Submitted by scott on

August 19 Thursday  “Inspired Humor,” attributed to Sam, ran in the Buffalo Express [McCullough 9].

From the Buffalo Express “People and Things Columns” by Mark Twain:

·       One of those venerable parties, a pre-Adamite man, has been dug up from a depth of ninety-eight feet, in Alabama. He was of prodigious stature, and is supposed by savans to have existed twelve thousand years ago. Life was entirely extinct when they got him out.

·       An Alexandria (Egypt) merchant, ruined by the Viceroy’s heavy taxes, recently sold his son to a slave dealer to obtain yet another 900 piastres for the tax gatherer. It would have been far better to have sold him short for double the amount, and then run off before he was worth it.

·       The Brown family are assembling in convention at Simpson’s Corners, R.I., to form a plan of action with regard to their immense estates in England. So the telegram is worded. This is bad enough as it is—but will it stop here? Those Smiths will be at it next. It would be more generous in these two families to club themselves together in a joint convention and hire one of those ample western deserts to hold it in, and not be discommoding a helpless little State like Rhode Island which has never done them any harm.

·       A correspondent of the Cleveland Herald reports that a Mrs. Birney, 62 years of age, living near Tippecanoe, Harrison county, Ohio, has for twenty years been in the habit of falling into a state of unconsciousness at about ten o’clock on Sunday mornings, during which she delivers ungrammatical religious discourses. Of course, when a woman does anything remarkable, it must be published far and wide, but acres and acres of poor clergymen can go on doing such things all their lives and a subsidized press takes no notice of it. A mean partiality ill becomes journalism [Reigstad 234-6].

Sam wrote from Buffalo to Livy about his work on the Express:

“I have been consulting with the foreman of the news room for two days, & getting him drilled as to how I want the type-setting done—& this morning he has got my plan into full operation, & the paper is vastly improved in appearance.”

Sam gave the paper a “quiet & respectable” look, so that when real news happened, a “grand display of headings” would make folks notice.

“We are not astonished to hear a drunken rowdy swear, because he does it on great & trivial occasions alike—but when we hear a staid clergyman rip out an oath, we know it means something” [MTL 3: 303-4].

Day By Day Acknowledgment

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition.