The (Burlington) Daily Hawk-Eye

1885: January 16

Twain and Cable.

The audience which greeted Mark Twain and George W. Cable at the opera house last night was, in point of numbers, a fair Burlington lecture audience, notwithstanding the numerous hindering causes--the terrible storm, other entertainments, etc. Still it was not what the reputation should have drawn, nor what their performances deserved. But it was an intelligent and appreciative audience; as good in this respect, perhaps, as the city can turn out.

Mark Twain has sustained, undimmed, a first-class reputation as long as any other American author in the domain of humor. Mr. Cable's literary fame is comparitively recent; but he has worked a new literary field, and worked it successfully, and his work has been reviewed so critically and so copiously that the general reading public has a good idea of its character. The joint literary venture of these two singularly mated men is so unique that it has received a great amount of attention from the press. So, when Twain and Cable are announced an audience knows pretty well what to expect.

The program last night provided for the alternate appearance of the two authors, each reading selections from his own works. Mr. Cable arrived early in the day, and made his appearance promptly. Mr. Clemens waited for the evening train from Keokuk, and it was delayed. So Mr. Cable filled up the fore part of the evening with selections from his own repertory, and Twain occupied the remainder of the time after his arrival.

The extraordinary contrast between the two men heightens the interest of their performance. Mr. Cable is small and delicate, with finely molded features and form. He is the embodiment of grace in speech, diction and manner. Mark Twain is large, awkward and inclined to be uncouth. Mr. Cable's writings bear an exquisite polish, and the same characteristic is observable in his delivery and his personal bearing. He is an inimitable actor, as well as a graceful writer. As a delineator of character he has few equals. His touches are those of the artist who has been a faithful student of nature.

When Mark Twain finally appeared, his first task was to explain the delay. He said he had stopped through the day with his mother in Keokuk. She was eighty-two years old; she was the only mother he had; their homes being a thousand miles apart he might never see her again. He thought he could trust the St. Louis train, but his trust was betrayed. It started from Keokuk an hour late, and had been getting an hour later ever since. On the way they broke something. A dispute arose as to what it was that was broken. It took forty minutes to decide the dispute, and five minutes to repair the damage. He detailed his disastrous experience with the German language, wove all the erratic applications of the German genders into the "Tragic tale of the fishwife," described a "trying situation" in his foreign travels, in which an American young lady whom he fails to recognize, insists upon talking to him about "old times," etc.

The audience went home in the best of humor. They were charmed by Cable and amused and entertained beyond their expectations by Twain.

It may not be amiss to state here that by an unforeseen occurence a lady who is engaged in the sale of Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi," and who was passing through Burlington, will be detained here for several days. She will improve the occasion to canvass the city for the work. It is one of Mark Twain's best, and has been before the public for several years.