INTRODUCING NYE AND RILEY
Too Long; Didn't Read James Whitcomb Riley and Edgar Wilson Nye (Bill Nye) were to
give readings in Tremont Temple, Boston, November, 1888. Mr.
Clemens was induced to introduce Messrs. Riley and Nye. His
appearance on the platform was a surprise to the audience, and
when they recognized him there was a tremendous demonstration.
I am very glad indeed to introduce these young people to you, and at the same time get acquainted with them myself. I have seen them more than once for a moment, but have not had the privilege of knowing them personally as intimately as I wanted to. I saw them first, a great many years ago, when Mr. Barnum had them, and they were just fresh from Siam. The ligature was their best hold then, the literature became their best hold later, when one of them committed an indiscretion, and they had to cut the old bond to accommodate the sheriff.
In that old former time this one was Chang, that one was Eng. The sympathy existing between the two was most extraordinary; it was so fine, so strong, so subtle, that what the one ate the other digested; when one slept, the other snored; if one sold a thing, the other scooped the usufruct. This independent and yet dependent action was observable in all the details of their daily life—I mean this quaint and arbitrary distribution of originating cause and resulting effect between the two—between, I may say, this dynamo and the other always motor, or, in other words, that the one was always the creating force, the other always the utilizing force; no, no, for while it is true that within certain well-defined zones of activity the one was always dynamo and the other always motor, within certain other well-defined zones these positions became exactly reversed.