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NOTE: Both The New York Times and the New York Sun reported on Twain's speech.
The texts of the speech differ and both news stories are included on this page.


The New York Times, April 21, 1902

Monotony the Dreadful Drawback of the Profession.
The Actress's Taste for Domesticity--Some Practical Advice to the Novice with Illusions.

[This article has been edited to include only the portion related to Mark Twain's speech.]

Wallack's Theatre was one great stage last evening. On it were gathered many of New York's prominent actors, who, throwing off their daily roles, assumed that of hearers, and listened to Miss Clara Morris. For almost two hours the latter stood in front of the footlights and chatted with her friends of the experiences of bygone years. The artists and literary people present, who had not been initiated into the privacy of life behind the scenes, caught nice bits of color and enjoyed the chat as much as anyone else.

Shortly before 9 o'clock, Miss Clara Morris was led on the stage by Mark Twain, who by way of preface said:

"I was born by accident, and by fortunate accident the person who was to have introduced Clara Morris did not arrive. Everybody knows I'm well qualified to make an introduction, and if I had had time to know what I want to say, I should say it. But as it is I can't pay any compliments--in fact, it is not necessary, since Miss Morris's whole life has been her compliment."


From the New York Sun, April 21, 1902

Mark Twain led Her On, Congratulated Himself on His Luck and Gallantly Kissed Her Hand -- She Confesses That Weepy Paris Were Never Her Choice.

[This article has been edited to include only the portion related to Mark Twain's speech.]

A lucky change helped Miss Morris at her debut as "extemporaneous talker." She had made an arrangement with somebody -- no one seems to know whom -- to lead her on the stage and introduce her. That somebody was kind enough not to appear. Another somebody had to be found in a trice.

There was the white, well-known head of Mark Twain visible in one of the boxes. His help was solicited and granted at once. He led Miss Morris on and bowed his head and gallantly kissed her hand, whereat the house rose in approval. Miss Morris wore a cream-color high-necked gown with garniture of black lace.

"By fortunate accident," began Mr. Clemens, for he had to make a speech, of course. "Yes I say, by fortunate accident, for chance has always been kind to me, I was born by chance, I became an author by chance. By fortunate accident he who was to introduce Miss Morris failed to appear and the privilege of taking his place was granted to me. If I had only had time to find out what I should say. I don't know it even now. I am in the position of a person who knows that he is well qualified to do a thing and yet cannot do it. I know that no compliments are needed in the case of Miss Morris yet I should like to pay her a few, and to make them real strong and good, if I only had time to think them out. But hasty compliments are dangerous. I know -- if there is any blood on my hands the only reason of it is to be found in compliments paid to me too suddenly. So I'll take no risk on this occasion."

[Exit Mark Twain while Miss Clara Morris playfully shakes her finger at him. Deep sigh by Miss Morris when along on stage. And then this:

"I am afraid that coming in the wake of such a sun, my case will be one of 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star'."


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