The (Philadelphia) North American

1885: February 27

The First of This Season's Star Course
Entertainments a Success.

  Last night's audience at the Academy of Music was a strong assurance that the Star Course, now in its sixteenth year, is as popular as ever with the public. There was not a vacant seat in the parquet and balcony, and even the family circle was comfortably filled. The aisles of the balcony and parquet circle were also packed, and did not furnish standing room after the readings began. Colonel McClure made an introductory address, in which he pronounced Miss Harris, the new manager of the Course, a worthy successor to T. B. Pugh, and then presented the entertainers of the evening, Mark Twain and George W. Cable, to the audience. After Mr. Cable had opened the entertainment, Mark Twain appeared.

  He dragged himself to the front of the stage with that inimitable and characteristic laziness of his which always provokes a roar of laughter.

  "Colonel McClure has introduced one of the confederates in this moral and intellectual conspiracy," he drawled. "I am the other one. A good many of you have had a great deal to do with boys," he continued, "and the rest of you have been boys, so you all know what boys are."

  He then told the story of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's brilliant achievement. Both were white boys. Tom's uncle had imprisoned Jim, a negro slave, in a log cabin for having run away. The boys visited Jim whenever they pleased, and could have released him by merely leaving the door open. But Tom had read of hairbreadth escapes from prison, and determined to get him out in the most elegant and romantic manner. They dug a hole under the cabin, sent him a rope ladder in a pie, and having read that noted prisoners always had pets in their solitude, brought him a large assortment of spiders, snakes and other reptiles and bugs. Fearing that his uncle's family was not taking enough interest in the matter to make it exciting, Tom wrote a series of anonymous letters, couched in blood-curdling language, which caused a reign of terror in the household. The last missive said: "A desperit gang ov cut-throats from Indian Territory will sneak down at mid-night to steal your runaway nigger. I am one of the gang, but I got religion." The result of this letter was that Tom's uncle had a number of armed men in readiness to prevent the escape. The boys were successful, however, and reached an island on the river, after Tom had received a bullet in his leg.

  The gifted humorist also told the story of a blue jay's mistake, which had been related to him by a man who understood bird language, and concluded with the tale of the jumping frog.

  Mr. Cable gave a description of Narcisse, a character in one of his novels, who was a great admirer of Bryon's poetry, and consequently of Byron himself. Having heard that Lady Bryon was dead, Narcisse thought it proper to show his respect for her memory by putting on mourning. He then delighted the audience with a number of African-Creole songs. In his recital of "Mary Richling's Night Ride Through the Confederate Lines" he showed strong dramatic power, and received a hearty encore.

  "I will now close these solemnities," said Mark Twain, coming forward.

  Just then a number of people began to leave. Twain looked at them and told them that if they wanted to catch a train they should go right ahead.

  "If anybody wants to go out I don't care," he said, dryly, but nobody else seemed inclined to leave, and he told another amusing story.

  Next Monday evening George R. Wendling will give an illustrated lecture on "Dickens," comprising more than two hundred illustrations, representing famous scenes from the great novelist's stories.