at the Celestial Way Station—I had a through ticket—and I noticed a man sitting alongside of me that was asleep and he had his ticket in his hat; that was the remains of the Archbishop of Canterbury. I recognized him by his photograph. I had nothing against him, he didn’t object, he wasn’t in a condition to object, and presently when the train stopped at the heavenly station—well, I got off and he went on my request.
“There they all were, the angels, you know, millions of them, every one with a torch. They had a torchlight procession, they were expecting the Archbishop, and when I got off they started to raise a shout, but it didn’t materialize. I don’t know whether they were disappointed; I suppose they had a lot of superstitious ideas about the Archbishop and what he looked like, and I didn’t fill the bill, and I was trying to explain to St. Peter, and I was doing it in the German tongue because I didn’t want to be too explicit.
“Well, I found it was no use, I couldn’t get along, for Wayne MacVeagh was occupying the whole place, and I said to Mr. Dana, ‘What is the matter with that man? Who is that man with the long tongue? What’s the trouble with him, getting up a conflagration like this, without giving a man a chance; another incendiary, that long, lank, cadaver, old oil derrick out of a job, who is that?’ ‘Well, now,’ Mr. Dana says, ‘you don’t want to meddle with him, you had better keep quiet; just keep quiet, because that’s a bad man. Talk! He was born to talk. Don’t let him get out with you; he’ll skin you.’ I said: ‘I have been skinned, skinned, and skinned right along: there is nothing left.’ He says: ‘Oh, yes; that man is the very man, he is the very seed and inspiration of that proverb which says, “It’s no use how close you skin an onion, a clever man can always peel it again.” ‘ Well, I reflected, and I quieted down. That would never occur to Tom Reed. He’s got no discretion.
“When I was living in that village in Hannibal, Mo., on the banks of the Mississippi, and John Hay up in the town of Warsaw, also on the banks of the Mississippi River—it was a simple, simple life, cheap but comfortable, and we were good boys and we did not break the Sabbath often—not more than once a week. So we grew, John Hay and I, and now John Hay is Secretary of State and I am a gentleman.
“Another of my oldest friends is here—the Rev. Joe Twichell—and whenever Twichell goes to start a church I see them flocking, rushing to buy the land all around there. Many and many a time I have attended the annual sale in his church, and bought up all the pews on a margin and it would have been better for me spiritually and financially if I had staid under his wing. I try to serve him, I have tried to do good in this world, and it is marvelous in how many ways I have done good.
“Well, I like the poetry, I like all the speeches and the poetry, too, I liked Dr. Van Dyke’s poem. I wish I could return those in proper measure to you, gentlemen, who have spoken and violated your feelings to pay me compliments. There is your double guest, my wife and me, and we together out of our single heart return you our deepest and most grateful thanks—and—yesterday was her birthday.”
Note: The Times also ran an article listing all of the attendees:
MARK TWAIN ENTERTAINED.
Dinner in Honor of His Sixty-seventy
Birthday Given by Col. Harvey at the Metropolitan Club.
Mark Twain’s sixty-seventy birthday, which falls on Sunday, was celebrated at the Metropolitan Club last night by a dinner given in his honor by Col. George Harvey, editor of Harper’s Weekly and The North American Review, and President of Harper & Brothers, publishers. It was attended by fifty-three guests, most of them prominent in the literary world.
Mark Twain may or may not have read the notices of his demise which certain newspaper paragraphers have from time to time inserted in their papers prematurely as an excuse for the perpetration of a real or imagined witticism, but last night he laughingly listened while John Kendrick Bangs read a long obituary of him in rhyme and rhythm.
Mr. Howells read a sonnet in which he referred to a number of incidents in Mark Twain’s life, and particularly the article the humorist wrote on foreign missionaries. The other speakers were Chauncey M. Depew, Dr. Henry Van Dyke, Col. George Harvey, W. D. Howells, Hamilton W. Mabie, Thomas B. Reed, Wayne MacVeagh, and Mr. Clemens.
The other members of the company were: [list as seen above] ….
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.