How Mark Twain Used Today’s Evocative Word – DIMLY to get ’em evocatin’
“I vaguely remember some of the details of that gathering—dimly I can see a hundred people—no, perhaps fifty—shadowy figures sitting at tables feeding, ghosts now to me, and nameless forever more. I don’t know who they were, but I can very distinctly see, seated at the grand table and facing the rest of us, Mr. Emerson, supernaturally grave, unsmiling; Mr. Whittier, grave, lovely, his beautiful spirit shining out of his face; Mr. Longfellow, with his silken white hair and his benignant face; Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, flashing smiles and affection and all good-fellowship everywhere like a rose-diamond whose facets are being turned toward the light first one way and then another—a charming man, and always fascinating, whether he was talking or whether he was sitting still (what he would call still, but what would be more or less motion to other people). I can see those figures with entire distinctness across this abyss of time…………..
Now at that point ends all that was pleasurable about that notable celebration of Mr. Whittier’s seventieth birthday—because I got up at that point and followed (the previous speaker), with what I have no doubt I supposed would be the gem of the evening—the gay oration above quoted from the Boston paper. I had written it all out the day before and had perfectly memorized it, and I stood up there at my genial and happy and self-satisfied ease, and began to deliver it.”
Published in What Mark Twain Learned Me ’bout Public Speakin’ by Conor Cunneen
Original SOURCE: Mark Twain Letter to a fan who recalled the occasion when the great humorist bombed.
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