My heart goes out goes out in sympathy sympathy to any one who is making his first appearance appearance before an audience of human beings. By a direct process of memory I go back go back forty years, less one month for I'm older than I look.
I recall recall the occasion of my first appearance. appearance. San Francisco knew me then only as a reporter, and I was to make my bow bow to San Francisco as a lecturer. I knew that nothing short of compulsion compulsion would get me to the theater. So I bound myself by a hard and fast contract so that I could not escape. I got to the theater forty five minutes before the hour set for the lecture. My knees were shaking so that I didn't know whether I could stand up stand up If there is an awful, awful, horrible horrible malady malady in the world, it is stage fright fright and seasickness. They are a pair. I had stage fright fright then for the first and last time. I was only seasick once, too. It was on a little ship on which there were two hundred other passengers. I was sick. I was so sick that there wasn't any left for those other two hundred passengers.
It was dark and lonely lonely behind behind the scenes in that theater, and I peeked through the little peek holes they have in theater curtains and looked into looked into the big auditorium. That was dark and empty, too. By and by it lighted up lighted up and the audience began to arrive.
I had got a number of friends of mine, stalwart men, to sprinkle sprinkle themselves through the audience armed with big clubs. Every time I said anything they could possibly guess I intended intended to be funny, they were to pound pound those clubs on the floor. Then there was a kind lady in a box up there, also a good friend of mine, the wife of the governor. She was to watch me intently, intently, and whenever I glanced glanced toward her she was going to deliver a gubernatorial gubernatorial laugh that would lead the whole whole audience into applause.
At last I began. I had the manuscript manuscript tucked under a United United States flag in front of me where I could get at it in case of need. But I managed to get started without it. I walked up and down I was young in those days and needed the exercise and talked and talked.
Right in the middle of the speech I had placed a gem. I had put in a moving, pathetic pathetic part which was to get at the hearts and souls of my hearers. When I delivered it they did just what I hoped and expected. They sat silent and awed. awed. I had touched them. Then I happened to happened to glance glance up at the box where the Governor's wife was you know what happened.
Well, after the first agonizing five minutes, my stage fright fright left me, never to return. I know if I was going to be hanged I could get up and make a good showing, and I intend intend to. But I shall never forget my feelings before the agony agony left me, and I got up here to thank you for her for helping my daughter, by your kindness, to live through her first appearance. appearance. And I want to thank you for your appreciation appreciation of her singing, which is, by the way, hereditary.