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The New York Times, March 24, 1901


Gov. Benjamin B. Odell, Jr. was the guest of honor at a dinner given by the Lotos Club last evening, and many complimentary things were said about him by the speakers. The Governor had hardly stepped in the dining hall, which was tastefully decorated for the occasion, when he was cheered. Thereafter, whenever his name was mentioned, he was cheered again and again, and when, during his brief speech, he declared that he was the Governor of the whole State, not of Republicans alone, he was rewarded with shouts of approval that compelled him to stop speaking for a considerable time.

Even before the speechmaking began the Governor was made much of by the banqueters, and he and Senator Chauncey M. Depew were kept busy writing their autographs on the menu cards, which were attractive enough to deserve mention. Late in the evening Mark Twain arrived, and for a time shared the attention of the guests with the Governor.

[Article edited to include only Mark Twain's speech.]

Mark Twain, who next spoke, was greeted with enthusiasm as he arose.

"I recently had the pleasure and the honor of visiting Gov. Odell and his official family," he said. The family is made up of three Republicans for business and one Democrat for ornament and social elevation.

"I have also been to Albany two or three times without salary on expensive errands, once to help repeal the Ramapo bill, and again to assist in passing a police bill, in case he was short a police bill. I am privileged on the floor of any Legislature. There was a little self-interest here and there.

"My scheme was to have only authors in the bill. For myself, I wanted to be the chief of force - not because I was particularly qualified, but because I was tired and wanted to rest. And I wanted Mr. Howells for First Deputy, not because he has any police ability, but because he's tired too. And I wanted Mr. Depew to by my Second Deputy, not because he's tired, but because he can do most anything well, and I could draw the salary. Then, he and I are members of the famous class of '53 at Yale, though he was there before I was.

"Then, again, Senator Depew is a Missouri man, the same as I am, and in a Missourian there is no guile. There is, too, a further bond of union in that when I was young, I was a member of a firm of twins, and one of them disappeared. There seems to me to be a resemblance in Senator Depew to me in grace of motion and fluency of speech. Which seems to me to designate him as that long-lost twin.

"Then in my Police bill I wanted Stedman, and Aldrich and Matthews for the Broadway squad, and others still for the 'Red Light' district, and others to look after the pretty manicurists, and to modify the activities of the cadets. Now, Depew could do that.

"Now that bill was my bright dream and my ambition. But it faded as so many other bright dreams have faded. Gov. Odell couldn't favor it. He said he couldn't leave the city unprotected. Now, I have nothing to do tomorrow and if the Governor will just hold a conference with me we'll settle the police question.

"If my bill passed I'd just fill up the 'Red Light' district with poets - the best poets we've got - armed not with barbaric clubs, but with their own poems, and I would make them corral those poor unkempt people of that locality and I would have my poetic policemen read their poems to them until that region was so elevated and uplifted and reformed that the inhabitants over there themselves wouldn't know it."

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