Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph

1871: December 18

Mark Twain in Kalamazoo.

Union Hall was crowded, the body of the house, galleries and aisles all filled, Saturday eveningby an audience gathered from neighboring towns, as well as Kalamazoo, to listen to Samuel L. Clemens' (better known as Mark Twain) lecture on "Artemus Ward." No lecturer that has visited Kalamazoo, unless Gough be excepted, ever drew together a larger or more cultivated audience, and no lecturer, we regret to say, ever more completely disappointed his hearers. The substitute for a lecture which Mr. Clemens foisted upon his audience was an insult to their intelligence and capacity. We have no ill-will toward Mark Twain. On the contrary, we attended the lecture very friendly disposed, have read his writings with pleasure, and regard his "Innocents Abroad" as containing more real humor than any book ever published in America. But we are compelled to pronounce his performance Saturday evening an imposition on both the Young Men's Library Association and the audience who listened to it. This is not Twain's first season on the lecture platform. Heretofore he has demonstrated his ability to give instructive and entertaining lectures, but in resorting to such a makeshift as we heard Saturday night he is guilty of obtaining money from the Society and the public under false pretences. Capable of furnishing a good lecture, Mr. Clemens had no right to impose upon his hearers any such desultory trash as they were subjected to. They had a right to expect something worth coming to hear, and if he is too lazy or unmindful to do justice to himself or an audience he ought not to lecture at all. He should have given the lecture he contracted to deliver, or something equally good, in its stead, and not put us off with a rambling, disconnected talk about a hackneyed subject, sans wit, sans information, sans sense. It is the duty of the press to expose such impositions, and if other journals remain silent, we shall not.