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Ken Bresler <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 18 Feb 2013 20:40:01 -0500
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Dear All:


            I know that "More Maxims of Mark" are considered authoritative.
Forgive me, but I can't understand why.


            The title is not "More Maxims of Mark Twain." The introductory
paragraph mentions Mark Twain, but does not attribute the maxims to Twain.
It reads: "These wisdoms are for the luring of youth toward high moral
altitudes [sic], and are built out of personal practice by Mark Twain."
Johnson cites no sources - which is especially unusual for a bibliographer.
As far as I know, the original sources for these maxims have not surfaced -
not letters or manuscripts or, perhaps, a single notebook - in more than 85


            Some people say that Johnson was trying to avoid antagonizing
the family and estate, and trying to avoid litigation by alluding that Twain
wrote the maxims without saying so. But I'm still not convinced.


            People say that Johnson could have seen Twain manuscripts and
they're still in private hands, but I'm not convinced.


            I know that this listserv has discussed "More Maxims of Mark,"
although I can't retrieve a lot of the exchange.


            I know that this maxim "It is the foreign element that commits
our crimes. There is no native American criminal class except Congress"
resembles "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no
distinctly native American criminal class except Congress" from "Pudd'nhead
Wilson's New Calendar." 


            1. Are there other maxims that resemble verified quotations?
(I'm adding numbers to questions to make answering easier.)


On this listserv, on Nov. 4, 2004, Kevin Mac Donnell wrote: "Jim Zwik's note
providing alternative sources for ten of the maxims is exactly the kind of
thing I hoped my first posting might inspire. And his posting, in turn,
inspires some speculation."


2. Has any work been done since 2004 along these lines?


3. Does anyone know of verified quotations that resemble these maxims?


"Senator: Person who makes laws in Washington when not doing time."

"The new political gospel: Public office is private graft."

"Public servant: Persons chosen by the people to distribute the graft."

"Wherefore being all of one mind, we do highly resolve that government of
the grafted by the grafter for the grafter shall not perish from this

Vote: the only commodity that is peddleable without a license.


            4. Are there academic papers about "More Maxims of Mark"?


            5. Does anyone else doubt the authenticity "More Maxims of


            I'm not touting my future book, but I don't want to be secretive
either. I'm working on Mark Twain vs. Lawyers, Lawmakers, and Lawbreakers:
Humorous Observations.




Ken Bresler

Newton, Mass.