MARK TWAIN INFORMS AN INQUIRING FRIEND IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA THAT HE IS NOT DEAD.
A gentleman in South Australia, who was under the impression that Mark Twain had once visited that far-away region, and when there had actually lodged under the same roof with his father, happened to hear recently that the famous humorist was dead. He was so much affected by the news that he at once wrote to Mr. Clemens to ascertain if it was true. The reply he received is printed in the Adelaide Observer of Oct. 15, and is as follows:
During the present year I have received letters from three gentlemen in Australia who had in past times known people who had known me "in Australia"; but I have never been in any part of Australia in my life. By these letters it appears that the persons who knew me there knew me intimately - not for a day, but for weeks and even months. And apparently I was not confined to one place, but was scattered all around over the country. Also, apparently, I was very respectable; at least I suppose so, from the character of the company I seem to have kept - Government officials, ladies of good position, editors of newspapers, etc.
It is very plain, then, that someone has been in Australia who did me the honor to impersonate me and call himself by my name. Now, if this man paid his debts and conducted himself in an orderly and respectable way, I suppose I have no very great cause of complaint against him; and yet I am not able to believe that a man can falsely assume another man's name, and at the same time be in other respects a decent and worthy person. I suspect that, specious as this stranger seems to have been, he was at bottom a rascal, and a pretty shabby sort of rascal at that.
That is all I wanted to say about the matter. There are signs that I have an audience among the people of Australia. I want their good opinion; therefore I thought I would speak up, and say that if that adventurer was guilty of any misconduct there, I hope the resulting obloquy will be reserved for him, and not leveled at me, since I am not to blame.
Today's mail brings a letter to a member of my family from an old English friend of ours, dated "Government House, Sydney, May 29," in which the writer is shocked to hear of my "sudden death." Now, that suggests that that aforementioned imposter has even gone the length of dying for me. This generosity disarms me. He has done a thing for me which I wouldn't even have done for myself. If he will only stay dead now I will call the account square, and drop the grudge I bear him.
Hartford, United States of America, July 24, 1881
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