Vol 3 Section 0286

236                                                                        1899

The Clemens family entrained at Vienna’s Nordbahnhof early on a chilly Thursday morning, March 23, 1899. Their route took them eastward through what is now Czechoslovakia—Pressburg/Pozsony (Bratislava), Galanta, and Ėrsekújvár (Nové Zámky), Slovakian towns then under Hungarian rule—to some surpassingly beautiful scenery from the “Danube bend” (Duna-kanyar) opposite Visegrad and the Buda hills south to the western (Nyugati) station in Pest. They arrived at the Hotel Hungária in Pest at teatime. A note from a reporter for Magyar Hirlap, offering a 1,000-forint note “for the pleasure of a few minute’s interview with Mr. Clemens” awaited them. The interview, published the next day, had been interrupted and foreshortened, however, so Mark Twain could get to the journalists’ association banquet at eight o’clock [54-5].

Katona writes of an interview even before that of the Magyar Hirlap, by “an enterprising young reporter” on the train, who asked his questions “in the presence of his [Twain’s] wife and daughters.” The interview ran the following day (Mar. 24; see entry) in the daily Pesti Naplo, under the heading “With Mark Twain from Galanta to Budapest”[110]. The full text of the interview may be found in Katona’s earlier article in Hungarian Studies Review, 9, No. 2 (1982) p.73-81. Note: neither the Magyar Hirlap nor the Pesti Naplo interview are in Scharnhorst.

Katona agrees with Dolmetsch as to the motivation of the Hungarian journalists, and adds this, even given the “snobbish attitude of the Budapest intelligensia that considered Mark Twain vulgar”:

We should not rule out another, more serious motive either. The occasion itself reminded radical Hungarians of America, the country of freedom and democracy. Ever since the first Hungarian travelogue on the United States appeared in 1834, radicals and liberals upheld America as the model country of the free press and of freedom in general. After the tragic defeat of the 1848/49 Hungarian War of Independence, many Hungarians, among them Lajos Kossuth, the leader of the revolution, went to America. The presence of a great American writer at the Jubilee Celebration must have delighted all those who, even decades after the 1867 Compromise with Austria, harbored feeling of resentment against the Hapsburgs for crushing the revolution. As an American, Mark Twain was the perfect symbol. Since he was highly celebrated in Vienna, he was a safe choice [110].

Sam’s notebook: March 23, ‘99—Budapest. Speech at Jubiliee of Emancipation of the Hungarian press-banquest” [NB 40 TS 55].

Katona writes of Sam’s arrival:

As soon as the picturesque sight of the Danube Curve caught his attention he demonstrated in unmistakable terms that he wished to be left alone [by the Pesti Naplo reporter interviewing him]. On the arrival, though, at Nyugati railroad station, where he was greeted by a cheering crowd, Mark Twain took leave of the young reporter with a few kind words [110].


The banquet that evening was of a quite different sort from the Concordia “Festkneipe” honoring Mark Twain fifteen months earlier. This was a ceremonial occasion to observe formally and with due solemnity the anniversary of freedom of the press in Hungary. The American guest was not expected to give an address or be the main attraction but merely to make some appropriate remarks in response to the general speechifying. This he did with the utmost diplomacy, according to Anna Katona, who notes that in the Budapesti Hirlap report the next day, Mark Twain was quoted as making “a sharp distinction between liberty of the press, which criticizes vice, and licentiousness, which encourages it” [55].

Dolmetsch further points out that Sam kept another speech in his pocket, the one he sent the last lines to Tuohy of the N.Y. World , one called “German for the Hungarians,” which was later erroneously thought by Albert Bigelow Paine to have been given on Mar. 26. Dolmetsch writes the speech not given would have been “singularly inappropriate if not outrageously offensive,” as it dealt with “the sensitive subject of the Ausgleich, (an agreement ratified each ten years uniting Austria and Hungary in their foreign policy) treating it comically.”

SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.