R. J. Campbell. They heard Mr. Pole's story with deep attention, but he could not prove the genuineness of the relic."]
Clemens saw Mr. and Mrs. Rogers at Claridge's Hotel that evening; lunched with his old friends Sir Norman and Lady Lockyer next day; took tea with T. P. O'Connor at the House of Commons, and on the day following, which was June a 5th, he was the guest of honor at one of the most elaborate occasions of his visit--a luncheon given by the Pilgrims at the Savoy Hotel. It would be impossible to set down here a report of the doings, or even a list of the guests, of that gathering. The Pilgrims is a club with branches on both sides of the ocean, and Mark Twain, on either side, was a favorite associate. At this luncheon the picture on the bill of fare represented him as a robed pilgrim, with a great pen for his staff, turning his back on the Mississippi River and being led along his literary way by a huge jumping frog, to which he is attached by a string. On a guest-card was printed:
Pilot of many Pilgrims since the shout "Mark Twain!"--that serves you for a deathless sign-- On Mississippi's waterway rang out Over the plummet's line--
Still where the countless ripples laugh above The blue of halcyon seas long may you keep Your course unbroken, buoyed upon a love Ten thousand fathoms deep!
--O. S. [OWEN SEAMAN].
Augustine Birrell made the speech of introduction, closing with this paragraph:
Mark Twain is a man whom Englishmen and Americans do well to honor. He is a true consolidator of nations. His delightful humor is of the kind which dissipates and destroys national prejudices. His truth and his honor--his love of truth and his love of honor-- overflow all boundaries. He has made the world better by his presence, and we rejoice to see him here. Long may he live to reap a plentiful harvest of hearty honest human affection.
The toast was drunk standing. Then Clemens rose and made a speech which delighted all England. In his introduction Mr. Birrell had happened to say, "How I came here I will not ask!" Clemens remembered this, and looking down into Mr. Birrell's wine-glass, which was apparently unused, he said:
"Mr. Birrell doesn't know how he got here. But he will be able to get away all right--he has not drunk anything since he came."
He told stories about Howells and Twichell, and how Darwin had gone to sleep reading his books, and then he came down to personal things and company, and told them how, on the day of his arrival, he had been shocked to read on a great placard, "Mark Twain Arrives: Ascot Cup Stolen."
No doubt many a person was misled by those sentences joined together in that unkind way. I have no doubt my character has suffered from it. I suppose I ought to defend my character, but how can I defend it? I can say here and now that anybody can see by my face that I am sincere--that I speak the truth, and that I have never seen that Cup. I have not got the Cup, I did not have a chance to get it. I have always had a good character in that way. I have hardly ever stolen anything, and if I did steal anything I had discretion enough to know about the value of it first. I do not steal things that are likely to get myself into trouble. I do not think any of us do that. I know we all take things--that is to be expected; but really I have never taken anything, certainly in England, that amounts to any great thing. I do confess that when I was here seven years ago I stole a hat--but that did not amount to anything. It was not a good hat it was only a clergyman's hat, anyway. I was at a luncheon-party and Archdeacon Wilberforce was there also. I dare say he is archdeacon now--he was a canon then--and he was serving in the Westminster Battery, if that is the proper term. I do not know, as you mix military and ecclesiastical things together so much.