October 15 Monday – The S.S. Minnehaha arrived in New York City with the Clemens family on board [MTHHR 451]. The steamship was slow in getting into the pier at West Houston Street. At 10 p.m. the gangplank was positioned. Sam waited until most of the passengers had disembarked. When he did so he was surrounded by “a few friends” and newspaper men. Paine reports a remark Sam made to them:
“If I ever get ashore I am going to break both of my legs so I can’t get away again” [MTB 1110].
From the N.Y. Herald, Oct. 16, p.1:
He talked to them for fifteen or twenty minutes in a serious strain, brightened once or twice with characteristic bits of humor. One of the reporters thought that possibly his seriousness was in reality a joke, and asked him. The reply was: “I never told the truth that I was not suspected of lying, and never told a lie that I was not believed.”
One of the first questions asked of him was as to his views on the political situation. His answer was that on general principles he as an anti-imperialist.
“Once I was not anti-imperialist,” he said. “I thought that the rescue of those islands from the government under which they had suffered for three hundred years was good business for us to be in. But I had not studied the Paris Treaty. When I found that it made us responsible for the protection of the friars and their property I changed my mind.”
NOT DECIDED HOW TO VOTE.
When asked as to how he would vote, Mr. Clemens replied: “I have not decided who I am going to vote for. I have paid taxes in Hartford for nine years, and I suppose I am entitled to vote.”
He went on to say that he was a mugwump, that it was not likely that he would vote for Bryan, but he might vote for McKinley. … [Note: see Scharnhorst for a collection of excerpts from other newspapers and some in depth analysis: p. 357-64.]
And from the New York Sun Oct. 16, p.2 “Mark Twain Home Again”:
Samuel L. Clemens, ruddy but composed as always, walked down the gangway from the Atlantic Transport Line steamship Minnehaha last evening after a ten-day trip from London and made such headway as he could across the pier between friends and a crowd of newspaper reporters who were awaiting him. He was touched on one shoulder and clutched by the opposite elbow and when he tried to go ahead, being unable to look both ways at once, he found his way blocked by a tackling line which opened only to clog his way again at the sides. Never ruffled, Mr. Clemens quietly but cheerily greeted the friends and as quietly put in such sentences as he could between times to the waiting newspaper men, who finally corralled him and held him to themselves for a few minutes as the representatives of the larger number of friends who could not go to the pier to meet him.
Mr. Clemens innocently frightened one of the reporters by telling him that he was just getting ready to swear, but the appearance of a customs officer restored confidence. Another reporter confided to the author that his city editor had sent positively the worst equipped man in his office to interview a humorist.
“My boy,” said Mark Twain, “I don’t know about that. Humor is so serious. When you sit down to write humor go at it seriously; if the humor doesn’t come, don’t write it.”
…He had come home in pretty good health, he said, and practically without any plans, except that he should remain in New York this winter and in the spring go to Hartford, his home. His writings while here would probably only be some magazine work. He said that he had two or three works under way… [Note: See the full text in Fatout, MT Speaking, p.342-3.]