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MRS MARY L CHRISTMAS <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 29 Feb 1996 13:44:02 -0500
text/plain (42 lines)
An unusual book was found in the belongings of a recently
deceased relative of mine: _The Up-to-Date Primer: A First
Book of Lessons for Little Political Economists, in Words of
One Syllable with Pictures_, by J. W. Bengough. New York:
Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1896.

This is not a book for children; rather, it is 100-year-old
satire. (Sample: "What is this? It is a High Wall. It is
built by the Wise State all round the Bounds of the Land to
Keep Out Cheap Goods that Foes might want to Send in....")

What makes this relevant to the Mark Twain Forum is the
strangely familiar-sounding text on the back cover:

                (Expected by the next mail.)

        We have nothing like the Up-to-Date Primer in
        Chicago University, so far as I am aware.
                       President H-rp-r

        I never wrote anything like it in my life.
                        J-hn R-ck-f-ll-r

        Without expressing any definite opinion of its
        political economy, I am free to say that it is
        quite as clear as any budget speech I ever made.
                        W. E. Gl-dst-ne. (Postal Card.)

And so on. It's similarity to the Official Commendations on
Twain's "Map of Paris," 1870, is apparent; and some of it
seems to be outright cabbaging by Bengough. Twain's testi-
monial from Napoleon states, "It is very nice large print."
Bengough's quote from Wm. McK-nl-y begins, "I like the pic-
tures, and the type is nice and large."

Unless Twain himself wrote this book under another pseudonym
("NOT!"), all I can say is:

        Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
                        M-ry L--h Chr-stm-s