Mark Twain’s visit to Adams Memorial (Saint-Gaudens) in Rock Creek Cemetery

Wikimedia Commobs _ Adams-Memorial-Saint GaudensIn New York I had once brought him a print of the superb “Adams Memorial,” by Saint-Gaudens – the bronze woman who sits in the still court in the Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington.

On the morning following the [Thomas Nelson] Page dinner at breakfast, he said:

“Engage a carriage and we will drive out and see the Saint-Gaudens bronze.”

It was a bleak, dull December day, and as we walked down through the avenues of the dead there was a presence of unrealized sorrow that seemed exactly suited to such a visit. We entered the little inclosure of cedars where sits the dark figure which is art’s supreme express of great human mystery of life and death. Instinctively we removed our hats, and neither spoke until we had come away. Then:

“What does he call it?” he asked.

I did not know, though I had heard applied to it that great line of Shakespeare’s – “the rest is silence.”

“But that figure is not silent,” he said.

And later, as we were driving home.

“It is in deep meditation on sorrowful things.”

When we returned to New York he had the little print framed, and kept it always on his mantelpiece.


Paine, Albert Bigelow. Mark Twain: A Biography, Vol. 4. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1912. p. 1351.


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