order to be enchantingly loveable. And so, what wonder is it that I love her so? And what wonder is it that I am deeply grateful for permission to love her…?
The Adam part of Clemens’ “Adam and Eve” story was done tongue in cheek, yet in an endearing way: “…This new creature with the long hair is a good deal in the way. It is always hanging around and following me about. I don’t like this; I am not used to company. I wish it would stay with the other animals…”
In contrast in a letter to a friend, the married Clemens wrote “…We are very regular in our habits. We get up at 6 o’clock every morning and we go to bed at 10 every evening. We have three meals a day – breakfast at 10 o’clock, lunch at 1pm and dinner at 5. The reason we get up at 6 in the morning is because we have heard that early rising is beneficial. We then go back to bed and get up finally at half past 9…” And on the same day Olivia Clemens wrote a friend saying “…We are as happy as two mortals can be…”
Sam Clemens ends “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” with one line that sums up the depth of his emotion for his wife and partner of almost 34 years: “Wheresoever she was, THERE was Eden.”
So the next time you are thinking of great love stories, remember Samuel and Olivia Clemens. I have long been thankful for the stories I read in childhood and the wonderful adventures Mark Twain took me on. Now there is much added gratitude within for the true and real love story of Sam and Livy. How beautifully inspiring and poetic it is.
I find it interesting and appropriate that Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born during a visit by Halley’s Comet and later he predicted he would “go out with it” as well. He died the day following the comet’s subsequent return slightly over a hundred and one years ago.
After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her. Mark Twain
If you’d like to read more of Mark Twain’s “Eve’s Diary” click here: http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=1807607