Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884
Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge
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George E. Waring, Jr. to
Samuel L. Clemens
30 March 1884 • Washington, D.C.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41849)
National Board of HealthWashington, D. C.
March 30th 1884
My dear Clemens:
I have lately fallen into a most unfortunate dispute with our dear old friend and despoiler—Osgood.
It would be too long to tell you how it all came about, nor is my memory clear as to the details. I may have been partaking
of his hospitality or I may not. Whether I had or not, as I tell you, my memory is not clear as to details, but of this cardinal
fact I am clear in my recollection, and the insult has [been] View Page
Full size in new windowrankling in my bosom for more than a month:—he called me a “Cape Cod Turkey.”
You know what this means,—it means blood,—blood or an apology.
Now Osgood—by the way he is a mere Gobbler, as any author with rights to tell knows,—Osgood wont make an apology—he never would—and I see only this way out of it: You know him and before now you have spoken for him. Speak for him now and make me his apology over your own name, and to save his life—or that of Yours Truly,
George E. Waring Jr
But don’t let him call me a “Cape Cod Turkey” again!
Full size in new window Samuel L. Clemens, Esq. | Hartford, Conn. [return address:] national board of health | official business. [postmarked:] washington • d.c. mar 31 8 am 1884 [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Waring | mention
▮ Copy-text: MS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).
George E. Waring Jr. (1833–1898)
George E. Waring Jr. was an author, agriculturalist, and sanitary engineer, and a close friend of Cable, Clemens, and James R. Osgood. In 1855 he managed Horace Greeley's farm at Chappaqua, N.Y. After the Civil War, where he commanded the Fourth Missouri Cavalry, he retired his commission to manage Ogden Farm, a model farm in Newport, R.I. Waring wrote both husbandry manuals and bucolic novels, several of which were published by Osgood. In the late 1870s, Waring designed toilets, and from there moved on to design entire sewer systems to alleviate the cholera epidemic at Memphis. In 1895 he established the first organized street cleaning department in New York City. In 1898 William McKinley sent Waring to Cuba to survey sanitary issues, but he contracted yellow fever and died at home in October 1898.
James R. Osgood (1836–1892)
James Osgood began his long career in publishing as a clerk for Ticknor & Fields, which by 1868 became Fields, Osgood & Co. Upon the retirement of Fields in 1871, Osgood formed James Osgood & Co. with two sons of William Ticknor. As publishers of the Atlantic Monthly and the novels of Dickens, James, Harte, Stowe, Howells, and many other lesser-known writers, they were one of the most important publishing companies in the United States. Osgood & Co. published several of Clemens's books: A True Story, and the Recent Carnival of Crime (1877), The Prince and the Pauper (1882), The Stolen White Elephant (1882), and Life on the Mississippi (1883). In 1885 the firm went bankrupt, and Osgood retired and moved to London to work for Harper and Brothers.