The Harrisburg Daily Telegraph

1872: 19 January

MARK TWAIN'S lecture at the court house last evening attracted one of the largest audiences--if not the largest ever assembled there. Every seat was filled, as were a great portion of the aisles, window sills, &c. The rush to get in when the doors opened was quite damaging to handsome dresses, &c., and many were involuntarily squeezed. Pecuniarily the lecture was a success--the people paid their money, saw the lion--and before the close, many heartily wished they had not come. The title of the lecture we believe was announced as "Roughing It," and we think it well named, for we think it the roughest excuse for a lecture we ever heard. The peculiar drawling style of the lecturer does not add to the interest of the subject--many of the jokes were very far-fetched, and the lecture itself was as devoid of interesting matter as it well could be. It was indeed all "chaff," hardly a good seed in the lot. Any person hearing Mark Twain once won't desire to hear him soon again.

The Harrisburg Daily Patriot

1872: 19 January

Twain's Lecture Last Evening.

Whenever a humorist appears before a public audience and "delivers" his witticisms they are not at first as fully appreciated by persons whose imagination acts only slowly as they are when subsequently those same persons have time to ponder on what has been said and eliminate the points. Again there is another class on whom humorous "lectures" pall. They are the persons who want something to startle--to feel as though they had been sand papered, not intentionally to commit an error and say "peppered." Last evening the writer of this article particularly observed the effect of the lecturer's jokes or witticisms on different parts of the audience. There were full bursts of laughter in some parts--and it gradually spread--while in spots there was simply smiling. The less finely drawn jokes evoked instant and almost general laughter, while some exceedingly fine ones, visibly, were not appreciated.

The reader must not understand by these remarks that the idea is intended to be conveyed that the lecturer did not afford much agreeable amusement. On the contrary he executed all he advertised to do. The lecture partook of both pathos and humor. No one who has ever visited Nevada and witnessed the wild scenery of that remarkable part of this country and the peculiarities of its inhabitants but must give the lecturer full credit for doing justice to his subject, not only humorously but faithfully. Yet half of the finer points of the lecture are not appreciable to those who have never been there.

Among the audience were some of the best known citizens of Harrisburg holding public offices and other humorists. The tolling of the court house bell called them forth from their tea-tables. They crowded into the main hall which is in connection with the court room. Here they remained for nearly an hour, for the very simple but effective reason that they could not get any further. "What God hath joined together let no man put asunder" was totally disregarded, for several gentlemen lost their wives in the crowd and whether they recovered them is still a mystery. Separated unceremoniously from his other half a gentleman standing on one side said, looking at his wife who was looking at him from the other side: "Go up and come around!" and wife-like she replied: "You go up and come around here." A mother with an infant in her arms was another curiosity in attendance.

When the doors opened there was surging to and fro as though a lecturer was a rarity. But as it was Mark Twain there was some excuse. The introductory part of the lecture commenced just there where you had the opportunity of squeezing and having the favor reciprocated. Indeed this opening chapter was something like attending one of Beecher's humorous sermons. You followed the crowd, the lecturer was not responsible for your pocket book, if you lost your good humor he would restore that, and you got in. The anxiety to obtain front seats was so great that long after the front ones had been occupied one of the two light doors at the main entrance of the court room was burst in, and the torrent of old and young who came rushing after was a sight. It seemed as though the congregation never would stop coming. Although a pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church draws well he never drew a crowd like this. Such a minister as Twain is for drawing people would be a valuable auxiliary for revival purposes. Some denomination ought to "call" him in. When the seats had all been occupied, the aisles were full, the top of the clock was at a premium, but however not occupied, like the window sills were, and the gas brackets could have been made useful for hanging the children to, by the side of their parents, the remainder got behind where the lecturer was to stand in order to get a back view of his jokes. The only vacant space left when the lecturer commenced was his mouth, and that nobody crowded down his throat was astonishing. Why some old gentlemen put on their spectacles about this time was not apparent, except it was to see what Twain said, which probably they did.