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Title: Diary of a Suicide
Author: Baker, Wallace E.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Diary of a Suicide" ***

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The only editorial policy of THE GLEBE is that embodied in its
declaration of absolute freedom of expression, which makes for a range
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the most conservative, the only requisite being that the work should
have unmistakable merit. Each issue will be devoted exclusively to one
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  Editor            Alfred Kreymborg

  Associates        Leonard D. Abbott
                    Albert Boni
                    Alanson Hartpence
                    Adolf Wolff

  Business Manager  Charles Boni, Jr.

                        Diary of a Suicide


                         Wallace E. Baker

               [Illustration: (colophon: The Glebe)]

                             NEW YORK
                      ALBERT AND CHARLES BONI
                          96 Fifth Avenue

                          Copyright, 1913
                            The Glebe


On Sept. 28th, 1913, Mr. B. Russell Herts, of “The International,”
received the following letter:

                                           New York, Sept. 27, 1913.

  Mr. B. Russell Herts,
      c/o International Magazine,
          New York City.

  Dear Mr. Herts:--Under separate cover I am sending you a record of a
  young man who is about to commit suicide. My only object is that it
  may help, if published in part or whole, to ease the way for some who
  come after.

  If you will kindly read it through, especially the latter part, you
  will be able to judge whether you care to make any use of it. If not,
  kindly mail same to Mr. ----, Toronto, Ont.

  I have cut out references to places and people here and there for
  their sake, because naturally I cannot be worried about myself after

  Thanking you for giving this matter your attention, I remain,


  I do not sign this, but you may verify my death by communicating with
  Mr. ----, whom I am writing to-day, so that he may look after my
  effects in New York.

The body of a well-dressed young man was found off Manhattan Beach,
Sept. 28th. In his pockets a torn photograph of Strindberg and receipts
for three registered letters were found. These receipts were traced to
Mr. Herts and to friends in Toronto, one of whom identified the body
on Oct. 2d as that of Wallace E. Baker. He was buried on Oct. 3d in
Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn.

                                                               A. K.

Note: In cutting out his references to places and people, Baker marred
some of the text. These excisions are indicated by dots, dashes or

THE GLEBE is indebted to Mr. Herts and “The International” for the
permission to publish the diary.


=--, January 26, 1912.= It is with mingled feelings of hope,
discouragement, joy and pain that I begin the second book of my diary.

My hope springs from the fact that my outlook seems to be clearer
ahead, the old uncertainty is more in the background, but there is
another side to it all. My discouragement comes from my constant
feeling of tiredness, less evident in the evening and for awhile
at night, but exceedingly strong during every afternoon with few
exceptions. This has resulted in my weak yielding to weakness at night,
and only last night after my confidence that I had gained a certain
mastery I was overcome. This was partly from the fact that I worked
at the office until nearly ten o’clock, charging a supper with wine
to the firm. Although I drink very little, now and again I have gone
out and taken a decent meal with wine to get away from the monotonous
boarding-house fare. A small bottle which I nearly emptied (cheap wine)
resulted in making me feel good--I have never been under the influence
of liquor more than to feel good, never without full possession of my
faculties, but on the rare occasions when I have taken a little I have
sometimes noticed a weakening of the faculties, a sort of lack of moral
restraint. I had enough last night to weaken for a time my new found
resolutions, but the succeeding absolute disgust and worry lead me to
believe that I was not wrong in thinking that the struggle is now on a
higher plane.

My salary was increased at the first of the year to $22.50 a week.
Although glad of this, my old-time pleasure at the receipt of more
money each pay-day is lacking. Money I must have to live, further than
that it seems a pitiful waste of time to spend one’s life in a mad
endeavor to obtain wealth at the price of all that counts.

=Havana, Cuba, February 29, 1912.= Leap-year and a good opportunity to
enter on a bigger fight. I must date my beginning this time as February
18, being the day after my last fall from grace. The week and a half
since, however, makes me feel confident once more, despite that for
three or four days I have been without a night’s rest, owing to stomach
trouble and the nervousness thereby engendered, but this is nothing
unusual, that is, the loss of sleep, for it is long since I have had a
real good night’s rest, and I know a crisis is approaching and I must
get rested ere I collapse.

I have read during this time “Ibsen, the Man, His Art and His
Significance,” by Haldane Macfall, and it has given me great
encouragement and aroused intense enthusiasm. I feel that I am
getting back my old enthusiasm, that I am recovering my ideals on a
higher basis, although I am undoubtedly weaker than ever physically.
But with increased moral strength I hope soon to cut down the buts,
howevers, althoughs, and to stand forth with more decision, more
firmness, and knowing myself, and with my ideas and ideals clarified.

During the last two months the first step in this attempted
regeneration has been becoming more and more a determination, emerging
from a mere unsettled idea--must return home for various reasons.
First, I am played out physically and need rest. More important should
be the fact that my mother is getting old, has been constantly calling
to me to return, worries about me, needs me to put my shoulder to the
wheel more than I have done. True, I have systematically put apart for
my mother a certain amount every month for a long time and have sent it
without fail even when only earning $10 a week back in the early part
of 1910. This at least has kept me in constant touch with my dear old
home, full of strife though it was.

While I have at frequently recurring periods thought of returning home
during the past year and a half, my resolution did not crystallize
until I began to feel the compelling necessity of a rest, bodily,
mentally, and, I might say, morally. Hot and cold by turns, lonely,
sleepless, tired and generally run down, I have not been able to look
at things in their true proportion, and I must get away for awhile from
the daily struggle, keeping up the mental and moral one, however. To
this end I have practically cut out all amusement. Night after night I
come home tired out, read a little, generally till lights are out at
10:30, and then to my disturbed sleep. Getting up early as to-day (7:00
to 7:30 being early for me) I either read, study, write as to-day, or
work on my story which I started last August and of which I will write
more later. This elimination of outside distractions is helping to
strengthen me, helping me to look forward to a life of service without
the necessity of foolish excitement, and the money I am saving by this
closeness in everything except necessities I hope to enable me to go
home, rest, think, exercise, and study calmly and sanely for a year,
paying my mother a regular weekly amount; and I hope at the end of the
year to have sufficiently found myself to go ahead on my work with more
collected ideas as to what I want and what I should want, and all to
the better interests of my mother, myself and the good of others with
whom I may come in contact. By the middle of this year I hope to take
the first step by returning home.

=Havana, Sunday, March 17, 1912.= The 15th ushered in a new start, and
the 16th was a very important day. On the 14th I had been thinking very
intently about future plans and went very carefully over the ground of
a possible college course. I picked up my Self Educators and looked
into the various subjects for study, estimated the time I would have
to spend on a college course; the financial difficulties, my mother’s
need of my help, my temperament and pronounced predilection for certain
things and as pronounced aversion for others, my nervousness and
constant mental struggle; the result of all this was to confirm what I
wrote on January 8, that I had about given up the idea. The only hope,
or rather possibility I have in view now, is that I may take a course
in certain special subjects--literature, drama, philosophy, logic and
sociology, but I hate mathematics. I pick up a book of algebra with
extreme distaste and, although my enthusiasm in New York caused me to
study this subject fairly assiduously, I see it was a mistake.

I have a distinct tendency and deep enthusiasm for literature,
gradually awakening from my first boyish effusions at the age of 10,
and it was a waste of time to neglect what I can excel in for the sake
of a mistaken idea that a college education means so much.

