Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2.
It is seldom that a foreign author has found such a hearty reception in Vienna as that accorded to Mark Twain, who not only has the reputation of being the foremost humorist in the whole civilized. world, but one whose personality arouses everywhere a peculiar interest on account of the genuine American character which sways it.

He was the guest of honor at the Concordia Club soon after his arrival, and the great ones of Vienna assembled to do him honor.  Charlemagne Tower, then American minister, was also one of the guests.  Writers, diplomats, financiers, municipal officials, everybody in Vienna that was worth while, was there.  Clemens gave them a surprise, for when Ferdinand Gross, Concordia president, introduced him first in English, then in German, Mark Twain made his reply wholly in the latter language.

The paper just quoted gives us a hint of the frolic and wassail of that old ‘Festkneipe’ when it says: 

At 9 o’clock Mark Twain appeared in the salon, and amid a storm of applause took his seat at the head of the table.  His characteristic shaggy and flowing mane of hair adorning a youthful countenance attracted the attention at once of all present.  After a few formal convivial commonplaces the president of the Concordia, Mr. Ferdinand Gross, delivered an excellent address in English, which he wound up with a few German sentences.  Then Mr. Tower was heard in praise of his august countryman.  In the course of his remarks he said he could hardly find words enough to express his delight at the presence of the popular American.  Then followed the greatest attraction of the evening, an impromptu speech by Mark Twain in the German language, which it is true he has not fully mastered, but which he nevertheless controls sufficiently well to make it difficult to detect any harsh foreign accent.  He had entitled his speech, “Die Schrecken der Deutschen Sprache” (the terrors of the German language).  At times he would interrupt himself in English and ask, with a stuttering smile, “How do you call this word in German” or “I only know that in mother-tongue.”  The Festkneipe lasted far into the morning hours.

It was not long after their arrival in Vienna that the friction among the unamalgamated Austrian states flamed into a general outbreak in the Austrian Reichsrath, or Imperial Parliament.  We need not consider just what the trouble was.  Any one wishing to know can learn from Mark Twain’s article on the subject, for it is more clearly pictured there than elsewhere.  It is enough to say here that the difficulty lay mainly between the Hungarian and German wings of the house; and in the midst of it Dr. Otto Lecher made his famous speech, which lasted twelve hours without a break, in order to hold the floor against the opposing forces.  Clemens was in the gallery most of the time while that speech, with its riotous accompaniment, was in progress.—­["When that house is legislating you can’t tell it

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Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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