The Lotos Club Dinner - His Speech and the Others - Those Present.
A royal welcome home was extended to Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) last Saturday night [November 10, 1900] at the Lotus Club. It was the initial dinner of the season at this popular club, which enjoys a reputation for brilliant gatherings and good fellowship. While the Lotos has many successful events set down to its credit, in the judgment of the members none has surpassed the tribute it has paid to "The Dean of American Humor," as Mr. Clemens was described by one of the speakers of the evening. By word and act he was made to feel that he was indeed in the "house of his friends." Long before the breaking up of the company he must have been firmly impressed that his place was secure in their affections. Men of high positions in business, literature, politicos, and the various professions gathered to do him honor.
The dinner was somewhat delayed by the guest himself, who had forgotten that it was Saturday and the night of the feast. To the messenger who was sent to inquire the reason for his absence, and who found him at his hotel, he said: "I am so sorry, but I had forgotten this was Saturday; I thought it was Friday; I'll go right up stairs and dress. It won't take me fifteen minutes." President Frank R. Lawrence presided, and besides Mr. Clemens the guests at the main table were: Gov.-elect Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., St. Clair McKelway, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, United States Senator Chauncey M. Depew, Booker T. Washington, Ex-Speaker Thomas B. Reed, Henry H. Rogers, George Harvey, E. Wood Perry, Jr., John Hare, Joseph C. Hendrix, Augustus Thomas, John Kendrick Bangs, Moncure D. Conway, S. E. Moffett, [and] Frank H. Platt.
About 10 o'clock President Lawrence rapped for order and began the speeches of the evening in the following words:
"Our Lotos club season opens very happily, for we have just voted ourselves some years of prosperity, and Mark Twain has come home. [Applause.] When in this fortunate country we want good times we get them by popular vote. But, for the presence of Mark Twain, we depend upon a more uncertain caprice.
"Seven years ago he returned from abroad, and was entertained at dinner by this club, with the result that he went straight back to Europe, and has remained out of the United States ever since. [Laughter.]
"It has been suggested that the club assemble in his honor regularly at similar intervals; but it is felt that, after a time, this would become a steady habit, and steady habits could never be made popular here.
"We welcome him home as one of the staunchest and truest members of the club, and we remember that he was one of those who, with Reid and Brougham and Florence and Bromley and a score of kindred spirits, made the club sparkling and attractive in its early days, and laid broad and deep the foundation of all its later years of merriment and good fellowship.
"Our guest became a member of the club when it was only three years old, and now that it has seen more than ten times that number of years, he remains faithful to its principles, or at least he would be faithful to its principles, if it had any, and that amounts to the same thing. [Applause and laughter.]
"Well, he has been away, and he has been gone a long time, and I believe he has been around the world, and what he has been doing we only know in part.
"He says that he has been 'Following the Equator.' What a fortunate thing it is that he did not, as the climax to a somewhat revolutionary career, induce the equator to follow him! Had that occurred, the equator would probably have passed the remainder of its days in Hartford, Conn., or some weird or literary portion of the globe, and its reputation for constancy would have been forever blasted.
"Some things about him we do know. We know that while away fro us he has kept up a steady stream of work, furnishing to the world an abundance both of instruction and of amusement, and increasing his old reputation as one who, while he writes in fun, yet ever things in earnest. We hail him, as we have done before, as a master of letters, as the pioneer in a new and original field, as the possessor of a quaint and peculiar genius which has discovered unsuspected possibilities of language and of thought, and whose works, from the earliest to the latest, from the lightest to the most serious, have always commanded the widest audience and been received the world over with unbounded applause.
"We hail him, too, as one who has borne great burdens with manliness and courage, who has emerged from great struggles victorious; and in welcoming him back tonight to his old place, first taken at the Lotos board nearly twenty-seven years ago, we greet him with all friendship and in all kindliness, and hope that his life may be happy and prosperous, whether here or abroad, through all future time.' [Applause.]
When Mr. Clemens rose to speak he was cheered loud and heartily. It was nearly three minutes before he was permitted to proceed. Pushing his bushy white hair back from his forehead, he began:
"Mr. President and Friends: I thank you for this greeting; I thank you all out of my hear, for this is a fraternal welcome - a welcome too magnificent for a humble Missourian, far from his native state - but I feel at home here, as there are other Missourians seated at this table, and I am glad to see Tom Reed here too. They tell me that since I have been away Reed has deserted politics and is now leading a creditable life; he has reformed and, as he himself says, he is now engaged in raising the standard of beauty. [Laughter.]
"Your president has referred to certain burdens which I was weighted with. I am glad he did, as it gives me an opportunity which I wanted. to speak of those debts, you all know what he meant when he referred to it, and of the poor bankrupt firm of C. L. Webster & Co. No one has said a word about those creditors. There were ninety-six creditors in all, and not by a finger's weight did ninety-five out of the ninety-six add to the burden of that time. They treated me well; they treated me handsomely. I never knew I owed them anything; not a sign came from them.