The reason that the 15th of this month was an important day is that,
following my decision of the previous day re college and subsequent
weakness, I made a big step towards finding myself on the 15th. While
I had known for some time that I did not care for mathematics, Latin,
Greek, and probably several other subjects, I still cherished the idea
that I wanted to go deep into philosophy and possibly biology, and, of
course, study sociology, logic and perhaps economics seriously. This
was sufficient to cause me to put in considerable wasted time on the
subjects I did not like, especially algebra.

On the day mentioned, but two days ago, I looked into this matter in
the view of a special college course, eliminating mathematics. Then I
realized that I liked the subjects as long as they did not become too
abstruse or mathematical. I saw that biology as soon as one gets past
the popular books on the subject and the “Origin of Species” becomes a
subject of much mathematics and dry science, as evidenced by Huxley’s
Essays, which I unsuccessfully endeavored to digest with enthusiasm.
Now I know that I merely want to study biology in a general way for
the sake of culture and because of a thirst for knowledge, which,
however, is not sufficient to make me go into the dry details. I am
interested, however, very much in the question of heredity, but not to
specialize in. The realization of this in regard to biology, coming
suddenly and sharply, caused a sort of awakening. I began to search my
other tendencies and realized that I did not like the dry, obstruse
details of philosophy either, nor economics, but that by way of working
out a philosophy of life or conduct and hope for future, I was very
greatly, more, vitally, interested in the subject. I like to read and
study philosophy as giving a basis for a plan of life, but when you
get to the brain wearying works of Kant and the like it is different.
For instance, in reading of Ibsen and Tolstoy and their philosophy
of anarchism, or their mystic-realism as it has been described, I am
intensely interested. I imagine Nietzsche would be of great interest to
me, possibly Schopenhauer and others--I intend to look into Bergson’s
divine impulse, but to go deep into a mass of details, no! I am looking
for light, for a philosophy of life, and I might mention James and his
Pragmatism as another one to look into.

About the same applies to psychology. Sociology I am still doubtful of,
but all social questions and matters of world-wide importance interest

But when I turn to literature and the drama, it is no longer a matter
of doubt. On March 15, as I was in my room thinking over these
questions and had come to the conclusions above, I realized in a flash
that my temperament was more artistic than scientific, the latter
coming from my German heredity, and undoubtedly being strong, however.
The little details of literary work do not bore me. Of course, I like
the dreams best and lately find it great pleasure to sit down and
write, write. I spend hours collecting scraps of books, authors, drama,
and also philosophy and psychology, sociology, etc., but principally
literature, drama and allied branches. Even the details of grammar do
not seem tiresome any more, and, compared to my aversion for algebra,
I can see that the worst in the pursuit of literature is a pleasure
compared to the best in other things, especially business.

Of course, I have much to find out yet, but it was a great step to
relieve myself of so many doubts and make literature my pursuit through
thick and thin, as I have determined to do, knowing it is my one line.
I am not sure whether I can write best short stories, novels or dramas.
Short stories only appeal to me as means of expressing myself where
I have not a big enough idea for something bigger and better, but I
love to write them just the same. (I have only written one of 8,000 or
more words, but I have taken numerous notes, written many articles of
various kinds and recorded incidents and anecdotes, which I shall use
fully later, and all this with an enthusiasm and pleasure not gauged by
thought of profit or even publication in all cases.)

On the other hand, novels are an unknown quantity. I do not know
whether I am a good descriptive writer, whether character drawing is my
forte, or narration is a strong point with me, although I find I can
write along without hesitation in writing of occurrences, and I notice
the peculiarities and little foibles of my fellow boarders and see what
good material there is here for character drawing, but I do not find it
so easy to put this down on paper with that human touch which makes one
like to read some authors, notably Dickens.

Again, the drama has always made a powerful appeal to me. I always
liked a strong drama, enjoyed Shakespeare both in reading and acting,
eagerly devoured dramatic criticisms and I have thought lately very
much about this, and I know I should like to write strong dramas of our
modern life. However, I shall have to study Ibsen, Strindberg, Brieux,
Shaw, and others before I can come to any conclusion as to this.

However, a sea of doubts are now behind and the vista before me is

Yesterday, however, while a day of great interest, was also one of
misery, which perhaps accounts for my optimism to-day,--action and
reaction being very often equal and opposite with me.

=Havana, Sunday, March 24, 1912.= Another beginning to-day and I hope a
good one. The unfinished story of the 16th, Saturday, which I failed to
relate last Sunday, was the burial of the Maine. Deciding at the last
moment to witness this, I boarded the Purisima Concepcion at about 1
o’clock. After a short time, while looking overboard at the struggling
crowds, a lot of rope and tackle came down on me from overhead and took
half of the day’s pleasure away in the shape of my glasses. Thereafter
I witnessed all the events with my one remaining lense held over one
eye and tied to a handkerchief covering the other and tied behind
my ear. It was a miserable subterfuge, and to add to it all I had a
beautiful headache; cold, and the fear of glass in my eye--for one
lense was smashed right over my eye. However, a day’s strain was all
that happened, and when it was all over I voted that the day’s pleasure
was worth it.

The sea was very rough and many people were sea-sick, but I enjoyed
it very much. About 5 o’clock we were all lined up, the United States
naval vessels, North Carolina and Birmingham, the Maine in between,
and beyond on the side opposite us the diminutive Cuban navy. The sea
cocks were opened and we all looked with intense interest, I straining
my one eye with everything forgotten. For twenty minutes the Maine did
not seem to be filling very rapidly. At 5:20, however, the sinking
was noticeable; then as we stared she settled deeper and deeper, the
stern, where the bulkhead was, sinking first; then suddenly she turned,
the stern went under, the forward was up in the air at an angle of 45
degrees or more; it was a thrilling sight. Then with gathering momentum
she went down. At 5:27 the waters of the gulf covered the last vestiges
of one of the great tragedies of history. It was a grand sight; Nature
herself seemed in mourning; for the day, bright and clear in the
forenoon and early afternoon, had gradually become darker, and she
disappeared with the sky overcast and a solemn hush over everything. I
know this was the way it impressed me, and all my petty troubles were
forgotten in the grand scene before me.

In an endeavor to discover my feelings of a day, from the 10th to the
15th, I kept a short record by way of finding out how much I could
count on myself in my struggle, and the result showed me that I lack
exercise, am too nervous and over-strung to put forth my best efforts,
all of which confirms the wisdom of my decision to return home to find
myself after a rest.

Sunday, March 10--Fair in morning; depressed later.

Monday, March 11--Fine until middle of afternoon, then tired and
nervously depressed. Night, cheerful again; bedtime, terribly nervous,
depressed, wakeful, worried and despairing.

Tuesday, March 12--Tired from previous night’s depths of gloom; calm
later, fair night.

Wednesday, March 13--Calm and enthusiastic; tired, but not depressed,
later restless in bed.

Thursday, March 14--Quiet and calm, exhausted from previous flurries;
later, storm again, very bad, and depths of morbid despair.

Friday, March 15--Ambitious and determined--fine all day--restless

The above pretty well represents my struggle for a long time, but
through it all I have had a confidence in the final triumph and a
constant return to my ideals and ambition, and I am noticing a gradual
elimination of some weaknesses. The blue moods I am beginning to check
before going too far, and the ecstasy I am also holding in an endeavor
to preserve a calm, ceaselessly persistent demeanor, neither too hot
nor too cold.

To-day I hope to be a model one, one of steady work, writing, studying,
arranging papers; no time for self-consciousness, worrying or anything
else. So far, from 6:25 to 8:25, it has been ideal.

