The recent PBS documentary by Ken Burns served to remind us that the Age of Twain extended well past the turn of the 20th Century. For Hamlin Garland this meant his illustrious predecessor was still a dominant force in American writing during his own most productive years. Certain kinships between the two authors come to mind: the rural beginnings, a world discovered through avid reading, an early career boost by Howells, the heavily autobiographical content of their writings, the platform speaking, the later travels to England and the Continent. On April 21, 1910, Garland wrote in his diary, “Mark Twain is reported to be dying tonight. What a figure he has been for me ever since my fourteenth year.”
Shortly after Twain’s death, Garland spoke a short piece at the Cliff-Dweller’s Club in Chicago:
It seems to me highly appropriate that this Club, the representative literary and esthetic organization of the Middle West, should come together in honor of Mark Twain, for the reason that he was a western man by birth, by accent, and by name. He belongs to the Mississippi, and in speech, in manner of life, he remained essentially western to the last, notwithstanding his many years of European travel. So long as boats ply upon the Father of Waters, the name of the author of Life on the Mississippi willl be associated with the pilot house of every steamer; and even after we have taken to Flying Machines, beyond any doubt their pilots will also call the attention of their passengers to the stream far below them and say “There lies Mark Twain’s river, and that smudge on the bank is Hannibal, the home of his boyhood.”
The point I wish to make today is that Mark Twain is not all of Samuel Clemens. He was much more than humorous, he was a great fictionist and a rough-hewn stylist, uttering himself in his own large, direct, and forceful way. No amount of Old World contact could destroy his quaint drawl, and not all his reading nor his acquired personal knowledge of other writers could conventionalize his method. He remained the mid-western American and literary democrat to the last.
Let me also say that he was a most distinctive and powerful orator. I was fortunate enough to hear his speech at the Lotos Club on the occasion of his return from “Following the Equator,”  at which time he feelingly announced to us that he had paid off the debt with which the rascality of a partner had burdened him. It was humorous, of course, but it was more than that, it was a brave and manly and exultant speech.
I heard him also at the dinner given on his 67th birthday , and there again he made all other speakers seem tame. No other orator save [Robert G.] Ingersoll ever seemed to me so vital and so spontaneous. I have heard him on other occasions, and always there was that marvelous power of creating phrases, of making old words seem new. As Howells says, he wrote like a primitive; so I say, he spoke like one who used words fresh from the mint with the dust of their formation still glittering upon them. Every letter of his speech was vital with the breath of his personality. This was the secret of his amazing hold upon his audiences all over the world.
Thinking about Mark