"Don't you worry and don't you hurry," was what they said. How I wish I could have creditors of that kind always! [Laughter.] Really, I recognize it as a personal loan to myself to be out of debt. I wasn't personally acquainted with ten of them, you know. 'Don't you worry and don't you hurry'; that phrase is written on my heart. You are always very kind in saying things about me, but you have forgotten those creditors. They were the handsomest people I ever knew. They were handsomer than I was - handsomer than Tom Reed. [Cheers and laughter.]
"How many things have happened in the seven years I have been away from home! We have fought a righteous war, and a righteous war is a rare thing in history. We have turned aside from our own comfort and seen to it that freedom should exist not only within our own gates, but in our own neighborhood. We have set Cuba free and placed her among the galaxy of free nations of the world. We started out to set those poor Filipinos free, but why that righteous plan miscarried perhaps I shall never know. we have also been making a creditable showing in China, and that is more than all of the powers can say. The 'Yellow Terror' is threatening the world, but no matter what happens the United States says that it has had no part in it. [Applause.]
"Since I have been away we have been nursing free silver. [Laughter.] We have watched by its cradle, we have done our best to raise that child; but every time it seemed to be getting along nicely along came some pestiferous Republican and gave it the measles or something. [Laughter and applause.] I fear we will never raise that child. [Applause.]
"We've done more than that. We elected a President four years ago. We've found fault with him and criticized him, and here a day or two ago we go and elect him for another four years with votes enough to spare to do it over again. [Laughter.] We have tried a Governor for two years and we liked him so well that we decided to put him in the great office of Vice President, not that the office may confer distinction upon him, but that he may confer distinction upon the office. For a while we will not stammer and be embarrassed when somebody asks us the name of the Vice President. [Laughter.] He is widely known, and in some places favorably. [Laughter.] I am a little afraid that these fulsome compliments may be misunderstood; I have been away for a long time and I am not used to this complimentary business; I merely want to testify to my old admiration for my friend the Governor. If you give him rope enough - [Prolonged laughter] I meant to say - well, it is not necessary for me to say any more; you know him. [Renewed laughter.]
"Then take Odell; you've made him Governor. He's another Rough Rider, I suppose; all the fat things seem to go to that profession. I would have been a Rough Rider myself had I known this political Klondike was going to open up. I would have gone to war if I could have gone in an automobile, but never on a horse. I know the horse too well; I know the horse in peace and in war. A horse thinks of too many things to do which you do not expect. He is apt to bit you in the leg when you think he is half asleep. A horse is too capricious for me. [Laughter.]
"We have taken Chauncey Depew out of an active an useful life and made him a Senator; embalmed him, corked him up; look at that gilded mummy. That man has said many a true thing about me in his time, and I always said something would happen to him. That man has made my life miserable at many a banquet on both sides of the ocean, and palsied be the hand that draws that cork. [Laughter.]
"All these things and many more have happened since I have been away. It only goes to show how little a Mugwump, perhaps the last of his race, is missed in this unfeeling world. I come back and find myself a party by myself. Seven years ago when I was old and worn and down, you have me the grip and the word which lifts a man up and makes him glad to be alive. I come back from my exile fresh and young and alive, ready to begin anew. [Applause.] Your welcome warms me, it makes me feel that it is a reality and not a glorious dream to vanish with the morning."
Mr. Clemens was loudly cheered as he took his seat, and then President Lawrence called upon Governor-elect Odell, who received a hearty welcome.
"I was up in my home, in Newbury, prepared to take a rest. Usually when I get up there I take the telephone receiver off the hook, so that no one can reach me, but I neglected to do so tonight, and Riggs and Lord managed to raise me and tell me I was wanted down here at the Lotos Club. I consulted with Mrs. Odell, and she told me that while I could go to political dinners at any time, there was but one Mark Twain, so I put on my coat and caught the first train to New York, and here I am. I have known Mr. Clemens for a long time. the last time I met him was at a dinner given in London by the American Society to celebrate the anniversary of American Independence, and I am glad to meet him here tonight at the Lotos board. McKelway has said that I am a statement maker and not an orator, so you must not expect a speech from me." [Laughter and applause.]
Ex-Speaker Reed was presented by President Lawrence as "one who had become a New Yorker and who as yet has shown no sign of being sorry for it." The former "Czar" of the House of Representatives met with a warm welcome, and spoke with the drawl which is familiar to those who have heard him:
"I want it to be understood that I fully appreciate that this is a hopeless situation - the hopelessness of trying to meet our guest's ideas of what we ought to say about him. We can say nothing that will not seem to him absolutely inadequate. He will go home tonight and think over his invaluable services to mankind and think how utterly inadequate the words of his friends here have been. He will think it all over, and say to himself: 'Well, the boys meant well enough, but if they had known what they had been talking about they would have presented it better.' He will learn after a while how to add the proper per cent to bring the average of what has been said up to what he thinks should have been said. I want to say some things to him, now that I have got him where he can't talk back, which will make it necessary to add on a heavy percentage. [Laughter.]
