The Washington Post, May 7, 1910
A MARK TWAIN NOTE
Characteristic Response to a Puzzled and Inquiring Newspaper Editor.
From a Letter to the New York Sun.
To the Editor of the Sun. Sir: There is before me a letter from Mark Twain. In explanation as to why it came to me, let me say that I had the fortune to be the editor of a daily newspaper of some power in New England. In view of certain controversies between orthodox religion and a cult of some prominence, I, as a molder of public opinion, chose the side of the orthodox, and wrote, as I believed, trenchantly in its favor. Thereupon a number of devotees of the cult stopped their subscriptions to the newspaper over which I fondly suspected I reigned. My suspicions, however, were far from the truth, for I received exceedingly emphatic orders from the business office to cease from the practice of my incisive style and confine myself to discussions regarding the crop outlook of Hampden county and the increased facilities for the manufacture of carpets at Thompsonville, Conn.
Presently observing a magazine article by Mr. Clemens dealing with the subject which had become taboo in my office, I wrote him, telling him of my troubles. His reply--which seems to me to conserve the ultimate of his philosophy, his religion, if you will--follows:
My Dear Sir:
But you are proceeding upon the superstition that Moral Courage and a Hankering to Learn the Truth are ingredients in the human being's makeup. Your premises being wild and foolish, you naturally and properly get wild and foolish results. If you will now reform, and in future proceed upon the sane and unchallengeable hypothesis that those two ingredients are on vacation in our race, and have been from the start, you will be able to account for some things which seem to puzzle you now.
S. L. CLEMENS.
I believe the original of this letter should find a place among the most valued
relics of the beloved gentle philosopher.
P. who wrote the above letter to the editor of the New York SUN may have been
Herbert Parker of Springfield, Massachusetts. The 1900 census lists his occupation
as "City Express."]
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