This literary lion has roared once too often in the classic shades of Boston, and his name is now tabooed in the best literary circles of the modern Athens. It happened at the Atlantic dinner to John G. Whittier on his seventieth birthday, and Mr. Clemens' offense was the narration of a half-baked "bar-room" story in which the names of Longfellow, Emerson and Bryant were introduced without a decent regard to the requirements of good society or even good taste. The stuff has been somewhat extensively published; much more than it deserved; and Boston has been much scandalized thereby, and is not slow to express its virtuous disgust. The Boston Herald says: "Bar-room stories are ruled inadmissable in the presence of ladies, and the coarseness of this effusion of Mark Twain's, though not reaching obscenity or blasphemy, was yet so out of place in such an assembly as to indicate a stupidity which people have not generally associated with the name of its author." The Herald, however, seems to have traveled out of the record in order to find an extra barb for its poisoned arrow, for we find the Woman's Journal bringing a railing accusation against the founders of the feast for excluding women. An exchange says:
The Woman's Journal, under the heading "Wine vs. Women," discusses the dinner lately given by the proprietors of the Atlantic Monthly to "the contributors," and finds, in the fact that all the female writers for that periodical were excluded from the reunion, that the character of the gathering, as it would have been were all the contributors, male and female, admitted, was sacrificed to what were supposed to be the personal predilections of the masculines of that ilk. In this view of the case, it discerns a remarkable felicity in the "essay" of Mark Twain on that occasion, and insists that the production should have pre-eminence in the proceedings of the banquet soon to be published. This writer pungently declares that "a dinner accompanied by eight kinds of wine, and followed by dense clouds of tobacco smoke, would not have been consistent with the tastes and habits of literary women any more than it was with those of Whittier," and that Mr. Twain's "effusion," therefore, fitly furnished the key-note for the kind of entertainment relished by these masculine scribblers.
And still another journal says:
Mark Twain raised the goose-flesh on the surface of Boston complacency, and the question is, did he do it on purpose?
Perhaps he did. It is well known that Beacon street never received Mr. Clemens. Mrs. Julia Ward Howe said some time ago that the Atlantic was losing caste and lowering its tone by admitting the Twain papers to its pages, and perhaps Mark considers that he owes nothing to Boston in the way of courtesy or consideration. After all, though, the principal objection to his remarks on the memorable occasion under discussion is not that they offended Boston, but that they were pointless enough to offend every intelligent reader.