We have, however, one Fourth of July which is absolutely our own, and that is the memorable proclamation issued forty years ago by that great American to whom Sir Mortimer Durand paid that just and beautiful tribute—Abraham Lincoln: a proclamation which not only set the black slave free, but set his white owner free also. The owner was set free from that burden and offense, that sad condition of things where he was in so many instances a master and owner of slaves when he did not want to be. That proclamation set them all free. But even in this matter England led the way, for she had set her slaves free thirty years before, and we but followed her example. We always follow her example, whether it is good or bad. And it was an English judge, a century ago, that issued that other great proclamation, and established that great principle, that when a slave, let him belong to whom he may, and let him come whence he may, sets his foot upon English soil his fetters, by that act, fall away and he is a free man before the world!
It is true, then, that all our Fourths of July, and we have five of them, England gave to us, except that one that I have mentioned—the Emancipation Proclamation; and let us not forget that we owe this debt to her. Let us be able to say to old England, this great- hearted, venerable old mother of the race, you gave us our Fourths of July, that we love and that we honor and revere; you gave us the Declaration of Independence, which is the charter of our rights; you, the venerable Mother of Liberties, the Champion and Protector of Anglo-Saxon Freedom—you gave us these things, and we do most honestly thank you for them.
It was at this dinner that he characteristically confessed, at last, to having stolen the Ascot Cup.
He lunched one day with Bernard Shaw, and the two discussed the philosophies in which they were mutually interested. Shaw regarded Clemens as a sociologist before all else, and gave it out with great frankness that America had produced just two great geniuses—Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain. Later Shaw wrote him a note, in which he said:
I am persuaded that the future historian of America will find your works as indispensable to him as a French historian finds the political tracts of Voltaire. I tell you so because I am the author of a play in which a priest says, “Telling the truth’s the funniest joke in the world,” a piece of wisdom which you helped to teach me.
Clemens saw a great deal of Moberly Bell. The two lunched and dined privately together when there was opportunity, and often met at the public gatherings.
The bare memorandum of the week following July Fourth will convey something of Mark Twain’s London activities:
Friday, July 5. Dined with Lord and Lady Portsmouth.
Saturday, July 6. Breakfasted at Lord Avebury’s. Lord Kelvin, Sir Charles Lyell, and Sir Archibald Geikie were there. Sat 22 times for photos, 16 at Histed’s. Savage Club dinner in the evening. White suit. Ascot Cup.
Sunday, July 7. Called
on Lady Langattock and others. Lunched with
Sir Norman Lockyer.