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George Washington Cable and Samuel L. Clemens first met in 1881. It appeared that he stood at the threshold of a brilliant career. (pg3 Cardwell). Cable had just caught the attention of the public with his two fresh, promising volumes [from 1879 and 1880]. Although his thinking on questions of race and caste had taken a liberal bias in the 1860's he was not yet marked as a forthright, vocal advocate of civil rights for the Negro and had not yet been widely attacked by southerners for the nonconformist views which were to make him notorious and obnoxious among them. (pg2 Cardwell). Their friendship developed very quickly, culminating in and nearly exploding during their joint lecture tour in 1884-85. (pg 3 Cardwell). Twain himself was green at the job. Believing that all he needed to do was to get out on the platform and read from the book, he did just that and made a botch of it. After a week's experience, he put the book aside and delivered his pieces from memory. Gradually the pieces transformed themselves into flexible talk'. (pg 16 Cardwell [Mark Twain in Eruption pp 215-217])

Samuel Clemens cast his vote for Grover Cleveland on November 4, 1884, and railed with Livy to New Haven the next day for the first of his ninety-four joint readings with George Washington Cable, his first speaking tour in over a dozen years. He and Cable were on the road together for most of the next four months, performing in sixty-eight cities from Minneapolis in the west, Louisville in the south, Montreal in the north, to Boston in the east. His raid on the lyceums with Cable only dimly resembled the debauch with Cable, W. D. Howells, and others he had envisioned in 1882, As Sam had specified, he and Cable performed seven times in the first eight days (excepting only Sunday, November 9, out of consideration for Cable's strict Sabbatarianism) in relatively small cities and towns as they polished their act before appearing before large audiences. “When we first started out,” he admitted to an interviewer at the time, “I didn't think I should like the business. I had been off the platform for about fifteen years. He was more candid in his autobiography: “It was ghastly! At least in the beginning.” [Page  423 The Life of Mark Twain - The Middle Years 1871-1891]

Sam also negotiated with Cable and Pond during the summer of 1884 for a four-month speaking and book tour the next winter. Both Huck Finn and Cable's new novel Dr. Sevier, which would feature prominently in their programs, were scheduled for publication during the lyceum season. Each of the authors insisted upon several conditions in the contract. Sam demanded a Christmas recess so that he could spend the holiday with his family in Hartford. He initially offered Cable a salary of $350 a week plus expenses.  He demanded that James Pond or his brother Ozias accompany them and “attend to everything which comes under the head of business—halls, route, printing, prices, &c., deciding all business questions himself, & asking no advice of me.” The circus had to be booked into six to ten small towns “before it appears in any metropolis” so that the performers could polish their program prior to entertaining any large audiences. Pond’s agency was to be paid 10 percent of the profit for services rendered and would provide Sam a regular account of “receipts & disbursements & pay over to me daily what is coming to me. The route of the tour would be arranged so that Sam would be in Canada when Huck Finn was published there so that he could secure Canadian copyright. They were not to be booked to read before the hometown folks in either Elmira or Hartford. On his part, Cable had recently moved with his family from New Orleans to Simsbury, Connecticut, to escape Southern censure of his progressive racial opinions. Unlike Sam, Cable was the sole provider for his family and had recently quit his job to earn his living as a full-time lecturer and writer. He demanded a salary of $450 a week plus expenses and a promise that he would not be expected to perform or travel on Sundays. Sam acceded to Cable's salary demand on July 8 (“O damnation, I would rather pay Cable $450 a week & his expenses’ than pay Thomas Nast $300 a week). Sam wanted to travel with someone companionable, “somebody to keep me in countenance on the stage and to help me impose on the audience. But more than that, I wanted good company on the road and at the hotels” and Cable fit the bill.  Pond publicly announced the upcoming tour on July 20, In Pond’s circular the two men received equal billing and agreed to share roughly equal time on the stage “so that the pathos of the one would alternate with the humor of the other.” Sam calculated that the tour would earn a profit of $25,000 to $30,000 and he would receive two-thirds to three-fourths of it. He and Cable rendezvoused in New York on September 26 to pose together for a publicity photograph.

The mice and men seemed to have planned well. As usual, Sam pledged that this was his final speaking tour. “This trip's my last—forever & ever,” he insisted.  [From 414-5 The Life of Mark Twain - The Middle Years 1871-1891]


Mark Twain had not lectured since 1872, the year Roughing It was published. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1885. Twain wanted it promoted so he hired Major J.B. Pond to act as agent and the author George Washington Cable to accompanying him on stage. Andrew Levy, in Huck Finn's America, paints a picture of Twain's entrance on the stage for the first show of the tour: The Opera House in New Haven, Connecticut, November 5, 1884 at about 8:40pm.

He walked slowly. One side of him dragged, limped. Perhaps someone in the audience laughed a little nervously, and Twain looked up suddenly. He seemed startled to discover that an audience was present. This caused more people to laugh. Twain now seemed mortified. A few more people laughed, uncomfortably, hopefully.

November 5 - Opera House, New Haven, Connecticut
November 6 - Music Hall, Orange, New Jersey 
November 7 - Gilmore's Opera House, Springfield, Massachusetts 
November - 8 - Blackstone Hall, Providence, Rhode Island
November 10 - Town Hall, Melrose, Massachusetts 
November 11 - Huntington Hall, Lowell, Massachusetts 
November 12 - Rumford Hall, Waltham, Massachusetts

December 1 - Town Hall, Adams, Massachusetts
December 2 - Music Hall, Troy, New York
December 3 - Wilgus Opera House, Ithaca, New York
December 4 - Grand Opera House, Syracuse, New York
December 5 - Opera House, Utica, New York
December 6 (two performances) - Academy of Music, Rochester, New York

January 1 - Court House, Paris, Kentucky
January 2 - Odeon Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio -
January 3 (Two performances) - Odeon Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio 
January 5 - Leiderkranz Hall, Louisville, Kentucky 
January 6 - Leiderkranz Hall, Louisville, Kentucky
January 7 - Plymouth Church, Indianapolis, Indiana 
January 8 - Chatterton's Opera House, Springfield, Illinois

February 2 & 3 - Central Music Hall, Chicago, Illinois
February 4 - Opera House, South Bend, Indiana