TRIBUTE TO TWAIN BY HIS HOME FOLK
His Writings Clean Because He Was Clean, the Toast of Missourians.
A FORERUNNER OF REFORM
"The Gilded Age" an Up-to-Date Story of Grafters, Says ex-Gov. Folk - F. Hopkinson Smith's Eulogy.
The men and women in New York who come from Missouri, the State that produced Mark Twain, held their annual dinner last night at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and almost every speaker paid a tribute to the great humorist.
F. Hopkinson Smith said that he had been asked to attend the dinner and say something about Mark Twain because he was from Virginia, the State that gave birth to Twain's father. "Tonight there lies cold in death almost within the sound of my voice," went on Mr. Smith, "a clean-minded man, whose pen stood for all that is beautiful in literature.
"There was never a line from his pen that left a sting. There was nothing bitter; no sarcasm, no irony, no so-called mud-slinging; and that; too, in an age when misjudging is rampant. There was not a sentence he wrote which the purest of women could not read with pleasure. Because he was clean, therefore none of his output could be otherwise.
"I ask, Mr. President, that we rise and drink a silent toast to the memory of Mark Twain."
The suggestion was acted upon with alacrity.
"We mourn tonight the death of Missouri's most famous son," said ex-Gov. Joseph W. Folk. "He had a deeper insight into nature than any author in the last century, not excepting Dickens himself. 'The Gilded Age,' he wrote twenty-five years ago describes the ways and doings of grafters better than any book written in recent years. His works have made millions of lives brighter, and the world is better for his having lived in it."
Mark Twain as a Reformer.
Ex-Gov. Folk thought that Mark Twain's works had marked the beginning of the great reform movement that has been sweeping over this country, and is still doing its work of regeneration. After the Civil War, he went on, people were busy trying to adjust their business and household affairs, and there was full opportunity for the sowing of the seed of corruption and their growth. Then the people, of whom the majority is always honest and straight, saw what had happened, whereupon there was a beginning made to clean out the houses of Government.
In passing he spoke approvingly of the work now being done by Mayor Gaynor and by Gov. Hughes. The Mayor's action in the matter of excise, keeping the police as far removed from contact with saloon men as possible, Mr. Folk said, was a strategic move against graft; for wherever privileges are enjoyed somebody at some point along the line steps in and asks payment for that enjoyment.
He mentioned Gov. Hughes in stating the markers that point how far the reform movement has got in this country and State.
"Ten years ago," he went on, "can you think of your Legislature investigation itself, and even throwing one of its members out? Now it comes out as a matter of course.
"But these investigations and exposures do not prove that there is more graft and vileness in Government now than they used to be. The newspapers tell more about them, because the public conscience is aroused and wants to know about them. There is more told now than used to be; there is not so much done that calls for telling."
Speaking of the ways of grafters Mr. Folk declared that they know very well that if a clear issue of right and wrong be put before the public the immediate verdict will be for the right; and, therefore, the grafters always adroitly manage to complicate the main issue with other questions, some of them popular, so as to bewilder and confuse men of even the best intentions.
[This article continues without further mention of Twain.]
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