“MARK TWAIN IN WASHINGTON. His Trouble In Getting by the House Doorkeeper (The Hartford Courant; 24 March 1888) p. 3

Mark Twain in D.C. flyer_1MARK TWAIN IN WASHINGTON.

His Trouble In Getting by the House Doorkeeper

(New York World)

Washington, March 22. – Mark Twain, having survived participation in the authors’ reading, is now playing Rip Van Winkle in revisiting the places in Washington of which he was a habitue twenty years ago. In fact more than twenty have passed since Mark, then with little reputation and less money, was eking out a living as the special correspondent of some Pacific coast papers while writing his book “Innocents Abroad,” which was to make him famous and start him on the road to riches. After several passages with the doorkeepers of the house Mark is of opinion that “the insolence of office” is as rife now as it was in his time, to say nothing of Shakespeare’s. Presenting his card to one of those officials, the height of whose ambition is to be mistaken for congressmen, Mark asked that it be sent to Samuel Cox. The doorkeeper disclaimed to look at the card which he had, as if afraid of contamination, but he viewed the humble humorist from head to foot and sized him up for the “country jay” that Mark’s drawl and direct suggested.

“You can’t see Mr. Cox.”


“Because he is busy.”

“How do you know? Is he making a speech?”

“Naw, but he can’t see you.”

“Well, how can I get in the press gallery?”

“Are you reporter?”

“No, but I used to be a mighty good one when I lived in Virginia City.”

“Well, if you ain’t one now you can’t get in,” and he pushed Mark aside to be polite to a gentle female lobbyist whose card went in to her member fast enough. Finally the humorist passed the pickets of the press gallery. After he had asked in vain for the dead and and gone correspondents who had been his chums, Colonel Mann recognized him and gave him a seat in the front row, where he has a fine view of the statement of the present generation wrangling over the labor bills. Mark says he will soon publish a compilation of other people’s humorous writings and is also engaged upon an original work which he hopes to finish some time next summer.

Having “swapped lies” for a while with the correspondents Mark tried the floor again. This time he was recognized, and Mr. Cox not only went out to see him but took him on the floor and made him acquainted with all the congressional celebrities from Reed of Maine to Martin of Texas. He kept the crowd of members around him laughing until the gavel of the speaker came to he rescue of order. He says that the levee that he had reminds him very much of those he used to see on the Mississippi on those days when he was piloting.


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