The (Keokuk) Daily Gate City

1885: January 15


Mark Twain's characteristic introduction of himself last night at its close shaped itself into an apology for his having been the cause of bringing from pleasant homes and cheerful firesides the large audience that assembled at the opera house last night. We venture the assertion, however, that every one present felt fully repaid for the discomfort experienced in fighting their way through the fiercest snow storm of the season by the excellence of the entertainment furnished them by Mark Twain who certainly is entitled to rank as our foremost humorist and George W. Cable, the distinguished southern novelist. Mr. Cable was first upon the program and gave a reading from Dr. Sevier, but unfortunately the greatest portion of it was lost to the audience by reason of the interruptions caused by the late comers. Mark Twain came next and the appearance of the ungainly body and the shaggy head was the signal for applause. He remarked after the performance that he had grown handsomer of late. If this is the fact, and it is generally understood that Twain is truthful, we feel grateful that he didn't appear before us in his previous condition. As far as looks are concerned Twain would never capture a premium at a beauty show, but when it comes to story telling the best judges would pronounce him chief. He called the audience friends and fellow townsmen, told them he was glad to resume an intercourse that had been broken off years ago, said he was sorry to have been the cause of bringing them out upon such a night, but that they were no worse off than the people of some seventy-five cities already visited by them this season, that a storm generally preceded their coming, and that if feeling well they always left a famine behind them. After this, as a sort of introduction and preliminary, he waded into an extract from his new book and caused many a laugh by his funny description of the discussion of the merits of and demerits of "King Sollermun" between the darkey Jim and Huckleberry Finn.

Mr. Cable's next reading was from Dr. Sevier also and dealt with Kate Riley, Richling and Ristofalo, the latter part of it being devoted to the wooing of the widow by the Italian and was given in a decidedly clever manner. Mark Twain then convulsed the audience with a side-splitting history of his tussle with the German language and his lamentable failure to properly declare their adjectives or master the intricacies of the gender of their nouns. Being recalled he told his very funny stuttering story and another being demanded he spun a sailor yarn to the entire satisfaction of the audience.

For the regular number on the program Mr. Cable at this point substituted several pleasing Creole songs which were well received. Twain then gave "a Trying Situation" which was followed by Mr. Cable in a descriptive reading. He had kept his best for the last and his dramatic rendition of "Mary's Night Ride" won for him most heart applause. The performance was closed with a personal reminiscence by Mark Twain detailing his experience with the duello in his days of roughing it in the rowdy west.