JOAN OF ARC APPEARS TO STARTLE MARK TWAIN
Surprise Prepared for Him by Society of Illustrators.
THEIR GUEST AT DINNER
Andrew Carnegie shares the Honors of the Evening with the Humorist - Many Noted Guests.
Left to Right: Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Dan Beard, Sir C. Purdon Clarke, Rollo Ogden, Miss Angersten
This photo of the event appeared in the December 31, 1905 edition of The New York Times, Pictorial Section.
Mark Twain was the guest of honor at a dinner given last night at the Aldine Association by the Society of Illustrators. All the well-known magazine and newspaper artists were present, while other distinguished guests included Andrew Carnegie, Sir. C. Purdon Clarke, Caspar Whitney, Robert Collier, Jr., Norman Hapgood, Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Scribner, and Thomas A. Janvier, Frederick Remington, Henry S. Fleming, and Daniel Beard were on the Reception Committee.
It had been arranged that when the humorist arose to speak Miss Angersten, a well-known model, was to appear in the garb and with the simple dignity of Jean d'Arc, his favorite character in all history. He was on his feet as Jean d'Arc entered the room. She wore the armor of the French heroine and her hair and face made a strangely appealing picture.
The face of the humorist, which had been wearing its "company" smile all night, suddenly changed. He had every appearance of a man who had seen a ghost. His eyes fairly started out of his head, and his hand gripped the edge of the table.
Jean d'Arc presented him with a wreath of bay. He merely bowed, with his eyes fixed on the girl's face. They followed her as in reverent silence she passed out, followed by a little boy in suitable costume, bearing a banner over her head. Then Mark Twain spoke. His voice was broken, and his word came slowly.
There's an illustration, gentlemen - a real illustration," he said. "I studied that girl, Joan of Arc, for twelve years, and it never seemed to me that the artists and the writers gave us a true picture of her. They drew a picture of a peasant. Her dress was that of a peasant. But they always missed the face - the divine soul, the pure character, the supreme woman, the wonderful girl. She was only 18 years old, but put into a breast like hers a heart like hers and I think, gentlemen, you would have a girl - like that."
The humorist looked toward the door, and there was absolute silence - puzzled silence - for many did not know whether it was time to laugh, disrespectful to giggle, or discourteous to keep solemn. The humorist realized the situation. Turning to his audience he came out of the clouds and said solemnly:
"But the artists always paint her with a face - like a ham."
The rest of his discourse was taken up with reminiscences of Jack, one of the figures in his "Innocents Abroad." He told much that was new about Jack, but it was all tinged with the melancholy that has come to Mark Twain these days.
"What was his name, now?" he asked. "I can't remember names these days. Seventy years is a long time, gentlemen. You know the man I mean - the fellow that crossed the Holy Land in the first stagecoach. Come, now, some of you must remember. I can't think. Was it Robespierre, or John the Baptist, or Ben Franklin, who invented the guillotine? Why, yes!" he suddenly cried, "it was Carnegie's uncle! What was I thinking about? Mr. Carnegie and I got it all straightened out one day. It was his uncle who first crossed the Jordan in a stagecoach. Don't try to deny it, now. You admitted it when I fished up that family tree."
"I admit it," said Mr. Carnegie from his right. "It's wonderful, Mark, how names do slip one."
"Yes," said Mark Twain; "well I remember how your uncle got up on the end of that old stage coach at the Jordan ford and said he felt moved to speak. He said with tears in his voice how this was the Jordan, how yonder was the illimitable desert, over three hundred miles wide, over which Moses and his people had toiled for forty years to this spot - this spot hallowed in all history. And it was here that Jack interrupted and said: 'Moses who, uncle?' And your uncle said that it was Moses the poet, Moses the lawyer, the warrior, the guide who had guided his people for forty years over that three hundred miles of dreary sand.
"And," Mark Twain added, "your uncle always said that it wouldhave taken only thirty-six hours if they'd left out holidays."
Mr. Carnegie's speech made a real hit. He said in part:
"I wish I were young enough to be a fellow-student, but if you'll just count me in for tonight, I'll try to behave myself. all my life I've had this streak of Bohemianism in me. You can't tell how hard I tried to know Irving and dear old Joe Jefferson. I knew Bret Harte and Josh Billings - oh, Josh! Josh! - don't you young fellows thing for a moment that I'm not used to high society. But the dearest of all acquaintances, after I'd scraped and bowed to get it is - [his hand fell on Mark Twain's shoulder] - is Mark.
"It is a great thing to be able to say you have a friend like this. I remember how mad Josh Billings was because he did not meet Matthew Arnold when I received him at my house. However, he met him later, and I thought the apostle of sweetness and light would like to hear how Josh lectured and got his audiences.
" 'Well,' said Josh Billings, 'people want to know about the little things - all about them. If I told them the story of Jonah and the whale they'd want to know every detail. I told them all I knew, which was more'n the whale or Jonah ever knew; then they wanted to know what Jonah was doing in the whale's - society. It was society I started to speak about.
"But there's one literary mystery I want to see cleared up tonight!" said Mr. Carnegie. "It has been rumored that I am an author. I am. I will confess it now that I hold Mark Twain's affidavit - his signature - that I am the joint author of 'Pudd'nhead Wilson.' I can prove that the following passage was taken bodily from the lips of Andrew Carnegie:
" 'The fool saith in his heart: Do not put all your eggs in one basket.
" ' But the wise main exhorteth thus: Put all your eggs in one basket; then watch the basket.' -
"He took that from me!"
Mr. Carnegie sat down amid roars of laughter. He had outwitted Twain himself.
Other speakers of the evening were Rollo Ogden, editor of the Evening Post; Sir Purdon Clarke, and others. Sir Purdon spoke of "Dead Artists Whom Mark Twain May Have Influenced." He said that in England there were illustrated papers before there were illustrators and that they had been a disreputable lot - the illustrators - carefully making wood cuts from the old masters for the comic sheets and illustrating continued stories so that their employment had to last. He created much amusement.
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