One of the most daring and ingenious of our critics of literature lately has been classifying Mark Twain with Aristophanes and Rabelais. The classification can do no harm to anybody, not even to Mark Twain, while it certainly does credit to the heart of the critic. Mr. Clemens is assuredly one of the great men of this hour, which, from a practical point of view, is better than being either Aristophanes or Rabelais. The author of "Huckleberry Finn," the recorder of the experiences and emotions of a cub pilot on the Mississippi, lacks nothing of his large due of appreciation here or abroad.
Mr. Clemens sails to-day for Italy, with his wife, who has long been an invalid. It is hoped that a long stay in that climate may restore her to health. One the eve of his departure Mr. Clemens signed a contract with a publishing house of Harper & Brothers which, according to Mr. George Harvey, the President of that corporation, assures to Mr. Clemens and his children a competence for all their lives. Mr. Clemens assumes that this is the fulfillment of a prophecy uttered by Chiro [Chiero], the palmist, in 1895, that the humorist would come into a fortune in his sixty-eighth year, which will be completed next month.
These important and cheering facts were made known to a few of Mr. Clemens's
many friends at a dinner party given in honor of the great humorist by Mr. Harvey
at the Metropolitan Club in this city last Thursday evening. In the company
were Messrs. J. Pierpont Morgan, W. D. Howells, H. H. Rogers, H. M. Alden, J.
Henry Harper, W. M. Laffan, Melville E. Stone, Edward Lauterbach, John Kendrick
Bangs, Hamlin Garland, Will N. Harben, Frederick A. Duneka, James H. Hyde, George
G. Ward, James McArthur, F. T. Leigh, John I. Waterbury, St. Clair McKelway,
T. J. Coolidge, Jr., and A. D. Chandler. Words of good cheer were spoken to
Mr. Clemens at this feast, and he, who always has known how to bear his burdens
lightly, was as buoyant and companionable as ever. But all felt that it was
saying "good-bye" to a man of advanced years, just starting on a long
voyage to be gone indefinitely.