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Mark Twain, A Biography Vol III, Part 2: 1907 - 1910|
Appendix G: Mark Twain at the Correspondents Club, Washington
by Paine, Albert Bigelow
|(See Chapter lxiii)
A EULOGY OF THE FAIR SEX
The Washington Correspondents Club held its anniversary on Saturday
night. Mr. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, responded to the toast,
"Woman, the pride of the professions and the jewel of ours." He said:
Mr. President,--I do not know why I should have been singled out to
receive the greatest distinction of the evening--for so the office of
replying to the toast to woman has been regarded in every age.
[Applause.] I do not know why I have received this distinction, unless it
be that I am a trifle less homely than the other members of the club.
But, be this as it may, Mr. President, I am proud of the position, and
you could not have chosen any one who would have accepted it more gladly,
or labored with a heartier good--will to do the subject justice, than I.
Because, Sir, I love the sex. [Laughter.] I love all the women, sir,
irrespective of age or color. [Laughter.]
Human intelligence cannot estimate what we owe to woman, sir. She sews
on our buttons [laughter]; she mends our clothes [laughter]; she ropes us
in at the church fairs; she confides in us; she tells us whatever she can
find out about the private affairs of the neighbors; she gives good
advice, and plenty of it; she gives us a piece of her mind sometimes--
and sometimes all of it; she soothes our aching brows; she bears our
children. (Ours as a general thing.)--[this last sentence appears in
Twain's published speeches and may have been added later. D.W.]
In all relations of life, sir, it is but just and a graceful tribute to
woman to say of her that she is a brick. [Great laughter.]
Wheresoever you place woman, sir--in whatsoever position or estate--she
is an ornament to that place she occupies, and a treasure to the world.
[Here Mr. Twain paused, looked inquiringly at his hearers, and remarked
that the applause should come in at this point. It came in. Mr. Twain
resumed his eulogy.] Look at the noble names of history! Look at
Cleopatra! Look at Desdemona! Look at Florence Nightingale! Look at
Joan of Arc! Look at Lucretia Borgia! [Disapprobation expressed.
"Well," said Mr. Twain, scratching his head, doubtfully, "suppose we let
Lucretia slide."] Look at Joyce Heth! Look at Mother Eve! I repeat,
sir, look at the illustrious names of history! Look at the Widow
Machree! Look at Lucy Stone! Look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton! Look at
George Francis Train! [Great laughter.] And, sir, I say with bowed head
and deepest veneration, look at the mother of Washington! She raised a
boy that could not lie--could not lie. [Applause.] But he never had any
chance. It might have been different with him if he had belonged to a
newspaper correspondents' club. [Laughter, groans, hisses, cries of "put
him out." Mark looked around placidly upon his excited audience, and
I repeat, sir, that in whatsoever position you place a woman she is an
ornament to society and a treasure to the world. As a sweetheart she has
few equals and no superior [laughter]; as a cousin she is convenient; as
a wealthy grandmother with an incurable distemper she is precious; as a
wet nurse she has no equal among men! [Laughter.]
What, sir, would the people of this earth be without woman? They would
be scarce, sir. (Mighty scarce.)--[another line added later in the
published 'Speeches'. D.W.] Then let us cherish her, let us protect her,
let us give her our support, our encouragement, our sympathy--ourselves,
if we get a chance. [Laughter.]
But, jesting aside, Mr. President, woman is lovable, gracious, kind of
heart, beautiful; worthy of all respect, of all esteem, of all deference.
Not any here will refuse to drink her health right cordially, for each
and every one of us has personally known, loved, and honored the very
best one of them all--his own mother! [Applause.]