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Add to My Citations To Thomas Bailey Aldrich
22 January 1871 • Buffalo, N.Y.
(MS: MH-H, UCCL 00560)
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Buffalo, Jan. 22.

Dear Sir:

Please do not publish the note I sent you the other day about “Hy. Slocum’s” plagiarism entitled “Three Aces”—it is not important enough for such a long paragraph.1 Webb writes me that he has put in a paragraph about it, too—& I have requested him to suppress it.2 If you would simply state, without any fuss in a line & a half under “Literary Notes” that you mistook one “Hy. Slocum” (no, it was one “Carl Byng,” I perceive) “Carl Byng” for Mark Twain, & that the form it was the former who wrote the plagiarism entitled “Three Aces,” I think that would do a fair justice without any unseemly display. But it is hard to be accused of plagiarism—a crime I never have committed in my life.

Ys Truly

Mark Twain.

I have just crossed Mr. Carl Byng & Mr. Hy. Slocum both off my the “Express’s” list of contributors (for their [ own good own good ]—for everything they write is straightway saddled onto me.)3

Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 Aldrich replied on 25 January: “It is too late for you to attempt to prevent me doing you justice! About 42000 copies of your note, with my apology nobly appended, are now printed, and we hope to have the rest of the edition off the press by to-morrow night. In the next No. of E. S. I will withdraw my apology, if you say so!” (CU-MARK).

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2 This exchange of letters with Webb has not been found. None of Webb’s final “Things” columns—in Every Saturday for 28 January, 4 February, and 11 February—mentioned the matter.

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3 Sketches by Carl Byng appeared irregularly in the Buffalo Express between 12 November 1870 and 28 January 1871. A statistical comparison of the Byng texts with known texts by Mark Twain has suggested that Clemens did not write the Byng pieces, and that they may have been the work of Clemens’s partner, Josephus N. Larned (Gillette 1984, 2–3, 13–16). Larned may also have written the sketches by Hy Slocum that had appeared in the Express between 31 March 1868 and 8 October 1870. For all known articles by Byng and Slocum, see References (Byng 1870a–f, 1871a–b; Slocum 1868a–d, 1869a–p, 1870a–t; McCullough 1969, 1971, 1972).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, Houghton Library, Harvard University (MH-H).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L4, 305–306; Greenslet, 95–96; MTL, 1:181–82, without the postscript.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphdeposited at MH-H in 1942 and donated in 1949 by Talbot Aldrich.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph

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