Yes! They Are Coming Here!

They All Talk Like This, Everywhere!

[From the Detroit Free Press, of Wednesday, December 17, 1884.]

The scene at the "front of the house" in Whitney's last night was enough to make glad the heart of a manager. The sharp cries of "one, two, one, three" of the head usher rang out as he turned the well-dressed stream in ones and twos to the under-ushers. He stood like a rock at the head of the centre aisle and the stream poured in on him. It surged around him, but calm and immovable he stood, and it broke around him. He utilized it and turned the steam into rivulets that trickled down the different aisles like the separate arms of the delta of the great river beside which the Twain authors won their fame. The stream went in graceful cascades down the steps of the different channels into the parquet and innundated it. The theatre was a sea of faces.

The stage setting for this drama by two was of a nature calculated to inspire the authors with wonder at the wealth and splendor of Detroit interiors. Could Hartford insure a lovelier blue satin parlor suite? Could New Orleans exhibit a more gorgeous table-cover with a redder embroidered rose? The doors at the back were twain, and the lace hung in cables over the middle entrance.

A man, whose shadow was now and then projected against the wings, snapped on the footlight gas. Then with a crack the overhead illumination flooded the stage with light, and a third thrill awaited the audience when the same invisible magician with the lightning touch sprang the big chandelier into a dazzling combination of jets. "It is like the President at Washington starting the exhibition in the South to-day," said a lady to her escort.

These little electric excitements led up the audience to the event of the evening -- the entrance of the great American novelist, the humorist leading slightly, as they say in sporting circles. The sensation that had been caused by a brilliant-headed stage boy coming in and moving one of the blue chairs up to the footlights had subsided, and when the real actors came on there was a grand burst of applause. Mark Twain, drifting round the table to the front, leaving Cable kind of straddled on the other side, drawled out:

"Lays sun gen'lmen, I introduce to you Mr. Caaa-ble."

And with a wave of his hand he left his partner before the multidude, and retired R.E.

Mr. Cable looked down into the empty orchestra and saw on the chairs where the fiddlers used to sit a motley array of overcoats and sacques that showed him plainly that he was not in the balmy climate of the sunny South. Then he lifted his face, and the audience got a good, square look at him.

His make-up was good. The wrinkiles on his brows looked for all the world as if he had been for years in constant surprise at his own success. His whiskers were long and pointed, and they ran up his cheek on either side until they met the smooth black hair. A person had the uncomfortable feeling that perhaps they were held in place by a string concealed over the top of his head, and that they might at any moment drop off. His moustaches were of the St. John (not the Evangelist, but the Prohibitionist) type, and their parted ends drooped down to a level with his pointed beard -- three peculiar points about Cable.

He seemed just a trifle like a nervous man who had got his nervousness under pretty good control, but couldn't quite make up his mind whether it was better to keep his hands clasped behind his dress-coat, or in front of it with his thumbs up.

The first Cable dispatch was that exquisite conversation between Narcisse and the Richings, where the former tries to get John to "baw" him some of the cash Dr. Sevier has placed to the credit of the unfortunate couple.

"I wuz juz coming at yo' 'ouse, Mistoo Itchlin. Yesseh, I wuz juz sitting in my 'oom afteh dinneh, envelop'in in my 'obe de chambre, when all at once I says to myself, 'Faw distwaction I will go and see Mistoo Itchlin.'" It was distraction indeed to the Richlings. He saw "Mistoo Itchlin" in every sense of the word, and "baw'd" the last cent he had.

If Mr. Cable would come on the stage and sit down on the chair and have a good actor do the talking there might be some improvement. There was a touch here and there of amateurishness and a certain self-consciousness that rather interfered with the recital. Still, it is doubtful if any one could have given the Creole dialect as well as Cable himself.

In retiring, amidst most enthusiastic applause, he took three backward steps, made a bow, three more, then another bow, three more, and out.

