Sunday, November 28, 2010

At Mark Twain’s Birthday Party, 1902

Last year I wished Mark Twain a happy 174th birthday. And 108 years ago tonight Howard Pyle and 52 other men wished him a happy 67th birthday. The New York Times reported on it the next day:
Mark Twain’s sixty-seventh birthday, which falls on Sunday, was celebrated at the Metropolitan Club last night by a dinner given in his honor by Col. George Harvey, editor of Harper’s Weekly and The North American Review, and President of Harper & Brothers, publishers. It was attended by fifty-three guests, most of them prominent in the literary world.

Mark Twain may or may not have read the notices of his demise which certain newspaper paragraphers have from time to time inserted in their papers prematurely as an excuse for the perpetration of a real or imagined witticism, but last night he laughingly listened while John Kendrick Bangs read a long obituary of him in rhyme and rhythm.

Mr. Howells read a sonnet in which he referred to a number of incidents in Mark Twain’s life, and particularly the article the humorist wrote on foreign missionaries. The other speakers were Chauncey M. Depew, Dr. Henry Van Dyke, Col. George Harvey, W. D. Howells, Hamilton W. Mabie, Thomas B. Reed, Wayne MacVeagh, and Mr. Clemens.
Here is the complete list of 54 attendees (I can connect Pyle personally or professionally to about two dozen of them, but will spare you):

Henry Mills Alden
John W. Alexander
James Lane Allen
John Kendrick Bangs
August Belmont
Samuel Bowles
George Washington Cable
Will Carleton
Robert W. Chambers
Dumont Clarke
Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Chauncey Depew
Frederick A. Duneka
Charles Froham
Hamlin Garland
Richard Watson Gilder
Will N. Harben
Henry S. Harper
J. Henry Harper
George Harvey
John Hay
William Dean Howells
Roy Rolfe Gilson
Thomas L. Janvier
Adrian Joline
John Larkin
Richard le Gallienne
William M. Laffan
W. B. Leeds
Frederick T. Leigh
Hamilton Wright Mabie
James MacArthur
Wayne MacVeagh
St. Clair McKelway
David A. Munro
William A. Nash
Adolph S. Ochs
Daniel O’Day
Howard Pyle
Thomas Bracket Reed
Dr. C. C. Rice
Henry H. Rogers
Thomas F. Ryan
Hamblen Sears
Ernest Thompson Seton
Francis Hopkinson Smith
Henry L. Stodard
Van Tassel Sutphen
Booth Tarkington
E. W. Townsend
Reverend J. H. Twichell
Henry Van Dyke
Horace White
George W. Young

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