“This is not a matter of sentiment, my dear Sir. It is simply practical business. I am doing this, just as any citizen who is worthy of the name of a citizen should do. He has a distinct duty. He is a non-classified policeman. It is his duty to aid the police and magistracy.
“Here is a man who is a perfectly natural product of an infamous system. It is a charge on the lax patriotism in this City of New York that this thing can exist. You have encouraged him in every way you know how to overcharge. He is not the criminal here at all. The criminal is the citizen of New York and the absence of patriotism. I am not here to avenge myself on him. My quarrel is with the citizens of New York who have encouraged him. I should not be excused for failing to bring a charge against a man who assaults me with a club to rob me. If this man attempts to rob with without a club, then why should I refrain from making the charge?”
Then Marshal Roche said:
“I stand ready at all times to receive and adjudicate on complaints of such outrages. I first inflict a reprimand, and then I suspend the driver’s license.”
This short speech was delivered with great gravity. A twinkle came into Mr. Clemens’s eyes as he said:
“It seems to me that if the people only knew how easy it would be to come here and receive consideration at this official’s hands, if they only knew your stand, Mr. Marshal, they would feel more at liberty to present their grievances to you.”
“I stand ready to serve the public at any and all times,” said Marshal Roche.
“We stand for hours at a time without a fare, and you can’t blame us if we make it up when we get one,” said Mr. Byrnes.
“A pirate might advance that argument,” said Mark Twain, with droll emphasis.
“Now, see here, gents,” yelled Marshal Roche, “this hearing’s off!”
Mr. Clemens tipped his hat, and said: “Good afternoon, Mr. Marshal.”
Marshal Roche bowed low, after offering to help Mark Twain with his coat. Mr. Clemens walked out of the dark basement. Marshal Roche, in his office, mopped his brow, shook his head, and said:
“What a damn fool that cabman was!” [ Note: “Jehu” slang for driver; William Beck was caught a short time later driving with a suspended license. See NY Times, Nov. 29, p.14,which reported that Beck and his employer were trying to have Twain withdraw his charges against Beck “in return for a written apology”.]
The New York World, p.12, also reported on the cabman flap with “Mark Twain Bests a Grasping Cabman” [MTCI 377-84].
Macnaughton observes Sam’s risk for ridicule in taking the cabman to court, and cites the incident as another example of Mark Twain’s influence in social change:
Although he was made the butt of a few jokes for his supposed quixotism, the consensus was favorable; here, most people realized, was a famous man who wanted to change conditions by beginning with individual responsibility; such an action should be applauded and emulated [146-7].
Sam spoke at the gathering of women in the Public Education Association at the Berkeley Lyceum [Fatout MT Speaking 360-3]. Fatout introduces Sam’s remarks, followed by the text of the New York Times, Nov. 24, p.9:
The Public Education Association, of which Mrs. Schulyer Van Rensselaer was president, fostered education by free lectures and by concern for school equipment, teaching methods, health, and safety, particularly in the slums of New York’s East Side. At the annual meeting of the association, a large audience of several hundred women did not discompose Mark Twain, who startled the ladies by his forthright anti-imperialism . In part:
MARK TWAIN TO WOMEN
Public Education Association Complimented by the Humorist.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.