Speech at the Twentieth Century
club in Boston, Nov. 4, 1905.
Reported in Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 5, 1905, p. l.
"Mark Twain Talks Peace."
Boston. Nov. 4.--Mark Twain was the star attraction to-day at the Twentieth
Century Club's weekly debate. Dr. Benjamin F. Trueblood, secretary of
the American Peace Society, and Mr. and Mrs. Edwin D. Mead, famous peace
advocates, who had just returned from Europe, were the other guests of
the club. Mrs. Mead and Dr. Trueblood spoke first.
Mark Twain's introduction was greeted with a great chorus of applause,
in which he heartily joined, and when quiet was restored Mr. Clemens said:
"I thank you for this applause. It is the more welcome because I
suppose it is a token of forgiveness for what I did some thirty feet back
there, when I was applauding myself. Your president, it seems, spoke my
name, and I didn't hear it. Everybody else seemed to be clapping their
hands, and as I thought it was the right thing, I joined in. Of course,
that was a wrong thing, but I am always committing some such mistake.
But the only thing I'm sorry for is that I got caught. I have got over
all those feelings of delicacy which are supposed to belong to good society,
and now I don't care for anything so long as I keep out of jail.
"Most everybody gets into the habit of applauding when they see
others at it, and, for one, I can't resist. Besides, I get so used to
compliments that I can't sleep nights unless I get about so much butter
"I am different from those other people who have been speaking.
This problem of universal peace used to be one of the uppermost things
in my mind. I used to study over it. No, I will not say that I really
studied; I thought about it--how to get universal peace. It bothered me,
but I kept growing nearer and nearer to a solution, and at last I came
"But the very day I thought I had solved it I was summoned to the
presence of an emperor. The first thing he asked me was what I was doing
nowadays. I told him I had been working out a problem--the problem of
universal peace--and that I had solved it, that I had found the only way--there
was no other.
"Then he wanted to know how I was going to bring it about, and I
told him: 'I am going to get a chemist--a real genius--and get him to
extract all the oxygen out of the atmosphere for eight minutes. Then we
will have universal peace, and it will be permanent.'
"I took my goods to the wrong market. Emperors don't want peace,
permanent or temporary, on any such basis. They don't want any race suicide.
What they want is people, and then more people. I was pretty coolly received
by this emperor, and so was my proposition. And so I let it go. Every
time I think I have found a solution of the difficulties some one comes
along and upsets it.
"And that reminds me: Four years ago China bought two German missionaries.
She paid $100,000 apiece for them, although they were not very active
at the time. But there are several hundred missionaries in China, and
I'd be glad to sell 'em all at the same price. I don't believe we have
got down to where we want to thrust our civilization on innocent people.
"In 1892 there were eleven missionaries in China, and in that year
they had a catch of 3,200 converts. Judson Smith called it 'a harvest.
There were 82,000 pagans being born every day in China, and we were converting
them at the rate of 2 1/2 a day. So it would take quite a while to get
"These young people who have been talking before I began still have
an interest in the human race. But in my case the clock may strike seventy
years any minute. I am so near it that I don't feel that kind of interest.
"Let's see about this interest in the human race. Every one who
has it wants to know how anything done will affect 'me.' The human race
exists in his own person. He is wise, while no others are wise, and therefore
are of no use on this globe.
"But I have got where I can look upon the human race from a dispassionate
attitude. I am so near out of it that there is no use in my trying to
solve its problems.
"Nothing can be accomplished except through statesmanship! Great
and noble profession! A mass of foolishness! The statesmanship of now
is to build ships--ship for ship for each and every nation, until we have
250,000 warships for each nation. Then we must still go on until finally
we will be all ships.
"No, I am not able to find a solution of this problem. But I hope
these young people--with nothing else to do--will keep on, for it will
never be done by anybody who has anything else to do."