Twain on Ingersoll


Mark Twain wrote these words to author William Dean Howells upon hearing Ingersoll speak at a banquet for Ulysses S. Grant:

I doubt if America has ever seen anything quite equal it. I am well satisfied that I shall not live to see its equal again. How pale those speeches are in print, but how radiant, how full of colors, how blinding they were in the delivery! Bob Ingersoll's music will sing through my memory always as the divinest that ever enchanted my ears. And I shall always see him, as he stood that night on a dinner-table, under the flash of lights and abnners, in the midst of seven hundred frantic shouters, the most beautiful human creature that ever lived. "They fought, that a mother might own her child."

The words look like any other print, but, Lord bless me! he borrowed the very accent of the angel of mercy to say them in, and you should have seen that house rise to its feet; and you should have heard the hurricane that followed. That's the only test. People may shout, clap their hands, stamp, wave their napkins but none than the master can make them get up on their feet."