Vol 3 Section 0492

438                                                                        1900

Frederic de Peyster Foster, President of the society, who presided and acted as toastmaster, had to his right and left at the guest table the Rev. Dr. Donald Sage Mackay, Dr. Lewis J. Parker, Baron Gevers, Minister from the Netherlands; Gen. Brooke, Admiral Barker, Nicholas Fish, Julien T. Davies, Frederic J. de Peyster, Gen. William E. Dodge, William Pierson Hamilton, ex-Judge Henry E. Howland, James G. King, and George Blagden.

Among the prominent members and guests at the small tables were Henry S. E. Davies, L. C. Deming, Bayard Dominick, Col. De L. Floyd-Jones, Austin G. Fox, Prof. Frank Goodnow, Dr. W. Tod Helmuth, Frederick A. Julliard, Ex-Surrogate Rollin M. Morgan, J. Rutgers Planter, Consul General from the Netherlands, Philip Rhinelands, R. B. Roosevelt, John H. Starin, Paul G. Thebaud, A. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer, John W. Vrooman, Evert Jansen Wendell, Prof. Barret Wendell, and Cornelius B. Zabriskie.

It was late in the evening when the first lull came in the hum of the banquet hall, and Toastmaster Foster, dressed in his sash and headgear of office, greeted the procession of standard bearers and pages and started the speech-making by saying that the past year had been a feast of plenty for the society.

He said the society had given the State a Governor and the country a Vice President. He referred to Gov.

Roosevelt as a Hollander of the truest type.

In the midst of a selection by the boy choir of Grace Church, Mark Twain entered the banquet hall in custody of a committee who had been sent in a cab to seek him out at his home, he having delayed to put in an appearance at the banquet. The humorist limping a little from the effects of a rheumatic attack, was led up to he guest table, where the diners arose and gave him long-continued applause.


[cut for length here]


When Mark Twain arose to respond to the toast “Our City,” he was cheered for fully five minutes. “These are prosperous days for me, he said. “Night before last Bishop Potter complimented me and

thanked me for my contributions to theology. [Laughter.] Tonight the Rev. Dr. Mackay has elected me to the priesthood. [Laughter.] I thank both these gentlemen for discovering things in me which I had long before discovered, but which I had begun to fear the world at large would never find out. [Laughter.]

“Returning to New York after an absence of nine years, I find much improvement in it—a great moral improvement. Some think it is because I have been away, [laughter] but the more intelligent think that it is because I have come back. [Laughter] But we’ll not discuss that. Let’s get down to the business end of this toast—our city.

“We take stock of a city like we take stock of a man. The clothes and appearance are the externals by which we judge. We next take stock of the mind, the intellect. These are the internals. The sum of both is the man or the city. New York has a great many details of the external sort which impress and inform the foreigner. Among these are the sky scrapers, and they are new to him. He hasn’t seen their like since the Tower of Babel. He is shocked by them. I am not.

“As seen by daylight these skyscrapers make the city look ugly. Too chimneylike—like a mouth full of snags. Like a cemetery with all monuments and no gravestones. But at night, when the great walls of masonry are all a-sparkle, the city is fairy-like. It is more beautiful than any other city since the days of the Arabian Nights. When the disgruntled foreigner has exhausted his objections by day, let us float him down the river by night.

“Certainly the skyscraper has its advantages, and we don’t need to apologize for it. Then we have elevators in them that elevate—not like the cigar boxes of Europe called ‘lifts.’ The European lift is always stopping to reflect between floors. That’s well enough in a hearse horse, but not in an elevator. [Laughter.]

“In Europe, when a man starts to the sixth floor on a lift he often photographs his family so he may recognize them when he gets back. [Laughter.] Then look at our cable and trolley and elevated cars. They are the cleanest, simplest, most comfortable in the world, and all of them were created and conferred upon us by the New York hackman. [Laughter.] He did it, and we ought always to be grateful to him. We have a custom of erecting monuments to our benefactors. We owe him one. Not a permanent one, maybe. We might build it of plaster, and, after gazing upon it for a while, tear it down.”

The reference to the Dewey Arch was quickly perceived and applauded by the audience.

The speaker then went on to describe the London bus and underground roads.

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