Senator Nye was to have joined Clemens and Fuller at the Westminster, where Clemens was stopping, and they waited for him there with a carriage, fuming and swearing, until it was evident that he was not coming. At last Clemens said:
"Fuller, you've got to introduce me."
"No," suggested Fuller; "I've got a better scheme than that. You get up and begin by bemeaning Nye for not being there. That will be better anyway."
"Well, Fuller, I can do that. I feel that way. I'll try to think up something fresh and happy to say about that horse-thief."
They drove to Cooper Union with trepidation. Suppose, after all, the school-teachers had declined to come? They went half an hour before the lecture was to begin. Forty years later Mark Twain said:
"I couldn't keep away. I wanted to see that vast Mammoth cave and die. But when we got near the building I saw that all the streets were blocked with people, and that traffic had stopped. I couldn't believe that these people were trying to get into Cooper Institute; but they were, and when I got to the stage at last the house was jammed full-packed; there wasn't room enough left for a child.
"I was happy and I was excited beyond expression. I poured the Sandwich Islands out on those people, and they laughed and shouted to my entire content. For an hour and fifteen minutes I was in paradise."
And Fuller to-day, alive and young, when so many others of that ancient time and event have vanished, has added:
"When Mark appeared the Californians gave a regular yell of welcome. When that was over he walked to the edge of the platform, looked carefully down in the pit, round the edges as if he were hunting for something. Then he said: 'There was to have been a piano here, and a senator to introduce me. I don't seem to discover them anywhere. The piano was a good one, but we will have to get along with such music as I can make with your help. As for the senator--Then Mark let himself go and did as he promised about Senator Nye. He said things that made men from the Pacific coast, who had known Nye, scream with delight. After that came his lecture. The first sentence captured the audience. From that moment to the end it was either in a roar of laughter or half breathless by his beautiful descriptive passages. People were positively ill for days, laughing at that lecture."
So it was a success: everybody was glad to have been there; the papers were kind, congratulations numerous.
--[Kind but not extravagant; those were burning political times, and the doings of mere literary people did not excite the press to the extent of headlines. A jam around Cooper Union to-day, followed by such an artistic triumph, would be a news event. On the other hand, Schuyler Colfax, then Speaker of the House, was reported to the extent of a column, nonpareil. His lecture was of no literary importance, and no echo of it now remains. But those were political, not artistic, days.
Of Mark Twain's lecture the Times notice said:
"Nearly every one present came prepared for considerable provocation for enjoyable laughter, and from the appearance of their mirthful faces leaving the hall at the conclusion of the lecture but few were disappointed, and it is not too much to say that seldom has so large an audience been so uniformly pleased as the one that listened to Mark Twain's quaint remarks last evening. The large hall of the Union was filled to its utmost capacity by fully two thousand persons, which fact spoke well for the reputation of the lecturer and his future success. Mark Twain's style is a quaint one both in manner and method, and through his discourse he managed to keep on the right side of the audience, and frequently convulsed it with hearty laughter.... During a description of the topography of the Sandwich Islands the lecturer surprised his hearers by a graphic and eloquent description of the eruption of the great volcano, which occurred in 1840, and his language was loudly applauded.
"Judging from the success achieved by the lecturer last evening, he should repeat his experiment at an early date."]
COOPER INSTITUTE By Invitation of s large number of prominent Californians and Citizens of New York,
WILL DELIVER A SERIO-HUMEROUS LECTURE CONERNING
KANAKDOM OR THE SANDWICH ISLANDS,
COOPER INSTITUTE, On Monday Evening, May 6,1867.