twain

Mark Twain’s Speeches, by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens). This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Mark Twain’s Speeches Author: Mark Twain

(Samuel Clemens) Release Date: August 19, 2006 [EBook http://impiousdigest.com/the-classics-mark-twains-speeches/all/1/#3188] Language: English Character set encoding: ASCII Produced by David Widger

MARK TWAIN’S SPEECHES

by Mark Twain

CONTENTS:

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. PREFACE
  3. THE STORY OF A SPEECH
  4. PLYMOUTH ROCK AND THE PILGRIMS
  5. COMPLIMENTS AND DEGREES
  6. BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND HATS
  7. DEDICATION SPEECH
  8. DIE SCHRECKEN DER DEUTSCHEN SPRACHE. [THE HORRORS OF THE GERMAN LANGUAGE]
  9. GERMAN FOR THE HUNGARIANS
  10. A NEW GERMAN WORD
  11. UNCONSCIOUS PLAGIARISM
  12. THE WEATHER
  13. THE BABIES
  14. OUR CHILDREN AND GREAT DISCOVERIES
  15. EDUCATING THEATRE-GOERS
  16. THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE
  17. POETS AS POLICEMEN
  18. PUDD’NHEAD WILSON DRAMATIZED
  19. DALY THEATRE
  20. THE DRESS OF CIVILIZED WOMAN
  21. DRESS REFORM AND COPYRIGHT
  22. COLLEGE GIRLS
  23. GIRLS
  24. THE LADIES
  25. WOMAN’S PRESS CLUB
  26. VOTES FOR WOMEN
  27. WOMAN-AN OPINION
  28. ADVICE TO GIRLS
  29. TAXES AND MORALS
  30. TAMMANY AND CROKER MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT
  31. CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES
  32. THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL MORALS
  33. LAYMAN’S SERMON
  34. UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT SOCIETY
  35. PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
  36. EDUCATION AND CITIZENSHIP
  37. COURAGE
  38. THE DINNER TO MR. CHOATE
  39. ON STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE
  40. HENRY M. STANLEY
  41. DINNER TO MR. JEROME HENRY IRVING
  42. DINNER TO HAMILTON W. MABIE
  43. INTRODUCING NYE AND RILEY
  44. DINNER TO WHITELAW REID
  45. ROGERS AND RAILROADS
  46. THE OLD-FASHIONED PRINTER
  47. SOCIETY OF AMERICAN AUTHORS
  48. READING-ROOM OPENING
  49. LITERATURE
  50. DISAPPEARANCE OF LITERATURE
  51. THE NEW YORK PRESS CLUB DINNER
  52. THE ALPHABET AND SIMPLIFIED SPELLING
  53. SPELLING AND PICTURES
  54. BOOKS AND BURGLARS
  55. AUTHORS’ CLUB
  56. BOOKSELLERS
  57. “MARK TWAIN’s FIRST APPEARANCE”
  58. MORALS AND MEMORY
  59. QUEEN VICTORIA
  60. JOAN OF ARC
  61. ACCIDENT INSURANCE–ETC.
  62. OSTEOPATHY
  63. WATER-SUPPLY
  64. MISTAKEN IDENTITY
  65. CATS AND CANDY
  66. OBITUARY POETRY
  67. CIGARS AND TOBACCO
  68. BILLIARDS
  69. THE UNION RIGHT OR WRONG?
  70. AN IDEAL FRENCH ADDRESS
  71. STATISTICS
  72. GALVESTON ORPHAN BAZAAR
  73. SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE
  74. CHARITY AND ACTORS
  75. RUSSIAN REPUBLIC
  76. RUSSIAN SUFFERERS
  77. WATTERSON AND TWAIN AS REBELS
  78. ROBERT FULTON FUND
  79. FULTON DAY, JAMESTOWN
  80. LOTOS CLUB DINNER IN HONOR OF MARK TWAIN
  81. COPYRIGHT
  82. IN AID OF THE BLIND
  83. DR. MARK TWAIN, FARMEOPATH
  84. MISSOURI UNIVERSITY SPEECH
  85. BUSINESS
  86. CARNEGIE THE BENEFACTOR
  87. ON POETRY, VERACITY, AND SUICIDE
  88. WELCOME HOME
  89. AN UNDELIVERED SPEECH
  90. SIXTY-SEVENTH BIRTHDAY
  91. TO THE WHITEFRIARS
  92. THE ASCOT GOLD CUP
  93. THE SAVAGE CLUB DINNER
  94. GENERAL MILES AND THE DOG
  95. WHEN IN DOUBT, TELL THE TRUTH
  96. THE DAY WE CELEBRATE
  97. INDEPENDENCE DAY
  98. AMERICANS AND THE ENGLISH
  99. ABOUT LONDON
  100. PRINCETON
  101. THE ST. LOUIS HARBOR-BOAT “MARK TWAIN”
  102. SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY

 

INTRODUCTION

These speeches will address themselves to the minds and hearts of those who read them, but not with the effect they had with those who heard them; Clemens himself would have said, not with half the effect. I have noted elsewhere how he always held that the actor doubled the value of the author’s words; and he was a great actor as well as a great author. He was a most consummate actor, with this difference from other actors, that he was the first to know the thoughts and invent the fancies to which his voice and action gave the color of life. Representation is the art of other actors; his art was creative as well as representative; it was nothing at second hand.

I never heard Clemens speak when I thought he quite failed; some burst or spurt redeemed him when he seemed flagging short of the goal, and, whoever else was in the running, he came in ahead. His near-failures were the error of a rare trust to the spontaneity in which other speakers confide, or are believed to confide, when they are on their feet. He knew that from the beginning of oratory the orator’s spontaneity was for the silence and solitude of the closet where he mused his words to an imagined audience; that this was the use of orators from Demosthenes and Cicero up and down. He studied every word and syllable, and memorized them by a system of mnemonics peculiar to himself, consisting of an arbitrary arrangement of things on a table–knives, forks, salt-cellars; inkstands, pens, boxes, or whatever was at hand–which stood for points and clauses and climaxes, and were at once indelible diction and constant suggestion. He studied every tone and every gesture, and he forecast the result with the real audience from its result with that imagined audience. Therefore, it was beautiful to see him and to hear him; he rejoiced in the pleasure he gave and the blows of surprise which he dealt; and because he had his end in mind, he knew when to stop.

I have been talking of his method and manner; the matter the reader has here before him; and it is good matter, glad, honest, kind, just.

W. D. HOWELLS.

 

 

PREFACE

FROM THE PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION OF “MARK TWAIN’S SKETCHES”

If I were to sell the reader a barrel of molasses, and he, instead of sweetening his substantial dinner with the same at judicious intervals, should eat the entire barrel at one sitting, and then abuse me for making him sick, I would say that he deserved to be made sick for not knowing any better how to utilize the blessings this world affords. And if I sell to the reader this volume of nonsense, and he, instead of seasoning his graver reading with a chapter of it now and then, when his mind demands such relaxation, unwisely overdoses himself with several chapters of it at a single sitting, he will deserve to be nauseated, and he will have nobody to blame but himself if he is. There is no more sin in publishing an entire volume of nonsense than there is in keeping a candy-store with no hardware in it. It lies wholly with the customer whether he will injure himself by means of either, or will derive from them the benefits which they will afford him if he uses their possibilities judiciously. Respectfully submitted, THE AUTHOR.

 

 

MARK TWAIN’S SPEECHES

 

THE STORY OF A SPEECH

An address delivered in 1877, and a review of it twenty-nine years later. The original speech was delivered at a dinner given by the publishers of The Atlantic Monthly in honor of the seventieth anniversary o f the birth of John Greenleaf Whittier, at the Hotel Brunswick, Boston, December 17, 1877.

This is an occasion peculiarly meet for the digging up of pleasant reminiscences concerning literary folk; therefore I will drop lightly into history myself. Standing here on the shore of the Atlantic and contemplating certain of its largest literary billows, I am reminded of a thing which happened to me thirteen years ago, when I had just succeeded in stirring up a little Nevadian literary puddle myself, whose spume-flakes were beginning to blow thinly Californiaward. I started an inspection tramp through the southern mines of California. I was callow and conceited, and I resolved to try the virtue of my ‘nom de guerre’.

I very soon had an opportunity. I knocked at a miner’s lonely log cabin in the foot-hills of the Sierras just at nightfall. It was snowing at the time. A jaded, melancholy man of fifty, barefooted, opened the door to me. When he heard my ‘nom de guerre’ he looked more dejected than before. He let me in–pretty reluctantly, I thought–and after the customary bacon and beans, black coffee and hot whiskey, I took a pipe. This sorrowful man had not said three words up to this time. Now he spoke up and said, in the voice of one who is secretly suffering, “You’re the fourth–I’m going to move.” “The fourth what?” said I. “The fourth littery man that has been here in twenty-four hours–I’m going to move.” “You don’t tell me!” said I; “who were the others?” “Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Emerson, and Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes–consound the lot!”

You can, easily believe I was interested. I supplicated–three hot whiskeys did the rest–and finally the melancholy miner began. Said he:

“They came here just at dark yesterday evening, and I let them in of course. Said they were going to the Yosemite. They were a rough lot, but that’s nothing; everybody looks rough that travels afoot. Mr. Emerson was a seedy little bit of a chap, red-headed. Mr. Holmes was as fat as a balloon; he weighed as much as three hundred, and had double chins all the way down to his stomach. Mr. Longfellow was built like a prizefighter. His head was cropped and bristly, like as if he had a wig made of hair-brushes. His nose lay straight down, his face, like a finger with the end joint tilted up. They had been drinking, I could see that. And what queer talk they used! Mr. Holmes inspected this cabin, then he took me by the buttonhole, and says he:

“‘Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings, Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!’

“Says I, ‘I can’t afford it, Mr. Holmes, and moreover I don’t want to.’ Blamed if I liked it pretty well, either, coming from a stranger, that way. However, I started to get out my bacon and beans, when Mr. Emerson came and looked on awhile, and then he takes me aside by the buttonhole and says:

“‘Give me agates for my meat; Give me cantharids to eat; From air and ocean bring me foods, From all zones and altitudes.’

“Says I, ‘Mr. Emerson, if you’ll excuse me, this ain’t no hotel.’ You see it sort of riled me–I warn’t used to the ways of littery swells. But I went on a-sweating over my work, and next comes Mr. Longfellow and buttonholes me, and interrupts me. Says he:

“‘Honor be to Mudjekeewis! You shall hear how Pau-Puk-Keewis–‘

“But I broke in, and says I, ‘Beg your pardon, Mr. Longfellow, if you’ll be so kind as to hold your yawp for about five minutes and let me get this grub ready, you’ll do me proud.’ Well, sir, after they’d filled up I set out the jug. Mr. Holmes looks at it, and then he fires up all of a sudden and yells:

“Flash out a stream of blood-red wine! For I would drink to other days.’

“By George, I was getting kind of worked up. I don’t deny it, I was getting kind of worked up. I turns to Mr. Holmes, and says I, ‘Looky here, my fat friend, I’m a-running this shanty, and if the court knows herself, you’ll take whiskey straight or you’ll go dry.’ Them’s the very words I said to him. Now I don’t want to sass such famous littery people, but you see they kind of forced me. There ain’t nothing onreasonable ’bout me; I don’t mind a passel of guests a-treadin’ on my tail three or four times, but when it comes to standing on it it’s different, ‘and if the court knows herself,’ I says, ‘you’ll take whiskey straight or you’ll go dry.’ Well, between drinks they’d swell around the cabin and strike attitudes and spout; and pretty soon they got out a greasy old deck and went to playing euchre at ten cents a corner–on trust. I began to notice some pretty suspicious things. Mr. Emerson dealt, looked at his hand, shook his head, says:

“‘I am the doubter and the doubt–‘

and ca’mly bunched the hands and went to shuffling for a new layout. Says he:

“‘They reckon ill who leave me out; They know not well the subtle ways I keep. I pass and deal again!’

Hang’d if he didn’t go ahead and do it, too! Oh, he was a cool one! Well, in about a minute things were running pretty tight, but all of a sudden I see by Mr. Emerson’s eye he judged he had ’em. He had already corralled two tricks, and each of the others one. So now he kind of lifts a little in his chair and says:

“‘I tire of globes and aces! Too long the game is played!’

–and down he fetched a right bower. Mr. Longfellow smiles as sweet as pie and says:

“‘Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, For the lesson thou hast taught,’

–and blamed if he didn’t down with another right bower! Emerson claps his hand on his bowie, Longfellow claps his on his revolver, and I went under a bunk. There was going to be trouble; but that monstrous Holmes rose up, wobbling his double chins, and says he, ‘Order, gentlemen; the first man that draws, I’ll lay down on him and smother him!’ All quiet on the Potomac, you bet!

“They were pretty how-come-you-so by now, and they begun to blow. Emerson says, ‘The nobbiest thing I ever wrote was “Barbara Frietchie.”‘ Says Longfellow, ‘It don’t begin with my “Biglow Papers.”‘ Says Holmes, ‘My “Thanatopsis” lays over ’em both.’ They mighty near ended in a fight. Then they wished they had some more company–and Mr. Emerson pointed to me and says:

“‘Is yonder squalid peasant all That this proud nursery could breed?’

He was a-whetting his bowie on his boot–so I let it pass. Well, sir, next they took it into their heads that they would like some music; so they made me stand up and sing “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” till I dropped-at thirteen minutes past four this morning. That’s what I’ve been through, my friend. When I woke at seven, they were leaving, thank goodness, and Mr. Longfellow had my only boots on, and his’n under his arm. Says I, ‘Hold on, there, Evangeline, what are you going to do with them?’ He says, ‘Going to make tracks with ’em; because:

“‘Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime; And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time.’

“As I said, Mr. Twain, you are the fourth in twenty-four hours–and I’m going to move; I ain’t suited to a littery atmosphere.”

I said to the miner, “Why, my dear sir, these were not the gracious singers to whom we and the world pay loving reverence and homage; these were impostors.”

The miner investigated me with a calm eye for a while; then said he, “Ah! impostors, were they? Are you?”

I did not pursue the subject, and since then I have not travelled on my ‘nom de guerre’ enough to hurt. Such was the reminiscence I was moved to contribute, Mr. Chairman. In my enthusiasm I may have exaggerated the details a little, but you will easily forgive me that fault, since I believe it is the first time I have ever deflected from perpendicular fact on an occasion like this.

…………………….

From Mark Twain’s Autobiography.

January 11, 1906.

Answer to a letter received this morning:

DEAR MRS. H.,–I am forever your debtor for reminding me of that curious passage in my life. During the first year or, two after it happened, I could not bear to think of it. My pain and shame were so intense, and my sense of having been an imbecile so settled, established and confirmed, that I drove the episode entirely from my mind–and so all these twenty-eight or twenty-nine years I have lived in the conviction that my performance of that time was coarse, vulgar, and destitute of humor. But your suggestion that you and your family found humor in it twenty-eight years ago moved me to look into the matter. So I commissioned a Boston typewriter to delve among the Boston papers of that bygone time and send me a copy of it.

It came this morning, and if there is any vulgarity about it I am not able to discover it. If it isn’t innocently and ridiculously funny, I am no judge. I will see to it that you get a copy.

What I have said to Mrs. H. is true. I did suffer during a year or two from the deep humiliations of that episode. But at last, in 1888, in Venice, my wife and I came across Mr. and Mrs. A. P. C., of Concord, Massachusetts, and a friendship began then of the sort which nothing but death terminates. The C.’s were very bright people and in every way charming and companionable. We were together a month or two in Venice and several months in Rome, afterward, and one day that lamented break of mine was mentioned. And when I was on the point of lathering those people for bringing it to my mind when I had gotten the memory of it almost squelched, I perceived with joy that the C.’s were indignant about the way that my performance had been received in Boston. They poured out their opinions most freely and frankly about the frosty attitude of the people who were present at that performance, and about the Boston newspapers for the position they had taken in regard to the matter. That position was that I had been irreverent beyond belief, beyond imagination. Very well; I had accepted that as a fact for a year or two, and had been thoroughly miserable about it whenever I thought of it –which was not frequently, if I could help it. Whenever I thought of it I wondered how I ever could have been inspired to do so unholy a thing. Well, the C.’s comforted me, but they did not persuade me to continue to think about the unhappy episode. I resisted that. I tried to get it out of my mind, and let it die, and I succeeded. Until Mrs. H.’s letter came, it had been a good twenty-five years since I had thought of that matter; and when she said that the thing was funny I wondered if possibly she might be right. At any rate, my curiosity was aroused, and I wrote to Boston and got the whole thing copied, as above set forth.

I vaguely remember some of the details of that gathering–dimly I can see a hundred people–no, perhaps fifty–shadowy figures sitting at tables feeding, ghosts now to me, and nameless forevermore. I don’t know who they were, but I can very distinctly see, seated at the grand table and facing the rest of us, Mr. Emerson, supernaturally grave, unsmiling; Mr. Whittier, grave, lovely, his beautiful spirit shining out of his face; Mr. Longfellow, with his silken white hair and his benignant face; Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, flashing smiles and affection and all good-fellowship everywhere like a rose-diamond whose facets are being turned toward the light first one way and then another–a charming man, and always fascinating, whether he was talking or whether he was sitting still (what he would call still, but what would be more or less motion to other people). I can see those figures with entire distinctness across this abyss of time.

One other feature is clear–Willie Winter (for these past thousand years dramatic editor of the New York Tribune, and still occupying that high post in his old age) was there. He was much younger then than he is now, and he showed ‘it. It was always a pleasure to me to see Willie Winter at a banquet. During a matter of twenty years I was seldom at a banquet where Willie Winter was not also present, and where he did not read a charming poem written for the occasion. He did it this time, and it was up to standard: dainty, happy, choicely phrased, and as good to listen to as music, and sounding exactly as if it was pouring unprepared out of heart and brain.

Now at that point ends all that was pleasurable about that notable celebration of Mr. Whittier’s seventieth birthday–because I got up at that point and followed Winter, with what I have no doubt I supposed would be the gem of the evening–the gay oration above quoted from the Boston paper. I had written it all out the day before and had perfectly memorized it, and I stood up there at my genial and happy and self-satisfied ease, and began to deliver it. Those majestic guests; that row of venerable and still active volcanoes, listened; as did everybody else in the house, with attentive interest. Well, I delivered myself of–we’ll say the first two hundred words of my speech. I was expecting no returns from that part of the speech, but this was not the case as regarded the rest of it. I arrived now at the dialogue: “The old miner said, ‘You are the fourth, I’m going to move.’ ‘The fourth what?’ said I. He answered, ‘The fourth littery man that has been here in twenty-four hours. I am going to move.’ ‘Why, you don’t tell me;’ said I. ‘Who were the others?’ ‘Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Emerson, Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, consound the lot–‘”

Now, then, the house’s attention continued, but the expression of interest in the faces turned to a sort of black frost. I wondered what the trouble was. I didn’t know. I went on, but with difficulty –I struggled along, and entered upon that miner’s fearful description of the bogus Emerson, the bogus Holmes, the bogus Longfellow, always hoping –but with a gradually perishing hope that somebody–would laugh, or that somebody would at least smile, but nobody did. I didn’t know enough to give it up and sit down, I was too new to public speaking, and so I went on with this awful performance, and carried it clear through to the end, in front of a body of people who seemed turned to stone with horror. It was the sort of expression their faces would have worn if I had been making these remarks about the Deity and the rest of the Trinity; there is no milder way, in which to describe the petrified condition and the ghastly expression of those people.

When I sat down it was with a heart which had long ceased to beat. I shall never be as dead again as I was then. I shall never be as miserable again as I was then. I speak now as one who doesn’t know what the condition of things may be in the next world, but in this one I shall never be as wretched again as I was then. Howells, who was near me, tried to say a comforting word, but couldn’t get beyond a gasp. There was no use–he understood the whole size of the disaster. He had good intentions, but the words froze before they could get out. It was an atmosphere that would freeze anything. If Benvenuto Cellini’s salamander had been in that place he would not have survived to be put into Cellini’s autobiography. There was a frightful pause. There was an awful silence, a desolating silence. Then the next man on the list had to get up–there was no help for it. That was Bishop–Bishop had just burst handsomely upon the world with a most acceptable novel, which had appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, a place which would make any novel respectable and any author noteworthy. In this case the novel itself was recognized as being, without extraneous help, respectable. Bishop was away up in the public favor, and he was an object of high interest, consequently there was a sort of national expectancy in the air; we may say our American millions were standing, from Maine to Texas and from Alaska to Florida, holding their breath, their lips parted, their hands ready to applaud, when Bishop should get up on that occasion, and for the first time in his life speak in public. It was under these damaging conditions that he got up to “make good,” as the vulgar say. I had spoken several times before, and that is the reason why I was able to go on without dying in my tracks, as I ought to have done–but Bishop had had no experience. He was up facing those awful deities–facing those other people, those strangers–facing human beings for the first time in his life, with a speech to utter. No doubt it was well packed away in his memory, no doubt it was fresh and usable, until I had been heard from. I suppose that after that, and under the smothering pall of that dreary silence, it began to waste away and disappear out of his head like the rags breaking from the edge of a fog, and presently there wasn’t any fog left. He didn’t go on–he didn’t last long. It was not many sentence’s after his first before he began to hesitate, and break, and lose his grip, and totter, and wobble, and at last he slumped down in a limp and mushy pile.

Well, the programme for the occasion was probably not more than one-third finished, but it ended there. Nobody rose. The next man hadn’t strength enough to get up, and everybody looked so dazed, so stupefied, paralyzed; it was impossible for anybody to do anything, or even try. Nothing could go on in that strange atmosphere. Howells mournfully, and without words, hitched himself to Bishop and me and supported us out of the room. It was very kind–he was most generous. He towed us tottering away into same room in that building, and we sat down there. I don’t know what my remark was now, but I know the nature of it. It was the kind of remark you make when you know that nothing in the world can help your case. But Howells was honest–he had to say the heart-breaking things he did say: that there was no help for this calamity, this shipwreck, this cataclysm; that this was the most disastrous thing that had ever happened in anybody’s history–and then he added, “That is, for you–and consider what you have done for Bishop. It is bad enough in your case, you deserve, to suffer. You have committed this crime, and you deserve to have all you are going to get. But here is an innocent man. Bishop had never done you any harm, and see what you have done to him. He can never hold his head up again. The world can never look upon Bishop as being a live person. He is a corpse.”

That is the history of that episode of twenty-eight years ago, which pretty nearly killed me with shame during that first year or two whenever it forced its way into my mind.

Now then, I take that speech up and examine it. As I said, it arrived this morning, from Boston. I have read it twice, and unless I am an idiot, it hasn’t a single defect in it from the first word to the last. It is just as good as good can be. It is smart; it is saturated with humor. There isn’t a suggestion of coarseness or vulgarity in it anywhere. What could have been the matter with that house? It is amazing, it is incredible, that they didn’t shout with laughter, and those deities the loudest of them all. Could the fault have been with me? Did I lose courage when I saw those great men up there whom I was going to describe in such a strange fashion? If that happened, if I showed doubt, that can account for it, for you can’t be successfully funny if you show that you are afraid of it. Well, I can’t account for it, but if I had those beloved and revered old literary immortals back here now on the platform at Carnegie Hall I would take that same old speech, deliver it, word for word, and melt them till they’d run all over that stage. Oh, the fault must have been with me, it is not in the speech at all.

 

 

PLYMOUTH ROCK AND THE PILGRIMS

ADDRESS AT THE FIRST ANNUAL DINNER, N. E. SOCIETY, PHILADELPHIA, DECEMBER 22, 1881

On calling upon Mr. Clemens to make response, President Rollins said:

“This sentiment has been assigned to one who was never exactly born in New England, nor, perhaps, were any of his ancestors. He is not technically, therefore, of New England descent. Under the painful circumstances in which he has found himself, however, he has done the best he could–he has had all his children born there, and has made of himself a New England ancestor. He is a self-made man. More than this, and better even, in cheerful, hopeful, helpful literature he is of New England ascent. To ascend there in any thing that’s reasonable is difficult; for–confidentially, with the door shut–we all know that they are the brightest, ablest sons of that goodly land who never leave it, and it is among and above them that Mr. Twain has made his brilliant and permanent ascent–become a man of mark.”

I rise to protest. I have kept still for years; but really I think there is no sufficient justification for this sort of thing. What do you want to celebrate those people for?–those ancestors of yours of 1620–the Mayflower tribe, I mean. What do you want to celebrate them for? Your pardon: the gentleman at my left assures me that you are not celebrating the Pilgrims themselves, but the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth rock on the 22d of December. So you are celebrating their landing. Why, the other pretext was thin enough, but this is thinner than ever; the other was tissue, tinfoil, fish-bladder, but this is gold-leaf. Celebrating their lauding! What was there remarkable about it, I would like to know? What can you be thinking of? Why, those Pilgrims had been at sea three or four months. It was the very middle of winter: it was as cold as death off Cape Cod there. Why shouldn’t they come ashore? If they hadn’t landed there would be some reason for celebrating the fact: It would have been a case of monumental leatherheadedness which the world would not willingly let die. If it had been you, gentlemen, you probably wouldn’t have landed, but you have no shadow of right to be celebrating, in your ancestors, gifts which they did not exercise, but only transmitted. Why, to be celebrating the mere landing of the Pilgrims –to be trying to make out that this most natural and simple and customary procedure was an extraordinary circumstance–a circumstance to be amazed at, and admired, aggrandized and glorified, at orgies like this for two hundred and sixty years–hang it, a horse would have known enough to land; a horse–Pardon again; the gentleman on my right assures me that it was not merely the landing of the Pilgrims that we are celebrating, but the Pilgrims themselves. So we have struck an inconsistency here –one says it was the landing, the other says it was the Pilgrims. It is an inconsistency characteristic of your intractable and disputatious tribe, for you never agree about anything but Boston. Well, then, what do you want to celebrate those Pilgrims for? They were a mighty hard lot–you know it. I grant you, without the slightest unwillingness, that they were a deal more gentle and merciful and just than were the people of Europe of that day; I grant you that they are better than their predecessors. But what of that?–that is nothing. People always progress. You are better than your fathers and grandfathers were (this is the first time I have ever aimed a measureless slander at the departed, for I consider such things improper). Yes, those among you who have not been in the penitentiary, if such there be, are better than your fathers and grandfathers were; but is that any sufficient reason, for getting up annual dinners and celebrating you? No, by no means–by no means. Well, I repeat, those Pilgrims were a hard lot. They took good care of themselves, but they abolished everybody else’s ancestors. I am a border-ruffian from the State of Missouri. I am a Connecticut Yankee by adoption. In me, you have Missouri morals, Connecticut culture; this, gentlemen, is the combination which makes the perfect man. But where are my ancestors? Whom shall I celebrate? Where shall I find the raw material?

