University of Virginia Library


On 14 March 1866 an anthology of humorous writings called Wit and Humor; or, Odds and Ends was advertised in the New York Daily Tribune. Readers were encouraged to send the publisher, J. R. Sutherland and Co. of Philadelphia, $1.50 for a cloth-bound book or $1.00 for a paperback; in return they would receive a "thick volume" of selections, many by featured contributors with nationally recognized names. From that date the volume was the subject of an extensive advertising campaign which did not end until the third week of May.

Advertisements for Wit and Humor, in four textually distinct versions, appeared in at least nine prominent American publications. The Tribune advertisement ran in each issue through 20 March. On 17 March the same text began appearing in the New York Saturday Press (see figure 1), the leading paper of America’s Bohemian avant-garde, where it was printed, with evident care, ultimately in nine consecutive issues. Starting on 25 March this Tribune-Saturday Press version was in turn published in two issues running of the New York Sunday Mercury, one of the widest-circulating periodicals in the nation. A second version, with wording that described an apparently later conception of the volume, likewise began on 14 March, in the Washington, D.C., Daily National Republican. This form was in turn printed in the Round Table (see figure 2), New York’s self-consciously stuffy literary weekly, on 24 and 31 March. The text is also distinguished by the inclusion of "Mrs. Partington" as a contributor and the omission of "Pomeroy Brick." On 15 March a third version, reflecting the change to Mrs. Partington and today conspicuous for the error "Mark Train," made the first of six appearances in the New York Times. This text, misprint and all, would reappear later in the month, beginning on 26 March, in six issues of the Boston Evening Transcript. A fourth version, including both "Mrs. Partington" and "Pomeroy Brick" but omitting "Josh Billings," appeared in every issue of the New York Evening Express from 23 through 31 March and in every issue of the Springfield (Mass.) Republican from 27 March through 2 April.1


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The anthology was likely a piracy: of the contributors named in the advertisements, most had national reputations, and all but two had already published their works in authorized editions. The two exceptions were "'Bret,' of The Californian" and Mark Twain. Depending on how the measurement is taken, Wit and Humor was their first book.

"Bret" was of course Francis Bret Harte (1836–1902). He had already edited a book, Outcroppings: Being Selections of California Verse, which was published by Anton Roman in San Francisco in December 1865 (copyrighted 1866). Harte selected many of the poems in this volume, but included none of his own; he wrote a brief preface, but did not sign it. The first authorized book of his own writings would be called Condensed Novels and Other Papers. When assembled, the manuscript for this volume would consist mainly of pieces written for the Californian, a San Francisco literary weekly founded in 1864 by New York transplant and Outcroppings contributor Charles Henry Webb (1834 – 1905). Harte and Webb alternately edited the Californian, and in seeking a publisher for his collection, Harte may have consulted with his more worldly colleague. Eventually secured (with the help of the New York agent of Anton Roman) was George W. Carleton, Webb's friend and publisher and the publisher of a number of other notable humorists, including Artemus Ward. When Harte's book appeared in October 1867, it drew favorable notices, but the author soon grew unhappy in his relationship with Carleton. In a letter to James R. Osgood, he revealed that his arrangement with Carleton was informal and expressed a desire to have Osgood's company publish a revised Condensed Novels (this came to pass in 1871). Harte also revealed that Carleton printed 1,800 copies of the original edition and intended to print no more; bibliographical investigation by Nathan Van Patten discovered that the edition comprised separate issues, in 1867 and 1870, likely constituted respectively of 1,500 and 300 copies.


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FIGURE 1. One of the versions of the advertisement in its early state: example from the New York Saturday Press, 31 March 1866, p. 8 (original size approximately 4.5 × 7.0 cm).

FIGURE 2. The later state of the advertisement: example from the Round Table 3 (24 March 1866): 189 (original size approximately 5.5 × 7.5 cm).


