Note: When Huckleberry Finn was banned from the Denver Public Library, Mark Twain(1835-1910) responded with a letter blaming the incident on General Frederick Funston who was stationed in Denver. A small and rather humorous reflection of Twain's Anti-Imperialist attitude.

Some Emphatic Opinions on Moral and Other Influences in the Denver Library

Published in the New York Tribune (August 22, 1902)

A few days ago it was reported that Mark Twain's book, "Huckleberry Finn, had been barred out of the Denver Public Library. On learning this The Denver Post telegraphed to Mark Twain for an expression of his opinion on the subject. He sent the following letter, which is printed in The Post, which adds, however, that the efforts of the people who were trying to have Huckleberry Finn discarded from the library failed, and the book will be restored to the shelves. This is the letter:

    Your telegram reached me (per post) from York Village
    (which is a short brickbat throw from my house) yesterday
    afternoon when it was thirty hours old. And yet, in my
    experience, that was not only abnormally quick work for a
    telegraph company to do, but abnormally intelligent work
    for that kind of mummy to be whirling off out of its alleged

    Twenty-four hours earlier the Country Club had notified
    me that a stranger in Portsmouth (a half-hour from here)
    wished me to come to the club at 7:30 p.m., and call him
    up and talk upon a matter of business. I said: "Let him take
    the trolley and come over, if his business is worth the time
    and the fare to him."
    It was doubtless yourself -- and not in
    Portsmouth, but in Denver. I was not thinking much about
    business at the time, for the reason that a consultation of
    physicians was appointed for that hour (7:30) at my house
    to consider if means might be devised to save my wife's
    life. At the present writing -- Thursday afternoon -- it is
    believed that she will recover.

    When the watch was relieved an hour ago and I left the
    sick chamber to take my respite I began to frame answers
    to your dispatch, but it was only to entertain myself, for I
    am aware that I am not privileged to speak freely in this matter,
    funny as the occasion is and dearly as I should like
    to laugh at it; and when I can't speak freely I don't speak
    at all.

    You see, there are two or three pointers:

    First -- Huck Finn was turned out of a New England

    library seventeen years ago -- ostensibly on account of his
    morals; really to curry favor with a personage. There has
    been no other instance until now.

    Second -- A few months ago I published an article which
    threw mud at that pinchbeck hero, Funston, and his
    extraordinary morals.

    Third -- Huck's morals have stood the strain in Denver and in
    every English, German and French-speaking
    community in the world -- save one -- for seventeen years until now.

    Fourth -- The strain breaks the connection now.

    Fifth -- In Denver alone.

    Sixth -- Funston commands there.

    Seventh -- And has dependants and influence.

    When one puts these things together, the cat that is in the
    meal is disclosed -- and quite unmistakably.

    Said cat consists of a few persons who wish to curry favor
    with Funston, and whom God has not dealt kindly with in
    the matter of wisdom.

    Everybody in Denver knows this, even the dead people in
    the cemeteries. It may be that Funston has wit enough to
    know that these good idiots are adding another howling
    absurdity to his funny history; it may be that God has
    charitably spared him that degree of penetration, slight as it
    is. In any case, he is -- as usual -- a proper object of
    compassion, and the bowels of my sympathy are moved
    toward him.

    There's nobody for me to attack in this matter even with
    soft and gentle ridicule -- and I shouldn't ever think of
    using a grown up weapon in this kind of a nursery. Above
    all, I couldn't venture to attack the clergymen whom you
    mention, for I have their habits and live in the same glass
    house which they are occupying. I am always reading
    immoral books on the sly,
    and then selfishly trying to
    prevent other people from having the same wicked good

    No, if Satan's morals and Funston's are preferable to
    Huck's, let Huck's take a back seat; they can stand any
    ordinary competition, but not a combination like that. And
    I'm not going to defend them, anyway.

    Sincerely yours,

    S. L. Clemens.

    York Harbor, Aug. 14, 1902.

Public domain text taken from GENERAL/twain/denvpost.htm

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.