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Mark Twain.

SPEECH ON THE BABIES,

AT THE BANQUET, IN CHICAGO, GIVEN BY THE ARMY OF THE

TENNESSEE TO THEIR FIRST COMMANDER, GENERAL U. S.
GRANT, NOVEMBER, 1879.

[The fifteenth regular toast was “The Babies.--As they comfort us in our

sorrows, let us not forget them in our festivities.”]

I like that. We have not all had the good fortune to be ladies We have not all been generals, or poets, or statesmen; but when the toast works down to the babies, we stand on common ground. It is a shame that for a thousand years the world's banquets have utterly ignored the baby, as if he didn't amount to anything. If you will stop and think a minute—if you will go back fifty or one hundred years to your early married life and recontemplate your first baby-you will remember that he amounted to a good deal, and even something over. You soldiers all know that when that little fellow arrived at family headquarters you had to hand in your resignation. He took entire command. You became his lackey, his mere body-servant, and you had to stand around oo. He was not a commander who made allowances for time, distance, weather, or anything else. You had to execute his orders whether it was possible or not. And there was only one form of marching in his manual of tactics, and that was the double-quick. He treated you with every sort of insolence and disrespect, and the bravest of you didn't dare say a word. You could face the deathstorm at Donelson and Vicksburg, and give back blow for blow; but when he clawed your whiskers, and pulled your hair, and twisted your nose, you had to take it. When the thunders of war were sounding in your ears you set your faces toward the batteries, and advanced with steady tread; but when he turned on the terrors of his war-whoop you advanced in the other direction, and mighty glad of the chance too. When he called for soothingsyrup, did you venture to throw out any side remarks about certain services being unbecoming an officer and a gentleman ? No. You got up and got it. When he ordered his pap bottle and it was not warm, did you talk back? Not you. You went to work and warmed it. You even descended so far in your menial office as to take a suck at that warm, insipid stuff yourself, to see if it was right—three parts water to one of milk, a touch of sugar to modify the colic, and a drop of peppermint to kill those immortal hiccoughs. I can taste that stuff yet. And how many things you learned as you went along! Sentimental young folks still take stock in that beautiful old saying that when the baby smiles in his sleep, it is because the angels are whispering to him. Very pretty, but too thin—simply wind on the stomach, my friends. If the baby proposed to take a walk at his usual hour, two o'clock in the morning, didn't you rise up promptly and remark, with a mental addition which would not improve a Sunday-school book much, that that was the very thing you were about to propose yourself? Oh! you were under good discipline, and as you went fluttering up and down the room in your undress uniform, you not only prattled undignified baby-talk, but even tuned up your martial voices and tried to sing /_"Rock-a-by baby in the tree-top,” for instance. What a spectacle for an Army of the Tennessee! And what an affliction for the neighbours, too; for it is not everybody within a mile around that likes military music at three in the morning. And when you had been keeping this sort of thing up two or three hours, and your little velýet-head intimated that nothing suited him like exercise and noise, what did you do ? ["Go on!] You simply went on until you dropped in the last ditch. The idea that a baby doesn't amount to anything! Why, one baby is just a house and a front yard full by itself. One baby can furnish more busi

you

and your whole Interior Department can attend to. He is enterprising, irrepressible, brimful of lawless activities. Do what you please, you can't make him stay on the reservation. Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don't you ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain't any real difference between triplets and an insurrection. Yes, it was high time for a toast master to recognise the im

