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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

Charles Y. Beach to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • Brooklyn, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41853)

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no. 96 columbia heights,

brooklyn, n. y.

March 31 1884.

Mr Samuel Clemens

My dear Sir

I understand that it is the fashion about this time in the year to begin a collection of autographs and although I have heard that Capt. Duncans application for an autograph had been refused thanks to twelve (cents-able) men[1]

I hope that mine will meet more favorable consideration.

The only reason I can offer for my request is that ages ago when leaving you at the dinner table in Poughkeepsie I by mistake left my duster & took away yours & with it the cigars you had been at so much trouble to obtain and without View Page
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which life there was hardly worth living (I think you thought).

Yours very truly

C. Y. Beach. Bridgeport Conn.

P. S. How would it serve your impecunious ^(in stamps)^ friends to send them a blank sheet of paper in an unstamped envelope which they must redeem through the Dead Letter office at a cost of double postage.


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Mr Samuel Clemens | Hartford | Conn [postmarked:] brooklyn n.y. apr 1 84 10 45 am [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Charley Beach

Explanatory Notes

1. Beach (son of Moses Beach) is referring to Charles Duncan's libel suit against the New York Times, which published an interview with Mark Twain in which he insulted Duncan, including calling him the "head-waiter" of the Quaker City excursion, and cheerfully applauding Elihu Root's investigation into Duncan's finances as shipping commissioner ("Mr. Mark Twain Excited on Seeing the Name of Capt. C. C. Duncan in Print," New York Times, 10 June 1883, 1; in Scharnhorst, Twain in His Own Time, 43–47). The jury awarded Duncan twelve cents for damages, but Duncan did write Clemens to participate in the hoax ("The Duncan Libel Suit," Brooklyn Eagle, 8 March 1884, 4). [back]

Textual Commentary

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

Persons Mentioned

Charles Yale Beach  (1847–1917)

Charles Beach, a real estate investor, was the son of Moses Beach and older brother of Emma Beach.