The Boston Advertiser attacks Mark Twain as venomously and persistently as if his recent suit against a Boston publishing-house had been brought against itself; and it ventures into declaration which it would have hard work to prove. For example, it says that there is "something very suggestive in the eagerness and unanimity with which library committees and newspapers throughout the country have followed the precedent established by the Concord library in condemning Mark Twain's last book," but it omits to mention the libraries or to list the newspapers.
Indeed, some of the leading newspapers of the country have taken the liberty to laugh at the Concord folks for their conduct, and the libraries that have rejected the volume are, we venture to say, few and far between. They must all be of the class that the Concord library belongs to; for one of the trustees of that library, when interviewed on the matter, said that no fiction was permitted on the Concord shelves. Of course, "Huckleberry Finn" isn't a true story. It is fiction, and so it's barred by this Concord limitation. The discovery that they had bought a biography in good faith and had got something that was not true may be the cause of the discontent, although the life of Huck Finn is not the only biography that partakes of the nature of fiction, and the Concord library would be further depleted if all biographies that are not true were cast out from it.
The Concord trustees, however, have a right to do as they choose and so have the trustees of other libraries. The question really is whether the rest have followed the Concord lead. To prove it, one must have something more than a newspaper assertion. Readers of the Century have been immeasurably entertained by the extracts from Huck Finn published there, and the book, now that it is on the market, is having a very large sale and getting no end of advertising from this episode. That is one effect of such an attack; but to charge, as the Advertiser does, that newspapers and libraries all over the country are uniting in condemning the volume is to go as much beyond advertising as it is beyond the facts.
Mr. Clemens has recently been elected a member of the Concord Free Trade club and in replying to the notice of election he takes care of himself in the following note:--
Frank A. Nichols, Esq., Secretary Concord Free Trade Club:--
Dear Sir,--I am in receipt of your favor of the 24th instant, conveying the gratifying intelligence that I have been made an honorary member of the Free Trade Club of Concord, Massachusetts, and I desire to express to the club, through you, my grateful sense of the high compliment thus paid me. It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that judge's homestead for sale, and, if I make a good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go on and sell out the rest of his property.
In the next place, a committee of the public library of your town have condemned and excommunicated my last book and doubled its sale. This generous action of theirs must necessarily benefit me in one or two additional ways. For instance, it will deter other libraries from buying the book; and you are doubtless aware that one book in a public library prevents the sale of a sure ten and a possible hundred of its mates. And, secondly, it will cause the purchasers of the book to read it, out of curiosity, instead of merely intending to do so, after the usual way of the world and library committees; and then they will discover, to my great advantage and their own indignant disappointment, that there is nothing objectionable in the book after all.
And finally, the Free Trade Club of Concord comes forward and adds to the splendid burden of obligations already conferred upon me by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an honorary membership which is worth more than all the rest, just at this juncture, since it indorses me as worthy to associate with certain gentlemen whom even the moral icebergs of the Concord library committee are bound to respect.
May the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts endure forever, is the heartfelt prayer of one who, long a recipient of her mere general good will, is proud to realize that he is at last become her pet.
Thanking you again, dear sir, and