There was an excited whisper at our table--"Mommsen!"--and the whole house rose-- rose and shouted and stamped and clapped and banged the beer-mugs. Just simply a storm! Then the little man with his long hair and Emersonian face edged his way past us and took his seat. I could have touched him with my hand--Mommsen!--think of it!
This was one of those immense surprises that can happen only a few times in one's life. I was not dreaming of him; he was to me only a giant myth, a world-shadowing specter, not a reality. The surprise of it all can be only comparable to a man's suddenly coming upon Mont Blanc, with its awful form towering into the sky, when he didn't suspect he was in its neighborhood. I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him, and here he was, without trouble, or tramp, or cost of any kind. Here he was, clothed in a titanic deceptive modesty which made him look like other men. Here he was, carrying the Roman world and all the Caesars in his hospitable skull, and doing it as easily as that other luminous vault, the skull of the universe, carries the Milky Way and the constellations.
During his convalescent days, Clemens had plenty of time to reflect and to look out of the window. His notebook preserves some of his reflections. In one place he says:
The Emperor passes in a modest open carnage. Next that happy 12- year-old butcher-boy, all in white apron and turban, standing up & so proud!
How fast they drive-nothing like it but in London. And the horses seem to be of very fine breed, though I am not an expert in horses & do not speak with assurance. I can always tell which is the front end of a horse, but beyond that my art is not above the ordinary.
The "Court Gazette" of a German paper can be covered with a playing- card. In an English paper the movements of titled people take up about three times that room. In the papers of Republican France from six to sixteen times as much. There, if a Duke's dog should catch cold in the head they would stop the press to announce it and cry about it. In Germany they respect titles, in England they revere them, in France they adore them. That is, the French newspapers do.
Been taken for Mommsen twice. We have the same hair, but on examination it was found the brains were different.
On February 14th he records that Professor Helmholtz called, but unfortunately leaves no further memorandum of that visit. He was quite recovered by this time, but was still cautioned about going out in the severe weather. In the final entry he says:
Thirty days sick abed--full of interest--read the debates and get excited over them, though don't 'versteh'. By reading keep in a state of excited ignorance, like a blind man in a house afire; flounder around, immensely but unintelligently interested; don't know how I got in and can't find the way out, but I'm having a booming time all to myself.
Don't know what a 'Schelgesetzentwurf' is, but I keep as excited over it and as worried about it as if it was my own child. I simply live on the Sch.; it is my daily bread. I wouldn't have the question settled for anything in the world. Especially now that I've lost the 'offentliche Militargericht circus'. I read all the debates on that question with a never-failing interest, but all at once they sprung a vote on me a couple of days ago & did something by a vote of 100 to 143, but I couldn't find out what it was.
A DINNER WITH WILLIAM II.
The dinner with Emperor William II. at General von Versen's was set for the 20th of February. A few days before, Mark Twain entered in his note- book:
In that day the Imperial lion and the Democratic lamb shall sit down together, and a little General shall feed them.
Mark Twain was the guest of honor on this occasion, and was seated at the Emperor's right hand.