Indianapolis Journal, 5 January 1869
January 5, 1869

MARK TWAIN AS A LECTURER.--To say that the audience that listened to Mark Twain's lecture, at the Metropolitan last night, was well pleased would be saying what every man and woman present will attest; but every one would also say that those two words are so far from properly representing the pleasure afforded, that in their very tameness they seem to underrate its real value. It is so common now-a-days to apply high sounding adjectives to all manner of entertainments, whether of merit or not, that we avoid their use in noticing the lecture of Mark Twain, in order that it may not be ranked by our readers along with the very "flat, stale and unprofitable" productions, that pass under ponderous adjectives for lectures worth hearing. The impression made on the hearer by the first few sentences of the lecturer is anything but favorable. There is in the careless and effortless manner of dropping words as though they rolled from the speaker's mouth half moulded as it were, and the lazy roll of the head, a strong indication that he is to be bored by a commonplace recital of incidents of travel abroad, interspersed with a few jokes that would be much more enjoyable in print, than as mumbled by the speaker. The awakening from this error comes so suddenly, so thoroughly, and so pleasantly too, that from this point to the close of the lecture, the doubter at first, is a willing and delighted captive; drinking in every word, gliding with the lecturer among the thousand gondolas floating on the water ways of moonlit Venice, laughing at his proofs that the girls of Venice are like the girls of Indianapolis, answering with applause that he would not if he could withhold the thrilling and surpassingly beautiful descriptions of Athens by moonlight, of the cathedrals of Milan, and Rome, and St. Petersburg; and then again laughing himself into tears over the peculiarly happy of the bold, unceremonious, care-for-nothing, rollicking conduct of the American vandal, who never fails to make known his nationality, whether in stocking feet inspecting the interior of a Turkish mosque, among thousands of worshipping Moslems, attending the fetes of Emperors or autocrats, rambling among the grand and inspiring ruins of Athens, or whistling a national air as he views the towering Pyramids of Egypt.

Mark Twain's wit is always of the highest order, and the more enjoyable in that it so truthfully hits off some peculiarity of human nature. His descriptions of scenery, in a literary point of view, glitter with the polish of culture, and captivate by the beauty and smoothness of the verbiage. His reading of the descriptive passages is peculiarly adapted to the display of their beauties. He reads as one who is not laboring to convey the impression that he is saying something beautiful, but as one who is laboring rather to convey to the hearer a correct idea of the beauties that impressed him. The reader of his prose would discover in it the music of poetry; but as he reads it, it has all that charm, and the additional interest that a story has, coming from the lips of one who saw whereof he speaks.