Mr. Miller is thoroughly competent to entertain you with his sketches
of the old-time negro, and I not only commend him to your intelligent
notice, but personally endorse him. The stories I have heard him tell
are the best I ever heard.
I think that Prince Henry in not hearing you and your wonderful four
at Carnegie Hall, has missed the only thing this country can furnish that
is originally and utterly American. Possibly it can furnish something
that is more enjoyable, but I must doubt it till I forget that pair of
musical earthquakes, "The Watermillion" and "Old Dan Tucker"
THE SOUTH'S CONTRIBUTION
Polk Miller recently called on the great humorist in New York and thus describes his visit in the columns of the [Louisville, KY] Courier-Journal:
"On going into his room, I found him in a recumbent position in the bed, smoking a cigar, 'one at a time,' with a huge pile of newspapers, magazines and writing material on all sides. He greeted me most cordially, and, although I tried to go, fearing that I was taking up time that was valuable to him, he woud'nt hear of it, and for nearly four hours we talked about the time when we first met: when he, James Whitcomb Riley and I faced the great crowd of New Yorkers in an entertainment at Madison square. He never got tired of talking about the Old South, and laughed and cried, alternately, when I would tell him of something which recalled his boyhood days in Dixie. Mark Twain is a southern man, with a heart full of love for his native section, but broadened as he is by intimate contact and long association with the people of the north, he is an American of the highest type, with the ability to see the peculiarities which differentiate the people of both sections of our great country without losing in any way his affection for and identity with both.
"During my stay with him, when we spoke of that grand civilization which was destroyed by a war in the south and the baneful influences of the carpetbag reign which followed, and from which we are still suffering, a stranger looking in on us would have thought that we were weeping over the departure of some near relative. When I brought up some little incident characteristic of southern plantation life, which none but those who had been reared here could appreciate, Mark's eyes would fill up, and for several minutes a dead silence prevailed. His long absence from us, so far from dulling his sensitive southern nature, has intensified his love for those things which a cold, calculating money-making and money-loving people are pleased to call "sickly sentimentalities," I told him of a thing which happened to me when I was at the Mary Baldwin Seminary in Staunton, VA., a few months before, lecturing on the 'Characteristics of the Old South.' In this school nearly all of the states of the Union are represented, but the majority of the girls are from the south. During my talk I had something to say about the people of Kentucky, and sang 'My Old Kentucky Home.' The very minute that I struck the air a perfect flood of tears came from the Kentucky girls, and it broke me up. The telling of it broke Mark Twain up, too, and when he had recovered from its effects, he said: 'Polk, the next time you go to that school, telegraph me, and I'll be on hand, for I am anxious to witness one more time a scene which could have happened nowhere else but in the south.'
may this good man live to brighten the lives of the people, not only
of this country, but of all lands, and when he dies we should raise
a monument to his memory as one who has drunk deeply of the fountains
of nature, and who comes nearer knowing human nature than any other
man who has lived since the days of Shakespeare."
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