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Harte brought out a second book two or three months after Condensed Novels appeared: The Lost Galleon and Other Tales was a collection of some of his poems, finely printed by Towne and Bacon in San Francisco at the end of 1867. This volume also drew notice in the East, though it was unfavorably compared to Condensed Novels and Harte was warned of adopting a poetic demeanor imitative of Holmes.2

As for Mark Twain, he would beat Harte to market by five months with a book of his own, despite its having been refused in prospect by Carleton in early 1867.3 The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, And other Sketches appeared at the end of April 1867, through the enterprising efforts of the ubiquitous Webb. He had returned to New York one year earlier, and sold his interest in the Californian within a few months (having briefly considered transferring it to New York).4 Mark Twain followed him to New York in January 1867, where Webb arranged for him to see Carleton about publishing a collection of his sketches from the


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Californian and the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. Webb then came to his aid when Carleton sent the author away: he published the book himself, or jointly with the American News Company. A Webb penname, "John Paul," appeared on the title page as editor, along with his real name as publisher; he also copyrighted the book in his own name (an action that would eventually contribute to the disruption of his relationship with the author).

Apart from Wit and Humor, two other unauthorized collections published before 1867 contained Mark Twain writings. The first was Fun for Three Months (New York: T. W. Strong, 1864 or 1865), an anthology partly composed of sheets of the humor journal Yankee Notions. In the issue of Yankee Notions for April 1864, a Mark Twain item appeared below the editorial title, "The Play of Ingomar in California." Jacob Blanck described Fun for Three Months as a "twilight book," a classification he applied to publications "made up of the sheets of the original periodical publication, or produced from the plates thereof... ."5 The questioned status of this volume has contributed to the tendency to regard the second unauthorized anthology, Beadle's Dime Book of Fun No. 3, as the first book in which Mark Twain's work appeared. Itself little more than a pamphlet at 80 pages, the Beadle volume was the third in a series, and it also had the appearance of a periodical. Blanck did not regard it as a periodical or a twilight book however, and it contained three items by Mark Twain, all copied from periodical printings.6 The presumed issue date of the third Dime Book of Fun was April 19, 1866, however— more than one month later than the appearance of the first advertisements for Wit and Humor. The later versions of these advertisements imply that the volume had already been published; the advertisements also mark the first time that the names of Bret Harte and Mark Twain were used to attract Eastern readers. Unlike the Beadle volume, Wit and Humor was promoted in literary papers and advertised as an anthology of the writings of particular authors.

No further sign of Wit and Humor has been discovered after the advertisement in the Saturday Press of 12 May; none of the copies that the publisher advertised as ready for shipment has been located. Of that publisher, J. R. Sutherland, little can be said with confidence. Beyond the advertised mailing address, a Philadel-


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phia cxsonnection has not been established: the name is not listed as a person or business in the Philadelphia directories, and Sutherland advertisements have not been found in Philadelphia newspapers.7 The instruction in Sutherland's advertisements, "Mailed to any address on receipt of price," is characteristic of the advertisements of publishers of cheap editions, especially the large Philadelphia establishment T. B. Peterson and Brothers. This firm frequently advertised in Eastern newspapers of this period; in the New York Tribune of 16 March 1866, for example, a T. B. Peterson advertisement appeared almost adjacent to the advertisement for Wit and Humor, offering to ship the novels of Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth "postage paid on receipt of retail price." However, most of the books by American authors on Peterson's long list were, like the novels by Mrs. Southworth, commissioned by that publisher.8 While there will be cause further to discuss T. B. Peterson and Brothers in another context, this company was unlikely to have been connected with Wit and Humor, despite the Sutherland company's advertised Philadelphia address and similar approach to marketing and sales.

J. R. Sutherland was almost certainly a Canadian firm; the evidence for this deduction is cumulative and sufficiently convincing. J. R. Sutherland and Company (and A. R. and J. R. Sutherland) published gazetteers and business directories of Canada West counties in the early and mid-1860s. For example, J. R. or James Sutherland was compiler and publisher of the 1862 volume for Oxford County and the 1865–1866 volume for the combined counties of Northumberland and Durham; A. R. and J. R. Sutherland published the volumes for Brant County that same year, and for Kent County the previous year (1864–65). J. R.'s location was shown as Woodstock, a town in Oxford County, while the A. R. and J. R. Sutherland company was located in Ingersoll, a town ten miles further to the west in the same county. A few years earlier, possibly as far back as 1856, James Sutherland was living in the United States. There he compiled and published directories and other works at least until 1860, possibly for Michigan and Wisconsin. Beginning in 1858 he published directories for Indiana, Kansas, and Missouri, mostly with a partner named Henry N. McEvoy. Perhaps war's outbreak brought him and McEvoy to Canada, where the partnership eventually resumed: in 1870 the two men were collaborating on Canadian county directories. J. R. Sutherland was also listed in 1870 as publishing a monthly journal in Hamilton, Ontario. According to a contemporary Canadian practice, Sutherland may have been a distributor rather than the actual producer of Wit