There was no burst of music between the acts. The overcoats and things occupied the orchestra chairs with discretion and silence. This, of course, gave Mark a great advantage. The people were in good humor from the start.

"Mark the Perfect Man," saith the quotation. For "man" read "humorist." Nothing could be more deliciously droll than his very movement toward that embroidered tablecloth. He came in with his head forward and looked like a man who had lost something on the stage and wasn't exactly sure that he would be able to find it. When he faced the music -- or rather the place where the music used to be -- he looked at the audience with a puzzled, half-careworn expression, as if he had met the people before, but couldn't just at the moment recall their names. His half-closed eyes appeared to peer out from under the bushy eyebrows with a puzzled gaze that had been regarding life seriously for forty odd years, and couldn't quite make it out. His bristly, plentiful hair was brushed back as if he had been born that way. It looked as if it never could become towsled up or come down over his eyes, and it was tinged with gray. It seems incredible that Mark Twain should ever have gray hair, but such are the indications.

His left hand automatically sought his trousers pocket, and slid in there, leaving the thumb at liberty.

He told his stories with that inimitable Down East drawl of his, and took his audience into his confidence with a serious unconventionality that was most delightful. When he got through he ambled off the stage with a little trot that was as funny as his altogether diffident entrance. He reminds one in his serious fun remotely of Raymond in "Mulberry Sellers." He also reminds you of someone you have seen before, you can't tell who, but you are friends with him, for old acquaintance sake, from the first. The audience laughed so heartily at his stories that laughing became a pain, and then, as Saxe says, "Cable like a poultice came, to heal the blows of Twain."

The Creole songs that Cable sang in place of one of his recitations were enthusiastically encored.

Mr. Cable should give up the funny business entirely to Twain. He should stick to the serious parts of his book with the exception of Narcisse, and let Mark bring the laughter. He is enough and several to spare.

"Mary's Night Ride" was most graphically given by Mr. Cable. He brought the picture vividly before the eyes of his audience and held them spell-bound to the last word. It was the very perfection of intense word-painting. Still he should have shot that navy six a little quicker. The "once--twice--thrice" should have been given with every spring of the flying horse. "The tart rejoinders of his navy six" rang out in the night air, you may depend on it, Mr. Cable, as quickly as the brave spy could pull the trigger, and by the way, that sentence, "The tart rejoinders of his navy six," is one of the most graphic ever penned by the hand of man.

Twain gave his version of the celebrated st---st---st---st---whe-e-w-a--ammering story, which differs from that of Col. Sellers, and is infinitely better than Raymond's way of it.

In conclusion it may be said that while the stage settings had somewhat of a sameness in them to a people educated up to the scenery of the "Silver King" and such, still the combination must save a good deal in baggage cars, and if we missed the background of the Alps while Twain was in his "Trying Situation," or "The Street in New Orleans" while Ristofalo was before us, we should remember that our loss was their gain. Taking it from first to last the Twain-Cable entertainment was by all odds the most enjoyable thing of the season, a sweet boon to the tired theatre-goer and a joy forever to the callous cynical man in the box office. When shall we, Twain, meet again?


Delightful Entertainment Given at Case Hall Last
Evening by the Two Great Authors.
[From the Cleveland Leader of Friday, December 18, 1884.]

Case Hall never contained a more delighted audience than the one filling it last evening to listen to readings by Mark Twain and George W. Cable. A rich entertainment was expected and it was abundantly furnished. The audience was an appreciative one, and the recalls were distinct and vociferous. Mr. Cable was a stranger to a Cleveland platform, but his welcome was a most enthusiastic one. His voice is well trained and melidious and his gestures the perfection of grace. His appearance on the platform was the signal for an outburst of applause. He is about forty, short and slender, with thick black hair, a dark, drooping moustance, and short, silky beard. His face is intelligent and his eyes bright and sparkling. His success on the platform is due to the dramatic intensity and joyous humor that passes into each of his characters, and has been as instantaneous was his rise in the literary world. His readings last night were confined to "Dr. Sevier," perhaps his most successful work, and seldom, if ever before, has a Cleveland audience enjoyed his equal as a delineator of character, and as a word painter of those quaint yet original types of humanity which belong to a by-gone period. Gifted as he is as a writer and novelist, it is questionable whether both author and books are not more thrilling when the former gives additional life and color to his characters upon the stage. His elocution is a distinct innovation, but for that reason all the more effective and entertaining. In place of the third number on the program he rendered Creole songs, and was twice recalled to the stage.

