You are viewing the archived content of Scholarly Editing, Volumes 33 – 38 issued between 2012 and 2017. Go to the new site.

Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

H. H. Boyesen to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y. (MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41857)

View Page
Full size in new window

columbia college,

new york, New York^Mar 31st^ 1884

My dear Mr. Clemens,

Would you kindly send me your autograph to add to my already extensive collection? You will have the honor of rubbing shoulders with Noah, Dante, Martin Luther, Wm Tweed,[1] Copernicus, John Kelly[2] & other worthies of ancient & modern times. Hoping for a favorable reply I remain

ever sincerely yours

H H Boyesen.


View Page
Full size in new window
columbia college, | madison avenue, | new york. | Mr. Samuel L Clemens | (Mark Twain) | Hartford | Conn [postmarked:] new york march 31 6 pm h [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Boyesen | Mention

Explanatory Notes

1. William M. Tweed was head of the corrupt Tammany Hall political machine in New York City, infamous for his "Tweed Ring" that committed flagrant graft and fraud during the early 1870s. Clemens had previously commented on the Tweed Ring’s corruption in "The Revised Catechism," a satirical article written for the New York Tribune in September 1871, in which “St. Hall’s Garbled Reports” were cited as prized texts "for the training of the young" in the new municipal morality. The investigations into the Tweed Ring in 1872–73 also inspired his contributions to The Gilded Age. See also SLC's 3? January 1874 letter to Charles Dudley Warner, 27 March 1875 to his brother Orion, and 14 September 1876 to William Dean Howells (L6, 4-7, 427-28; MTPO). [back]
2. John Kelly (1822–1886), known as "Honest John" (ironically, given that his fortune had grown to $800,000 by 1867 after having served an unsalaried post as New County sheriff) was a US representative from New York from 1855 to 1858. He assumed the leadership of Tammany Hall after the downfall of the Tweed Ring, becoming the first Catholic leader of the city. [back]

Textual Commentary

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

Persons Mentioned

Hjalmar H. Boyesen  (1848–1895)

Boyesen was a Norwegian novelist, critic, and professor of German at Cornell University. He met Clemens in the late 1870s and got to know him well during his stay in Paris in 1879 while he was finishing A Tramp Abroad. He also introduced Clemens to Turgenev (see Mark Twain's NB 18, NB&J2, pp. 285–350).