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The New York Times, November 17, 1901


"The Lotos Club vs. Joseph H. Choate," was the formal looking document, wrapped in a legal blue cover and tied with a legal red string that stared the American Ambassador to England in the face when took his place as the guest of honor at the Lotos Club dinner last night. It was the menu. Copies of it were beside the plates of the members of the club, and their guests gathered to meet Mr. Choate. It read; "Dinner to the Hon. Joseph H. Choate, Ambassador from the United States to the Court of St. James, by the Lotos Club, New York." Then followed the list of good things constituting the repast, the date of the dinner, a great read [sic] seal, and the names of the "witnesses."

In the absence of Judge Frank R. Lawrence, President of the club, Capt. William Henry White, Vice President, presided. About him were Thomas B. Reed, Justice Wallace, William B. Hornblower, Major H. B. Bird, Judge Patterson, W. E. Dodge, Maurice E. Jessup, Henry E. Howland, Chauncey M. Depew, Samuel L. Clemens, and Andrew Carnegie.

Mr. Carnegie gave testimony to the effect that New York, despite its government in the past, is one of he best governed cities in the world. Mr. Choate declared that New York amazed him on his return by its remarkable development, and said that he would have kissed the American soil gladly if it had not been that it was an unclean New York pavement. Throughout his address he was constantly interrupted by cheers and laughter.

He had just begun to speak when Mr. Clemens arrived. Chester S. Lord started with the humorist to take him to his seat, but Mr. Clemens objected. He said;

"I am very old and I am very wise, and I hate an ante-climax. Joe is doing very well. He has them laughing. If I should buck in now they might take me for a Princeton tiger beaten or a Tammany tiger beaten, and I am very old and I am very wise. Joe would have a right to fire a plate at me if I should come in now. I will stay here and add to the applause, for I am very old and very wise."

Mr. Clemens waited for the conclusion of Mr. Choate's remarks in the outer hall with the club members who had no seats and the servants who stood listening to the speaker.

When Mr. Clemens joined those seated at the guests table he leaned over and told Mr. Reed to beware. He said: "I am very old, and I am very wise, and I have more hair on my head than you have, Thomas. I warn you to make your talk short." The ex-Speaker told Mr. Clemens a story very short and evidently very much to the point, for they laughed together, and then Mr. Clemens, very old and very wise, advised him against laughing for fear of growing too fat.

Upon rising to introduce the guest of the evening, Capt. White said he desired to emphasize the purpose for which the Lotos Club had been formed, and which it had always steadily pursued - the maintenance of good-fellowship. Mr. Choate, said he, was primarily "a good fellow" in the best sense of the term, and the Lotos Club welcomed him to its house as one of the representatives of intellect whom it was its custom to honor at a special dinner.

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


Mark Twain, who was next introduced, said:

"Mr. Carnegie has told you that on the other side of the water they consider it necessary to train men for the Diplomatic Service. He also suggested that on this side we don't find it necessary on this side, but can turnout ready-made ones whenever we need them. And this reminds me of an anecdote. You've all it, of course. The greatness of this country rests upon two anecdotes. The first is that of George Washington and the little hatchet story he told his father. From that arose the characteristic of true speaking which is the great characteristic of this Nation today.

"A firm of lawyers - we'll say Mr. Choate was one of the members of the firm, the other partner being a Hebrew, Mr. Choate's correspondent - were talking one day over the amount they would charge a client for their services - services is what they call it. [Laughter.] The Hebrew drew up a bill for $500 and Mr. Choate said: 'You'd better let me attend to that myself.' And the next day Mr. Choate handed him a check for $5,000, saying, 'That is your share of the loot.' Then this humble Hebrew gentleman in admiration said: 'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' [Laughter.] And the world said: 'This a rising man. [Laughter.] We must save him from the law. He should be a diplomat.'

"The world looked beneath this anecdote and reasoned that a man who could thus take care of his private interests could well look after the commercial interests [laughter] of a growing country of 70,000,000. Mr. Choate has carried these qualities to England with him. Why railroad iron is so cheap there now that even the poorest families can have plenty of it. [Laughter.] He has, as Mr.. Carnegie said, worked like a mole underground. Since he has been there - only three years - American commerce has increased tenfold - or whatever it has increased - and he has depressed the commerce of England in the same ratio. He has applied that fundamental principle of diplomacy, give and take - give one and take ten - and he is still applying it." [laughter.]

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