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Mark Twain
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The Belle of New York 1901-1908
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Twain, the After Dinner Speaker
 
 

“I RISE to protest. I have kept still for years, but really I think there is no sufficient justification for this sort of thing. What do you want to celebrate those people for?—those ancestors of yours of 1620—the Mayflower tribe, I mean. What do you want to celebrate them for?

Your pardon: the gentleman at my left assures me that you are not celebrating the Pilgrims themselves, but the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock on the 22d of December. So you are celebrating their landing. Why, the other pretext was thin enough, but this is thinner than ever; the other was tissue, tinfoil, fish-bladder, but this is gold-leaf. Celebrating their landing! What was there remarkable about it, I would like to know? What can you be thinking of?

Why, those Pilgrims had been at sea three or four months. It was the very middle of winter: it was as cold as death off Cape Cod there. Why shouldn’t they come ashore? If they hadn’t landed there would be some reason for celebrating the fact. It would have been a case of monumental leatherheadedness which the world would not willingly let die... Why, to be celebrating the mere landing of the Pilgrims—to be trying to make out that this most natural and simple and customary procedure was an extraordinary circumstance—a circumstance to be amazed at, and admired, aggrandized and glorified, at orgies like this for two hundred and sixty years—hang it, a horse would have known enough to land.”—Mark Twain, “Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims” speech, 1881

70th Birthday Party with Friends, including Joe Twichell and HH Rogers, December 1905
70th Birthday Party with Friends, including
Joe Twichell and HH Rogers, December 1905

Courtesy Library of Congress
 
Video Real Video: 56k | 220k  
Arthur Miller, “We Are Doing This”

At Home with Clara
At Home with Clara
Courtesy Nick Karanovich

“I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time. I have no other restriction as regards smoking. I do not know just when I began to smoke, I only know that it was in my father’s lifetime, and that I was discreet...

To-day it is all of sixty years since I began to smoke the limit. I have never bought cigars with life-belts around them. I early found that those were too expensive for me. I have always bought cheap cigars-reasonably cheap, at any rate. Sixty years ago they cost me four dollars a barrel, but my taste has improved, latterly, and I pay seven now. Six or seven. Seven, I think. Yes, it’s seven. But that includes the barrel. I often have smoking-parties at my house; but the people that come have always just taken the pledge. I wonder why that is?

As for drinking, I have no rule about that. When the others drink I like to help, otherwise I remain dry, by habit and preference. This dryness does not hurt me, but it could easily hurt you, because you are different. You let it alone...”—Mark Twain, “Seventieth Birthday” speech, 1905

Illustration from a Lecture
Illustration of Twain Lecture,
Melbourne, Australia
 
 
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