The Dayton (Ohio) Journal

1872: 5 January

Mark Twain's Lecture--Mark Twain was greeted with a full house at Music Hall last night. His fame as a versatile and humorous writer is more widely spread, perhaps, than that of any other man in his line. There was, therefore, a very general desire to see the man whose genius had made its mark in such a lively work as "The Innocents Abroad." He waived the stereotyped formula of being introduced to the audience by making his own introduction. He preferred that way to the fulsome introductions often given by others, as he could get the facts in better shape. He was once introduced to an audience by a plain, matter-of-fact fellow, who said: "This, ladies and gentlemen, is Mark Twain. I don't know anything about him, except two things--one is that he was never in the penitentiary, and the other is, no one knew why."

Mark Twain is a spare-looking man, of medium height, dark complexion, black hair, beard and moustache, slightly awkward in his movements; slow-tongued and droll manner, which seem to be rather natural with him than put on for the occasion. His wit runs into the extravagant style, consisting of exaggerated facts, nonsense and absurdities; but to use his own expression, he tacks on the nonsense to make the facts take. His lecture entitled "Roughing It" was really a description of Nevada Territory--its climate, soil, mountains, lakes, rivers, and inhabitants. These were all told in a way that imparted a good deal of valuable information, with a profuse accompaniment of wit and nonsense.

His description of Lake Tahoe was exceedingly beautiful. We think he shows his good sense in occasionally talking good sense, and throwing in beautiful things. The fault of most humorous lecturers is in being altogether humorous. This was the trouble with "Josh Billings." Mark Twain might improve in this respect. It is sufficient, however, to say of Mark Twain's lecture that it was fully endorsed by the large and respectable audience present, whose hearty laughter and frequent applause, were, after all, the best criticism upon the entertainment.