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and Humor. In attested instances of this practice a Canadian printing house would perform the presswork for a particular unauthorized edition of a work by an American author, presumably using an original American printing as printer's copy. The resulting copies would be identical except for advertising matter and different title page imprints belonging to particular Canadian news dealers. A tantalizing clue that potentially connects Wit and Humor to this practice concerns Sutherland's partner, McEvoy. In 1869, McEvoy was the editor and compiler for the C. E. Anderson company, the gazetteer and directory branch of the Daily Telegraph Printing House in Toronto. As will be discussed in the following section, this printing company, owned by John Ross Robertson and James B. Cook, produced unauthorized editions of Mark Twain's first books the following year (1870), according to the method just described.9

However Wit and Humor may have been produced, it is likely to have been the first book in which the sketches of Bret Harte and Mark Twain were featured. The presence of their names in advertisements in the East is also without known precedent. The advertisements are important evidence of the early national esteem of California's two leading authors, and invite questions relating to the progress of their careers. As these questions are pursued, particular revelations about Bret Harte and Mark Twain disclose connections to a larger literary landscape, in its commercial and artistic dimensions, during the transformative 1860s. The deceptively narrow testimony provided by the advertisements acts ultimately as a prism through which the strands of an inadequately remembered world of publishing and authorship appear: democratic and nonconforming, centered in New York and not Boston, looking westward for new inspiration and audiences.


Advertisements for Wit and Humor; or, Odds and Ends, have been found in the following publications and issues:
Daily Tribune (New York). 14 through 20 March 1866 (p. 2)
Saturday Press (New York). Vol. 5; 17, 24, and 31 March, 7, 14, 21, 28 April, and 5 and 12 May (p. 8 of each issue).
Sunday Mercury (New York). Vol. 28; 25 March (p. 7) and 1 April (p. 6).
Clipper (New York). Vol. 13; 31 March (p. 405) and 7 April (p. 413).
The Field and Fireside (Raleigh, N. C.). Vol. 12; 14, 21, and 28 April (pp. 119, 127, and 135, respectively).
Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.). 14 through 22 March 1866 (p. 3); the paper did not issue on Sunday, 18 March. On 14 and 15 March the advertisement bore the printer's abbreviation "mh 14" (for March 14), and thereafter "mh14-6td2tw," or, (from) March 14, six times, daily to 22 (March).
Round Table (New York). Vol. 3; 24 March (p. 189) and 31 March (p. 206; the thirteenth and fourteenth pages respectively of sixteen pages).
Times (New York). 15 through 21 March (p. 7), except for Sunday, the 18th.
Evening Transcript (Boston). 26 through 31 March (each time with the printer's abbreviation "mh 26 6t," a reminder to run the advertisement six times from March 26th forward).
Evening Express (New York). Eight consecutive issues (the Evening Express did not print on Sundays), 23 through 31 March (p. 3).
Republican (Springfield, Mass.). Six consecutive issues (the Republican did not print on Sundays), from 27 March through 2 April (with the printers abbreviation: m27 6d2w).
The early textual versions seem to describe an early conception of the volume, before it was published (e.g., "This unique volume will also contain"), while the later version suggests that the book has already been published ("This unique volume contains ...").
The line "laugh and grow fat" is present in all advertisements except the original Tribune-Saturday Press-Sunday Mercury version. The presence of this aphorism in multi-partite titles of song books and compendia of humor dating to the mid-eighteenth century suggests that the phrase might also have been part of the title of Wit and Humor. Another substantive difference among the versions indicates that the book as initially conceived had different contents: "Darkey Wit" is listed in the three textually early versions but not in the late one.


