Recently I have been researching the railroads and venues involved with
Mark Twain's American Vandals Abroad tour. The lists of his lectures
mention the stop in Lansing, Michigan's Mead's Hall but there is nothing
on where this venue was located nor anything about it. So, I inquired
of the Capital District Libraries about its location and one Heidi
Butler replied with a wealth of information on locations and name
changes but their library did not contain anything about the lecture
itself. Of her own volition she asked the Library of Michigan about
it. They had an archive of /The State Republican, /a weekly paper that
published a review of Twain's lecture. Following is my attempt to
transcribe the review. If anyone wants a copy of the pdf Heidi sent me,
let me know and I will forward a copy.
*The Lectures of Mark Twain*
Last Wednesday evening Mead’s Hall was well filled to hear Mark Twain
discourse on the American Vandal abroad. He is a young man, little over
thirty years of age, and looks as though he had never been a drawing
room pet, but had been used to the rough and tumble, the ups and downs
of life. His wit was eminently dry, and the force of his manner, which
is natural, and not affected, made it still more striking. He talked
easily, walking up and down the stage at a pace that slowly marked the
time of his words. His delightful description of Venice by moonlight,
the Sphinx, the Acropolis at Athens, were as fine specimens of word
painting as can be drawn by any other lecturer. Each of these telling
passages would be followed by some humorous comment that would convulse
the house with laughter. The lecture was intended to amuse, as well as
to instruct, and the object was fully attained. A lecturer tells his own
jokes best, and we will not repeat them. Those who heard appreciated the
fun, and those who failed to hear, had no business to be somewhere else.
The Vandal, who yet disgraces the national name in the classic cities of
the old world, was drawn to the life.
The real name of Mark Twain is S. L. Clemens, and he was for several
years city editor of a paper in Virginia City, Nevada, and first
attracted attention of the reading public by contributions to California
papers. He was a special correspondent of the New York /Tribune, /and
everything he writes adds to his reputation as an American humorist. His
manner is judged by many to be affected on the stage, which is untrue,
his manner being the same in personal conversation, and an infirmity
which, as he says, was honestly inherited.
As a humorist lecturer we have no hesitation in giving Mark Twain a
decided preference over the renowned Artemus Ward. If Nasby, by the will
of Lowell, becomes his successor as a humorist, we think Twain is
destined to more than make good the place formerly filled by Ward. He is
sure to provoke the hearty laugh that shakes the cobwebs from the ribs.
And as laughter is no sin, if it takes the proper time to come in, we
hope Twain will make his calling and election sure, and continue to
amuse as well as instruct, the grave, austere, American nation.
/Unaffiliated Geographer and Twain aficionado/