40 MISSOURI HISTORICAL REVIEW
THE TRUE CHARACTER OF MARK TWAIN'S
BY CYRIL CLEMENS
My father, Dr. James R. Clemens was ill in London in
1897. The papers confused him with his cousin, Samuel L.
Clemens, who was also stopping in London, and the report
somehow got out that Mark Twain was dead. A group of
reporters called at the Clemens residence, and much to their
surprise found the door opened by Mark Twain himself.
When they confessed to Mark Twain their purpose in coming,
he said: "You find a pretty lively corpse, don't you?" The
reporters then told Mark Twain that their papers all wanted
news about his "death," and what were they going to do.
The humorist replied right off:—
"Tell them that the report of my death is greatly exaggerated."
Soon after my father first arrived in London, he read in
the newspapers that Mark Twain was stranded in the city
without any money. My father immediately wrote to the
author, offering assistance. Hearing nothing for a few days,
he forgot all about it. One day while my father was reading
in his rooms in Lambeth Palace Road, the maid brought up a
card which announced that "S. L. Clemens" was calling.
My father went down and there was Samuel L. Clemens,
having come in person to thank my father for offering him
assistance. As in the case of his "death" this report was
totally unfounded, but the incident started a close friendship between Mark Twain and my father, which lasted until
the former's death in April, 1910. My father would see
Clemens and his family very often after this. Hardly a week
passed but what they had tea, supped, or went to the theatre
or opera together. Mark Twain knew, and was very fond of,
the American actor, William Gillette, who was performing
in London at this time.
Not long ago, a book was published by Miss Mary Law-
ton, entitled "A Lifetime with Mark Twain." It gives the