Mark Twain at railroad feast
MARK TWAIN AT RAILROAD FEAST
Humorist in Speech Makes Jest of H. H. Rogers' Road Building
NORFOLK, Va., April 3. - The opening of the new Virginian railroad was celebrated tonight with a banquet given in honor of H. H. Rogers by the businessmen of Norfolk. Among the speakers was Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), who made one of his characteristic humorous speeches. He appeared in his well known suit of immaculate white and declared he was the whitest man in attendance.
Explaining why he did not leave the car to inspect the great steel pier of the Virginian railroad, Clemens said he saw it en route to the city and noted that, like Rogers' foot, "it was long and bony."
Clemens said: "It is no small thing to be classed as you have classed Mr. Rogers. Why didn't he say it was the proudest moment of his life, like Julius Caesar did? They can't be here to defend themselves, but I'm here. Napoleon built 50 roads, and your toastmaster here has put Mr. Rogers, who has built only one road, in that class, and he has not got that done yet. I like to hear him complimented, but I don't like to hear it overdone.
"The chairman says Mr. Rogers is full of practical wisdom. I remember when he took his first trip across the Atlantic. He did not like to ask questions and show his ignorance, so he just kept quiet and observed. On the way over some of the young Englishmen go to betting on the time the ship was making. They got him to wager half a crown, but he did not know what half a crown was, so he went to bed and tried to figure out what he had bet. He did not know whether a half a crown was money or what. He figured it out that a crown belonged to a king and that it was probably worth $20,000.