I shall continue to infest the platform on these conditions--that there is nobody in the house who has paid to hear me, that I am not paid to be heard, and that there will be none but young women students in the audience. [Here Mr. Clemens told the story of how he took a girl to the theatre while he was wearing tight boots, which appears elsewhere in this volume, and ended by saying: "And now let this be a lesson to you--I don't know what kind of a lesson; I'll let you think it out."]
In my capacity of publisher I recently received a manuscript from a teacher which embodied a number of answers given by her pupils to questions propounded. These answers show that the children had nothing but the sound to go by--the sense was perfectly empty. Here are some of their answers to words they were asked to define: Auriferous--pertaining to an orifice; ammonia--the food of the gods; equestrian--one who asks questions; parasite--a kind of umbrella; ipecaca--man who likes a good dinner. And here is the definition of an ancient word honored by a great party: Republican--a sinner mentioned in the Bible. And here is an innocent deliverance of a zoological kind: "There are a good many donkeys in the theological gardens." Here also is a definition which really isn't very bad in its way: Demagogue--a vessel containing beer and other liquids. Here, too, is a sample of a boy's composition on girls, which, I must say, I rather like:
"Girls are very stuckup and dignified in their manner and behaveyour. They think more of dress than anything and like to play with dowls and rags. They cry if they see a cow in a far distance and are afraid of guns. They stay at home all the time and go to church every Sunday. They are al-ways sick. They are al-ways furry and making fun of boys hands and they say how dirty. They cant play marbles. I pity them poor things. They make fun of boys and then turn round and love them. I don't belave they ever kiled a cat or anything. They look out every nite and say, 'Oh, a'nt the moon lovely!'--Thir is one thing I have not told and that is they al-ways now their lessons bettern boys."
DELIVERED AT THE ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL, 1872, OF THE SCOTTISH CORPORATION OF LONDON
Mr. Clemens replied to the toast "The Ladies."
I am proud, indeed, of the distinction of being chosen to respond to this especial toast, to "The Ladies," or to women if you please, for that is the preferable term, perhaps; it is certainly the older, and therefore the more entitled to reverence. I have noticed that the Bible, with that plain, blunt honesty which is such a conspicuous characteristic of the Scriptures, is always particular to never refer to even the illustrious mother of all mankind as a "lady," but speaks of her as a woman. It is odd, but you will find it is so. I am peculiarly proud of this honor, because I think that the toast to women is one which, by right and by every rule of gallantry, should take precedence of all others--of the army, of the navy, of even royalty itself--perhaps, though the latter is not necessary in this day and in this land, for the reason that, tacitly, you do drink a broad general health to all good women when you drink the health of the Queen of England and the Princess of Wales. I have in mind a poem just now which is familiar to you all, familiar to everybody. And what an inspiration that was, and how instantly the present toast recalls the verses to all our minds when the most noble, the most gracious, the purest, and sweetest of all poets says:
"Woman! O woman!---er Wom----"
However, you remember the lines; and you remember how feelingly, how daintily, how almost imperceptibly the verses raise up before you, feature by feature, the ideal of a true and perfect woman; and how, as you contemplate the finished marvel, your homage grows into worship of the intellect that could create so fair a thing out of mere breath, mere words.