New York, April 23 -- Mark Twain paused today on the way to
the grave that thousands whose lives he had made happy
might look upon his placid face.
Most of those who gazed at the dead humorist in his coffin had never before seen the creator of "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn," but they felt that they knew Mark Twain intimately because of the humor and wisdom of his simple philosophy of life.
The sentiment of the immense crowd of mourners -- they were sincere mourners -- was expressed in one of the few floral pieces that lay about the casket in the quaint old brick Presbyterian church. It bore no name. Instead, it carred the simple legend, "From one who has read 'Pudd'nhead Wilson.'"
It was the tribute of the world to a man it knew most by his written words.
The body reached New York shortly before noon in a private car, in which rode Mrs. Ossip Gabrilowitsch, Samuel Clemens' only surviving daughter, and her husband; Dan Beard, the artist, Twain's lifelong friend; James Langdon of Elmira; Katie Leary, for thirty years the housekeeper at Stormfield, and other house servants. At the head of the coffin stood Claude Benzollete, for many years Twain's valet, who refused to move from the side of his dead master.
Only a handful of people met the body at Grand Central Station. No loving hands lifted it from the car to the hearse. That task was delegated to the undertaker and his assistants.
Slowly the cortege drove to the old brick church, where the body remained until the funeral services began at 3 o'clock. The church filled quickly. Holders of tickets were admitted first. Millionaires and paupers rubbed elbows in the vast crowd that stood outside. The body, clad in the immaculate white serge suit which marked Twain in his old age, lay coffined in front of the altar. The only floral piece was a wreath garlanded by the hand of Dan Beard.
At 3 o'clock the immediate family seated themselves in front of the coffin. Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke of Princeton and Rev. Joseph H. Twitchell of Hartford, Twain's old chums, robed in their vestments, took their places in the chancel. For a quarter of an hour the two ministers sat silent, their heads bowed in prayer.
No sound was heard through the dark old edifice save a muffled sob. Dr. Twitchell, Twain's oldest and dearest friend, was convulsed with tears. His massive frame shook as he brushed the white locks from his forehead and gazed down into the face of his dead friend.
Then Dr. Van Dyke rose and read the beautiful funeral service of the Presbyterian faith. At its conclusion he spoke briefly of Samuel L. Clemens, his friend, not Mark Twain, the author.
"I shall speak no eulogy for our dead friend," he said simply. There was no trace of oratory in his voice. "The friends of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, whom all the world knew as Mark Twain, meet in the quaint place for a moment to look upon his face in tenderness and gratitude before his body is carried to rest in God's acre by those he loved so truly. Our friend would sympathize with our sentiments if he knew we were here, not to grieve for him, but to help the living to have braver, truer, sweeter sentiments in the presence of God's mystery.
"This is not the time nor the place for eulogy for the famous writer, the honored representative of American letters in the world of literature. We are here reminded of the frailty of mortal flesh and the brevity of our way on earth. We think of Mark Twain not as a celebrity, but as a man whom we loved. We remember the reality that made his life worth living -- his laughing emnity of all sham; his love for the truth; his honesty; his honor.
"We know how he met with adversity, toiling years to pay a debt of conscience, following the injunction to do all things honorably as well as all things honestly. We know how he loved his family and his fellow men. We knew Mark Twain and we loved him.
"Nothing is more false than to think that the presence of humor means the absence of seriousness. It was the showing up of the unreal sham, the untruth, that made Mark Twain's humor. He was serious in his real humor. But we know that Mark Twain never laughed at the frail, the weak, the poor and the humble. He used his humor, but for things good and wholesome. He made fun without hatred. He laughed many of the world's false claimants out of court. Under all his humor he made us feel the pathos of life's realities, for he exposed the sham.
"Now that he is gone, we who loved him -- and we all loved him who knew him -- will miss him. We are glad to give thanks that he left such an honorable name. We are glad he won such fame in the world of letters. We are glad, after so many shocks in his life, that he has gone into rest and a fullness of the enjoyment that is due to his honorable life."
As Mr. Van Dyke took his seat, Dr. Twitchell walked to the altar, from which he might gaze down at Mark Twain's face. His voice was inaudible, and the tears poured down his cheeks as he asked God's blessing upon his friend, and the world's friend. He clasped the altar rail and seemed to be speaking to his old chum as he brokenly sobbed out a prayer.
"Let not our sorrow prevent us from giving thanks for the gift of his love, his friendship, and his fellowship, which will be our chiefest memories of our dead friend and brother who has gone before us," was his supplication.
"We thank God He has given the world to know of his tender love and friendship, the example of which has helped us all."
He could say no more. There seemed to come over him the realization that his happy hours with his old chum would be no more. His lips faltered in a silent prayer as he fell back in his chair and buried his face in his hands. Dr. Van Dyke clasped his hand in the grasp of understanding.
The funeral service of Mark Twain was at an end.
Slowly the great crowd filed past the coffin in silent tribute to the dead.
Until 10 o'clock tonight the body lay in state in the church, while throngs came off gay Fifth avenue and with bowed heads passed the form of the man who had lightened life's gloom with his humor.
Later the body was conveyed to the private car of E. E. Loomis, vice president of the Lackawanna railroad, and started at 2 a.m. for Elmira, where the burial will take place in the afternoon. The services there will be simple.
Dr. Twitchell, who was to have conducted the services at Elmira, was recalled to the bedside of his sick wife in Hartford tonight, and the ceremony will be conducted by a local pastor.
Mr. Clemens' body will be laid beside the bodies of his wife and children.
Among the distinguished friends of the dead humorist in the church this afternoon were Will Carlton, Brander Matthews, William Dean Howells, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Carnegie, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Choate, James Lane Allen, Peter Finley Dunne, Sidney Porter, John B. Stanchfield of Elmira, Robert Underwood Johnson, H. H. Rogers, Jr., son of Twain's dearest friend; Col. Henry J. Harper of Harper & Bros., Twain's publishers; Robert Bridges, and delegations from the Players', Authors', Century and Lotus clubs, as well as representatives from the Pilgrims' Society of New York and the Pilgrims' Society of London.