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The New York Times, January 10, 1903


They say Mr. Samuel R. [sic] Clemens either has bequeathed or will bequeath his skull to Cornell University, which, presumably, wants it. The announcement is made noisily, if somewhat vaguely, by a hired man, a "press agent," in fact, who tries to imitate Mark Twain's humor; but the incident is not humorous.

To be sure, Mark Twain used to be very amusing on the subject of dead men's skulls. Was it not he who discovered in Italy one carefully preserved skull of the full-grown Columbus and another which was worn by the same benefactor of mankind in his youth? But in his gay Italian days, when he was an innocent abroad, Mark Twain was not thinking of his own skull as an asset or a benefaction.

Now the report of his bequest seems pathetic; one does not even quite know whether or not to take it seriously. Perhaps, like some of his recent seemingly serious magazine contributions and his vociferous public avowals of queer beliefs, this may only be a subtle joke. If it is not, it is a great pity any such announcement was made.

If Cornell University or any department thereof wants Mr. Clemens's skull after he has finished using it, doubtless that educational institution, not being a dime museum or a circus, would prefer to take it quietly. Doubtless, too, one is impelled to reflect, a man seriously thinking of parting with his own head would not make light of the matter.

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