The New York Times

1872: January 25

Mark Twain's Lecture.

"Mark Twain" delivered a meteorological, historical, topographical, geological, zoological, and comical lecture last night at Steinway Hall, for the benefit of his hearers and the Mercantile Library Association. The effort -- which seemed to require no effort at all on the part of the humorous story-teller -- was all about "Roughing It" out in Nevada, the land of sage hens, Mexican bloods, mountain sheep, alkali dust and duels. The lecturer related his narrative to a crowded house. He was repeated applauded, and won the sympathy of the audience when he said that he differed from GEORGE WASHINGTON, who could not tell a lie. "As for me," said Twain, "I can, but I won't." The lecture was a decided success, and much gratified all who heard it.

The New York Tribune

1872: January 25

Mark Twain At Steinway Hall.

If there are those who fondly think that the popularity of the American humoristic school is on the decline, they would have been bravely undeceived by a visit to Steinway Hall last night. The most enormous audience ever collected at any lecture in New-York came together to listen to "Mark Twain's" talk on "Roughing It." Before the doors were opened $1,300 worth of tickets had been sold, and for some time before Mr. Clemens appeared the house was crammed in every part by an audience of over 2,000. A large number were turned away from the door, and after the close of the evening's entertainment the officers of the Library Association warmly urged Mr. Clemens to repeat his lecture for the benefit of those who were disappointed.

It was not only financially that the lecture was successful. There was never seen in New-York an audience so obstinately determined to be amused. There was hardly a minute of silence during the hour. Peals of laughter followed every phrase, the solemn asseverations of the lecturer that his object was purely instructive and the investigation of the truth increasing the merriment. At several points of the lecture, especially the description of Mr. Twain's Mexican Plug, the Chamois of Nevada, and the Washoe Duel, the enjoyment of the audience was intemperate. A singular force and effectiveness was added to the discourse by the inimitable drawl and portentous gravity of the speaker. He is the finest living delineator of the true Pike accent, and his hesitating stammer on the eve of critical passages is always a prophecy -- and hence, perhaps, a cause -- of a burst of laughter and applause. He is a true humorist, endowed with that indefinable power to make men laugh which is worth, in current funds, more than the highest genius or the greatest learning.