=--, March 24, 1912, 9:53 P. M.= After another despicable fall
following on a good and bad day, I am almost desperate and realize that
the fight for life must come to a head soon. I wrote the preceding from
7:35 to 8:25 this morning. Following that I started in on my scraps
and about 11 o’clock my plan for a hard day’s work came to naught,
because of a disturbed mind due, as I know, to too much of one thing. I
simply have not the capacity to stick to one thing very long, although
the things I like are always fresh after diversion. Going out for a
change, some of the boys asked me to cross the river for a good walk. I
consented, and after dinner (almuerzo or breakfast here), we took bum
boat to landing near Morro, walked to Cojimar, across country, along
shore and on roads, and thence to Regla. The hot sun and dusty roads
tired me, and to-night, tired and wearied, I fell. Too much is killing
for me. I must hold off, and simply cannot stand any day too much of
anything. There simply has got to be a readjustment or I shall go crazy
or become desperate. Below all this I feel the fight welling up in me,
however, and to-morrow must hold forth better promise.

=Havana, Tuesday, April 9, 1912, 12:30 A. M.= Somebody has said, “War
is hell.” I say, “Life is Hell,” with a capital H. God! but I would not
have believed it possible a few years ago that a man could go through
such prolonged mental agony. Am I a degenerate? Is there some insidious
form of insanity slowly creeping over me? Gautier has said that nothing
is beyond words. I deny this--I could be as eloquent as ever man was,
have as fine a command of language, be as fluent, brilliant as the best
of the masters; but I could not describe the agony of the past few

It is not alone the nervousness, loneliness, and the old tired feeling;
the sudden bursts of enthusiasm, followed by strange periods of
peculiar calmness, now peaceful, now raging, now with an unholy joy in
I know not what; then black despair seemingly without cause, it is more
than this. Self-consciousness to an extreme, fight it as I will, and
yet a deep absorption in anything which really interests me so that I
lose my identity in it. Thus my deep love for the theatre, even moving
picture dramas, for the strong stories of love, passion and mental
states of the French writers, little as I have read of them. If I could
always find something to interest me the solution might be at hand,
but with the same dreary prospect of day after day of hell, hell, hell
(the other word for business to an artistic temperament), how can I get
a night’s rest? I lie awake and go through all the hot passions, wild
enthusiasms, ecstatic feelings, morbid thoughts, wrath at the existing
order of things. I damn everything, and yet I realize how futile my
scheme of life would be for others.

Since I last wrote I had started afresh. I have three times lost
control over myself, and but an hour ago, the last time. It is
terrible. With such noble thoughts that come upon me sometimes, such
beautiful ideas when I feel in tune with everything in the world,
and then always the hellish reaction. Oh, God! what a sorry mess you
have made of things. How could you do it? You have made a terrible
mistake--to make me such a shattered wreck before I was out of my
youth; to take from me everything, strip me naked so that I can say
now that I am absolutely indifferent to everything except to express
myself before I die. That idea has taken possession of me. If only
I can write such a book as will express all these mad imaginings,
hopeless longings, the void in my life, complete absence of feminine
companionship, doubly trying to one of my hot passionate moods. Harlots
disgust me increasingly. It is not morality, for I have come to the
state where things are not moral and immoral--they are just so. I would
not consider it immoral to-night, for instance, to have intercourse
with a girl who pleased me, but I cannot sacrifice what I have in me on
the couch of one who sells her passion. I want love, if I understand it
aright. And yet this is not an ever-consuming passion. I had just as
much, or nearly so much, longing for education up till lately, and have
only dropped the idea of going to college because I feel the approach
of dissolution unless I can get up north, rouse my physical self and
mayhap feel for once physically fit. Lately I have realized that
there is something deeper than I before realized in all these things.
My brain is over-tired, fagged out, wearied with too much thought,
worry, reading, hate, fear--I know not what--but a change must come
soon. It cannot go on. Perhaps there is something organically wrong
with me--God, if you exist, you should have given me some manly vigor
commensurate with the mental strength I imagine I have, and after all,
is my mind weak or has my poor, weak body and abuse merely dragged it
down, and is it capable of resurrection? It seems impossible that I
should be born to get so near to some things which touch the deepest
strings of human conduct, the deepest emotions of heart and brain,
to have such a keen sense of humor, to see the tragedy underlying it
all, to feel a sympathetic note with the foibles and weaknesses of
others, even as I laugh at them or become cynical about them, to walk
by the sea and drink in her varying moods, the misty ethereal early
mornings, the calmness of gradually settling twilight on a day when the
waves scarcely ripple, the blood-red sunsets with ever-changing cloud
effects; the deep, mysterious shadows on a dark night, with the moon
reflected from behind the clouds; the night when the moon is in her
glory; the day when an overcast sky symbolizes my overcast soul. These
and more have I thrilled with, and all for naught. Give me but strength
for a few more years and I will vindicate myself; but I must break away
from this agony soon, overpowering, overwhelming--Why, O God?

=--, April 19, 1912, 9:10 P. M.= It is just ten days since my terrible
night of agony, and I now hope again. Following that night I had almost
a week of peace, a nervous sort of calm which, however, was better
than the other. Then another fall, and the last one to-night, I really
hope the last. It certainly has been my salvation that I always come
back strong in the fight again after a blow, but there are several
things which have weakened me, and it is in spirit only that I recover;
the physical weakness remains and increases. Nerves, as a strong man
mentally I should hesitate to confess it, but I am worse than the
average woman in my hysterical nervous state lately, and, moreover, I
feel very often that there is something vitally wrong deeper, either
that, or I am considerably run down, so much so, in fact, that a good
night’s sleep is a Godsend; a calm, quiet day--joy; and yet I would
not want too many of the latter, for my adventurous spirit defies my
body and says, “Be up and doing.” Now, to-night I am feeling calm and
hopeful and I must win out on one thing at least. This will help me
with others.

True, I have by no means found myself yet. I still am pulled in many
directions, but a hopeful sign is the abhorrence nearly always with me
now of the low, common and vulgar. I could overlook in myself a little
laxness in many things, but I never forgive myself the vulgar act
and speech, despite my lack of moral code at present and my artistic
indifference, to which is added lately, but only temporarily, I hope,
a lethargic indifference, born of that ever-recurring tired feeling.

An idea which has gradually been forming in my mind I hope to begin to
put into definite form just four weeks from to-night, and I then hope
to have four clean weeks behind me as a start for my year’s abstention
from passion. During this time, while endeavoring to obtain a foothold
in the magazine field with short stories, my big idea is to write a
novel of the various struggles and emotions of an ambitious, erratic
youth, with a premature weariness, and unless pre-empted by another,
I shall very probably call this “A Youth Who Was Prematurely Tired,”
suggested by a criticism of Mademoiselle de Maupin, but this is to be
altogether different, and is to touch the depths of agony and despair
contrasted with the heights of ecstasy and the fierce, hungry longings,
terrible disappointments, unrelieved passion, loneliness, ambition,
morbidity, deep poetic feeling, and the other emotions of a sensitive,
over-nervous youth of artistic temperament and large insight tempered
by many paradoxes in character.

I have found myself enough to see the necessity of one course at
least, that is, to preserve a dignified silence. The coarse, vulgar
familiarity of the fellows I have met has jarred on me more and more,
and I see that my only escape in the future is to maintain a reserve
and a dignity beyond which no man may penetrate. Anything I reveal will
be by writing, not by speech. I have made considerable progress, but
still have to fight a foolish talkativeness on occasions.

Another policy I expect I will follow later, at least, will be the
cultivation of courtesy and a more gentlemanly treatment of others,
friends and otherwise.

I only have to overcome one or two little weaknesses, and to recover
what I have lost physically to be able to win out--and I will.

