Now, when that man wanted to don especial dress to honor a public occasion or a holiday, why, he occasionally put on a pair of spectacles. Otherwise the clothing with which God had provided him sufficed.
Of course, I have ideas of dress reform. For one thing, why not adopt some of the women's styles? Goodness knows, they adopt enough of ours. Take the peek-a-boo waist, for instance. It has the obvious advantages of being cool and comfortable, and in addition it is almost always made up in pleasing colors which cheer and do not depress.
It is true that I dressed the Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court in a plug-hat, but, let's see, that was twenty-five years ago. Then no man was considered fully dressed until he donned a plug-hat. Nowadays I think that no man is dressed until he leaves it home. Why, when I left home yesterday they trotted out a plug-hat for me to wear.
"You must wear it," they told me; "why, just think of going to Washington without a plug-hat!" But I said no; I would wear a derby or nothing. Why, I believe I could walk along the streets of New York--I never do-- but still I think I could--and I should never see a well-dressed man wearing a plug-hat. If I did I should suspect him of something. I don't know just what, but I would suspect him.
Why, when I got up on the second story of that Pennsylvania ferry-boat coming down here yesterday I saw Howells coming along. He was the only man on the boat with a plug-hat, and I tell you he felt ashamed of himself. He said he had been persuaded to wear it against his better sense. But just think of a man nearly seventy years old who has not a mind of his own on such matters!
"Are you doing any work now?" the youngest and most serious reporter asked.
Work? I retired from work on my seventieth birthday. Since then I have been putting in merely twenty-six hours a day dictating my autobiography, which, as John Phoenix said in regard to his autograph, may be relied upon as authentic, as it is written exclusively by me. But it is not to be published in full until I am thoroughly dead. I have made it as caustic, fiendish, and devilish as possible. It will fill many volumes, and I shall continue writing it until the time comes for me to join the angels. It is going to be a terrible autobiography. It will make the hair of some folks curl. But it cannot be published until I am dead, and the persons mentioned in it and their children and grandchildren are dead. It is something awful!
"Can you tell us the names of some of the notables that are here to see you off?"
I don't know. I am so shy. My shyness takes a peculiar phase. I never look a person in the face. The reason is that I am afraid they may know me and that I may not know them, which makes it very embarrassing for both of us. I always wait for the other person to speak. I know lots of people, but I don't know who they are. It is all a matter of ability to observe things. I never observe anything now. I gave up the habit years ago. You should keep a habit up if you want to become proficient in it. For instance, I was a pilot once, but I gave it up, and I do not believe the captain of the Minneapolis would let me navigate his ship to London. Still, if I think that he is not on the job I may go up on the bridge and offer him a few suggestions.
Five hundred undergraduates, under the auspices of the Woman's University Club, New York, welcomed Mr. Clemens as their guest, April 3, 1906, and gave him the freedom of the club, which the chairman explained was freedom to talk individually to any girl present.
I've worked for the public good thirty years, so for the rest of my life I shall work for my personal contentment. I am glad Miss Neron has fed me, for there is no telling what iniquity I might wander into on an empty stomach--I mean, an empty mind.
I am going to tell you a practical story about how once upon a time I was blind--a story I should have been using all these months, but I never thought about telling it until the other night, and now it is too late, for on the nineteenth of this month I hope to take formal leave of the platform forever at Carnegie Hall--that is, take leave so far as talking for money and for people who have paid money to hear me talk.