The Janesville (Wisconsin) Daily Recorder

1885: January 21


The literary event of the season was the entertainment given at the Opera House last evening, by "Mark Twain" (Samuel L. Clemens) and Mr. George W. Cable, the distinguished Southern novelist. There was a good audience, considering the prevailing chilliness of the atmosphere, and it was made up largely from the reading and thinking portion of the community. Mr. Cable was first on the programme, and his appearance was the signal for applause. He is a man about forty years of age, rather short and slender, with thick, black hair, combed slick, a long black, silky beard, and heavy drooping moustache, a bright, penetrating eye, a countenance denoting intelligence, a pleasant voice, and the gestures and movements of a polished gentleman. Mr. Cable's readings, or more properly recitations, were from his novel of "Dr. Sevier." In his first effort he sustained the characters of John and Mary Richling and Narcisse, where the latter attempts to "baw" fifty dollars from John and his wife.

"Mark Twain" followed Mr. Cable, and was enthusiastically received. He came onto the stage with his head protruded forward, one hand in his pocket, and his every movement was indicative of the droll humor that was fairly bubbling out of him. He is tall, awkward, with heavy, bushy hair, slightly tinged with gray, a heavy moustache, drooping eye brows that almost covered his half closed eyes, and he drawled his words out after the style of a genuine "down-easter." His first selection was from the advance sheets of his new book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and told what he knew about Kings in general, and "King Solermunn" in particular. He put his audience in good humor with the first sentence and it continued until the last. He never smiles when telling a story that causes his audience to laugh until the tears trickle down their cheeks, but on the contrary, pulls his iron gray moustache and scowls. Stories that would fall flat when told by other lips than his kept the audience in a constant roar. His "Tragic Tale of the Fishwife," in which he relates his experience with the genders while endeavoring to learn the German language, and "A Trying Situation," which was one of his best efforts, in which a gentleman does not recognize a lady who recognizes him is mystified by her questioning him about a fictitious past in what she calls a "delightful talk about old times," was true to life and furnished no end of amusement. Mark responded to only one encore and then gave his stammering story with electrical effect.

Mr. Cable substituted a Creole song for one number on the programme, and proved himself not only a good elocutionist and a man of literary ability, but possessed of a sweet, clear voice. He was loudly encored, and responded with a wild and weird dancing song. The courting scene between Kate Riley and Ristofalo, the Italian, was a splendid piece of work, but his last effort, "Mary's Night Ride," was a grand piece of word painting, and one of the best selections of the evening. His description of that thrilling ride through the Confederate lines, held his audience spell bound, and although Mr. Cable is hardly heavy enough for the part, he does his work very creditably. "Mark Twain" closed the evening's entertainment with one of his characteristic ghost stories, which was very startling to say the least, and was told in his inimitable style.

The form of the entertainment is new and novel, and the two gentlemen who are presenting it, have leaped into public favor almost instantaneously. They are both stars of no little magnitude in their specialties, and wherever they go they will be gladly welcomed.