Peoria National Democrat, 12 January 1869

TWAIN'S LECTURE. -- Mark Twain, (Clemens,) held forth to a full house in Rouse's Opera House last evening. The house was a full as comfort would allow. His subject, "The American Vandal Abroad," suggested something of reproof, but the wit and humor that tempered the speech made every one forget everything but that. The public owe the lecture committee thanks for providing for them such an entertainment. They have begun well. Let them keep on in the ways of well doing and they will find their account in the full houses and plethoric treasury which will be secured them. We give them credit for one.

Peoria Daily Transcript, 12 January 1869

Mark Twain's Lecture.

The second regular lecture of the Library Course was delivered, last evening, by Samuel Clemens, popularly known as "Mark Twain," the humorist, who became known to the public a few years ago as a correspondent of the Alta Californian of San Francisco, and who is now employed on the editorial staff of the New York Tribune. His subject was "The American Vandal Abroad."

He was introduced by E.W. Coy. The lecturer accompanied the Quaker City expedition to the Bermudas, Paris, the Crimea, Constantinople, Palestine, and various points on the Mediterranean sea.

It did not exactly embarrass him to be introduced in this public manner, but it did remind him of those European guides who brought out every old relic and described it with a trite story and who if interrupted were obliged to begain again at the beginning. After the party learned the distinguishing characteristics of these guides, they all determined to affect as much imbecility as possible and they were equal to the task. The surgeon of the ship was capable of asking the stupidest questions without moving a muscle. One guide showed the handwriting of Columbus. The Dr. inquired who he was, if he was dead, if his parents were dead, and informed the dumbfounded guide that plenty of boys in America could beat that, and if he had any good respectable penmanship, let him bring it on. After conducting them through the Vatican without eliciting any remarks of surprise, the poor guide showed a mummy, one of the most remarkable and best preserved. The Dr., true to his calling, inquired, "What did you remark that his name was? How calm and placid! Is he dead?"

The true American vandal is not remarkably well versed in sciences, arts and antiquities, but is sure to be perfectly at home anywhere, and is bound to be surprised at everything and extract wonders from the most trifling objects. He will half smoke himself to death in trying to smoke a long-stemmed pipe a la Turk, but will swear it good. He will go into ecstasies over the insufferable horrors of a Turkish bath, though he is thinking the while that he shall never live to come out. He will bandy words with the cockney soldier about the impregnability of Gibraltar. He will stand unabashed in the presence of one Pope, two or three Kings and Grandees innumerable, and will stand unawed, unsubdued, and pick his teeth before the venerable, time-honored, time-defying placid face of the Sphinx.

Such an irrepressible vandal was that surgeon of the ship, who pretended to be a doctor and perhaps he was, for he could handle more unpronounceable Greek and Latin technical terms, than any sensible man on earth. The surgeon was called upon by the captain's son to prescribe for a horizontal parralax.

The true home of the vandal is Paris. He drinks champagne in large quantities, attends all the plays, weeps when the crowd weeps, and spats and stamps when other people do the same, though he cannot tell the dialogue from the scenery. He learns to talk French so well in six weeks that he is constantly abusing the Parisians for not knowing their own language. He knew one, who, on his return, failed to answer the salutations of his friends, he had become so familiar with his adopted name that he found it difficult to recognize his original one.

After doing Paris he generally goes to Genoa to see the birth-place of Columbus and get a stone from the very house where he was born. It has been estimated that all the stones taken from that house, if collected, would build one 14,000 feet long and 16,000 feet high.

He generally takes mementoes from each place. One of the party succeeded well till getting to the Crimea. Nothing could be found but the hip bone of a horse. The traveler captured it and labelled it "the jaw of a Russian General." Travelers' labels are not always reliable. They found a work of art which represented a man being skinned alive. It was wonderfully life like; it had such an expression! A man skinned alive would be apt to give his attention to that particular work -- unless his attention happened to be called some other way. It wasn't pleasant to view works of that nature; one is apt to dream about it afterwards. Still it reminded him of a scene in early life. He was required to sleep in his father's office, and one evening, as the moon was rising, he thought he was almost sure there was something on the floor of the room. He felt a little curious to know -- didn't feel anxious -- kept watching and discovered the white features of a dead man! He had been brought there to have sentence passed upon him -- that is an inquest -- and he was found guilty! He never felt so sick in all his life, never felt so much like taking a walk. He didn't feel in a hurry, not in the least agitated, but he went out of the window, took the sash with him, not that he wanted anything of the sash, but it seemed very convenient to take it along.

The vandal visits Venice that has existed as a republic for 1400 years, and laughs to scorn the armies and navies of the world. Here is where Shylock used to loan money on human flesh -- and other collaterals. Here he hears the song of the romantic gondolier. The lecturer heard the song of the romantic gondolier; let him sing about four minutes, and suppressed him and did a good job. His private opinion is, though he hates to oppose Byron and such, but his private opinion is, that the gondolier is a humbug -- as a singer. But not too fast. It is grand to glide down street in a gondola instead of a street car. Business men step out, put on their gloves, and glide down to their counting rooms. The ladies kiss good-bye, play all the secret deceptions of the sex in our own land, but keep the gondolier waiting instead of the private carriage. The go shopping just the same and compel the poor clerks to lay down tons of silks, bombazines, corduroys and the like, and then buy a paper of pins and have it sent home by the errand boy. Ladies there, are the same angels as at home, have dresses cut "bias," and have their back hair held up by a crupper just the same way.

The old doctor wanted to see Scylla and Charybdis. He was up at night with his everlasting spyglass. Some one asked what he wanted, "Wanted," said he, "man you do not know me! I want to see all the places mentioned in the Bible!" Explanation was made, and he exclaimed, "There's another night's rest gone. I thought it was Sodom and Gomorrah."

The vandal finally spreads himself abroad to Athens. He approaches the grand old city in its silence, as it lies at his feet as if seen from a balloon. Nowhere else in the world can another such picture be seen. He would digress to tell an anecdote, because he might forget it and because it had a moral. One of the party on board the Quaker City had a chronic habit of speech-making; it was natural, he could not help it. They sat in their tent one evening in the holy land and our speech-maker called the attention of a sailor to the mountains in the distance: "There, Jack, is the Mountain of Moab. For ought we know you may now be resting your eyes on the very spot of the mysterious grave of Moses." "Moses who?" said Jack. "Why, you ignorant booby! Moses led the children of Israel through the wilderness, 300 miles in forty years." "In forty years!" said Jack;. "Why, Ben Holliday would have put them through in forty-eight hours!"

It was a singular sight to stand before the Emperor of all the Russias; a plain, common spoken man, dressed in no better clothes than any of them; probably had no better. He might open his mouth, and ships would depart on his errands, armies collect for his service, a thousand trains fly at his bidding; yet his cordiality was sincere and he stood the only European monarch who welcomed them in their true capacity, as American sovereigns. He spoke of this, because the Emperor is the only true friend we have among the monarchs of the other side of the water. He felt on first-rate terms with Alexander. Alexander gave him freedom to scatter himself around at pleasure and leave just when he pleased. He showed that he was possessed of a heart, rather an uncommon thing for monarchs to have.

His passages descriptive of the Sphinx, a moonlight ride in Venice, and the appearance of Athens from the surmounting eminence, were really eloquent and finished. He is unmistakably a man of high natural ability and considerable culture, and could not fail to make his mark in other than his chosen themes. As a satirist and humorist, he places no dependence upon uncouth spelling or local vernacular. He has an easy, don't-carative manner and a little of the swagger of the traditional Yankee joker without a single low or ungrammatical phrase.