The Boston Journal

1884: November 11

"Mark Twain"--Cable Readings.

  Last night, for the first time in this vicinity, Mark Twain and Mr. George W. Cable appeared in their dual readings, amusing and interesting a very large audience at Melrose in the second entertainment of the Melrose Lyceum. So great was the interest manifested in this unique combination that extra seats had to be supplied in the large hall for those unable to be accommodated otherwise. The union of Mark Twain and Mr. Cable in selected readings, each from his own works, is a happy one. Both authors have created styles of literature entirely distinct from each other, as well as from any other style. Their writings have marked peculiarities which from the very first were appreciated by the American literary public and which have as yet shown no sign of failing either in power from the author's pen or in influence upon the readers' minds. Mark Twain's dry, purely American humor has aroused merriment for years and has developed a field of fiction in which no other author has ventured, at least without seeking aid from some second source of literary power to conceal the weak points of his imitative "Mark Twain" style. The humor is notably Yankee; no English reader of Punch could thoroughly appreciate the rich undemonstrative humor of Innocents Abroad--that is, if he takes Punch as his standard. Mr. Cable, on the other hand, has but recently appeared to present us with a series of character sketches treating of a race which though resident upon American soil are yet but little understood or even known by Americans outside of a few Southern States. His writings are in that respect foreign, and appeal less to the natural recognition of a native American reader; for that very reason, however, the great popularity which they have gained more commendation to the writings. As in their writings, so in their appearance, their manner, their style of delivery, their intonations and gestures, these two authors display pecularities different from each other, and yet both interesting and amusing. Mr. Clemens comes slowly forward upon the stage, his shoulders slightly stooping, his head inclined forward, and his face unwrinkled with any trace of a smile, but bearing exactly that semi-solemn expression which one would expect to see in the man who could so seriously be-fool a foreign guide intent on showing "Christopher Columbus on a bust." Mr. Cable's slender form advances to the front with easy grace, while his mobile mouth responds to the warm welcome with a pleasing smile. Mr. Clemens reads, or rather recites, his bits of fun with his usual slow, cool, almost unvarying tone, moving about the stage scarcely any, and using few gestures. Mr. Cable is now here, now there, now standing, now sitting, and all the time his quick, flexible, light voice is pouring out sentence after sentence of Creole dialect, emphasized by appropriate, flowing gestures. In short, these two authors present an evening's readings which, outside of its innate interest, give an enjoyable opportunity to the hearer for comparison of the two styles of literature as well as of the creators of those styles. Last night the entertainment was preceded by a piano recital by Miss E. Leora Hardy. The "Mark Twain"-Cable readings will be given in Boston Thursday night in the Bay State Course.