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The New York Times, December 1, 1901

Haggis, Whisky, and the Pibroch Features of the Occasion.

Sons of Scotland who claim America as their adopted country gathered to the number of 500 in Delmonico's banquet hall last night, to celebrate the one hundred and forty-fifth annual dinner of the St. Andrew's Society of the State of New York.

The festive evening was made the occasion of the presentation to Andrew Carnegie, who occupied the President's chair for the last time, having served three terms, of an elaborately embossed set of resolutions, in recognition of his generosity in bestowing $100,000 upon the St. Andrew's Society for the purpose of carrying on its work among the aged and helpless Scotch poor of the city. John S. Kennedy presented the resolutions, a costly piece of color work, finely executed.

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


Mark Twain was next introduced to respond to the toast "Scotch Humor." Mr. Clemens said:

"The President of St. Andrew's, the Lord Rector of Dublin, [laughter] no, Glasgow, isn't it? No. Well, he is higher up than I thought he was - told me that Scotch humor is non-existent. How is he a Lord Rector, anyway? What does he know about ecclesiastics? I suppose he don't care so long as the salary is satisfactory.

"I have never examined the subject of humor until now. I am surprised to find how much ground it covers. I have got its divisions and frontiers down on a piece of paper. I find it defined as a production of the brain, as the power of the brain to produce some thing humorous, and the capacity of perceiving humor. The third subdivision is possessed by all English speaking people, even the Scotch. Even the Lord Rector is humorous. He has offered of his own motion to send me a fine lot of whiskey. That is certainly humor. [Laughter.] Goldsmith said that he had found some of the Scotch possessed wit, which is next door to humor. He didn't overurge the compliment.

"Josh Billings defined the difference between humor and wit as that between the lightning bug and the lightning. There is a conscious and unconscious humor. That whiskey offer of the Lord Rector's was one of unconscious humor. A peculiarity of that sort is a man is apt to forget it. [Laughter.]

"I have here a few anecdotes to illustrate these definitions. I hope you will recognize them. I like anecdotes which have had the benefit of experience and travel, those which have stood the test of time, those which have laid claim to immortality. Here is one passed around a year ago, and twelve years old in its Scotch form.

"A man receives a telegram telling him that his mother-in-law is dead and asking, 'Shall we embalm, bury, or cremate her?' He wired back, 'If these fail, try dissection.' Now, the unconscious humor of this was that he thought they'd try all of the three means suggested, anyway.

"An old Scotch woman wrote to a friend, 'First the child died, then the callant' - for the benefit of those not Scotchmen here, I will say that a callant is a kind of shepherd dog. [Laughter.] That is, this is the definition of the Lord Rector, who spends six months in his native land every year to preserve his knowledge of its tongue.

"Another instance of unconscious humor was of the Sunday school boy who defined a lie as 'An abomination before the Lord and an ever present help in time of trouble.' That may have been unconscious humor, but it looked more like hard, cold experience and knowledge of facts.

"Then you have the story of the two fashionable ladies talking before a sturdy old Irish washerwoman. One said to the other, 'Where did you spend the summer?' 'Oh, at Long Branch,' was the reply. 'But the Irish there; oh, the Irish! Where were you?' she asked her companion in turn. 'At Saratoga; but the Irish there; oh, the Irish!' Then spoke up the old Irish woman, and asked, 'Why didn't you go to Hades? You wouldn't have found any Irish there.'

"Let me tell you now of a case of conscious humor. It was of William Cary, late of the Century, who died a few weeks ago, a man of the finest spirit and thought. One day a distinguished American called at the Century office. There was a new boy on duty as sentry. He gruffly gave the gentleman a seat and bade him wait. A short time after, Mr. Cary came along and said, 'Why, what are you doing here?' After explanations Mr. Cary brought out three pictures, one of Washington, one of Lincoln, and one of Grant. 'Now, young man,' he said to the boy, 'didn't you know that gentleman? Now, look at these pictures carefully, and if any of these gentlemen call show them right in.'

"I am grateful for this double recognition. I find that, like St. Andrew, my birthday comes on the 30th of November. In fact, I was sixty-six years old about thirty-four minutes ago. It was cold weather when I was born. What a chance there was of my catching cold! My friends never explained their carelessness, except on the plea of custom, but what does a child of that age care for custom?"

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