MARK TWAIN LIVING UP TO HIS DEGREE
Honor Conferred Upon Him by Oxford Seems to Have Sobered Him.
IS EXCESSIVELY SOLEMN
Says England Welcome Has Impressed Him Greatly - Calls Ceremony at Oxford Beautiful.
Copyright, 1907, by THE NEW YORK TIMES CO.
LONDON, June 29. - When I saw Mark Twain at Oxford the day after he had received his degree he seemed to have been converted into a very sober man. Maybe he has recovered by this time, but on Thursday he acted as though he thought something really serious had happened [to] him when Oxford University dubbed him "Dr. Samuel Langhorne Clemens." He seemed to have determined to live up to the dignity of his new title.
I met Dr. Clemens at the home of Robert P. Porter, where he was most charmingly entertained all through his stay at Oxford. It was high noon and the doctor had just come downstairs after sleeping off the weariness of being burdened and weighed down with honors. He was a changed man, quite different from the Mark Twain who had cracked jokes at the Pilgrims' luncheon two days before. He was excessively solemn even for an American humorist off duty. When I asked for his impressions of the great reception given to him in England, the doctor was not disposed to banter or indulge in airy quips.
"Naturally," he replied, in a most deliberate manner, "I was much impressed by my reception here. However, I have refused to be interviewed up to this point, and don't feel any more like it now than before."
The doctor paused and gazed at me stonily, but his austere manner seemed to give way a bit as once more he remarked: "Naturally, I am much impressed."
A gleam of humor shone in his eyes as he said to me:
" 'Naturally' is a good word. Take it down."
But if he had a sudden impulse to indulge his humor, he promptly suppressed it, and, becoming once more the solemn Dr. Clemens, went on to say:
"The ceremony was all most venerable and beautiful, and I was greatly moved by it. I have met hundreds of people here and have been touched, deeply touches, by all their various welcomes. They have all greeted me with great heartiness. From the Sheldonian Theatre, where the degrees were conferred, to All Souls, where luncheon was served, the way was lined with spectators. Of all things, I was most moved to see how the walk was walled in with people of both sexes and all classes."
That was all the doctor had to say about Oxford. He went on to make a modest explanation of the familiarity of the English people with his writing.
"The actual number of my books circulating here may well be greater than in America," he said. "The reason is the difference in price. A book costs a shilling or two here and a dollar or two in America."
The doctor appears to be enduring the strain of continued excitement remarkably well. The rest he had at Mr. Porter's quiet home no doubt did him good. They took good care of him there, but not without considerable effort, for the house was besieged by would-be visitors and interviewers. The hero of the hour, besides many letters of congratulation, has received hosts of begging letters and letters from poor authors.
Mrs. Porter told me that the butler at a neighboring house at which Mark
Twain dined on Thursday had bought and read all Mark Twain's books. "I
am delighted to think I shall have the honor of serving him at dinner,"
said the butler.
BANQUET TO MARK TWAIN.
Given by the Lord Mayor of London - Twain Visits Miss Corelli.
LONDON, June 29. - Mark Twain was the guest of honor tonight at a banquet at the Mansion House, at which the Lord Mayor had as his guests 250 members of the Savage Club and others, including Lord Chief Justice Alverstone, Dr. Nansen, and Sir William S. Gilbert.
Mark Twain, replying to a toast to the honorary life members of the Savage Club, entertained the guests with several stories of American humor, which highly amused them. In concluding, he touched a more serious note, saying:
"And now I am going home in a week or two, across the ocean once more. I came over to get an honorary degree from Oxford. I would have encompassed the seven seas for an honor like that - the greatest honor that has ever fallen to my share.
"Well, I am young in spirit, but old in flesh, and it is not likely that I shall ever see England again, but I go with the recollection of a gracious, kindly welcome, for which I am grateful."
Mark Twain continues, after King Edward to be the most prominent personage in England. Today he visited Marie Corelli at Stratford-on-Avon. A crowd welcomed the American humorist at the railroad station on his arrival there from Oxford, cheered him, and followed his carriage as it drove away.
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