"I have been waiting for seven years to get at him for some things he said about me down in Washington. He came to Washington with a lot of those literary fellows with a vague idea that they were going to prove their rights to some of their own property. They came to see me. I had occasion to remind them that they were sitting under the effulgence of the political intelligence which fully comprehends things. [Laughter.] I explained to him that he and his friends were absolutely incapable of self-government. [Laughter.] We intended to let him keep some small percentage of right to his property, but we were going to benevolently assimilate his property, or most of it. [Laughter.] Apparently he behaved most creditably, but after he left me, it was reported tome that he had gone around town telling people the thing he would have said to me if he hadn't been scared. [Laughter.]
"We all owe him a debt greater than we can ever discharge for what he has given us. He has described the life on the Mississippi for us as has no other man, but when you read his books think of the wealth of vocabulary he had to draw on when he was writing about life on the Mississippi. [Laughter.]
"He says he was named after the prophet Samuel. He says he remembers lying in his cradle and thinking that in five minutes more he would be one day old. He says that he remembers his father and mother talking over a name for him. They spoke of Zerubbabel, Ebabbucah - I think that would have fitted him - and Samuel. At that name he says that he arose, climbed over the edge of the cradle, and left home.
"As he was leaving the door, he said: 'Father, I can't be named Samuel.' 'Why not?' asked his father. 'Because Samuel had to be called by the Lord twice before he'd come.' In twenty-four hours his father overtook him and gave him Samuel and a sound thrashing. Now I can believe that he left his cradle, and left home, but I do not believe him when he says the old gentleman overtook him and gave him a thrashing; no one ever overtook him." [Great laughter and applause.]
Mr. Lawrence then introduced William Dean Howells in these words: "It is many a long day since we had the pleasure of seeing in this club the distinguised author and friend of our guest upon whom I am now about to call. I remember that when Mr. Howells was with up last he began by saying that hecould not speak al all, and he ended by making most of the speeches of the evening. I ought perhaps to say, in explanation of that statement, that it happened that our guest that night was a distinguished Italian dramatist, who spoke no English, and Mr. Howells found himself i na position of translating all the speches as he went along. Gentleman, there is no name greater in contemporary american literature than that of Mr. William D. Howells. I know you will join me in expressing most warmly the gratification it gives us to see him in the Lotos Club."
Mr. Howells said:
"I am not as fortunate tonight as I was on the occasion that you allude to because then I had merely to speak for everybody, and now I have to speak for myself. It is very much simpler to translate Italian than to get off one's own English, and if Mr. Clemens had been so good as to put his speech into very choice Italian I should have done my best to put it into equivalent English. However, like all impromptu speakers, I prepared myself most carefully beforehand, and I hope you don't mind my reading what I have to say.
"If you meet a humorist on his own ground the chances are that you will be thrown down, unless you are a very great joker; he will probably outjoke you, or if he doesn't people will think he does, which is quite as bad. The only way is to take him seriously, and then if you praise him he will be apt to think you are in earnest. That is why I am going to be serious in the very little I have to say about our great and good friend tonight, though we have not arrived at that happy stage of a complimentary dinner when the guest, unless he is a person of extraordinary perspicacity does not know whether you are praising him or not. He is so thickly buttered by this time that he thinks everything offered him is butter, and in a lordly dish. If you get out your little hammer, and drive your little nail into his skull he smiles blandly when it reaches his gray matter, and comes round at the end of the dinner, with the head of the nail sticking out, to say 'Thank you, old fellow; that was very nice of you; I hope you won't have too much on your conscience.'
"Like everyone else here, I am glad to have Mr. Clemens among us again, because, for one thing, I hate to see him having such a good time abroad. We always suspect a fellow-citizen who has a good time abroad; we are afraid that there must be something wrong about it. We feel that he never could have been what we thought him, if other people think so, too. We are jealous of his fame if it is universal; we should have liked to keep it to ourselves. Many a time in the course of the last nine years my heart has been saddened by the acceptance of our friend in France, Germany, Austria, and England, as one of the first humorists of all times, and I have done what little I could to set the matter right among those who loved him as I did by whispering round that they were overdoing it.