=--, Sunday, April 21, 1912.= After another relapse last night, I am
beginning to think that much of my so-called idealism is merely a
pitiable, boyish, conceited foolishness. This has often come to my
mind, but I hesitated to express it; but if I am sincere I must record
the other side of the question. To-day may or may not be the beginning
of a more sensible outlook as far as my erratic, artistic temperament
will permit. In any case this strain, self-imposed for the most part,
must stop even if I have to throw over a few pet theories. I must be
human even at the expense of virtue. I almost congratulate myself
that I can at least laugh at my own foibles and enjoy the joke, just
as I cannot help, cynically to a certain extent, pointing out others’
foolish earnestness over nothing. My sense of humor is indeed my saving

                            *  *  *  *

=Havana, Friday, April 26, 1912.= Hope dispelled, but I am making
progress. Since my awakening the last few months of last year and the
first of this year, the reactions have been short and sharp for the
most part. Probably the worst one began a little over a week ago and
culminated yesterday. During this week, while I have not had more than
one very bad night, there was a perceptible diminution of my spirit of
fight and I temporarily slipped back into the old mood of indifference.
However, I have recovered, stronger I hope, from the temporary weakness.

                            *  *  *  *

=Havana, Wednesday, May 1, 1912, 4:20 A. M.= Slowly but surely the net
is tightening. The past few months have been such a hell as I hope few
young men in their bare majority have passed through. Day by day the
work at the office becomes more of a burden, a yoke. Come 11:15 or
time for lunch (almuerzo or breakfast here), and I feel as if I were
leaving prison. Strive as I may to concentrate my mind on routine work
I look forward to getting away soon after arrival. Breakfast and an
hour’s (more or less) reading revive me temporarily, and I generally
manage to get in an hour or two hours in the afternoon before the
utter weariness, brain fag and nervous fatigue, takes possession of
me, and the previous day’s ordeal is repeated. The strain of this and
the necessity of showing a semblance of interest in the work (which,
lately, however, I have not done to any great extent), repeated day
after day in monotonous regularity is only part of the hell, but a part
of such deadliness that I doubt if I am able to complete my allotted
time of contract, which I had made up my mind to force myself to do for
the sake of the money.

This has been another potent cause of general decline. Having made
up my mind to return home to work out my future, I began to retrench
more and more, eliminating amusement for the most part--almost the
sole one now is moving pictures, which takes my mind away from myself
for two or three nights a week. I enjoy them here for one reason, _i.
e._, they present long pictures in a number of parts which present good
dramas of life. These pictures are French for the most part, and now
I hardly understand how I ever took any interest or received pleasure
from the prevailing American pictures, as I always loved drama and
continued story, vaudeville never appealing to me. But for this one
little thing, present conditions would be unbearable, which is why I
touch upon it at greater length than the story of these days would seem
to warrant. One of the principal pleasures of my life has been the
theatre. I always had an abiding and ever-present liking for dramatic
action and situation, as well as good comedy--burlesque, vaudeville,
moving pictures, farce, and the like, only had a limited appeal,
although I must say that “Seven Days” was a farce which I greatly
enjoyed. Coming to Havana I had to drop the theatre entirely,--not
that I was such an inveterate theatre-goer before (owing to financial
circumstances)--because of lack of understanding and lately lack
of energy to exert myself to attempt to understand, my hearing not
being any too good at best; a greater reason was the absence of good
plays and the outrageous prices. I ignore entirely the numerous small
theatres devoted to pandering to the lowest instincts of the ignorant
black, mulatto and even white. Under these circumstances I turned to
the moving picture theatre, and by only attending when there is at
least one longer picture which promises dramatic action, I managed
to derive considerable pleasure from this class of entertainment, no
doubt to a great extent due to the fact that that was the only thing
which took me out of myself, so that I lived in the play--except my
reading. These two have kept me going during these months--when I tire
of reading or by reason of a peculiar nervousness do not feel like
reading, if there is a good picture I go, otherwise I make myself read
and am soon reconciled for the evening. Sometimes a walk by the sea
during the evening helps me much.

Even with this, however, through it all lingers that sense of utter
weariness, almost to the point of exhaustion. During the day I manage
to escape the worst consequences by keeping my mind busy when absent
from the office, and the early evening or night generally also is
passed without too much worry. This leaves the periods of dull care at
the office, hoping and waiting for the hour of getting away and bedtime
and later night. A proof of how much I have retrogressed physically is,
that from October to December, 1908, during my first few months in New
York, I was able to work from eight in the morning until six at night,
and three or four nights a week, with only an hour’s break for lunch
and ... Now, working less than seven hours a day, the day every week is
longer, more tiresome. The weakening of my powers has been gradual and
to a certain extent unnoticeable, but it has been steady, inexorable,
and now I am face to face with a condition which means the end of
everything if continued for too long. During these years in my heart
I have protested against it all. Taken away from school when I was
leading the class, without any great effort either, by circumstances,
I began a business career of hope and with boundless ambition and
half-formed boyish ideals. The fact that I left school of my own
accord outwardly does not detract from the fact that circumstances
were gradually making it more imperative and I only took the bull by
the horns, as I have done many times since. I remember with great
vividness an incident of my early business career, when with ... store.
I used to keep a credit book of returned goods, and had considerable
dealings in this way with the girls of the various departments. I was
then rather indifferent to feminine charms, although awakening sexual
passion was entering into my emotional and mental states, and had
been for a year or so. I was then fifteen or sixteen (I do not know
whether this happened before or after my birthday). One of the girls,
a rather flippant, but as I look back, a shrewd observer, came to my
window in the office (which was on a similar plan to a bank, I having
one window and the cashier another) with something or about something
returned. I scowled for some reason or other, probably because I had a
pressure of work. She then made an observation, the prophecy of which
has been amply demonstrated--“you are a boy now, but you will never be
a youth,” and something about my jumping into manhood. She was only a
department store girl, but she hit the nail on the head exactly that
time, as subsequent events have proven. In those days, after my little
stories for ... I liked reading and probably looked forward to college
at some time in the future in an indefinite way. I was very earnest and
ambitious about my work, which continued more or less until some time
last year, when the increasing tired feeling, nervousness, changing
ideas, ideals and different outlook combined to bring on rapidly my
present state, when I positively loathe my daily work. The principal
reason for this, no doubt, is that I have neglected exercise almost
entirely and now have reached the state where exhausted nature will
not be denied.

I have already at frequent intervals commented on the disturbances
which haunted my bedside, and to-night, or rather to-day and last night
(for it is now a quarter of six and the candle before me is rapidly
losing its efficacy) is only an example of the recurring frequency
of my nervousness at bedtime ... off all temptation to indulge in
sexual pleasures from the first of this year, and, although I have not
succeeded entirely up to the present, having only five days of absolute
abstention from excitement of any kind sexually and possibly several
months from direct intercourse, behind me,--still I have radically
changed from my excesses of the first few months in Havana, although
even these were not excesses compared to the average of a vast number
here and elsewhere.

This holding off naturally leaves out a vital source of relief for the
all-compelling necessity of getting away from myself. Sometimes, from
my twentieth year on, when the prospect of a nervous, sleepless night
presented itself, sexual intercourse brought the much-needed relief,
and sleep followed. And yet, such was the strength of the conventional
atmosphere that I had been reared in and lived in, despite my radical
views and supposed freedom of mind, I thought it was somehow or other
wrong and underhand to seek relief in this way. I cussed myself for a
weakling, fought, staved it off for weeks, and then succumbed again. It
is only lately that I have seen a different light on the subject.

