MARK TWAIN MAKES SOME PARTING REMARKS
Comments on Aristophanes, Rabelais, Dowie, and Mrs. Eddy.
Henry W. Lucy Arrives and the British and American Humorists Tell Stories About Each Other.
Henry W. Lucy, the British humorist, better known as Toby, M. P., arrived in this country yesterday morning with his wife on the Cunard Line steamship Lucania for a five weeks' visit. Shortly after he arrived Mark Twain sailed for Italy on the North German Lloyd steamship Prinzessin Irene. Mr. Lucy, as he came off of the steamship, had a note in his hand which, he said, was from Mark Twain. It read: "You arrive this morning, and I sail this afternoon, in order to avoid you."
In explaining the note, he said:
"Some time ago Mark Twain and I were at a surprise dinner to E. A. Abbey, the artist when he proposed to me that we start a paper called The Obituary. We were to print the life of every living man of prominence, send him the proof, and ask him for 50 pounds for suppressing the story. I considered the matter and wrote to Twain that it was agreeable to me. Since then he has made every effort, and successfully, to keep of my way."
Before Mark Twain sailed he was told what Lucy had said, and he replied:
"That's true, we did talk it over, and I think there never was a better paying institution that could be devised. You see, the idea was to write the most scandalous things about a man while he was alive, and tell him it would be published at the time of his death unless he paid to have it kept out of the papers. If the man paid handsomely, we would allow him to alter the proof and cover up the spots on his career. There are very few men who have not some spots that can be artistically covered. He could cut the proof, add to it, or polish it as much as he wished, but he had to pay for that. He could have as many of the copies of the paper in which the article was printed as he wished, and in the end he could, by paying enough money, get as good a reputation as he wanted, and one of which his family could be proud.
"We had no circulation to our paper, for you see the circulation end is the losing end. When I got home I found I could make more money by Twain than by two, so I gently but firmly had to eliminate Lucy from the money proposition. I calculated that he would not land until tomorrow, or else I should not have sent the note until today. But he is a good fellow, and I hope he will do well. However, his situation reminds me of what St. Clair McKelway said to me when he learned that the Harpers had promised me a pension for life in consideration of work I had promised to do for them. 'Col. Harvey is living on hope', he said, 'while you are living on a certainty.' "
At the pier Mark Twain was occupied n getting eighteen pieces of baggage, and his wife, two daughters, and another lady who, like Mrs. Clemens, is an invalid, on board the ship. Some one suggested that Mr. Clemens was having a great deal of trouble.
"Well," he replied, "I always was sorry for Father Noah; he had so much trouble getting all of his animals aboard the ark. But you see I'm peevish today. I have absorbed all of my wife's pugnacity, and all of my daughters' audacity."
At the pier a Tax Assessor from Tarrytown was waiting for the humorist. When Mr. Clemens appeared the Assessor stepped up to him and said, an anxious look in his eyes, "When are you coming back?" Mark Twain did not answer, but turning to the reporters, said:
"I don't own the Casey House at Tarrytown; I have only rented it for a year. As a matter of fact, I am tired of renting four houses and being able to occupy but one. I don't see that it matters to that fellow at what time I am going to return."
It was remarked that in THE SATURDAY BOOK REVIEW of THE NEW YORK TIMES mention had been made of the fact that Mr. Clemens had been compared with Rabelais and Aristophanes.
"Rabelais, yes," he commented. "Aristophanes, no. I never knew Aristophanes personally. All of what I know of him was told me by William Dean Howells. I get quite a confused idea of what he was like. Sometimes I think of him sailing up the English Channel with Sir John Hawkins; again, I think of Aristophanes as the Greek physician, and again as an Italian virtuoso. If I had lived in the fifteenth century I should have been Rabelais. I know him from top to bottom."
"When you wrote 'Huckleberry Finn' and told of the King, who after stripping was pained as the tiger for the circus, did you have Dowie in mind?" somebody asked.
A deep frown came over the author's face and he replied:
"I can't trace the slightest resemblance, for I have never seen Dowie disrobing. I have a presentiment that I am to meet Dowie in the next world, but I do not know where. If I had him in one place I will go to the other. I don't care how hot or how cold it is, but I do not want to be in the same place where he is. I want society in the next world, but not that of Dowie or Mrs. Eddy."
Just before the vessel sailed a note from Mr. Lucy brought his love and his wishes for a good voyage.
Mr. Lucy went at once to Larchmont, where he will spend a few days, when he will return to lecture.
"Major Pond once made me an offer, " he said, "and if he could make money on me why can't I make it on myself? I shall lecture on 'Peeps Into Parliament' and 'Prime Ministers I Have Known.' The former is taken from my collection of sketches in The Strand. I did not intend to lecture when I started, but came here to study America and Americans, but I cannot resist taking some of your money back with me."
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