"But now that we have got him back, I am not so sure that they were overdoing it. At any rate, I wish to lift my voice in welcoming him home, and to be one of the very first publicly to forgive him. I realize that he was not to blame because other peoples have appreciated him in their poor, unintelligent way, and told him so in languages which are difficult for any true American to understand. We ought to forgive him in our own interest, if for no other reason, for no on else has been so fully in the joke of us, or known better how to interpret us to ourselves; and at no other period of our National life have we been a greater joke or more needed interpretation. He has probably arrived by a happy instinct to tell us just what we mean, and to declare how about it, when we are ourselves most in the dark.
"He is, at any rate, a humorist of Continental dimensions, and he could not be the great humorist he is without being vastly better - if there is anything better; if it is really better to be a sagacious reader of contemporary history, a generous and compassionate observer of one's kind, a philosopher without a theory, a poet whose broad-winged imagination transcends the bounds of verse. Perhaps it takes all these to make up the sum of a great humorist. At least, we find them all summed up in the humorist whom we amusingly suppose ourselves to be honoring tonight, when he is so obviously honoring us. why, in a manner, he has invented us, and has more than any other man made us the component parts of the great American joke which we all realize ourselves to be when we are serious. More than others he has discovered us to ourselves; he has determined our modern mental attitude, fixed our point of view, and he could not have done with without being vitally of the material he worked in. He has invented us, but then - we invented him, to begin with, and that is where I think we have reason to be proud. Before us no people had a humorist with nothing cruel but everything kindly in his smile, who never laughed with the strong against the weak, or found anything droll in suffering or deformity.
"When we look back over our literature, and see what savage and stupid and pitiless things have passed for humor, and then open his page, we seem not only to have invented the only true humorist, but to have invented humor itself. We do not know by what mystery his talent sprang up from our soil and flowered in our air, but we know that no such talent has been known to any other; and if we set any bounds to our joy in him, it must be from that innate American modesty, not always perceptible to the alien eye, which forbids us to keep throwing bouquets at ourselves.
ST. CLAIR McKELWAY.
St. Clair McKelway was the next speaker.
"Years ago we here sought to hold up Mark Twain's hands. New we all feel like holding up our own, in congratulation of him and of ourselves. Of him because his warfare is accomplished. Of ourselves because he has returned to our company. If it was a pleasure to know him then, it is a privilege and an honor to know him now. He has fought the good fight. He has kept the faith. He is ready to be offered up but we are not ready to have him offered up. For we want the Indian Summer of his life to be long, and that to be followed by a genial Winter, which if it be as frosty as his hair, shall also be as kindly as his heart.
"He has enough excess and versatility of ability to be a genius. He has enough quality of virtues to be a saint. But he has honorably transmuted his genius into his work, whereby it has been brought into relations with literature and with life. And he has preferred warm fellowship to cold perfection, so that sinners love him and saints are content to wait form. May they wait long. [Applause.]
"I think he is entitled to be regarded as the Dean of America's humor; that he is entitled to the distinction of being the greatest humorist this Nation ever had. I say this with a fair knowledge of the chiefs of the entire corps from Francis Hopkinson and the author of 'Hasty Pudding' down to Bill Nye and Dooley. None of them would I depreciate. I would greatly prefer to honor and hail them all for the singular fittedness of their gifts to the needs of the Nation in their times. Hopkinson and Joel Barlow lightened the rock of the Revolution by the touch of nature that makes the whole world grin. Seba Smith relieved the Yankee sense of tension under the impact of Jacksonian roughness by tickling its ribs with a quill. Lieut. Derby turned the searchlight of fun on the stiff formalities of army posts on the raw conditions of alkali journalism, and on the solemn humbugs of frontier politics. James Russell Lowell used dialect for dynamite to blow the front off hypocrisy or to shatter the cotton commercialism in which the New England conscience was encysted. Robert H. Newell, mirthmaker and mystic, satirized military ignorance and pinchbeck bluster to an immortality of contempt. Bret Harte in verse and story touched the parallels of tragedy and of comedy, of pathos, of bathos, and of humor, which love of life and lust of gold opened up amid the unapprehended grandeurs and the coveted treasures of primeval nature. Charles F. Browne made Artemus Ward as well known as Abraham Lincoln in the time the two divided the attention of the world. Bill Nye singed the shams of his day and Dooley dissects for Hinnissy the shams of our own. Nor should we forget Eugene Field, the beatifier of childhood, or Joel Chandler Harris, the fabulist of the plantation, or Ruth McEnery Stuart, the coronal singer of the joys and hope, the loves and the dreams of the images of God in ebony in the old South, ere it leaped and hardened to the new.
"To these love and honor. But to this man honor's crown of honor, for he has made a mark none of the others has reached. Few of them have diversified the delights to be drawn from their pages of humor. They have, as humorists, in distinction to the work of moralists, novelists, orators, and poets, in which the rarest among them shine, they have as humorists, in the main, worked a single vein. And some of them were humorists for a purpose, a dreary grind that, and some of them were only humorists for a period as well as for a purpose. The purpose served, the period passed, the humor that was of their life a thing apart ceased. 'Tis Clemens's whole existence! [Applause.]
