It was at this dinner that he characteristically confessed, at last, to having stolen the Ascot Cup.
He lunched one day with Bernard Shaw, and the two discussed the philosophies in which they were mutually interested. Shaw regarded Clemens as a sociologist before all else, and gave it out with great frankness that America had produced just two great geniuses--Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. Later Shaw wrote him a note, in which he said:
I am persuaded that the future historian of America will find your works as indispensable to him as a French historian finds the political tracts of Voltaire. I tell you so because I am the author of a play in which a priest says, "Telling the truth's the funniest joke in the world," a piece of wisdom which you helped to teach me.
Clemens saw a great deal of Moberly Bell. The two lunched and dined privately together when there was opportunity, and often met at the public gatherings.
The bare memorandum of the week following July Fourth will convey something of Mark Twain's London activities:
Friday, July 5. Dined with Lord and Lady Portsmouth.
Saturday, July 6. Breakfasted at Lord Avebury's. Lord Kelvin, Sir Charles Lyell, and Sir Archibald Geikie were there. Sat 22 times for photos, 16 at Histed's. Savage Club dinner in the evening. White suit. Ascot Cup.
Sunday, July 7. Called on Lady Langattock and others. Lunched with Sir Norman Lockyer.
Monday, July 8. Lunched with Plasmon directors at Bath Club. Dined privately at C. F. Moberly Bell's.
Tuesday, July 9. Lunched at the House with Sir Benjamin Stone. Balfour and Komura were the other guests of honor. Punch dinner in the evening. Joy Agnew and the cartoon.
Wednesday, July 10. Went to Liverpool with Tay Pay. Attended banquet in the Town Hall in the evening.
Thursday, July 11. Returned to London with Tay Pay. Calls in the afternoon.
The Savage Club would inevitably want to entertain him on its own account, and their dinner of July 6th was a handsome, affair. He felt at home with the Savages, and put on white for the only time publicly in England. He made them one of his reminiscent speeches, recalling his association with them on his first visit to London, thirty-seven years before. Then he said:
That is a long time ago, and as I had come into a very strange land, and was with friends, as I could see, that has always remained in my mind as a peculiarly blessed evening, since it brought me into contact with men of my own kind and my own feelings. I am glad to be here, and to see you all, because it is very likely that I shall not see you again. I have been received, as you know, in the most delightfully generous way in England ever since I came here. It keeps me choked up all the time. Everybody is so generous, and they do seem to give you such a hearty welcome. Nobody in the world can appreciate it higher than I do.
The club gave him a surprise in the course of the evening. A note was sent to him accompanied by a parcel, which, when opened, proved to contain a gilded plaster replica of the Ascot Gold Cup. The note said:
Dere Mark, i return the Cup. You couldn't keep your mouth shut about it. 'Tis 2 pretty 2 melt, as you want me 2; nest time I work a pinch ile have a pard who don't make after-dinner speeches.
There was a postcript which said: "I changed the acorn atop for another nut with my knife." The acorn was, in fact, replaced by a well-modeled head of Mark Twain.
So, after all, the Ascot Cup would be one of the trophies which he would bear home with him across the Atlantic.
Probably the most valued of his London honors was the dinner given to him by the staff of Punch. Punch had already saluted him with a front-page cartoon by Bernard Partridge, a picture in which the presiding genius of that paper, Mr. Punch himself, presents him with a glass of the patronymic beverage with the words, "Sir, I honor myself by drinking your health.