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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

Bloodgood H. Cutter to Samuel L. Clemens
29 March 1884 • Washington, D.C.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41834)

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Little Neck, Long Island March 29th 1884

Long Island Farmer. To his Friend and Pilgrim Brother Samuel L. Clemens, Esq

Friends, suggest in each ones behalf

To write, and ask your Autograph

To refuse that, I will not do,

After the long voyage had with you

That was a memorable time

You wrote in Prose, I wrote in Rhyme

To describe the wonders of each place

And the queer customs of each race

That is in my memory yet

For while I live not that[1] forget.

I often think of that affair

And the many that were with us there

As your friends think it for the best

I ask your Autograph with the rest

Hoping you will it to me send

Twill please and cheer your dear old Friend

Yours Truly,

Bloodgood H Cutter


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S. L. Clemens Esq. | (Mark Twain) | Hartford, | Connecticut [postmarked:] little neck n.y. mar 31 1884 [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Bloodgood | poem

Explanatory Notes

1. Despite disrupting Cutter's perfect iambic tetrameter, Clemens still felt the need to cross out "that" and insert "I'll" before "not." [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:The Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

Persons Mentioned

Bloodgood Haviland Cutter  (1817–1906)

Bloodgood Cutter was a farmer and poet from Long Island. At the outset of the Quaker City voyage, Clemens described Cutter in his notebook as “fifty years old, & small of his age. He dresses in homespun, & is a simple minded, honest, old-fashioned farmer, with a strange proclivity for writing rhymes. He writes them on all possible subjects, & gets them printed on slips of paper, with his portrait at the head. These he will give to any man that comes along, whether he has anything against him or not” (N&J1, p. 344). Cutter considered himself the poet laureate of the excursion, leading Clemens to call him the “Poet Lariat” in Innocents Abroad, adopting Francis Eugene Andrews’s mispronunciation. In 1880 he called him a “mildewed idiot. His friends call him a lunatic—but that is pretty fulsome flattery; one cannot become a lunatic without first having brains” (30 April 1880 to Perkins, on MTPO); 31 March and 1 April 1869 to Fairbanks, L2, p. 185). In 1886 Cutter self-published a collection of his poems entitled The Long Island Farmer's Poems. His poems were never celebrated, yet he was a successful farmer: at his death his estate was worth $900,000.