"As Bacon made all learning his province, so Mark Twain has made all life and history his quarry, from 'The Jumping Frog' to 'The Yankee at Arthur's Court'; from the inquested petrifaction that died of protracted exposure to the present Parliament of Austria; from the Grave of Adam to the mysteries of the Adamless Eden known as the League of Professional Women; from Mulberry Sellers to Joan of Arc, and from Edward the Sixth to Pudd'nhead Wilson, who wanted to hill his half of a deathless dog.
"Nevada is forgiven its decay because he flashed the oddities of its zenith life on pages that endure. California is worth more than its gold because he showed to men the heart under its swagger. He annexed the Sandwich Islands to the fun of the Nation long before they were put under the flag. Because of him the Missouri and Mississippi go not unvexed to the sea, for they ripple with laughter as they recall Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, poor Jim, and the Duke. Europe and Asia Minor, and Palestine are open door to the world, thanks to this Pilgrim's progress with his Innocents Abroad. Purity, piety, and pity shine out from Prince and Pauper like the eyes of a wondering deer on a torch-lighted night from a wooded fringe of mountain and lake.
"But enough of what I fear is already too much. In expressing my debt to him I hope I express somewhat at least of yours. I cannot repay him in kind any more than I could rival him. None of us can. But we can render to him a return he would like. With him we can get our way to reality and burn off pretense, as acid eats its way to the denuded plate of the engraver. We can strip the veneer of convention from style and strengthen our thought in his Anglo-Saxon well of English undefiled. We can drop seeming for sincerity. We can be relentless toward hypocrisy and tender to humanity. We can rejoice in the love of laughter, without ever once letting it lead us to libertinism of fancy. We can reach through humor the heart of man. We can make exaggeration the scourge of meanness and the magnifier of truth on the broad screen of life. By study of him the nothing new under the sun can be made fresh and fragrant, by the supreme art of putting things. Though none of us can handle his wand, all of us can be transformed by it into something different from and finer than our dull selves. That is our delight, that is our debt, both due to him, & long may he remain with us to brighten, to broaden, and to better our souls with the magic mirth and with the mirthful magic of his incomparable spell. [Applause.]
John Hare, the actor, discussing the drama, said:
"My task is rendered comparatively easy because we are not here to enter the lists in oratorical rivalry, but to unite in paying homage to a great distinguished and brilliant writer - and to use an Americanism - a lovely man. The last time I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Clemens was at a dinner in London on the occasion of Mr. Henry Irving's return from America. Among the toasts was one to the drama with the names of Mark Twain and Mr. Pinero coupled. We all looked forward to the speeches of these two. Mr. Pinero had come, we could see from the expression of his face, all prepared to give us a very weighty essay on the drama, but Mr. Clemens spoke first, and with such brilliant humor and wit that the effect was electrical. We waited for Mr. Pinero, but the air was so charged with the electricity of humor that Mr. Pinero could only sit down with the remark, 'I beg to return my thanks for this honor.'
"The health of the drama is extremely good. Its vitality is excessive. In the past we have had as good - better - plays and as good players, but at present we have more of them. there may be no genius, but the average is far better. In this there is a great solace and a great danger. Genius may do what it likes. Average ability must be controlled. The practical extinction of the actor-manager in our country and his total extinction in your are a great menace. It is impossible for the commercial director to amalgamate and control those forces which give to the public the perfect drama. It is the fashion now to cry down the actor-manager. What a mistake! What a folly! The more I look around the more I deplore the lack of State and municipal aid for the theatre. In England we can never hope for it, but in this country it could be, and looking upon the ability of your actors and the grace of your actresses my impression is that in this country could be founded the finest dramatic school in the world."
Senator Depew was greeted with a round of applause which showed that his popularity had not waned at the Lotos. He began by telling a story of a rural friend who once had gone to hear Mark Twain lecture. Upon his return the Senator asked: "Hear Mark?" "Yes." "Was he funny?" "Yes, funny, but not damn funny." Mr. Depew then said:
"I learned later that my friend had listened to a lecture by the Rev. Joseph Cook. Our friend Mark owes his distinction to that faculty so much abused in politics and business - humor. Every man who has made a success in politics has been handicapped by being a joker. I never yet met a man who had made a fortune who could tell a story or get off a joke. I never yet saw a man worth $1,000,000 at any function who didn't want to get back to the office in five minutes. No man can make $1,000,000 if he is funny.
"That's nothing against the man with the $1,000,000 or the man who makes a joke. It simply shows that there are two avenues, and some of us take one and some the other.
