|[As far as I have been able to learn, this New Year's Eve performance is MT's last "expression" of his fascination with the ideas of twinship and doubled, divided selves. It's interesting to note that the Times placed this story right in the middle of the front page. MT's alter ego was played by someone named Brynner, as MT himself says in a report about "the grand times last night" to his daughter Jean written the next day. The MS letter is in the Barrett Collection; you can see it by CLICKING HERE.]|
CHEER NEW YEAR'S PARTY
Humorist in a Siamese Twin Act
at His House.
TWO JOINED BY A RIBBON
Twin Gets Drunk and the Joy of It
Penetrates to Twain While Lec-
turing on Temperance.
The last thing Mark Twain did in 1906 was to get drunk and deliver a lecture on temperance, and the first thing he did in 1907 was to glory in the fact that he would be able to rejoice over other dead people when he died in having been the first man to have telharmonium music turned on in his house -- "like gas."
Of course Mark Twain did not really get drunk any more than he delivered a real lecture on temperance. He imitated a drunken man and a temperance lecturer at one and the same time, and took all the glory for the lecture to himself while he blamed his Siamese brother for the jag.
Those who have never heard that Mr. Clemens has a Siamese brother must be told that he only had such a relative for one night only, and the occasion was a party given to a few friends in honor of Miss Clemens, at the author's home, 21 Fifth Avenue, last night, or partially this morning, for all well-regulated cases of intoxication last more than fifteen minutes, even the imitations, and the imitation given last night and given in such style that even the most ardent admirer had to admit that Mark was a close observer, resulted in what might be termed colloquilly a "hold over." During the hold over Mr. Clemens had something to say about politics.
The score or so of guests who had passed the evening playing charades and other games were surprised to see Mr. Clemens enter the drawing room on to the little stage, at 11:30, dressed in the white suit he wore recently on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.
With him, in a similar white suit, came a young gentlemen whom the author introduced to the company as his Siamese brother. The two had their arms about each other, and their suits were fastened together with a pink ribbon supposed to represent a ligature. Twain was rather short and broad and his hair was snow white. His brother was very tall and very slight and had black hair. It was easy to see that they were brothers. Mark remarked on the close resemblance almost as soon as he came into the room.
"We come from afar," said Mark. "We come from very far; very far, indeed -- as far as New Jersey. We are the Siamese twins, but we have been in this country long enough to know something of your customs, and we have learned as much of your language as it is written and spoke as -- well -- as the newspapers."
"We are so much to each other, my brother and I, that what I eat nourishes him, and what he drinks -- ahem! -- nourishes me. I often eat when I don't really want to because he is hungry, and of course I need hardly tell you that he often drinks when I am not thirsty.
"I am sorry to say that he is a confirmed consumer of liquor -- liquor, that awful, awful curse -- while I, from principle, and also from the fact that I don't like the taste, never touch a drop."
Mark then went on to say that he had been asked to take up the temperance cause and had done so with great success, taking his brother along as a horrible example.
"It has often been a source of considerable annoyance to me, when going about the country lecturing on temperance, to find myself at the head of a procession of white-ribbon people so drunk I couldn't see," he said. "But I am thankful to say that my brother has reformed."
At this point the Siamese brother surreptitiously took a drink out of a flask.
"He hasn't touched a drop in three years."
"He will never touch a drop."
"Thank God for that."
"And if, from exhibiting my brother to you, I can save any of you people here from the horrible curse of the demon rum!" Mark fairly howled. "I shall be satisfied."
Just then apparently some of the rum, or the influence of it, got through the pink ribbon. Mark hiccoughed several times.
"Zish is wonderful reform -- "
"Wonder'l 'form we are 'gaged in."
"Glorious work. We doin' glorious work -- glori-o-u-s work. Best work ever done, my brother and work of reform, reform work, glorious work. I don't feel just right."
The company by this time was hysterical with laughter. Mark was staggering about on the improvised stage, apparently horribly under the influence. His brother still held the bottle and was still putting it to the use for which it was made.
The laughter became so great that it was impossible for the old man to carry on the farce any longer, and in a few minutes the Telharmonium music, played a mile and a half away up on Broadway, was turned on and it was playing "Auld Lang Syne" when the New Year was ushered in.