Mark Twain is his companion's opposite in every particular. The latter is small and graceful, Twain tall and awkward. His gestures are few and meaningless, and he does not smile when uttering jokes that almost put his audience in convulsions. His great head of hair, once glossy black, is now an iron gray, and his bushy mustache jutting out over his queer mouth is also streaked with white. While his audience was roaring with laughter he simply pulled his mustache and scowled. Sentences and phrases that, emanating from other lips, would seem dull and commonplace, prove paroxysms of mirth when uttered by him. As a reader he is far outside of any conventional rule, but coming from his own lips his lines gather and convey many new and charming meanings. The laughter that greeted his first appearance attended him to the last. Despite his peculiar drawl and awkward gestures, his audience left satisfied of having been entertained by a geniune and wholesome wit rather than by any harlequinade of language. He began his part of the programme by relating an incident that occurred when he lectured in that same hall thirteen or fourteen years ago, when he forgot a passage in his speech and called on the audience to help him out. They thought that he was joking and he repeated the request. This only augmented the fun. Finally a gentleman arose and said that if he was really in earnest he would remind him what lie he was telling when the interruption occurred. "That gentleman," said Mr. Twain, "was Mr. Solomon Severance, and I have been very grateful to him ever since." His first selection was from the advance sheets of a new story called the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and was his best effort of the evening. His few years' retirement from the stage has robbed him of none of his mirth-provoking abilities, and the great audience laughed until it was weary, then rested, and laughed again.

[From the Rochester (N.Y.) Morning Herald, of Dec. 8, 1884.]

The very unique and happy entertainment afforded by Mark Twain and Mr. Cable in their joint recitations deserves the warmest praise the press can give it. The former's manner and speech on the platform, which are clearly unaffected, admirably supplement the humor of his thought and language. His style is evidently an expression of himself. The gravity of his features while reciting his side-splitting productions, is equal to the apparent sincerity and frankness with which he guyed that interviewer, and even occasionally draws his audience into a trap and then inwardly laughs at them. The most of his hearers Saturday afternoon and evening endured all in the way of laughter to which it was safe for Mr. Clemens to expose them. But they will be ready to take a second dose whenever he can conventiently visit us again.

Whoever has read Mr. Cable's "Grandissimes" and his "Dr. Sevier" was prepared to find in their author a man of talent and culture. But we confess our own surprise over his remarkable powers as an elocutionist. He has the delicate form, the small hands and feet, the keen, intellectual features that excite remark from a stranger in first seeing General Mahone, of Virginia. His voice, though pitched on a high key, is sweet, musical, and flexible, and in his recitiations he is equally happy in portraying the humorous and the pathetic features of his works. His Creole songs are, to those who have never heard them, a revelation of a new and delicious charm in music. In gentle, genial humor nothing could well have been happier than his representation of the courting scene between Ristofalo and the delightful Irish widow in his Dr. Sevier, but for dramatic fire, his rendering of the passage describing the encounter of Mrs. Richling and her friend, the scout, with the Confederate pickets, and the subsequent ride for life could not well be surpassed.

It is rare that authors are endowed as these gentlemen are, with the power of interpreting their own creations to public gatherings. We have no doubt that they enjoy it as much as their hearers do, and they have the satisfaction of knowing that the entertainment, in all its features, is solely due to their own genius.


A Large and Fashionable Audience Listen to the Readings of a Humorist and a Novelist
[From the Buffalo Times, Thursday Morning, Dec. 11, 1884.]

