[From the Cincinnati Commercial.]
If amazement did not sit upon each brow in that assemblage as Mr. Twain went on with his extraordinary narrative, it was because courtesy restrained its expression. It would have read queer enough as a humorous sketch, but delivered, as it was, in the august presence of the men in whose lives there is nothing to suggest such an adventure in the remotest manner, it must have excited far other than humorous emotions. Wit has been defined as the faculty of discovering new and surprising meanings in words and things and in bringing them into such relations as to excite to mirth. Mr. Twain may have postulated his speech on that definition, and thought that by bringing these poets and philosophers, whose lives have been passed amid books, in college cloisters, and in refined society, into intimate relations with whisky, cards, bowie-knives and larceny, he was doing an irresistibly funny thing, that would set the table into a roar and wrinkle a continent with laughter. It was a mistake, however. On the contrary, Mr. Twain has been scored for his exceedingly bad taste, and there is a disposition to deal anything but tenderly with him. It is assumed that he ought to have known better; that even with his innocent desire to enliven the proceedings with something humorously quaint, and mix it with quotations from the respective writings of the poets, the instincts of a gentleman would have forbidden its presentation in a character-sketch so coarse and absurd in every incident. It will require a good deal of ingenuity on the part of the humorist to extricate himself gracefully from the predicament in which he is involved, and soften away the painful sensations that followed his unique performance.