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Mark Twain at the Buffalo Express - 1869 | Commentary

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Mark Twain at the Buffalo Express - 1869
Mark Twain at the Buffalo Express - 1869

"Salutatory" Mark Twain's First Signed Commentary in The Buffalo Express - August 21 1869

    Being a stranger it would be modest and unbecoming in me, to suddenly and violently assume the associate editorship of the Buffalo Express without a single explanatory word of comfort or encouragement to the unoffending patrons of the paper, who are about to be exposed to constant attacks of my wisdom and learning.  But this explanatory word shall be as brief as possible.  I only wish to assure parties having a friendly interest in the Journal, that I am not going to hurt the paper deliberately and intentionally at any time.  I am not going to introduce any startling reforms, or in any way attempt to make trouble. I am simply going to do my plain,unpretending duty, when I cannot get out of it; I shall work diligently and honestly and faithfully at all times and upon all occasions, when privation and want shall compel me to do it; in writing, I shall always confine myself strictly to the truth, except when it is attended with inconvenience; I shall witheringly rebuke all forms of crime and misconduct, except when committed by the party inhabiting my own vest; I shall not make use of slang or vulgarity under any occasion or any circumstances, and shall never use profanity except in discussing house-rent and taxes.  Indeed, upon second thought, I will not even use it then, for it is unchristian, inelegant and degrading-though to speak truly I do not see how house-rent and taxes are going to be discussed worth a cent without it.  I shall not often meddle in politics, because we have a political editor who is already excellent, and only needs to serve a term in the penitentiary in order to be perfect.  I shall not write any poetry, unless I conceive a spite against the subscribers.

   Such is my platform. I do not see any earthly use in it, but custom is law and custom must be obeyed, no matter how much violence it may do to ones feelings.  And this custom which I am slavishly following now, is surely one of the least necessary that ever came into vogue. In private life a man does not go and trumpet his crime before he commits it, but your new editor is such an important personage that he feels called upon to write a "Salutatory" at once, and he puts into it all that he knows, and all that he don't know, and some things he thinks he knows but isn't certain of.  And he parades his list of wonders which he is going to perform; of reforms which he is going to introduce, and public evils which he is going to exterminate; and public blessings which he is going to create; and public nuisances which he is going to abate....

Twain's Commentary Continues in the Buffalo History Gazette  (click here).

Where did Samuel Clemens pen name "Mark Twain" come from?

Answer in The Buffalo History Gazette


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