I met Sir Henry many times at private and public entertainments and found him always most interesting. The Lotos Club gave him one of its most famous dinners, famous to those invited and to those who spoke.
It was arranged that he should begin his lecture tour of the United States in New York. At the request of Sir Henry and his committee I presided and introduced him at the Metropolitan Opera House. The great auditorium was crowded to suffocation and the audience one of the finest and most sympathetic.
We knew little at that time of Central Africa and its people, and the curiosity was intense to hear from Sir Henry a personal and intimate account of his wonderful discoveries and experiences. He thought that as his African life was so familiar to him, it must be the same to everybody else. As a result, instead of a thriller he gave a commonplace talk on some literary subject which bored the audience and cast a cloud over a lecture tour which promised to be one of the most successful. Of course Sir Henry's effort disappointed his audience the more because their indifference and indignation depressed him, and he did not do justice to himself or the uninteresting subject which he had.selected. He never again made the same mistake, and the tour was highly remunerative.
For nearly a generation there was no subject which so interested the American people as the adventures of explorers. I met many of them, eulogized them in speeches at banquets given in their honor. The people everywhere were open-eyed, open-eared, and open-mouthed in their welcome and eagerness to hear them.
It is a commentary upon the fickleness of popular favor that the time was so short before these universal favorites dropped out of popular attention and recollection.
XXIV. SOCIETIES AND PUBLIC BANQUETS
The most unique experience in my life has been the dinners given to me by the Montauk Club of Brooklyn on my birthday. The Montauk is a social club of high standing, whose members are of professional and business life and different political and religious faiths.
Thirty years ago Mr. Charles A. Moore was president of the club. He was a prominent manufacturer and a gentleman of wide influence in political and social circles. Mr. McKinley offered him the position of secretary of the navy, which Mr. Moore declined. He came to me one day with a committee from the club, and said: "The Montauk wishes to celebrate your birthday. We know that it is on the 23d of April, and that you have two distinguished colleagues who also have the 23d as their birthday--Shakespeare and St. George. We do not care to include them, but desire only to celebrate yours."