MARK TWAIN HOME IN GOOD HUMOR
Had Dinner with the King and Is Sure That the King Enjoyed It.
HE'S DR. CLEMENS, PLEASE
Though the Dignity of His Oxford Title Doesn't Seem to Weigh Heavily - 72, but Doesn't Feel Guilty.
Mark Twain came home yesterday after his six weeks stay in England. The dignity of his Oxford degree of Doctor of Literature, for which he went to the English seat of learning, does not appear to weigh heavily on him, although, with a merry twinkle in his eye, he said he wished that his American friends would understand that from now on he is Dr. Clemens, with the accent very strongly on the "Doctor."
"Just how my old friends are going to get away from calling me 'Mark' is something they will have to work out for themselves," he said, "and when they see me in my new cap and gown they will be bound to fall."
Mark Twain was, as usual, the centre of an admiring group of women when the reporters greeted him aboard the Atlantic Transport Company steamship Minnetonka at Quarantine upon her arrival yesterday afternoon. He came over in Cabin 23, but said it had no significance, and was a poor joke.
"How do you like America?" the reporters all asked at once.
"I was afraid I would be asked that question," began Dr. Clemens, but before he got any further another was fired at him.
"Have you seen the Statue of Liberty?"
"I decline to commit myself, young man; you cannot trap me into any damaging admissions."
Getting down to his stay in England, he was asked about his dinner with King Edward.
"Did you enjoy the dinner very much?"
"The King did."
"What did you think of the King? When Tim Sullivan returned a short time ago he said 'Ed's all right; I like him. He is the goods.' "
"I am not competing with Mr. Sullivan."
Dr. Clemens was asked about the handsome Ascot gold cup which had disappeared shortly after his arrival in England, and which the English reporters had humorously connected with his arrival.
"Oh, yes; I have the cup on board, and I hope some of you reporters are slick enough to help me smuggle is through the Custom House. It would be too bad to give it up after getting so close to home with it.
"But I didn't get the Dublin jewels. With the character they gave me over on the other side I should certainly not have left the case. I would have taken both," he said.
Dr. Clemens said that it was all a mistake that the English could not understand a joke.
"I had not the slightest trouble in getting mine through their heads," he said.
"What was the best joke you told them?"
"That will cost you 30 cents a word, and I am having no bargain days now."
"Did they laugh?"
"Why, surely; but if you want to hear it you must be prepared to pay heavily for it. At this time of life one must get all one can for one's wits.
" I have been interviewed a great deal while away, but many of the interviews, when they appeared in print, were grossly exaggerated."
Asked about his appearance in the lobby of Brown's Hotel, in London, in his pajamas and bathrobe prior to walking across the street to the Bath Club, he said:
"When a man reaches my age he has certain privileges that younger men cannot have. I did that, and there was absolutely nothing improper in it."
"Are the Englishwomen as attractive as those in America?" was another question.
"That is too leading, and I refuse to commit myself," was the diplomatic reply.
Dr. Clemens said that he had enjoyed his trip abroad immensely, and that the people had treated him royally.
Shortly after the Minnetonka left the other side the ship was in collision with a bark. Several of the plates of the big ship were dented and bowsprit knocked off the sailing vessel. Dr. Clemens said that he was not awake at the time, but that he was soon aroused, grabbed his bath robe, and rushed to the deck to see what the trouble was. Some of the passengers say that he thought he had grabbed his bath robe, but that in reality he had put on his Oxford gown in the darkness.
Mark Twain spoke at the concert last Saturday night. He chose to talk about the improvement of the condition of the adult blind, and repeated the story told in "A Tramp Abroad" of his having been caught with a companion in Berlin in the dark for an hour or more and of his great horror at not being able to see for even so short a time. He said that he would devote much of the rest of his life to the subject of aiding the blind, and the passengers promised their aid in anything he undertakes.
Coming over he was always the centre of a group of passengers listening to his stories with great interest. He made a particular pet of little Dorothy Quick, daughter of Mrs. E. G. Quick of Brooklyn, and during the time he was on deck would not let her out of his sight. When he landed he was dressed in white flannels and wore a black derby hat.
As the reporters were leaving one of them asked Dr. Clemens if he objected to telling his age.
"Not in the least. I shall be 72 in November. I do not mind it. Every year that I gain furnishes a new privilege, and all I want to dodge is second childhood.
"At 2 o'clock in the morning I feel as old as any man. At that time you must know that life in every person is at its lowest. At that hour I feel as sinful, too, as possible. But the rest of the time I feel as though I were not over 25 years old. You know one gets back both youth and courage by 6 o'clock in the morning."
Dr. Clemens spent the night at his Fifth Avenue home, and will go to Tuxedo this morning to spend the Summer. He has leased a cottage there.
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