[At the conclusion of his speech, and while the diners were still cheering him, Colonel Porter brought forward the red-and-gray gown of the Oxford “doctor,” and Mr. Clemens was made to don it. The diners rose to their feet in their enthusiasm. With the mortar-board on his head, and looking down admiringly at himself, Mr. Twain said—]
I like that gown. I always did like red. The redder it is the better I like it. I was born for a savage. Now, whoever saw any red like this? There is no red outside the arteries of an archangel that could compare with this. I know you all envy me. I am going to have luncheon shortly with ladies just ladies. I will be the only lady of my sex present, and I shall put on this gown and make those ladies look dim.
Addressat the pilgrims’ club luncheon,
given in honor of Mr.
Clemens at the Savoy hotel, London, June 25, 1907.
Mr. Birrell, M.P., Chief-Secretary for Ireland, in introducing Mr. Clemens said: “We all love Mark Twain, and we are here to tell him so. One more point—all the world knows it, and that is why it is dangerous to omit it—our guest is a distinguished citizen of the Great Republic beyond the seas. In America his ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and his ‘Tom Sawyer’ are what ’Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Tom Brown’s School Days’ have been to us. They are racy of the soil. They are books to which it is impossible to place any period of termination. I will not speak of the classics—reminiscences of much evil in our early lives. We do not meet here to-day as critics with our appreciations and depreciations, our twopenny little prefaces or our forewords. I am not going to say what the world a thousand years hence will think of Mark Twain. Posterity will take care of itself, will read what it wants to read, will forget what it chooses to forget, and will pay no attention whatsoever to our critical mumblings and jumblings. Let us therefore be content to say to our friend and guest that we are here speaking for ourselves and for our children, to say what he has been to us. I remember in Liverpool, in 1867, first buying the copy, which I still preserve, of the celebrated ‘Jumping Frog.’ It had a few words of preface which reminded me then that our guest in those days was called ‘the wild humorist of the Pacific slope,’ and a few lines later down, ‘the moralist of the Main.’ That was some forty years ago. Here he is, still the humorist, still the moralist. His humor enlivens and enlightens his morality, and his morality is all the better for his humor. That is one of the reasons why we love him. I am not here to mention any book of his—that is a subject of dispute in my family circle, which is the best and which is the next best—but I must put in a