I wish I did."

He wrote of going with Mr. Rogers to the Madison Square Garden to see an exhibition of boxing given by the then splendid star of pugilism, James J. Corbett. Dr. Rice accompanied him, and painters Robert Reid and Edward Simmons, from The Players. They had five seats in a box, and Stanford White came along presently and took Clemens into the champion's dressing-room.

Corbett has a fine face and is modest and diffident, besides being the most perfectly & beautifully constructed human animal in the world. I said:

"You have whipped Mitchell & maybe you will whip Jackson in June-- but you are not done then. You will have to tackle me."

He answered, so gravely that one might easily have thought him in earnest:

"No, I am not going to meet you in the ring. It is not fair or right to require it. You might chance to knock me out, by no merit of your own, but by a purely accidental blow, & then my reputation would be gone & you would have a double one. You have got fame enough & you ought not to want to take mine away from me."

Corbett was for a long time a clerk in the Nevada Bank, in San Francisco.

There were lots of little boxing-matches to entertain the crowd; then at last Corbett appeared in the ring & the 8,000 people present went mad with enthusiasm. My two artists went mad about his form. They said they had never seen anything that came reasonably near equaling its perfection except Greek statues, & they didn't surpass it.

Corbett boxed 3 rounds with the middle-weight Australian champion-- oh, beautiful to see!--then the show was over and we struggled out through a perfect mash of humanity. When we reached the street I found I had left my arctics in the box. I had to have them, so Simmons said he would go back & get them, & I didn't dissuade him. I wouldn't see how he was going to make his way a single yard into that solid incoming wave of people--yet he must plow through it full 50 yards. He was back with the shoes in 3 minutes!

How do you reckon he accomplished that miracle? By saying:

"Way, gentlemen, please--coming to fetch Mr. Corbett's overshoes."

The word flew from mouth to mouth, the Red Sea divided, & Simmons walked comfortably through & back, dry-shod. This is Fire-escape Simmons, the inveterate talker, you know: Exit--in case of Simmons.

I had an engagement at a beautiful dwelling close to The Players for 10.30; I was there by 10.45. Thirty cultivated & very musical ladies & gentlemen present--all of them acquaintances & many of them personal friends of mine. That wonderful Hungarian band was there (they charge $500 for an evening). Conversation and band until midnight; then a bite of supper; then the company was compactly grouped before me & I told them about Dr. B. E. Martin & the etchings, & followed it with the Scotch-Irish christening. My, but the Martin is a darling story! Next, the head tenor from the Opera sang half a dozen great songs that set the company wild, yes, mad with delight, that nobly handsome young Damrosch accompanying on the piano.

Just a little pause, then the band burst out into an explosion of weird and tremendous dance-music, a Hungarian celebrity & his wife took the floor; I followed--I couldn't help it; the others drifted in, one by one, & it was Onteora over again.

By half past 4. I had danced all those people down--& yet was not tired; merely breathless. I was in bed at 5 & asleep in ten minutes. Up at 9 & presently at work on this letter to you. I think I wrote until 2 or half past. Then I walked leisurely out to Mr. Rogers's (it is called 3 miles, but is short of it), arriving at 3.30, but he was out--to return at 5.30--so I didn't stay, but dropped over and chatted with Howells until five.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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