My first American ancestor, gentlemen, was an Indian–an early Indian. Your ancestors skinned him alive, and I am an orphan. Not one drop of my blood flows in that Indian’s veins today. I stand here, lone and forlorn, without an ancestor. They skinned him! I do not object to that, if they needed his fur; but alive, gentlemen-alive! They skinned him alive–and before company! That is what rankles. Think how he must have felt; for he was a sensitive person and easily embarrassed. If he had been a bird, it would have been all right, and no violence done to his feelings, because he would have been considered “dressed.” But he was not a bird, gentlemen, he was a man, and probably one of the most undressed men that ever was. I ask you to put yourselves in his place. I ask it as a favor; I ask it as a tardy act of justice; I ask it in the interest of fidelity to the traditions of your ancestors; I ask it that the world may contemplate, with vision unobstructed by disguising swallow-tails and white cravats, the spectacle which the true New England Society ought to present. Cease to come to these annual orgies in this hollow modern mockery–the surplusage of raiment. Come in character; come in the summer grace, come in the unadorned simplicity, come in the free and joyous costume which your sainted ancestors provided for mine.

Later ancestors of mine were the Quakers William Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson, et al. Your tribe chased them put of the country for their religion’s sake; promised them death if they came back; for your ancestors had forsaken the homes they loved, and braved the perils of the sea, the implacable climate, and the savage wilderness, to acquire that highest and most precious of boons, freedom for every man on this broad continent to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience–and they were not going to allow a lot of pestiferous Quakers to interfere with it. Your ancestors broke forever the chains of political slavery, and gave the vote to every man in this wide land, excluding none!–none except those who did not belong to the orthodox church. Your ancestors –yes, they were a hard lot; but, nevertheless, they gave us religious liberty to worship as they required us to worship, and political liberty to vote as the church required; and so I the bereft one, I the forlorn one, am here to do my best to help you celebrate them right.

The Quaker woman Elizabeth Hooton was an ancestress of mine. Your people were pretty severe with her you will confess that. But, poor thing! I believe they changed her opinions before she died, and took her into their fold; and so we have every reason to presume that when she died she went to the same place which your ancestors went to. It is a great pity, for she was a good woman. Roger Williams was an ancestor of mine. I don’t really remember what your people did with him. But they banished him to Rhode Island, anyway. And then, I believe, recognizing that this was really carrying harshness to an unjustifiable extreme, they took pity on him and burned him. They were a hard lot! All those Salem witches were ancestors of mine! Your people made it tropical for them. Yes, they did; by pressure and the gallows they made such a clean deal with them that there hasn’t been a witch and hardly a halter in our family from that day to this, and that is one hundred and eighty-nine years. The first slave brought into New England out of Africa by your progenitors was an ancestor of mine–for I am of a mixed breed, an infinitely shaded and exquisite Mongrel. I’m not one of your sham meerschaums that you can color in a week. No, my complexion is the patient art of eight generations. Well, in my own time, I had acquired a lot of my kin–by purchase, and swapping around, and one way and another –and was getting along very well. Then, with the inborn perversity of your lineage, you got up a war, and took them all away from me. And so, again am I bereft, again am I forlorn; no drop of my blood flows in the veins of any living being who is marketable.

O my friends, hear me and reform! I seek your good, not mine. You have heard the speeches. Disband these New England societies–nurseries of a system of steadily augmenting laudation and hosannaing, which; if persisted in uncurbed, may some day in the remote future beguile you into prevaricating and bragging. Oh, stop, stop, while you are still temperate in your appreciation of your ancestors! Hear me, I beseech you; get up an auction and sell Plymouth Rock! The Pilgrims were a simple and ignorant race. They never had seen any good rocks before, or at least any that were not watched, and so they were excusable for hopping ashore in frantic delight and clapping an iron fence around this one. But you, gentlemen, are educated; you are enlightened; you know that in the rich land of your nativity, opulent New England, overflowing with rocks, this one isn’t worth, at the outside, more than thirty-five cents. Therefore, sell it, before it is injured by exposure, or at least throw it open to the patent-medicine advertisements, and let it earn its taxes:

Yes, hear your true friend-your only true friend–list to his voice. Disband these societies, hotbeds of vice, of moral decay–perpetuators of ancestral superstition. Here on this board I see water, I see milk, I see the wild and deadly lemonade. These are but steps upon the downward path. Next we shall see tea, then chocolate, then coffee–hotel coffee. A few more years–all too few, I fear–mark my words, we shall have cider! Gentlemen, pause ere it be too late. You are on the broad road which leads to dissipation, physical ruin, moral decay, gory crime and the gallows! I beseech you, I implore you, in the name of your anxious friends, in the name of your suffering families, in the name of your impending widows and orphans, stop ere it be too late. Disband these New England societies, renounce these soul-blistering saturnalia, cease from varnishing the rusty reputations of your long-vanished ancestors–the super-high-moral old iron-clads of Cape Cod, the pious buccaneers of Plymouth Rock–go home, and try to learn to behave!

However, chaff and nonsense aside, I think I honor and appreciate your Pilgrim stock as much as you do yourselves, perhaps; and I endorse and adopt a sentiment uttered by a grandfather of mine once–a man of sturdy opinions, of sincere make of mind, and not given to flattery. He said: “People may talk as they like about that Pilgrim stock, but, after all’s said and done, it would be pretty hard to improve on those people; and, as for me, I don’t mind coming out flatfooted and saying there ain’t any way to improve on them–except having them born in, Missouri!”

 

COMPLIMENTS AND DEGREES

DELIVERED AT THE LOTOS CLUB, JANUARY 11, 1908

In introducing Mr. Clemens, Frank R. Lawrence, the President of the Lotos Club, recalled the fact that the first club dinner in the present club-house, some fourteen years ago, was in honor of Mark Twain.

I wish to begin this time at the beginning, lest I forget it altogether; that is to say, I wish to thank you for this welcome that you are giving, and the welcome which you gave me seven years ago, and which I forgot to thank you for at that time. I also wish to thank you for the welcome you gave me fourteen years ago, which I also forgot to thank you for at the time.

I hope you will continue this custom to give me a dinner every seven years before I join the hosts in the other world–I do not know which world.

Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Porter have paid me many compliments. It is very difficult to take compliments. I do not care whether you deserve the compliments or not, it is just as difficult to take them. The other night I was at the Engineers’ Club, and enjoyed the sufferings of Mr. Carnegie. They were complimenting him there; there it was all compliments, and none of them deserved. They say that you cannot live by bread alone, but I can live on compliments.

I do not make any pretence that I dislike compliments. The stronger the better, and I can manage to digest them. I think I have lost so much by not making a collection of compliments, to put them away and take them out again once in a while. When in England I said that I would start to collect compliments, and I began there and I have brought some of them along.

The first one of these lies–I wrote them down and preserved them –I think they are mighty good and extremely just. It is one of Hamilton Mabie’s compliments. He said that La Salle was the first one to make a voyage of the Mississippi, but Mark Twain was the first to chart, light, and navigate it for the whole world.

If that had been published at the time that I issued that book [Life on the Mississippi], it would have been money in my pocket. I tell you, it is a talent by itself to pay compliments gracefully and have them ring true. It’s an art by itself.

Here is another compliment by Albert Bigelow Paine, my biographer. He is writing four octavo volumes about me, and he has been at my elbow two and one-half years.

I just suppose that he does not know me, but says he knows me. He says “Mark Twain is not merely a great writer, a great philosopher, a great man; he is the supreme expression of the human being, with his strength and his weakness.” What a talent for compression! It takes a genius in compression to compact as many facts as that.

W. D. Howells spoke of me as first of Hartford, and ultimately of the solar system, not to say of the universe:

You know how modest Howells is. If it can be proved that my fame reaches to Neptune and Saturn; that will satisfy even me. You know how modest and retiring Howells seems to be, but deep down he is as vain as I am.

Mr. Howells had been granted a degree at Oxford, whose gown was red. He had been invited to an exercise at Columbia, and upon inquiry had been told that it was usual to wear the black gown: Later he had found that three other men wore bright gowns, and he had lamented that he had been one of the black mass, and not a red torch.

Edison wrote: “The average American loves his family. If he has any love left over for some other person, he generally selects Mark Twain.”

Now here’s the compliment of a little Montana girl which came to me indirectly. She was in a room in which there was a large photograph of me. After gazing at it steadily for a time, she said:

“We’ve got a John the Baptist like that.” She also said: “Only ours has more trimmings.”

I suppose she meant the halo. Now here is a gold-miner’s compliment. It is forty-two years old. It was my introduction to an audience to which I lectured in a log school-house. There were no ladies there. I wasn’t famous then. They didn’t know me. Only the miners were there, with their breeches tucked into their boottops and with clay all over them. They wanted some one to introduce me, and they selected a miner, who protested, saying:

“I don’t know anything about this man. Anyhow, I only know two things about him. One is, he has never been in jail, and the other is, I don’t know why.”

There’s one thing I want to say about that English trip. I knew his Majesty the King of England long years ago, and I didn’t meet him for the first time then. One thing that I regret was that some newspapers said I talked with the Queen of England with my hat on. I don’t do that with any woman. I did not put it on until she asked me to. Then she told me to put it on, and it’s a command there. I thought I had carried my American democracy far enough. So I put it on. I have no use for a hat, and never did have.

Who was it who said that the police of London knew me? Why, the police know me everywhere. There never was a day over there when a policeman did not salute me, and then put up his hand and stop the traffic of the world. They treated me as though I were a duchess.

The happiest experience I had in England was at a dinner given in the building of the Punch publication, a humorous paper which is appreciated by all Englishmen. It was the greatest privilege ever allowed a foreigner. I entered the dining-room of the building, where those men get together who have been running the paper for over fifty years. We were about to begin dinner when the toastmaster said: “Just a minute; there ought to be a little ceremony.” Then there was that meditating silence for a while, and out of a closet there came a beautiful little girl dressed in pink, holding in her hand a copy of the previous week’s paper, which had in it my cartoon. It broke me all up. I could not even say “Thank you.” That was the prettiest incident of the dinner, the delight of all that wonderful table. When she was about to go; I said, “My child, you are not going to leave me; I have hardly got acquainted with you.” She replied, “You know I’ve got to go; they never let me come in here before, and they never will again.” That is one of the beautiful incidents that I cherish.

[At the conclusion of his speech, and while the diners were still cheering him, Colonel Porter brought forward the red-and-gray gown of the Oxford “doctor,” and Mr. Clemens was made to don it. The diners rose to their feet in their enthusiasm. With the mortar-board on his head, and looking down admiringly at himself, Mr. Twain said–]

I like that gown. I always did like red. The redder it is the better I like it. I was born for a savage. Now, whoever saw any red like this? There is no red outside the arteries of an archangel that could compare with this. I know you all envy me. I am going to have luncheon shortly with ladies just ladies. I will be the only lady of my sex present, and I shall put on this gown and make those ladies look dim.

 

BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND HATS

ADDRESS AT THE PILGRIMS’ CLUB LUNCHEON, GIVEN IN HONOR OF Mr. CLEMENS AT THE SAVOY HOTEL, LONDON, JUNE 25, 1907.

Mr. Birrell, M.P., Chief-Secretary for Ireland, in introducing Mr. Clemens said: “We all love Mark Twain, and we are here to tell him so. One more point–all the world knows it, and that is why it is dangerous to omit it–our guest is a distinguished citizen of the Great Republic beyond the seas. In America his ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and his ‘Tom Sawyer’ are what ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ have been to us. They are racy of the soil. They are books to which it is impossible to place any period of termination. I will not speak of the classics–reminiscences of much evil in our early lives. We do not meet here to-day as critics with our appreciations and depreciations, our twopenny little prefaces or our forewords. I am not going to say what the world a thousand years hence will think of Mark Twain. Posterity will take care of itself, will read what it wants to read, will forget what it chooses to forget, and will pay no attention whatsoever to our critical mumblings and jumblings. Let us therefore be content to say to our friend and guest that we are here speaking for ourselves and for our children, to say what he has been to us. I remember in Liverpool, in 1867, first buying the copy, which I still preserve, of the celebrated ‘Jumping Frog.’ It had a few words of preface which reminded me then that our guest in those days was called ‘the wild humorist of the Pacific slope,’ and a few lines later down, ‘the moralist of the Main.’ That was some forty years ago. Here he is, still the humorist, still the moralist. His humor enlivens and enlightens his morality, and his morality is all the better for his humor. That is one of the reasons why we love him. I am not here to mention any book of his–that is a subject of dispute in my family circle, which is the best and which is the next best–but I must put in a word, lest I should not be true to myself–a terrible thing –for his Joan of Arc, a book of chivalry, of nobility, and of manly sincerity for which I take this opportunity of thanking him. But you can all drink this toast, each one of you with his own intention. You can get into it what meaning you like. Mark Twain is a man whom English and Americans do well to honor. He is the true consolidator of nations. His delightful humor is of the kind which dissipates and destroys national prejudices. His truth and his honor, his love of truth, and his love of honor, overflow all boundaries. He has made the world better by his presence. We rejoice to see him here. Long may he live to reap the plentiful harvest of hearty, honest human affection!”

Pilgrims, I desire first to thank those undergraduates of Oxford. When a man has grown so old as I am, when he has reached the verge of seventy-two years, there is nothing that carries him back to the dreamland of his life, to his boyhood, like recognition of those young hearts up yonder. And so I thank them out of my heart. I desire to thank the Pilgrims of New York also for their kind notice and message which they have cabled over here. Mr. Birrell says he does not know how he got here. But he will be able to get away all right–he has not drunk anything since he came here. I am glad to know about those friends of his, Otway and Chatterton–fresh, new names to me. I am glad of the disposition he has shown to rescue them from the evils of poverty, and if they are still in London, I hope to have a talk with them. For a while I thought he was going to tell us the effect which my book had upon his growing manhood. I thought he was going to tell us how much that effect amounted to, and whether it really made him what he now is, but with the discretion born of Parliamentary experience he dodged that, and we do not know now whether he read the book or not. He did that very neatly. I could not do it any better myself.

My books have had effects, and very good ones, too, here and there, and some others not so good. There is no doubt about that. But I remember one monumental instance of it years and years ago. Professor Norton, of Harvard, was over here, and when he came back to Boston I went out with Howells to call on him. Norton was allied in some way by marriage with Darwin.

Mr. Norton was very gentle in what he had to say, and almost delicate, and he said: “Mr. Clemens, I have been spending some time with Mr. Darwin in England, and I should like to tell you something connected with that visit. You were the object of it, and I myself would have been very proud of it, but you may not be proud of it. At any rate, I am going to tell you what it was, and to leave to you to regard it as you please. Mr. Darwin took me up to his bedroom and pointed out certain things there-pitcher-plants, and so on, that he was measuring and watching from day to day–and he said: ‘The chambermaid is permitted to do what she pleases in this room, but she must never touch those plants and never touch those books on that table by that candle. With those books I read myself to sleep every night.’ Those were your own books.” I said: “There is no question to my mind as to whether I should regard that as a compliment or not. I do regard it as a very great compliment and a very high honor that that great mind, laboring for the whole human race, should rest itself on my books. I am proud that he should read himself to sleep with them.”

Now, I could not keep that to myself–I was so proud of it. As soon as I got home to Hartford I called up my oldest friend–and dearest enemy on occasion–the Rev. Joseph Twichell, my pastor, and I told him about that, and, of course, he was full of interest and venom. Those people who get no compliments like that feel like that. He went off. He did not issue any applause of any kind, and I did not hear of that subject for some time. But when Mr. Darwin passed away from this life, and some time after Darwin’s Life and Letters came out, the Rev. Mr. Twichell procured an early copy of that work and found something in it which he considered applied to me. He came over to my house–it was snowing, raining, sleeting, but that did not make any difference to Twichell. He produced the book, and turned over and over, until he came to a certain place, when he said: “Here, look at this letter from Mr. Darwin to Sir Joseph Hooker.” What Mr. Darwin said–I give you the idea and not the very words–was this: I do not know whether I ought to have devoted my whole life to these drudgeries in natural history and the other sciences or not, for while I may have gained in one way I have lost in another. Once I had a fine perception and appreciation of high literature, but in me that quality is atrophied. “That was the reason,” said Mr. Twichell, “he was reading your books.”

Mr. Birrell has touched lightly–very lightly, but in not an uncomplimentary way–on my position in this world as a moralist. I am glad to have that recognition, too, because I have suffered since I have been in this town; in the first place, right away, when I came here, from a newsman going around with a great red, highly displayed placard in the place of an apron. He was selling newspapers, and there were two sentences on that placard which would have been all right if they had been punctuated; but they ran those two sentences together without a comma or anything, and that would naturally create a wrong impression, because it said, “Mark Twain arrives Ascot Cup stolen.” No doubt many a person was misled by those sentences joined together in that unkind way. I have no doubt my character has suffered from it. I suppose I ought to defend my character, but how can I defend it? I can say here and now –and anybody can see by my face that I am sincere, that I speak the truth –that I have never seen that Cup. I have not got the Cup–I did not have a chance to get it. I have always had a good character in that way. I have hardly ever stolen anything, and if I did steal anything I had discretion enough to know about the value of it first. I do not steal things that are likely to get myself into trouble. I do not think any of us do that. I know we all take things–that is to be expected–but really, I have never taken anything, certainly in England, that amounts to any great thing. I do confess that when I was here seven years ago I stole a hat, but that did not amount to anything. It was not a good hat, and was only a clergyman’s hat, anyway.

I was at a luncheon party, and Archdeacon Wilberforce was there also. I dare say he is Archdeacon now–he was a canon then–and he was serving in the Westminster battery, if that is the proper term–I do not know, as you mix military and ecclesiastical things together so much. He left the luncheon table before I did. He began this. I did steal his hat, but he began by taking mine. I make that interjection because I would not accuse Archdeacon Wilberforce of stealing my hat–I should not think of it. I confine that phrase to myself. He merely took my hat. And with good judgment, too–it was a better hat than his. He came out before the luncheon was over, and sorted the hats in the hall, and selected one which suited. It happened to be mine. He went off with it. When I came out by-and-by there was no hat there which would go on my head except his, which was left behind. My head was not the customary size just at that time. I had been receiving a good many very nice and complimentary attentions, and my head was a couple of sizes larger than usual, and his hat just suited me. The bumps and corners were all right intellectually. There were results pleasing to me–possibly so to him. He found out whose hat it was, and wrote me saying it was pleasant that all the way home, whenever he met anybody his gravities, his solemnities, his deep thoughts, his eloquent remarks were all snatched up by the people he met, and mistaken for brilliant humorisms.

I had another experience. It was not unpleasing. I was received with a deference which was entirely foreign to my experience by everybody whom I met, so that before I got home I had a much higher opinion of myself than I have ever had before or since. And there is in that very connection an incident which I remember at that old date which is rather melancholy to me, because it shows how a person can deteriorate in a mere seven years. It is seven years ago. I have not that hat now. I was going down Pall-Mall, or some other of your big streets, and I recognized that that hat needed ironing. I went into a big shop and passed in my hat, and asked that it might be ironed. They were courteous, very courteous, even courtly. They brought that hat back to me presently very sleek and nice, and I asked how much there was to pay. They replied that they did not charge the clergy anything. I have cherished the delight of that moment from that day to this. It was the first thing I did the other day to go and hunt up that shop and hand in my hat to have it ironed. I said when it came back, “How much to pay?” They said, “Ninepence.” In seven years I have acquired all that worldliness, and I am sorry to be back where I was seven years ago.

But now I am chaffing and chaffing and chaffing here, and I hope you will forgive me for that; but when a man stands on the verge of seventy-two you know perfectly well that he never reached that place without knowing what this life is heart-breaking bereavement. And so our reverence is for our dead. We do not forget them; but our duty is toward the living; and if we can be cheerful, cheerful in spirit, cheerful in speech and in hope, that is a benefit to those who are around us.

My own history includes an incident which will always connect me with England in a pathetic way, for when I arrived here seven years ago with my wife and my daughter–we had gone around the globe lecturing to raise money to clear off a debt–my wife and one of my daughters started across the ocean to bring to England our eldest daughter. She was twenty four years of age and in the bloom of young womanhood, and we were unsuspecting. When my wife and daughter–and my wife has passed from this life since–when they had reached mid Atlantic, a cablegram–one of those heartbreaking cablegrams which we all in our days have to experience–was put into my hand. It stated that that daughter of ours had gone to her long sleep. And so, as I say, I cannot always be cheerful, and I cannot always be chaffing; I must sometimes lay the cap and bells aside, and recognize that I am of the human race like the rest, and must have my cares and griefs. And therefore I noticed what Mr. Birrell said–I was so glad to hear him say it–something that was in the nature of these verses here at the top of this:

“He lit our life with shafts of sun And vanquished pain. Thus two great nations stand as one In honoring Twain.”

I am very glad to have those verses. I am very glad and very grateful for what Mr. Birrell said in that connection. I have received since I have been here, in this one week, hundreds of letters from all conditions of people in England–men, women, and children–and there is in them compliment, praise, and, above all and better than all, there is in them a note of affection. Praise is well, compliment is well, but affection –that is the last and final and most precious reward that any man can win, whether by character or achievement, and I am very grateful to have that reward. All these letters make me feel that here in England–as in America–when I stand under the English flag, I am not a stranger. I am not an alien, but at home.

 

 

DEDICATION SPEECH

AT THE DEDICATION OF THE COLLEGE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, MAY 16, 1908

Mr. Clemens wore his gown as Doctor of Laws, Oxford University. Ambassador Bryce and Mr. Choate had made the formal addresses.

How difficult, indeed, is the higher education. Mr. Choate needs a little of it. He is not only short as a statistician of New York, but he is off, far off, in his mathematics. The four thousand citizens of Greater New York, indeed!

But I don’t think it was wise or judicious on the part of Mr. Choate to show this higher education he has obtained. He sat in the lap of that great education (I was there at the time), and see the result–the lamentable result. Maybe if he had had a sandwich here to sustain him the result would not have been so serious.

For seventy-two years I have been striving to acquire that higher education which stands for modesty and diffidence, and it doesn’t work.

And then look at Ambassador Bryce, who referred to his alma mater, Oxford. He might just as well have included me. Well, I am a later production.

If I am the latest graduate, I really and sincerely hope I am not the final flower of its seven centuries; I hope it may go on for seven ages longer.

 

DIE SCHRECKEN DER DEUTSCHEN SPRACHE [THE HORRORS OF THE GERMAN LANGUAGE]

ADDRESS TO THE VIENNA PRESS CLUB, NOVEMBER 21, 1897, DELIVERED IN GERMAN [Here in literal translation]

It has me deeply touched, my gentlemen, here so hospitably received to be. From colleagues out of my own profession, in this from my own home so far distant land. My heart is full of gratitude, but my poverty of German words forces me to greater economy of expression. Excuse you, my gentlemen, that I read off, what I you say will. [But he didn’t read].

The German language speak I not good, but have numerous connoisseurs me assured that I her write like an angel. Maybe–maybe–I know not. Have till now no acquaintance with the angels had. That comes later–when it the dear God please–it has no hurry.

Since long, my gentlemen, have I the passionate longing nursed a speech on German to hold, but one has me not permitted. Men, who no feeling for the art had, laid me ever hindrance in the way and made naught my desire –sometimes by excuses, often by force. Always said these men to me: “Keep you still, your Highness! Silence! For God’s sake seek another way and means yourself obnoxious to make.”

In the present case, as usual it is me difficult become, for me the permission to obtain. The committee sorrowed deeply, but could me the permission not grant on account of a law which from the Concordia demands she shall the German language protect. Du liebe Zeit! How so had one to me this say could–might–dared–should? I am indeed the truest friend of the German language–and not only now, but from long since–yes, before twenty years already. And never have I the desire had the noble language to hurt; to the contrary, only wished she to improve–I would her only reform. It is the dream of my life been. I have already visits by the various German governments paid and for contracts prayed. I am now to Austria in the same task come. I would only some changes effect. I would only the language method–the luxurious, elaborate construction compress, the eternal parenthesis suppress, do away with, annihilate; the introduction of more than thirteen subjects in one sentence forbid; the verb so far to the front pull that one it without a telescope discover can. With one word, my gentlemen, I would your beloved language simplify so that, my gentlemen, when you her for prayer need, One her yonder-up understands.

I beseech you, from me yourself counsel to let, execute these mentioned reforms. Then will you an elegant language possess, and afterward, when you some thing say will, will you at least yourself understand what you said had. But often nowadays, when you a mile-long sentence from you given and you yourself somewhat have rested, then must you have a touching inquisitiveness have yourself to determine what you actually spoken have. Before several days has the correspondent of a local paper a sentence constructed which hundred and twelve words contain, and therein were seven parentheses smuggled in, and the subject seven times changed. Think you only, my gentlemen, in the course of the voyage of a single sentence must the poor, persecuted, fatigued subject seven times change position!

Now, when we the mentioned reforms execute, will it no longer so bad be. Doch noch eins. I might gladly the separable verb also a little bit reform. I might none do let what Schiller did: he has the whole history of the Thirty Years’ War between the two members of a separable verb in-pushed. That has even Germany itself aroused, and one has Schiller the permission refused the History of the Hundred Years’ War to compose–God be it thanked! After all these reforms established be will, will the German language the noblest and the prettiest on the world be.

Since to you now, my gentlemen, the character of my mission known is, beseech I you so friendly to be and to me your valuable help grant. Mr. Potzl has the public believed make would that I to Vienna come am in order the bridges to clog up and the traffic to hinder, while I observations gather and note. Allow you yourselves but not from him deceived. My frequent presence on the bridges has an entirely innocent ground. Yonder gives it the necessary space, yonder can one a noble long German sentence elaborate, the bridge-railing along, and his whole contents with one glance overlook. On the one end of the railing pasted I the first member of a separable verb and the final member cleave I to the other end–then spread the body of the sentence between it out! Usually are for my purposes the bridges of the city long enough; when I but Potzl’s writings study will I ride out and use the glorious endless imperial bridge. But this is a calumny; Potzl writes the prettiest German. Perhaps not so pliable as the mine, but in many details much better. Excuse you these flatteries. These are well deserved.

Now I my speech execute–no, I would say I bring her to the close. I am a foreigner–but here, under you, have I it entirely forgotten. And so again and yet again proffer I you my heartiest thanks.

 

 

GERMAN FOR THE HUNGARIANS

ADDRESS AT THE JUBILEE CELEBRATION OF THE EMANCIPATION OF THE HUNGARIAN PRESS, MARCH 26, 1899

The Ministry and members of Parliament were present. The subject was the “Ausgleich”–i. e., the arrangement for the apportionment of the taxes between Hungary and Austria. Paragraph 14 of the ausgleich fixes the proportion each country must pay to the support of the army. It is the paragraph which caused the trouble and prevented its renewal.

Now that we are all here together, I think it will be a good idea to arrange the ausgleich. If you will act for Hungary I shall be quite willing to act for Austria, and this is the very time for it. There couldn’t be a better, for we are all feeling friendly, fair-minded, and hospitable now, and, full of admiration for each other, full of confidence in each other, full of the spirit of welcome, full of the grace of forgiveness, and the disposition to let bygones be bygones.

