Submitted by scott on

March 7 Monday – Sam wrote from Hartford to James R. Osgood. Howellsin a Mar. 5 letter, passed along a suggestion from Mrs. Charles Fairchild, that Sam should write a burlesque book of etiquette. Howells made the case in language which he knew would appeal to Sam:

“Such a book—150 or 200 pp. 18mo—put into the trade would go like wildfire. Think what a chance to satirize the greed, solemn selfishness and cruel dullness of society! It’s a wonderful opportunity, and you were made for it” [MTHL 1: 359].

Sam must have agreed because he asked Osgood:

“First and foremost—yes, send me a collection of etiquette books; Mrs. Fairchild’s idea is a mighty good one, I think” [MTLTP 133]. Note: About 70 pages of the manuscript for such a book survive; the book never completed. These include topics “At a Funeral” and “At a Fire.” There is also a discussion of how playing cards might be used to show delicate sentiments during courtship.

On his distant cousin, Jesse Leathers, Sam wrote:

Now here’s my American “rightful Earl of Durham,” a sort of second or third cousin of mine. If you approve my suggestion, send him $10 on account, and charge said $10 to me, of course—but after that, you and him for it. If he writes you anything worth printing you’ll probably take it and pay something for it—otherwise you’ll drop him.—I think he’ll write you a gassy, extravagant, idiotic book that will be delicious reading, for I’ve read some of his rot; and it is just the sort of windy stuff which a Kentucky tramp who has been choused out of an English earldom would write. By George I believe this ass will write a serious book which would make a cast-iron dog laugh [MTLTP 133-4].

Wallace W. Muzzy (1846-1915) wrote from Bristol, Conn. to Sam, one of six nonsensical letters he wrote to Clemens under different names. He wrote them all under his own letterhead, however, a “dealer in staple groceries, candy, tobacco, stationery, &c.” These letters may have held some puzzle, though Sam did not comment on the possibility.

S.L. Clemens, / A skillful pilot, once, you were, but see how an honest tale shall make you blush. You gave the beef contract to that clerk; I am his attorney. We mistrusted you were the scalper of Makinzie, and have been shadowing you ever since, and now you have endorsed—(Do try—ON ME.=Deuteronomy)—Reka’s $1,000,000,—my have 500,000—and you pull hemp, with Kingshorn, the State street paper firm, also, have a little acct against you. Dear Friend, be there peace between us. It was simply a question in chemistry, or algebra, but it vexes me; perhaps you would be kind enough to dissolve the puzzle=Ko1Fo2O3Ť+AgH4NO, FE2O3 Ť +4Ag

Ever your friend / W.W. Muzzy

 [MTP]. Note: Sam wrote on the env. “The idiots seem to be uncommonly thick…” See others from Muzzy under names: “E.U. Reka” Apr. 6, 1881; “W. Wilkins Micawber” Sept. 24, 1883; “Muzio Clemens” Sept. 25, 1884; and “W.W.M—y” Jan. 1, 1889

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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.