My views now are that our present system of sexual relations is
absolutely false. This conclusion is more due to my own reasoning than
to any radical literature I have read. First, there should be freedom.
Any man should be allowed to have intercourse with a woman who was
willing, as long as they did it for love. There should be no such
thing as an illegitimate child. If a mother was not in a position to
or willing to bring up her child, the State should do it. Of course,
when I say there should be freedom, I do not say that, if one man was
living with a woman (legally, of course, as all such relations would
be legal without any question), I should be at perfect liberty to fool
around, but if at any time their relations became such that they could
not harmoniously keep it up any longer, divorce should be automatic.
Marriage might be for a minimum period, and as much longer as the
parties concerned cared to keep it up. There should be no coercion on
either side. The woman should have the care of her children if she so
desired, but if unable to take care of them, the State should do so.
Even without a socialist state this could partly be put into effect.

The White Slave Trade should be abolished as a trade. If a woman was
herself willing to become the tool of every man who came along, she
could not perhaps be restrained, but those who profit from it other
than herself should be vigorously prosecuted. All diseased should be
prohibited from sexual intercourse.

Even under the present state of society, there is a solution to one
problem. Many young men, like myself, have strong sexual passions, but
we do not like to consort with those who, starting out with a debased
idea of sexual relations, have debauched it. Now we meet girls who
are also passionate and who, were it not for the knowledge that their
life would be ruined, would be only too glad to have intercourse with
us on the basis of mutual sexual attraction and passion. This would
bring relief to both of us from much of the deadly monotony of sordid,
every-day affairs, if the girl could go on just the same as the man,
she being allowed to have a child legally, which she could either
take care of herself or delegate to the State’s care. This would take
care of that large body of men who are not in a position to marry for
various reasons, and that equally large body of women who are unable
to find suitable husbands, but who feel the emptiness in their lives,
and those women who want children and consider, or would consider if
society would permit, that it is nobody’s business who the father is.
It should be a crime to have intercourse when one is diseased, and the
knowledge that one can with impunity have intercourse with a woman
for love would deter a large number of men from having it with those
who only give themselves for money and are liable to transmit disease.
This would then leave those men who are morbidly fond of the baser
forms of sexual perversion to the professional prostitutes and women
(few comparatively), who naturally are attracted by, or are willing to
put up with, the drunkenness and attendant beastliness of a certain
kind of man, who we may hope, will be a smaller and smaller factor, as
radicalism grows.

Thus, now, with radical views, I am endeavoring to attain my old
state as before my twentieth year, for a year at least, so as to work
this out with other problems, because in my present state of physical
weakness I cannot afford to risk added weakness, and so fight this off
every night, and hope soon my nature will have become resigned to this
until my twenty-third birthday, when I hope to have a clearer plan of

Starting this with a nervous sleeplessness, I end at 6:30 A. M., over
two hours later with a clear head, but, of course, the tired feeling
lies there dormant.

=Havana, Friday, May 10, 1912.= Another birthday, my twenty-second,
and I intend this year to be the best yet. The past one has been the
worst and the best; the worst because of my acute nervousness and
self-consciousness and my foolish actions during the early months in
Havana; best because I woke up from a lethargy and blind groping in
the dark to a conscious effort to find myself and be myself; and to
this end I have dedicated my twenty-second year. I do not expect to
work out things to a fine point during this time, but hope to decide on
a broad, general scheme of life policy of procedure and philosophy; of
necessity the major part of the details will take years to work out.

Hope and ambition, tempered by my experience, are dominant, and my calm
periods are becoming of longer duration and more frequent occurrence,
in fact, predominate to a gratifying extent lately as compared with
what has gone before.

I start afresh on a year’s freedom from sexual excitement, or such is
my plan, for not the least of the problems to work out is that of sex.
It will be hell to hold myself in check entirely in every respect, but
I feel I must, in order to collect my thoughts and feelings which were
becoming rather confused on this, as on other subjects, owing to my
changeable moods, passions and feelings.

I have the advantage of starting out on the broadest basis possible,
the agnostic position as I understand it. I have not studied Spencer
nor reduced my agnosticism to any dogmatic position of knowable or
unknowable, but always it has been: I neither believe nor deny; my mind
is open; I am willing to learn; to give all who have a serious message
a hearing. True, up to the present I have not given much serious study
to the problem, having read considerably more about philosophy than of
it, but I have had that tendency, and, being young yet, it is perhaps
best that I did not attempt to go too deeply into the problem ere
this, and even now I shall go slow.

The question has unconsciously, however, narrowed itself down. I have
given enough thought to the matter to reject the Christian theory
of Christ being the son of God, and, leaving out most of the minor
religions or philosophies which are obviously full of error (except as
there may be a grain of truth here and there among the chaff), there is
left such religions or philosophies as Theosophy, Monism, Spiritualism,
and those which may be classed under the general head of Materialism
(Rationalism, Free Thought, Positivism, etc., etc.), but as I do not
see that any have as their basis Absolute Truth (that much abused
word) I suspect I shall end where I began, as a Pragmatic Agnostic,
denying that we have any Absolute Truth in our world, whatever may be
beyond which we do not know. I have not read James; but will do so;
and I think that I shall not give much attention to spiritualism, as
no satisfactory evidence seems to support it, and there is too much
charlatanism to offer a fair field for a truth-seeker.

=Havana, Wednesday, May 22, 1912, 12:12 A. M.= It is no use--I have to
acknowledge defeat. Born with such a Jekyll-and-Hyde disposition that
I am never normal, either so filled with ideals that everything good
and noble seems possible, or so black that I shrink from myself in
horror--even though it has been in thought rather than deed that I have
transgressed or been an idealist. It is not that I have contemplated
deeds of violence, but one thing, sex, is the cause of the perfect
hell my life has been. During the past year I have foolishly thought
I could make myself what I willed, could be consistent and normal;
vain hope and it needed to-night to show me this. After all my noble
aspirations, hopes, love of literature, and the beautiful things in
life, I could not keep my resolve of my birthday. Torture is the only
word for it. My sexual passions, from their first awakening, have given
me no rest and never will. I have not had at any time a girl who loved
me, have never even kissed. With almost uncontrollable passion, and yet
the ability to be satisfied with embrace and touch rather than final
consummation, yet have I not had that chance with any but the lowest
who fill me with disgust, or else attract me in a mad passion which for
the moment is insatiable. Much of this is due to my wretched physical
health, wrecked nervous force and absolute lack of any kind of love
for so long that I am too selfish and self-centred ever to amount to
anything. Who is to blame? My father dead, how can I blame him for
his share? My mother is the only hope left in the world. Without her,
suicide would seem to be the only alternative, and I have ... what
is this after all but the imagined courage of a weakling, my egoism
the conceit of a degenerate? A month ago I would not have dared to
write this, but unless this summer serves to recuperate me, I must go
down rapidly. Having started sinking all round, I dare not go in for
anything without a sleepless night.

I only write this record now for what use it may be as a human
document. It may serve as a warning to those who ignorantly bring
children into the world to suffer. I shall be repaid. In case I
collapse suddenly it is my express wish that such of my letters,
papers, including this and my other diary, as may bear on my struggles
against an inevitable fate, may be sent to ... so that, without using
my name in such a way that the family may be involved, he may use such
parts of this record and the papers as may help to show the life-story
of a youth who was prematurely tired, if I do not succeed in writing
this in fiction form or otherwise myself before the end. Slowly but
surely I am coming to the point where nothing matters. Something always
pulls me back before I go too far, but will it always? Once let me go
beyond a certain point in my dark moods and shame will keep me from
attempting to get up again. Deep down in my heart, however, I have had
and still do have in my most despairing moment the conviction that I
have in me the ability to do great things, my love of the finer things,
keen appreciation of character so that I see right through many people
I meet, wherefore much of my continued unpopularity, great care in
small details, love of neatness, order, strong passions, enthusiasm,
many other things in my good moods which I cannot quite grasp, but my
physical weakness annuls everything and leaves me a hopeless weakling,
vacillating and desperately unhappy.

