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 Tribute to Thomas Brackett Reed by Mark Twain

He wore no shell.  His ways were frank and open, and the road to his large sympathies was straight and unobstructed.  His was a nature which invited affection - compelled it, in fact - and met it half way.  Hence he was "Tom" to the most of his friends, and to half of the nation.  The abbreviating of such a man's name is a patent of nobility, and is conferred from the heart. Mr. Reed had a very strong and decided character, and he may have had enemies; I do not know; if he had them - outside of politics - they did not know the man.  He was transparently honest and honorable, there were no furtivenesses about him, and whoever came to know him trusted him and was not disappointed.  He was wise, he was shrewd and alert, he was a clear and capable thinker, a logical reasoner, and a strong and convincing speaker.  His manner was easy and engaging, his speeches sparkled with felicities of phrasing thrown off without apparent effort, and when he needed the happy help of humor he had a mine of it as deep and rich as Kimberly to draw from.  His services to his country were great, and they were gratefully acknowledged.

I cannot remember a time when he was not "Tom" Reed to me, nor to a time when he would have been offended at being so addressed by me.  I cannot remember back to a time when I could let him alone in an after-dinner speech if he was present, nor to a time when he did not pay them back with usury when his turn came.  The last speech he made was at my birth-day dinner at the end of November, when naturally I was his text; my last word to him was in a letter the next day; a day later I was illustrating a fantastic article on Art  with is portrait among others - a portrait now to be laid reverently away among the jests that begin in humor and end in pathos.  These things happened only eight days ago, and now he is gone from us, and the nation is speaking of him as one who was.  It seems incredible, impossible.  Such a man, such a friend, seems to us a permanent possession; his vanishing from out midst is unthinkable: as unthinkable as was the vanishing of the Campanile, that had stood for a thousand years, and was turned to dust in a moment.

I have no wish, at this time, to enter upon light and humorous reminiscences connected with yachting voyages with Mr. Reed in northern and southern seas, nor with other recreations in his company in other places - they do not belong in this paper, they do not invite me, they would jar upon me.  I have only wished to say how fine and beautiful was his life and character, and to take him by the hand and say good-by, as to a fortunate friend who has done well his work and goes a pleasant journey.

[From: Harper's Weekly, December 20, 1902, p. 1979]

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