An Illinois Plug
[This tribute to Mark Twain as a lecturer was written by Major Dallam, and published in the Quincy (Illinois) Whig in advance of MT's April 9, 1867, lecture in Quincy. According to Walter Frear, this notice was reprinted in the Keokuk papers before MT lectured there as well. It's telling that even this fellow "westerner" takes pains to reassure his audience that MT's humor is not vulgar. It's curious that the account makes no mention of MT's local roots, even though Quincy is just across the river from Hannibal.]
We had a call, yesterday, from an old friend, Mark Twain (Sam Clemens, Esq.), the California humorist whom we had not seen since we parted from him on the sunward side of the Sierra Nevadas some three years ago. The aroma of sage brush does not hang around him still. The gentle "Washoe Zephyrs," which lifted a loaded quartz wagon with remarkable ease, have left no rough traces upon his good-humored face. The many feet which he once owned in Washoe, "wild cat" claims, out of which he expected to realize untold wealth, have long since been "sold for assessments," and yet he can still laugh, and make others laugh. He is, indeed, "a fellow of infinite jest" -- as our friends may learn to their entire satisfaction by attending a lecture which he proposes to give in this city on Tuesday next.
Mark's funny stories and quaint sayings are not so well known here as in California, where they have secured for him a reputation not surpassed by any humorist that ever attempted to amuse that people, who are, perhaps, more critical than any other community in the Union.
His wit and his style are peculiarly his own -- original, racy and irresistible.
The first time we heard Mark was at Carson City, the capital of the State of Nevada, on the assembling of the Territorial Legislature in the winter of 1863-4. Hon. James W. Nye (now U.S. Senator) was then Governor of the Territory. After the delivery of the inaugural to the "assembled wisdom" of Silverland, Mark Twain took the speaker's stand and delivered his inaugural as Governor of the Territory chosen by the "Third House," to a very large audience of gentlemen and about all the ladies then in Carson City. It was received with great applause and roars of laughter. Mark gave the Governor some hard hits, in a sly way, but no one enjoyed the fun more than rotund and rubicund Nye.
The lovers of genial humor will find nothing coarse or vulgar in Mark Twain's lecture. He also sometimes (by mistake, he says) indulges in beautiful flights of fancy and eloquence. But of his talent as a lecturer, our citizens will soon have an opportunity of judging, and we bespeak for him, in advance, a fair audience.