MT spoke in Iowa City on Friday, 15 January 1869. His visit was not a success. In its weekly edition for January 13, the Iowa City Republican advertised the lecture as a very promising event:

THE FIRST LECTURE. -- The first lecture of the Course will be delivered on Friday evening of this week, at Metropolitan Hall, by that celebrated humorist, Mark Twain. Subject: "The American Vandal Abroad." We have never heard this lecturer, but judging from his reputation we shall anticipate a rich and rare discourse. The Association has selected him because he has succeeded in making such a reputation, judging rightfully, that he could not have made it without merit. We hope to see an old fashioned crowd in attendance on Friday evening. The net proceeds of the lecture will be devoted entirely to good works in our city. The time, the occasion, the man, and the cause demand an overflowing house.

In its next edition, a week later, the paper panned MT's performance both on and off stage.

Iowa City Republican, 20 January 1869

THE VANDAL IN IOWA CITY. -- A splendid audience turned out to hear Mark Twain discourse about "The Vandal Abroad," and we fear were generally disappointed. As a lecture it was a humbug. As an occasion for laughter on very small capital of wit or ideas it was a success. There were one or two passages of some merit. His apostrophe to the Sphinx was decidedly good, as was also his description of the ruins of the Parthenon, and of Athens by moonlight. Some touches of Venice did very well, but it was impossible to know when he was talking in earnest and when in burlesque. It was amusing and interesting to see such a crowd of people laughing together, even though we knew half of them were ashamed that they were laughing at such very small witticisms. We were very much disappointed that there was so little substance to his lecture. We would not give two cents to hear him again.

But, lest he might not have succeeded with his "Vandal Abroad," he illustrated the character at the Clinton House, where he stopped. The morning after the lecture nothing was seen of him up to nine o'clock, and the landlord, in his kindness, went to his room to see if he might not be in want of something, but received a storm of curses and abuse for disturbing him. Of course the landlord retreated and left him. After a while a terrible racket was heard, and unearthly screams which frightened the women of the house. The landlord rushed to the room and there found a splendid specimen of the vandal and his works. There, before him, was the veritable animal, with his skin on at least, but not much else, and in a towering rage. He had kicked the fastenings from the door, not deigning to open it in the usual way -- that would have been too much like other folks. He poured upon the landlord another torrent of curses, impudence and abuse. He demanded to know where the bell-pull was. The landlord told him they were not up yet, and they had not yet got the house fully completed. His kicking the door open and his lung performance were his substitute for a bell. At two o'clock P.M. he had not dressed, and whether he did before he left on the five o'clock train we did not learn. The Y.M.C.A. were wretchedly imposed upon by Mark Twain, and so of course were the audience. He is the only one engaged for the course whose personal character was unknown. In great contrast will he be followed by the glorious Howard, the Christian Hero and Soldier, who gave his own right arm to his country, and who was ever true to her cause and the cause of his great Master above.