"Tonight's Evening Post had a leading article on two distinguished citizens, one of whom had recently died, the paper said - Mr. Bryan and myself. Of the late lamented Mr. Bryan The Post said that he had lost the opportunity of being President by lowering himself in his speeches to the level of the common people, and as far Depew, no one who jokes can be President. Having followed Bryan through the canvass, I never expected to be bracketed with him, but I'm willing to have my chances of being President classed with his.
"I believe that when a man once gets to be President of the United States, if he has with and humor, they add enormously to the distinction, but that he can never get there if it is known beforehand. Lincoln was not known outside of Illinois when he ran for President, but after he got to be President he began illustrating anything he wanted the people to understand by humor, and he became the greatest factor we ever had in American politics. Lincoln once said to me: 'I know they say I lower the dignity of the Presidential office, and that I don't rise to its high plane, but I have found that the plain people are more easily influence by broad, humorous illustrations than any other way, and young man, I don't care what hypercritical people say.'
"It gives me great pleasure to appear before an assembly which comprises so much of the journalistic, artistic, and bohemian circles of our great American Commonwealth. I am pleased with the honor to unite here with you in praising the distinguished guest. He began life in a humble sphere, a characteristic of all men rising to distinction in our country. He became at one time connected with the transportation interests of the land. If he had continued in that sphere he might some time have reached the lofty position of President of one of the great carrying companies of our country. Although he began humbly in the pilot house of a steamboat, I am assured by one who knew him that he had the respect of the passengers and the confidence of the owners of the boat. I am not sure but he made a mistake when he left path for the path of literature. He has a genius unique which has secured him recognition on both sides of the Atlantic, and as an American citizen I thank him. Had he abandoned humor for the higher walks of literature which Homer and Aristotle ornamented, I'm not sure but he would have achieved greater distinction. Now, that's the candidate's speech, and I hope The Post will give me credit for being equal to the job if I should take it."
Senator Depew then told a new joke on the guest of the evening. The story was that while in London he had received a draft from America for [pounds] 1,025, and attempted to cash the duplicate of it after cashing the original, believing it was another draft. At the first bank he went to, Mr. Depew said they told Mr. Clemens that he was a great humorist, but if it wasn't a joke they would send for the police. At the Union Bank of London he was detained while a man from the Home Secretary's office was summoned. The latter, Mr. Depew said, told the humorist that his reputation was a glory to the literary world, but in order not to destroy the coridality between the two nations he though Mr. Clemens had better go home. "And that," said Mr. Depew, "is why Mark Twain is here tonight."
The laughter that followed was mingled with calls for an explanation from the man the joke was on, so Mr. Clemens accommodated them. He said the story was not all true as told. "I am," said he, "a literary person and not acquainted with commercial details. I got the draft, and in a day or two I got another just like it, which was a gratifying surprise. I thought it judicious to cash them one at a time. I cashed the first one, but I didn't know what to make of the other, but I thought likely the bank had forgotten it had sent the first one. I needed advice, so I went to Mr. Depew, laid the whole circumstances before him, asked him what he would do about it, and he said he would collect it. and that's what all the trouble was due to. I went from place to place, and couldn't get any one to pay that draft, and finally I suspected Depew."
JOHN KENDRICK BANGS.
John Kendrick Bangs was then introduced. He began his remarks with a few jesting allusions to Mr. Clemens's observations on Senator Depew's railway interests, and in proceeding, said:
"I must confess that I have listened with some astonishment and regret to the address of the gentleman who edits an evening paper in the Brooklyn end of Greater New York. I greatly enjoyed Mr. McKelway's interesting lecture on 'Humor and Humorists' until he reached a point where he failed to mention - well, he omitted two great New Yorkers, Governor-elect Odell, who, as a little joker in the political pack has recently proved quite a pronounced success in his own especial line, and - another, a great favorite of mine whose omission reminds me of an experience of my own in a previous state of existence. I was trying to get into politics at the time and it took all that my friends could do to keep me out. They succeeded, however, but during that brief but bitter period I was introduced to 'a willing voter.' He was more willing than I was, so I lost him. It seems that I was no better known to him as a combination than as a candidate, for, after gazing at me for a moment with that bewildered expression which the meek and lowly always feel in the presence of the truly great, he observed, huskily: 'My God! Are you John Kendrick Bangs?' 'Yes,' said I. 'Well, by Heavens,' said he, 'Ol've seen you, and Ol've seen your name, but Ol'll be damned if I ever put the two together before!'
"Maybe that is the case with Mr. McKelway and his omission of the name of - my favorite author, from his list of the elect. He has seen his name and he has seen his work, but the combination of "humorist" did not suggest itself to him. all of which taken together with other incidents this evening rather clears up a situation which has somewhat perplexed me. I could not understand why, however welcome the task, I should be honored with an invitation to help the Lotos Club in doing honor to our distinguished guest. As the evening has worn on, however, the reason has become obvious. It is quite evident that, in order, to heighten the glory of Mark Twain, the Committee of Arrangements have invited to act as a back ground to their effulgent guest all the second-class humorists of this country and abroad - Gov. Odell of Newbury, Thomas Brackett Reed, and St. Clair McKelway of Missouri, and John Hare and Senator Depew of London and Sandringham respectively. How successfully they have carried out their brilliant idea the speeches we have listened to attest.
