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Twain Letter to Sylvester Baxter, Nov.

20, 1889 Page 1 of 2

Letter to Sylvester Baxter, Nov. 20, 1889


(By Mark Twain)

From Albert Bigelow Paine, ed., Mark Twain's Letters (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917).
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The Yankee was now ready for publication, and advance sheets were already in the reviewers'
hands. Just at this moment the Brazilian monarchy crumbled, and Clemens was moved to write
Sylvester Baxter, of the Boston Herald, a letter which is of special interest in its prophecy of the new
day, the dawn of which was even nearer than he suspected.

Dear Mr. Baxter, -- Another throne has gone down, and I swim in oceans of satisfaction.
I wish I might live fifty years longer; I believe I should see the thrones of Europe selling
at auction for old iron. I believe I should really see the end of what is surely the
grotesquest of all the swindles ever invented by man -- monarchy. It is enough to make a
graven image laugh, to see apparently rational people, away down here in this
wholesome and merciless slaughter-day for shams, still mouthing empty reverence for
those moss-backed frauds and scoundrelisms, hereditary kingship and so-called
"nobility." It is enough to make the monarchs and nobles themselves laugh -- and in
private they do; there can be no question about that. I think there is only one funnier
thing, and that is the spectacle of these bastard Americans -- these Hamersleys and
Huntingtons and such -- offering cash, encumbered by themselves, for rotten carcases
and stolen titles. When our great brethren the disenslaved Brazilians frame their
Declaration of Independence, I hope they will insert this missing link: "We hold these
truths to be self-evident: that all monarchs are usurpers, and descendants of usurpers; for
the reason that no throne was ever set up in this world by the will, freely exercised, of the
only body possessing the legitimate right to set it up -- the numerical mass of the nation."

You already have the advance sheets of my forthcoming book in your hands. If you will
turn to about the five hundredth page, you will find a state paper of my Connecticut
Yankee in which he announces the dissolution of King Arthur's monarchy and proclaims
the English Republic. Compare it with the state paper which announces the downfall of
the Brazilian monarchy and proclaims the Republic of the United States of Brazil, and
stand by to defend the Yankee from plagiarism. There is merely a resemblance of ideas,
nothing more. The Yankee's proclamation was already in print a week ago. This is
merely one of those odd coincidences which are always turning up. Come, protect the
Yank from that cheapest and easiest of all charges -- plagiarism. Otherwise, you see, he
will have to protect himself by charging approximate and indefinite plagiarism upon the
official servants of our majestic twin down yonder, and then there might be war, or some
similar annoyance.

Have you noticed the rumor that the Portuguese throne is unsteady, and that the
Portuguese slaves are getting restive? Also, that the head slave-driver of Europe,
Alexander III, has so reduced his usual monthly order for chains that the Russian
foundries are running on only half time now? Also that other rumor that English nobility
acquired an added stench the other day -- and had to ship it to India and the continent
because there wasn't any more room for it at home? Things are working. By and by there
is going to be an emigration, may be. Of course we shall make no preparation; we never
do. In a few years from now we shall have nothing but played-out kings and dukes on the
police, and driving the horse-cars, and whitewashing fences, and in fact overcrowding all

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Twain Letter to Sylvester Baxter, Nov.20, 1889 Page 2 of 2

the avenues of unskilled labor; and then we shall wish, when it is too late, that we had
taken common and reasonable precautions and drowned them at Castle Garden.

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(Edited by Jim Zwick.  From his website page "Mark Twain on A Connecticut Yankee."  25 March
2001.  <http://marktwain.about.com>.
 
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