Let us not waste this golden, this beneficent, this providential opportunity. I am willing to make any concession you want, just so we get it settled. I am not only willing to let grain come in free, I am willing to pay the freight on it, and you may send delegates to the Reichsrath if you like. All I require is that they shall be quiet, peaceable people like your own deputies, and not disturb our proceedings.

If you want the Gegenseitigengeldbeitragendenverhaltnismassigkeiten rearranged and readjusted I am ready for that. I will let you off at twenty-eight per cent.–twenty-seven–even twenty-five if you insist, for there is nothing illiberal about me when I am out on a diplomatic debauch.

Now, in return for these concessions, I am willing to take anything in reason, and I think we may consider the business settled and the ausgleich ausgegloschen at last for ten solid years, and we will sign the papers in blank, and do it here and now.

Well, I am unspeakably glad to have that ausgleich off my hands. It has kept me awake nights for anderthalbjahr.

But I never could settle it before, because always when I called at the Foreign Office in Vienna to talk about it, there wasn’t anybody at home, and that is not a place where you can go in and see for yourself whether it is a mistake or not, because the person who takes care of the front door there is of a size that discourages liberty of action and the free spirit of investigation. To think the ausgleich is abgemacht at last! It is a grand and beautiful consummation, and I am glad I came.

The way I feel now I do honestly believe I would rather be just my own humble self at this moment than paragraph 14.

 

 

A NEW GERMAN WORD

To aid a local charity Mr. Clemens appeared before a fashionable audience in Vienna, March 10, 1899, reading his sketch “The Lucerne Girl,” and describing how he had been interviewed and ridiculed. He said in part:

I have not sufficiently mastered German, to allow my using it with impunity. My collection of fourteen-syllable German words is still incomplete. But I have just added to that collection a jewel –a veritable jewel. I found it in a telegram from Linz, and it contains ninety-five letters:

Personaleinkommensteuerschatzungskommissionsmitgliedsreisekostenrechnungs erganzungsrevisionsfund

If I could get a similar word engraved upon my tombstone I should sleep beneath it in peace.

 

 

UNCONSCIOUS PLAGIARISM

DELIVERED AT THE DINNER GIVEN BY THE PUBLISHERS OF “THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY” TO OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, IN HONOR OF HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY, AUGUST 29, 1879

I would have travelled a much greater distance than I have come to witness the paying of honors to Doctor Holmes; for my feeling toward him has always been one of peculiar warmth. When one receives a letter from a great man for the first time in his life, it is a large event to him, as all of you know by your own experience. You never can receive letters enough from famous men afterward to obliterate that one, or dim the memory of the pleasant surprise it was, and the gratification it gave you. Lapse of time cannot make it commonplace or cheap.

Well, the first great man who ever wrote me a letter was our guest –Oliver Wendell Holmes. He was also the first great literary man I ever stole anything from–and that is how I came to write to him and he to me. When my first book was new, a friend of mine said to me, “The dedication is very neat.” Yes, I said, I thought it was. My friend said, “I always admired it, even before I saw it in The Innocents Abroad.” I naturally said: “What do you mean? Where did you ever see it before?” “Well, I saw it first some years ago as Doctor Holmes’s dedication to his Songs in Many Keys.” Of course, my first impulse was to prepare this man’s remains for burial, but upon reflection I said I would reprieve him for a moment or two and give him a chance to prove his assertion if he could: We stepped into a book-store, and he did prove it. I had really stolen that dedication, almost word for word. I could not imagine how this curious thing had happened; for I knew one thing–that a certain amount of pride always goes along with a teaspoonful of brains, and that this pride protects a man from deliberately stealing other people’s ideas. That is what a teaspoonful of brains will do for a man–and admirers had often told me I had nearly a basketful–though they were rather reserved as to the size of the basket.

However, I thought the thing out, and solved the mystery. Two years before, I had been laid up a couple of weeks in the Sandwich Islands, and had read and re-read Doctor Holmes’s poems till my mental reservoir was filled up with them to the brim. The dedication lay on the top, and handy, so, by-and-by, I unconsciously stole it. Perhaps I unconsciously stole the rest of the volume, too, for many people have told me that my book was pretty poetical, in one way or another. Well, of course, I wrote Doctor Holmes and told him I hadn’t meant to steal, and he wrote back and said in the kindest way that it was all right and no harm done; and added that he believed we all unconsciously worked over ideas gathered in reading and hearing, imagining they were original with ourselves. He stated a truth, and did it in such a pleasant way, and salved over my sore spot so gently and so healingly, that I was rather glad I had committed the crime, far the sake of the letter. I afterward called on him and told him to make perfectly free with any ideas of mine that struck him as being good protoplasm for poetry. He could see by that that there wasn’t anything mean about me; so we got along right from the start. I have not met Doctor Holmes many times since; and lately he said–However, I am wandering wildly away from the one thing which I got on my feet to do; that is, to make my compliments to you, my fellow-teachers of the great public, and likewise to say that I am right glad to see that Doctor Holmes is still in his prime and full of generous life; and as age is not determined by years, but by trouble and infirmities of mind and body, I hope it may be a very long time yet before any one can truthfully say, “He is growing old.”

 

 

THE WEATHER

ADDRESS AT THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY’S SEVENTY FIRST ANNUAL DINNER, NEW YORK CITY

The next toast was: “The Oldest Inhabitant-The Weather of New England.”

“Who can lose it and forget it? Who can have it and regret it? Be interposer ‘twixt us Twain.” –Merchant of Venice.

I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don’t know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk’s factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don’t get it. There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger’s admiration–and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the people to see how they will go. But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four-and-twenty hours. It was I that made the fame and fortune of that man that had that marvellous collection of weather on exhibition at the Centennial, that so astounded the foreigners. He was going to travel all over the world and get specimens from all the climes. I said, “Don’t you do it; you come to New England on a favorable spring day.” I told him what we could do in the way of style, variety, and quantity. Well, he came and he made his collection in four days. As to variety, why, he confessed that he got hundreds of kinds of weather that he had never heard of before. And as to quantity well, after he had picked out and discarded all that was blemished in any way, he not only had weather enough, but weather to spare; weather to hire out; weather to sell; to deposit; weather to invest; weather to give to the poor. The people of New England are by nature patient and forbearing, but there are some things which they will not stand. Every year they kill a lot of poets for writing about “Beautiful Spring.” These are generally casual visitors, who bring their notions of spring from somewhere else, and cannot, of course, know how the natives feel about spring. And so the first thing they know the opportunity to inquire how they feel has permanently gone by. Old Probabilities has a mighty reputation for accurate prophecy, and thoroughly well deserves it. You take up the paper and observe how crisply and confidently he checks off what to-day’s weather is going to be on the Pacific, down South, in the Middle States, in the Wisconsin region. See him sail along in the joy and pride of his power till he gets to New England, and then see his tail drop. He doesn’t know what the weather is going to be in New England. Well, he mulls over it, and by and-by he gets out something about like this: Probably northeast to southwest winds, varying to the southward and westward and eastward, and points between, high and low barometer swapping around from place to place; probable areas of rain, snow, hail, and drought, succeeded or preceded by earthquakes, with thunder and lightning. Then he jots down his postscript from his wandering mind, to cover accidents. “But it is possible that the programme may be wholly changed in the mean time.” Yes, one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of it. There is only one thing certain about it: you are certain there is going to be plenty of it–a perfect grand review; but you never can tell which end of the procession is going to move first. You fix up for the drought; you leave your umbrella in the house and sally out, and two to one you get drowned. You make up your mind that the earthquake is due; you stand from under, and take hold of something to steady yourself, and the first thing you know you get struck by lightning. These are great disappointments; but they can’t be helped. The lightning there is peculiar; it is so convincing, that when it strikes a thing it doesn’t leave enough of that thing behind for you to tell whether–Well, you’d think it was something valuable, and a Congressman had been there. And the thunder. When the thunder begins to merely tune up and scrape and saw, and key up the instruments for the performance, strangers say, “Why, what awful thunder you have here!” But when the baton is raised and the real concert begins, you’ll find that stranger down in the cellar with his head in the ash-barrel. Now as to the size of the weather in New England–lengthways, I mean. It is utterly disproportioned to the size of that little country. Half the time, when it is packed as full as it can stick, you will see that New England weather sticking out beyond the edges and projecting around hundreds and hundreds of miles over the neighboring States. She can’t hold a tenth part of her weather. You can see cracks all about where she has strained herself trying to do it. I could speak volumes about the inhuman perversity of the New England weather, but I will give but a single specimen. I like to hear rain on a tin roof. So I covered part of my roof with tin, with an eye to that luxury. Well, sir, do you think it ever rains on that tin? No, sir; skips it every time. Mind, in this speech I have been trying merely to do honor to the New England weather–no language could do it justice. But, after all, there is at least one or two things about that weather (or, if you please, effects produced by it) which we residents would not like to part with. If we hadn’t our bewitching autumn foliage, we should still have to credit the weather with one feature which compensates for all its bullying vagaries–the ice-storm: when a leafless tree is clothed with ice from the bottom to the top–ice that is as bright and clear as crystal; when every bough and twig is strung with ice-beads, frozen dew-drops, and the whole tree sparkles cold and white, like the Shah of Persia’s diamond plume. Then the wind waves the branches and the sun comes out and turns all those myriads of beads and drops to prisms that glow and burn and flash with all manner of colored fires, which change and change again with inconceivable rapidity from blue to red, from red to green, and green to gold–the tree becomes a spraying fountain, a very explosion of dazzling jewels; and it stands there the acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words too strong.

 

 

THE BABIES

THE BABIES

DELIVERED AT THE BANQUET, IN CHICAGO, GIVEN BY THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE TO THEIR FIRST COMMANDER, GENERAL U. S. GRANT, NOVEMBER, 1879

The fifteenth regular toast was “The Babies.–As they comfort us in our sorrows, let us not forget them in our festivities.”

I like that. We have not all had the good fortune to be ladies. We have not all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground. It is a shame that for a thousand years the world’s banquets have utterly ignored the baby, as if he didn’t amount to anything. If you will stop and think a minute–if you will go back fifty or one hundred years to your early married life and recontemplate your first baby–you will remember that he amounted to a good deal, and even something over. You soldiers all know that when that little fellow arrived at family headquarters you had to hand in your resignation. He took entire command. You became his lackey, his mere body-servant, and you had to stand around too. He was not a commander who made allowances for time, distance, weather, or anything else. You had to execute his order whether it was possible or not. And there was only one form of marching in his manual of tactics, and that was the double-quick. He treated you with every sort of insolence and disrespect, and the bravest of you didn’t dare to say a word. You could face the death-storm at Donelson and Vicksburg, and give back blow for blow; but when he clawed your whiskers, and pulled your hair, and twisted your nose, you had to take it.

When the thunders of war were sounding in your ears you set your faces toward the batteries, and advanced with steady tread; but when he turned on the terrors of his war whoop you advanced in the other direction, and mighty glad of the chance, too. When he called for soothing-syrup, did you venture to throw out any side-remarks about certain services being unbecoming an officer and a gentleman? No. You got up and got it. When he ordered his pap bottle and it was not warm, did you talk back? Not you. You went to work and warmed it. You even descended so far in your menial office as to take a suck at that warm, insipid stuff yourself, to see if it was right–three parts water to one of milk, a touch of sugar to modify the colic, and a drop of peppermint to kill those immortal hiccoughs. I can taste that stuff yet. And how many things you learned as you went along! Sentimental young folks still take stock in that beautiful old saying that when the baby smiles in his sleep, it is because the angels are whispering to him. Very pretty, but too thin–simply wind on the stomach, my friends. If the baby proposed to take a walk at his usual hour, two o’clock in the morning, didn’t you rise up promptly and remark, with a mental addition which would not improve a Sunday-school book much, that that was the very thing you were about to propose yourself? Oh! you were under good discipline, and as you went fluttering up and down the room in your undress uniform, you not only prattled undignified baby-talk, but even tuned up your martial voices and tried to sing! –Rock a-by Baby in the Tree-top, for instance. What a spectacle far an Army of the Tennessee! And what an affliction for the neighbors, too; for it is not everybody within, a mile around that likes military music at three in the morning. And, when you had been keeping this sort of thing up two or three hours, and your little velvet head intimated that nothing suited him like exercise and noise, what did you do? You simply went on until you dropped in the last ditch. The idea that a baby doesn’t amount to anything! Why, one baby is just a house and a front yard full by itself. One baby can, furnish more business than you and your whole Interior Department can attend to. He is enterprising, irrepressible, brimful of lawless activities. Do what you please, you can’t make him stay on the reservation. Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don’t you ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain’t any real difference between triplets and an insurrection.

Yes, it was high time for a toast-master to recognize the importance of the babies. Think what is in store for the present crop! Fifty years from now we shall all be dead, I trust, and then this flag, if it still survive (and let us hope it may), will be floating over a Republic numbering 200,000,000 souls, according to the settled laws of our increase. Our present schooner of State will have grown into a political leviathan–a Great Eastern. The cradled babies of to-day will be on deck. Let them be well trained, for we are going to leave a big contract on their hands. Among the three or four million cradles now rocking in the land are some which this nation would preserve for ages as sacred things, if we could know which ones they are. In one of these cradles the unconscious Farragut of the future is at this moment teething think of it! and putting in a world of dead earnest, unarticulated, but perfectly justifiable profanity over it, too. In another the future renowned astronomer is blinking at the shining Milky Way with but a languid interest poor little chap!–and wondering what has become of that other one they call the wet-nurse. In another the future great historian is lying–and doubtless will continue to lie until his earthly mission is ended. In another the future President is busying himself with no profounder problem of state than what the mischief has become of his hair so early; and in a mighty array of other cradles there are now some 60,000 future office-seekers, getting ready to furnish him occasion to grapple with that same old problem a second, time. And in still one more cradle, some where under the flag, the future illustrious commander-in-chief of the American armies is so little burdened with his approaching grandeurs and responsibilities as to be giving his whole strategic mind at this moment to trying to find out some way to get his big toe into his mouth–an achievement which, meaning no disrespect, the illustrious guest of this evening turned his entire attention to some fifty-six years ago; and if the child is but a prophecy of the man, there are mighty few who will doubt that he succeeded.

 

 

OUR CHILDREN AND GREAT DISCOVERIES

DELIVERED AT THE AUTHORS’ CLUB, NEW YORK

Our children–yours–and–mine. They seem like little things to talk about–our children, but little things often make up the sum of human life–that’s a good sentence. I repeat it, little things often produce great things. Now, to illustrate, take Sir Isaac Newton–I presume some of you have heard of Mr. Newton. Well, once when Sir Isaac Newton –a mere lad–got over into the man’s apple orchard–I don’t know what he was doing there–I didn’t come all the way from Hartford to q-u-e-s-t-i-o-n Mr. Newton’s honesty–but when he was there–in the main orchard–he saw an apple fall and he was a-t-t-racted toward it, and that led to the discovery–not of Mr. Newton but of the great law of attraction and gravitation.

And there was once another great discoverer–I’ve forgotten his name, and I don’t remember what he discovered, but I know it was something very important, and I hope you will all tell your children about it when you get home. Well, when the great discoverer was once loafn’ around down in Virginia, and a-puttin’ in his time flirting with Pocahontas–oh! Captain John Smith, that was the man’s name–and while he and Poca were sitting in Mr. Powhatan’s garden, he accidentally put his arm around her and picked something simple weed, which proved to be tobacco–and now we find it in every Christian family, shedding its civilizing influence broadcast throughout the whole religious community.

Now there was another great man, I can’t think of his name either, who used to loaf around and watch the great chandelier in the cathedral at Pisa., which set him to thinking about the great law of gunpowder, and eventually led to the discovery of the cotton-gin.

Now, I don’t say this as an inducement for our young men to loaf around like Mr. Newton and Mr. Galileo and Captain Smith, but they were once little babies two days old, and they show what little things have sometimes accomplished.

 

 

EDUCATING THEATRE-GOERS

The children of the Educational Alliance gave a performance of “The Prince and the Pauper” on the afternoon of April 14, 1907, in the theatre of the Alliance Building in East Broadway. The audience was composed of nearly one thousand children of the neighborhood. Mr. Clemens, Mr. Howells, and Mr. Daniel Frohman were among the invited guests.

I have not enjoyed a play so much, so heartily, and so thoroughly since I played Miles Hendon twenty-two years ago. I used to play in this piece (“The Prince and the Pauper”) with my children, who, twenty-two years ago, were little youngsters. One of my daughters was the Prince, and a neighbor’s daughter was the Pauper, and the children of other neighbors played other parts. But we never gave such a performance as we have seen here to-day. It would have been beyond us.

My late wife was the dramatist and stage-manager. Our coachman was the stage-manager, second in command. We used to play it in this simple way, and the one who used to bring in the crown on a cushion–he was a little fellow then–is now a clergyman way up high–six or seven feet high–and growing higher all the time. We played it well, but not as well as you see it here, for you see it done by practically trained professionals.

I was especially interested in the scene which we have just had, for Miles Hendon was my part. I did it as well as a person could who never remembered his part. The children all knew their parts. They did not mind if I did not know mine. I could thread a needle nearly as well as the player did whom you saw to-day. The words of my part I could supply on the spot. The words of the song that Miles Hendon sang here I did not catch. But I was great in that song.

[Then Mr. Clemens hummed a bit of doggerel that the reporter made out as this:

“There was a woman in her town, She loved her husband well, But another man just twice as well.”

“How is that?” demanded Mr. Clemens. Then resuming]

It was so fresh and enjoyable to make up a new set of words each time that I played the part.

If I had a thousand citizens in front of me, I would like to give them information, but you children already know all that I have found out about the Educational Alliance. It’s like a man living within thirty miles of Vesuvius and never knowing about a volcano. It’s like living for a lifetime in Buffalo, eighteen miles from Niagara, and never going to see the Falls. So I had lived in New York and knew nothing about the Educational Alliance.

This theatre is a part of the work, and furnishes pure and clean plays. This theatre is an influence. Everything in the world is accomplished by influences which train and educate. When you get to be seventy-one and a half, as I am, you may think that your education is over, but it isn’t.

If we had forty theatres of this kind in this city of four millions, how they would educate and elevate! We should have a body of educated theatre-goers.

It would make better citizens, honest citizens. One of the best gifts a millionaire could make would be a theatre here and a theatre there. It would make of you a real Republic, and bring about an educational level.

THE EDUCATIONAL THEATRE

On November 19, 1907, Mr. Clemens entertained a party of six or seven hundred of his friends, inviting them to witness the representation of “The Prince and the Pauper,” flayed by boys and girls of the East Side at the Children’s Educational Theatre, New York.

Just a word or two to let you know how deeply I appreciate the honor which the children who are the actors and frequenters of this cozy playhouse have conferred upon me. They have asked me to be their ambassador to invite the hearts and brains of New York to come down here and see the work they are doing. I consider it a grand distinction to be chosen as their intermediary. Between the children and myself there is an indissoluble bond of friendship.

I am proud of this theatre and this performance–proud, because I am naturally vain–vain of myself and proud of the children.

I wish we could reach more children at one time. I am glad to see that the children of the East Side have turned their backs on the Bowery theatres to come to see the pure entertainments presented here.

This Children’s Theatre is a great educational institution. I hope the time will come when it will be part of every public school in the land. I may be pardoned in being vain. I was born vain, I guess. [At this point the stage-manager’s whistle interrupted Mr. Clemens.] That settles it; there’s my cue to stop. I was to talk until the whistle blew, but it blew before I got started. It takes me longer to get started than most people. I guess I was born at slow speed. My time is up, and if you’ll keep quiet for two minutes I’ll tell you something about Miss Herts, the woman who conceived this splendid idea. She is the originator and the creator of this theatre. Educationally, this institution coins the gold of young hearts into external good.

[On April 23, 1908, he spoke again at the same place]

I will be strictly honest with you; I am only fit to be honorary president. It is not to be expected that I should be useful as a real president. But when it comes to things ornamental I, of course, have no objection. There is, of course, no competition. I take it as a very real compliment because there are thousands of children who have had a part in this request. It is promotion in truth.

It is a thing worth doing that is done here. You have seen the children play. You saw how little Sally reformed her burglar. She could reform any burglar. She could reform me. This is the only school in which can be taught the highest and most difficult lessons–morals. In other schools the way of teaching morals is revolting. Here the children who come in thousands live through each part.

They are terribly anxious for the villain to get his bullet, and that I take to be a humane and proper sentiment. They spend freely the ten cents that is not saved without a struggle. It comes out of the candy money, and the money that goes for chewing-gum and other necessaries of life. They make the sacrifice freely. This is the only school which they are sorry to leave.

 

 

POETS AS POLICEMEN

Mr. Clemens was one of the speakers at the Lotos Club dinner to Governor Odell, March 24, 1900. The police problem was referred to at length.

Let us abolish policemen who carry clubs and revolvers, and put in a squad of poets armed to the teeth with poems on Spring and Love. I would be very glad to serve as commissioner, not because I think I am especially qualified, but because I am too tired to work and would like to take a rest.

Howells would go well as my deputy. He is tired too, and needs a rest badly.

I would start in at once to elevate, purify, and depopulate the red-light district. I would assign the most soulful poets to that district, all heavily armed with their poems. Take Chauncey Depew as a sample. I would station them on the corners after they had rounded up all the depraved people of the district so they could not escape, and then have them read from their poems to the poor unfortunates. The plan would be very effective in causing an emigration of the depraved element.

 

 

PUDD’NHEAD WILSON DRAMATIZED

When Mr. Clemens arrived from Europe in 1895 one of the first things he did was to see the dramatization of Pudd’nhead Wilson. The audience becoming aware of the fact that Mr. Clemens was in the house called upon him for a speech.

Never in my life have I been able to make a speech without preparation, and I assure you that this position in which I find myself is one totally unexpected.

I have been hemmed in all day by William Dean Howells and other frivolous persons, and I have been talking about everything in the world except that of which speeches are constructed. Then, too, seven days on the water is not conducive to speech-making. I will only say that I congratulate Mr. Mayhew; he has certainly made a delightful play out of my rubbish. His is a charming gift. Confidentially I have always had an idea that I was well equipped to write plays, but I have never encountered a manager who has agreed with me.

 

 

DALY THEATRE

ADDRESS AT A DINNER AFTER THE ONE HUNDREDTH PERFORMANCE OF “THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.”

Mr. Clemens made the following speech, which he incorporated afterward in Following the Equator.

I am glad to be here. This is the hardest theatre in New York to get into, even at the front door. I never, got in without hard work. I am glad we have got so far in at last. Two or three years ago I had an appointment to meet Mr. Daly on the stage of this theatre at eight o’clock in the evening. Well, I got on a train at Hartford to come to New York and keep the appointment. All I had to do was to come to the back door of the theatre on Sixth Avenue. I did not believe that; I did not believe it could be on Sixth Avenue, but that is what Daly’s note said–come to that door, walk right in, and keep the appointment. It looked very easy. It looked easy enough, but I had not much confidence in the Sixth Avenue door.

Well, I was kind of bored on the train, and I bought some newspapers–New Haven newspapers–and there was not much news in them, so I read the advertisements. There was one advertisement of a bench-show. I had heard of bench-shows, and I often wondered what there was about them to interest people. I had seen bench-shows–lectured to bench-shows, in fact–but I didn’t want to advertise them or to brag about them. Well, I read on a little, and learned that a bench-show was not a bench-show –but dogs, not benches at all–only dogs. I began to be interested, and as there was nothing else to do I read every bit of the advertisement, and learned that the biggest thing in this show was a St. Bernard dog that weighed one hundred and forty-five pounds. Before I got to New York I was so interested in the bench-shows that I made up my mind to go to one the first chance I got. Down on Sixth Avenue, near where that back door might be, I began to take things leisurely. I did not like to be in too much of a hurry. There was not anything in sight that looked like a back door. The nearest approach to it was a cigar store. So I went in and bought a cigar, not too expensive, but it cost enough to pay for any information I might get and leave the dealer a fair profit. Well, I did not like to be too abrupt, to make the man think me crazy, by asking him if that was the way to Daly’s Theatre, so I started gradually to lead up to the subject, asking him first if that was the way to Castle Garden. When I got to the real question, and he said he would show me the way, I was astonished. He sent me through a long hallway, and I found myself in a back yard. Then I went through a long passageway and into a little room, and there before my eyes was a big St. Bernard dog lying on a bench. There was another door beyond and I went there, and was met by a big, fierce man with a fur cap on and coat off, who remarked, “Phwat do yez want?” I told him I wanted to see Mr. Daly. “Yez can’t see Mr. Daly this time of night,” he responded. I urged that I had an appointment with Mr. Daly, and gave him my card, which did not seem to impress him much. “Yez can’t get in and yez can’t shmoke here. Throw away that cigar. If yez want to see Mr. Daly, yez ‘ll have to be after going to the front door and buy a ticket, and then if yez have luck and he’s around that way yez may see him.” I was getting discouraged, but I had one resource left that had been of good service in similar emergencies. Firmly but kindly I told him my name was Mark Twain, and I awaited results. There was none. He was not fazed a bit. “Phwere’s your order to see Mr. Daly?” he asked. I handed him the note, and he examined it intently. “My friend,” I remarked, “you can read that better if you hold it the other side up.” But he took no notice of the suggestion, and finally asked: “Where’s Mr. Daly’s name?” “There it is,” I told him, “on the top of the page.” “That’s all right,” he said, “that’s where he always puts it; but I don’t see the ‘W’ in his name,” and he eyed me distrustfully. Finally, he asked, “Phwat do yez want to see Mr. Daly for?” “Business.” “Business?” “Yes.” It was my only hope. “Phwat kind–theatres?” that was too much. “No.” “What kind of shows, then?” “Bench-shows.” It was risky, but I was desperate. “Bench–shows, is it–where?” The big man’s face changed, and he began to look interested. “New Haven.” “New Haven, it is? Ah, that’s going to be a fine show. I’m glad to see you. Did you see a big dog in the other room?” “Yes.” “How much do you think that dog weighs?” “One hundred and forty-five pounds.” “Look at that, now! He’s a good judge of dogs, and no mistake. He weighs all of one hundred and thirty-eight. Sit down and shmoke–go on and shmoke your cigar, I’ll tell Mr. Daly you are here.” In a few minutes I was on the stage shaking hands with Mr. Daly, and the big man standing around glowing with satisfaction. “Come around in front,” said Mr. Daly, “and see the performance. I will put you into my own box.” And as I moved away I heard my honest friend mutter, “Well, he desarves it.”

