Indianapolis Journal

1885: January 8

The Twain-Cable Readings.

The most unique and thoroughly enjoyable entertainment ever given in Indianapolis was the Mark Twain- George W. Cable readings at Plymouth Church, last night, and they were given before one of the finest audiences that could be gathered, the auditorium of the church being completely filled in parquette and galleries. From first to last the immense assembly was in hearty sympathy with the readers, and, for a time, it looked as if the intention was to hold them all night. Mr. Cable's readings were entirely from Dr. Sevier, and they introduced Mary Richling Narcisse, Kate Riley and Ristofalo, and, incidentally, Mr. Richling. They were, in substance, the same selections he read here last winter; but he has them now in much better control, and is enabled to give more attention to nicety of expression than then, for he was then too closely confined to the printed page before him. For the third number, "Narcisse Putting on Mourning for Lord Byron," Mr. Cable substituted some Creole songs, which were received with great favor and heartily encored, to which he responded with the one he sang here at his former appearance. The best contribution he made to the evening's entertainment was Mary Richling's night ride, probably because of its serious contrast to the prevalent humorous tone of the programme. It was a fine rendering of a fine bit of descriptive writing, a real picture painted by an artist. Mark Twain is simply indescribable. The drollery of his appearance and manner invests the commonplace and wearisome with a freshness and comicality that is irresistible. The story of King Sollermun, printed in the last Century, is by no means easy reading. In cold type it seems to be trivial to the last degree; but as Mr. Clemens gave it last night, it set the audience in a perfect storm of boisterous merriment. His introductory dissertation on the peculiar grammatical construction of the German language, and the "whistling story" he told in answer to one of the furious encores given him, were his best numbers, although there was a verisimilitude about his conversation with the lady at the Lucerne Sweitzer-Rof, wherein they talked about old times of which he knew and remembered nothing, that appealed to everybody's experience in a like "trying situation." The last number of Twain, and of the programme, was the ghost story of the golden arm, which ended with a thump, starting everyone out of their seats at a quarter past 10 o'clock, after two hours of thoroughly enjoyable fun and sentiment. The large, intelligent and appreciative audience was an indication of the standing of these two writers in American literature as recognized in Indianapolis.