I never had the courage to talk across a long, narrow room I should be at the end of the room facing all the audience. If I attempt to talk across a room I find myself turning this way and that, and thus at alternate periods I have part of the audience behind me. You ought never to have any part of the audience behind you; you never can tell what they are going to do.
I'll sit down.
THE DINNER TO MR. CHOATE
AT A DINNER GIVEN IN HONOR OF AMBASSADOR JOSEPH H. CHOATE AT THE LOTOS CLUB, NOVEMBER 24, 7902
The speakers, among others, were: Senator Depew, William Henry White, Speaker Thomas Reed, and Mr. Choate. Mr. Clemens spoke, in part, as follows:
The greatness of this country rests on two anecdotes. The first one is that of Washington and his hatchet, representing the foundation of true speaking, which is the characteristic of our people. The second one is an old one, and I've been waiting to hear it to-night; but as nobody has told it yet, I will tell it.
You've heard it before, and you'll hear it many, many times more. It is an anecdote of our guest, of the time when he was engaged as a young man with a gentle Hebrew, in the process of skinning the client. The main part in that business is the collection of the bill for services in skinning the man. "Services" is the term used in that craft for the operation of that kind-diplomatic in its nature.
Choate's--co-respondent--made out a bill for $500 for his services, so called. But Choate told him he had better leave the matter to him, and the next day he collected the bill for the services and handed the Hebrew $5000, saying, "That's your half of the loot," and inducing that memorable response: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
The deep-thinkers didn't merely laugh when that happened. They stopped to think, and said "There's a rising man. He must be rescued from the law and consecrated to diplomacy. The commercial advantages of a great nation lie there in that man's keeping. We no longer require a man to take care of our moral character before the world. Washington and his anecdote have done that. We require a man to take care of our commercial prosperity."
Mr. Choate has carried that trait with him, and, as Mr. Carnegie has said, he has worked like a mole underground.
We see the result when American railroad iron is sold so cheap in England that the poorest family can have it. He has so beguiled that Cabinet of England.
He has been spreading the commerce of this nation, and has depressed English commerce in the same ratio. This was the principle underlying that anecdote, and the wise men saw it; the principle of give and take-- give one and take ten--the principle of diplomacy.
ON STANLEY AND LIVINGSTONE
Mr. Clemens was entertained at dinner by the Whitefriars' Club, London, at the Mitre Tavern, on the evening of August 6, 1872. In reply to the toast in his honor he said:
GENTLEMEN,--I thank you very heartily indeed for this expression of kindness toward me. What I have done for England and civilization in the arduous affairs which I have engaged in (that is good: that is so smooth that I will say it again and again)--what I have done for England and civilization in the arduous part I have performed I have done with a single-hearted devotion and with no hope of reward. I am proud, I am very proud, that it was reserved for me to find Doctor Livingstone and for Mr. Stanley to get all the credit. I hunted for that man in Africa all over seventy-five or one hundred parishes, thousands and thousands of miles in the wilds and deserts all over the place, sometimes riding negroes and sometimes travelling by rail. I didn't mind the rail or anything else, so that I didn't come in for the tar and feathers. I found that man at Ujiji--a place you may remember if you have ever been there--and it was a very great satisfaction that I found him just in the nick of time.