 

 

THE DRESS OF CIVILIZED WOMAN

A large part of the daughter of civilization is her dress–as it should be. Some civilized women would lose half their charm without dress, and some would lose all of it. The daughter Of modern civilization dressed at her utmost best is a marvel of exquisite and beautiful art and expense. All the lands, all the climes, and all the arts are laid under tribute to furnish her forth. Her linen is from Belfast, her robe is from Paris, her lace is from Venice, or Spain, or France, her feathers are from the remote regions of Southern Africa, her furs from the remoter region of the iceberg and the aurora, her fan from Japan, her diamonds from Brazil, her bracelets from California, her pearls from Ceylon, her cameos from Rome. She has gems and trinkets from buried Pompeii, and others that graced comely Egyptian forms that have been dust and ashes now for forty centuries. Her watch is from Geneva, her card case is from China, her hair is from–from–I don’t know where her hair is from; I never could find out; that is, her other hair–her public hair, her Sunday hair; I don’t mean the hair she goes to bed with.

And that reminds me of a trifle. Any time you want to you can glance around the carpet of a Pullman car, and go and pick up a hair-pin; but not to save your life can you get any woman in that car to acknowledge that hair-pin. Now, isn’t that strange? But it’s true. The woman who has never swerved from cast-iron veracity and fidelity in her whole life will, when confronted with this crucial test, deny her hair-pin. She will deny that hair-pin before a hundred witnesses. I have stupidly got into more trouble and more hot water trying to hunt up the owner of a hair-pin in a Pullman than by any other indiscretion of my life.

 

 

DRESS REFORM AND COPYRIGHT

When the present copyright law was under discussion, Mr. Clemens appeared before the committee. He had sent Speaker Cannon the following letter:

“DEAR UNCLE JOSEPH,–Please get me the thanks of Congress, not next week but right away. It is very necessary. Do accomplish this for your affectionate old friend right away–by, persuasion if you can, by violence if you must, for it is imperatively necessary that I get on the floor of the House for two or three hours and talk to the members, man by man, in behalf of support; encouragement, and protection of one of the nation’s most valuable assets and industries–its literature. I have arguments with me–also a barrel with liquid in it.

“Give me a chance. Get me the thanks of Congress. Don’t wait for others–there isn’t time; furnish them to me yourself and let Congress ratify later. I have stayed away and let Congress alone for seventy-one years and am entitled to the thanks. Congress knows this perfectly well, and I have long felt hurt that this quite proper and earned expression of gratitude has been merely felt by the House and never publicly uttered.

“Send me an order on the sergeant-at-arms quick. When shall I come? “With love and a benediction, “MARK TWAIN.”

While waiting to appear before the committee, Mr. Clemens talked to the reporters:

Why don’t you ask why I am wearing such apparently unseasonable clothes? I’ll tell you. I have found that when a man reaches the advanced age of seventy-one years, as I have, the continual sight of dark clothing is likely to have a depressing effect upon him. Light-colored clothing is more pleasing to the eye and enlivens the spirit. Now, of course, I cannot compel every one to wear such clothing just for my especial benefit, so I do the next best thing and wear it myself.

Of course, before a man reaches my years the fear of criticism might prevent him from indulging his fancy. I am not afraid of that. I am decidedly for pleasing color combinations in dress. I like to see the women’s clothes, say, at the opera. What can be more depressing than the sombre black which custom requires men to wear upon state occasions? A group of men in evening clothes looks like a flock of crows, and is just about as inspiring.

After all, what is the purpose of clothing? Are not clothes intended primarily to preserve dignity and also to afford comfort to their wearer? Now I know of nothing more uncomfortable than the present-day clothes of men. The finest clothing made is a person’s own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this.

The best-dressed man I have ever seen, however, was a native of the Sandwich Islands who attracted my attention thirty years ago. Now, when that man wanted to don especial dress to honor a public occasion or a holiday, why, he occasionally put on a pair of spectacles. Otherwise the clothing with which God had provided him sufficed.

Of course, I have ideas of dress reform. For one thing, why not adopt some of the women’s styles? Goodness knows, they adopt enough of ours. Take the peek-a-boo waist, for instance. It has the obvious advantages of being cool and comfortable, and in addition it is almost always made up in pleasing colors which cheer and do not depress.

It is true that I dressed the Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court in a plug-hat, but, let’s see, that was twenty-five years ago. Then no man was considered fully dressed until he donned a plug-hat. Nowadays I think that no man is dressed until he leaves it home. Why, when I left home yesterday they trotted out a plug-hat for me to wear.

“You must wear it,” they told me; “why, just think of going to Washington without a plug-hat!” But I said no; I would wear a derby or nothing. Why, I believe I could walk along the streets of New York–I never do –but still I think I could–and I should never see a well-dressed man wearing a plug-hat. If I did I should suspect him of something. I don’t know just what, but I would suspect him.

Why, when I got up on the second story of that Pennsylvania ferry-boat coming down here yesterday I saw Howells coming along. He was the only man on the boat with a plug-hat, and I tell you he felt ashamed of himself. He said he had been persuaded to wear it against his better sense. But just think of a man nearly seventy years old who has not a mind of his own on such matters!

“Are you doing any work now?” the youngest and most serious reporter asked.

Work? I retired from work on my seventieth birthday. Since then I have been putting in merely twenty-six hours a day dictating my autobiography, which, as John Phoenix said in regard to his autograph, may be relied upon as authentic, as it is written exclusively by me. But it is not to be published in full until I am thoroughly dead. I have made it as caustic, fiendish, and devilish as possible. It will fill many volumes, and I shall continue writing it until the time comes for me to join the angels. It is going to be a terrible autobiography. It will make the hair of some folks curl. But it cannot be published until I am dead, and the persons mentioned in it and their children and grandchildren are dead. It is something awful!

“Can you tell us the names of some of the notables that are here to see you off?”

I don’t know. I am so shy. My shyness takes a peculiar phase. I never look a person in the face. The reason is that I am afraid they may know me and that I may not know them, which makes it very embarrassing for both of us. I always wait for the other person to speak. I know lots of people, but I don’t know who they are. It is all a matter of ability to observe things. I never observe anything now. I gave up the habit years ago. You should keep a habit up if you want to become proficient in it. For instance, I was a pilot once, but I gave it up, and I do not believe the captain of the Minneapolis would let me navigate his ship to London. Still, if I think that he is not on the job I may go up on the bridge and offer him a few suggestions.

 

 

COLLEGE GIRLS

Five hundred undergraduates, under the auspices of the Woman’s University Club, New York, welcomed Mr. Clemens as their guest, April 3, 1906, and gave him the freedom of the club, which the chairman explained was freedom to talk individually to any girl present.

I’ve worked for the public good thirty years, so for the rest of my life I shall work for my personal contentment. I am glad Miss Neron has fed me, for there is no telling what iniquity I might wander into on an empty stomach–I mean, an empty mind.

I am going to tell you a practical story about how once upon a time I was blind–a story I should have been using all these months, but I never thought about telling it until the other night, and now it is too late, for on the nineteenth of this month I hope to take formal leave of the platform forever at Carnegie Hall–that is, take leave so far as talking for money and for people who have paid money to hear me talk. I shall continue to infest the platform on these conditions–that there is nobody in the house who has paid to hear me, that I am not paid to be heard, and that there will be none but young women students in the audience. [Here Mr. Clemens told the story of how he took a girl to the theatre while he was wearing tight boots, which appears elsewhere in this volume, and ended by saying: “And now let this be a lesson to you–I don’t know what kind of a lesson; I’ll let you think it out.”]

 

 

GIRLS

In my capacity of publisher I recently received a manuscript from a teacher which embodied a number of answers given by her pupils to questions propounded. These answers show that the children had nothing but the sound to go by–the sense was perfectly empty. Here are some of their answers to words they were asked to define: Auriferous–pertaining to an orifice; ammonia–the food of the gods; equestrian–one who asks questions; parasite–a kind of umbrella; ipecaca–man who likes a good dinner. And here is the definition of an ancient word honored by a great party: Republican–a sinner mentioned in the Bible. And here is an innocent deliverance of a zoological kind: “There are a good many donkeys in the theological gardens.” Here also is a definition which really isn’t very bad in its way: Demagogue–a vessel containing beer and other liquids. Here, too, is a sample of a boy’s composition on girls, which, I must say, I rather like:

“Girls are very stuckup and dignified in their manner and behaveyour. They think more of dress than anything and like to play with dowls and rags. They cry if they see a cow in a far distance and are afraid of guns. They stay at home all the time and go to church every Sunday. They are al-ways sick. They are al-ways furry and making fun of boys hands and they say how dirty. They cant play marbles. I pity them poor things. They make fun of boys and then turn round and love them. I don’t belave they ever kiled a cat or anything. They look out every nite and say, ‘Oh, a’nt the moon lovely!’–Thir is one thing I have not told and that is they al-ways now their lessons bettern boys.”

 

 

THE LADIES

DELIVERED AT THE ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL, 1872, OF THE SCOTTISH CORPORATION OF LONDON

Mr. Clemens replied to the toast “The Ladies.”

I am proud, indeed, of the distinction of being chosen to respond to this especial toast, to “The Ladies,” or to women if you please, for that is the preferable term, perhaps; it is certainly the older, and therefore the more entitled to reverence. I have noticed that the Bible, with that plain, blunt honesty which is such a conspicuous characteristic of the Scriptures, is always particular to never refer to even the illustrious mother of all mankind as a “lady,” but speaks of her as a woman. It is odd, but you will find it is so. I am peculiarly proud of this honor, because I think that the toast to women is one which, by right and by every rule of gallantry, should take precedence of all others–of the army, of the navy, of even royalty itself–perhaps, though the latter is not necessary in this day and in this land, for the reason that, tacitly, you do drink a broad general health to all good women when you drink the health of the Queen of England and the Princess of Wales. I have in mind a poem just now which is familiar to you all, familiar to everybody. And what an inspiration that was, and how instantly the present toast recalls the verses to all our minds when the most noble, the most gracious, the purest, and sweetest of all poets says:

“Woman! O woman!—er Wom—-”

However, you remember the lines; and you remember how feelingly, how daintily, how almost imperceptibly the verses raise up before you, feature by feature, the ideal of a true and perfect woman; and how, as you contemplate the finished marvel, your homage grows into worship of the intellect that could create so fair a thing out of mere breath, mere words. And you call to mind now, as I speak, how the poet, with stern fidelity to the history of all humanity, delivers this beautiful child of his heart and his brain over to the trials and sorrows that must come to all, sooner or later, that abide in the earth, and how the pathetic story culminates in that apostrophe–so wild, so regretful, so full of mournful retrospection. The lines run thus:

“Alas!–alas!–a–alas! —-Alas!——–alas!”

–and so on. I do not remember the rest; but, taken together, it seems to me that poem is the noblest tribute to woman that human genius has ever brought forth–and I feel that if I were to talk hours I could not do my great theme completer or more graceful justice than I have now done in simply quoting that poet’s matchless words. The phases of the womanly nature are infinite in their variety. Take any type of woman, and you shall find in it something to respect, something to admire, something to love. And you shall find the whole joining you heart and hand. Who was more patriotic than Joan of Arc? Who was braver? Who has given us a grander instance of self-sacrificing devotion? Ah! you remember, you remember well, what a throb of pain, what a great tidal wave of grief swept over us all when Joan of Arc fell at Waterloo. Who does not sorrow for the loss of Sappho, the sweet singer of Israel? Who among us does not miss the gentle ministrations, the softening influences, the humble piety of Lucretia Borgia? Who can join in the heartless libel that says woman is extravagant in dress when he can look back and call to mind our simple and lowly mother Eve arrayed in her modification of the Highland costume? Sir, women have been soldiers, women have been painters, women have been poets. As long as language lives the name of Cleopatra will live. And not because she conquered George III.–but because she wrote those divine lines:

“Let dogs delight to bark and bite, For God hath made them so.”

The story of the world is adorned with the names of illustrious ones of our own sex–some of, them sons of St. Andrew, too–Scott, Bruce, Burns, the warrior Wallace, Ben Nevis–the gifted Ben Lomond, and the great new Scotchman, Ben Disraeli.–[Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, at that time Prime Minister of England, had just been elected Lord Rector of Glasgow University, and had made a speech which gave rise to a world of discussion]–Out of the great plains of history tower whole mountain ranges of sublime women: the Queen of Sheba, Josephine, Semiramis, Sairey Gamp; the list is endless–but I will not call the mighty roll, the names rise up in your own memories at the mere suggestion, luminous with the glory of deeds that cannot die, hallowed by the loving worship of the good and the true of all epochs and all climes. Suffice it for our pride and our honor that we in our day have added to it such names as those of Grace Darling and Florence Nightingale. Woman is all that she should be gentle, patient, longsuffering, trustful, unselfish, full of generous impulses. It is her blessed mission to comfort the sorrowing, plead for the erring, encourage the faint of purpose, succor the distressed, uplift the fallen, befriend the friendless–in a word, afford the healing of her sympathies and a home in her heart for all the bruised and persecuted children that knock at its hospitable door. And when I say, God bless her, there is none among us who has known the ennobling affection of a wife, or the steadfast devotion of a mother but in his heart will say, Amen!

 

 

WOMAN’S PRESS CLUB

On October 27, 1900, the New York Woman’s Press Club gave a tea in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Clemens was the guest of honor.

If I were asked an opinion I would call this an ungrammatical nation. There is no such thing as perfect grammar, and I don’t always speak good grammar myself. But I have been foregathering for the past few days with professors of American universities, and I’ve heard them all say things like this: “He don’t like to do it.” [There was a stir.] Oh, you’ll hear that to-night if you listen, or, “He would have liked to have done it.” You’ll catch some educated Americans saying that. When these men take pen in hand they write with as good grammar as any. But the moment they throw the pen aside they throw grammatical morals aside with it.

To illustrate the desirability and possibility of concentration, I must tell you a story of my little six-year-old daughter. The governess had been teaching her about the reindeer, and, as the custom was, she related it to the family. She reduced the history of that reindeer to two or three sentences when the governess could not have put it into a page. She said: “The reindeer is a very swift animal. A reindeer once drew a sled four hundred miles in two hours.” She appended the comment: “This was regarded as extraordinary.” And concluded: “When that reindeer was done drawing that sled four hundred miles in two hours it died.”

As a final instance of the force of limitations in the development of concentration, I must mention that beautiful creature, Helen Keller, whom I have known for these many years. I am filled with the wonder of her knowledge, acquired because shut out from all distraction. If I could have been deaf, dumb, and blind I also might have arrived at something.

 

 

VOTES FOR WOMEN

AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE HEBREW TECHNICAL SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, HELD IN THE TEMPLE EMMANUEL, JANUARY 20, 1901

Mr. Clemens was introduced by President Meyer, who said: “In one of Mr. Clemens’s works he expressed his opinion of men, saying he had no choice between Hebrew and Gentile, black men or white; to him all men were alike. But I never could find that he expressed his opinion of women; perhaps that opinion was so exalted that he could not express it. We shall now be called to hear what he thinks of women.”

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,–It is a small help that I can afford, but it is just such help that one can give as coming from the heart through the mouth. The report of Mr. Meyer was admirable, and I was as interested in it as you have been. Why, I’m twice as old as he, and I’ve had so much experience that I would say to him, when he makes his appeal for help: “Don’t make it for to-day or to-morrow, but collect the money on the spot.”

We are all creatures of sudden impulse. We must be worked up by steam, as it were. Get them to write their wills now, or it may be too late by -and-by. Fifteen or twenty years ago I had an experience I shall never forget. I got into a church which was crowded by a sweltering and panting multitude. The city missionary of our town–Hartford–made a telling appeal for help. He told of personal experiences among the poor in cellars and top lofts requiring instances of devotion and help. The poor are always good to the poor. When a person with his millions gives a hundred thousand dollars it makes a great noise in the world, but he does not miss it; it’s the widow’s mite that makes no noise but does the best work.

I remember on that occasion in the Hartford church the collection was being taken up. The appeal had so stirred me that I could hardly wait for the hat or plate to come my way. I had four hundred dollars in my pocket, and I was anxious to drop it in the plate and wanted to borrow more. But the plate was so long in coming my way that the fever-heat of beneficence was going down lower and lower–going down at the rate of a hundred dollars a minute. The plate was passed too late. When it finally came to me, my enthusiasm had gone down so much that I kept my four hundred dollars–and stole a dime from the plate. So, you see, time sometimes leads to crime.

Oh, many a time have I thought of that and regretted it, and I adjure you all to give while the fever is on you.

Referring to woman’s sphere in life, I’ll say that woman is always right. For twenty-five years I’ve been a woman’s rights man. I have always believed, long before my mother died, that, with her gray hairs and admirable intellect, perhaps she knew as much as I did. Perhaps she knew as much about voting as I.

I should like to see the time come when women shall help to make the laws. I should like to see that whip-lash, the ballot, in the hands of women. As for this city’s government, I don’t want to say much, except that it is a shame–a shame; but if I should live twenty-five years longer–and there is no reason why I shouldn’t–I think I’ll see women handle the ballot. If women had the ballot to-day, the state of things in this town would not exist.

If all the women in this town had a vote to-day they would elect a mayor at the next election, and they would rise in their might and change the awful state of things now existing here.

WOMAN-AN OPINION

ADDRESS AT AN EARLY BANQUET OF THE WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB

The twelfth toast was as follows: “Woman–The pride of any profession, and the jewel of ours.”

MR. PRESIDENT,–I do not know why I should be singled out to receive the greatest distinction of the evening–for so the office of replying to the toast of woman has been regarded in every age. I do not know why I have received his distinction, unless it be that I am a trifle less homely than the other members of the club. But be this as it may, Mr. President, I am proud of the position, and you could not have chosen any one who would have accepted it more gladly, or labored with a heartier good-will to do the subject justice than I–because, sir, I love the sex. I love all the women, irrespective of age or color.

Human intellect cannot estimate what we owe to woman, sir. She sews on our buttons; she mends our clothes; she ropes us in at the church fairs; she confides in us; she tells us whatever she can find out about the little private affairs of the neighbors; she gives us good advice, and plenty of it; she soothes our aching brows; she bears our children–ours as a general thing. In all relations of life, sir, it is but a just and graceful tribute to woman to say of her that she is a brick.

Wheresoever you place woman, sir–in whatever position or estate–she is an ornament to the place she occupies, and a treasure to the world. [Here Mr. Clemens paused, looked inquiringly at his hearers, and remarked that the applause should come in at this point. It came in. He resumed his eulogy.] Look at Cleopatra! look at Desdemona!–look at Florence Nightingale!–look at Joan of Arc!–look at Lucretia Borgia! [Disapprobation expressed.] Well [said Mr. Clemens, scratching his head, doubtfully], suppose we let Lucretia slide. Look at Joyce Heth!–look at Mother Eve! You need not look at her unless you want to, but [said Mr. Clemens, reflectively, after a pause] Eve was ornamental, sir –particularly before the fashions changed. I repeat, sir, look at the illustrious names of history. Look at the Widow Machree!–look at Lucy Stone!–look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton!–look at George Francis Train! And, sir, I say it with bowed head and deepest veneration–look at the mother of Washington! She raised a boy that could not tell a lie–could not tell a lie! But he never had any chance. It might have been different if he had belonged to the Washington Newspaper Correspondents’ Club.

I repeat, sir, that in whatever position you place a woman she is an ornament to society and a treasure to the world. As a sweetheart, she has few equals and no superiors; as a cousin, she is convenient; as a wealthy grandmother with an incurable distemper, she is precious; as a wetnurse, she has no equal among men.

What, sir, would the people of the earth be without woman? They would be scarce, sir, almighty scarce. Then let us cherish her; let us protect her; let us give her our support, our encouragement, our sympathy, ourselves–if we get a chance.

But, jesting aside, Mr. President, woman is lovable, gracious, kind of heart, beautiful–worthy of all respect, of all esteem, of all deference. Not any here will refuse to drink her health right cordially in this bumper of wine, for each and every one has personally known, and loved, and honored the very best one of them all–his own mother.

 

 

ADVICE TO GIRLS

In 1907 a young girl whom Mr. Clemens met on the steamer Minnehaha called him “grandpa,” and he called her his granddaughter. She was attending St. Timothy’s School, at Catonsville, Maryland, and Mr. Clemens promised her to see her graduate. He accordingly made the journey from New York on June 10, 1909, and delivered a short address.

I don’t know what to tell you girls to do. Mr. Martin has told you everything you ought to do, and now I must give you some don’ts.

There are three things which come to my mind which I consider excellent advice:

First, girls, don’t smoke–that is, don’t smoke to excess. I am seventy-three and a half years old, and have been smoking seventy-three of them. But I never smoke to excess–that is, I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time.

Second, don’t drink–that is, don’t drink to excess.

Third, don’t marry–I mean, to excess.

Honesty is the best policy. That is an old proverb; but you don’t want ever to forget it in your journey through life.

 

 

TAXES AND MORALS

ADDRESS DELIVERED IN NEW YORK, JANUARY 22, 1906

At the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Tuskeegee Institute by Booker Washington, Mr. Choate presided, and in introducing Mr. Clemens made fun of him because he made play his work, and that when he worked hardest he did so lying in bed.

I came here in the responsible capacity of policeman to watch Mr. Choate. This is an occasion of grave and serious importance, and it seems necessary for me to be present, so that if he tried to work off any statement that required correction, reduction, refutation, or exposure, there would be a tried friend of the public to protect the house. He has not made one statement whose veracity fails to tally exactly with my own standard. I have never seen a person improve so. This makes me thankful and proud of a country that can produce such men–two such men. And all in the same country. We can’t be with you always; we are passing away, and then–well, everything will have to stop, I reckon. It is a sad thought. But in spirit I shall still be with you. Choate, too–if he can.

Every born American among the eighty millions, let his creed or destitution of creed be what it may, is indisputably a Christian–to this degree that his moral constitution is Christian.

There are two kinds of Christian morals, one private and the other public. These two are so distinct, so unrelated, that they are no more akin to each other than are archangels and politicians. During three hundred and sixty-three days in the year the American citizen is true to his Christian private morals, and keeps undefiled the nation’s character at its best and highest; then in the other two days of the year he leaves his Christian private morals at home and carries his Christian public morals to the tax office and the polls, and does the best he can to damage and undo his whole year’s faithful and righteous work. Without a blush he will vote for an unclean boss if that boss is his party’s Moses, without compunction he will vote against the best man in the whole land if he is on the other ticket. Every year in a number of cities and States he helps put corrupt men in office, whereas if he would but throw away his Christian public morals, and carry his Christian private morals to the polls, he could promptly purify the public service and make the possession of office a high and honorable distinction.

Once a year he lays aside his Christian private morals and hires a ferry-boat and piles up his bonds in a warehouse in New Jersey for three days, and gets out his Christian public morals and goes to the tax office and holds up his hands and swears he wishes he may never–never if he’s got a cent in the world, so help him. The next day the list appears in the papers–a column and a quarter of names, in fine print, and every man in the list a billionaire and member of a couple of churches. I know all those people. I have friendly, social, and criminal relations with the whole lot of them. They never miss a sermon when they are so’s to be around, and they never miss swearing-off day, whether they are so’s to be around or not.

I used to be an honest man. I am crumbling. No–I have crumbled. When they assessed me at $75,000 a fortnight ago I went out and tried to borrow the money, and couldn’t; then when I found they were letting a whole crop of millionaires live in New York at a third of the price they were charging me I was hurt, I was indignant, and said: “This is the last feather. I am not going to run this town all by myself.” In that moment–in that memorable moment–I began to crumble. In fifteen minutes the disintegration was complete. In fifteen minutes I had become just a mere moral sand-pile; and I lifted up my hand along with those seasoned and experienced deacons and swore off every rag of personal property I’ve got in the world, clear down to cork leg, glass eye, and what is left of my wig.

Those tax officers were moved; they were profoundly moved. They had long been accustomed to seeing hardened old grafters act like that, and they could endure the spectacle; but they were expecting better things of me, a chartered, professional moralist, and they were saddened.

I fell visibly in their respect and esteem, and I should have fallen in my own, except that I had already struck bottom, and there wasn’t any place to fall to.

At Tuskeegee they will jump to misleading conclusions from insufficient evidence, along with Doctor Parkhurst, and they will deceive the student with the superstition that no gentleman ever swears.

Look at those good millionaires; aren’t they gentlemen? Well, they swear. Only once in a year, maybe, but there’s enough bulk to it to make up for the lost time. And do they lose anything by it? No, they don’t; they save enough in three minutes to support the family seven years. When they swear, do we shudder? No–unless they say “damn!” Then we do. It shrivels us all up. Yet we ought not to feel so about it, because we all swear–everybody. Including the ladies. Including Doctor Parkhurst, that strong and brave and excellent citizen, but superficially educated.

For it is not the word that is the sin, it is the spirit back of the word. When an irritated lady says “oh!” the spirit back of it is “damn!” and that is the way it is going to be recorded against her. It always makes me so sorry when I hear a lady swear like that. But if she says “damn,” and says it in an amiable, nice way, it isn’t going to be recorded at all.

The idea that no gentleman ever swears is all wrong; he can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and, benevolent and affectionate way. The historian, John Fiske, whom I knew well and loved, was a spotless and most noble and upright Christian gentleman, and yet he swore once. Not exactly that, maybe; still, he–but I will tell you about it.

One day, when he was deeply immersed in his work, his wife came in, much moved and profoundly distressed, and said: “I am sorry to disturb you, John, but I must, for this is a serious matter, and needs to be attended to at once.”

Then, lamenting, she brought a grave accusation against their little son. She said: “He has been saying his Aunt Mary is a fool and his Aunt Martha is a damned fool.” Mr. Fiske reflected upon the matter a minute, then said: “Oh, well, it’s about the distinction I should make between them myself.”

Mr. Washington, I beg you to convey these teachings to your great and prosperous and most beneficent educational institution, and add them to the prodigal mental and moral riches wherewith you equip your fortunate proteges for the struggle of life.

 

 

TAMMANY AND CROKER

Mr. Clemens made his debut as a campaign orator on October 7, 1901, advocating the election of Seth Low for Mayor, not as a Republican, but as a member of the “Acorns,” which he described as a “third party having no political affiliation, but was concerned only in the selection of the best candidates and the best member.”

Great Britain had a Tammany and a Croker a good while ago. This Tammany was in India, and it began its career with the spread of the English dominion after the Battle of Plassey. Its first boss was Clive, a sufficiently crooked person sometimes, but straight as a yard stick when compared with the corkscrew crookedness of the second boss, Warren Hastings.

That old-time Tammany was the East India Company’s government, and had its headquarters at Calcutta. Ostensibly it consisted of a Great Council of four persons, of whom one was the Governor-General, Warren Hastings; really it consisted of one person–Warren Hastings; for by usurpation he concentrated all authority in himself and governed the country like an autocrat.

Ostensibly the Court of Directors, sitting in London and representing the vast interests of the stockholders, was supreme in authority over the Calcutta Great Council, whose membership it appointed and removed at pleasure, whose policies it dictated, and to whom it conveyed its will in the form of sovereign commands; but whenever it suited Hastings, he ignored even that august body’s authority and conducted the mighty affairs of the British Empire in India to suit his own notions.

