SHAW MEETS TWAIN AND EXPLAINS HIM
English Reporters Learn That He Always Writes with Serious Intent.
THEY TAKE COPIOUS NOTES
And Twain Tells Them How He Goes Through His Day and Other Things.
Copyright 1907, by THE NEW YORK TIMES CO.
LONDON, June 18.--"A number of these pests," said Bernard Shaw to Mark Twain, indicating by a gesture that he was referring to a great congregation of English newspaper reporters who stood about him and Twain in a great circle, "just asked me whether you were really serious when you wrote 'The Jumping Frog.' "
Thus was opened a brief conversation that followed the introduction of Mr. Shaw to Mr. Clemens by Prof. Victor H. Henderson. Mr. Clemens had come to receive a degree from Oxford University. Prof. Henderson had crossed with him on the Minneapolis and had come up to London with him on the boat express. Mr. Shaw had come to St. Pancras station to meet Prof. Henderson, who is an old friend of his.
"Yes," Shaw went on, "these pests asked me that, and I told them what I thought to be the truth."
"No doubt," broke in Twain, "I'm sure that you did me full justice. I have every confidence that I was quite safe in your hands."
"Certainly you were," asserted Mr. Shaw. "I told them that I had read everything good that you had written, and I was able to give them the fullest assurance that you always wrote seriously.
"Mr. Shaw," said Twain, "I assure you that I can return the compliment." With this Twain winked at the English journalists, who at once burst into laughter that somewhat disturbed Mr. Shaw's equanimity. He did not know that Twain was loaded.
Just as the merriment was subsiding, a nondescript individual with a basket under his arm broke through the journalistic circle and invited attention to a young bull pup.
" 'Arf a guinea buys 'im, Guv'nor," he insinuatingly remarked to Mr. Shaw, " 'Arf a guinea, only two dollars 'n 'arf for the best bull pup in England. Larst one I've got, Guv'nor."
I'm not an American," protested Mr. Shaw. "Sell him to Twain. He has got American money."
But Twain, although he deeply longed for the bull pup, resisted the temptation to buy. Directly he had got rid of the pup peddler, he bade good-bye to Mr. Shaw and moved to a cab. By that time he had been more than three hours under the examination and cross-examination of the newspaper men, but he was not tired. He seemed to enjoy every minute of the time.
It was my fortune to meet him on the deck of the Minneapolis while he was taking his ante-breakfast promenade. I gave him the latest copies of THE NEW YORK TIMES and received his thanks.
"I always like to read THE NEW YORK TIMES," he said. "It prints only the news that's fit to print, and as I have been told I am in my second childhood, I like to read a paper which I know will not exert an contaminating influence on me. Old men cannot be too careful, you know."
Before he could say any more the London reporters got at him, every man with a notebook in his hand. Twain had a delightful time with them. They fired all sorts of questions at him, and he fired back all sorts of answers, every one of which was religiously recorded in the note books.
"Is the world growing better?" one youthful scribe inquired, and Twain solemnly answered.
"Yes, I think so. You know, I have been here almost seventy-two years, and--but, really you must not ask me to say more on this subject. I am a very modest man, and prefer not to speak of my achievements."
Some of the other questions reminded me of passages in "Innocents Abroad."
In the course of the morning Twain gave out a new scheme according to which he regulated his daily life. He asked the reporters to be ery careful to take down his words accurately, as the publication of the scheme might be brought to be helpful to others.
"Every morning," said he, "as soon as I'm up, I smoke a cigar, and then have breakfast at 8 o'clock. After breakfast, I smoke another cigar, and then go back to bed. At half past 10 I smoke another cigar and start dictating to my stenographer. I finish at 12 o'clock, and dose off till 1. I smoke another cigar and eat lunch. Then I go back to bed and read what the newspapers have to say about me. I smoke more cigars until half past 6. Then three assistants dress me for dinner, evening parties, &c., after which I associate with elite society till 1 o'clock in the morning. I never go to bed till my daughter turns out the lights, and then I smoke in the dark.
"My constitution is improving all the time."
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