The reader may perhaps imagine the effect without further indication of it.

"I was going on a yachting trip once, with Henry Rogers, when a reporter stopped me with the statement that Mrs. Astor had said that there had never been a gentleman in the White House, and he wanted me to give him my definition of a gentleman. I didn't give him my definition; but he printed it, just the same, in the afternoon paper. I was angry at first, and wanted to bring a damage suit. When I came to read the definition it was a satisfactory one, and I let it go. Now to-day comes a letter and a telegram from a man who has made a will in Missouri, leaving ten thousand dollars to provide tablets for various libraries in the State, on which shall be inscribed Mark Twain's definition of a gentleman. He hasn't got the definition--he has only heard of it, and he wants me to tell him in which one of my books or speeches he can find it. I couldn't think, when I read that letter, what in the nation the man meant, but shaving somehow has a tendency to release thought, and just now it all came to me."

It was a situation full of amusing possibilities; but he reached no conclusion in the matter. Another telegram was brought in just then, which gave a sadder aspect to his thought, for it said that his old coachman, Patrick McAleer, who had begun in the Clemens service with the bride and groom of thirty-six years before, was very low, and could not survive more than a few days. This led him to speak of Patrick, his noble and faithful nature, and how he always claimed to be in their service, even during their long intervals of absence abroad. Clemens gave orders that everything possible should be done for Patrick's comfort. When the end came, a few days later, he traveled to Hartford to lay flowers on Patrick's bier, and to serve, with Patrick's friends-- neighbor coachmen and John O'Neill, the gardener--as pall-bearer, taking his allotted place without distinction or favor.

It was the following Sunday, at the Majestic Theater, in New York, that Mark Twain spoke to the Young Men's Christian Association. For several reasons it proved an unusual meeting. A large number of free tickets had been given out, far more than the place would hold; and, further, it had been announced that when the ticket-holders had been seated the admission would be free to the public. The subject chosen for the talk was "Reminiscences."

When we arrived the streets were packed from side to side for a considerable distance and a riot was in progress. A great crowd had swarmed about the place, and the officials, instead of throwing the doors wide and letting the theater fill up, regardless of tickets, had locked them. As a result there was a shouting, surging human mass that presently dashed itself against the entrance. Windows and doors gave way, and there followed a wild struggle for entrance. A moment later the house was packed solid. A detachment of police had now arrived, and in time cleared the street. It was said that amid the tumult some had lost their footing and had been trampled and injured, but of this we did not learn until later. We had been taken somehow to a side entrance and smuggled into boxes.--[The paper next morning bore the head-lines: "10,000 Stampeded at the Mark Twain Meeting. Well-dressed Men and Women Clubbed by Police at Majestic Theater." In this account the paper stated that the crowd had collected an hour before the time for opening; that nothing of the kind had been anticipated and no police preparation had been made.]

It was peaceful enough in the theater until Mark Twain appeared on the stage. He was wildly greeted, and when he said, slowly and seriously, "I thank you for this signal recognition of merit," there was a still noisier outburst. In the quiet that followed he began his memories, and went wandering along from one anecdote to another in the manner of his daily dictations.

At last it seemed to occur to him, in view of the character of his audience, that he ought to close with something in the nature of counsel suited to young men.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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