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The New York Times, April 20, 1906

Begs the Audience at His Last Public Lecture to be Liberal.
Humorist Speaks in His Old Vein for the Benefit of the Fulton Memorial Association.

Mark Twain's last words on the public lecture platform were an appeal for charity to alleviate human suffering. He delivered his public valedictory at Carnegie Hall last night, and in announcing with a tinge of sadness that he appeared in the role of a public lecturer for the last time, he begged New York to aid the victims of the disaster in San Francisco.

"Now," he said to the audience which filled the hall, "since I must, I shall say good-bye. I see many faces in this audience well known to me. They are all my friends, and I feel that those I don't know are my friends, too. I wish to consider that you represent the Nation, and that in saying good-bye to you I am saying good-bye to the nation.

"In the great name of humanity, let me say this final word: I offer an appeal in behalf of that vast, pathetic multitude of fathers, mothers, and helpless little children. They were sheltered and happy two days ago. Now they are wandering, forlorn, hopeless, and homeless, the victims of a great disaster. So I beg of you," he concluded, raising his head and stretching out his arms in appeal, "I beg of you to open your hearts and open your purses and remember San Francisco, the smitten city."

Mr. Clemens later talked to the newspaper reporters about earthquakes on the Pacific coast.

"I haven't been there since 1868, he said, "and that great city of San Francisco has grown up since my day. When I was there she had 118,000 people, and of this number 18,000 were Chinese. I was a reporter on The Virginia City Enterprise in Nevada in 1862, and stayed there, I think, about two years, when I went to San Francisco and got a job as a reporter on The Call. I was there three or four years.

"I remember one day I was walking down Third Street in San Francisco. It was a sleepy, dull Sunday afternoon and no one was stirring. Suddenly as I looked up the street about three hundred yards the whole side of a house fell out. The street was full of bricks and mortar. At the same time I was knocked against the side of a house and stood there stunned for a moment.

"I thought it was an earthquake. Nobody else had heard anything about it and no one said earthquake to me afterward, but I saw it and I wrote it. Nobody else wrote it, and the house I saw go into the street was the only house in the city that felt it. I've always wondered if it wasn't a little performance gotten up for my especial entertainment by the nether regions."

Mr. Clemens delivered his lecture last night for the benefit of the Robert Fulton Memorial Association, which is to erect a monument in New York to the memory of the man who applied steam to navigation.

"I wish to deliver a historical address," he began. I've been studying the history of - er - a - let me see - a," then he stopped in confusion and walked over to Gen. Fred D. Grant, who sat at the head of the platform. He leaned over in a whisper and then returned to the front of the stage and continued:

"Oh, yes! I've been studying Robert Fulton. I've been studying a biographical sketch of Robert Fulton, the inventor of - er - a - let's see - oh, yes, the inventor of the electric telegraph. Also, I understand he invented the air - diria - pshaw! I have it at last - the dirigible balloon. Yes, the dirigible - but it is a difficult word, and I don't see why anybody should marry a couple of words like that when they don't want to be married at all and are likely to quarrel with each other all the time. I should put that couple of words under the ban of the United States Supreme Court, under its decision of a few days ago, and then take 'em out and drown 'em.

"And Fulton was born in - er - a - well, it doesn't make much difference where he was born, does it? I remember a man who came to interview me once, to get a sketch of my life. I consulted with a friend - a practical man - before he came, to know how I should treat him.

" 'Whenever you give the interviewer a fact,' he said, 'give him another fact that will contradict it. Then he'll go away with a jumble that he can't use at all. Be gentle, be sweet, smile like an idiot - just be natural.' That's what my friend told me to do, and I did it.

" 'Where were you born?' asked the interviewer.

"Well - er - a,' I began, 'I was born in Alabama, or Alaska, or the Sandwich Islands; I don't know where, but right around there some where. And you had better put it down before you forget it.

" 'But you weren't born in all those places,' he said.

" 'Well, I've offered you three places. Take your choice. They're all at the same price.'

" 'How old are you?' he asked.

" 'I shall be 19 in June,' I said.

" 'Why, there's such a discrepancy between your age and your looks,' he said. "

" 'Oh, that's nothing,' I said, 'I was born discrepantly.'

"Then we got to talking about my brother Samuel, and he told me my explanations were confusing.

" 'I suppose he is dead,' I said. 'Some said that he was dead and some said that he wasn't.'

" 'Did you bury him without knowing whether he was dead or not?' asked the reporter.

" 'There was a mystery,' said I. 'We were twins, and one day when we were two weeks old - that is, he was one week old and I was one week old - we got mixed up in the bathtub, and one of us drowned. We never could tell which. One of us had a strawberry birthmark on the back of his hand. There it is on my hand. This is the one that was drowned. There's no doubt about it.'

" 'Where's the mystery?' he said.

" 'Why, don't you see how stupid it was to bury the wrong twin?' I answered. I didn't explain it any more because he said the explanation confused him. To me it is perfectly plain.

"But," continued Mr. Clemens, "to get back to Fulton; I'm going along like an old man I used to know, who used to start to tell a story about his grandfather. He had an awfully retentive memory, and he never finished the story, because he switched off into something else. He used to tell about how his grandfather one day went into a pasture, where there was a ram. The old man dropped a silver dime in the grass, and stooped over to pick it up. The ram was observing him, and took the old man's action as an invitation. Just as he was going to finish about the ram this friend of mine would recall that his grandfather had a niece who had a glass eye. She used to loan that glass eye to another lady friend, who used it when she received company. The eye didn't fit the friend's face, and it was loose. And whenever she winked it would turn over.

"Then he got on the subject of accidents, and he would tell a story about how he believed accidents never happened.

"There was an Irishman coming down a ladder with a hod of bricks," he said, "and a Dutchman was standing on the ground below. The Irishman fell on the Dutchman and killed him. Accident? Never! If the Dutchman hadn't been there the Irishman would have been killed. Why didn't the Irishman fall on a dog which was next to the Dutchman? Because the dog would have seen him coming. Then he'd get off from the Dutchman to an uncle named Reginald Wilson. Reginald went into a carpet factory one day, and got twisted into the machinery's belt. He went excursioning around the factory until he was properly distributed and was woven into sixty-nine yards of the best three-ply carpet. His wife bought the carpet, and then she erected a monument to his memory. It read:

"Sacred to the memory of sixty-nine yards of the best three-ply carpet, containing the mortal remainders of REGINALD WILSON. Go thou and do likewise

"And so on he would ramble about telling the story of his grandfather until we never were told whether he found the ten-cent piece or whether something else happened."

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