The Warsaw New-Yorker

1871: December 14

The largest audience ever assembled in Sprague's Hall was packed there on Thursday evening to listen to the author of "The Innocents Abroad." Every available foot of space was occupied; many persons had come from miles outside to the entertainment. "Mark" had taken a dislike to his lecture on Artemus Ward; and his desire to repeat it was not heightened by the knowledge that a paper circulating several hundred copies here had published, with "enterprise" hardly fair toward one of the guild, a long report of it as delivered in Brooklyn. He had prepared a new lecture that day, drawn chiefly from his forthcoming new book, which a few hours' more time would have enabled him to deliver without notes; but, being assured that he would find a bright and quickly-responsive audience, he decided to try his new lecture here. It is entitled "Roughing It"; and the general character of the lecture, as well as the success of the venture, are very well indicated in the extract from "The Buffalo Courier," published in our Localized Items to-day. It treats of various scenes and episodes in Mark's overland journey to California some ten years ago, and is interspersed and enlivened with some thoroughly Twain-ish stories, told in a manner that seemed to us the perfection of art for this style of humor. It abounded in descriptive passages of rare beauty,--really classic in their conception and expression, and delivered with all the effect of finished eloquence, holding the crowded audience in the perfect stillness of rapt attention which marks the fine periods of Curtis or Anna Dickinson. Equally well done, to our mind, were the humorous passages. The slightly-drawling and apparently seriously-unconscious manner seems to us perfectly adapted to the droll, extravagant humor of Ward and Twain. With the latter it is entirely natural, and not assumed, as some suppose. Aside from the fine descriptive passages, and the inimitable stories, his effort abounded in bits of sentiment and flashes of wit that would alone redeem many a dull lecture. The audience were "with" him from the introduction to the close; and the hour and a half seemed robbed of half its clock-ticks.

The Buffalo Courier

1871: December 9

[reprinted from The Warsaw New-Yorker]
Localized Items

"The Buffalo Courier," whose accomplished chief editor, Mr. David Gray, was present at Mark Twain's new lecture, thus notices his "dangerous experiment of a change of base in the face of the enemy": "The perilous movement was brilliantly accomplished Thursday evening, before the largest audience of the season. The subject of his lecture, scarcely a day old, was 'Roughing It; being Passages from my Forthcoming Book': and it promises to become in his hands perhaps the most interesting of his public performances. Gracefully deprecating the possible suspicion that he is out as a book-canvasser, Mark proceeds in this lecture to cull from his unpublished volume a melange of passages,--grave and gay, descriptive and humorous,--which are in his very best style, and as varied and lively in their character as can be conceived. His pictures of life in Nevada during the 'flush' period of that Territory's history, and of strange personages he there encountered, are simply inimitable. The narrative branches off occasionally into one of those extraordinary and elaborate 'yarns' for which he alone has a patent; and it encloses, also, frequent bits of word-painting which would make his fame as a serious speaker, if he were not inveterately a humorist. We predict a hearty reception for the new lecture."