Vol 3 Section 0490

436                                                                        1900

Bangs, Albert Shaw, Robert Bridges, Clarence C. Buel, George Haven Putnam, Charles Scribner, George P. Brett, Arthur H. Scribner, Frank H. Scott, Edward Bok, William W. Ellsworth, Frank N. Doubleday, Col. G. B. M. Harvey, Major James B. Pond, Robert W. Smith, Winfield S. Moody, Fletcher H. Bangs, Ernest D. North, Charles F. Chichester, Laurence Hutton, Hamilton W. Mabie, Henry Loomis Nelson, F. A. Deneke, Augustus Thomas, Capt. Joshua Slocum, David A. Munro, and Francis W. Halsey. The speeches were made by Bishop Potter, Joseph Jefferson, Mark Twain, James W. Alexander, George Haven Putnam, Capt. Slocum, John Kendrick Bangs, John Fox, Jr., and Augustus Thomas.

The dinner was remarkable for the decorations of the rooms. These had been arranged by Alexander W. Drake. Mr. Clemens and Mr. Mabie, the toastmaster, were framed in by a pilothouse, from the corners of which were suspended colored lights and the cornice of which bore the name of Alonzo Child, the name of one of the steamboats which Mr. Clemens used to pilot on the Mississippi River. The walls were festooned with hanging moss, and here and there were suspended oranges, gourds, and other Southern growths, while catfish were sailing about in aquariums.

Mr. Clemens found in these decorations the principal themes for his speech, which was reminiscent and constantly delightful. When the dinner was first arranged, an understanding was entered into with Mr. Clemens that the speeches should not be reported. He felt that the public tributes already paid to him fully supplied the public needs. The committee, while differing from him, respected his wishes, and The New York Times Saturday Review must do the same.

William Webster Ellsworth wrote reminiscences of the evening in his 1919 A Golden Age of Authors: A Publisher’s Recollection:

It was Mark Twain who called my attention to the fact that Hamilton W. Mabie was the best presiding officer at a dinner he had ever seen. We were going home from a banquet which had been given in Mark Twain’s honor at the Aldine Club (December 4, 1900). Mabie had presided, introducing the speakers most happily, although Mark Twain himself had received the cue to his own speech from the decorations and the remarkable atmosphere which our Drake had created. In those days Drake’s taste and tireless work made many notable dinners more notable. All the pillars in the room that night were made to look like trees, with branches growing out of them; and from the branches and from the ceiling drooped Southern moss sent up from Florida. Ship’s lanterns of gleaming brass, choice bits of Drake’s collection, hung, red-eyed, in the distance. Mark Twain sat in a pilot -house, made exactly like a Mississippi River pilot- house, except that it was open at the front and sides. On a half-circle sign above it was lettered the name of a steamboat which our guest had piloted [Alonzo Child ], and before him, on the table, was half of a helmsman’s wheel. He was much touched by the tribute, and when he spoke he gave us whole chapters out of “Life on the Mississippi” which came back to him in those surroundings [243-4].

Harper’s Weekly p.1203 ran “Aldine Club Dinner to Mark Twain,” by

Burton. Tenney: “A photograph of MT and other guests at the dinner, with indentifications but no other text” [32].

December 4 afterAt 1410 W. 10th in N.Y.C., Sam wrote to Mr. Lee on the reverse side of a galley proof of “The Surprise Party to Mark Twain,” by William Dean Howells (see Nov. 22; Dec. 15 entries).

“Dear Mr. Lee— / No, it’s lovely. I haven’t any suggestions to make” [MTP]. Note: This was written on the back of the galley proof for the cartoon [MTHL 2: 726]. Mr. Lee is not further identified.

Insert: cartoon from Puck, Dec. 5, 1900

December 5 WednesdayAt 1410 W. 10th in N.Y.C., Sam wrote to John

Y. MacAlister. After some delay caused by registering the letter, Sam got

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