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The New York Times, May 31, 1899


By an ingenious misinterpretation of what was said in this column a few days ago about the memories which "Mark Twain" says he is writing for publication a hundred years hence, The Hartford Times provides itself with an excuse for denying all The Times said - and then saying it all over again in another form. We are charged with "disregarding the probability that there is a mystification of some kind in the announcement," though we took especial pains to comment at some length on that very possibility, and we are lectured for intimating that Mr. Clemens's motive for postponing publication is malicious or cowardly, when all we did was to point out that his plan, executed by an unscrupulous person, might easily serve most evil ends. "Granted," writes the Hartford man, "a practice that has been common for a long time, that moralists have regarded without objection, that often serves a useful purpose, and that it is almost impossible to check if any one has a fancy for it, it is a little hard to raise a solemn question of its permissibility when a distinguished humorist announces that he is to try it himself, but makes it a little more conspicuous than most such performances by giving it a full century to ripen." Not at all hard, dear friend, particularly if the question was of a much mitigated solemnity, and if it was raised in well justified belief that nobody in the world will suspect Mr. Clemens of plotting injury to men who will not be able a hundred years from now to return the attack. Just because he is beyond such suspicion, the problem suggested was both safe and profitable.

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