MARK TWAIN TELLS HOW TO MANAGE AUDIENCES
They Believe Everything but the Truth, He Says.
AND HE WON'T EVER RETIRE
But Won't Talk for Pay Any More - All This Apropos of a Coming Lecture for Fulton Association.
Mark Twain will lecture in Carnegie Hall on Thursday night for the benefit of the Robert Fulton Memorial Association, of which he is Vice President. When he was requested by Gen. Frederick D. Grant to lecture Mr. Clemens was asked if he would deliver the lecture for a fee of $1,000. He replied that he had stopped talking for pay man years ago, and could not resume the habit without a good deal of personal discomfort.
He stipulated that he would lecture for the benefit of the Fulton Memorial Fund on condition that they keep the thousand dollars and add it to the fund as his contribution. Anyhow, he said, he loved to hear himself talk, because he got so much instruction and moral upheaval out of it. But the bulk of such joy was lost to him when he got paid for talking. He wanted to make it an occasion to retire permanently from the platform, whereupon Gen. Grant wrote a letter begging the humorist as an old friend not to retire for the platform, whereupon Mr. Clemens wrote in reply:
"I mean the pay platform; I shan't retire from the gratis platform until after I am buried and courtesy requires me to keep still, and not disturb the others. What shall I talk about/ My idea is this: To instruct the audience about Robert Fulton, and - tell me - was that his real name, or was it his nom de plume?
"However, never mind, it is not important; I can skip it, and the house will think I knew all about it and forgot. Could you find out for me if he was one of the signers of the Declaration, and which one? But if it is any trouble, let it alone, and I can skip it. Was he out with Paul Jones? Will you ask Horace Porter? And ask him if he brought both of them home.
"These will be very interesting facts, if they can be established. But never mind, don't trouble Porter, I can establish them, anyway. The way I look at it, they are historical gems - gems of the very first water.
"Well, that is my idea, as I have said; first excite the audience with a spoonful of information about Fulton, and then quiet them down with a barrel of illustrations drawn by memory from my books - and if you don't say anything the house will think they never heard it before, because people don't really read your books; they only say they do to keep you from feeling bad.
"Next, excite the house with another spoonful of Fultonian fact; then tranquilize them with another barrel of illustration. And so on all throughout the evening, and if you are discreet and don't tell that the illustrations don't illustrate anything they won't notice it. I will send them home as well informed about Robert Fulton as I am myself. Don't be afraid. I know all about audiences. They believe everything you say - except when you are telling the truth.
"P. S. - Mark all the advertisements 'Private and Confidential'; otherwise the people won't read them."
Hugh Gordon Miller, in arranging the programme for the benefit, wanted to know from Mr. Clemens how long he intended to talk, and the humorist answered:
"It is my custom to keep on talking until I get the audience cowed. Sometimes it takes an hour and fifteen minutes. Sometimes I can do it in an hour."
Then Mr. Clemens surprised Cornelius Vanderbilt, the President of the Fulton Association, by inviting the members of the Old Guard to bring their uniforms and band and sit on the lecture platform.
There will be many well-known New Yorkers at the benefit Thursday night, including Gen. Grant and his staff, several high city officials, Archbishop Farley, Dr. Felix Adler, Joseph H. Choate, George Gould, Andrew Carnegie, John Jacob Astor, Levi P. Morton, and Gov. Higgins and his staff. Cornelius Vanderbilt will preside.
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