Saint Paul Daily Dispatch

1885: 24 January


Every chair in Market hall was occupied last evening. The audience, fully half made up of ladies, was fairly representative of St. Paul culture. The occasion was the first appearance in St. Paul of Mark Twain, the humorist, and George W. Cable, the novelist, in their literary Siamese-twin act. Mr. Cable came on the stage first. He is a slight-built man, decidedly below the average in stature, has small, twinkling, brownish-black eyes, features almost femininely delicate, hair brushed carefully back from a square forehead of medium height, small, graceful hands, and last night wore a full, glossy black beard, with long, drooping moustache of the same color, and a dress suit. Several persons were entering the hall as Mr. Cable made his bow. He referred pleasantly to the chronic habit of late coming in theater-goers, but begged that the audience would try to devote a few moments from inspecting the costumes of the late comers to the speaker on the stage. Mr. Cable then read a chapter from his latest novel, "Dr. Sevier," throwing considerable expressive feeling into the delivery. The reading occupied about twenty minutes, and the audience applauded heartily. Mr. Cable bowed three times, and then made his escape to the rear of the stage with a peculiar, pigeon-wing kind of movement.

Two or three minutes later Mark Twain came on. The audience greeted him with a round of hearty hand-clapping. Twain wore his habitually tired, unemotional look, and received the applause as though it was something he had been accustomed to from infancy, but was obliged to endure politely. He stepped quietly up to the desk in the middle of the stage, placed his right hand upon it (the desk), shoved his left hand down into his breeches' pocket, on the left side, and looked as intensely weary as if he had just walked in from Milwaukee and had not had time to get anything to eat before coming on the stage. Any one ignorant of the humorist's identity would have taken him for one of the chief mourners at a well-regulated funeral, or a life-long victim of dyspepsia and melancholia, in the acutest forms. He began business at once. His voice was the same old, characteristic nasal drawl, in which the public refused to see anything eloquent, or even pleasing, when he essayed (unsuccessfully) to be a lecturer some ten years ago, but which is now accepted as almost as convulsive as the humorist's utterances themselves. Twain began last night by saying that the first number on the program with which his name was mixed up was a chapter from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," a new infliction by himself. He went on to relate "King Sollermun," with which the public is already familiar from having seen the anecdote in print in the Century magazine and various newspapers. The audience laughed and laughed and applauded heartily again at the close of the reading.

The other selections were: "Kate Riley, Richling, and Ristofalo," from "Dr. Sevier," by Mr. Cable; "Tragic Tale of the Fishwife," Mark Twain; Creole folk-songs, Mr. Cable, and the story of the "Woman With the Golden Arm," Mark Twain. The last named is a ghost-story, which Twain brings abruptly to a close by jumping toward the audience and crying "B-oo-o!" when the audience jumps, too, and then goes home in the very best of humor.

The Minneapolis Tribune

1885: January 25

AMUSEMENTS. Twain and Cable.

  The first appearance of Mark Twain and George W. Cable in readings at the Grand yesterday afternoon was fairly attended. The program was a rather varied one, and resulted in a most delightful entertainment. Mr. Cable gave some of his most spirited and characteristic selections from his best novel, and Mr. Clemens recited several humorous things, some new, some old, but all funny and giving more comic force from the quaint and droll manner in which they were delivered. Mr. Cable's work was largely in the line of Creole dialect, for which his very thin voice is well fitted. For his fifth number, however, instead of "Narcise Puts on Mourning for Lady Byron," which was put down on the program, he sang two creole songs. These songs, by the way, were exceedingly well taken by the audience, and called forth an encore. Mr. Clemens' selections were "King Sollermunn," from the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "The Tragic Tale of the Fishwife"--a vastly funny burlesque on the queer genders of the German language--"A Trying Situation" and "A Ghost Story." The "Fishwife" was recalled, whereupon Mr. Clemens tried on the audience a little bit of stammering work that went very well. "The Ghost Story" was a good deal of a chestnut, but the ex-pilot did it admirably and there was a great shout of laughter when the disclaimer, at the end of his long and harrowing account, shouted "boo!" and the ladies of the audience jumped up and screamed in terror. The manner in which Mr. Clemens gets on and off a stage is a sight to behold. He starts on in a funny little jog trot, half sideways, with his eyes cast up to the gallery, with a comical look of half inquiry and half appeal. Then he begins to deliver his humorous conceits with an expression of placid and childlike innocence that is almost as ludicrous as the words he is uttering. His gestures are eloquent, if not graceful, and would make any audience laugh, even if Mark had nothing to say. With these accessories his oldest story becomes just as fresh as though it were "fire-new from the mint."

  The house was well filled in the evening. Mr. Cable opened the program with "Narcisse in the Inundation," a daintily humorous selection from Dr. Sevier, describing the creole's voyage in a canoe through the streets of New Orleans. Mr. Clemens followed with his "Desperate Encounter with an Interviewer," which is a desperately funny thing and kept the house in a continual roar. The next number, "The Sound of Drums," by Mr. Cable, was not so thrilling as some of his other selections, but was nevertheless well received. Perhaps the funniest thing of the evening was read by Mr. Clemens from the advance sheets of his new book, entitled "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's Brilliant Achievement" in releasing the negro prisoner, Jim, from the log cabin where he is incarcerated. Mr. Clemens was encored and read "Tom Bowlin's Encounter with the Governor of Massachusetts." For the fifth number, as printed on the program, Mr. Cable substituted a couple of songs in the Creole patois, which were singularly weird and pleasing, and received an encore. In his songs Mr. Cable's voice has much more volume than in his readings. Mr. Clemens' next selection was antediluvian "Jumping Frog," after which Mr. Cable repeated the thrilling story of "Mary's Night Ride" in a way that fairly stirred the enthusiasm of the house. The last number was Mr. Clemens' "Stammerer," which was also given in the afternoon.