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Add to My Citations To Ausburn Towner (Ishmael)
17 September 1869 • Elmira, N.Y.
(MS, not sent: CU-MARK, UCCL 08697)
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Elmira, Sept. 17.

My Dear Insect:

With more than the solicitude of a mother I have watched your little ambitions develop, one by one, & with more than the grief of such a parent have seen them, one by one take their places among the world’s unnoticed failures.

When you started out to make a literary notoriety for yourself, & chose a nom de plume (“Ishmai el,”) playfully at variance with your g disposition, which is rather that of the pretty, gambolling lamb than the [bloodthirsty ]man of war, 1


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Explanatory Notes | Textual Commentary

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1 See 8 and 9 Sept 69 to OLL, n. 7. Clemens may have found fresh cause for irritation in Towner’s most recent column, in the 11 September Elmira Saturday Evening Review. Towner there denied that ‘the influence of woman in any matter of public notoriety is softening or refining,” claiming that women writers routinely depicted “lewdness” and “sin,” that Harriet Beecher Stowe “hesitates not to go beyond them all in her exposition of the weakness of human nature,” and that “the influence of this kind of writing permeates society to an extent that is appalling” (Towner 1869). Clemens wrote in black ink, now faded to brown. Intermittent patches of purple, also faded, may have been the result of redissolved purple residue in the pen itself.



glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphMS, not sent, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L3, 352.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Mark Twain Papers, pp. 585–86.

glyphglyphEmendations and textual notes:glyph


bloodthirsty • blood-ǀthirsty