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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Rossiter W. Raymond to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y.
(MS: NPV, UCLC 41974)

Box 1465 N. Y. City Mar 31/84

S. S. Clemens, Esq. Hartford, Conn.

Dear Sir

A friend has mentioned to me that he is about writing to you, requesting your autograph; and it occurs to me that it will be saving you trouble if I ask you to send one to me at the same time. Please write on a sheet of linen paper, not ruled, 10” x 12” in size, and free from blots. Arnold’s writing fluid is preferred; and an original sentiment, as characteristic and humorous as possible, should be prefixed.[1] I should be obliged, if you would also add to your signature “Author of the Schoolmaster Abroad.”[2]

Yrs truly

R. W. Raymond[3]

Explanatory Notes

1. Raymond's requirements appear to be taken directly from typical letter-writing manuals of the period. [back]
2. This misattribution of Innocents Abroad may refer to The Schoolmaster Abroad, published as chapter 19 in Thomas Chandler Haliburton's The Clockmaker; or, The Sayings and Doings of Sam Slick of Slickville (1837). Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796-1865) was a Canadian judge and author of the satirical Sam Slick of Slickville sketches in the Novascotian in the second half of the 1830s and into the 1840s. These sketches were collected into several books, beginning with The Clockmaker (1836), which became the first Canadian international best-seller. For Clemens's appreciation of the Sam Slick tales, see Cyril Clemens, Young Sam Clemens (1942), 37–38; Notebook 19 (1881) N&J 2, 429. [back]
3. Image credit: Samuel L. Clemens Papers, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College. [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:MS, Samuel L. Clemens Papers, Archives & Special Collections Library, Vassar College.

Persons Mentioned

R. W. Raymond  (1840–1918)

Rossiter Worthington Raymond was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y. After graduating from Brooklyn Polytechnic he enrolled in the Royal Mining Academy at Freiburg, followed by studies at Heidelberg and Munich. He edited The American Journal of Mining from 1867 to 1890. In 1868 he was appointed US commissioner of mining statistics, and spent nearly a decade surveying mines in the West. In the early 1870s he also taught mining engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Penn. He served as secretary of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum Engineers from 1884 to 1911. In 1884 he lived in Brooklyn, where he was a member of Beecher's Plymouth Church. He served as the director of the Boy's Sunday School for nearly fifty years.