A very large and fasionable audience assembled in Concert Hall last night to hear that prince of humor, Mark Twain (Samuel M. Clemens), and that celebrated novelist, George W. Cable, in their joint readings. They went expecting a treat and they got decidedly more than they bargained for. A more delighted, amused, thoroughly satisfied audience never filled the auditorium of any building in Buffalo. Mark Twain, like old wine, or old friends, seems to improve with age, and his dry, unconscious, apparently spontaneous humor kept the audience in convulsions of laughter. With the exception of his first reading, given in the program below, most of the great humorist's admirers have heard or read the selections he gave last night, but they are of the kind that never grow "stale, flat or unprofitable" by repetition.

Mr. Cable's readings were not one whit less appreciated than were Twain's. His style of rendition is different, of course; his genius for description and natural intuition of the exact phases and character of all men are wonderful, and when his own writings are given with the exactitude and faithfulness he would have them, his genius and power stand out, and one can easily perceive the living images molded and shaped by his artist hands and master brain. Those who have read Mr. Cable's novels of Southern life, and have fancied they have struck the exact chord, even to the peculiar Creole patois and Creole life, need to hear the man who conceived the works to find that, no matter how careful may have been their study, they are somewhat mistaken.

As the two distinguished men of letters came upon the stage a volley of rattling applause greeted their ears. Bowing low, Mark Twain introduced his friend and brother lecturer with a few remarks that tickled the risibilities of the audience into immediate good humor. "Allow me to introduce to you, ladies and gentlemen," said Mark, "one whom I regard, the world regards, and you regard, as the greatest modern writer of ancient fiction, and likewise the greatest ancient writer of modern fiction the world has ever known. One who has all the talent, all virtues and all vices blended together to make the perfect man -- Mr. Geo. W. Cable," and Mark bowed himself off the stage amidst prolonged laughter.

"I am very glad he mentioned my name at the last minute," said Mr. Cable, "or you might have supposed it was the other man!" He then gave with all the power of the consummate elocutionist and the author a selection from Dr. Sevier. Presuming that Mr. Cable's life among the people of Louisiana, and more particularly among the Creoles, has given him a thorough acquaintance with their peculiar life and dialect, his rendering of the conversation of Narcisse, the Creole, was admirable and true. Mr. Cable makes a fine appearance on the stage, has a very clear, musical voice, and never fails for an instant to keep his audience absorbed in his word painting processes; so absorbved that they too can see as he saw with his genius when he brought them before life with his pen and ink, his characters and the scenes surrounding them; see them arise before their eyes and live and move and talk until he finishes his recital.

When the applause had died away somewhat, Mr. Cable introduced Mark Twain with a few felicitously chosen words. Said Mark (half the humor is lost in the cold type): "I notice many changes in the city in the last fourteen or fifteen years since I was here. I miss many old friends. Some have gone to the tomb, some to the gallows, and some to the White House. [Laughter.] Thus far, " he continued, with a long-drawn sigh, "the rest are spared. Over us all, my friends, hangs the same awful, uncertain fate; let us be secure against error, and prepare for the worst. I remember a certain circumstance of that by-gone time which I shall never forget. I arrived here after dark one night in 1870, with my wife. We were met by several friends, and I asked Mr. Slee to get us a cheap boarding-house, because it's always a good thing to practise economy. Then they drove us around through all the back streets of Buffalo for about four hours. It seems that my friends kept up a joke on me, and a real good joke it was, too. My father-in-law, Mr. Jarvis Langdon, had clandestinely bought a house on Delaware Avenue and furnished it up for us. It was a great secret -- so secret that I guess every man this side of Niagara Falls knew about it, except myself. They drove us up to the house, and when the door was opened by the supposed landlady, and I saw the elegant furniture, my opinion of Mr. Slee, and his ideas of a cheap boarding-house, went way down to zero. I told Mrs. Thompson, or Mrs. Jenkins, or whatever the landlady's name was, that we could only stay a week: I had lots of talent, but not enough money to stay at such a palatial residence. My friends, who had assembled there before I had arrived, then explained the joke. Now," continued the speaker, "that was really a fine joke; but those kind are all too scarce nowadays. It was an admirable joke, admirably conceived, admirably conveyed, and admirably carried out. The house doesn't belong to us now, but the coachman we still have. He has been lavishly endowed by fortune; why, that man has a wife and nine children!" He then read a short chapter from the "Adventures of Huckelberry Finn," which was sufficient proof to show that in this, Mark Twain's latest literary effort, his fund of humor has not yet left him.

