And The Patent Medicine Ad
Dean Edell; Bob Slotta
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Mark Twain And The Patent Medicine Ad
Date: Friday, July 14, 2000 6:03 AM
Does anybody know which piece radio host Dr. Dean Edell refers to here?
Mark Twain And The Patent Medicine Ad
July 13, 2000
I can get a little ascerbic when talking about bogus health remedies, but I have to hand it to Mark Twain for writing one of the best retorts to an advertisment for a "miracle cure" elixir.
Remember, this was in 1905, when some patent medicines were based on herbs. Twain was in ill health himself when he was pitched the elixir for a life "without disease, death and always in youthful tonic." It also claimed to cure acne, appendicitis, corns, diabetes, dandruff, diptheria, measles, mumps, pneumonia, tapeworm and whooping cough.
In a biting response, Twain wrote: "The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet, also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree and scion of an ancestral profession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link."
Later on, he adds: "A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed, and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly gamered and do so richly deserve."
I can't help but wonder what Twain would say today if he saw all the food supplements on the market making unproven claims for almost everything.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
I am intimately familiar with this Mark Twain item. A.B. Paine wrote about it briefly in his 1912 Biography, and it is a small collection that Mark Twain himself assembled (patent medicine advertisement & a note by Twain and a dictation signed by him) which came into my possession several years ago. The quote in question, which contains errors from the original dictation hand written by Isabel Lyon and signed by Mark Twain, stems from an autograph dealer that I sold the collection to. The radio broadcast repeated the autograph dealer's errors, namely the incorrect word "Profession" somehow replaced the correct "procession", and the incorrect "gamered" is substituted for the correct "earned." If you read it correctly you will find this makes infinitely more sense. Thus, the radio source was an autograph dealer catalogue. The Twain quoted was an UNMAILED response to the Elixir company , who sought Mark Twain's endorsement for the elixir. Often Twain is at his best this way, writing or dictating letters and never intending to actually mail them.
I am making these corrections from memory, so there may be more subtle corrections to be made, and my notes aren't handy at the moment. As far as authenticity goes, you can rest assured the item is genuine Mark Twain. I have specialized in Mark Twain's handwriting for nearly two decades, and represent the only business that exclusively deals in rare Mark Twain memorabilia -- which is the only entity in the world that offers a double money back authenticity guarantee for handwritten material.
Twainiacally Yours, Bob Slotta / Admirable Books
3528 Mark Twain Drive
Hilliard, OH 43026
coming soon www.MarkTwainCollector.com
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