Truculent criticism for a hapless proofreader. Clemens heatedly inveighs against an unnamed proofreader in his publisher's employ: "Charley, Your proofreader is an idiot; & not only an idiot, but blind; & not only blind, but partly dead.
"Some of the spacing—most of it, in fact'—is absolutely disgraceful; but this goddamned ass never sees it. by God he can't see anything: he is blind & dead & rotten & ought to be thrown into the sewer." He closes the note with derogatory remarks about Webster's compositor: "That compositor Hoefer, is not a compositor at all, he is a 3-weeks apprentice." Ironically, Clemens's failed at a career as a typesetter himself. Anthony Kennedy, a printer who worked alongside Clemens, claimed that the latter "could not have set up an advertisement in acceptable form to save his life" (quoted by Jerome Loving in Mark Twain. The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens, p. 50)
Dissatisfied with his publisher, James R. Osgood, Clemens invited the husband of his niece, Charles L. Webster, to become titular director of the author's own subscription publishing firm. The firm enjoyed meteoric success with its first publication, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which had sold over 40,000 copies by the time it was issued in February 1885 (The Mark Twain Encyclopedia, eds. LeMaster and Wilson, p. 781). In this note, Clemens could be referring to Huck Finn, which in spite of his rebukes to Webster, was issued with several howling typographical errors.
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