He laid the article away for the time and, as was his custom, put the play quite out of his mind and invented a postal-check which would be far more simple than post-office orders, because one could buy them in any quantity and denomination and keep them on hand for immediate use, making them individually payable merely by writing in the name of the payee. It seems a fine, simple scheme, one that might have been adopted by the government long ago; but the idea has been advanced in one form or another several times since then, and still remains at this writing unadopted. He wrote John Hay about it, remarking at the close that the government officials would probably not care to buy it as soon as they found they couldn’t kill Christians with it.
He prepared a lengthy article on the subject, in dialogue form, making it all very clear and convincing, but for some reason none of the magazines would take it. Perhaps it seemed too easy, too simple, too obvious. Great ideas, once developed, are often like that.
SPEECHES THAT WERE NOT MADE
In a volume of Mark Twain’s collected speeches there is one entitled “German for the Hungarians—Address at the jubilee Celebration of the Emancipation of the Hungarian Press, March 26, 1899.” An introductory paragraph states that the ministers and members of Parliament were present, and that the subject was the “Ausgleich”—i.e., the arrangement for the apportionment of the taxes between Hungary and Austria. The speech as there set down begins:
Now that we are all here together I think that it will be a good idea to arrange the Ausgleich. If you will act for Hungary I shall be quite willing to act for Austria, and this is the very time for it.
It is an excellent speech, full of good-feeling and good-humor, but it was never delivered. It is only a speech that Mark Twain intended to deliver, and permitted to be copied by a representative of the press before he started for Budapest.
It was a grand dinner, brilliant and inspiring, and when, Mark Twain was presented to that distinguished company he took a text from something the introducer had said and became so interested in it that his prepared speech wholly disappeared from his memory.
I think I will never embarrass myself with a set speech again [he wrote Twichell]. My memory is old and rickety and cannot stand the strain. But I had this luck. What I did was to furnish a text for a part of the splendid speech which was made by the greatest living orator of the European world—a speech which it was a great delight to listen to, although I did not understand any word of it, it being in Hungarian. I was glad I came, it was a great night, & I heard all the great men in the German tongue.
The family accompanied Clemens to Budapest, and while there met Franz, son of Louis Kossuth, and dined with him.