Mark Twain’s Letter to Mrs. Grover Cleveland

To Mrs. Grover Cleveland, in Washington:

Hartford, Nov.  6, 1887.

My Dear Madam,—I do not know how it is in the White House, but in this house of ours whenever the minor half of the administration tries to run itself without the help of the major half it gets aground. Last night when I was offered the opportunity to assist you in the throwing open the Warner brothers superb benefaction in Bridgeport to those fortunate women, I naturally appreciated the honor done me, and promptly seized my chance. I had an engagement, but the circumstances washed it out of my mind. If I had only laid the matter before the major half of the administration on the spot, there would have been no blunder; but I never thought of that. So when I did lay it before her, later, I realized once more that it will not do for the literary fraction of a combination to try to manage affairs which properly belong in the office of the business bulk of it. I suppose the President often acts just like that: goes and makes an impossible promise, and you never find it out until it is next to impossible to break it up and set things straight again. Well, that is just our way, exactly-one half of the administration always busy getting the family into trouble, and the other half busy getting it out again. And

so we do seem to be all pretty much alike, after all. The fact is, I had forgotten that we were to have a dinner party on that Bridgeport date—I thought it was the next day: which is a good deal of an improvement for me, because I am more used to being behind a day or two than ahead. But that is just the difference between one end of this kind of an administration and the other end of it, as you have noticed, yourself—the other end does not forget these things. Just so with a funeral; if it is the man’s funeral, he is most always there, of course—but that is no credit to him, he wouldn’t be there if you depended on him to remember about it; whereas, if on the other hand—but I seem to have got off from my line of argument somehow; never mind about the funeral. Of course I am not meaning to say anything against funerals—that is, as occasions—mere occasions—for as diversions I don’t think they amount to much But as I was saying—if you are not busy I will look back and see what it was I was saying.

I don’t seem to find the place; but anyway she was as sorry as ever anybody could be that I could not go to Bridgeport, but there was no help for it. And I, I
With the sincerest respect,have been not only sorry but very sincerely ashamed of having made an engagement to go without first making sure that I could keep it, and I do not know how to apologize enough for my heedless breach of good manners.

S.L. Clemens

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