=Havana, Wednesday, June 5, 1912.= Feeling very much chastened,
following the deepest disgust with myself and everyone, and everything
else for that matter. I must state most emphatically that for the most
part all that has gone before (during the past six months at least)
is due to disease; not specific, but generally run-down, nervous,
over-tired condition of body and mind. Therefore, although to-day again
I start with hope to fight on, I do so with less wild enthusiasm, less
tenseness. After all, the world does not revolve around me. I have
sometimes thought it did, or at least acted as if I thought so.

Being calmer on my determination, the reactions I trust will be less
violent. I have the feeling that I only have to get over this tired,
nervous condition to be once and for all on the road to victory over

One thing I will do--throw overboard as it were my preconceived
half-formed ideas and start as a child. Too much have I stuck to
convention and prejudice while congratulating myself on my radicalism.

Of course, everything is dependent on my recovery of health. Without
this, life will indeed be not worth living, because the very things
my heart and mind are set on accomplishing will be impossible, and a
conventional, plodding life devoted to the accumulation of money is
impossible for me. Death is much preferable. Art, philosophy, love of
life in its nakedness, without false convention, must be my keyword,
not for happiness, for that were impossible, but for sufficient
interest to carry me through.

=Havana, Saturday, June 8, 1912.= I am gradually but inevitably coming
to the conclusion that the only way to get along is to throw over all
that I do believe in and pay the price. If I had done this before I
might have been saved much of this petty personal struggle and put
my divine energy into bigger things. I have let false conventions
battle with the natural love of freedom and radicalism of an artistic
nature, frittered away life forces in unholy passions where I might
have put it into the big struggle. Now I will conquer or die, victory
or death. Death even by my own hand is preferable to frittering the
tremendous passion and nervous and mental energy I have away in a life
of conventional ease, despising myself and hating others, and being
hated. Oh! if I had only conserved instead of wasted, but even now at
the eleventh hour it is not too late. Now, to-day, I will go forward to
my fate.

=Havana, Wednesday, June 12, 1912.= In further thought over my decision
of last Saturday, or rather that which has been growing on me for a
long time, I must add that, as I am not any too sure as to what I don’t
believe in, time must be a large factor in the matter.

Then again, due to that tired feeling and nervousness, I have during
the past six months put too much emphasis on the dark side.

I have never for more than the briefest space of time contemplated
self-destruction as I have hinted at several times. The thought has
crossed my mind in my darkest moods, but I am not a coward and to-day
must go a step further and say that I’ll fight to the finish against
all outside difficulties, as well as ill health and natural defects of
temperament and heredity. From now on any departures from a certain
standard until I have changed that standard by thought and experience,
I will consider in their proper light of weaknesses to be overcome.

All of which may be what I have been reiterating over and over again,
but my awakening of to-day is a little broader. I leave the standard
fairly flexible, but strong enough to be a rock in a stormy sea until
the waters are calmer, and then my mind should be clearer so that I can
readjust the various uncertainties to a certain point at least.

Life and a full life rather than mere reason I think will be the
outcome, but reason and philosophy presiding over all as a benignant
judge I trust. Who knows?

=Havana, Saturday, June 15, 1912.= My contract is up to-day, and
for several days earlier in the week I thought of leaving suddenly
and getting away from it all for a rest despite any notice to take
effect on the 29th. I thought it over, however, and from standpoint
of unpreparedness, doubt and honor perhaps--did not--or rather will
not--as boat leaves to-morrow.

In thinking over problem of society it has occurred to me, or the
thought has come to my mind of what little use the benefactions of rich
men are to really help anyone in need in a personal way. I remember how
I used to have such a passion for education--I did so want to know. I
wrote Carnegie, Patten, Pearsons and E. H. R. Green, not begging for
money, but telling of my great desire for an education and putting
it in such a way that I asked the secretary to refer me to any board
which they might have had for helping those desirous of obtaining an
education. My physical weakness precluded the idea of working my way
and studying at the same time. Of course, I received no replies, and I
then realized that the most ambitious or deserving might be on their
last legs and all this charity would count for naught.

The personal aspect of the question has long been forgotten; my ideas
as to the value of a college education in its relation to the larger
education of life have changed; whatever rancor I may have had against
these men has gone; my outlook on life is different; the things that
count now are few, are far between.

If my health permits, the necessity of making a living will cause me
to write for money to a certain extent, but with a bare living income
I think I should write from my heart, because of the great desire,
because I look on it as an art, not a business. However, if my health
continues as it is or gets worse, I will not sacrifice what little
life I have left on the altar of the modern god--money. I shall write
in blood the agony that has been eating into my heart and brain and
give it to the world =if it will take it= for what it is worth. For
myself I expect little, but it may help towards a better understanding
of natures like mine, and in the future may help towards a little more
forbearance, attempt to understand on the part of good people. But
whether or not I =will= write it.

Before doing so, however, I intend to see that I do not, out of
self-pity, fall into the error outlined in the December, 1911 issue of
The International “Upton Sinclair’s Delusion.”

=Havana, Tuesday, June 25, 1912, 7:10 P. M.= It is getting tiresome,
these moral reformations and back-slidings. But even now I can lay
down a preliminary philosophy which I must subscribe to whether I will
or not .... gives a general line of conduct which leads to progress
in a wide sense and taking account of human nature, its strength and

Life, of course, comes first. Unless a man is going to deliberately
plan suicide he must live. All account of death from outside sources
must be left out of account because they are outside of his sphere
to influence. By living I mean to touch the depths and the heights,
each one according to the strength of his passions, his temperament.
He should not be an ascetic except under certain conditions, and
asceticism as a deliberate plan of life is absolutely wrong for a
young man--whether for one who is older time will tell.

For instance, if a man is of a strongly passionate sex nature he
should gratify it sufficiently to save him from tremendous nervous
disturbances due to holding himself back. All conventional morality or
standards to the contrary, gratification is not only justifiable, but
not to gratify is a crime against human nature. If a man be of a cool
phlegmatic disposition, a limited asceticism in this as well as other
things may be good rather than otherwise.

The above is limited by conditions and circumstances. Disease, of
course, should be rigidly guarded against. This is a matter that calls
for action by the combined societies of the world. Assuming that the
man of artistic temperament takes these precautions and gratifies his
passions, he must restrain himself as soon as his gratification becomes
a source of weakness rather than of strength.

In other words, as long as gratification of the senses does not weaken
one appreciably that gratification is good and moral and conduces to
life, but when it becomes a weakness and threatens the physical and
mental strength of a man he must restrain himself. =Life= comes first,
but by life I mean life with =Power=. Thus anything that makes for
power and for a full life and healthy gratification of the senses is

This is my first definite outlining of the philosophy I have been
endeavoring to attain. I have come thus far without reading any
philosophy except bare outlines and reviews. Now I shall read and
study life and build from these grounds. My philosophy is rather more
individualistic than socialistic, but, of course, it is open to a
reconciliation between Socialism and Anarchism. Conventional views are
left entirely out of consideration. It rests with the individual how
far he will be guided by precedent and prevailing opinion in a given

As far as I am personally concerned, I have reached a state where
any sexual gratification is a weakness and a strict asceticism for a
time is a matter of self-preservation. Anything else is a deliberate
throwing down of my philosophy and is a weakness of the worst type, and
I write this after having constantly violated my decision to hold off,
made on my birthday and even before then, and which has just culminated
in this outlining of a general course to follow, holding in view the
two objects, a full life and a healthy one, power and life. Without
power life is death. With means of gratification lacking, one must hold
off from baser forms at least until absolutely necessary, and then only
on the most infrequent occasions.

