From the Philadelphia Press,
December 8, 1869

Last evening the Academy was filled to overflowing, to partake of the literary Sandwich prepared and offered by that mirth-provoking humorist, Mark Twain. His lecture was appositely introduced by a series of witty generalities closely connected with cannibalism and craters. . . . The Sandwich Islands have a very limited area--scarcely enough, indeed, to contain a voluminous thought. . . . Mr. Twain, Esq., lecturer, etc., was a success. . . . Twain is not riotous with his fancy; he is tenderly poetical and discreet. His descriptions of the volcanoes of the islands were very fine. They were exquisite set-offs to the humorous or rather buttery parts of his ragout. We are at a loss to know whether he is a wit or a humorist. At one time we had some distinct idea of the difference between these two qualities, but Twain has literally jumbled us all up. If it were not for Twain we should set him down as a wit, but the inevitable presence causes us to classify him with the humorists. . . . He is a rare combination of wit and humor. He abounds in seasonable hits. He has no elocution, but simply a style that knows no restraints but simply those necessary to provoke mirth. His "Sandwich" is admirable for dyspepsia; even a roast dog and fricasseed cat become agreeable after a little familiarity. . . . The man who can administer to the mind healthful relaxatives, and thereby restore the stomach, is certainly entitled to rank with those who do the same with the stomach and thereby restore the mind.

[Source: Frear, Mark Twain and Hawaii, Appendix D.]

Philadelphia Daily Evening Bulletin
December 8, 1869

Mark Twain.

Mark Twain, the celebrated humorist, was honored last night with one of the largest audiences ever assembled in the Academy of Music. He lectured upon "The Sandwich Islands," and mingled with much very interesting information a vast amount of humorous anecdote, witty allusion, and of that odd, incongruous, surprising divergence from his theme, which is his charming characteristic. Mr. Clemens deserved the compliment bestowed upon him. We regard him as the very best of the humorists of his class. He is more extravagant and preposterous than John Phoenix; he is superior to Artemus Ward, not only in the delicate quality of his humor, but because he has a decent regard for the English language, and does not depend for his effects upon barbarous orthography. John Billings is not to be compared with him. Billings is merely a proverbial philosopher who has some wit, plenty of hard common sense, a shrewd knowledge of human nature, but not one particle of genuine, irrepressible fun. He has said some good things, but they are all marred by the wretched spelling which the author considers necessary to his success. Mark Twain indulges in humor because it is his nature to do so. It is impossible to read his productions or to hear him speak without being impressed with the conviction that his cleverest utterances are spontaneous, natural, unpremeditated. Like all men of his temperament he has a hearty hatred of sham, hypocrisy and cant, whether in religion, social life or politics. Some of his sturdiest blows have been aimed at the follies of the times; and we believe that he may, if he chooses, exercise a very considerable influence as a reformer. Ridicule, cleverly used, is one of the most powerful weapons against pretension and humbug; for it not only robs them of their false dignity, but it appeals strongly to the popular reader, and finds ready acceptance where serious discussion would not be permitted. We do not suppose that Mr. Clemens has any notion of starting out upon a mission of reformation; but unconsciously he may do a good work in this direction, while at the same time he furnishes the nation with the purest and best entertainment in his lectures and his screeds. There may be some who will regard his calling as of smaller dignity than that of other men. Perhaps this is the class with which he is at war. The mass of intelligent people will agree with us that genuine humor is as rare and excellent a quality as any other, and that it is as respectable to amuse mankind as to stupefy them. The number of persons engaged in the former work is small; those who attempt the latter abound in quantities.