The Manchester (New Hampshire) Daily Union

1871: November 15

MARK TWAIN'S LECTURE.-- A very large audience assembled at Smyth's Hall last evening to hear "Mark Twain." He came upon the stage and introduced himself in the following manner: -- "I have the pleasure of introducing the lecturer of the evening, a gentleman whose learning, literary grasp, and majestic presence are only equaled by his high moral character and the general levelness of his head. I refer to myself, and am opposed to the common method of introducing speakers, as it is not often that the person who does the introducing knows the virtues and important facts in regard to the speaker who is presented." All this was said in a drawling tone and we suppose Twain regarded it witty in the highest degree.

He then said he had proposed to speak of several distinguished men, but he could not do them justice in an hour. He could not even crowd one man into an hour without straining him a good deal. This was another tremendous witticism and some of the younger portion of the audience were heard to titter. He concluded on the whole that he would speak of Artemus Ward, whose real name was Charles F. Brown. Before doing so he spoke of humor as a high quality of the mind and said something of the distinction between wit and humor. The faculty of humor was apparent in Ward when he was a child. -- He told the story of how Artemus secretly placed a pack of cards in a minister's gown. The minister was about to immerse a convert and when he went into the water the cards in his gown floated about the surface to the amazement of the crowd and the horror of the friends of the minister.

The history of Brown was then traced from the time he left home until he died in Southampton, England, at the age of 33. He became a printer in Boston where he wrote his first article for the press. Then he went to Toledo, Ohio, where he wrote the first paper signed Artemus Ward, which made him suddenly famous. He afterwards went to New York and took charge of Vanity Fair and finally became a lecturer and made $40,000 in this country, after which he went to England where he was equally successful. The most of the lecture consisted of a repetition of many of the jokes which Ward perpetrated.

The famous saying of how he was so anxious to put down the rebellion that he would be willing to sacrifice all of his wife's relations, how it would have been $10 in Jeff Davis's pocket if he had never been born, how Ward wrote the Prince of Wales telling him that now he had got married he could eat onions, and many others were duly "trotted out." In the course of the performance "Twain" threw in some very silly jokes of his own which were beneath the dignity of a clown in the circus. As an illustration he purposely dropped a leaf from his lecture and, picking it up, he said in as awkward a manner as he could assume that he did not know where it belonged.

It was some evidence of the good sense of the audience that the majority were disgusted at the performance and that even the least intelligent were not entertained.