The Spectator

March 16, 1895, p368

Pudd'nhead Wilson. By " Mark Twain." (Chatto and Windus.) --Has Mr. Samuel L. Clemens found Missouri audiences or readers slow to appreciate his jokes? Mr. David Wilson comes to a Missouri town to push his fortunes, Unluckily his first n utterance when he lands from a steamer -- did steamboats pass "every hour or so" up and down the Mississippi in 1830 -- is about a yelping dog, that if he owned half of the beast he would kill his half. This would have been a fair joke in New York; to the Missourians it seemed proof positive that the speaker was a fool. Hence the sobriquet of "Pudd'nhead" which the public opinion of the town fastens upon him. But he doesn't deserve it. On the contrary, he is a clever fellow. He understands, for instance, how the impressions of finger-tips may be made proofs of identity --is not this again a little before date in 1830? This is the point of the story, which is a somewhat gloomy but powerful tale of the slavery times. "Mark Twain's" negroes are not of the Uncle Tom type; but the story is not on that account a less vigorous indictment of the old social order of the South.