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The New York Times, December 10, 1906


A Humorist at His Best.

Mark Twain was the star performer for the authors and publishers at the copyright hearing in Washington last week, and it was certainly a star performance that he gave. Wearing a white suit on a cold December day was a new development of his humor, but we would all do that if, as Mr. CLEMENS has apparently come to be, we were as wise as the polar bears. The bears, however, wear white not only because it keeps them warmer than black would, but because it enables them to traverse the arctic landscape unseen by their watchful dinners, and the amiable humorist could not have had that motive when he selected garments for his journey.

His white suit did not enable him to leap unexpectedly upon the Senators and Representatives forming the Committees on Patents, but it may have helped him in some mysterious way to emphasize the magnificent speech he made in vindication of the author's property right in the product of his brain. That speech presented the copyright subject most pleasingly variegated by shifting lights of many colors, and made it absolutely interesting - which was a great achievement, for copyright arguments are apt to be rather dull and to hurt us by revealing that the authors whom we so much revere do not write wholly for fame and a "cause," as we would like to believe, since it would decrease the price of books. Mr. CLEMENS was not modest in his demands, for he confessed that only a copyright running forever would really content him, but he said that he was willing to compromise on a robbery of the author that should not begin until it affected only the author's grandchildren. He will probably get something less than that, for we didn't all have pirate ancestors for nothing.

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