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.

A memorandum of this time tells of an anniversary given to Charles and Susan Warner in their own home.  The guests assembled at the Clemens home, the Twichells among them, and slipped across to Warner’s, entering through a window.  Dinner was then announced to the Warners, who were sitting by their library fire.  They came across the hall and opened the dining-room door, to be confronted by a table fully spread and lighted and an array of guests already seated.



It was the winter (1888-89) that the Bill Nye and James Whitcomb Riley entertainment combination set out on its travels.  Mark Twain introduced them to their first Boston audience.  Major J. B. Pond was exploiting Nye and Riley, and Clemens went on to Boston especially to hear them.  Pond happened upon him in the lobby of the Parker House and insisted that nothing would do but he must introduce them.  In his book of memories which he published later Pond wrote: 

He replied that he believed I was his mortal enemy, and determined that he should never have an evening’s enjoyment in my presence.  He consented, however, and conducted his brother-humorist and the Hoosier poet to the platform.  Mark’s presence was a surprise to the audience, and when they recognized him the demonstration was tremendous.  The audience rose in a body, and men and women shouted at the very top of their voices.  Handkerchiefs waved, the organist even opened every forte key and pedal in the great organ, and the noise went on unabated for minutes.  It took some time for the crowd to get down to listening, but when they did subside, as Mark stepped to the front, the silence was as impressive as the noise had been.

He presented the Nye-Riley pair as the Siamese Twins.  “I saw them first,” he sand, “a great many years ago, when Mr. Barnum had them, and they were just fresh from Siam.  The ligature was their best hold then, but literature became their best hold later, when one of them committed an indiscretion, and they had to cut the old bond to accommodate the sheriff.”

He continued this comic fancy, and the audience was in a proper frame of mind, when he had finished, to welcome the “Twins of Genius” who were to entertain them: 

Pond says: 

It was a carnival of fun in every sense of the word.  Bostonians will not have another such treat in this generation.

Pond proposed to Clemens a regular tour with Nye and Riley.  He wrote: 

I will go partners with you, and I will buy Nye and Riley’s time and give an entertainment something like the one we gave in Boston.  Let it be announced that you will introduce the “Twins of Genius.”  Ostensibly a pleasure trip for you.  I will take one-third of the profits and you two-thirds.  I can tell you it will be the biggest thing that can be brought before the American public.
Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography — Volume II, Part 2: 1886-1900 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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