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Robert Hirst <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 13 Apr 1996 11:51:34 -0700
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On Sat, 13 Apr 1996, David Glick wrote:

> > BarbThere is a short story titled "The Facts in the Great Beef Contract"
> which is printed in several of his essays and short story books.
> Somewhat lenghty to read, it is also on audio tape put out by Commuters
> Library. Respectfully, David Glick

David Glick is right. "The Facts in The Case of the Great Beef Contract"
was first published in the May 1870 *Galaxy.* Before Clemens himself could
reprint it, Hotten did so in *Eye Openers* (London, 21 August 1871).

Clemens offered it to Thomas Nast for his Almanac in April of 1871, saying
"I like that `Beef Contract' article of mine as well as anything I ever
wrote, & it is very popular in Washington on account of its satire on
clerkly airs & official circumlocution. I published it in the Galaxy just
about a year ago...(Letters 4, 373). Nast didn't take it, but Clemens
himself took the *Eye Openers* text in March 1872, revised it and
reprinted it in the Routledge edition of his sketches (1872), and
ultimately revised and reprinted it again in the Choice Humorous Works of
Mark Twain (London, 1874), Sketches No. 1 (Hartford, 1874), and Sketches
New and Old (Hartford, 1875). I guess he did like it.

In a September 1870 "Memoranda" in the *Galaxy* Clemens replied to a
letter which claimed to report the reaction of a friend "who after reading
it said he did not believe a word of it, and that he was sure it was
nothing but a *pack of lies;* that it was a libel on the Government, and
the man who wrote it ought to be prosecuted. I thought this was as good as
the `Contract' itself, and knew it would afford you some amusement."
Clemens said: "That does amuse me, but does not surprise me.  It is not
possible to write a burlesque so broad that some innocent will not receive
it in good faith as being a solemn statement of fact....Before I end this
paragraph and this subject, I wish to remark that maybe the gentleman who
said my `Beef Contract' article was a libel upon the Government was
right--though I had certainly always thought differently about it. I wrote
that article in Washington, in November, 1867, during Andrew Johnson's
reign. It was suggested by Senator Stewart's account of a tedious,
tiresome, and exasperating search which he had made through the Land
Office and the Treasury Department, among no end of lofty and supercilious
clerks, to find out something which he ought to have been able to find out
at ten minutes' notice. I mislaid the MS. at the time, and never found it
again until last April. It was not a libel on the Govenrment in 1867. Mr.
Stewart still lives to testify to that." All of that rings pretty true to

We'll include it in Early Tales 4 (if we survive). Lou Budd reprints it
in the first of his two Library of America volumes.

Bob Hirst
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