Respectfully Dedicated to those People who admire Gough
and can't bear Independent Criticism.--
Mark Twain lectured at Institute Hall last evening. At an early hour the intelligent, virtuous, high-minded, patriotic and well-dressed people of this enterprising and lovely village might have been seen wending their way to the Hall, &c., &c. The Hall was well filled, all the seats that were occupied being crowded. As Mr. Byron (whom some of our readers may remember sometimes made up verses out of his head), once said, "the lamps shone bright o'er fair women and brave men and all went merry as a marriage bell." (Lest any one should take offense however, we explain that the Hall was not lighted with "lamps" but with gas, manufactured by our intelligent, efficient and high-minded Gas Co. Bryon is to blame for the word "lamps" in this quotation, not we. We hope this explanation will prevent the Gas Co. shutting off our gas again, or any one else being offended and stopping his paper.) The elite of this place was assembled, &c., &c. It is rarely seldom that so select an audience fills Institute Hall. The lecturer no doubt felt highly honored and flattered at his reception, &c., &c.
Of the lecture we need say nothing, &c. Mr. Twain spoke for himself, &c. We only need say that it was fully up to expectations, and exceeded the anticipations of the most sanguine and skillful anticipatist in this section. While we do not wish to wound by harsh criticism, we have no hesitation in saying and we say it boldly that this lecture gave entire satisfaction to that numerous class of our readers who like that kind of a lecture. Still, we may be mistaken in this opinion and if so we are willing to be corrected; we trust that like Mr. Heap we are "umble" and would not venture to make so broad a declaration as the above without offering to take it back if it did not prove satisfactory to the intelligent readers of our widely-circulated and influential JOURNAL.
We cannot better and less offensively sum up the merits of this delightful, beautiful, eloquent, grand, extraordinary, lovely, forcible, convincing, pious, exciting, splendid lecture than in the one word with which the fascinating and fashionably-haired young lady so fitly described Niagara Falls--pretty. It should have been heard to be appreciated, &c., &c. Time and space will not allow us to say anything about the lecture here and at this time. We leave that disreputable task to the heartless wretch who so audaciously refused to admire the transcendant merits of Gough's temperance lecture and walk around. Those of our citizens who did not attend missed a rare treat. (Lest our temperance friends should be offended we explain that "treat" here does not refer to anything ardent.) Mr. Twain entered fully into the spirit of his performance. (Our readers who tie to spiritual manifestations will take no offense at the word "spirit;" it is not used in a supernatural sense.) To say this lecture was well received is only the naked truth (no offense meant to our lady readers by the term here applied to truth.) Mr. Twain's lecture should be in every library, and on every centre table, and on every faro table, and every bar, and in every livery stable, and in all other places which deserve mention here; we hope we shall not be deemed invidious in not naming them all.
We should be guilty of the blackest hearted ingratitude, sacrilege, and inattention to a blessed institution did we neglect to introduce in this connection a silver-plated puff on the Y. M. C. A., and the managers of the lecture course. By bringing Mr. Twain here they have conferred a great benefit on our people, have given the prosperity of the place a substantial boost, have placed us under renewed obligations to them, &c., &c. The citizens will hold them in grateful memory and future generations will inscribe their names
The American soldier's temple of Fame.
Along with the steed that saved the day
By carrying Sheridan into the fight
From Winchester--20 miles away."
[N. B.--The above is not entirely original--it is only impromptu and poetry.]
For the Journal.
Mr. Editor.--As your paper professes to allow free criticism, I wish you would give me a chance to pitch into Mark Twain's lecture. I was one of the victims. I confess I did not comprehend his lecture, as I did not the subject announced on the bills. "Our fellow cannibals!" Now what does that mean? Cannibals are men who eat folks, ain't they? And if they are our fellows it means we eat folks too, if I understand it correctly, don't it? Is this true? If not it is a slander on the people of this great and enlightened nation.
Starting out with a theme that either is a falsehood, or else means nothing, the whole lecture was the same. He commenced by introducing himself--an unusual procedure and I believe an undeserved slight on the lecture committee who were present and ready to introduce him.
And then he proceeded to his lecture--and what did it amount to? What new or valuable thing did he tell us of the Sandwich Islands? What that we could not read at home? He says he has been there, but he must have used his senses to little purpose if he could not pick up more interesting facts than he narrated in his lecture. His intimation that civilization was responsible for the decrease of population there is another insult to America. And what sense is there in describing a man as being dressed in an umbrella? Like a fool, he omitted to tell what the personal costume of the Islander is, only saying that it wouldn't take more than a minute to tell it; if it was so easy to tell why omit it? Where is the sense in referring to a thing and then telling nothing about it? Then, could there be anything more disgusting than his talk about the baked dogs? Well enough, perhaps, to explain that the Islanders eat dogs, but why dwell on it with such gusto when he said himself that he had no appetite for the dish? Did he suppose we had, that he talked so about it?
In equally bad taste was his reference to cannibalism. That incident about the poor old sea-captain who was so barbarously devoured was of course affecting, but why need he introduce it without giving the moral to it--especially as he said he told it only for the moral that was in it? Is it not an evidence of Twain's excessive stupidity that he could tell that story, as he confessed, forty or fifty times without once giving the moral to it.
And I think every intelligent person in the audience must have felt insulted, actually insulted, at his telling about a man being blown up out of sight and gone fifteen minutes and coming down in the very same identical spot and going to work again and the company docking him for 15 minutes lost time, expecting us to believe it. I consider the story preposterously unlikely. I don't doubt a company being mean enough to dock him, but could any man go up and come down again and go right to work without stopping to rest? Even if the story is true, I don't see what it has to do with the Sandwich Islands. You complain that our glorious Gough introduced matter foreign to his subject and yet say nothing about this unwarranted, absurd digression of Twain's. It makes a difference whose ox is gored, I notice!
And what sense was there in the lecturer's offering to illustrate cannibalism if any one would send up a baby to the platform. He knew perfectly well that in such an advanced community as this, infants are not allowed in the lecture room. And even if they were, did he suppose any mother would send up her child for such a purpose. It is a significant comment on this proposition that, inhuman as it was, it was the only part of his lecture that was strictly relevant to the subject; have your readers thought of that? It reveals the only glimmer of sense there is in the expression "our fellow-cannibals." Mr. Twain may be correct in using that expression for himself, but not in including others in the barbarous imputation, as he does when he uses the pronoun "our." He should announce as his theme, "My fellow-cannibals."
Another disgusting thing was the conceited manner and egotism of the speaker. He seemed to think himself smart, &c., and did not hesitate to boldly hint that he thought so. If he has any friends they should tell him what a silly appearance he makes.
And so I might go on, showing the irrelevancy and senselessness of nearly all his lecture. It was entirely worthless. I never was so disappointed in a performance in my life. I went there expecting to hear something thrilling and original about those interesting islands and this trash was all he had to offer. Some silly young people laughed, though what they could see to laugh at I don't know. I felt more like hiding my head in shame, disgust, annoyance, chagrin and mortification. I could not help thinking of our noble missionaries in those far-away Islands, and how pained they would feel when they came to know that the field of their labors had been so abominably and jestingly represented here.
Instead of joining you in the opinion that our Lecture Committee has won fame by getting Mark Twain here to lecture, I declare that they have offended the good taste and religious scruples of the sober portion of this community by introducing his ill-timed levity and in this opinion I am sustained by nine-tenths of that portion of the community. I therefore enter a solemn protest against Mark Twain, and in behalf of the serious portion of this community, sign myself,