At his mercy was the daily bread of every official, every trader, every clerk, every civil servant, big and little, in the whole huge India Company’s machine, and the man who hazarded his bread by any failure of subserviency to the boss lost it.

Now then, let the supreme masters of British India, the giant corporation of the India Company of London, stand for the voters of the city of New York; let the Great Council of Calcutta stand for Tammany; let the corrupt and money-grubbing great hive of serfs which served under the Indian Tammany’s rod stand for New York Tammany’s serfs; let Warren Hastings stand for Richard Croker, and it seems to me that the parallel is exact and complete. And so let us be properly grateful and thank God and our good luck that we didn’t invent Tammany.

Edmund Burke, regarded by many as the greatest orator of all times, conducted the case against Warren Hastings in that renowned trial which lasted years, and which promises to keep its renown for centuries to come. I wish to quote some of the things he said. I wish to imagine him arraigning Mr. Croker and Tammany before the voters of New York City and pleading with them for the overthrow of that combined iniquity of the 5th of November, and will substitute for “My Lords,” read “Fellow-Citizens”; for “Kingdom,” read “City”; for “Parliamentary Process,” read “Political Campaign”; for “Two Houses,” read “Two Parties,” and so it reads:

“Fellow–citizens, I must look upon it as an auspicious circumstance to this cause, in which the honor of the city is involved, that from the first commencement of our political campaign to this the hour of solemn trial not the smallest difference of opinion has arisen, between the two parties.

“You will see, in the progress of this cause, that there is not only a long, connected, systematic series of misdemeanors, but an equally connected system of maxims and principles invented to justify them. Upon both of these you must judge.

“It is not only the interest of the city of New York, now the most considerable part of the city of the Americans, which is concerned, but the credit and honor of the nation itself will be decided by this decision.”

At a later meeting of the Acorn Club, Mr. Clemens said:

Tammany is dead, and there’s no use in blackguarding a corpse.

The election makes me think of a story of a man who was dying. He had only two minutes to live, so he sent for a clergyman and asked him, “Where is the best place to go to?” He was undecided about it. So the minister told him that each place had its advantages–heaven for climate, and hell for society.

 

 

MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION

ADDRESS AT THE CITY CLUB DINNER, JANUARY 4,1901

Bishop Potter told how an alleged representative of Tammany Hall asked him in effect if he would cease his warfare upon the Police Department if a certain captain and inspector were dismissed. He replied that he would never be satisfied until the “man at the top” and the “system” which permitted evils in the Police Department were crushed.

The Bishop has just spoken of a condition of things which none of us can deny, and which ought not to exist; that is, the lust of gain–a lust which does not stop short of the penitentiary or the jail to accomplish its ends. But we may be sure of one thing, and that is that this sort of thing is not universal. If it were, this country would not be. You may put this down as a fact: that out of every fifty men, forty-nine are clean. Then why is it, you may ask, that the forty-nine don’t have things the way they want them? I’ll tell you why it is. A good deal has been said here to-night about what is to be accomplished by organization. That’s just the thing. It’s because the fiftieth fellow and his pals are organized and the other forty-nine are not that the dirty one rubs it into the clean fellows every time.

You may say organize, organize, organize; but there may be so much organization that it will interfere with the work to be done. The Bishop here had an experience of that sort, and told all about it down-town the other night. He was painting a barn–it was his own barn–and yet he was informed that his work must stop; he was a non-union painter, and couldn’t continue at that sort of job.

Now, all these conditions of which you complain should be remedied, and I am here to tell you just how to do it. I’ve been a statesman without salary for many years, and I have accomplished great and widespread good. I don’t know that it has benefited anybody very much, even if it was good; but I do know that it hasn’t harmed me very much, and is hasn’t made me any richer.

We hold the balance of power. Put up your best men for office, and we shall support the better one. With the election of the best man for Mayor would follow the selection of the best man for Police Commissioner and Chief of Police.

My first lesson in the craft of statesmanship was taken at an early age. Fifty-one years ago I was fourteen years old, and we had a society in the town I lived in, patterned after the Freemasons, or the Ancient Order of United Farmers, or some such thing–just what it was patterned after doesn’t matter. It had an inside guard and an outside guard, and a past-grand warden, and a lot of such things, so as to give dignity to the organization and offices to the members.

Generally speaking it was a pretty good sort of organization, and some of the very best boys in the village, including–but I mustn’t get personal on an occasion like this–and the society would have got along pretty well had it not been for the fact that there were a certain number of the members who could be bought. They got to be an infernal nuisance. Every time we had an election the candidates had to go around and see the purchasable members. The price per vote was paid in doughnuts, and it depended somewhat on the appetites of the individuals as to the price of the votes.

This thing ran along until some of us, the really very best boys in the organization, decided that these corrupt practices must stop, and for the purpose of stopping them we organized a third party. We had a name, but we were never known by that name. Those who didn’t like us called us the Anti-Doughnut party, but we didn’t mind that.

We said: “Call us what you please; the name doesn’t matter. We are organized for a principle.” By-and-by the election came around, and we made a big mistake. We were triumphantly beaten. That taught us a lesson. Then and there we decided never again to nominate anybody for anything. We decided simply to force the other two parties in the society to nominate their very best men. Although we were organized for a principle, we didn’t care much about that. Principles aren’t of much account anyway, except at election-time. After that you hang them up to let them season.

The next time we had an election we told both the other parties that we’d beat any candidates put up by any one of them of whom we didn’t approve. In that election we did business. We got the man we wanted. I suppose they called us the Anti-Doughnut party because they couldn’t buy us with their doughnuts. They didn’t have enough of them. Most reformers arrive at their price sooner or later, and I suppose we would have had our price; but our opponents weren’t offering anything but doughnuts, and those we spurned.

Now it seems to me that an Anti-Doughnut party is just what is wanted in the present emergency. I would have the Anti-Doughnuts felt in every city and hamlet and school district in this State and in the United States. I was an Anti-Doughnut in my boyhood, and I’m an Anti-Doughnut still. The modern designation is Mugwump. There used to be quite a number of us Mugwumps, but I think I’m the only one left. I had a vote this fall, and I began to make some inquiries as to what I had better do with it.

I don’t know anything about finance, and I never did, but I know some pretty shrewd financiers, and they told me that Mr. Bryan wasn’t safe on any financial question. I said to myself, then, that it wouldn’t do for me to vote for Bryan, and I rather thought–I know now–that McKinley wasn’t just right on this Philippine question, and so I just didn’t vote for anybody. I’ve got that vote yet, and I’ve kept it clean, ready to deposit at some other election. It wasn’t cast for any wildcat financial theories, and it wasn’t cast to support the man who sends our boys as volunteers out into the Philippines to get shot down under a polluted flag.

 

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

ADDRESS AT THE ANNUAL DINNER OF THE ST. NICHOLAS SOCIETY, NEW YORK, DECEMBER 6, 1900.

Doctor Mackay, in his response to the toast “St. Nicholas,” referred to Mr. Clemens, saying:–“Mark Twain is as true a preacher of true righteousness as any bishop, priest, or minister of any church to-day, because he moves men to forget their faults by cheerful well-doing instead of making them sour and morbid by everlastingly bending their attention to the seamy and sober side of life.”

MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE ST. NICHOLAS SOCIETY,–These are, indeed, prosperous days for me. Night before last, in a speech, the Bishop of the Diocese of New York complimented me for my contribution to theology, and to-night the Reverend Doctor Mackay has elected me to the ministry. I thanked Bishop Potter then for his compliment, and I thank Doctor Mackay now for that promotion. I think that both have discerned in me what I long ago discerned, but what I was afraid the world would never learn to recognize.

In this absence of nine years I find a great improvement in the city of New York. I am glad to speak on that as a toast–“The City of New York.” Some say it has improved because I have been away. Others, and I agree with them, say it has improved because I have come back. We must judge of a city, as of a man, by its external appearances and by its inward character. In externals the foreigner coming to these shores is more impressed at first by our sky-scrapers. They are new to him. He has not done anything of the sort since he built the tower of Babel. The foreigner is shocked by them.

In the daylight they are ugly. They are–well, too chimneyfied and too snaggy–like a mouth that needs attention from a dentist; like a cemetery that is all monuments and no gravestones. But at night, seen from the river where they are columns towering against the sky, all sparkling with light, they are fairylike; they are beauty more satisfactory to the soul and more enchanting than anything that man has dreamed of since the Arabian nights. We can’t always have the beautiful aspect of things. Let us make the most of our sights that are beautiful and let the others go. When your foreigner makes disagreeable comments on New York by daylight, float him down the river at night.

What has made these sky-scrapers possible is the elevator. The cigar-box which the European calls a “lift” needs but to be compared with our elevators to be appreciated. The lift stops to reflect between floors. That is all right in a hearse, but not in elevators. The American elevator acts like the man’s patent purge–it worked. As the inventor said, “This purge doesn’t waste any time fooling around; it attends strictly to business.”

That New-Yorkers have the cleanest, quickest, and most admirable system of street railways in the world has been forced upon you by the abnormal appreciation you have of your hackman. We ought always to be grateful to him for that service. Nobody else would have brought such a system into existence for us. We ought to build him a monument. We owe him one as much as we owe one to anybody. Let it be a tall one. Nothing permanent, of course; build it of plaster, say. Then gaze at it and realize how grateful we are–for the time being–and then pull it down and throw it on the ash-heap. That’s the way to honor your public heroes.

As to our streets, I find them cleaner than they used to be. I miss those dear old landmarks, the symmetrical mountain ranges of dust and dirt that used to be piled up along the streets for the wind and rain to tear down at their pleasure. Yes, New York is cleaner than Bombay. I realize that I have been in Bombay, that I now am in New York; that it is not my duty to flatter Bombay, but rather to flatter New York.

Compared with the wretched attempts of London to light that city, New York may fairly be said to be a well-lighted city. Why, London’s attempt at good lighting is almost as bad as London’s attempt at rapid transit. There is just one good system of rapid transit in London–the “Tube,” and that, of course, had been put in by Americans. Perhaps, after a while, those Americans will come back and give New York also a good underground system. Perhaps they have already begun. I have been so busy since I came back that I haven’t had time as yet to go down cellar.

But it is by the laws of the city, it is by the manners of the city, it is by the ideals of the city, it is by the customs of the city and by the municipal government which all these elements correct, support, and foster, by which the foreigner judges the city. It is by these that he realizes that New York may, indeed, hold her head high among the cities of the world. It is by these standards that he knows whether to class the city higher or lower than the other municipalities of the world.

Gentlemen, you have the best municipal government in the world–the purest and the most fragrant. The very angels envy you, and wish they could establish a government like it in heaven. You got it by a noble fidelity to civic duty. You got it by stern and ever-watchful exertion of the great powers with which you are charged by the rights which were handed down to you by your forefathers, by your manly refusal to let base men invade the high places of your government, and by instant retaliation when any public officer has insulted you in the city’s name by swerving in the slightest from the upright and full performance of his duty. It is you who have made this city the envy of the cities of the world. God will bless you for it–God will bless you for it. Why, when you approach the final resting-place the angels of heaven will gather at the gates and cry out:

“Here they come! Show them to the archangel’s box, and turn the lime-light on them!”

 

 

CHINA AND THE PHILIPPINES

AT A DINNER GIVEN IN THE WALDORF-ASTORIA HOTEL, DECEMBER, 1900

Winston Spencer Churchill was introduced by Mr. Clemens.

For years I’ve been a self-appointed missionary to bring about the union of America and the motherland. They ought to be united. Behold America, the refuge of the oppressed from everywhere (who can pay fifty dollars’ admission)–any one except a Chinaman–standing up for human rights everywhere, even helping China let people in free when she wants to collect fifty dollars upon them. And how unselfishly England has wrought for the open door for all! And how piously America has wrought for that open door in all cases where it was not her own!

Yes, as a missionary I’ve sung my songs of praise. And yet I think that England sinned when she got herself into a war in South Africa which she could have avoided, just as we sinned in getting into a similar war in the Philippines. Mr. Churchill, by his father, is an Englishman; by his mother he is an American–no doubt a blend that makes the perfect man. England and America; yes, we are kin. And now that we are also kin in sin, there is nothing more to be desired. The harmony is complete, the blend is perfect.

 

 

THEORETICAL MORALS

The New Vagabonds Club of London, made up of the leading younger literary men of the day, gave a dinner in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Clemens, July 8, 1899.

It has always been difficult–leave that word difficult–not exceedingly difficult, but just difficult, nothing more than that, not the slightest shade to add to that–just difficult–to respond properly, in the right phraseology, when compliments are paid to me; but it is more than difficult when the compliments are paid to a better than I–my wife.

And while I am not here to testify against myself–I can’t be expected to do so, a prisoner in your own country is not admitted to do so–as to which member of the family wrote my books, I could say in general that really I wrote the books myself. My wife puts the facts in, and they make it respectable. My modesty won’t suffer while compliments are being paid to literature, and through literature to my family. I can’t get enough of them.

I am curiously situated to-night. It so rarely happens that I am introduced by a humorist; I am generally introduced by a person of grave walk and carriage. That makes the proper background of gravity for brightness. I am going to alter to suit, and haply I may say some humorous things.

When you start with a blaze of sunshine and upburst of humor, when you begin with that, the proper office of humor is to reflect, to put you into that pensive mood of deep thought, to make you think of your sins, if you wish half an hour to fly. Humor makes me reflect now to-night, it sets the thinking machinery in motion. Always, when I am thinking, there come suggestions of what I am, and what we all are, and what we are coming to. A sermon comes from my lips always when I listen to a humorous speech.

I seize the opportunity to throw away frivolities, to say something to plant the seed, and make all better than when I came. In Mr. Grossmith’s remarks there was a subtle something suggesting my favorite theory of the difference between theoretical morals and practical morals. I try to instil practical morals in the place of theatrical–I mean theoretical; but as an addendum–an annex–something added to theoretical morals.

When your chairman said it was the first time he had ever taken the chair, he did not mean that he had not taken lots of other things; he attended my first lecture and took notes. This indicated the man’s disposition. There was nothing else flying round, so he took notes; he would have taken anything he could get.

I can bring a moral to bear here which shows the difference between theoretical morals and practical morals. Theoretical morals are the sort you get on your mother’s knee, in good books, and from the pulpit. You gather them in your head, and not in your heart; they are theory without practice. Without the assistance of practice to perfect them, it is difficult to teach a child to “be honest, don’t steal.”

I will teach you how it should be done, lead you into temptation, teach you how to steal, so that you may recognize when you have stolen and feel the proper pangs. It is no good going round and bragging you have never taken the chair.

As by the fires of experience, so by commission of crime, you learn real morals. Commit all the crimes, familiarize yourself with all sins, take them in rotation (there are only two or three thousand of them), stick to it, commit two or three every day, and by-and-by you will be proof against them. When you are through you will be proof against all sins and morally perfect. You will be vaccinated against every possible commission of them. This is the only way.

I will read you a written statement upon the subject that I wrote three years ago to read to the Sabbath-schools. [Here the lecturer turned his pockets out, but without success.] No! I have left it at home. Still, it was a mere statement of fact, illustrating the value of practical morals produced by the commission of crime.

It was in my boyhood just a statement of fact, reading is only more formal, merely facts, merely pathetic facts, which I can state so as to be understood. It relates to the first time I ever stole a watermelon; that is, I think it was the first time; anyway, it was right along there somewhere.

I stole it out of a farmer’s wagon while he was waiting on another customer. “Stole” is a harsh term. I withdrew–I retired that watermelon. I carried it to a secluded corner of a lumber-yard. I broke it open. It was green–the greenest watermelon raised in the valley that year.

The minute I saw it was green I was sorry, and began to reflect –reflection is the beginning of reform. If you don’t reflect when you commit a crime then that crime is of no use; it might just as well have been committed by some one else: You must reflect or the value is lost; you are not vaccinated against committing it again.

I began to reflect. I said to myself: “What ought a boy to do who has stolen a green watermelon? What would George Washington do, the father of his country, the only American who could not tell a lie? What would he do? There is only one right, high, noble thing for any boy to do who has stolen a watermelon of that class he must make restitution; he must restore that stolen property to its rightful owner.” I said I would do it when I made that good resolution. I felt it to be a noble, uplifting obligation. I rose up spiritually stronger and refreshed. I carried that watermelon back–what was left of it–and restored it to the farmer, and made him give me a ripe one in its place.

Now you see that this constant impact of crime upon crime protects you against further commission of crime. It builds you up. A man can’t become morally perfect by stealing one or a thousand green watermelons, but every little helps.

I was at a great school yesterday (St. Paul’s), where for four hundred years they have been busy with brains, and building up England by producing Pepys, Miltons, and Marlboroughs. Six hundred boys left to nothing in the world but theoretical morality. I wanted to become the professor of practical morality, but the high master was away, so I suppose I shall have to go on making my living the same old way–by adding practical to theoretical morality.

What are the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome, compared to the glory and grandeur and majesty of a perfected morality such as you see before you?

The New Vagabonds are old vagabonds (undergoing the old sort of reform). You drank my health; I hope I have not been unuseful. Take this system of morality to your hearts. Take it home to your neighbors and your graves, and I hope that it will be a long time before you arrive there.

 

 

LAYMAN’S SERMON

The Young Men’s Christian Association asked Mr. Clemens to deliver a lay sermon at the Majestic Theatre, New York, March 4, 1906. More than five thousand young men tried to get into the theatre, and in a short time traffic was practically stopped in the adjacent streets. The police reserves had to be called out to thin the crowd. Doctor Fagnani had said something before about the police episode, and Mr. Clemens took it up.

I have been listening to what was said here, and there is in it a lesson of citizenship. You created the police, and you are responsible for them. One must pause, therefore, before criticising them too harshly. They are citizens, just as we are. A little of citizenship ought to be taught at the mother’s knee and in the nursery. Citizenship is what makes a republic; monarchies can get along without it. What keeps a republic on its legs is good citizenship.

Organization is necessary in all things. It is even necessary in reform. I was an organization myself once–for twelve hours. I was in Chicago a few years ago about to depart for New York. There were with me Mr. Osgood, a publisher, and a stenographer. I picked out a state-room on a train, the principal feature of which was that it contained the privilege of smoking. The train had started but a short time when the conductor came in and said that there had been a mistake made, and asked that we vacate the apartment. I refused, but when I went out on the platform Osgood and the stenographer agreed to accept a section. They were too modest.

Now, I am not modest. I was born modest, but it didn’t last. I asserted myself; insisted upon my rights, and finally the Pullman Conductor and the train conductor capitulated, and I was left in possession.

I went into the dining–car the next morning for breakfast. Ordinarily I only care for coffee and rolls, but this particular morning I espied an important-looking man on the other side of the car eating broiled chicken. I asked for broiled chicken, and I was told by the waiter and later by the dining-car conductor that there was no broiled chicken. There must have been an argument, for the Pullman conductor came in and remarked: “If he wants broiled chicken, give it to him. If you haven’t got it on the train, stop somewhere. It will be better for all concerned!” I got the chicken.

It is from experiences such as these that you get your education of life, and you string them into jewels or into tinware, as you may choose. I have received recently several letters asking my counsel or advice. The principal request is for some incident that may prove helpful to the young. There were a lot of incidents in my career to help me along –sometimes they helped me along faster than I wanted to go.

Here is such a request. It is a telegram from Joplin, Missouri, and it reads: “In what one of your works can we find the definition of a gentleman?”

I have not answered that telegram, either; I couldn’t. It seems to me that if any man has just merciful and kindly instincts he would be a gentleman, for he would need nothing else in the world.

I received the other day a letter from my old friend, William Dean Howells–Howells, the head of American literature. No one is able to stand with him. He is an old, old friend of mine, and he writes me, “To-morrow I shall be sixty-nine years old.” Why, I am surprised at Howells writing that! I have known him longer than that. I’m sorry to see a man trying to appear so young. Let’s see. Howells says now, “I see you have been burying Patrick. I suppose he was old, too.”

No, he was never old–Patrick. He came to us thirty-six years ago. He was my coachman on the morning that I drove my young bride to our new home. He was a young Irishman, slender, tall, lithe, honest, truthful, and he never changed in all his life. He really was with us but twenty-five years, for he did not go with us to Europe, but he never regarded that as separation. As the children grew up he was their guide. He was all honor, honesty, and affection. He was with us in New Hampshire, with us last summer, and his hair was just as black, his eyes were just as blue, his form just as straight, and his heart just as good as on the day we first met. In all the long years Patrick never made a mistake. He never needed an order, he never received a command. He knew. I have been asked for my idea of an ideal gentleman, and I give it to you Patrick McAleer.

 

 

UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT SOCIETY

After the serious addresses were made, Seth Low introduced Mr. Clemens at the Settlement House, February 2, 1901.

The older we grow the greater becomes our wonder at how much ignorance one can contain without bursting one’s clothes. Ten days ago I did not know anything about the University Settlement except what I’d read in the pamphlets sent me. Now, after being here and hearing Mrs. Hewitt and Mrs. Thomas, it seems to me I know of nothing like it at all. It’s a charity that carries no humiliation with it. Marvellous it is, to think of schools where you don’t have to drive the children in but drive them out. It was not so in my day.

Down-stairs just now I saw a dancing lesson going on. You must pay a cent for a lesson. You can’t get it for nothing. That’s the reason I never learned to dance.

But it was the pawnbroker’s shop you have here that interested me mightily. I’ve known something about pawnbrokers’ shops in my time, but here you have a wonderful plan. The ordinary pawnbroker charges thirty-six per cent. a year for a loan, and I’ve paid more myself, but here a man or woman in distress can obtain a loan for one per cent. a month! It’s wonderful!

I’ve been interested in all I’ve heard to-day, especially in the romances recounted by Mrs. Thomas, which reminds me that I have a romance of my own in my autobiography, which I am building for the instruction of the world.

In San Francisco, many years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter (perhaps I should say I had been and was willing to be), a pawnbroker was taking care of what property I had. There was a friend of mine, a poet, out of a job, and he was having a hard time of it, too. There was passage in it, but I guess I’ve got to keep that for the autobiography.

Well, my friend the poet thought his life was a failure, and I told him I thought it was, and then he said he thought he ought to commit suicide, and I said “all right,” which was disinterested advice to a friend in trouble; but, like all such advice, there was just a little bit of self-interest back of it, for if I could get a “scoop” on the other newspapers I could get a job.

The poet could be spared, and so, largely for his own good and partly for mine, I kept the thing in his mind, which was necessary, as would-be suicides are very changeable aid hard to hold to their purpose. He had a preference for a pistol, which was an extravagance, for we hadn’t enough between us to hire a pistol. A fork would have been easier.

And so he concluded to drown himself, and I said it was an excellent idea–the only trouble being that he was so good a swimmer. So we went down to the beach. I went along to see that the thing was done right. Then something most romantic happened. There came in on the sea something that had been on its way for three years. It rolled in across the broad Pacific with a message that was full of meaning to that poor poet and cast itself at his feet. It was a life-preserver! This was a complication. And then I had an idea–he never had any, especially when he was going to write poetry; I suggested that we pawn the life-preserver and get a revolver.

The pawnbroker gave us an old derringer with a bullet as big as a hickory nut. When he heard that it was only a poet that was going to kill himself he did not quibble. Well, we succeeded in sending a bullet right through his head. It was a terrible moment when he placed that pistol against his forehead and stood for an instant. I said, “Oh, pull the trigger!” and he did, and cleaned out all the gray matter in his brains. It carried the poetic faculty away, and now he’s a useful member of society.

Now, therefore, I realize that there’s no more beneficent institution than this penny fund of yours, and I want all the poets to know this. I did think about writing you a check, but now I think I’ll send you a few copies of what one of your little members called ‘Strawberry Finn’.

 

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

ADDRESS AT A MEETING OF THE BERKELEY LYCEUM, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 23, 1900

I don’t suppose that I am called here as an expert on education, for that would show a lack of foresight on your part and a deliberate intention to remind me of my shortcomings.

As I sat here looking around for an idea it struck me that I was called for two reasons. One was to do good to me, a poor unfortunate traveller on the world’s wide ocean, by giving me a knowledge of the nature and scope of your society and letting me know that others beside myself have been of some use in the world. The other reason that I can see is that you have called me to show by way of contrast what education can accomplish if administered in the right sort of doses.

Your worthy president said that the school pictures, which have received the admiration of the world at the Paris Exposition, have been sent to Russia, and this was a compliment from that Government–which is very surprising to me. Why, it is only an hour since I read a cablegram in the newspapers beginning “Russia Proposes to Retrench.” I was not expecting such a thunderbolt, and I thought what a happy thing it will be for Russians when the retrenchment will bring home the thirty thousand Russian troops now in Manchuria, to live in peaceful pursuits. I thought this was what Germany should do also without delay, and that France and all the other nations in China should follow suit.

Why should not China be free from the foreigners, who are only making trouble on her soil? If they would only all go home, what a pleasant place China would be for the Chinese! We do not allow Chinamen to come here, and I say in all seriousness that it would be a graceful thing to let China decide who shall go there.

China never wanted foreigners any more than foreigners wanted Chinamen, and on this question I am with the Boxers every time. The Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success. The Boxer believes in driving us out of his country. I am a Boxer too, for I believe in driving him out of our country.

When I read the Russian despatch further my dream of world peace vanished. It said that the vast expense of maintaining the army had made it necessary to retrench, and so the Government had decided that to support the army it would be necessary to withdraw the appropriation from the public schools. This is a monstrous idea to us.

We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.

It is curious to reflect how history repeats itself the world over. Why, I remember the same thing was done when I was a boy on the Mississippi River. There was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built.

It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. He’ll never get fat. I believe it is better to support schools than jails.

The work of your association is better and shows more wisdom than the Czar of Russia and all his people. This is not much of a compliment, but it’s the best I’ve got in stock.

 

 

EDUCATION AND CITIZENSHIP

On the evening of May 14, 1908, the alumni of the College of the City of New York celebrated the opening of the new college buildings at a banquet in the Waldorf Astoria. Mr. Clemens followed Mayor McClellan.

I agreed when the Mayor said that there was not a man within hearing who did not agree that citizenship should be placed above everything else, even learning.

Have you ever thought about this? Is there a college in the whole country where there is a chair of good citizenship? There is a kind of bad citizenship which is taught in the schools, but no real good citizenship taught. There are some which teach insane citizenship, bastard citizenship, but that is all. Patriotism! Yes; but patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.

You can begin that chair of citizenship in the College of the City of New York. You can place it above mathematics and literature, and that is where it belongs.

We used to trust in God. I think it was in 1863 that some genius suggested that it be put upon the gold and silver coins which circulated among the rich. They didn’t put it on the nickels and coppers because they didn’t think the poor folks had any trust in God.

Good citizenship would teach accuracy of thinking and accuracy of statement. Now, that motto on the coin is an overstatement. Those Congressmen had no right to commit this whole country to a theological doctrine. But since they did, Congress ought to state what our creed should be.

