Nevada Appeal at 150: April 22, 1910: Part 1 — Mark Twain called by death; Famous writer dies of broken heart at Connecticut home

mark twain called by death; famous writer dies of broken heart at Connecticut home

REDDING, CONN. — April 21 — Samuel Langhorn Clemens, Mark Twain, died painlessly at 6:30 o’clock tonight of angina pectoris. He lapsed into coma at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and never recovered consciousness. It was the end of a man outworn by grief and acute agony of body.

Yesterday was a bad day for the little knot of anxious watchers at the bedside. For long hours the grey, aquiline features lay moulded in the inertia of death, while the pulse sank steadily, but late at night Mark Twain passed from stupor into the first natural sleep he had known since he returned from Bermuda and this morning awoke refreshed, even faintly cheerful, and in the full possession of his faculties.

He recognized his daughter, Clara, spoke a rational word or two and feeling himself unequal to conversation, wrote out in pencil: “Give me my glasses.”

These were his last words. Lying them aside, he sank first into reverie and later into final unconsciousness.

There was no thought at the time, however, that the end was so near. At 5 o’clock Dr. Robert Halsey, who had been continuously in attendance, said, “Mr. Clemens is not so strong at this hours as he was at the corresponding hour yesterday, but he has wonderful vitality and he may rally again.”

At the death bed were only Clara Clemens, her husband, Dr. Robert Halsey, Dr. Quintard, Albert Bigelow Paine, who will write Mark Twain’s autobiography, and the two trained nurses. Restoratives — digitalis, strychnine and camphor, were administered, but the patient failed to respond.

Mark Twain did not die in anguish. Sedatives soothed his pain, but in his moments of consciousness the mental depression persisted. On the way up from Bermuda he said to Albert Bigelow Paine, who had been his constant companion in illness:

“This is a bad job, we’ll never pull through with it.”

On shore once more and longing for the serenity of New England hills, he took heart and said to those who noted his enfeeblement:

“Give me a breath of Redding air once more and this will pass.”

But it did not pass, and, tired of body and weary of spirit, the old warrior against shams and snobs said faintly to his nurses, “Why do you fight to keep me alive? Two days of life are as good to me as four.”

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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