"Had our poor friend been spared to us for another six years he would have rounded out the century. But it was not to be. For two or three years past he has noted that somehow his strength was failing, that, for some reason or other, he was no longer what he had been. Last month he began to droop. Last week he began to sink. Speech left him last Tuesday. This morning he passed, and he has gone now, we trust, in safety to where there are no lectures."
The audience were now nearly in tears.
The chairman made a visible effort towards firmness and control.
"But yet," he continued, "our committee felt that in another sense it was our duty to go on with our arrangements. I think, ladies and gentlemen, that the war has taught us all that it is always our duty to 'carry on,' no matter how hard it may be, no matter with what reluctance we do it, and whatever be the difficulties and the dangers, we must carry on to the end: for after all there is an end and by resolution and patience we can reach it.
"I will, therefore, invite Mr. Leacock to deliver to us his humorous lecture, the title of which I have forgotten, but I understand it to be the same lecture which he has already given thirty or forty times in England."
But contrast with this melancholy man the genial and pleasing person who introduced me, all upside down, to a metropolitan audience.
He was so brisk, so neat, so sure of himself that it didn't seem possible that he could make any kind of a mistake. I thought it unnecessary to coach him. He seemed absolutely all right.
"It is a great pleasure,"--he said, with a charming, easy appearance of being entirely at home on the platform,--"to welcome here tonight our distinguished Canadian fellow citizen, Mr. Learoyd"--he turned half way towards me as he spoke with a sort of gesture of welcome, admirably executed. If only my name had been Learoyd instead of Leacock it would have been excellent.