From Harper's Weekly Magazine
MT 70
th Birthday Supplement: 23 December 1905


Birthday Wishes from Around the Country

[At the dinner, Howell's remarks were followed by MT's own speech -- you can read that by clicking here. After MT spoke, President Teddy Roosevelt's birthday wishes were read aloud. During the course of the remaining 13 speeches such letters and telegrams were read at several points; they've all been gathered together here.]

MISS CUTTING thereupon read the following letter from President Roosevelt:

            November 28, 1905.
MY DEAR COLONEL HARVEY, -- I wish it were in my power to be at the dinner held to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Mark Twain--it is difficult to write of him by his real name instead of by that name which has become a household word wherever the English language is spoken. He is one of the citizens whom all Americans should delight to honor, for he has rendered a great and peculiar service to America, and his writings, though such as no one but an American could have written, yet emphatically come within that small list which are written for no particular country, but for all countries, and which are not merely written for the time being, but have an abiding and permanent value. May he live long, and year by year may he add to the sum of admirable work that he has done.
                        Sincerely yours,
                        [signed]     THEODORE ROOSEVELT

MISS CUTTING read the following greetings:

To Mark Twain
His Seventieth Birthday
Greetings and Good Wishes.
And now, that the days of your years are threescore years and ten,
By reason of strength may they be fourscore years;
And the strength be labor--without sorrow.
                        [signed]     AMELIA E. BARR
                        December 5, 1905.

            November 15, 1905.
MY DEAR MR. HARVEY, -- I have more than usual regret at my inability to accept your invitation to dine with Mr. Clemens. I am the more sorry because this is the second, indeed I think the third, occasion when I have had to decline a like invitation.

I owe to Mr. Clemens many hours of agreeable recreation, and to take the census of the honest laughs he has given me is beyond my arithmetical capacity, and really nowadays, although many people may be able to interest you with what they write and a few be competent to generally amuse, a man, the music of whose mirth covered the whole gamut of the comic from the most delicate humor to side-shaking fun, is very, very rare.

Your guest has been for many years a tremendous contribution to the gayety of nations, but, beyond that, he has given us such an ideal example of manly honor in the conduct of life that we have doubly to thank the man who, I hope, enjoys his own capacity to produce a laugh as much as does the world which shares with him the joy of what he has given so freely.
                        Yours very truly,                         [signed]     WEIR MITCHELL.

This to M.T.;
So large the joy your pen has given,
    To match it, one might try in vain,
But what one man could never do
    Is easily done by Twain.
                        With my affectionate esteem, W.M.

Back of the New, with its filmy veil,
    (You'll find him somewhere, still)
There's a barefoot boy with a stone-bruised heel,
    And a bird-note in his trill.

He knew how poverty built her nest,--
    Where sorrow had dwelt with pain;
He had felt the cry of a broken heart,
    And the sunshine after the rain.

And it came to his heart as a prayer might come,
    Or the dew that the flowers quaff,--
That the drudging old world was poor and sad,
    For the simple boon of a laugh.

Men passed him by in the maddened race
    For glory and fame and gold;
But the barefoot boy with the stone-bruised hell,
    Went whistling, as of old.

Back of the New are the graves of the Past,
    That are lost in regret and tears;
And the men that sought fame and the men that sought gold
    Are hid by the dust of the years.

But the barefoot boy with the stone-bruised heel,
    Who whistled and dreamed the while,--
He has girdled the earth with his name and fame,--
    Made the whole of the wide world smile.

So here's to him now, in his merriest mood, --
    A wizard of joy to men;
To the sunshine he chased in the corners of life, --
    And here's to his threescore and ten!
                        [signed]     VIRGINIA FRAZER BOYLE

            ATLANTA, November 27, 1905 .
MY DEAR COLONEL HARVEY, -- I have delayed my response to your kind invitation to the Mark Twain dinner in the hope that I might find it convenient to attend, but conditions have so unexpectedly arrayed themselves against my desires that it will be impossible for me to be a guest.

There is no man in the world that has won in a worthier way the right to be honored in all ways. Having no purpose to do so, he has written the great American novel; without at all intending it, he has set for the young men in this age of commercialism, greed, and graft, a far-reaching example of simple, old-fashioned honesty; and following the suggestions of a heart almost too big for one body, he is the friend and champion of all who are poor and oppressed, and especially of those who have no voice to speak in their own behalf. Shams shrivel before him, and friendship takes on a new color -- a new meaning -- when he is concerned in it. Just give him the love of an old Georgia cracker, and say that I should like to be there.
                        Faithfully yours,                         [signed]     JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS.


If there's any way to do it, if there's any way to find
Any trail that leads to Boyland and its fancies, would you mind
Going back to where Tom Sawyer is with Huckleberry Finn,
And reminding them we're waiting for more trouble to begin?
If there's any way to find them, with their laughter and their song,
Will you go, -- and, while you're going, take a lot of us along?

You must know where they are staying. Can't you let the nations slide
And get up a big excursion to the place where they abide?
Let us quiver with the purest, unadulterated joy
Of another introduction to a sure-for-certain boy.
If there's any way to find them, we are all prepared to grin
When Tom Sawyer comes to greet us, leading Huckleberry Finn.

If there's any way to find them at their old familiar pranks,
There's a million of us ready to declare a vote of thanks;
There's another million ready to be tickled through and through
At the thought of once more knowing what those youngsters say and do.
If there's any way to reach them! You know where they've always been --
Won't you go and find Tom Sawyer, and call Huckleberry Finn?

We'd be mighty glad to see them; we should count it splendid luck,
Could we find another volume introducing Tom and Huck,
With their fishing, and their fighting, and their freckles, and their fun, --
And we'd chuckle through the pages, and we'd sigh when it was done!
Can't you let the nations ramble in their blindness and their sin
And renew our old acquaintance with Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn?
                        [signed]     WILBER D. NESBIT


Mirth is forever young, and laughters leap
From the fair lips of gods immortal too;
And tenderness and truth know naught of age.
Nor can the soul's capacity for rage
At dark injustice ever know decay: --
You, of these deathless qualities compact,
Must needs escape the fate dull mortals reap, --
Life proves her fairest promises in you,
In every written word and fearless act
Sees her high dreams of chivalry come true.

How shine at times the brow of honest men! --
Rare as the stars upon a clouded night,
That gleam with richer lustre in despite
Of darkness all around them, and again
Inspire our hope and shame away our pain, --
So do you shine and cheer us on, Mark Twain!
How we have laughed with you! How you have laughed
With us -- and sometimes we have wept together,
For there is every kind of storm to weather
In Life's long voyage, every kind of craft
To sail in, and each sailor can but do
The best that in him lies: so, if he drown,
We still can say, Well, there a Man went down.
And what we like is this, Mark Twain, in you,
That you were ever cheerful at the wheel
Whether in rain or sun, and no man knew
From what you wrought, what sorrow you might feel.

And now, as on your head these seventy years
Have whitened, and you wear the varied crown
Of Life, full-gemmed with laughter and with tears,
We greet you and we bless you. May no frown
Of churlish fate have power to haul down
The standard you have flung upon the air
Of our American, and may it there,
The symbol of manhood fearless, free,
Forever float for all the world to see!
                        [signed]     LOUIS MORGAN SILL.

MISS CUTTING read the following cablegram:

"The undersigned send Mark Twain heartiest greetings on his seventieth birthday and cordially wish him long life and prosperity:
Sir William Anson; T. Anstey Guthries (F. Antey); Alfred Austin, poet laureate; Rt. Hon. Arthur Balfour; J. M. Barrie; Augustine Birrell, Kt.; Rt. Hon. James Bryce; Sir Francis Burnand, editor of Punch; Gilbert Chesterton; Churton Collins; W. L. Courteney; Austin Dobson; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; W. S. Gilbert; Edmund Gosse; Francis Carruthers Gould; Thomas Hardy; Anthony Hope; W. W. Jacobs; Rudyard Kipling; Ian Maclaren (Rev. John Watson); W. H. Mallock; George Meredith; Henry Norman; M.P.; Sir Gilbert Parker; Sir John Tenniel, illustrator of Alice in Wonderland; Sir George Otto Trevelyan, historian; Mrs. Humphry Ward; William Watson; Theodore Watts-Dunton; Israel Zangwill; Tauchnitz.

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