Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete eBook

Albert Bigelow Paine
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,512 pages of information about Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete.

CCLVII

A TRUE ENGLISH WELCOME

Mark Twain’s trip across the Atlantic would seem to have been a pleasant one.  The Minneapolis is a fine, big ship, and there was plenty of company.  Prof.  Archibald Henderson, Bernard Shaw’s biographer, was aboard;—­[Professor .Henderson has since then published a volume on Mark Twain-an interesting commentary on his writings-mainly from the sociological point of view.]—­also President Patton, of the Princeton Theological Seminary; a well-known cartoonist, Richards, and some very attractive young people—­school-girls in particular, such as all through his life had appealed to Mark Twain.  Indeed, in his later life they made a stronger appeal than ever.  The years had robbed him of his own little flock, and always he was trying to replace them.  Once he said: 

“During those years after my wife’s death I was washing about on a forlorn sea of banquets and speech-making in high and holy causes, and these things furnished me intellectual cheer, and entertainment; but they got at my heart for an evening only, then left it dry and dusty.  I had reached the grandfather stage of life without grandchildren, so I began to adopt some.”

He adopted several on that journey to England and on the return voyage, and he kept on adopting others during the rest of his life.  These companionships became one of the happiest aspects of his final days, as we shall see by and by.

There were entertainments on the ship, one of them given for the benefit of the Seamen’s Orphanage.  One of his adopted granddaughters—­“Charley” he called her—­played a violin solo and Clemens made a speech.  Later his autographs were sold at auction.  Dr. Patton was auctioneer, and one autographed postal card brought twenty-five dollars, which is perhaps the record price for a single Mark Twain signature.  He wore his white suit on this occasion, and in the course of his speech referred to it.  He told first of the many defects in his behavior, and how members of his household had always tried to keep him straight.  The children, he said, had fallen into the habit of calling it “dusting papa off.”  Then he went on: 

When my daughter came to see me off last Saturday at the boat she slipped a note in my hand and said, “Read it when you get aboard the ship.”  I didn’t think of it again until day before yesterday, and it was a “dusting off.”  And if I carry out all the instructions that I got there I shall be more celebrated in England for my behavior than for anything else.  I got instructions how to act on every occasion.  She underscored “Now, don’t you wear white clothes on ship or on shore until you get back,” and I intended to obey.  I have been used to obeying my family all my life, but I wore the white clothes to-night because the trunk that has the dark clothes in it is in the cellar.  I am not apologizing for the white clothes; I am only apologizing to my
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Project Gutenberg
Mark Twain, a Biography. Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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