CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ('Mark Twain'), letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ('Mark Twain') (1835-1910). American author.
Autograph Letter Signed ('Mark Twain / born S.L. Clemens') to the newpaper editor William T. Stead (1849-1912), 1 page 8vo (marginal splits), Hotel Kratz, Vienna, 24 May 1899. Asking Stead to have the Review of Reviews sent to Chatto & Windus's London address 'as soon as you get the world's peace secured to your satisfaction', and announcing an impending stay in London ('for I'm a coming').

Twain alludes in this letter to Stead's influential coverage of the major international peace conference instigated by Czar Nicolas II and held at The Hague from May to July 1899. Stead had toured Europe in the autumn of 1898 to promote the Russian initiative and speak to politicians and diplomats; he had spoken confidentially to the czar himself ('emperor of peace') during his visit to Livadia. Gleaning information about the secret talks from friendly delegates, he published reports in the Review of Reviews (which he had founded in 1890) and other British and Dutch newspapers; he also wrote to the czar about the proceedings. Keenly read by the delegates themselves, his reports proved to be a major source of information about the conference.

Earlier that year Twain had composed a lengthy reply to Stead's request for his views on the czar's proposed plan for world disarmament: "... Peace by compulsion. That seems a better idea than the other. Peace by persuasion has a pleasant sound, but I think we should not be able to work it. We should have to tame the human race first, and history seems to show that that cannot be done ..." (The Selected Letters of Mark Twain, ed. C. Neider, 1982, pages254-5). In the present letter Twain could be referring to an issue of the Review of Reviews in which his views on disarmament may have been published.

"[Stead] was best remembered by his contemporaries not only for his devotion to the international peace movement but also for his advocacy of women's rights, defence of civil liberties, and concern for the deprived and oppressed . Above all Stead was influential in demonstrating how the press could be used to influence public opinion and government policy, for his skilful use of investigative journalism, and for his use of the interview to revitalize British journalism" (ODNB).

Stead was due to speak on world peace at a conference in New York in April 1912; he was last seen helping women and children onto the Titanic's lifeboats.
[No: 26335]


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