Jan 7, 1895, p122
Every scientific experiment or discovery of direct human import is
soon followed by fiction of which it forms the basis. That the
finger-print method of identification has not sooner provided the matter
of a tale is surprising. Mark Twain uses it here ingeniously.
'Pudd'nhead' is another name for fool; it is applied hastily to Mr. David
Wilson, a lawyer and surveyor, who in his leisure hours amuses himself
with making "records" of the finger tips of his acquaintances. In the case
of two children born on the same day, and bearing a strong resemblance to
each other, one a child of consequence, the other the child of a slave
girl, he made continuous records. Then one of them, the wrong one of
course, was sold with the slave mother. The reader can develop the story
from that point, or if not, Mark Twain will do it for him. As the mistake
lasts for twenty-three hard years, in spite of Pudd'nhead Wilson's
cleverness, the end is prevented from being a very cheerful one.