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The New York Times, December 24, 1874



The Park Theatre was literally crammed from pit to dome last evening on the occasion of the one hundredth representation of Mark Twain's American drama of "The Gilded Age." The interest which of late has been associated with the effort to establish a purely American drama representing American character in its various existing phases, and racy of the soil, has centered round the production of "The Gilded Age," and the success of the play has been a cause of general gratification. Since its first recital, the piece has received every evidence of public appreciation, and the quaint eccentricities of good-natured and wildly speculative Col. Sellers, with his visionary schemes for the creation of millions, have secured for themselves a permanent place in the memory of theatre-goers. The performance last evening was distinguished by several novel features, and bouquets and satin programmes were distributed in celebration of the occasion. The piece was played as usual, and in response to repeated calls the author, Mr. Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, delivered an address, replete with humor in speech and gesture. He warmly expressed his sense of gratitude for the public appreciation of the play, and on retiring he was loudly cheered. Mr. John T. Raymond also expressed the gratitude of the actors for the recognition their efforts to please had received, and generously attributed the success of the piece, not to any merit of his own, but to the excellence inherent to the play itself. After the fourth act, Mark Twain was called before the curtain and was loudly applauded. He said:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I thank you for this call, for it gives me an opportunity to testify my appreciation of the vast compliment which the Metropolis has paid to Mr. Raymond and me in approving of our efforts to the very substantial extent of filling this house for us a hundred nights in succession. After such praise as this from the first city in the land it would be useless for me to try to pretend that we are not feeling a good deal "set up," so I shall not pretend anything of the kind. We feel a good deal vainer than anybody would want to confess. [Laughter.] I learned through the newspapers that I was to make a speech here tonight, and so I went hard to work, as I always do, to try and do the very best I possibly could on this occasion. I was determined to do it; I went at it faithfully, but when I came to look critically into this matter I found that I shouldered a pretty heavy contract. [Laughter.] I found I shouldered a very heavy contract because there is only one topic that is proper to be discussed on this platform at this time, and that is this play and these actors and all the success which this play has met. Very well, that is an excellent subject - for somebody else. [Laughter.] It is right for an outsider or for somebody not connected with the concern, but for me, the dramatist, to praise these actors of mine, to praise this play of mine, and this success of ours - that would not come gracefully from me. There would be a little egotism in it. Neither can I criticise and abuse the actors, for I don't want to. I could abuse the play, but I have better judgment, [laughter and applause] and I cannot praise these actors of mine right here in their hearing and before their faces, for that would make anybody with flesh and blood unhappy, and, indeed, to praise them would be like praising the members of my own family and glorifying the lady who does our washing. [Laughter.] And the more I think of this matter, the more I see the difficulty of the position, until I find myself in a condition I once before experienced. [Mr. Twain here recited from his published work, ROUGHING IT, the sketch "A Genuine Mexican Plug," in a spirit of dry humor which convulsed the audience with laughter. The incident referred tow as his unhappy experience with a Mexican horse, in which he came to grief.] Through that adventure, he continued, through the misfortune I lost the faculty of speech; for twenty-four hours I was absolutely speechless, and this is the second time that that has occurred. [Applause.]

Mr. John T. Raymond, the Col. Sellers of the piece, was loudly called before the curtain. He quickly appeared with the expression of Sellers when proclaiming a prospective gain of millions, and his manner provoked much merriment. He said:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: After acting one hundred nights in this house, I don't feel like playing a new part and playing it badly, which I certainly should if I attempted to say I was not very much pleased at the reception you have given me. It is not a very grateful or easy task to try to be funny or witty after Mr. Twain but any man would be happy on such an occasion as this, and after what you have done for me, why should I not be happy? I want to thank you for a great many things, but especially for your constant appreciation of my efforts to please. Of one thing I can assure you: that Mr. Twain's play would not have amounted to much if he had not found a man to act the part and other men to appreciate it. [Laughter.] (That was such a success I don't know what next to say.) [A laugh.] but I want to thank you over and over again for your kind recognition of our labors. The success of this piece is due to the management of the theatre, and I beg her to publicly thank Messrs. Stuart and Fulton for their efforts to do everything toward the success of the play. [Applause.] The little Park Theatre is now one of the institutions of the City, and I am heartily glad of it for Mr. Stuart's sake. He deserves it, and I trust that Col. Sellers will be one of the institutions of your country; and if the people of the United States treat me half as well as you have done I am perfectly satisfied it will be all right. Once more let me thank you. Let me extend my sincere acknowledgments to the genius who conceived the character of Col. Sellers, to the generous public who have welcomed it, and to the press which has recognized so liberally all our efforts to give proper effect to American character and place it on a self-sustaining basis. [Applause.]

Mr. Raymond was retiring when a bottle of Col. Sellers' famous Oriental Optical Eye-water was presented to him. He took it, and said: "Take it internally, externally, and eternally, and there is millions in it." [Laughter and applause.]

Mr. Stuart, the manager, was also called for, but did not appear, and the performance then continued.

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