It is from experiences such as mine [he said] that we get our education of life. We string them into jewels or into tinware, as we may choose. I have received recently several letters asking for counsel or advice, the principal request being for some incident that may prove helpful to the young. It is my mission to teach, and I am always glad to furnish something. There have been a lot of incidents in my career to help me along--sometimes they helped me along faster than I wanted to go.
He took some papers from his pocket and started to unfold one of them; then, as if remembering, he asked how long he had been talking. The answer came, "Thirty-five minutes." He made as if to leave the stage, but the audience commanded him to go on.
"All right," he said, "I can stand more of my own talk than any one I ever knew." Opening one of the papers, a telegram, he read:
"In which one of your works can we find the definition of a gentleman?" Then he added:
I have not answered that telegram. I couldn't. I never wrote any such definition, though it seems to me that if a man has just, merciful, and kindly instincts he would be a gentleman, for he would need nothing else in this world.
He opened a letter. "From Howells," he said.
My old friend, William Dean Howells--Howells, the head of American literature. No one is able to stand with him. He is an old, old friend of mine, and he writes me, "To-morrow I shall be sixty-nine years old." Why, I am surprised at Howells writing so. I have known him myself longer than that. I am sorry to see a man trying to appear so young. Let's see. Howells says now, "I see you have been burying Patrick. I suppose he was old, too."
The house became very still. Most of them had read an account of Mark Twain's journey to Hartford and his last service to his faithful servitor. The speaker's next words were not much above a whisper, but every syllable was distinct.
No, he was never old-Patrick. He came to us thirty-six years ago. He was our coachman from the day that I drove my young bride to our new home. He was a young Irishman, slender, tall, lithe, honest, truthful, and he never changed in all his life. He really was with us but twenty-five years, for he did not go with us to Europe; but he never regarded that a separation. As the children grew up he was their guide. He was all honor, honesty, and affection. He was with us in New Hampshire last summer, and his hair was just as black, his eyes were just as blue, his form just as straight, and his heart just as good as on the day we first met. In all the long years Patrick never made a mistake. He never needed an order; he never received a command. He knew. I have been asked for my idea of an ideal gentleman, and I give it to you--Patrick McAleer.
It was the sort of thing that no one but Mark Twain has quite been able to do, and it was just that recognized quality behind it that had made crowds jam the street and stampede the entrance to be in his presence-to see him and to hear his voice.
GORKY, HOWELLS, AND MARK TWAIN
Clemens was now fairly back again in the wash of banquets and speech- making that had claimed him on his return from England, five years before. He made no less than a dozen speeches altogether that winter, and he was continually at some feasting or other, where he was sure to be called upon for remarks. He fell out of the habit of preparing his addresses, relying upon the inspiration of the moment, merely following the procedure of his daily dictations, which had doubtless given him confidence for this departure from his earlier method. There was seldom an afternoon or an evening that he was not required, and seldom a morning that the papers did not have some report of his doings. Once more, and in a larger fashion than ever, he had become "the belle of New York." But he was something further.