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The New York Times, October 16, 1900

Writer Reaches America After His Prolonged Stay Abroad.
Talks Freely of His Travels, His Experiences, and His Triumphs - In the Best of Health.

Mark Twain returned to America yesterday on the Atlantic Transport Line steamship Minnehaha.

As is well known, Mark Twain registers at hotels and signs checks under the name of Samuel M. Clemens, but it was the writer and lecturer, Mark Twain, who attracted to the pier so many friends and associated of former days.

Mr. Clemens never looked better, was in a splendid humor, and greeted his friends with the most affectionate cordiality.

As soon as the author had finished with the salutations of his friends, he was surrounded by a large number of newspaper men, and asked for a story of what he had been doing during all the nine years of his absence from his native land.

"Now, that's a long story, but I suppose I must give you something, even if it is in a condensed form," he said. "I left America June 6, 1891, and went to Aix-les-Bains, France, where I spent the fall and winter. After that I went to Berlin, where I lectured, giving readings from my works. After this my next stop was the Riviera, where I remained for three months, going from there to the baths near Frankfort, where I remained during the cholera season.

"Most of 1892 I spent at Florence, where I rented a home. While there I wrote 'Joan of Arc' and finished up 'Pudd'nhead Wilson.' For the next two years I was in France. I can't speak French yet. In the spring of 1895 I came to the United States for a brief stay, crossing the continent from New York to San Francisco, lecturing every night. In October of that year I sailed from Vancouver for Sydney, where I lectured, or, more properly speaking, gave readings from my works to the English-speaking people. I also visited Tasmania and New Zealand.

"This was at the time of the famous Venezuelan message of President Cleveland, and it did my heart good to see that the animosities engendered by that message did not affect the affection of a people in a strange land for me.

"I then proceeded to India, lecturing in Ceylon, Bombay, and Calcutta. I then sailed for South Africa, arriving at Delagoa Bay in April, 1896. In South Africa I visited Kimberley, Johannesburg, and finally Cape Town. I met Oom Paul. I had heard and read all about him - hat, beard, frock coat, pipe, and everything else. The picture is a true likeness. At this time the Jameson raiders were in jail, and I visited them and made a little speech trying to console them. I told them of the advantages of being in jail. 'This jail is as good as any other,' I said, 'and, besides, being in jail has its advantages. A lot of great men have been in jail. If Bunyan had not been put in jail, he would never have written "Pilgrim's Progress." Then the jail is responsible for "Don Quixote," so you see being in jail is not so bad, after all. Finally I told them that they ought to remember that many great men had been compelled to go through life without ever having been in a jail. Some of the prisoners didn't seem to take much to the joke, while others seemed much amused.

All this time my family was with me, and after a short stay at Cape Town we took a steamer for Southampton. On arriving in England we went to Guilford, where I took a furnished house, remaining two months, after which for ten months our home was in London. All this time I was lecturing, reading, or working hard in other ways, writing magazine stories and doing other literary work.

"After London came Vienna, to which city we went in September, 1898, remaining until May of the following year, in order to allow one of my daughters to take music lessons from a man who spelled his name Leschetizky. He had plenty of identification, you see, and with all seemed to be a pretty smart fellow. After Vienna, where, by the way, I had a lot of fun watching the Reichsrath, we returned to London, in which city and Sweden we have been until our departure for home some days ago, and now I am home again, and you have got the history of a considerable part of my life."

"Well, everybody's glad you are back, which you know of course. They gave you the courtesy of the port didn't they?" an intensely interested listener remarked.

"Yes, I wrote to Secretary Gage telling him that my baggage was on a 16,000-ton ship, which was quite large enough to accommodate all I had, which, while it consisted of a good many things, was not good enough to pay duty on, yet too good to throw away. I accordingly suggested that he write the customs people to let it in, as I thought they would be more likely to take his word than mine."

"How about your plans?" he was asked.

"I am absolutely unable to speak of my plans," he replied, "inasmuch as I have none, and I do not expect to lecture."

At this point the question anti-imperialism was broached, some one asking: "How are you on expansion; are you for the President or are you with those that style themselves anti-imperialists?"

"Yes. As near as I can find out, I think that I am an anti-imperialist. I was not though, until some time ago, for when I first heard of the acquisition of the present Pacific possessions I though it a good thing for a country like America to release those people from a bondage of suffering and oppression that had lasted 300 years, but when I read the Paris treaty I changed my mind."

"You are going to vote for Mr. Bryan, then, are you?" was the query put to him by another bystander.

"No, I am a Mugwump. I don't know who I am going to vote for. I must look over the field. Then, you know, I've been out of the country a long time, and I might not be allowed to register."

"You are still a citizen of the United States, are you not?" interposed a member of the party.

"Well, I guess I am. I've been paying taxes on this side for the last nine years. I believe, though, a man can run for President," laughingly inquired Mr. Clemens, "without a vote, can't he? If this is so, why, then I am a candidate for President."

Dropping anti-imperialism, Mr. Clemens made the plea that he had been away so long that he really knew very little on the subject, as all of his information had practically been gleaned from foreign papers. Some one in the crowd asked him about his autobiography that is to be published 100 years hence.

"It is true I am writing it," he said.

"That's not a joke, is it?"

"No; I said it seriously; that's why they take it as a joke. You know, I never told the truth in my life that some one didn't say I was lying, while, on the other hand, I never told a lie that somebody didn't take it as a fact."

"Well, it's not wrong, anyway, to tell a lie sometimes, is it?" was a question some one asked in a very conciliatory way.

"That's right, exactly right. If you can disseminate facts by telling the truth, why that's the way to do it, and if you can't except by doing a little lying, well, that's all right, too, isn't it? I do it."

Mr. Clemens had become very restless by this time, and the many friends surrounding him on the pier managed to rescue him from the clutches of the newspaper men, who had been firing questions at him since he first appeared on the pier.

"I'll see you again. I'll be at the Earlington all the Winter. I am not going to Hartford till next year," and with a pleasant nod of the head the famous writer, accompanied by is friends, began a search for his baggage.

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