The Logansport (Indiana) Sun

1872: 4 January

WELL, Mark Twain has been here and lectured. Seldom, if ever, was a larger audience assembled in the Opera House than on Tuesday night last. Everybody had heard of Mark Twain. A great many had read some, if not all, of his writings, and the mere mention that he was to lecture created a rush for seats, and at an early hour the Opera House was pretty thoroughly crowded. About eight o'clock he made his appearance upon the stage, walking with a loose, shambling gait, and an inconceivably awkward manner. In personal appearance he is not very impressive, but looks thin and weazened, as if he had grown up amid the sand and alkali of Nevada. His head is rather large, and covered with bushy, bristling hair, and ornamented with a peaked nose and a pair of small, twinkling eyes. Well, as we said before, he lectured, or pretended to lecture is a more appropriate way to characterize the effort, for no man not insane enough to be a fit candidate for a lunatic asylum, or who meant to be sarcastic, would dignify the performance by calling it a lecture. His manner and style of delivery were those of a very poor clown. Some words he would drawl out, while he would jumble others together in a way out of place anywhere else than in a circus. His command of language was poor, he using but two words to express the merits of the thing he was describing:--"magnificent and common-place." Everything was either "magnificent or common-place." At his appearance upon the stage, and at the opening of his piece, the audience, who had come to be entertained, laughed heartily, but in a few moments the laughing was confined to the boys. Whenever he said anything he thought was witty, he always kindly stopped to give the audience a chance to laugh. This was very thoughtful in him, for, if it had not been for that, more than half the time they would have failed in discovering the place where the laugh came in. His anecdotes and witticisms were mostly old and stale. His description of how a man weighed a ton has been gotten off by every clown in every circus for the last ten years, as has his "good place for hunting," and his offer to "bury with pleasure."

His main forte is his extravagance, and in that he falls far below J. Proctor Knott, who excels him in extravagant and absurd descriptive powers as far as an ocean steamer does a tea-pot in motive power. In good part, his wit was of a low order, both as to quality and matter, and his account of life in Washoe was neither moral, elevating or instructive. He talked for an hour, and the audience went away disappointed and dissatisfied. Of one thing, however, they were abundantly satisfied, that, as a lecturer, Mark Twain is a "magnificent" fizzle, or a first-class humbug. The object and aim, we believe, of the two Christian Associations of this city, is to improve and elevate the moral and intellectual tone of society, and not merely money-making. In all candor we would ask if such lectures tend to thus elevate and refine? Does his picturing of Jack Harris, with his coarse allusions, and his buffoonery benefit the people? If not, then, in the name of society, let us have no more such performances under the auspices of the Christian Associations.