All Rights Reserved.
Site last updated
13 January, 2012
Mark Twain, A Biography Vol II, Part 1: 1875 - 1886|
CXLIII. A Guest of Royalty
by Paine, Albert Bigelow
|For purposes of copyright another trip to Canada was necessary, and when
the newspapers announced (May, 1883) that Mark Twain was about to cross
the border there came one morning the following telegram:
Meeting of Literary and Scientific Society at Ottawa from 22d to
26th. It would give me much pleasure if you could come and be my
guest during that time.
The Marquis of Lorne, then Governor-General of Canada, was the husband of
Queen Victoria's daughter, the Princess Louise. The invitation was
therefore in the nature of a command. Clemens obeyed it graciously
enough, and with a feeling of exaltation no doubt. He had been honored
by the noble and the great in many lands, but this was royalty--English
royalty--paying a tribute to an American writer whom neither the Marquis
nor the Princess, his wife, had ever seen. They had invited him because
they had cared enough for his books to make them wish to see him, to have
him as a guest in Rideau Hall, their home. Mark Twain was democratic.
A king to him was no more than any other man; rather less if he were not
a good king. But there was something national in this tribute; and,
besides, Lord Lorne and the Princess Louise were the kind of sovereigns
that honored their rank, instead of being honored by it.
It is a good deal like a fairy tale when you think of it; the barefooted
boy of Hannibal, who had become a printer, a pilot, a rough-handed miner,
being summoned, not so many years later, by royalty as one of America's
foremost men of letters. The honor was no greater than many others he
had received, certainly not greater than the calls of Canon Kingsley and
Robert Browning and Turgenieff at his London hotel lodgings, but it was
of a less usual kind.
Clemens enjoyed his visit. Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne kept
him with them almost continually, and were loath to let him go. Once
they took him tobogganing--an exciting experience.
It happened that during his stay with them the opening of the Canadian
Parliament took place. Lord Lorne and the principal dignitaries of state
entered one carriage, and in a carriage behind them followed Princess
Louise with Mark Twain. As they approached the Parliament House the
customary salute was fired. Clemens pretended to the Princess
considerable gratification. The temptation was too strong to resist:
"Your Highness," he said, "I have had other compliments paid to me,
but none equal to this one. I have never before had a salute fired
in my honor."
Returning to Hartford, he sent copies of his books to Lord Lome, and to
the Princess a special copy of that absurd manual, The New Guide of the
Conversation in Portuguese and English, for which he had written an
introduction. --[A serious work, in Portugal, though issued by Osgood
('83) as a joke. Clemens in the introduction says: "Its delicious,
unconscious ridiculousness and its enchanting naivety are as supreme and
unapproachable in their way as Shakespeare's sublimities." An extract,
the closing paragraph from the book's preface, will illustrate his
"We expect then, who the little book (for the care that we wrote him, and
for her typographical correction), that maybe worth the acceptation of
the studious persons, and especially of the Youth, at which we dedicate