"Now I suppose that even the mouse which crept into the lion's cage was glad in spite o his physical shortcomings that he belonged to the four-footed order of beings, just as did the more massive creature upon whom he called to pay his respects. I am entitled, therefore, in spite of my own shortcomings, to take pride and please in being one of the biped family who have essayed to make the world happier and brighter by calling attention to the lighter side of life, and whatever my failings may have been I shall leave this gathering tonight with a swelling head as well as with a swelling heart, because as far as I personally am concerned I regard it as a sufficient distinction in my calling to have been permitted to lay my tribute of affectionate esteem and earnest appreciation at the feet of the great philanthropist to whom we are doing honor tonight and in this company.
"The speeches at the Lotos Club are as a rule so numerous and so long that it rarely happens that the majority of speakers get a chance to say anything until the next morning, so I shall not detain you with any remarks of mine tonight further than to say that the milestones along the footpath of Mark Twain from the insignificant beginnings along the brilliant way to success which he has so persistently followed for so many years, and which has led him into and found for him there a home in the hearts of the English speaking people everywhere are not unlike the little guideposts on 'The Footpath to Peace,' which have been so beautifully and eloquently described by Dr. Henry Van Dyke, himself a humorist of no mean order, in his charming prose poem of that name. Dr. Van Dyke's poem is copyrighted, but I know he will forgive me if I read it in part to you in my ardent wish to do honor to the man we pay homage to tonight. It reads as follows:
" 'To glad of life, because it gives you the change to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars; to be satisfied with your possessions, but not contented with yourself until you have made the best of them; to despise nothing in the world except falsehood and meanness, and to fear nothing except cowardice; to be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgust; to covet nothing that is your neighbor's except his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners; to think seldom of your enemies and often of your friends, and to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God's out-of-doors - these are little guideposts on the footpath to peace.'
"It seems to me, Mr. President, that it is because that in and between every line he has written, the sweet underlying principles of the creed of peace, as set forth by Dr. Van Dyke, have shone conspicuously forth, Mark Twain is regarded by most of us as a gift of divine Providence. His work is full of the gladness of life, it is full of incentive to love and to work, it is full of play. It is full of God's out-of-doors. the humorist has been satisfied with his possessions, but it is apparent that he has not been contented with himself until he has made the best of them. There is no note of fault-finding in anything that he has done., save when falsehood and meanness give reason to its being, and that he has feared nothing save cowardice, has been shown by the noble and courageous fight which he has made under conditions so adverse that they would have overwhelmed a man of less strenuous fibre. He has been governed by his admirations rather than by his disgusts, and in his kindness of heart and gentleness of manners, he has had no reason to covet even his neighbor, for these were gifts which were lavished upon him in richest profusion from the beginning of his span.
"It is these qualities that have made the humor of Mark Twain a cherished possession in every home of this land, and which will keep his name alive and reverence d by all who love that which good and uplifting, long after he and we have passed unto the unknown."
Secretary Chester S. Lord then gave those present another opportunity for a hearty laugh by reading a letter from F. Hopkinson Smith, in which Mr. Smith accused Mark Twain of having taken his overcoat and of not returning it. Mr. Clemens was again called on to defend himself, and confessed that he had been guilty of taking the overcoat, but had returned a handkerchief he had found in one of the pockets.
Joseph C. Hendrix spoke briefly and eulogized Mr. Clemens. "The guest of the evening," he said, "told us that he felt a personal loss at being free of debt. I am prepared, on Monday morning, to remedy that if he will give his note, for every banker in the United States knows that note will be paid."
Augustus Thomas paid a brief tribute to the guest of the evening, who, he said, was the foremost humorist of his time.
Three Other Speeches by Mark Twain.
Mark Twain made three speeches at the reception tendered him by the New York Press Club on Monday night. He was first introduced in most glowing terms by the President of the club, Col. William L. Brown, whereupon he said:
"And must I always begin with a regret - that I have left my gun behind? I've said so many times that if a gentleman introduced me with compliments and then sat down I'd use a gun. But as I haven't the gun I am going to give this Chairman of yours a dose of his own medicine.
