Last evening Young Men's Hall was densely crowded with one of the largest audiences of the season, to listen to Mark Twain in his new role of comic lecturer. Of course all were intensely amused at his droll sayings, but it is perhaps safe to say that his capabilities as a writer are far in advance of his powers as a lecturer. The lecture itself was decidedly good, but its delivery was not what might have been expected, an assumed drawl, though very taking and appropriate at times, spoiling the effect of many of the finest sentences. Some of the more serious passages were of the most brilliant order, but their effect was sadly marred by the failing already alluded to. The allusion to the Sphynx is a striking illustration of this:
"The great face was so sad, so earnest, so longing, so patient. There was a dignity not of earth in its mien, and in its countenance a benignity such as never any thing human wore. It was stone, but it seemed sentient! If ever image of stone thought, it was thinking. It was looking toward the verge of the landscape, but looking at nothing--nothing but distance and vacancy. It was looking over and beyond every thing of the present, and far into the past. It was gazing out over the ocean of time--over lines of century-waves which, further and further receding, closed nearer and nearer together, and blended at last into one unbroken tide, away toward the horizon of a remote antiquity.
"It was thinking of the wars of departed ages--of the empires it had seen created and destroyed--of the nations whose birth it had witnessed, whose progress it had watched, whose annihilation it had noted--of the joy and sorrow, the life and death, the grandeur and decay, of five thousand slow revolving years.
"It was the type of an attribute of man--of a faculty of his heart and brain. It was MEMORY--RETROSPECTIVE--wrought into visible, tangible form. All who know what pathos there is in memories of days that are accomplished and faces that have vanished--albeit only a trifling score of years gone by--will have some appreciation of the pathos that dwells in these grave eyes that look so steadfastly back upon the things they knew before history was born--before tradition had being--things that were, and forms that moved, in a vague era which even poetry and romance scarce know of--and passed one by one away and left the stony dreamer solitary in the midst of a strange new age, and uncomprehended scenes!
"The Sphynx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story. And there is that in the overshadowing majesty of this eternal figure of stone, with its accusing memory of the deeds of all ages, which reveals to one something of what he shall feel when he stands at last in the awful presence of God!"