See Harte to James R. Osgood and Co., 30 May 1870 (MS in the Stanford University Library), printed in Nathan Van Patten, Concerning "Condensed Novels" by Bret Harte (Stanford Univ. Press, 1929), pp. xix–xxi. Van Patten discusses the two issues of the Carleton Condensed Novels on pp. xi–xv; see also Harte to Fields, Osgood and Co., 23 April 1869, in The Letters of Bret Harte, ed. Geoffrey Bret Harte (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1926), p. 6. Carleton first announced Condensed Novels on 1 October 1867 ("Announcements," American Literary Gazette 9 [1 October 1867]: 306); Carleton also reportedly claimed to be the "New York publishers of Harte's Lost Galleon," though the company probably distributed the copies printed by Towne and Bacon ("Table Talk," Round Table 7 [21 March 1868]: 187). Condensed Novels was reviewed in the Atlantic Monthly 21 (January 1868): 128. For reviews of The Lost Galleon and Other Tales, see "Library Table," Round Table 7 (14 March 1868): 169–170; Nation 6 (23 April 1868): 335; and Putnam's Magazine, new series 1 (May 1868): 644. In his Bret Harte: A Bibliography Gary Scharnhorst cites reviews in the Western press that indicate that The Lost Galleon was released in San Francisco in December 1867, perhaps two and one-half months after Condensed Novels (Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1995, see p. 195).


Reacting to Carleton's rejection in a letter to Charles Warren Stoddard in San Francisco, Mark Twain wrote from New York, "How is Bret? He is publishing with a Son of a Bitch who will swindle him, & he may print that opinion if he chooses, with my name signed to it. I don't know how his book is coming on—we of Bohemia keep away from Carleton's" (23 April 1867, Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 2: 1867-1868 [Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1990], p. 30). Mark Twain's self-identification in this letter, "we of Bohemia," relates to the discussion in section III of this article. Toward Carleton—who was in fact Bohemia's preferred publisher—Mark Twain nursed an animosity until a chance encounter in Switzerland in 1888, at which time, the author reported, Carleton told him,"I am substantially an obscure person, but I have at least one distinction to my credit of such colossal dimensions that it entitles me to immortality—to wit: I refused a book of yours, and for this I stand without competitor as the prize ass of the nineteenth century" (Mark Twain, "Chapters from My Autobiography—II," North American Review 183 [September 21, 1906]: 451; see also Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2, ed. Benjamin Griffin, Harriet Elinor Smith, et al. [Mark Twain Project of the Bancroft Library, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2013], p. 47).


Webb sold his one-quarter share of the Californian to the new editor, James Bowman, for about $150; the exchange is recorded in a letter to Webb from Bret Harte, in which Harte also reveals that he left the Californian on 1 August 1866 (18 October 1866, MS in The Bancroft Library, University of California). The contemplated transfer of the Californian "from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast" was reported in an untitled paragraph in the New York Leader 11 (21 October 1865): 4.


Fun for Three Months. Illustrated with a Large Number of Beautiful Engravings... . New York: T. W. Strong, n. d. (BAL 3308; BAL preface, p. xxi). The "Ingomar" sketch appeared under the heading "The Play of Ingomar in California" in Yankee Notions 13 (April 1864): 125. The copy consulted by Blanck was in a private collection (FCW); at least two copies are now publicly owned in the United States (at UCLA and TxU). The play Ingomar the Barbarian is an English adaptation of a German-language drama (Der Sohn der Wildnes, 1842). Mark Twain saw it produced at Maguire's Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada, and wrote a satirical review for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. The first printing in the Enterprise is not known to survive, but the text was reprinted in the San Francisco literary paper the Golden Era, which was the source of the text in Yankee Notions ("'Ingomar' over the Mountains. The 'Argument,'" Golden Era 11 [29 November 1863]: 5).


Beadle's Dime No. 3 Book of Fun. Comprising Good Things from the Best Wits. And a Rare Collection of Laughable Stories and Jokes (New York: Beadle and Co., 1866, BAL 3309). In recording the title as it appeared on the title page, Blanck was aware that the publisher intended for the title to be Beadle's Dime Book of Fun No. 3. The intended word order of the title appeared on the paper cover, which is reproduced on p. 404 of vol. 1 of Albert Johannsen's history of the Beadle company (see note 62 below).


McElroy's Philadelphia City Directory for 1865 ... Twenty-Eighth Edition (Philadelphia: A. McElroy, 1865). Citations for the volumes for 1866 and 1867 are identical, but for the more recent year and publication date and correspondingly higher edition number; also searched were the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Free Press, and the American Literary Gazette and Publishers' Circular.


Peterson catalogues appear in many Peterson volumes, usually at the back. A catalogue is so printed in Speech of George Francis Train, on Irish Independence, and English Neutrality ... October 18th, 1865. A version of the following message appears at the bottom of almost every page of the catalogue in that volume: "☞Copies of any of the above works will be sent by Mail, free of Postage, to any part of the United States, on receipt of the retail price, by T. B. Peterson & Brothers, Philadelphia."