The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

1884: November 23

Mark Twain and George W. Cable Entertain a Large Audience--
The Academy of Music Packed to the Doors

A slimly built, dark whiskered man, the points of whose long and somewhat straggling black mustache almost fell upon the collar of his dress coat, faced the immense audience that filled up every crevice and nook of the Academy of Music at 8 o'clock last evening, and backed somewhat nervously against part of the elegant furniture that had supplanted the ordinary properties of the stage. Mr. George W. Cable was about to commence a recital of the adventures of some of his characters in his novel of "Dr. Sevier." Mr. Cable's manner as an elocutionist violates some of the canons of good speaking, but his story is so spiritedly told by him that to his audience the contempt of the conventionalities is lost sight of in the interest of the narrative. Mr. Cable retired with a series of profound bows that landed him exactly at the easterly corner of the stage when he had finished. Three young ladies in the front seat now nudged one another and some of the more elderly of the audience prepared to listen to Mark Twain. The noted humorist, his hair tinged with gray and a look of perfect innocence on his sharp New England features, came forward amid the plaudits of the audience, the young ladies in the front seats apparently losing all control of themselves and clapping their hands until their faces glowed. Twain has a peculiar way of looking sideways at his audience and at the same time gently lifting up his left hand by the agency of his right and scratching his well shaven chin meditatively. He commenced by assuring his audience that he had had since he knew anything a horror of the interviewer. "The principal reason of that," he continued, "is that reporters have a peculiar way of getting at facts which a man does not want to be known. Now, one of these men came to see me one time after I had -- well, committed a crime. What the crime was has entirely escaped my memory. I have no mind to remember such things anyway. I made no note of it, but all the same I did not want to see this interviewer. When he came to see me I wrestled a long time with the problem of how to offset him." The lecturer continued in this strain, amid the laughter of his audience, and showed how he had completely befogged the interviewer with a series of falsehoods that would knock any man off his pins. His manner was inimitable, and no reproduction of his mere words can convey any idea of the humor of the situation. The audience was completely carried away, but amid all the laughter the prickly halo of stubbly gray hair that fringes his forehead was immovable. He was apparently incapable of emotion. The jolliest of witticisms and the condensation of humor went forth from his lips, but never a smile was to be seen on his countenance.

Mr. Cable again regaled the audience with a chapter of "Dr. Sevier," and effectually dissipated the impression, if such prevails, that his work was intended as a mere makeweight to that of Mr. Clemens. In response to an encore he sang a Creole song that had been first heard on the banks of the Congo 150 years ago. It was partially translated into a combination of barbaric French and New Orleans African. When he had made his bow he backed against a little pedestal on which a statue of Shakespeare rested. The Bard of Avon trembled for a moment, and would have fallen to the ground if Mr. Cable had not been equally ready with his hands as he had been eloquent with his tongue. He introduced the statue as the late Mr. Shakespeare. The laughter that greeted this joke was redoubled as Mark Twain stepped forward and told the audience that he meant to make an alteration in the programme. The next piece according to that instrument was Buck Fanshaw's Funeral, but Mr. Clemens said that he never did like funerals anyway. This funeral procession was exploded in Brooklyn ten years ago he said, "and I will read instead a scene from my new play, in which Colonel Mulberry Sellers having failed in everything else tackles science as a last resort, and proposes to utilize the wasted energies of the present race of human beings in rehabilitating those who had gone over to the majority. His friend Lafayette Hawkins, of Missouri, thinks that there is no money in it, but the colonel takes policemen and shows that model and best of all immortal patrolmen can be furnished at nine cents apiece, and an exceptionally good article at $120 a gross. A permanent set of dead Congressmen was suggested, and it was said that Europe could be furnished with kings who could actually eat dynamite. Charlemagne and Solomon could be sold at auction, and the dead heroes of Greece and Rome would be worth millions. "We will make a good sale," the colonel continued, "but I must insist on no higgling about a million or two either way."

Mr. Clemens was recalled after this effort, and told his famous, if somewhat antique, whistling story. Mr. Cable, with true pathos and intense feeling, recited "The Fall of Orleans," from his novel, "Dr. Sevier," and Mr. Clemens came forward to tell how he had lost the editorship in a Nevada paper in the old time. This is one of his best efforts, but all who have read his books are sufficiently acquainted with it. The Southern problem was again wrestled with by Mr. Cable, and Mr. Clemens entertained the audience with a ghost story, that sent his auditors home to dream of golden arms, humbug wounds and mysterious visitors. The matinee performance was equally successful, if a little more restricted as to the topics touched upon.

Mr. T.B. Sidebotham, Jr., the manager of this affair, has been promised by Messrs. Twain and Cable that they will revisit Brooklyn in the Spring, after their trip to California, and give one performance.