In place of No. 5 on the programme, Mr. Cable gave a Creole song, which was so admirable and beautiful that he was obliged to answer the encore by giving another. Besides having proven himself an author, elocutionist, and man of great genius, he proved himself a splendid singer, with a soft, clear, beautiful voice. "Mary's Night Ride" was grand. Mr. Cable painted with his author's brush the thrilling incident of that ride through the Confederate lines, as found in Dr. Sevier.

Mark Twain concluded with one of his ghost stories. He said it was growing late, and he would have to tell a short one, and not the one a morning paper (it was the Times, by the way) said he would give about the North Street burying-ground. It is needless to say it was told in his usual inimitable style.

Those who want a good laugh, and have a literary turn of mind, should go to-night.


[From the Buffalo Express, Friday, Dec. 11, 1884]

The audience that greeted "Mark Twain" and George W. Cable at Concert Hall last evening was as fine a one as the most fastidious could desire, and that it was appreciative the spontaneous applause and constant bursts of laughter that greeted each alternate speaker fully testified. When everybody was well seated the two made their appearance together, and as Mr. Cable was down for the first reading, it devolved on Mr. Clemens to introduce him, which he did in his own peculiar style. He began in much the usual fashion, but soon ran into an erratic eulogy of Mr. Cable, characterizing him as one that "I regard, you regard, the world regards as the most gifted ancient wirter of modern fiction, the most gifted modern writer of ancient fiction, in whom all talent, all viture, all vice is blended to form the perfect man."

Mr. Cable's readings were from his latest novel, "Dr. Sevier," except in the third appearance when he varied the printed programme by an African Creole song, which he rendered very finely. It was a peculiar bit of plaintive minor music, and the light soft voice of the novelist was well adapted to it. Responding to the encore he sang a short bit representing the wail of a Creole mother for her lost child.

"Mark Twain," as an old resident of Buffalo, felt it necessary to renew former acquaintances. He scanned the audience from beneath those heavy brows and said that he missed many faces that he knew so well here fourteen or fifteen years ago. They had gone, gone to the tomb, to the gallows -- or to the White House. All of us must at last go to one or another of these destinations, and he advised his audience to be wise and prepare for them all.

The lecturer closed this grave introduction of himself by wishing his audience the same prosperity his coachman enjoyed and then plunged into "Huck Finn," relating his original notions of "King Sollermun" to Negro Jim.

Had a search been made for two men of letters more unlike in appearance that "Twain" and Cable the result would have been a total failure. The Southern novelist is the precise, alert, brisk man of style, keenly alive dto his part in the entertainment, his voice full of quavers and graceful turns of enunciation, his rendering as dramatic as he could make it, which came near the tragic in his rendering of "Mary's Night Ride." On the other hand, "Mark Twain" is the man from way back who has sat down by the stove at the corner grocery, gathered his cronies about him, and is telling a story as only he can tell it. Grim, slow, solemn, not a smile or an apparent attempt to dress up his lines, yet doubtless as keenly alive to the effect as the other. The one is of the dapper sort, as polite as a dancing master, and the other is ponderous and heavy, who for an obeisance merely works his head to a certain noticeable angle.

The two in this way form a splendid contrast and relieve each other very acceptably. If the applause and amused smiles aroused by Mr. Cable and the hearty laughter given in response to "Mark Twain" humor measure the enjoyment of the audience, that enjoyment was very great.