The Boys’ Life of Mark Twain
by Paine

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Public Domain Books

LXIV. A Degree From Oxford

On my return I found Mark Twain elated: he had been invited to England to receive the degree of Literary Doctor from the Oxford University. It is the highest scholastic honorary degree; and to come back, as I had, from following the early wanderings of the barefoot truant of Hannibal, only to find him about to be officially knighted by the world’s most venerable institution of learning, seemed rather the most surprising chapter even of his marvelous fairy-tale. If Tom Sawyer had owned the magic wand, he hardly could have produced anything as startling as that.

He sailed on the 8th of June, 1907, exactly forty years from the day he had sailed on the “Quaker City” to win his greater fame. I did not accompany him. He took with him a secretary to make notes, and my affairs held me in America. He was absent six weeks, and no attentions that England had ever paid him before could compare with her lavish welcome during this visit. His reception was really national. He was banqueted by the greatest clubs of London, he was received with special favor at the King’s garden party, he traveled by a royal train, crowds gathering everywhere to see him pass. At Oxford when he appeared on the street the name Mark Twain ran up and down like a cry of fire, and the people came running. When he appeared on the stage at the Sheldonian Theater to receive his degree, clad in his doctor’s robe of scarlet and gray, there arose a great tumult–the shouting of the undergraduates for the boy who had been Tom Sawyer and had played with Huckleberry Finn. The papers next day spoke of his reception as a “cyclone,” surpassing any other welcome, though Rudyard Kipling was one of those who received degrees on that occasion, and General Booth and Whitelaw Reid, and other famous men.

Perhaps the most distinguished social honor paid to Mark Twain at this time was the dinner given him by the staff of London “Punch,” in the historic “Punch” editorial rooms on Bouverie Street. No other foreigner had ever been invited to that sacred board, where Thackeray had sat, and Douglas Jerrold and others of the great departed. “Punch” had already saluted him with a front-page cartoon, and at this dinner the original drawing was presented to him by the editor’s little daughter, Joy Agnew.

The Oxford degree, and the splendid homage paid him by England at large, became, as it were, the crowning episode of Mark Twain’s career. I think he realized this, although he did not speak of it–indeed, he had very little to say of the whole matter. I telephoned a greeting when I knew that he had arrived in New York, and was summoned to “come down and play billiards.” I confess I went with a good deal of awe, prepared to sit in silence and listen to the tale of the returning hero. But when I arrived he was already in the billiard-room, knocking the balls about–his coat off, for it was a hot night. As I entered, he said:

“Get your cue–I’ve been inventing a new game.”

That was all. The pageant was over, the curtain was rung down. Business was resumed at the old stand.


Preface  •  I. The Family of John Clemens  •  II. The New Home, and Uncle John Quarles’s Farm  •  IV. Education Out of School  •  V. Tom Sawyer and His Band  •  VI. Closing School-Days  •  VII. The Apprentice  •  VIII. Orion’s Paper  •  IX. The Open Road  •  X. A Wind of Chance  •  XI. The Long Way to the Amazon  •  XII. Renewing an Old Ambition  •  XIII. Learning the River  •  XIV. River Days  •  XV. The Wreck of the “Pennsylvania”  •  XVI. The Pilot  •  XVII. The End of Piloting  •  XVIII. The Soldier  •  XIX. The Pioneer  •  XX. The Miner  •  XXI. The Territorial Enterprise  •  XXII. “Mark Twain”  •  XXIII. Artemus Ward and Literary San Francisco  •  XXIV. The Discovery of “The Jumping Frog”  •  XXV. Hawaii and Anson Burlingame  •  XXVI. Mark Twain, Lecturer  •  XXVII. An Innocent Abroad, and Home Again  •  XXVIII. Olivia Langdon. Work on the “Innocents”  •  XXIX. The Visit to Elmira and Its Consequences  •  XXX. The New Book and a Wedding  •  XXXI. Mark Twain in Buffalo  •  XXXII. At Work on “Roughing It”  •  XXXIII. In England  •  XXXIV. A New Book and New English Triumphs  •  XXXV. Beginning “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVI. The New Home  •  XXXVII. “Old Times,” “Sketches,” And “Tom Sawyer”  •  XXXVIII. Home Pictures  •  XXXIX. Tramping Abroad  •  XL. “The Prince and the Pauper”  •  XLI. General Grant at Hartford  •  XLII. Many Investments  •  XLIII. Back to the River, With Bixby  •  XLIV. A Reading-Tour With Cable  •  XLV. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”  •  XLVI. Publisher to General Grant  •  XLVII. The High-Tide of Fortune  •  XLVIII. Business Difficulties. Pleasanter Things  •  XLIX. Kipling at Elmira. Elsie Leslie. The “Yankee”  •  L. The Machine. Good-By to Hartford. “Joan” Is Begun  •  LI. The Failure of Webster & Co. Around the World. Sorrow  •  LII. European Economies  •  LIII. Mark Twain Pays His Debts  •  LIV. Return After Exile  •  LV. A Prophet At Home  •  LVI. Honored by Missouri  •  LVII. The Close of a Beautiful Life  •  LVIII. Mark Twain at Seventy  •  LIX. Mark Twain Arranges for His Biography  •  LX. Working With Mark Twain  •  LXI. Dictations at Dublin, N. H.  •  LXII. A New Era of Billiards  •  LXIII. Living With Mark Twain  •  LXIV. A Degree From Oxford  •  LXV. The Removal to Redding  •  LXVI. Life at Stormfield  •  LXVII. The Death of Jean  •  LXVIII. Days in Bermuda  •  LXIX. The Return to Redding  •  LXX. The Close of a Great Life

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The boys' life of Mark Twain: The story of a man who made the world laugh and love him
By Albert Bigelow Paine
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