“Have you heard the news about San Francisco?”
I said I had heard a rumor of an earthquake; and had seen an extra with big scare-heads; but I supposed the matter was exaggerated.
“No,” he said, “I am afraid it isn’t. We have just had a telephone message that it is even worse than at first reported. A great fire is consuming the city. Come along to the news-stand and we’ll see if there is a later edition.”
We walked to Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street and got some fresh extras. The news was indeed worse, than at first reported. San Francisco was going to destruction. Clemens was moved deeply, and began to recall this old friend and that whose lives and property might be in danger. He spoke of Joe Goodman and the Gillis families, and pictured conditions in the perishing city.
MARK TWAIN’S GOOD-BY TO THE PLATFORM
It was on April 19, 1906, the day following the great earthquake, that Mark Twain gave a “Farewell Lecture” at Carnegie Hall for the benefit of the Robert Fulton Memorial Association. Some weeks earlier Gen. Frederick D. Grant, its president, had proposed to pay one thousand dollars for a Mark Twain lecture; but Clemens’ had replied that he was permanently out of the field, and would never again address any audience that had to pay to hear him.
“I always expect to talk as long as I can get people to listen to me,” he sand, “but I never again expect to charge for it.” Later came one of his inspirations, and he wrote: “I will lecture for one thousand dollars, on one condition: that it will be understood to be my farewell lecture, and that I may contribute the thousand dollars to the Fulton Association.”
It was a suggestion not to be discouraged, and the bills and notices, “Mark Twain’s Farewell Lecture,” were published without delay.
I first heard of the matter one afternoon when General Grant had called. Clemens came into the study where I was working; he often wandered in and out-sometimes without a word, sometimes to relieve himself concerning things in general. But this time he suddenly chilled me by saying:
“I’m going to deliver my farewell lecture, and I want you to appear on the stage and help me.”
I feebly expressed my pleasure at the prospect. Then he said:
“I am going to lecture on Fulton—on the story of his achievements. It will be a burlesque, of course, and I am going to pretend to forget my facts, and I want you to sit there in a chair. Now and then, when I seem to get stuck, I’ll lean over and pretend to ask you some thing, and I want you to pretend to prompt me. You don’t need to laugh, or to pretend to be assisting in the performance any more than just that.” Handbill of Mark Twain’s “Farewell lecture”:
Will Deliver His Farewell Lecture ---------------------------------