It was about the end of 1907 that the new St. Louis Harbor boat, was completed. The editor of the St. Louis Republic reported that it has been christened "Mark Twain," and asked for a word of comment. Clemens sent this line:

May my namesake follow in my righteous footsteps, then neither of us will need any fire insurance.



Howells, in his book, refers to the Human Race Luncheon Club, which Clemens once organized for the particular purpose of damning the species in concert. It was to consist, beside Clemens himself, of Howells, Colonel Harvey, and Peter Dunne; but it somehow never happened that even this small membership could be assembled while the idea was still fresh, and therefore potent.

Out of it, however, grew a number of those private social gatherings which Clemens so dearly loved--small luncheons and dinners given at his own table. The first of these came along toward the end of 1907, when Howells was planning to spend the winter in Italy.

"Howells is going away," he said, "and I should like to give him a stag- party. We'll enlarge the Human Race Club for the occasion."

So Howells, Colonel Harvey, Martin Littleton, Augustus Thomas, Robert Porter, and Paderewski were invited. Paderewski was unable to come, and seven in all assembled.

Howells was first to arrive.

"Here comes Howells," Clemens said. "Old Howells a thousand years old."

But Howells didn't look it. His face was full of good-nature and apparent health, and he was by no means venerable, either in speech or action. Thomas, Porter, Littleton, and Harvey drifted in. Cocktails were served and luncheon was announced.

Claude, the butler, had prepared the table with fine artistry--its center a mass of roses. There was to be no woman in the neighborhood--Clemens announced this fact as a sort of warrant for general freedom of expression.

Thomas's play, "The Witching Hour," was then at the height of its great acceptance, and the talk naturally began there. Thomas told something of the difficulty which he found in being able to convince a manager that it would succeed, and declared it to be his own favorite work. I believe there was no dissenting opinion as to its artistic value, or concerning its purpose and psychology, though these had been the stumbling-blocks from a managerial point of view.

When the subject was concluded, and there had come a lull, Colonel Harvey, who was seated at Clemens's left, said:

"Uncle Mark"--he often called him that--"Major Leigh handed me a report of the year's sales just as I was leaving. It shows your royalty returns this year to be very close to fifty thousand dollars. I don't believe there is another such return from old books on record."

This was said in an undertone, to Clemens only, but was overheard by one or two of those who sat nearest. Clemens was not unwilling to repeat it for the benefit of all, and did so. Howells said:

"A statement like that arouses my basest passions. The books are no good; it's just the advertising they get."

Clemens said: "Yes, my contract compels the publisher to advertise. It costs them two hundred dollars every time they leave the advertisement out of the magazines."

"And three hundred every time we put it in," said Harvey. "We often debate whether it is more profitable to put in the advertisement or to leave it out."

The talk switched back to plays and acting. Thomas recalled an incident of Beerbohm Tree's performance of "Hamlet." W. S. Gilbert, of light- opera celebrity, was present at a performance, and when the play ended Mrs. Tree hurried over to him and said:

"Oh, Mr. Gilbert, what did you think of Mr. Tree's rendition of Hamlet?" "Remarkable," said Gilbert. "Funny without being vulgar."

It was with such idle tales and talk-play that the afternoon passed. Not much of it all is left to me, but I remember Howells saying, "Did it ever occur to you that the newspapers abolished hell? Well, they did--it was never done by the church.

Mark Twain
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