The degrees of doctor of law were conferred first. Prince Arthur was treated with proper dignity by the gallery; but when Whitelaw Reid stepped forth a voice shouted, "Where's your Star-spangled Banner?" and when England's Prime Minister-Campbell- Bannerman--came forward some one shouted, "What about the House of Lords?" and so they kept it up, cheering and chaffing, until General Booth was introduced as the "Passionate advocate of the dregs of the people, leader of the submerged tenth," and general of the Salvation Army," when the place broke into a perfect storm of applause, a storm that a few minutes later became, according to the Daily News, "a veritable cyclone," for Mark Twain, clad in his robe of scarlet and gray, had been summoned forward to receive the highest academic honors which the world has to give. The undergraduates went wild then. There was such a mingling of yells and calls and questions, such as, "Have you brought the jumping Frog with you?" "Where is the Ascot Cup?" "Where are the rest of the Innocents?" that it seemed as if it would not be possible to present him at all; but, finally, Chancellor Curzon addressed him (in Latin), "Most amiable and charming sir, you shake the sides of the whole world with your merriment," and the great degree was conferred. If only Tom Sawyer could have seen him then! If only Olivia Clemens could have sat among those who gave him welcome! But life is not like that. There is always an incompleteness somewhere, and the shadow across the path.

Rudyard Kipling followed--another supreme favorite, who was hailed with the chorus, "For he's a jolly good fellow," and then came Saint-Satins. The prize poems and essays followed, and then the procession of newly created doctors left the theater with Lord Curzon at their head. So it was all over-that for which, as he said, he would have made the journey to Mars. The world had nothing more to give him now except that which he had already long possessed-its honor and its love.

The newly made doctors were to be the guests of Lord Curzon at All Souls College for luncheon. As they left the theater (according to Sidney Lee):

The people in the streets singled out Mark Twain, formed a vast and cheering body-guard around him and escorted him to the college gates. But before and after the lunch it was Mark Twain again whom everybody seemed most of all to want to meet. The Maharajah of Bikanir, for instance, finding himself seated at lunch next to Mrs. Riggs (Kate Douglas Wiggin), and hearing that she knew Mark Twain, asked her to present him a ceremony duly performed later on the quadrangle. At the garden-party given the same afternoon in the beautiful grounds of St. John's, where the indefatigable Mark put in an appearance, it was just the same--every one pressed forward for an exchange of greetings and a hand-shake. On the following day, when the Oxford pageant took place, it was even more so. "Mark Twain's Pageant," it was called by one of the papers.--[There was a dinner that evening at one of the colleges where, through mistaken information, Clemens wore black evening dress when he should have worn his scarlet gown. "When I arrived," he said, "the place was just a conflagration--a kind of human prairie-fire. I looked as out of place as a Presbyterian in hell."]

Clemens remained the guest of Robert Porter, whose house was besieged with those desiring a glimpse of their new doctor of letters. If he went on the streets he was instantly recognized by some newsboy or cabman or butcher-boy, and the word ran along like a cry of fire, while the crowds assembled.

At a luncheon which the Porters gave him the proprietor of the catering establishment garbed himself as a waiter in order to have the distinction of serving Mark Twain, and declared it to have been the greatest moment of his life. This gentleman--for he was no less than that--was a man well-read, and his tribute was not inspired by mere snobbery.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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