J

ness than

portance of the babies. Think what is in store for the present crop! Fifty years from now we shall all be dead, I trust, and then this flag, if it still survive (and let us hope it may), will be floating over a Republic numbering 200,000,000 souls, according to the settled laws of our increase. Our present schooner of State will have grown into a political leviathan—a Great Eastern. The cradled babies of to-day will be on deck. Let them be well trained, for we are going to leave a big contract on their hands. Among the three or four million cradles now rocking in the land are some which this nation would preserve for ages as sacred things, if we could know which ones they are. In one of these cradles the unconscious Farragut of the future is at this moment teething--think of it !--and putting in a world of dead earnest, unarticulated, but perfectly justifiable profanity over it, too. In another the future renowned astronomer is blinking at the shining Milky Way with but a languid interest-poor little chap !-and wondering what has become of that other one they call the wetnurse. In another the future great historian is lying—and doubtless will continue to lie until his earthly mission is ended. In another the future President is busying himself with no profounder problem of state than what the mischief has become of his hair so early; and in a mighty array of other cradles there are now some 60,000 future office-seekers, getting ready to furnish him occasion to grapple with that same old problem a second time. And in still one more cradle, somewhere under the flag, the future illustrious commander-in-chief of the American armies is so little burdened with his approaching grandeurs and responsibilities as to be giving his whole strategic mind at this moment to trying to find out some way to get his big toe into his mouth—an achievement which, meaning no disrespect, the illustrious guest of this evening turned his entire attention to some fifty-six years ago; and if the child is but a prophecy of the man, there are mighty few who will doubt that he succeeded.

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AN ENCOUNTER WITH AN INTERVIEWER. The nervous, dapper, “peart” young man took the chair I offered him, and said he was connected with the “ Daily Thunderstorm,” and added :

“Hoping it's no harm, I've come to interview you.”
Come to what?”
Interview you."
"Ah! I see.

Yes-yes.

Um! Yes-yes." I was not feeling bright that morning. Indeed, my powers seemed a bit under a cloud. However, I went to the bookcase, and when I had been looking six or seven minutes I found I was obliged to refer to the young man.

I said
“How do you spell it?”
"Spell what?"
“ Interview."
“Oh my goodness! what do you want to spell it for?”
I don't want to spell it; I want to see what it means.”

“Well, this is astonishing, I must say. I can tell you what it means, if you—if you—"

“Oh, all right! That will answer, and much obliged to you, too."

“I-n, in, t-e-r, ter, inter"
“Then you spell it with an I ?
“Why, certainly !"
“Oh, that is what took me so long."
“Why, my dear sir, what did you propose to spell it with ?”

“Well, I-I-hardly know. I had the Unabridged, and I was ciphering around in the back end, hoping I might tree her among the pictures. But it's a very old edition.”

“Why, my friend, they wouldn't have a picture of it in even the latest eMy dear sir, I beg your pardon, I mean no harm in the

I world, but you do not look as -as-intelligent as I had expected you would. No harm-I mean no harm at all.”

“Oh, don't mention it! It has often been said, and by people who would not flatter, and who could have no inducement to fatter, that I am quite remarkable in that way. Yes—yes; they always speak of it with rapture."

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“I can easily imagine it. But about this interview. You know it is the custom, now, to interview any man who has become notorious.”

“ Indeed I had not heard of it before. It must be very interesting. What do you do it with ?”

"Ah, well-well-well-this is disheartening. It ought to be done with a club in some cases; but customarily it consists in the interviewer asking questions and the interviewed answering them. It is all the rage now.

Will

you let me ask you certain questions calculated to bring out the salient points of your public and private history?"

“Oh, with pleasure—with pleasure. I have a very bad memory, but I hope you will not mind that.

That is to say, it is an irregular memory—singularly irregular. Sometimes it goes in a gallop, and then again it will be as much as a fortnight passing a given point. This is a great grief to me.”

” "Oh, it is no matter, so you will try to do the best you can.” “I will. I will put my whole mind on it.” “Thanks. Are you ready to begin ?” “Ready." Q. How old are you? A. Nineteen, in June.

Q. Indeed! I would have taken you to be thirty-five or six Where were you

born ? A. In Missouri. Q. When did you begin to write ? A. In 1836. Q. Why, how could that be, if you are only nineteen now? A. I don't know. It does seem curious, somehow.

Q. It does, indeed. Whom do you consider the most remarkable man you ever met ?

A. Aaron Burr.

Q. But you never could have met Aaron Burr, if you are only nineteen years.

A. Now, if you know more about me than I do, what do you ask me for ?

Q. Well, it was only a suggestion; nothing more. How did you happen to meet Burr?

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