Vol 3 Section 0829
W. D. Howells read what he called a double-Barrelled sonnet, prefacing it with the apology that Mark Twain did not lend himself well to the sonnet, as verse must be smooth, while his method was the inspired higglety-pigglety.
After Col. Harvey had restrained Mark Twain’s attempt to reply and had told of various experiences on board Mr. Rogers’s yacht, where Mr. Clemens had a hard time of it, Mr. Thomas B. Reed took the humorist in hand, saying, in part:
“One of Mark Twain’s defects and shortcomings arises from inaccuracy—inaccuracy of statement. For instance, in this trip to which Mr. Harvey has alluded, there was a storm, and Mr. Rogers heard a noise in the next stateroom, and he stepped in, and there he found Mr. Twain, clothed in his favorite raiment—a nightshirt and an overcoat—vibrating backward and forward in the somewhat circumscribed limits of the stateroom, and upon being asked what he was doing he said he was hunting for a match. Asked what he intended to do with it when he did find it, he said he intended to sit on it.
“Now, in my judgment, history will reason with Mr. Twain on that subject. It will not accept his statement without further proof in the nature of affidavits, because you see at once, if he had found that match and laid it down lengthwise, and if he had sat upon it, it would not have given him either fixidity of purpose or of body, nor would it have elevated him in the world in the slightest degree. If the match had been put upon end, it was certainly a very improper thing to suppose that he could balance himself against the laws of gravity in that way, and if the match was aflame, sitting upon it, especially in that costume, would not have been a safe or wise or sensible expedient.”
Mr. Depew told about a time at Hamburg when he and Mark Twain met the present King of England. “Mark was walking with me,” he said, and his trousers were too short, because they had been worn too
long; the sleeves of his coat had the same general expression; his linen was clean, but his hat had lost the nap. The Prince of Wales came along about that time and wanted to know who this apparition was, and when I told him it was Mark Twain he wanted an introduction. Well, I lost Twain shortly after, because at that time royalty had a charm for him which the ordinary American citizen did not possess, and he stuck to the Prince, much the same as the waiter once said to me when I had given him a dollar and nobody else had given him much of anything: ‘I will stick to you like a duck to water.’ Well, the Prince gave a dinner to which I was invited, and at that dinner the Prince said to me: ‘I would have invited Mark Twain if I thought he had any clothes.’ I said: ‘Mark has clothes,’ and he said: ‘Then bring him down immediately and we will have a night of it.’ So Mark came down and we had a famous dinner, and he told the same story I had told the night before!”
Mr. Mabie told of the time when a certain religious newspaper in Boston was called The Fireside Companion, and then, with the change of modern habits and modern methods of heating it was called The Christian Register. It was this sort of modern progress Mark Twain represented.
Dr. Henry Van Dyke read a poem. John Kendrick Bangs also read a poem in which he proved that Twain was really Adam.
When at last Mr. Clemens himself got a chance he said in part:
“Tom Reed has got a good heart and he has got a good intellect, but he hasn’t got any judgment. He has had a good deal to say about that yachting cruise last Spring down in the West Indies in Mr. H. H. Rogers’s yacht. We went down there to hunt up Martinique and start up that volcano, and that was a remarkable voyage in various ways.
“We had a storm, so I got out of my berth at 2 o’clock in the morning, and went up to the poker chapel to see if I could find anything to hang on to, and presently I heard Tom Reed lumbering up that companionway and grunting and blaspheming, and butting the bulkhead, carrying on—land! I thought something was the matter with his appendicitis. Then he appeared, he appeared up there in his pajamas, and he was going it. Well, he said: ‘I couldn’t stay in my berth at all, it’s wet!’ ‘Why,’ I said, ‘you old thing, you ought to be ashamed of yourself—scared to that extent.’
“A lot of accounts have been settled here to-night for me; I have held grudges against some of these people, but they have all been wiped out by the very handsome compliments they have paid me. Even Wayne MacVeagh, I have had a grudge against him many years. The first time I saw Wayne MacVeagh was at a private dinner party at Charles A. Dana’s, and when I got there he was going on, and I tried to get a word in here and there—but you know what Wayne MacVeagh is when he is started, and I could not get in five words to his one, or one word to his five. I struggled along, and—well, I wanted to tell, and I was trying to tell a dream I had had the night before.
“It was a remarkable dream, a dream it was worth people’s while to listen to, and it was a dream such as the revivalists describe, some general reception in heaven, and I got along. I was on a train, and had stopped
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.