A Distinguished Company Honor Him with a Dinner at the University Club.
A few weeks ago a committee composed of W. D. Howells, Andrew Carnegie, Marshall H. Mallory, Henry Van Dyke, Francis Lynde Stetson, and Henry Loomis Nelson was formed, representing friends of Hamilton W. Mabie, who desired to give a dinner to Mr. Mabie at the University Club. The special object was "to testify in an appropriate manner their appreciation of his service and success in literature," of which the most recent incidents had been the publication of his work on Shakespeare and his appointment to the Trumbull lectureship at Johns Hopkins University.
Last Monday evening a company, in response to this invitation, assembled in the large private dining room of the club, to the number of more than a hundred. It has rarely happened among literary gatherings in New York during many hears that an assemblage so distinguished in the higher walks of life - in literature, in the law, in the ministry, in medicine, in finance, in the book trade, and in editorial work - has been brought together.
[This article is edited to include only the speech given by Mark Twain.]
THE SPEECH OF MARK TWAIN.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen: This man knows now how it feels to be the chief guest, and if he has enjoyed it he is the first man I have ever seen in that position that did enjoy it. And I know by side remarks which he made to me before his ordeal came upon him, that he was feeling as some of the rest of us have felt under the same circumstances. He was afraid that he would not do himself justice; but he did - to my surprise. It is a most serious thing to be a chief guest on an occasion like this, and it is admirable, it is fine. It is a great compliment to a man that he shall come out of it so gloriously as Mr. Mabie came out of it tonight, to my surprise. He did it well.
He appears to be editor of The Outlook, and notwithstanding that, I have every admiration, because when everything is said concerning The Outlook, after all one must admit that it is frank in its delinquencies, that it is outspoken in its departures from fact, [Laughter,] that it is vigorous in its mistaken criticisms of men like me. I have lived in this world a long, long time, and I know you must not judge a man by the editorials that he puts in his paper. A man is always better than his printed opinions. A man always reserves to himself on the inside a purity and an honesty and a justice that are a credit to him, whereas the things that he print are just the reverse.
Oh yes, you must not judge a man by what he writes in his paper. Even in an ordinary secular paper a man must observe some care about it; he must be better than the principles which he puts in print. And that is the case with Mr. Mabie. Why, to see what he writes about me and the missionaries you would think he did not have any principles! But that is Mr. Mabie in his public capacity. Mr. Mabie in his private capacity is just as clean a man as I am.
In this very room, a month or two ago, some people admired that portrait; some admired this, but the great majority fastened on that, and said there is a portrait that is a beautiful piece of art. When that portrait is a hundred years old it will suggest what were the manners and customs in our time. Just as they talk about Mr. Mabie tonight, in that enthusiastic way, pointing out the various virtues of the man and the grace of his spirit, and all that, so was that portrait talked about. They were enthusiastic, just as we men have been over the character and work of Mr. Mabie. And when they were through they said that portrait, fine as it is, that work, beautiful as it is, that piece of humanity on that canvas, gracious and fine as it is, does not rise to those perfections that exist in the man himself. Come up, Mr. Alexander! [The reference was to James W. Alexander who happened to be sitting beneath the portrait of himself on the wall.] Now, I should come up and show myself. But he cannot do it, he cannot do it. He was born that way, he was reared in that way. Let his modesty be an example, and I wish some of you had it, too. But that is just what I have been saying - that portrait, fine as it is, is not as fine as the man it represents, and all the things that have been said about Mr. Mabie, and certainly they have been very nobly worded and beautiful, still fall short of the real Mabie.
Return to The New York Times
Quotations | Newspaper Articles | Special Features | Links | Search