"Gentlemen, you behold before you an old, old man. His features would deceive one. Apparently he is hardened - a person dead to all honest impulses. On these features are the marks of unimaginable crime, and yet the features belie themselves. Instead of having led a life of crime, as his face indicates, he began in a Sunday school - and will end there. He has always led an exemplary life - one of those lives that make you think of all the long words in the vocabulary that suggest virtue, virtue which he appears to have, but has not. His public history has been merely a deception, milestoned every now and then by misdemeanors. But these misdemeanors were only the effervescences of a great nature, the accidents of a great career. He really has all the virtues known, and he practices them - secretly. Gentlemen, you know him too well for me to further prolong this introduction."
Mr. Clemens sat down, and the victim of his joke said a few words to turn the tables on him, in which, needless to say, the victim was unsuccessful. Then Joseph I. C. Clarke took the floor, and told how Mr. Twain had discovered that the foundation of all humor in life was seriousness. He found that all fun comes from tears, and so he has been making fun of the American people for the last one hundred and fifty years, maybe longer. Why, this Mark Twain once made a Scotchman laugh.
Mr. Clarke closed his talk with the story of how the humorist drew, must after the Franco-Prussian war, a map of Paris, showing the position that the German Army had occupied by the picture of a depleted brewery. Then Mr. Twain got up again and said:
"I rise this time without invitation, in order to defend myself. [You need it, you need it," interrupted Col. Brown.] "Yes," Mr. Twain went on, "and there are others here older than I that need it more. What I was going to say was this: I don't mind slanders and that sort of thing. The facts are what I object to. I don't want anybody to know my true history, and I appeal to you journalists to keep it from getting abroad. When you live as long as I have you'll find out that the world knows you much more favorably than you know yourself. I tell you, when you wake up in the morning feeling bad and thinking yourself a pretty low down kind of a creature it is not on account on what the world things or the slanders of other people, but on account of some infamous deed you have committed and which nobody but yourself knows anything about.
"Now, the things that those Westerners said about me were all slanders. there was no truth in them. The true things that I did in that region they didn't know, so they couldn't tell them. If they could, they would have put me in a hole.
"I have not been an alleged humorist. I have been a wise man, a Solomon. I have kept secret the things I have done. But it is no wonder that those people told slanderous tales about me; I would have done the same thing for another man.
"Mr. Clarke is right in saying that the foundation of humor is seriousness, gravity. Contrast is what brings out humor. To show you that this is true, I will tell you how I came to draw that very map of Paris which he spoke about. It was in 1870 or 1871, I think. In my home was a very sick friend of ours. For days and nights my wife and I sat up and worried. What made the stain worse was the fact that we did not know where to locate the family of our sick friend. In vain we made inquiries to discover what was their Post Office, so that we might reach them by wire. It was no use, and the strain continued for three long weeks. At the end of that time I was completely worn out, exhausted, miserable. Then came the reaction. I sat down and took a big M and made the map of Paris.
"But when I went to print the map it was upside down. I had forgotten that the cut of a map had to be made reversely in order to have the map look right on paper. The thing that I printed didn't look any more like Paris than like New York; it was a sight to behold. But it was published, nevertheless, and some people said it was very humorous. Under it I placed a dozen explanatory notes, but they didn't explain. Then I attached some more notes, without improving the value of the map as a map. But folks said it was funny. Some American students in Berlin took it from one beer mill to another and laughed over it; then some native Germans got hold of it and talked excited German about it. These Germans saw nothing funny in it, and there was humor in that very fact. Now, you can see how a very sad experience resulted in arousing my humor, for if it hadn't been for that sick friend of ours, I would never have drawn the map of Paris."
Mr. Clemens was followed by Mr. Hennessey, who began by saying that he had never read any of the humorist's books. Then John W. Keller said he had read all those books, and declared that newspaper men had no greater source of inspiration than the writings of Mark Twain. Mr. Clemens followed with is goodnight talk. He said:
"I want to say good night. Times have changed, you know. I am old. I am reformed, too. I am just as competent to run all night as I ever was, and more competent to discuss Scotch whisky when it is good - and I see many before me who can do that. But when one becomes respectable, one must go home early. It is to protect my reputation that I am going. The last time I was with you I was like the rest of you - not respectable.
"All the slanders that were poured upon me tonight - I know, were pure artificialities. The compliments paid me were the only things that had the imprint of truth. I shall take the compliments home and forget the slanders.
"I have one thing to say before I go. Of all these slanders there is only one that rankles, and it is not a slander on me, but on the man that said it. He said he had never read my books. Now that hurts. Really, I can't understand it. He seemed so intelligent, so intelligent. But how could he be so under the circumstances? If he hasn't read those books, his intelligence must be artificial. Mr. Keller has read them, and he simply oozes intelligence; he is brimming over with it.
"I bid you good night, and thank you very much."
Another dinner in this city to Mark Twain in honor of his return home is announced. It will be given by the Aldine Association at its rooms, 111 Fifth Avenue, on Tuesday evening, Dec. 4. The Committee of Arrangements expects to secure a number of other prominent guests.
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