Keeping these in view, life and power, I have something to anchor to
while I am struggling towards the light, and I submit this in all
seriousness as a good workable philosophy for a man who has not found
himself and has hitherto been groping around blindly in the dark with
very little prospect of light. Starting with this the years must bring
more light, and the conservation of a love of life and at the same time
of power will keep one in a state to take advantage of any new light on
this terrible problem of existence, of how to get through life in the
best way, for in the final analysis that is what all philosophy teaches.

Thus, in the future, gratification may be quite consistent with my
philosophy; in my present weakened state I must hold off if I am
to survive. Otherwise it is a case of deliberate suicide, and the
only thing to do would be to go ahead and gratify until disease and
weakness made it evident that death would be the only relief. Thus I go
ahead for the present.

                            *  *  *  *

my manifest destiny, that of doing something worth while in the world,
so that the world will be better for my having lived in it.

Since May 10th, my own birthday, although on several occasions down to
the depths, I have strengthened my purpose and the lapses are becoming
less and less, and the increasing disgust after each is cementing
my determination. One only has occurred since Tuesday last, when I
outlined my philosophy, and I

                            *  *  *  *

.... Thus, the fight has resolved itself into this,--if I can control
myself when tired, nervous and depressed, the victory is won. On all
other occasions I have myself pretty well in hand, and in normal moods,
with good health, the outcome seldom seems doubtful, but I must watch
the abnormal moods.

                            *  *  *  *

=Havana, Tuesday, July 2, 1912, 12:45 A. M.= I don’t know whether it
was a premonition which caused me to put morning at the head of my
previous entry, because now, the same night, or the next morning very
early I am obliged to repudiate it all. It is no use--my philosophy as
outlined last week would be all right, but for two things, _i. e._, my
absolute lack of opportunity of touching life, and my absolute lack of
strength, physical, mental, or moral to cultivate power. Determinism
is forced on me against my will. As far as possible in my good moods
I suppose I shall follow my first philosophy of Tuesday, June 25,
but, nevertheless, I am fast being forced to a thorough determinism
because I simply cannot control myself. What I might have done had I
not been forced to become a victim of our commercial system (so that
at twenty-two I am exhausted, my enthusiasm and hope almost killed by
deadly routine and no prospect of relief), I do not know, but I think
I would have accomplished much under careful training or even a fair
opportunity to express my individuality. To-night everything seems
hopeless--whether insanity is creeping on me I do not know. I simply
must have sexual intercourse to relieve the strain, and it is the
lack of it which brings on these moods. If for nothing else woman is
a necessity for me to relieve the great strain when routine becomes
so deadly as to tempt me to throw everything to the winds. If I could
come home and have a woman, I am sure that I could be saved much if
not all this--the worst of it at least, but our damnable conventions
keep me from them and keep them from me even though many women are
enduring tortures of unrelieved emotion for lack of what I could give
them. Oh! life is indeed hell--why, or wherefore, I don’t know, and
I am fast reaching the point where I care less. In an evil moment I
consented to stay on here for a few weeks longer for a consideration
of my return fare to New York. This means three more weeks before I can
get away from this damnable place which has been getting on my nerves
more and more so that I never hated anything as I hate this island and
everything and everyone on it.

=Havana, July 3, 1912.= Well, despite my little outburst of early
yesterday morning, I am still in the fight. After every defeat I arise,
chastened, perhaps, but with a growing feeling that I will win.

I must confirm and add to my philosophy as outlined on June 25th. As I
wrote yesterday, Determinism seems to be true as things are at present,
but even accepting this does not make me any the less a fighter, for it
is quite consistent with that philosophy that my determinism is to be
something, and the weak periods are only to strengthen me.

As to the =Life= part of it, that is still a little doubtful. I have
not touched it enough, my experiences have not been broad enough with
the other sex for me to throw over all conventions, for I know from
experience and the experiences of others, that when a woman plays fast
and loose she loses so much that even conventionalism sometimes seems
preferable to a loosening of the bonds. My idea was to idealize the
relations, have all children legitimate. While I think my part would
be done all right, I doubt other men and women. Besides, I have always
had an unconscious and sometimes conscious feeling of superiority to
women--this has been so indefinite, however, that I do not lay too much
stress on it at present.

I must reiterate =Power= as the keynote. Every weak yielding ....
impossibility to me at least of what I will call “The Impulsive
Philosophy,” _i. e._, philosophy of being guided by emotion and
sentiment, to the exclusion of reason. Reason must coordinate, if not
dominate, and at least impulse must not dominate. This is my second
outline, but I am going to disregard the foolish system of dates,--time
is to attain anything. I realize the folly of saying at a certain date
I will stop this or that I will reform in this or that. All I can do is
to attempt to live up to a certain standard as fast as I have decided
it to be best and to endeavor to drop off everything that pulls me down
as soon as possible.

=Havana, July 20, 1912.= Last day in Havana. At last my counting of
each day as bringing nearer to my goal is about to end. Whether my
return .... is productive of results commensurate with my expectations
or not, my relief at the suspension of the agony of the struggle down
here is so deep and heartfelt that I could shout for joy.

I at least have several good weeks behind me, and every day in which I
make the slightest progress in any direction whatever is bound to react

For the present I reiterate my outline of philosophy of June 25th and
July 3d. I intend to .... control pending a readjustment. At any rate
for a year intend to have nothing to do with fast women--I do not say
anything about intercourse without monetary consideration, but am
unlikely to have much chance as I will not be looking for it.

Until I am settled in ---- relaxation will be the rule. With the least
worry and the line of least resistence for a month or so I should be in
a much better frame of mind to accomplish anything than by keeping up
this constant nervous strain. Hope and confidence mark the last day,
and I count the year as a leaf in my book of experience and looking
back, do not regret my year in the tropics.

=--, August 1, 1912.=

                            *  *  *  *

has a cottage for the summer.

The month of July was the best one for sometime. I have at last
realized the futility of expecting to make great changes in my habits
of life in a day and, therefore, attach less importance to a certain
date for this or that as I have done previously. Suffice [it that]
after a month I can look back and notice a slight improvement, more
self-control and a stronger determination. This I find is the case
now and with the prospect of a month of healthy activity and absence
of nervous and morbid thoughts the present month should be one of the
best of the year, and if a quiet determination without the passion of
heretofore will help me, this seems assured. System will be the keynote
as far as it does not interfere with the rights of others, for here
I cannot be too selfish in my attempt to reach a certain standard,
and besides I have no intention of becoming a slave to system, as I
heartily dislike red tape. But I can start preparing myself for the
big fight when I return home next month by making each day count.

=--, August 12, 1912.= Since the first I have been through an [intense]
struggle, the worst yet. Being greatly disappointed at the unfriendly
attitude of the family to my ideas, disgusted and tired, day by day
I became more worried. Heated argument resulted in open charges of
immorality on their part, that is, they considered my views immoral.
Last night was the culmination of all this--for the first time I
actually threw over all my plans and ambition and contemplated suicide.
Many times the thought had crossed my mind before, but it was always as
a possibility in the dim future, but yesterday the thought materialized.

I carried on a terrific mental struggle in bed and the will to live
triumphed. I will fight on, but I will be more and more egotistical.
I realize the vast gulf between me and the rest of my family. It is
insurmountable, and my last hope now centers on my return to .... My
mother is pliable and I may be able to sufficiently dominate my brother
and my sister to fight it out there without too much interruption,
which is the bone of my present situation.

