No doubt many a person was misled by those sentences joined together in that unkind way. I have no doubt my character has suffered from it. I suppose I ought to defend my character, but how can I defend it? I can say here and now that anybody can see by my face that I am sincere—that I speak the truth, and that I have never seen that Cup. I have not got the Cup, I did not have a chance to get it. I have always had a good character in that way. I have hardly ever stolen anything, and if I did steal anything I had discretion enough to know about the value of it first. I do not steal things that are likely to get myself into trouble. I do not think any of us do that. I know we all take things—that is to be expected; but really I have never taken anything, certainly in England, that amounts to any great thing. I do confess that when I was here seven years ago I stole a hat—but that did not amount to anything. It was not a good hat it was only a clergyman’s hat, anyway. I was at a luncheon-party and Archdeacon Wilberforce was there also. I dare say he is archdeacon now—he was a canon then—and he was serving in the Westminster Battery, if that is the proper term. I do not know, as you mix military and ecclesiastical things together so much.
He recounted the incident of the exchanged hats; then he spoke of graver things. He closed:
I cannot always be cheerful, and I cannot always be chaffing. I must sometimes lay the cap and bells aside and recognize that I am of the human race. I have my cares and griefs, and I therefore noticed what Mr. Birrell said—I was so glad to hear him say it —something that was in the nature of these verses here at the top of the program:
He lit our life with shafts of sun
And vanquished pain.
Thus two great nations stand as one
In honoring Twain.
I am very glad to have those verses. I am very glad and very grateful for what Mr. Birrell said in that connection. I have received since I have been here, in this one week, hundreds of letters from all conditions of people in England, men, women, and children, and there is compliment, praise, and, above all, and better than all, there is in them a note of affection.
Praise is well, compliment is well, but affection—that is the last and final and most precious reward that any man can win, whether by character or achievement, and I am very grateful to have that reward. All these letters make me feel that here in England, as in America, when I stand under the English or the American flag I am not a, stranger, I am not an alien, but at home.
DOCTOR OF LITERATURE, OXFORD
He left, immediately following the Pilgrim luncheon, with Hon. Robert P. Porter, of the London Times, for Oxford, to remain his guest there during the various ceremonies. The encenia—the ceremony of conferring the degrees—occurred at the Sheldonian Theater the following morning, June 26, 1907.