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09 June 2011

Corpses To Remember Him By

I hope I shall not offend you; I shall
certainly say nothing with the intention
to offend you. I must explain myself,
however, and I will do it as kindly

as I can. What you ask me to do I
am asked to do as often as one half-
dozen times a week. Three hundred letters
a year! One’s impulse is to freely consent,

but one’s time and necessary occupations
will not permit it. There is no way but
to decline in all cases, making no
exceptions; and I wish to call your

attention to a thing which has probably
not occurred to you, and that is this: that
no man takes pleasure in exercising
his trade as a pastime. Writing is my

trade, and I exercise it only when
I am obliged to. You might make your request
of a doctor, or a builder, or a sculptor,
and there would be no impropriety

in it, but if you asked either for a
specimen of his trade, his handiwork,
he would be justified in rising to
a point of order. It would never be
fair to ask a doctor for one of his
corpses to remember him by.

The typewritten message Mark Twain would send to autograph seekers, via Futility Closet. Submitted by Marika Rose.