The Baltimore Sun

1872: January 24

Mark Twain in the Maryland Institute

The main hall of Maryland Institute was thronged last evening with an intelligent audience, eager to hear Mr. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, in his lecture, "Roughing It." On the platform were seated Mayor Vansant and Robert T. Baldwin, Esq. The lecturer's comical appearance as he entered alone, at once excited laughter, and his gestures and speech, which are of an apparently lazy character, with his humor and paradoxical ideas, kept his audience in the best humor for over one and a half hours.

He introduced himself as the gentleman named Clemens, or Mark Twain, whose great learning, accuracy, devotion to science and veneration for truth are only equalled by his high moral more character and majestic presence. He gave as his reason for departing from the ordinary custom of being introduced a prejudice to the existing system, as it is not necessary in regard to a man properly advertised. The usual public introductions make the introduced awkward and uncomfortable, for the great string of compliments thus heaped upon the lecturer makes him feel as would knocking him on his head. The only public introduction which had ever delighted him was by a man who, when doing so, said he knew nothing about Twain except that he was never in a penitentiary, and that he could not understand why not. Such an introduction puts a man at ease. Speaking of the subject of the lecture, the only reason he could give for its title was, perhaps, that he wrote a book on "Roughing It," which treats of the Pacific country, and would only say that the binding of the book was very fine, although the contents are not valuable; but the latter fact he did not consider of much consequence, for what people really care for is fine binding. A humorous description of Carson, Nevada, was then given, its lakes, inhabitants, the desperadoes, animals and birds. Hanging there is of rare occurrence, which may be best explained by the fact that a jury, two-thirds of whom deserve hanging, will never convict any one. They have about half a dozen rivulets there, which they call and believe to be rivers, but he thought that with due patience one man could drink them out dry. He has not seen this done for the reason that all fluids except water are drunk out there. He could not censure this, for in the economy of nature nothing is wasted. He confessed that he was exaggerating a little, but he differed greatly from Washington, who could not tell a lie, while he could but wouldn't. He went on to relate his adventures in "roughing it," in much the same strain, at length.