Saturday, February 03, 2007

Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books is up; I linked my review of Gilead.

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In yesterday's quick Thank You!! post, I used the phrase "our fair sex." Wondering if it should be in quotes or not, I googled on the phrase, and came across this, which in hindsight is just too good not to share. It's a short speech Samuel Clemens made to a bunch of newpapermen, the 1868 "Toast To Woman."

If you enjoy Twain, please, go read the whole thing. If you aren't sure whether you enjoy Twain or not, I shall inflict this sample upon you (color-coded by me so you skimmers won't miss the best lines):

Wheresoever you place woman, sir -- in whatever position or estate -- she is an ornament to that place she occupies, and a treasure to the world. [Here Mr. Twain paused, looked inquiringly at his hearers and remarked that the applause should come in at this point. It came in. Mr. Twain resumed his eulogy.] Look at the noble names of history! Look at Cleopatra! look at Desdemona! look at Florence Nightengale! look at Joan of Arc! look at Lucretia Borgia! [Disapprobriation expressed. "Well," said Mr. Twain, scratching his head doubtfully, "suppose we let Lucretia slide."] Look at Joyce Heth! look at Mother Eve! I repeat, sir, look at the illustrious names of history! Look at the Widow Machree! Look at Lucy Stone! Look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton! Look at George Francis Train! [Great laughter.] And, sir, I say with bowed head and deepest veneration, look at the mother of Washington! She raised a boy that could not lie -- could not lie. [Applause.] But he never had any chance. It might have been different with him if he had belonged to a newspaper correspondent's club. [Laughter, groans, hisses, cries of "put him out." Mark looked around placidly upon his excited audience and resumed.]

I repeat, sir, that in whatever position you place a woman she is an ornament to society and a treasure to the world. As a sweetheart she has few equals and no superiors -- [laughter;] -- as a cousin she is convenient; as a wealthy grandmother with an incurable distemper, she is precious; as a wet nurse she has no equal among men! [Laughter.]

...But, jesting aside, Mr. President, woman is lovable, gracious, kind of heart, beautiful -- worthy of all respect, of all esteem, of all deference. Not any here will refuse to drink her health right cordially, for each and every one of us has personally known, and loved, and honored, the very best one of them all -- his own mother! [Applause.]

1 comment:

Jenny in Ca said...

Hen, that was so funny, and sweet. I'm going to have to share that with my husband, he will be rolling.

He has always had a fondness for Mr. Clemens...he is so very quotable!

fun post, thanks!