Clemens, learning of the situation, later withdrew from the drawing-room for a talk with him.
"I found," he said, "that he knew about ten or fifteen times as much about my books as I knew about them myself."
Mark Twain viewed the Oxford pageant from a box with Rudyard Kipling and Lord Curzon, and as they sat there some one passed up a folded slip of paper, on the outside of which was written, "Not true." Opening it, they read:
East is East and West is West, And never the Twain shall meet,
--a quotation from Kipling.
They saw the panorama of history file by, a wonderful spectacle which made Oxford a veritable dream of the Middle Ages. The lanes and streets and meadows were thronged with such costumes as Oxford had seen in its long history. History was realized in a manner which no one could appreciate more fully than Mark Twain.
"I was particularly anxious to see this pageant," he said, "so that I could get ideas for my funeral procession, which I am planning on a large scale."
He was not disappointed; it was a realization to him of all the gorgeous spectacles that his soul had dreamed from youth up.
He easily recognized the great characters of history as they passed by, and he was recognized by them in turn; for they waved to him and bowed and sometimes called his name, and when he went down out of his box, by and by, Henry VIII. shook hands with him, a monarch he had always detested, though he was full of friendship for him now; and Charles I. took off his broad, velvet-plumed hat when they met, and Henry II. and Rosamond and Queen Elizabeth all saluted him--ghosts of the dead centuries.
LONDON SOCIAL HONORS
We may not detail all the story of that English visit; even the path of glory leads to monotony at last. We may only mention a few more of the great honors paid to our unofficial ambassador to the world: among them a dinner given to members of the Savage Club by the Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House, also a dinner given by the American Society at the Hotel Cecil in honor of the Fourth of July. Clemens was the guest of honor, and responded to the toast given by Ambassador Reid, "The Day we Celebrate." He made an amusing and not altogether unserious reference to the American habit of exploding enthusiasm in dangerous fireworks.
To English colonists he gave credit for having established American independence, and closed:
We have, however, one Fourth of July which is absolutely our own, and that is the memorable proclamation issued forty years ago by that great American to whom Sir Mortimer Durand paid that just and beautiful tribute--Abraham Lincoln: a proclamation which not only set the black slave free, but set his white owner free also. The owner was set free from that burden and offense, that sad condition of things where he was in so many instances a master and owner of slaves when he did not want to be. That proclamation set them all free. But even in this matter England led the way, for she had set her slaves free thirty years before, and we but followed her example. We always follow her example, whether it is good or bad. And it was an English judge, a century ago, that issued that other great proclamation, and established that great principle, that when a slave, let him belong to whom he may, and let him come whence he may, sets his foot upon English soil his fetters, by that act, fall away and he is a free man before the world!
It is true, then, that all our Fourths of July, and we have five of them, England gave to us, except that one that I have mentioned--the Emancipation Proclamation; and let us not forget that we owe this debt to her. Let us be able to say to old England, this great- hearted, venerable old mother of the race, you gave us our Fourths of July, that we love and that we honor and revere; you gave us the Declaration of Independence, which is the charter of our rights; you, the venerable Mother of Liberties, the Champion and Protector of Anglo-Saxon Freedom--you gave us these things, and we do most honestly thank you for them.