SPEECHES BY THE GUEST, SENATORE DEPEW, EX-SPEAKER REED, ST CLAIR McKELWAY AND OTHERS.
The Lotos Club gave a dinner last night in honor of Mark Twain. The dinner was to begin at 6:30 o’clock. Mark Twain reached the clubhouse at 8 o’clock. Because of the anxiety of several members of the club, arising from a rumor that the famous author had been run over by a Broadway cable car, a delegation from the club was sent about 7:15 o’clock to the Hotel Earlington where Mark Twain is staying [he’d moved]. The delegation inquired how seriously the author of “Innocents Abroad” had been injured by the cable car, when Mark Twain himself appeared. On guessing the mission of his visitors the invited guest exclaimed:
“Why this is too bad! I had forgotten all about it. Just wait fifteen minutes and I’ll get right into my clothes.”
When Mark Twain reached the clubhouse he was escorted to the table of honor, which had been placed in a large doorway opening from the front drawing room into the café. The doorway was heavily festooned with oak leaves, red from the autumn’s frost. Both drawing room and café were filled with tables, and crowded with guests and members of the club. At the dinner two hundred persons were seated.
Frank R. Lawrence, president of the club, sat to the left of Mark Twain at the table of honor, and acted as toastmaster. …
MARK TWAIN RESPONDS TO A TOAST.
As Mr. Clemens arose in response to the toast which was then proposed in his name, Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., the Governor-elect, entered the rooms. The cheering for Mr. Clemens, together with that for Mr. Odell, became deafening. When Mr. Odell had taken a seat almost opposite the guest of the evening, Mark Twain arose, and, running his fingers through his long, white hair, looked about him on his hosts. There was a kindly smile on his face as he said:
I thank you all out of my heart. This reception is too great for a native of Missouri, and yet I am not the only Missourian here. Here is a Missourian: here is McKelway. Here is the greatest Missourian of them all! (Turning to Thomas B. Reed, who was seated on his left,) “Tom” Reed has well concealed his birth until now. Indeed, he says he has left politics and is leading a respectable life. Yes, he has found a new business to suit his make and constitution. That is, as I have every reason to believe, to raise the average of beauty.
Many things, it is true, have happened since I stood before you seven years ago. The president has made reference to my debts. Yes, that is the plain English of it. He has referred to the bankrupt firm of Charles L. Webster & Co. And right here I want to speak a word of the ninety-six men and women who were my creditors at that time.
PRAISES HIS FORMER CREDITORS.
There was a great deal of feeling in what the speaker said, and he paused several minutes before he continued:
I have the most kindly remembrance of those creditors. While all these praises are being uttered of me, I feel that my creditors are being slighted. Praises are due them more than me. In my times of troubles they did not add a finger’s weight to the burden that I had to bear. They treated me well. They said: “Don’t hurry, Mark, don’t worry, Mark. We are not anxious bout our money.” That is what they said to me. Oh, if I could always have that kind of creditors—
Here the laughter ended the sentence.
“Indeed” Mark Twain began again, “those creditors were even handsomer than Tom Reed.” The speaker bowed to his fellow guests and continued:
But we have fought a righteous war since I have been gone (cheers), and by the grace of God we have won, and we have set Cuba free. We have joined her to the other four great countries who enjoy the blessings of liberty. We started out to set the Filipinos free, and why our righteous purpose appears to have miscarried, I suppose we will never know (Laughter.) But we have done well in China. I tell you, the Yellow Fever is threatening the world to-day as it never did before. We didn’t know what the results would be. But we do know that our Government had no hand in evoking that terror, and has done all in its power to annihilate it. (Cheers.)
Comparing Sam’s remarks here with the Nov. 17, p. BR12 New York Time’s version (different even from the Times’ Nov. 11, p.5 account), perhaps reflects the practice then (and even now!) of journalists misquoting or “filling in” what was actually said. It is a shame we have no recordings of these events. The Times article gave the following notables at the main table: Frank R. Lawrence, Mark Twain,
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.