There was never a nation in the world that put its whole trust in God. It is a statement made on insufficient evidence. Leaving out the gamblers, the burglars, and the plumbers, perhaps we do put our trust in God after a fashion. But, after all, it is an overstatement.

If the cholera or black plague should come to these shores, perhaps the bulk of the nation would pray to be delivered from it, but the rest would put their trust in the Health Board of the City of New York.

I read in the papers within the last day or two of a poor young girl who they said was a leper. Did the people in that populous section of the country where she was–did they put their trust in God? The girl was afflicted with the leprosy, a disease which cannot be communicated from one person to another.

Yet, instead of putting their trust in God, they harried that poor creature, shelterless and friendless, from place to place, exactly as they did in the Middle Ages, when they made lepers wear bells, so that people could be warned of their approach and avoid them. Perhaps those people in the Middle Ages thought they were putting their trust in God.

The President ordered the removal of that motto from the coin, and I thought that it was well. I thought that overstatement should not stay there. But I think it would better read, “Within certain judicious limitations we trust in God,” and if there isn’t enough room on the coin for this, why, enlarge the coin.

Now I want to tell a story about jumping at conclusions. It was told to me by Bram Stoker, and it concerns a christening. There was a little clergyman who was prone to jump at conclusions sometimes. One day he was invited to officiate at a christening. He went. There sat the relatives–intelligent-looking relatives they were. The little clergyman’s instinct came to him to make a great speech. He was given to flights of oratory that way–a very dangerous thing, for often the wings which take one into clouds of oratorical enthusiasm are wax and melt up there, and down you come.

But the little clergyman couldn’t resist. He took the child in his arms, and, holding it, looked at it a moment. It wasn’t much of a child. It was little, like a sweet-potato. Then the little clergyman waited impressively, and then: “I see in your countenances,” he said, “disappointment of him. I see you are disappointed with this baby. Why? Because he is so little. My friends, if you had but the power of looking into the future you might see that great things may come of little things. There is the great ocean, holding the navies of the world, which comes from little drops of water no larger than a woman’s tears. There are the great constellations in the sky, made up of little bits of stars. Oh, if you could consider his future you might see that he might become the greatest poet of the universe, the greatest warrior the world has ever known, greater than Caesar, than Hannibal, than–er–er” (turning to the father)–“what’s his name?”

The father hesitated, then whispered back: “His name? Well, his name is Mary Ann.”

 

 

COURAGE

At a beefsteak dinner, given by artists, caricaturists, and humorists of New York City, April 18, 1908, Mr. Clemens, Mr. H. H. Rogers, and Mr. Patrick McCarren were the guests of honor. Each wore a white apron, and each made a short speech.

In the matter of courage we all have our limits.

There never was a hero who did not have his bounds. I suppose it may be said of Nelson and all the others whose courage has been advertised that there came times in their lives when their bravery knew it had come to its limit.

I have found mine a good many times. Sometimes this was expected–often it was unexpected. I know a man who is not afraid to sleep with a rattlesnake, but you could not get him to sleep with a safety-razor.

I never had the courage to talk across a long, narrow room I should be at the end of the room facing all the audience. If I attempt to talk across a room I find myself turning this way and that, and thus at alternate periods I have part of the audience behind me. You ought never to have any part of the audience behind you; you never can tell what they are going to do.

I’ll sit down.

 

 

THE DINNER TO MR. CHOATE

AT A DINNER GIVEN IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR JOSEPH H. CHOATE AT THE LOTOS CLUB, NOVEMBER 24, 7902

The speakers, among others, were: Senator Depew, William Henry White, Speaker Thomas Reed, and Mr. Choate. Mr. Clemens spoke, in part, as follows:

The greatness of this country rests on two anecdotes. The first one is that of Washington and his hatchet, representing the foundation of true speaking, which is the characteristic of our people. The second one is an old one, and I’ve been waiting to hear it to-night; but as nobody has told it yet, I will tell it.

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it many, many times more. It is an anecdote of our guest, of the time when he was engaged as a young man with a gentle Hebrew, in the process of skinning the client. The main part in that business is the collection of the bill for services in skinning the man. “Services” is the term used in that craft for the operation of that kind-diplomatic in its nature.

Choate’s–co-respondent–made out a bill for $500 for his services, so called. But Choate told him he had better leave the matter to him, and the next day he collected the bill for the services and handed the Hebrew $5000, saying, “That’s your half of the loot,” and inducing that memorable response: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

The deep-thinkers didn’t merely laugh when that happened. They stopped to think, and said “There’s a rising man. He must be rescued from the law and consecrated to diplomacy. The commercial advantages of a great nation lie there in that man’s keeping. We no longer require a man to take care of our moral character before the world. Washington and his anecdote have done that. We require a man to take care of our commercial prosperity.”

Mr. Choate has carried that trait with him, and, as Mr. Carnegie has said, he has worked like a mole underground.

We see the result when American railroad iron is sold so cheap in England that the poorest family can have it. He has so beguiled that Cabinet of England.

He has been spreading the commerce of this nation, and has depressed English commerce in the same ratio. This was the principle underlying that anecdote, and the wise men saw it; the principle of give and take –give one and take ten–the principle of diplomacy.

 

 

ON STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE

Mr. Clemens was entertained at dinner by the Whitefriars’ Club, London, at the Mitre Tavern, on the evening of August 6, 1872. In reply to the toast in his honor he said:

GENTLEMEN,–I thank you very heartily indeed for this expression of kindness toward me. What I have done for England and civilization in the arduous affairs which I have engaged in (that is good: that is so smooth that I will say it again and again)–what I have done for England and civilization in the arduous part I have performed I have done with a single-hearted devotion and with no hope of reward. I am proud, I am very proud, that it was reserved for me to find Doctor Livingstone and for Mr. Stanley to get all the credit. I hunted for that man in Africa all over seventy-five or one hundred parishes, thousands and thousands of miles in the wilds and deserts all over the place, sometimes riding negroes and sometimes travelling by rail. I didn’t mind the rail or anything else, so that I didn’t come in for the tar and feathers. I found that man at Ujiji–a place you may remember if you have ever been there–and it was a very great satisfaction that I found him just in the nick of time. I found that poor old man deserted by his niggers and by his geographers, deserted by all of his kind except the gorillas –dejected, miserable, famishing, absolutely famishing–but he was eloquent. Just as I found him he had eaten his last elephant, and he said to me: “God knows where I shall get another.” He had nothing to wear except his venerable and honorable naval suit, and nothing to eat but his diary.

But I said to him: “It is all right; I have discovered you, and Stanley will be here by the four-o’clock train and will discover you officially, and then we will turn to and have a reg’lar good time.” I said: “Cheer up, for Stanley has got corn, ammunition, glass beads, hymn-books, whiskey, and everything which the human heart can desire; he has got all kinds of valuables, including telegraph-poles and a few cart-loads of money. By this time communication has been made with the land of Bibles and civilization, and property will advance.” And then we surveyed all that country, from Ujiji, through Unanogo and other places, to Unyanyembe. I mention these names simply for your edification, nothing more–do not expect it–particularly as intelligence to the Royal Geographical Society. And then, having filled up the old man, we were all too full for utterance and departed. We have since then feasted on honors.

Stanley has received a snuff-box and I have received considerable snuff; he has got to write a book and gather in the rest of the credit, and I am going to levy on the copyright and to collect the money. Nothing comes amiss to me–cash or credit; but, seriously, I do feel that Stanley is the chief man and an illustrious one, and I do applaud him with all my heart. Whether he is an American or a Welshman by birth, or one, or both, matters not to me. So far as I am personally concerned, I am simply here to stay a few months, and to see English people and to learn English manners and customs, and to enjoy myself; so the simplest thing I can do is to thank you for the toast you have honored me with and for the remarks you have made, and to wish health and prosperity to the Whitefriars’ Club, and to sink down to my accustomed level.

 

 

HENRY M. STANLEY

ADDRESS DELIVERED IN BOSTON, NOVEMBER, 1886

Mr. Clemens introduced Mr. Stanley.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, if any should ask, Why is it that you are here as introducer of the lecturer? I should answer that I happened to be around and was asked to perform this function. I was quite willing to do so, and, as there was no sort of need of an introduction, anyway, it could be necessary only that some person come forward for a moment and do an unnecessary thing, and this is quite in my line. Now, to introduce so illustrious a name as Henry M. Stanley by any detail of what the man has done is clear aside from my purpose; that would be stretching the unnecessary to an unconscionable degree. When I contrast what I have achieved in my measurably brief life with what he has achieved in his possibly briefer one, the effect is to sweep utterly away the ten-story edifice of my own self-appreciation and leave nothing behind but the cellar. When you compare these achievements of his with the achievements of really great men who exist in history, the comparison, I believe, is in his favor. I am not here to disparage Columbus.

No, I won’t do that; but when you come to regard the achievements of these two men, Columbus and Stanley, from the standpoint of the difficulties they encountered, the advantage is with Stanley and against Columbus. Now, Columbus started out to discover America. Well, he didn’t need to do anything at all but sit in the cabin of his ship and hold his grip and sail straight on, and America would discover itself. Here it was, barring his passage the whole length and breadth of the South American continent, and he couldn’t get by it. He’d got to discover it. But Stanley started out to find Doctor Livingstone, who was scattered abroad, as you may say, over the length and breadth of a vast slab of Africa as big as the United States.

It was a blind kind of search. He was the worst scattered of men. But I will throw the weight of this introduction upon one very peculiar feature of Mr. Stanley’s character, and that is his indestructible Americanism –an Americanism which he is proud of. And in this day and time, when it is the custom to ape and imitate English methods and fashion, it is like a breath of fresh air to stand in the presence of this untainted American citizen who has been caressed and complimented by half of the crowned heads of Europe who could clothe his body from his head to his heels with the orders and decorations lavished upon him. And yet, when the untitled myriads of his own country put out their hands in welcome to him and greet him, “Well done,” through the Congress of the United States, that is the crown that is worth all the rest to him. He is a product of institutions which exist in no other country on earth-institutions that bring out all that is best and most heroic in a man. I introduce Henry M. Stanley.

 

 

DINNER TO MR. JEROME

A dinner to express their confidence in the integrity and good judgment of District-Attorney Jerome was given at Delmonico’s by over three hundred of his admirers on the evening of May 7, 1909.

Indeed, that is very sudden. I was not informed that the verdict was going to depend upon my judgment, but that makes not the least difference in the world when you already know all about it. It is not any matter when you are called upon to express it; you can get up and do it, and my verdict has already been recorded in my heart and in my head as regards Mr. Jerome and his administration of the criminal affairs of this county.

I agree with everything Mr. Choate has said in his letter regarding Mr. Jerome; I agree with everything Mr. Shepard has said; and I agree with everything Mr. Jerome has said in his own commendation. And I thought Mr. Jerome was modest in that. If he had been talking about another officer of this county, he could have painted the joys and sorrows of office and his victories in even stronger language than he did.

I voted for Mr. Jerome in those old days, and I should like to vote for him again if he runs for any office. I moved out of New York, and that is the reason, I suppose, I cannot vote for him again. There may be some way, but I have not found it out. But now I am a farmer–a farmer up in Connecticut, and winning laurels. Those people already speak with such high favor, admiration, of my farming, and they say that I am the only man that has ever come to that region who could make two blades of grass grow where only three grew before.

Well, I cannot vote for him. You see that. As it stands now, I cannot. I am crippled in that way and to that extent, for I would ever so much like to do it. I am not a Congress, and I cannot distribute pensions, and I don’t know any other legitimate way to buy a vote. But if I should think of any legitimate way, I shall make use of it, and then I shall vote for Mr. Jerome.

 

 

HENRY IRVING

The Dramatic and Literary Society of London gave a welcome-home dinner to Sir Henry Irving at the Savoy Hotel, London, June 9, 1900. In proposing the toast of “The Drama” Mr. Clemens said:

I find my task a very easy one. I have been a dramatist for thirty years. I have had an ambition in all that time to overdo the work of the Spaniard who said he left behind him four hundred dramas when he died. I leave behind me four hundred and fifteen, and am not yet dead.

The greatest of all the arts is to write a drama. It is a most difficult thing. It requires the highest talent possible and the rarest gifts. No, there is another talent that ranks with it–for anybody can write a drama–I had four hundred of them–but to get one accepted requires real ability. And I have never had that felicity yet.

But human nature is so constructed, we are so persistent, that when we know that we are born to a thing we do not care what the world thinks about it. We go on exploiting that talent year after year, as I have done. I shall go on writing dramas, and some day the impossible may happen, but I am not looking for it.

In writing plays the chief thing is novelty. The world grows tired of solid forms in all the arts. I struck a new idea myself years ago. I was not surprised at it. I was always expecting it would happen. A person who has suffered disappointment for many years loses confidence, and I thought I had better make inquiries before I exploited my new idea of doing a drama in the form of a dream, so I wrote to a great authority on knowledge of all kinds, and asked him whether it was new.

I could depend upon him. He lived in my dear home in America–that dear home, dearer to me through taxes. He sent me a list of plays in which that old device had been used, and he said that there was also a modern lot. He travelled back to China and to a play dated two thousand six hundred years before the Christian era. He said he would follow it up with a list of the previous plays of the kind, and in his innocence would have carried them back to the Flood.

That is the most discouraging thing that has ever happened to me in my dramatic career. I have done a world of good in a silent and private way, and have furnished Sir Henry Irving with plays and plays and plays. What has he achieved through that influence. See where he stands now –on the summit of his art in two worlds and it was I who put him there –that partly put him there.

I need not enlarge upon the influence the drama has exerted upon civilization. It has made good morals entertaining. I am to be followed by Mr. Pinero. I conceive that we stand at the head of the profession. He has not written as many plays as I have, but he has lead that God-given talent, which I lack, of working hem off on the manager. I couple his name with this toast, and add the hope that his influence will be supported in exercising his masterly handicraft in that great gift, and that he will long live to continue his fine work.

 

 

DINNER TO HAMILTON W. MABIE

ADDRESS DELIVERED APRIL 29, 1901

In introducing Mr. Clemens, Doctor Van Dyke said:

“The longer the speaking goes on to-night the more I wonder how I got this job, and the only explanation I can give for it is that it is the same kind of compensation for the number of articles I have sent to The Outlook, to be rejected by Hamilton W. Mabie. There is one man here to-night that has a job cut out for him that none of you would have had–a man whose humor has put a girdle of light around the globe, and whose sense of humor has been an example for all five continents. He is going to speak to you. Gentlemen, you know him best as Mark Twain.”

MR. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN,–This man knows now how it feels to be the chief guest, and if he has enjoyed it he is the first man I have ever seen in that position that did enjoy it. And I know, by side-remarks which he made to me before his ordeal came upon him, that he was feeling as some of the rest of us have felt under the same circumstances. He was afraid that he would not do himself justice; but he did–to my surprise. It is a most serious thing to be a chief guest on an occasion like this, and it is admirable, it is fine. It is a great compliment to a man that he shall come out of it so gloriously as Mr. Mabie came out of it tonight–to my surprise. He did it well.

He appears to be editor of The Outlook, and notwithstanding that, I have every admiration, because when everything is said concerning The Outlook, after all one must admit that it is frank in its delinquencies, that it is outspoken in its departures from fact, that it is vigorous in its mistaken criticisms of men like me. I have lived in this world a long, long time, and I know you must not judge a man by the editorials that he puts in his paper. A man is always better than his printed opinions. A man always reserves to himself on the inside a purity and an honesty and a justice that are a credit to him, whereas the things that he prints are just the reverse.

Oh yes, you must not judge a man by what he writes in his paper. Even in an ordinary secular paper a man must observe some care about it; he must be better than the principles which he puts in print. And that is the case with Mr. Mabie. Why, to see what he writes about me and the missionaries you would think he did not have any principles. But that is Mr. Mabie in his public capacity. Mr. Mabie in his private capacity is just as clean a man as I am.

In this very room, a month or two ago, some people admired that portrait; some admired this, but the great majority fastened on that, and said, “There is a portrait that is a beautiful piece of art.” When that portrait is a hundred years old it will suggest what were the manners and customs in our time. Just as they talk about Mr. Mabie to-night, in that enthusiastic way, pointing out the various virtues of the man and the grace of his spirit, and all that, so was that portrait talked about. They were enthusiastic, just as we men have been over the character and the work of Mr. Mabie. And when they were through they said that portrait, fine as it is, that work, beautiful as it is, that piece of humanity on that canvas, gracious and fine as it is, does not rise to those perfections that exist in the man himself. Come up, Mr. Alexander. [The reference was to James W. Alexander, who happened to be sitting –beneath the portrait of himself on the wall.] Now, I should come up and show myself. But he cannot do it, he cannot do it. He was born that way, he was reared in that way. Let his modesty be an example, and I wish some of you had it, too. But that is just what I have been saying –that portrait, fine as it is, is not as fine as the man it represents, and all the things that have been said about Mr. Mabie, and certainly they have been very nobly worded and beautiful, still fall short of the real Mabie.

 

 

INTRODUCING NYE AND RILEY

James Whitcomb Riley and Edgar Wilson Nye (Bill Nye) were to give readings in Tremont Temple, Boston, November, 1888. Mr. Clemens was induced to introduce Messrs. Riley and Nye. His appearance on the platform was a surprise to the audience, and when they recognized him there was a tremendous demonstration.

I am very glad indeed to introduce these young people to you, and at the same time get acquainted with them myself. I have seen them more than once for a moment, but have not had the privilege of knowing them personally as intimately as I wanted to. I saw them first, a great many years ago, when Mr. Barnum had them, and they were just fresh from Siam. The ligature was their best hold then, the literature became their best hold later, when one of them committed an indiscretion, and they had to cut the old bond to accommodate the sheriff.

In that old former time this one was Chang, that one was Eng. The sympathy existing between the two was most extraordinary; it was so fine, so strong, so subtle, that what the one ate the other digested; when one slept, the other snored; if one sold a thing, the other scooped the usufruct. This independent and yet dependent action was observable in all the details of their daily life–I mean this quaint and arbitrary distribution of originating cause and resulting effect between the two –between, I may say, this dynamo and the other always motor, or, in other words, that the one was always the creating force, the other always the utilizing force; no, no, for while it is true that within certain well-defined zones of activity the one was always dynamo and the other always motor, within certain other well-defined zones these positions became exactly reversed.

For instance, in moral matters Mr. Chang Riley was always dynamo, Mr. Eng Nye was always motor; for while Mr. Chang Riley had a high–in fact, an abnormally high and fine moral sense, he had no machinery to work it with; whereas, Mr. Eng Nye, who hadn’t any moral sense at all, and hasn’t yet, was equipped with all the necessary plant for putting a noble deed through, if he could only get the inspiration on reasonable terms outside.

In intellectual matters, on the other hand, Mr. Eng Nye was always dynamo, Mr. Chang Riley was always motor; Mr. Eng Nye had a stately intellect, but couldn’t make it go; Mr. Chang Riley hadn’t, but could. That is to say, that while Mr. Chang Riley couldn’t think things himself, he had a marvellous natural grace in setting them down and weaving them together when his pal furnished the raw material.

Thus, working together, they made a strong team; laboring together, they could do miracles; but break the circuit, and both were impotent. It has remained so to this day: they must travel together, hoe, and plant, and plough, and reap, and sell their public together, or there’s no result.

I have made this explanation, this analysis, this vivisection, so to speak, in order that you may enjoy these delightful adventurers understandingly. When Mr. Eng Nye’s deep and broad and limpid philosophies flow by in front of you, refreshing all the regions round about with their gracious floods, you will remember that it isn’t his water; it’s the other man’s, and he is only working the pump. And when Mr. Chang Riley enchants your ear, and soothes your spirit, and touches your heart with the sweet and genuine music of his poetry–as sweet and as genuine as any that his friends, the birds and the bees, make about his other friends, the woods and the flowers–you will remember, while placing justice where justice is due, that it isn’t his music, but the other man’s–he is only turning the crank.

I beseech for these visitors a fair field, a singleminded, one-eyed umpire, and a score bulletin barren of goose-eggs if they earn it–and I judge they will and hope they will. Mr. James Whitcomb Chang Riley will now go to the bat.

 

 

DINNER TO WHITELAW REID

ADDRESS AT THE DINNER IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR REID, GIVEN BY THE PILGRIMS’ CLUB OF NEW YORK ON FEBRUARY 19, 1908

I am very proud to respond to this toast, as it recalls the proudest day of my life. The delightful hospitality shown me at the time of my visit to Oxford I shall cherish until I die. In that long and distinguished career of mine I value that degree above all other honors. When the ship landed even the stevedores gathered on the shore and gave an English cheer. Nothing could surpass in my life the pleasure of those four weeks. No one could pass by me without taking my hand, even the policemen. I’ve been in all the principal capitals of Christendom in my life, and have always been an object of interest to policemen. Sometimes there was suspicion in their eyes, but not always. With their puissant hand they would hold up the commerce of the world to let me pass.

I noticed in the papers this afternoon a despatch from Washington, saying that Congress would immediately pass a bill restoring to our gold coinage the motto “In God We Trust.” I’m glad of that; I’m glad of that. I was troubled when that motto was removed. Sure enough, the prosperities of the whole nation went down in a heap when we ceased to trust in God in that conspicuously advertised way. I knew there would be trouble. And if Pierpont Morgan hadn’t stepped in–Bishop Lawrence may now add to his message to the old country that we are now trusting in God again. So we can discharge Mr. Morgan from his office with honor.

Mr. Reid said an hour or so ago something about my ruining my activities last summer. They are not ruined, they are renewed. I am stronger now –much stronger. I suppose that the spiritual uplift I received increased my physical power more than anything I ever had before. I was dancing last night at 1.30 o’clock.

Mr. Choate has mentioned Mr. Reid’s predecessors. Mr. Choate’s head is full of history, and some of it is true, too. I enjoyed hearing him tell about the list of the men who had the place before he did. He mentioned a long list of those predecessors, people I never heard of before, and elected five of them to the Presidency by his own vote. I’m glad and proud to find Mr. Reid in that high position, because he didn’t look it when I knew him forty years ago. I was talking to Reid the other day, and he showed me my autograph on an old paper twenty years old. I didn’t know I had an autograph twenty years ago. Nobody ever asked me for it.

I remember a dinner I had long ago with Whitelaw Reid and John Hay at Reid’s expense. I had another last summer when I was in London at the embassy that Choate blackguards so. I’d like to live there.

Some people say they couldn’t live on the salary, but I could live on the salary and the nation together. Some of us don’t appreciate what this country can do. There’s John Hay, Reid, Choate, and me. This is the only country in the world where youth, talent, and energy can reach such heights. It shows what we could do without means, and what people can do with talent and energy when they find it in people like us.

When I first came to New York they were all struggling young men, and I am glad to see that they have got on in the world. I knew John Hay when I had no white hairs in my head and more hair than Reid has now. Those were days of joy and hope. Reid and Hay were on the staff of the Tribune. I went there once in that old building, and I looked all around and I finally found a door ajar and looked in. It wasn’t Reid or Hay there, but it was Horace Greeley. Those were in the days when Horace Greeley was a king. That was the first time I ever saw him and the last.

I was admiring him when he stopped and seemed to realize that there was a fine presence there somewhere. He tried to smile, but he was out of smiles. He looked at me a moment, and said:

“What in H—do you want?”

He began with that word “H.” That’s a long word and a profane word. I don’t remember what the word was now, but I recognized the power of it. I had never used that language myself, but at that moment I was converted. It has been a great refuge for me in time of trouble. If a man doesn’t know that language he can’t express himself on strenuous occasions. When you have that word at your command let trouble come.

But later Hay rose, and you know what summit Whitelaw Reid has reached, and you see me. Those two men have regulated troubles of nations and conferred peace upon mankind. And in my humble way, of which I am quite vain, I was the principal moral force in all those great international movements. These great men illustrated what I say. Look at us great people–we all come from the dregs of society. That’s what can be done in this country. That’s what this country does for you.

Choate here–he hasn’t got anything to say, but he says it just the same, and he can do it so felicitously, too. I said long ago he was the handsomest man America ever produced. May the progress of civilization always rest on such distinguished men as it has in the past!

 

 

ROGERS AND RAILROADS

AT A BANQUET GIVEN MR. H. H. ROGERS BY THE BUSINESS MEN OF NORFOLK, VA., CELEBRATING THE OPENING OF THE VIRGINIAN RAILWAY, APRIL, 3, 1909

Toastmaster:

“I have often thought that when the time comes, which must come to all of us, when we reach that Great Way in the Great Beyond, and the question is propounded, ‘What have you done to gain admission into this great realm?’ if the answer could be sincerely made, ‘I have made men laugh,’ it would be the surest passport to a welcome entrance. We have here to-night one who has made millions laugh–not the loud laughter that bespeaks the vacant mind, but the laugh of intelligent mirth that helps the human heart and the human mind. I refer, of course, to Doctor Clemens. I was going to say Mark Twain, his literary title, which is a household phrase in more homes than that of any other man, and you know him best by that dear old title.”

I thank you, Mr. Toastmaster, for the compliment which you have paid me, and I am sure I would rather have made people laugh than cry, yet in my time I have made some of them cry; and before I stop entirely I hope to make some more of them cry. I like compliments. I deal in them myself. I have listened with the greatest pleasure to the compliments which the chairman has paid to Mr. Rogers and that road of his to-night, and I hope some of them are deserved.

It is no small distinction to a man like that to sit here before an intelligent crowd like this and to be classed with Napoleon and Caesar. Why didn’t he say that this was the proudest day of his life? Napoleon and Caesar are dead, and they can’t be here to defend themselves. But I’m here!

The chairman said, and very truly, that the most lasting thing in the hands of man are the roads which Caesar built, and it is true that he built a lot of them; and they are there yet.

Yes, Caesar built a lot of roads in England, and you can find them. But Rogers has only built one road, and he hasn’t finished that yet. I like to hear my old friend complimented, but I don’t like to hear it overdone.

I didn’t go around to-day with the others to see what he is doing. I will do that in a quiet time, when there is not anything going on, and when I shall not be called upon to deliver intemperate compliments on a railroad in which I own no stock.

They proposed that I go along with the committee and help inspect that dump down yonder. I didn’t go. I saw that dump. I saw that thing when I was coming in on the steamer, and I didn’t go because I was diffident, sentimentally diffident, about going and looking at that thing again –that great, long, bony thing; it looked just like Mr. Rogers’s foot.

