Home | Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search

The New York Times, March 5, 1906

Bungle at the Majestic Theatre Angers Y. M. C. A. Men.
Mr. Clemens Gives Some Advice About the Treatment of Corporations and Talks About Gentlemen.

Members of he West Side Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association found that entering the Majestic Theatre yesterday afternoon to hear an address by Mark Twain had a close resemblance to a football match. No one was injured, but for a few minutes the police were hustling the crowd backward and forward by sheer force, a mounted man was sent to push his way through the thickest of the press and the jam was perilous.

The doors of the theatre should have been opened at 3 o'clock, and about three hundred persons were there at that time. It was an orderly crowd of young men with a sprinkling of elderly ones, but Capt. Daly of the West Forty-seventy Street Station would not allow them to be admitted until he has summoned the reserves. It took twenty minutes for these to arrive and every moment the crush grew greater. Still there was no disorder and the police as they formed into line had to face nothing more dangerous than a little good-humored chaff.

The crowd was ranged in a rough column facing the main doors of the lobby. The Young Men's Christian Association authorities came out several times and asked the Captain to allow the doors to be opened.

"If you do it, I'll take away my men and there'll be a lot of people hurt or killed," he replied. "I know how to handle crowds."

Then he proceeded to handle the crowds. He tried to swing the long solid line up against the southwestern side of Columbus Circle and force them in by the side entrance of the lobby, instead of the one they faced. First he sent a mounted man right through the column. The patrolmen followed and in a moment the orderly gathering was hustled and thrust in all directions.

Capt. Daly's next maneuver was to open the side door. The crowd surged up, but he had them pushed back, and closed the door again. The crowd was utterly bewildered. Then the Young Men's Christian Association authorities opened one-half of the door on their own responsibility. Through this narrow passage the crowd squeezed. The plate glass in the half that was closed was shattered to atoms, and the men surged forward. A few coats were torn, but in spite of the way in which they had been handled everybody kept his temper. If there had been any disorderly element present nothing could have avoided serious accidents. In the end all but 500 gained admission.

Hold Police Responsible.

At the opening of the meeting, the Rev. Dr. Charles P. Fagnani, the Chairman, said: "The management desires to disclaim all responsibility for what has happened. [Cheers.] The matter was taken out of their hands by the police. [Hisses.] You have been accustomed long enough to being brutally treated by the police, and I do not see why you should mind it. [A voice: "You're right."] Some day you will take matters into your own hands and will decide that the police shall be the servants of the citizens."

At the end of the meeting, Charles F. Powlison, Secretary of the West Side Branch, stated he had been asked to submit a resolution condemning the action of the police, but it had been decided it was better not to do so.

Mark Twain was introduced as a man "well worth being clubbed to hear." He was greeted with a storm of applause that lasted over a minute.

"I thank you for this signal recognition of merit," he said. "I have been listening to what has been said about citizenship. You complain of the police. You created the police. You are responsible for the police. They must reflect you, their masters. Consider that before you blame them.

"Citizenship is of the first importance in a land where a body of citizens can change the whole atmosphere of politics, as has been done in Philadelphia. There is less graft there than there used to be. I was going to move to Philadelphia, but it is no place for enterprise now.

"Dr. Russell spoke of organization. I was an organization myself once for twelve hours, and accomplished things I could never have done otherwise. When they say 'Step lively,' remember it is not an insult from a conductor to you personally, but from the President of the road to you, an embodiment of American citizenship. When the insult is flung at your old mother and father, it shows the meanness of the omnipotent President, who could stop it if he would.

Mark Twain Got the Stateroom.

"I was an organization once. I was traveling from Chicago with my publisher and stenographer - I always travel with a bodyguard - and engaged a stateroom on a certain train. For above all its other conveniences, the stateroom gives the privilege of smoking. When we arrived at the station the conductor told us he was sorry the car with our stateroom was left off. I said: 'You are under contract to furnish a stateroom on this train. I am in no hurry. I can stay here a week at the road's expense. It'll have to pay my expenses and a little over.'

"Then the conductor called a grandee, and, after some argument, he went and bundled some meek people out of the stateroom, told them something not strictly true, and gave it to me. About 11 o'clock the conductor looked in on me, and was very kind and winning. He told me he knew my father-in-law - it was much more respectable to know my father-in-law than me in those days. Then he developed his game. He was very sorry the car was only going to Harrisburg. They had telegraphed to Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and couldn't get another car. He threw himself on my mercy. But to him I only replied:

" 'Then you had better buy the car.'

"I had forgotten all about this, when some time after Mr. Thomson of the Pennsylvania heard I was going to Chicago again and wired:

" 'I am sending my private car. Clemens cannot ride on an ordinary car. He costs too much.' "

Definition of a Gentleman.

Mark Twain went on t speak of the man who left $10,000 to disseminate his definition of a gentleman. He denied that he had ever defined one, but said if he did he would include the mercifulness, fidelity, and justice the Scripture read at the meeting spoke of. He produced a letter from William Dean Howells, and said:

"He writes he is just 69, but I have known him longer than that. 'I was born to be afraid of dying, not of getting old,' he says. Well, I'm the other way. It's terrible getting old. You gradually lose things, and become troublesome. People try to make you think you are not. But I know I'm troublesome.

"Then he says no part of life is so enjoyable as the eighth decade. That's true. I've just turned into it, and I enjoy it very much. 'If old men were not so ridiculous,' why didn't he speak for himself? 'But,' he goes on, 'they are ridiculous, and they are ugly.' I never saw a letter with so many errors in it. Ugly! I was never ugly in my life! Forty years ago I was not so good-looking. A looking glass then lasted me three months. Now I can wear it out in two days.

" 'You've been up in Hartford burying poor old Patrick. I suppose he was old, too,' says Howells. No, he was not old. Patrick came to us thirty-six years ago - a brisk, lithe young Irishman. He was as beautiful in his graces as he was in his spirit, and he was as honest a man as ever lived. For twenty-five years he was our coachman, and if I were going to describe a gentleman in detail I would describe Patrick.

"At my own request I was his pall bearer with our old gardener. He drove me and my bride so long ago. As the little children came along he drove them, too. He was all the world to them, and for all in my house he had the same feelings of honor, honesty, and affection.

"He was 60 years old, ten years younger than I. Howells suggests he was old. He was not so old. He had the same gracious and winning ways to the end. Patrick was a gentleman, and to him I would apply the lines:

So may I be courteous to men, faithful to friends, True to my God, a fragrance to the path I trod.

When inquiries were made last night at the West Side Branch as to whether a complaint of the action of the police would be made by the association to Commissioner Bingham, it was said to be improbably that any official action would be taken.

Return to The New York Times index

Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search