I was talking to Reid the other day, and he showed me my autograph on an old paper twenty years old. I didn't know I had an autograph twenty years ago. Nobody ever asked me for it.

I remember a dinner I had long ago with Whitelaw Reid and John Hay at Reid's expense. I had another last summer when I was in London at the embassy that Choate blackguards so. I'd like to live there.

Some people say they couldn't live on the salary, but I could live on the salary and the nation together. Some of us don't appreciate what this country can do. There's John Hay, Reid, Choate, and me. This is the only country in the world where youth, talent, and energy can reach such heights. It shows what we could do without means, and what people can do with talent and energy when they find it in people like us.

When I first came to New York they were all struggling young men, and I am glad to see that they have got on in the world. I knew John Hay when I had no white hairs in my head and more hair than Reid has now. Those were days of joy and hope. Reid and Hay were on the staff of the Tribune. I went there once in that old building, and I looked all around and I finally found a door ajar and looked in. It wasn't Reid or Hay there, but it was Horace Greeley. Those were in the days when Horace Greeley was a king. That was the first time I ever saw him and the last.

I was admiring him when he stopped and seemed to realize that there was a fine presence there somewhere. He tried to smile, but he was out of smiles. He looked at me a moment, and said:

"What in H---do you want?"

He began with that word "H." That's a long word and a profane word. I don't remember what the word was now, but I recognized the power of it. I had never used that language myself, but at that moment I was converted. It has been a great refuge for me in time of trouble. If a man doesn't know that language he can't express himself on strenuous occasions. When you have that word at your command let trouble come.

But later Hay rose, and you know what summit Whitelaw Reid has reached, and you see me. Those two men have regulated troubles of nations and conferred peace upon mankind. And in my humble way, of which I am quite vain, I was the principal moral force in all those great international movements. These great men illustrated what I say. Look at us great people--we all come from the dregs of society. That's what can be done in this country. That's what this country does for you.

Choate here--he hasn't got anything to say, but he says it just the same, and he can do it so felicitously, too. I said long ago he was the handsomest man America ever produced. May the progress of civilization always rest on such distinguished men as it has in the past!




"I have often thought that when the time comes, which must come to all of us, when we reach that Great Way in the Great Beyond, and the question is propounded, 'What have you done to gain admission into this great realm?' if the answer could be sincerely made, 'I have made men laugh,' it would be the surest passport to a welcome entrance. We have here to-night one who has made millions laugh--not the loud laughter that bespeaks the vacant mind, but the laugh of intelligent mirth that helps the human heart and the human mind. I refer, of course, to Doctor Clemens. I was going to say Mark Twain, his literary title, which is a household phrase in more homes than that of any other man, and you know him best by that dear old title."

I thank you, Mr. Toastmaster, for the compliment which you have paid me, and I am sure I would rather have made people laugh than cry, yet in my time I have made some of them cry; and before I stop entirely I hope to make some more of them cry.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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