The chairman says Mr. Rogers is full of practical wisdom, and he is. It is intimated here that he is a very ingenious man, and he, is a very competent financier. Maybe he is now, but it was not always so. I know lots of private things in his life which people don’t know, and I know how he started; and it was not a very good start. I could have done better myself. The first time he crossed the Atlantic he had just made the first little strike in oil, and he was so young he did not like to ask questions. He did not like to appear ignorant. To this day he don’t like to appear ignorant, but he can look as ignorant as anybody. On board the ship they were betting on the run of the ship, betting a couple of shillings, or half a crown, and they proposed that this youth from the oil regions should bet on the run of the ship. He did not like to ask what a half-crown was, and he didn’t know; but rather than be ashamed of himself he did bet half a crown on the run of the ship, and in bed he could not sleep. He wondered if he could afford that outlay in case he lost. He kept wondering over it, and said to himself: “A king’s crown must be worth $20,000, so half a crown would cost $10,000.” He could not afford to bet away $10,000 on the run of the ship, so he went up to the stakeholder and gave him $150 to let him off.

I like to hear Mr. Rogers complimented. I am not stingy in compliments to him myself. Why, I did it to-day when I sent his wife a telegram to comfort her. That is the kind of person I am. I knew she would be uneasy about him. I knew she would be solicitous about what he might do down here, so I did it to quiet her and to comfort her. I said he was doing well for a person out of practice. There is nothing like it. He is like I used to be. There were times when I was careless–careless in my dress when I got older. You know how uncomfortable your wife can get when you are going away without her superintendence. Once when my wife could not go with me (she always went with me when she could –I always did meet that kind of luck), I was going to Washington once, a long time ago, in Mr. Cleveland’s first administration, and she could not go; but, in her anxiety that I should not desecrate the house, she made preparation. She knew that there was to be a reception of those authors at the White House at seven o’clock in the evening. She said, “If I should tell you now what I want to ask of you, you would forget it before you get to Washington, and, therefore, I have written it on a card, and you will find it in your dress–vest pocket when you are dressing at the Arlington–when you are dressing to see the President.” I never thought of it again until I was dressing, and I felt in that pocket and took it out, and it said, in a kind of imploring way, “Don’t wear your arctics in the White House.”

You complimented Mr. Rogers on his energy, his foresightedness, complimented him in various ways, and he has deserved those compliments, although I say it myself; and I enjoy them all. There is one side of Mr. Rogers that has not been mentioned. If you will leave that to me I will touch upon that. There was a note in an editorial in one of the Norfolk papers this morning that touched upon that very thing, that hidden side of Mr. Rogers, where it spoke of Helen Keller and her affection for Mr. Rogers, to whom she dedicated her life book. And she has a right to feel that way, because, without the public knowing anything about it, he rescued, if I may use that term, that marvellous girl, that wonderful Southern girl, that girl who was stone deaf, blind, and dumb from scarlet-fever when she was a baby eighteen months old; and who now is as well and thoroughly educated as any woman on this planet at twenty-nine years of age. She is the most marvellous person of her sex that has existed on this earth since Joan of Arc.

That is not all Mr. Rogers has done; but you never see that side of his character, because it is never protruding; but he lends a helping hand daily out of that generous heart of his. You never hear of it. He is supposed to be a moon which has one side dark and the other bright. But the other side, though you don’t see it, is not dark; it is bright, and its rays penetrate, and others do see it who are not God.

I would take this opportunity to tell something that I have never been allowed to tell by Mr. Rogers, either by my mouth or in print, and if I don’t look at him I can tell it now.

In 1893, when the publishing company of Charles L. Webster, of which I was financial agent, failed, it left me heavily in debt. If you will remember what commerce was at that time you will recall that you could not sell anything, and could not buy anything, and I was on my back; my books were not worth anything at all, and I could not give away my copyrights. Mr. Rogers had long enough vision ahead to say, “Your books have supported you before, and after the panic is over they will support you again,” and that was a correct proposition. He saved my copyrights, and saved me from financial ruin. He it was who arranged with my creditors to allow me to roam the face of the earth for four years and persecute the nations thereof with lectures, promising that at the end of four years I would pay dollar for dollar. That arrangement was made; otherwise I would now be living out-of-doors under an umbrella, and a borrowed one at that.

You see his white mustache and his head trying to get white (he is always trying to look like me–I don’t blame him for that). These are only emblematic of his character, and that is all. I say, without exception, hair and all, he is the whitest man I have ever known.

 

 

THE OLD-FASHIONED PRINTER

ADDRESS AT THE TYPOTHETAE DINNER GIVEN AT DELMONICO’S, JANUARY 18, 1886, COMMEMORATING THE BIRTHDAY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Mr. Clemens responded to the toast “The Compositor.”

The chairman’s historical reminiscences of Gutenberg have caused me to fall into reminiscences, for I myself am something of an antiquity. All things change in the procession of years, and it may be that I am among strangers. It may be that the printer of to-day is not the printer of thirty-five years ago. I was no stranger to him. I knew him well. I built his fire for him in the winter mornings; I brought his water from the village pump; I swept out his office; I picked up his type from under his stand; and, if he were there to see, I put the good type in his case and the broken ones among the “hell matter”; and if he wasn’t there to see, I dumped it all with the “pi” on the imposing-stone–for that was the furtive fashion of the cub, and I was a cub. I wetted down the paper Saturdays, I turned it Sundays–for this was a country weekly; I rolled, I washed the rollers, I washed the forms, I folded the papers, I carried them around at dawn Thursday mornings. The carrier was then an object of interest to all the dogs in town. If I had saved up all the bites I ever received, I could keep M. Pasteur busy for a year. I enveloped the papers that were for the mail–we had a hundred town subscribers and three hundred and fifty country ones; the town subscribers paid in groceries and the country ones in cabbages and cord-wood–when they paid at all, which was merely sometimes, and then we always stated the fact in the paper, and gave them a puff; and if we forgot it they stopped the paper. Every man on the town list helped edit the thing–that is, he gave orders as to how it was to be edited; dictated its opinions, marked out its course for it, and every time the boss failed to connect he stopped his paper. We were just infested with critics, and we tried to satisfy them all over. We had one subscriber who paid cash, and he was more trouble than all the rest. He bought us once a year, body and soul, for two dollars. He used to modify our politics every which way, and he made us change our religion four times in five years. If we ever tried to reason with him, he would threaten to stop his paper, and, of course, that meant bankruptcy and destruction. That man used to write articles a column and a half long, leaded long primer, and sign them “Junius,” or “Veritas,” or “Vox Populi,” or some other high-sounding rot; and then, after it was set up, he would come in and say he had changed his mind-which was a gilded figure of speech, because he hadn’t any–and order it to be left out. We couldn’t afford “bogus” in that office, so we always took the leads out, altered the signature, credited the article to the rival paper in the next village, and put it in. Well, we did have one or two kinds of “bogus.” Whenever there was a barbecue, or a circus, or a baptizing, we knocked off for half a day, and then to make up for short matter we would “turn over ads”–turn over the whole page and duplicate it. The other “bogus” was deep philosophical stuff, which we judged nobody ever read; so we kept a galley of it standing, and kept on slapping the same old batches of it in, every now and then, till it got dangerous. Also, in the early days of the telegraph we used to economize on the news. We picked out the items that were pointless and barren of information and stood them on a galley, and changed the dates and localities, and used them over and over again till the public interest in them was worn to the bone. We marked the ads, but we seldom paid any attention to the marks afterward; so the life of a “td” ad and a “tf” ad was equally eternal. I have seen a “td” notice of a sheriff’s sale still booming serenely along two years after the sale was over, the sheriff dead, and the whole circumstance become ancient history. Most of the yearly ads were patent-medicine stereotypes, and we used to fence with them.

I can see that printing-office of prehistoric times yet, with its horse bills on, the walls, its “d” boxes clogged with tallow, because we always stood the candle in the “k” box nights, its towel, which was not considered soiled until it could stand alone, and other signs and symbols that marked the establishment of that kind in the Mississippi Valley; and I can see, also, the tramping “jour,” who flitted by in the summer and tarried a day, with his wallet stuffed with one shirt and a hatful of handbills; for if he couldn’t get any type to set he would do a temperance lecture. His way of life was simple, his needs not complex; all he wanted was plate and bed and money enough to get drunk on, and he was satisfied. But it may be, as I have said, that I am among strangers, and sing the glories of a forgotten age to unfamiliar ears, so I will “make even” and stop.

 

 

SOCIETY OF AMERICAN AUTHORS

On November 15, 1900, the society gave a reception to Mr. Clemens, who came with his wife and daughter. So many members surrounded the guests that Mr. Clemens asked: “Is this genuine popularity or is it all a part of a prearranged programme?”

MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,–It seems a most difficult thing for any man to say anything about me that is not complimentary. I don’t know what the charm is about me which makes it impossible for a person to say a harsh thing about me and say it heartily, as if he was glad to say it.

If this thing keeps on it will make me believe that I am what these kind chairmen say of me. In introducing me, Judge Ransom spoke of my modesty as if he was envious of me. I would like to have one man come out flat-footed and say something harsh and disparaging of me, even if it were true. I thought at one time, as the learned judge was speaking, that I had found that man; but he wound up, like all the others, by saying complimentary things.

I am constructed like everybody else, and enjoy a compliment as well as any other fool, but I do like to have the other side presented. And there is another side. I have a wicked side. Estimable friends who know all about it would tell you and take a certain delight in telling you things that I have done, and things further that I have not repented.

The real life that I live, and the real life that I suppose all of you live, is a life of interior sin. That is what makes life valuable and pleasant. To lead a life of undiscovered sin! That is true joy.

Judge Ransom seems to have all the virtues that he ascribes to me. But, oh my! if you could throw an X-ray through him. We are a pair. I have made a life-study of trying to appear to be what he seems to think I am. Everybody believes that I am a monument of all the virtues, but it is nothing of the sort. I am living two lives, and it keeps me pretty busy.

Some day there will be a chairman who will forget some of these merits of mine, and then he will make a speech.

I have more personal vanity than modesty, and twice as much veracity as the two put together.

When that fearless and forgetful chairman is found there will be another story told. At the Press Club recently I thought that I had found him. He started in in the way that I knew I should be painted with all sincerity, and was leading to things that would not be to my credit; but when he said that he never read a book of mine I knew at once that he was a liar, because he never could have had all the wit and intelligence with which he was blessed unless he had read my works as a basis.

I like compliments. I like to go home and tell them all over again to the members of my family. They don’t believe them, but I like to tell them in the home circle, all the same. I like to dream of them if I can.

I thank everybody for their compliments, but I don’t think that I am praised any more than I am entitled to be.

 

 

READING-ROOM OPENING

On October 13, 1900, Mr. Clemens made his last address preceding his departure for America at Kensal Rise, London.

I formally declare this reading-room open, and I think that the legislature should not compel a community to provide itself with intelligent food, but give it the privilege of providing it if the community so desires.

If the community is anxious to have a reading-room it would put its hand in its pocket and bring out the penny tax. I think it a proof of the healthy, moral, financial, and mental condition of the community if it

taxes itself for its mental food.

A reading-room is the proper introduction to a library, leading up through the newspapers and magazines to other literature. What would we do without newspapers?

Look at the rapid manner in which the news of the Galveston disaster was made known to the entire world. This reminds me of an episode which occurred fifteen years ago when I was at church in Hartford, Connecticut.

The clergyman decided to make a collection for the survivors, if any. He did not include me among the leading citizens who took the plates around for collection. I complained to the governor of his lack of financial trust in me, and he replied: “I would trust you myself–if you had a bell-punch.”

You have paid me many compliments, and I like to listen to compliments. I indorse all your chairman has said to you about the union of England and America. He also alluded to my name, of which I am rather fond.

A little girl wrote me from New Zealand in a letter I received yesterday, stating that her father said my proper name was not Mark Twain but Samuel Clemens, but that she knew better, because Clemens was the name of the man who sold the patent medicine, and his name was not Mark. She was sure it was Mark Twain, because Mark is in the Bible and Twain is in the Bible.

I was very glad to get that expression of confidence in my origin, and as I now know my name to be a scriptural one, I am not without hopes of making it worthy.

 

LITERATURE

ADDRESS AT THE ROYAL LITERARY FUND BANQUET, LONDON, MAY 4, 1900

Anthony Hope introduced Mr. Clemens to make the response to the toast “Literature.”

MR. HOPE has been able to deal adequately with this toast without assistance from me. Still, I was born generous. If he had advanced any theories that needed refutation or correction I would have attended to them, and if he had made any statements stronger than those which he is in the habit of making I would have dealt with them.

In fact, I was surprised at the mildness of his statements. I could not have made such statements if I had preferred to, because to exaggerate is the only way I can approximate to the truth. You cannot have a theory without principles. Principles is another name for prejudices. I have no prejudices in politics, religion, literature, or anything else.

I am now on my way to my own country to run for the presidency because there are not yet enough candidates in the field, and those who have entered are too much hampered by their own principles, which are prejudices.

I propose to go there to purify the political atmosphere. I am in favor of everything everybody is in favor of. What you should do is to satisfy the whole nation, not half of it, for then you would only be half a President.

There could not be a broader platform than mine. I am in favor of anything and everything–of temperance and intemperance, morality and qualified immorality, gold standard and free silver.

I have tried all sorts of things, and that is why I want to by the great position of ruler of a country. I have been in turn reporter, editor, publisher, author, lawyer, burglar. I have worked my way up, and wish to continue to do so.

I read to-day in a magazine article that Christendom issued last year fifty-five thousand new books. Consider what that means! Fifty-five thousand new books meant fifty-four thousand new authors. We are going to have them all on our hands to take care of sooner or later. Therefore, double your subscriptions to the literary fund!

 

 

DISAPPEARANCE OF LITERATURE

ADDRESS AT THE DINNER OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY CLUB, AT SHERRY’S, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 20, 1900

Mr. Clemens spoke to the toast “The Disappearance of Literature.” Doctor Gould presided, and in introducing Mr. Clemens said that he (the speaker), when in Germany, had to do a lot of apologizing for a certain literary man who was taking what the Germans thought undue liberties with their language.

It wasn’t necessary for your chairman to apologize for me in Germany. It wasn’t necessary at all. Instead of that he ought to have impressed upon those poor benighted Teutons the service I rendered them. Their language had needed untangling for a good many years. Nobody else seemed to want to take the job, and so I took it, and I flatter myself that I made a pretty good job of it. The Germans have an inhuman way of cutting up their verbs. Now a verb has a hard time enough of it in this world when it’s all together. It’s downright inhuman to split it up. But that’s just what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it away over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German. I maintain that there is no necessity for apologizing for a man who helped in a small way to stop such mutilation.

We have heard a discussion to-night on the disappearance of literature. That’s no new thing. That’s what certain kinds of literature have been doing for several years. The fact is, my friends, that the fashion in literature changes, and the literary tailors have to change their cuts or go out of business. Professor Winchester here, if I remember fairly correctly what he said, remarked that few, if any, of the novels produced to-day would live as long as the novels of Walter Scott. That may be his notion. Maybe he is right; but so far as I am concerned, I don’t care if they don’t.

Professor Winchester also said something about there being no modern epics like Paradise Lost. I guess he’s right. He talked as if he was pretty familiar with that piece of literary work, and nobody would suppose that he never had read it. I don’t believe any of you have ever read Paradise Lost, and you don’t want to. That’s something that you just want to take on trust. It’s a classic, just as Professor Winchester says, and it meets his definition of a classic–something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Professor Trent also had a good deal to say about the disappearance of literature. He said that Scott would outlive all his critics. I guess that’s true. The fact of the business is, you’ve got to be one of two ages to appreciate Scott. When you’re eighteen you can read Ivanhoe, and you want to wait until you are ninety to read some of the rest. It takes a pretty well-regulated, abstemious critic to live ninety years.

But as much as these two gentlemen have talked about the disappearance of literature, they didn’t say anything about my books. Maybe they think they’ve disappeared. If they do, that just shows their ignorance on the general subject of literature. I am not as young as I was several years ago, and maybe I’m not so fashionable, but I’d be willing to take my chances with Mr. Scott to-morrow morning in selling a piece of literature to the Century Publishing Company. And I haven’t got much of a pull here, either. I often think that the highest compliment ever paid to my poor efforts was paid by Darwin through President Eliot, of Harvard College. At least, Eliot said it was a compliment, and I always take the opinion of great men like college presidents on all such subjects as that.

I went out to Cambridge one day a few years ago and called on President Eliot. In the course of the conversation he said that he had just returned from England, and that he was very much touched by what he considered the high compliment Darwin was paying to my books, and he went on to tell me something like this:

“Do you know that there is one room in Darwin’s house, his bedroom, where the housemaid is never allowed to touch two things? One is a plant he is growing and studying while it grows” (it was one of those insect-devouring plants which consumed bugs and beetles and things for the particular delectation of Mr. Darwin) “and the other some books that lie on the night table at the head of his bed. They are your books, Mr. Clemens, and Mr. Darwin reads them every night to lull him to sleep.”

My friends, I thoroughly appreciated that compliment, and considered it the highest one that was ever paid to me. To be the means of soothing to sleep a brain teeming with bugs and squirming things like Darwin’s was something that I had never hoped for, and now that he is dead I never hope to be able to do it again.

 

 

THE NEW YORK PRESS CLUB DINNER

AT THE ANNUAL DINNER, NOVEMBER 13, 1900

Col. William L. Brown, the former editor of the Daily News, as president of the club, introduced Mr. Clemens as the principal ornament of American literature.

I must say that I have already begun to regret that I left my gun at home. I’ve said so many times when a chairman has distressed me with just such compliments that the next time such a thing occurs I will certainly use a gun on that chairman. It is my privilege to compliment him in return. You behold before you a very, very old man. A cursory glance at him would deceive the most penetrating. His features seem to reveal a person dead to all honorable instincts–they seem to bear the traces of all the known crimes, instead of the marks of a life spent for the most part, and now altogether, in the Sunday-school of a life that may well stand as an example to all generations that have risen or will riz–I mean to say, will rise. His private character is altogether suggestive of virtues which to all appearances he has got. If you examine his past history you will find it as deceptive as his features, because it is marked all over with waywardness and misdemeanor–mere effects of a great spirit upon a weak body–mere accidents of a great career. In his heart he cherishes every virtue on the list of virtues, and he practises them all–secretly–always secretly. You all know him so well that there is no need for him to be introduced here. Gentlemen, Colonel Brown.

 

 

THE ALPHABET AND SIMPLIFIED SPELLING

ADDRESS AT THE DINNER GIVEN TO MR. CARNEGIE AT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW YORK ENGINEERS’ CLUB, DECEMBER 9, 1907

Mr. Clemens was introduced by the president of the club, who, quoting from the Mark Twain autobiography, recalled the day when the distinguished writer came to New York with $3 in small change in his pockets and a $10 bill sewed in his clothes.

It seems to me that I was around here in the neighborhood of the Public Library about fifty or sixty years ago. I don’t deny the circumstance, although I don’t see how you got it out of my autobiography, which was not to be printed until I am dead, unless I’m dead now. I had that $3 in change, and I remember well the $10 which was sewed in my coat. I have prospered since. Now I have plenty of money and a disposition to squander it, but I can’t. One of those trust companies is taking care of it.

Now, as this is probably the last time that I shall be out after nightfall this winter, I must say that I have come here with a mission, and I would make my errand of value.

Many compliments have been paid to Mr. Carnegie to-night. I was expecting them. They are very gratifying to me.

I have been a guest of honor myself, and I know what Mr. Carnegie is experiencing now. It is embarrassing to get compliments and compliments and only compliments, particularly when he knows as well as the rest of us that on the other side of him there are all sorts of things worthy of our condemnation.

Just look at Mr. Carnegie’s face. It is fairly scintillating with fictitious innocence. You would think, looking at him, that he had never committed a crime in his life. But no–look at his pestiferious simplified spelling. You can’t any of you imagine what a crime that has been. Torquemada was nothing to Mr. Carnegie. That old fellow shed some blood in the Inquisition, but Mr. Carnegie has brought destruction to the entire race. I know he didn’t mean it to be a crime, but it was, just the same. He’s got us all so we can’t spell anything.

The trouble with him is that he attacked orthography at the wrong end. He meant well, but he, attacked the symptoms and not the cause of the disease. He ought to have gone to work on the alphabet. There’s not a vowel in it with a definite value, and not a consonant that you can hitch anything to. Look at the “h’s” distributed all around. There’s “gherkin.” What are you going to do with the “h” in that? What the devil’s the use of “h” in gherkin, I’d like to know. It’s one thing I admire the English for: they just don’t mind anything about them at all.

But look at the “pneumatics” and the “pneumonias” and the rest of them. A real reform would settle them once and for all, and wind up by giving us an alphabet that we wouldn’t have to spell with at all, instead of this present silly alphabet, which I fancy was invented by a drunken thief. Why, there isn’t a man who doesn’t have to throw out about fifteen hundred words a day when he writes his letters because he can’t spell them! It’s like trying to do a St. Vitus’s dance with wooden legs.

Now I’ll bet there isn’t a man here who can spell “pterodactyl,” not even the prisoner at the bar. I’d like to hear him try once–but not in public, for it’s too near Sunday, when all extravagant histrionic entertainments are barred. I’d like to hear him try in private, and when he got through trying to spell “pterodactyl” you wouldn’t know whether it was a fish or a beast or a bird, and whether it flew on its legs or walked with its wings. The chances are that he would give it tusks and make it lay eggs.

Let’s get Mr. Carnegie to reform the alphabet, and we’ll pray for him –if he’ll take the risk. If we had adequate, competent vowels, with a system of accents, giving to each vowel its own soul and value, so every shade of that vowel would be shown in its accent, there is not a word in any tongue that we could not spell accurately. That would be competent, adequate, simplified spelling, in contrast to the clipping, the hair punching, the carbuncles, and the cancers which go by the name of simplified spelling. If I ask you what b-o-w spells you can’t tell me unless you know which b-o-w I mean, and it is the same with r-o-w, b-o-r-e, and the whole family of words which were born out of lawful wedlock and don’t know their own origin.

Now, if we had an alphabet that was adequate and competent, instead of inadequate and incompetent, things would be different. Spelling reform has only made it bald-headed and unsightly. There is the whole tribe of them, “row” and “read” and “lead”–a whole family who don’t know who they are. I ask you to pronounce s-o-w, and you ask me what kind of a one.

If we had a sane, determinate alphabet, instead of a hospital of comminuted eunuchs, you would know whether one referred to the act of a man casting the seed over the ploughed land or whether one wished to recall the lady hog and the future ham.

It’s a rotten alphabet. I appoint Mr. Carnegie to get after it, and leave simplified spelling alone.

Simplified spelling brought about sun-spots, the San Francisco earthquake, and the recent business depression, which we would never have had if spelling had been left all alone.

Now, I hope I have soothed Mr. Carnegie and made him more comfortable than he would have been had he received only compliment after compliment, and I wish to say to him that simplified spelling is all right, but, like chastity, you can carry it too far.

 

 

SPELLING AND PICTURES

ADDRESS AT THE ANNUAL DINNER OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, AT THE WALDORF-ASTORIA, SEPTEMBER 18, 1906

I am here to make an appeal to the nations in behalf of the simplified spelling. I have come here because they cannot all be reached except through you. There are only two forces that can carry light to all the corners of the globe–only two–the sun in the heavens and the Associated Press down here. I may seem to be flattering the sun, but I do not mean it so; I am meaning only to be just and fair all around. You speak with a million voices; no one can reach so many races, so many hearts and intellects, as you–except Rudyard Kipling, and he cannot do it without your help. If the Associated Press will adopt and use our simplified forms, and thus spread them to the ends of the earth, covering the whole spacious planet with them as with a garden of flowers, our difficulties are at an end.

Every day of the three hundred and sixty-five the only pages of the world’s countless newspapers that are read by all the human beings and angels and devils that can read, are these pages that are built out of Associated Press despatches. And so I beg you, I beseech you–oh, I implore you to spell them in our simplified forms. Do this daily, constantly, persistently, for three months–only three months–it is all I ask. The infallible result?–victory, victory all down the line. For by that time all eyes here and above and below will have become adjusted to the change and in love with it, and the present clumsy and ragged forms will be grotesque to the eye and revolting to the soul. And we shall be rid of phthisis and phthisic and pneumonia and pneumatics, and diphtheria and pterodactyl, and all those other insane words which no man addicted to the simple Christian life can try to spell and not lose some of the bloom of his piety in the demoralizing attempt. Do not doubt it. We are chameleons, and our partialities and prejudices change places with an easy and blessed facility, and we are soon wonted to the change and happy in it. We do not regret our old, yellow fangs and snags and tushes after we have worn nice, fresh, uniform store teeth a while.

Do I seem to be seeking the good of the world? That is the idea. It is my public attitude; privately I am merely seeking my own profit. We all do it, but it is sound and it is virtuous, for no public interest is anything other or nobler than a massed accumulation of private interests. In 1883, when the simplified-spelling movement first tried to make a noise, I was indifferent to it; more–I even irreverently scoffed at it. What I needed was an object-lesson, you see. It is the only way to teach some people. Very well, I got it. At that time I was scrambling along, earning the family’s bread on magazine work at seven cents a word, compound words at single rates, just as it is in the dark present. I was the property of a magazine, a seven-cent slave under a boiler-iron contract. One day there came a note from the editor requiring me to write ten pages–on this revolting text: “Considerations concerning the alleged subterranean holophotal extemporaneousness of the conchyliaceous superimbrication of the Ornithorhyncus, as foreshadowed by the unintelligibility of its plesiosaurian anisodactylous aspects.”

Ten pages of that. Each and every word a seventeen-jointed vestibuled railroad train. Seven cents a word. I saw starvation staring the family in the face. I went to the editor, and I took a stenographer along so as to have the interview down in black and white, for no magazine editor can ever remember any part of a business talk except the part that’s got graft in it for him and the magazine. I said, “Read that text, Jackson, and let it go on the record; read it out loud.” He read it: “Considerations concerning the alleged subterranean holophotal extemporaneousness of the conchyliaceous superimbrication of the Ornithorhyncus, as foreshadowed by the unintelligibility of its plesiosaurian anisodactylous aspects.”

I said, “You want ten pages of those rumbling, great, long, summer thunderpeals, and you expect to get them at seven cents a peal?”

He said, “A word’s a word, and seven cents is the contract; what are you going to do about it?”

I said, “Jackson, this is cold-blooded oppression. What’s an average English word?”

He said, “Six letters.”

I said, “Nothing of the kind; that’s French, and includes the spaces between the words; an average English word is four letters and a half. By hard, honest labor I’ve dug all the large words out of my vocabulary and shaved it down till the average is three letters and a half. I can put one thousand and two hundred words on your page, and there’s not another man alive that can come within two hundred of it. My page is worth eighty-four dollars to me. It takes exactly as long to fill your magazine page with long words as it does with short ones-four hours. Now, then, look at the criminal injustice of this requirement of yours. I am careful, I am economical of my time and labor. For the family’s sake I’ve got to be so. So I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents, because I can get the same money for ‘city.’ I never write ‘policeman,’ because I can get the same price for ‘cop.’ And so on and so on. I never write ‘valetudinarian’ at all, for not even hunger and wretchedness can humble me to the point where I will do a word like that for seven cents; I wouldn’t do it for fifteen. Examine your obscene text, please; count the words.”

