Vol 3 Section 0287
Sam also wrote to Joe Twichell:
It was a curious experience to-night, I didn’t make that speech, after all. When I got on my feet I got to talking with interest on a text dropped by the introducer, & I had a very good time; but when I got down to my ‘set’ speech it had wholly disappeared out of my memory…I think I will never embarrass myself with a set speech again. My memory is old & rickety & cannot stand the strain…I was glad I came. It was a great night, & I heard all the great men in the Government talk [MTP]. Note: catalogued as Mar. 22; speech given Mar. 23.
March 24 Friday – The Clemens family awoke to a blanket of snow in Budapest, Hungary. The family headed out for some sightseeing in spite of the weather. First they attended the visitors’ gallery of the new Parliament building. When they entered the chamber “all eyes turned to the celebrities.” Livy and her daughters had caught cold so returned after lunch to the hotel (Katona calls their malady “a touch of the flu” p.111).
Sam went to check out the hall at the Lipótvárosi Kaszinó (Leopoldtown Club) where he would read the next evening. Katona reports that Sam chatted with club members in the lounge . Afterward he went to the journalists’ club, Otthon (“home” in Hungarian) where he met the club chairman Jenö Rákosi, who introduced him to other members; Sam shared cigars and a glass of apricot schnapps, which was “too strong” for his taste (Katona reports this as “palinka,” or, Hungarian Vodka, p.112). The club instigated an impromptu phonograph recording of Mark Twain giving his “Patent Adjustable Speech,” the one which was made up entirely of cliché’s to be used for any occasion. Unfortunately the recording is now lost
[Dolmetsch 56-7]. Katona provides more details of this fascinating occurrence:
The highlight of the afternoon was a phonograph recording when the Hungarian humorist, Viktor Rakosi, nicknamed “Hungarian Mark Twain” was introduced. The record preserving Mark Twain’s voice has been lost. According to the coverage in BUDAPSTI NAPLO the following day, he gave a little talk about “the adjustable speech,”….Mark Twain listened to the phonograph replaying his talk, and then left accompanied by the cheers of his hosts” .
Katona calls this stop “the most important event that afternoon,” characterizing this club as “informal, easy-going atmosphere…where journalists gathered to feel at home, have a drink and exchange stories, jokes and anecdotes.” Dezsó Gondol gave a lecture in English in “which he called America the birthplace of European liberty and referred in no minor key to the reception given to Kossuth in the United States fifty years earlier. All this bears out the suggestion about possible political motives behind Mark Twain’s invitation. Mark Twain himself was visibly touched by the reference to his country as the homeland of freedom. Though he was only ten years old at that time—he said—he still had vivid memories of the enthusiastic reception given to Kossuth. Of course, at the time of Kossuth’s visit Mark Twain was sixteen rather than ten” . Note: “Patent Adjustable Speech” was first given on Dec.
20, 1887 in Boston. See entry, Vol. II.
Magyar Hirlap published the interrupted interview as “S.L. Clemens in Budapest.” Budd (137b): “SLC comments on his bankruptcy as publisher, harassment by interviewers, and the German language” [“Supplement” American Literary Realism 16.1 (Spring 1983): 69]. Note: Budd also reports (137c) a faked interview by the same paper.
Pesti Naplo published (in German) anonymously the interview made the day before on the train,“With Mark Twain from Galanta to Budapest.”. “The anonymous reporter perceptively described MT and his wife and two daughters (Jean and Clara–the latter ‘much more naughty and much more lively’). Topics discussed included the Clemenses’ familiarity with the German language, MT’s pen-name, his working habits, American interest in the patriot Lajos Kossuth, tobacco taxes, and the mistaken notion that America is a nation of millionaires. The account closes with a description of MT’s response to gypsy music at the Érsekujvár station, and then to the view as the
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.