He counted and said it was twenty-four. I asked him to count the letters. He made it two hundred and three.

I said, “Now, I hope you see the whole size of your crime. With my vocabulary I would make sixty words out of those two hundred and five letters, and get four dollars and twenty cents for it; whereas for your inhuman twenty-four I would get only one dollar and sixty-eight cents. Ten pages of these sky-scrapers of yours would pay me only about three hundred dollars; in my simplified vocabulary the same space and the same labor would pay me eight hundred and forty dollars. I do not wish to work upon this scandalous job by the piece. I want to be hired by the year.” He coldly refused. I said:

“Then for the sake of the family, if you have no feeling for me, you ought at least to allow me overtime on that word extemporaneousness.” Again he coldly refused. I seldom say a harsh word to any one, but I was not master of myself then, and I spoke right out and called him an anisodactylous plesiosaurian conchyliaceous Ornithorhyncus, and rotten to the heart with holoaophotal subterranean extemporaneousness. God forgive me for that wanton crime; he lived only two hours.

From that day to this I have been a devoted and hard-working member of the heaven-born institution, the International Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Authors, and now I am laboring with Carnegie’s Simplified Committee, and with my heart in the work . . . .

Now then, let us look at this mighty question reasonably, rationally, sanely–yes, and calmly, not excitedly. What is the real function, the essential function, the supreme function, of language? Isn’t it merely to convey ideas and emotions? Certainly. Then if we can do it with words of fonetic brevity and compactness, why keep the present cumbersome forms? But can we? Yes. I hold in my hand the proof of it. Here is a letter written by a woman, right out of her heart of hearts. I think she never saw a spelling-book in her life. The spelling is her own. There isn’t a waste letter in it anywhere. It reduces the fonetics to the last gasp–it squeezes the surplusage out of every word–there’s no spelling that can begin with it on this planet outside of the White House. And as for the punctuation, there isn’t any. It is all one sentence, eagerly and breathlessly uttered, without break or pause in it anywhere. The letter is absolutely genuine–I have the proofs of that in my possession. I can’t stop to spell the words for you, but you can take the letter presently and comfort your eyes with it. I will read the letter:

“Miss dear freind I took some Close into the armerry and give them to you to Send too the suffrers out to California and i Hate to treble you but i got to have one of them Back it was a black oll wolle Shevyott With a jacket to Mach trimed Kind of Fancy no 38 Burst measure and palsy menterry acrost the front And the color i woodent Trubble you but it belonged to my brothers wife and she is Mad about it i thoght she was willin but she want she says she want done with it and she was going to Wear it a Spell longer she ant so free harted as what i am and she Has got more to do with Than i have having a Husband to Work and slave For her i gels you remember Me I am shot and stout and light complected i torked with you quite a spell about the suffrars and said it was orful about that erth quake I shoodent wondar if they had another one rite off seeine general Condision of the country is Kind of Explossive i hate to take that Black dress away from the suffrars but i will hunt round And see if i can get another One if i can i will call to the armerry for it if you will jest lay it asside so no more at present from your True freind

“i liked your appearance very Much”

Now you see what simplified spelling can do.

It can convey any fact you need to convey; and it can pour out emotions like a sewer. I beg you, I beseech you, to adopt our spelling, and print all your despatches in it.

Now I wish to say just one entirely serious word:

I have reached a time of life, seventy years and a half, where none of the concerns of this world have much interest for me personally. I think I can speak dispassionately upon this matter, because in the little while that I have got to remain here I can get along very well with these old-fashioned forms, and I don’t propose to make any trouble about it at all. I shall soon be where they won’t care how I spell so long as I keep the Sabbath.

There are eighty-two millions of us people that use this orthography, and it ought to be simplified in our behalf, but it is kept in its present condition to satisfy one million people who like to have their literature in the old form. That looks to me to be rather selfish, and we keep the forms as they are while we have got one million people coming in here from foreign countries every year and they have got to struggle with this orthography of ours, and it keeps them back and damages their citizenship for years until they learn to spell the language, if they ever do learn. This is merely sentimental argument.

People say it is the spelling of Chaucer and Spencer and Shakespeare and a lot of other people who do not know how to spell anyway, and it has been transmitted to us and we preserved it and wish to preserve it because of its ancient and hallowed associations.

Now, I don’t see that there is any real argument about that. If that argument is good, then it would be a good argument not to banish the flies and the cockroaches from hospitals because they have been there so long that the patients have got used to them and they feel a tenderness for them on account of the associations. Why, it is like preserving a cancer in a family because it is a family cancer, and we are bound to it by the test of affection and reverence and old, mouldy antiquity.

I think that this declaration to improve this orthography of ours is our family cancer, and I wish we could reconcile ourselves to have it cut out and let the family cancer go.

Now, you see before you the wreck and ruin of what was once a young person like yourselves. I am exhausted by the heat of the day. I must take what is left of this wreck and run out of your presence and carry it away to my home and spread it out there and sleep the sleep of the righteous. There is nothing much left of me but my age and my righteousness, but I leave with you my love and my blessing, and may you always keep your youth.

 

 

BOOKS AND BURGLARS

ADDRESS TO THE REDDING (CONN.) LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, OCTOBER 28, 1908

Suppose this library had been in operation a few weeks ago, and the burglars who happened along and broke into my house–taking a lot of things they didn’t need, and for that matter which I didn’t need–had first made entry into this institution.

Picture them seated here on the floor, poring by the light of their dark-lanterns over some of the books they found, and thus absorbing moral truths and getting a moral uplift. The whole course of their lives would have been changed. As it was, they kept straight on in their immoral way and were sent to jail.

For all we know, they may next be sent to Congress.

And, speaking of burglars, let us not speak of them too harshly. Now, I have known so many burglars–not exactly known, but so many of them have come near me in my various dwelling-places, that I am disposed to allow them credit for whatever good qualities they possess.

Chief among these, and, indeed, the only one I just now think of, is their great care while doing business to avoid disturbing people’s sleep.

Noiseless as they may be while at work, however, the effect of their visitation is to murder sleep later on.

Now we are prepared for these visitors. All sorts of alarm devices have been put in the house, and the ground for half a mile around it has been electrified. The burglar who steps within this danger zone will set loose a bedlam of sounds, and spring into readiness for action our elaborate system of defences. As for the fate of the trespasser, do not seek to know that. He will never be heard of more.

 

 

 

AUTHORS’ CLUB

ADDRESS AT THE DINNER GIVEN IN HONOR OF MR. CLEMENS, LONDON, JUNE, 1899

Mr. Clemens was introduced by Sir Walter Besant.

It does not embarrass me to hear my books praised so much. It only pleases and delights me. I have not gone beyond the age when embarrassment is possible, but I have reached the age when I know how to conceal it. It is such a satisfaction to me to hear Sir Walter Besant, who is much more capable than I to judge of my work, deliver a judgment which is such a contentment to my spirit.

Well, I have thought well of the books myself, but I think more of them now. It charms me also to hear Sir Spencer Walpole deliver a similar judgment, and I shall treasure his remarks also. I shall not discount the praises in any possible way. When I report them to my family they shall lose nothing. There are, however, certain heredities which come down to us which our writings of the present day may be traced to. I, for instance, read the Walpole Letters when I was a boy. I absorbed them, gathered in their grace, wit, and humor, and put them away to be used by-and-by. One does that so unconsciously with things one really likes. I am reminded now of what use those letters have been to me.

They must not claim credit in America for what was really written in another form so long ago. They must only claim that I trimmed this, that, and the other, and so changed their appearance as to make them seem to be original. You now see what modesty I have in stock. But it has taken long practice to get it there.

But I must not stand here talking. I merely meant to get up and give my thanks for the pleasant things that preceding speakers have said of me. I wish also to extend my thanks to the Authors’ Club for constituting me a member, at a reasonable price per year, and for giving me the benefit of your legal adviser.

I believe you keep a lawyer. I have always kept a lawyer, too, though I have never made anything out of him. It is service to an author to have

a lawyer. There is something so disagreeable in having a personal contact with a publisher. So it is better to work through a lawyer–and lose your case. I understand that the publishers have been meeting together also like us. I don’t know what for, but possibly they are devising new and mysterious ways for remunerating authors. I only wish now to thank you for electing me a member of this club–I believe I have paid my dues–and to thank you again for the pleasant things you have said of me.

Last February, when Rudyard Kipling was ill in America, the sympathy which was poured out to him was genuine and sincere, and I believe that which cost Kipling so much will bring England and America closer together. I have been proud and pleased to see this growing affection and respect between the two countries. I hope it will continue to grow, and, please God, it will continue to grow. I trust we authors will leave to posterity, if we have nothing else to leave, a friendship between England and America that will count for much. I will now confess that I have been engaged for the past eight days in compiling a publication. I have brought it here to lay at your feet. I do not ask your indulgence in presenting it, but for your applause.

Here it is: “Since England and America may be joined together in Kipling, may they not be severed in ‘Twain.'”

 

 

BOOKSELLERS

Address at banquet on Wednesday evening, May 20, 1908, of the American Booksellers’ Association, which included most of the leading booksellers of America, held at the rooms of the Aldine Association, New York.

This annual gathering of booksellers from all over America comes together ostensibly to eat and drink, but really to discuss, business; therefore I am required to, talk shop. I am required to furnish a statement of the indebtedness under which I lie to you gentlemen for your help in enabling me to earn my living. For something over forty years I have acquired my bread by print, beginning with The Innocents Abroad, followed at intervals of a year or so by Roughing It, Tom Sawyer, Gilded Age, and so on. For thirty-six years my books were sold by subscription. You are not interested in those years, but only in the four which have since followed. The books passed into the hands of my present publishers at the beginning of 1900, and you then became the providers of my diet. I think I may say, without flattering you, that you have done exceedingly well by me. Exceedingly well is not too strong a phrase, since the official statistics show that in four years you have sold twice as many volumes of my venerable books as my contract with my publishers bound you and them to sell in five years. To your sorrow you are aware that frequently, much too frequently, when a book gets to be five or ten years old its annual sale shrinks to two or three hundred copies, and after an added ten or twenty years ceases to sell. But you sell thousands of my moss-backed old books every year–the youngest of them being books that range from fifteen to twenty-seven years old, and the oldest reaching back to thirty-five and forty.

By the terms of my contract my publishers had to account to me for, 50,000 volumes per year for five years, and pay me for them whether they sold them or not. It is at this point that you gentlemen come in, for it was your business to unload 250,000 volumes upon the public in five years if you possibly could. Have you succeeded? Yes, you have–and more. For in four years, with a year still to spare, you have sold the 250,000 volumes, and 240,000 besides.

Your sales have increased each year. In the first year you sold 90,328; in the second year, 104,851; in the third, 133,975; in the fourth year –which was last year–you sold 160,000. The aggregate for the four years is 500,000 volumes, lacking 11,000.

Of the oldest book, The Innocents Abroad,–now forty years old–you sold upward of 46,000 copies in the four years; of Roughing It–now thirty-eight years old; I think–you sold 40,334; of Tom Sawyer, 41,000. And so on.

And there is one thing that is peculiarly gratifying to me: the Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc is a serious book; I wrote it for love, and never expected it to sell, but you have pleasantly disappointed me in that matter. In your hands its sale has increased each year. In 1904 you sold 1726 copies; in 1905, 2445; in 1906, 5381; and last year, 6574.

 

 

“MARK TWAIN’S FIRST APPEARANCE”

On October 5, 1906, Mr. Clemens, following a musical recital by his daughter in Norfolk, Conn., addressed her audience on the subject of stage-fright. He thanked the people for making things as easy as possible for his daughter’s American debut as a contralto, and then told of his first experience before the public.

My heart goes out in sympathy to any one who is making his first appearance before an audience of human beings. By a direct process of memory I go back forty years, less one month–for I’m older than I look.

I recall the occasion of my first appearance. San Francisco knew me then only as a reporter, and I was to make my bow to San Francisco as a lecturer. I knew that nothing short of compulsion would get me to the theatre. So I bound myself by a hard-and-fast contract so that I could not escape. I got to the theatre forty-five minutes before the hour set for the lecture. My knees were shaking so that I didn’t know whether I could stand up. If there is an awful, horrible malady in the world, it is stage-fright-and seasickness. They are a pair. I had stage-fright then for the first and last time. I was only seasick once, too. It was on a little ship on which there were two hundred other passengers. I–was–sick. I was so sick that there wasn’t any left for those other two hundred passengers.

It was dark and lonely behind the scenes in that theatre, and I peeked through the little peekholes they have in theatre curtains and looked into the big auditorium. That was dark and empty, too. By-and-by it lighted up, and the audience began to arrive.

I had got a number of friends of mine, stalwart men, to sprinkle themselves through the audience armed with big clubs. Every time I said anything they could possibly guess I intended to be funny they were to pound those clubs on the floor. Then there was a kind lady in a box up there, also a good friend of mine, the wife of the Governor. She was to watch me intently, and whenever I glanced toward her she was going to deliver a gubernatorial laugh that would lead the whole audience into applause.

At last I began. I had the manuscript tucked under a United States flag in front of me where I could get at it in case of need. But I managed to get started without it. I walked up and down–I was young in those days and needed the exercise–and talked and talked.

Right in the middle of the speech I had placed a gem. I had put in a moving, pathetic part which was to get at the hearts and souls of my hearers. When I delivered it they did just what I hoped and expected. They sat silent and awed. I had touched them. Then I happened to glance up at the box where the Governor’s wife was–you know what happened.

Well, after the first agonizing five minutes, my stage-fright left me, never to return. I know if I was going to be hanged I could get up and make a good showing, and I intend to. But I shall never forget my feelings before the agony left me, and I got up here to thank you for her for helping my daughter, by your kindness, to live through her first appearance. And I want to thank you for your appreciation of her singing, which is, by-the-way, hereditary.

 

 

MORALS AND MEMORY

Mr. Clemens was the guest of honor at a reception held at Barnard College (Columbia University), March 7, 1906, by the Barnard Union. One of the young ladies presented Mr. Clemens, and thanked him for his amiability in coming to make them an address. She closed with the expression of the great joy it gave her fellow-collegians, “because we all love you.”

If any one here loves me, she has my sincere thanks. Nay, if any one here is so good as to love me–why, I’ll be a brother to her. She shall have my sincere, warm, unsullied affection. When I was coming up in the car with the very kind young lady who was delegated to show me the way, she asked me what I was going to talk about. And I said I wasn’t sure. I said I had some illustrations, and I was going to bring them in. I said I was certain to give those illustrations, but that I hadn’t the faintest notion what they were going to illustrate.

Now, I’ve been thinking it over in this forest glade [indicating the woods of Arcady on the scene setting], and I’ve decided to work them in with something about morals and the caprices of memory. That seems to me to be a pretty good subject. You see, everybody has a memory and it’s pretty sure to have caprices. And, of course, everybody has morals.

It’s my opinion that every one I know has morals, though I wouldn’t like to ask. I know I have. But I’d rather teach them than practice them any day. “Give them to others”–that’s my motto. Then you never have any use for them when you’re left without. Now, speaking of the caprices of memory in general, and of mine in particular, it’s strange to think of all the tricks this little mental process plays on us. Here we’re endowed with a faculty of mind that ought to be more supremely serviceable to us than them all. And what happens? This memory of ours stores up a perfect record of the most useless facts and anecdotes and experiences. And all the things that we ought to know–that we need to know–that we’d profit by knowing–it casts aside with the careless indifference of a girl refusing her true lover. It’s terrible to think of this phenomenon. I tremble in all my members when I consider all the really valuable things that I’ve forgotten in seventy years–when I meditate upon the caprices of my memory.

There’s a bird out in California that is one perfect symbol of the human memory. I’ve forgotten the bird’s name (just because it would be valuable for me to know it–to recall it to your own minds, perhaps).

But this fool of a creature goes around collecting the most ridiculous things you can imagine and storing them up. He never selects a thing that could ever prove of the slightest help to him; but he goes about gathering iron forks, and spoons, and tin cans, and broken mouse-traps –all sorts of rubbish that is difficult for him to carry and yet be any use when he gets it. Why, that bird will go by a gold watch to bring back one of those patent cake-pans.

Now, my mind is just like that, and my mind isn’t very different from yours–and so our minds are just like that bird. We pass by what would be of inestimable value to us, and pack our memories with the most trivial odds and ends that never by any chance; under any circumstances whatsoever, could be of the slightest use to any one.

Now, things that I have remembered are constantly popping into my head. And I am repeatedly startled by the vividness with which they recur to me after the lapse of years and their utter uselessness in being remembered at all.

I was thinking over some on my way up here. They were the illustrations I spoke about to the young lady on the way up. And I’ve come to the conclusion, curious though it is, that I can use every one of these freaks of memory to teach you all a lesson. I’m convinced that each one has its moral. And I think it’s my duty to hand the moral on to you.

Now, I recall that when I was a boy I was a good boy–I was a very good boy. Why, I was the best boy in my school. I was the best boy in that little Mississippi town where I lived. The population was only about twenty million. You may not believe it, but I was the best boy in that State–and in the United States, for that matter.

But I don’t know why I never heard any one say that but myself. I always recognized it. But even those nearest and dearest to me couldn’t seem to see it. My mother, especially, seemed to think there was something wrong with that estimate. And she never got over that prejudice.

Now, when my mother got to be eighty-five years old her memory failed her. She forgot little threads that hold life’s patches of meaning together. She was living out West then, and I went on to visit her.

I hadn’t seen my mother in a year or so. And when I got there she knew my face; knew I was married; knew I had a family, and that I was living with them. But she couldn’t, for the life of her, tell my name or who I was. So I told her I was her boy.

“But you don’t live with me,” she said.

“No,” said I, “I’m living in Rochester.”

“What are you doing there?”

“Going to school.”

“Large school?”

“Very large.”

“All boys?”

“All boys.”

“And how do you stand?” said my mother.

“I’m the best boy in that school,” I answered.

“Well,” said my mother, with a return of her old fire, “I’d like to know what the other boys are like.”

Now, one point in this story is the fact that my mother’s mind went back to my school days, and remembered my little youthful self-prejudice when she’d forgotten everything else about me.

The other point is the moral. There’s one there that you will find if you search for it.

Now, here’s something else I remember. It’s about the first time I ever stole a watermelon. “Stole” is a strong word. Stole? Stole? No, I don’t mean that. It was the first time I ever withdrew a watermelon. It was the first time I ever extracted a watermelon. That is exactly the word I want–“extracted.” It is definite. It is precise. It perfectly conveys my idea. Its use in dentistry connotes the delicate shade of meaning I am looking for. You know we never extract our own teeth.

And it was not my watermelon that I extracted. I extracted that watermelon from a farmer’s wagon while he was inside negotiating with an other customer. I carried that watermelon to one of the secluded recesses of the lumber-yard, and there I broke it open.

It was a green watermelon.

Well, do you know when I saw that I began to feel sorry–sorry–sorry. It seemed to me that I had done wrong. I reflected deeply. I reflected that I was young–I think I was just eleven. But I knew that though immature I did not lack moral advancement. I knew what a boy ought to do who had extracted a watermelon–like that.

I considered George Washington, and what action he would have taken under similar circumstances. Then I knew there was just one thing to make me feel right inside, and that was–Restitution.

So I said to myself: “I will do that. I will take that green watermelon back where I got it from.” And the minute I had said it I felt that great moral uplift that comes to you when you’ve made a noble resolution.

So I gathered up the biggest fragments, and I carried them back to the farmer’s wagon, and I restored the watermelon–what was left of it. And I made him give me a good one in place of it, too.

And I told him he ought to be ashamed of himself going around working off his worthless, old, green watermelons on trusting purchasers who had to rely on him. How could they tell from the outside whither the melons were good or not? That was his business. And if he didn’t reform, I told him I’d see that he didn’t get any more of my trade–nor anybody, else’s I knew, if I could help it.

You know that man was as contrite as a revivalist’s last convert. He said he was all broken up to think I’d gotten a green watermelon. He promised the he would never carry another green watermelon if he starved for it. And he drove off–a better man.

Now, do you see what I did for that man? He was on a downward path, and I rescued him. But all I got out of it was a watermelon.

Yet I’d rather have that memory–just that memory of the good I did for that depraved farmer–than all the material gain you can think of. Look at the lesson he got! I never got anything like that from it. But I ought to be satisfied: I was only eleven years old, but I secured everlasting benefit to other people.

The moral in this is perfectly clear, and I think there’s one in they next memory I’m going to tell you about.

To go back to my childhood, there’s another little incident that comes to me from which you can draw even another moral. It’s about one of the times I went fishing. You see, in our house there was a sort of family prejudice against going fishing if you hadn’t permission. But it would frequently be bad judgment to ask. So I went fishing secretly, as it were–way up the Mississippi. It was an exquisitely happy trip, I recall, with a very pleasant sensation.

Well, while I was away there was a tragedy in our town. A stranger, stopping over on his way East from California; was stabbed to death in an unseemly brawl.

Now; my father was justice of the peace, and because he was justice of the peace he was coroner; and since he was coroner he was also constable; and being constable he was sheriff; and out of consideration for his holding the office of sheriff he was likewise county clerk and a dozen other officials I don’t think of just this minute.

I thought he had power of life or death, only he didn’t use it over other boys. He was sort of an austere man. Somehow I didn’t like being round him when I’d done anything he, disapproved of. So that’s the reason I wasn’t often around.

Well, when this gentleman got knifed they communicated with the proper authority; the coroner, and they laid, the corpse out in the coroner’s office–our front sitting-room–in preparation for the inquest the next morning.

About 9 or 10 o’clock I got back from fishing. It was a little too late for me to be received by my folks, so I took my shoes off and slipped noiselessly up the back way to the sitting-room. I was very tired, and I didn’t wish to disturb my people. So I groped my way to the sofa and lay down.

Now, I didn’t know anything of what had happened during my absence. But I was sort of nervous on my own account-afraid of being caught, and rather dubious about the morning affair. And I had been lying there a few moments when my eyes gradually got used to the darkness, and I became aware of something on the other side of the room.

It was something foreign to the apartment. It had an uncanny appearance. And I sat up looking very hard, and wondering what in heaven this long, formless, vicious-looking thing might be.

First I thought I’d go and see. Then I thought, “Never mind that.”

Mind you, I had no cowardly sensations whatever, but it didn’t seem exactly prudent to investigate. But I somehow couldn’t keep my eyes off the thing. And the more I looked at it the more disagreeably it grew on me. But I was resolved to play the man. So I decided to turn over and count a hundred, and let the patch of moonlight creep up and show me what the dickens it was.

I turned over and tried to count, but I couldn’t keep my mind on it. I kept thinking of that grewsome mass. I was losing count all the time, and going back and beginning over again. Oh no; I wasn’t frightened –just annoyed. But by the time I’d gotten to the century mark I turned cautiously over and opened my eyes with great fortitude.

The moonlight revealed to me a marble-white human hand. Well, maybe I wasn’t embarrassed! But then that changed to a creepy feeling again, and I thought I’d try the counting again. I don’t know how many hours or weeks it was that I lay there counting hard. But the moonlight crept up that white arm, and it showed me a lead face and a terrible wound over the heart.

I could scarcely say that I was terror-stricken or anything like that. But somehow his eyes interested me so that I went right out of the window. I didn’t need the sash. But it seemed easier to take it than leave it behind.

Now, let that teach you a lesson–I don’t know just what it is. But at seventy years old I find that memory of peculiar value to me. I have been unconsciously guided by it all these years. Things that seemed pigeon-holed and remote are a perpetual influence. Yes, you’re taught in so many ways. And you’re so felicitously taught when you don’t know it.

Here’s something else that taught me a good deal.

When I was seventeen I was very bashful, and a sixteen-year-old girl came to stay a week with us. She was a peach, and I was seized with a happiness not of this world.

One evening my mother suggested that, to entertain her, I take her to the theatre. I didn’t really like to, because I was seventeen and sensitive about appearing in the streets with a girl. I couldn’t see my way to enjoying my delight in public. But we went.

I didn’t feel very happy. I couldn’t seem to keep my mind on the play. I became conscious, after a while, that that was due less to my lovely company than my boots. They were sweet to look upon, as smooth as skin, but fitted ten time as close. I got oblivious to the play and the girl and the other people and everything but my boots until–I hitched one partly off. The sensation was sensuously perfect: I couldn’t help it. I had to get the other off, partly. Then I was obliged to get them off altogether, except that I kept my feet in the legs so they couldn’t get away.

From that time I enjoyed the play. But the first thing I knew the curtain came down, like that, without my notice, and–I hadn’t any boots on. What’s more, they wouldn’t go on. I tugged strenuously. And the people in our row got up and fussed and said things until the peach and I simply had to move on.

We moved–the girl on one arm and the boots under the other.

We walked home that way, sixteen blocks, with a retinue a mile long: Every time we passed a lamp-post, death gripped one at the throat. But we, got home–and I had on white socks.

If I live to be nine hundred and ninety-nine years old I don’t suppose I could ever forget that walk. I, remember, it about as keenly as the chagrin I suffered on another occasion.

At one time in our domestic history we had a colored butler who had a failing. He could never remember to ask people who came to the door to state their business. So I used to suffer a good many calls unnecessarily.

One morning when I was especially busy he brought me a card engraved with a name I did not know. So I said, “What does he wish to see me for?” and Sylvester said, “Ah couldn’t ask him, sah; he, wuz a genlinun.” “Return instantly,” I thundered, “and inquire his mission. Ask him what’s his game.” Well, Sylvester returned with the announcement that he had lightning-rods to sell. “Indeed,” said I, “things are coming to a fine pass when lightning-rod agents send up engraved cards.” “He has pictures,” added Sylvester. “Pictures, indeed! He maybe peddling etchings. Has he a Russia leather case?” But Sylvester was too frightened to remember. I said; “I am going down to make it hot for that upstart!”

I went down the stairs, working up my temper all the way. When I got to the parlor I was in a fine frenzy concealed beneath a veneer of frigid courtesy. And when I looked in the door, sure enough he had a Russia leather case in his hand. But I didn’t happen to notice that it was our Russia leather case.

And if you’d believe me, that man was sitting with a whole gallery of etchings spread out before him. But I didn’t happen to notice that they were our etchings, spread out by some member of my family for some unguessed purpose.

Very curtly I asked the gentleman his business. With a surprised, timid manner he faltered that he had met my wife and daughter at Onteora, and they had asked him to call. Fine lie, I thought, and I froze him.

He seemed to be kind of non-plussed, and sat there fingering the etchings in the case until I told him he needn’t bother, because we had those. That pleased him so much that he leaned over, in an embarrassed way, to pick up another from the floor. But I stopped him. I said, “We’ve got that, too.” He seemed pitifully amazed, but I was congratulating myself on my great success.

Finally the gentleman asked where Mr. Winton lived; he’d met him in the mountains, too. So I said I’d show him gladly. And I did on the spot. And when he was gone I felt queer, because there were all his etchings spread out on the floor.

«- Previous | 1 2 | View All | Next -»