=--, Friday, August 23, 1912.= Gradually throwing off that almost
inborn habit we have of acting as a pose for others, I must sometimes
act in a way which must appear immoral when such is far from the
actual truth. In the endeavor, weak it is true as yet, to rise above
good and evil, the only criterion is sometimes whether such and such an
act makes for weakness. If it does it transgresses against nature, and
I make the definition that anything which does not go against nature
is neither good nor evil. From this point of view, moral issues do not
enter into the question to the same extent. I am going to put into
writing the distinction I make between conceit and egoism. Conceit is
exemplified by the young man who, shallow of heart and brain, dresses
in fancy clothes and parades around so that the girls can admire him.
This is one instance I take to contrast it with.... With the desire to
express myself, to be an artist, to live the fullest life possible, or
whatever my precise object may be, it is absolutely necessary to be
damn independent.

I have found the family very impatient, and out of accord with my views
and rejecting their ideals of a man--very conventional--I must of
necessity make a break, because the petty bickering engendered is bound
to dissipate my energy without anything being accomplished. Having
attained more positive views later, I may see fit to resume the old
status, being safeguarded by grim determination and absolute sincerity
as far as possible, believing as I do, that truth is only relative.

The conflict is not only between reason and passion, but also between
naturalism, and if I may put it, unnaturalism. That is, I want to act
natural according to my nature rather than to set up an ideal opposed
to my nature and endeavor to live up to it. The only trouble is that I
have various moods, and at the time I really believe that each one is
the right one. However, by gradually dropping unnatural habits caused
by trying to conform, I hope to reach an impregnable position insofar
that I am willing to lose everything for freedom to live my own life,
believing that this seeming selfishness makes for the best for myself,
family and all others, because even though wrong in many things, if my
nature is wrong, it is better to be wrong and be myself than to be what
I honestly believe to be wrong and please others.

=--, Sunday, September 1, 1912.= Beginning a new month, although full
of hope as usual at the beginning of anything, I also feel rather
humble after my previous egoism. Thus I go from mood to mood, but the
turning point is at hand. I cannot be tossed around like a bark without
rudder or sail much longer and with my tendency to extremes, feeling
that I have much power for good or evil in this world, one course I
must enter on with the greatest determination.

Having willed to live at the moment of despair, I must needs live
with sincerity and without conforming; a little more forbearance will
do me good, and certainly the events of the past few weeks have been
a sore trial. I have undoubtedly made a fool of myself, but still
acknowledging my ideal, feel determined as ever, if chastened.

I candidly must say or write that .... questions are still open, but I
intend to get right down to action towards a literary career, meanwhile
gradually attaining the thing which I have been struggling for--not
peace of mind exactly, but the feeling that I am doing my best in a
sincere manner under the circumstances, namely, that I must go through
life with health impaired to a greater or less extent; that I am
inclined to extremes, pessimistic or very cheerful, even childish, by
turns; that life appeals to me when I think as terribly inevitable that
I have a tendency to degeneracy at times (which I feel I can overcome
to a certain extent by heroic measures); that the happiness of a home
and children of my own may be denied me. With these prospects before
me, my fighting blood is up and I simply have got to go on and up or
disintegrate altogether--there is no halfway measure for me, and I
would have it so. I write with absolute sincerity now.

=--, October 2, 1912.= Another month rolls on,--despite my having
writen that I do not count by dates now, I find it convenient to note
whether or not I have made any progress in this way.

I have. The same old struggle between passion and intellect was
continued, at one time intellectual and philosophical calmness
animating me and then low passion, but the net is surely but slowly
(faster now) closing.

I came home, loafed around the house, read, dreamed, did nothing. Then
in a burst of energy purchased a typewriter, an unabridged dictionary,
supplies, taking some $70 from my scanty savings. Later I repented of
this, why all this preliminary to a conventional, routine existence?
Why not go away, gamble, attempt to gain all by a single throw? Why
struggle to no end? But deep down something always says, “Go on, you
have it in you.”

Well, I recovered myself again, calling on Nietzsche as my guide, not
that I had read his works, but I had read about him and his philosophy
of the Superman--will to live because it is painful, and I will take a
fierce joy in life. It is hard to drop those passionate dreams born of
romance, but I know that happiness is not for me, not the happiness of
convention or even sex unconventionally, but perhaps a certain amount
of intellectual satisfaction and the thrill that comes from reading
the master minds which respond in me, the thrill as I feel willing to
make any sacrifice for my ideals, reaffirmed by a perusal of several
of Ibsen’s plays within the last few days, Schopenhauer’s “Studies in
Pessimism,” and a part re-perusal of Haldane Macfall’s book about Ibsen.

As I read Schopenhauer to-day I realized suddenly that there are more
than one variety of Dolls’ Houses, and it is indeed one that those who
go on living in their dreams away from life live in, hoping some day to
have happiness or pleasure from the realization of their dreams.

No, too long have I postponed facing the situation. No longer must I
dream. I must act. I cannot fail; worldly honor is not success. If I be
true to myself I succeed, the world notwithstanding.

I have a few more studies to make,--rather I mean I am just
beginning--before I have a definite philosophy, subject, of course,
always to change as new experience or observation serves to confirm
or reject. Schopenhauer, Ibsen, Tolstoy, Nietzsche and others must
still give me their message in full before I can glean from them
sufficient to test my own observations, but in the final analysis my
own individuality, by own judgment must be supreme, I yield to none.
Schopenhauer is right when he says we should not fill up on other men’s
learning before we have experience ourselves .... has been one of my
great mistakes and the resulting confusion has paralyzed me, but now
I read but to learn, not to adopt without searching criticism, and
meanwhile I may begin working.

So long as I keep unsullied by any more very bad outbursts, forward
I must go and if I am carried off at any time I have not failed,
the ideal still being nursed with that tender passionate regret
that Emerson speaks of. A new era is dawning for me. In spite of
misunderstanding, seeming selfishness on my part, sacrifice of my best
nature, the spark still lives. A few more months of renunciation and I
have myself in hand and then, whatever the difficulties, ever onward
and upward.

=--, December 30, 1912, 6:30 P. M.= A hurried writing previous to
departure for Chicago. The past three months, ones of disillusionment
and blasted hopes. Future uncertain, but atmosphere cleared for
anything that turns up.

Suddenly deciding last night, Sunday, to leave for Chicago--slept
on more or less irregularly, and had trunk packed early this
morning (previously ready for quick departure), tickets, etc., by
noon--theatre this afternoon, and everything nearly ready now.

Turning point insofar as leaving future to chance instead of carefully
planned out course .... for my temperament to settle down to any such
dull routine as seems necessary to get on as others have. Besides,
I have lost a certain grip I had before the early part of this year
brought on acute nervousness, and it needs quick action to put me
into touch with life. Slow and sure is not my forte, but fast and
intermittent, and I have to face it whether I will or not.

=Chicago, January 29, 1913.= If I wrote that the past month was the
worst I had ever experienced, I would probably repeat myself, as I have
had some very bad and frequent worsts, during the past year and a half,
but nevertheless I never hope to feel so utterly despairing this side
of eternity.

I arrived in Chicago on December 31, an hour before the new year.
I was met by my uncle and proceeded to his house with him. He is a
vegetarian, a raw food one, an ardent and unmerciful propagandist; his
wife a chronic invalid, cold and lifeless.

There was really no room for me, and I slept in an unheated room, where
they kept fruit and vegetables. It was cold, too cold to dress in
without great discomfort, but uncle said the air was good for me, and
the fruit had to be taken care of anyway.

Now I am generally open to reason and persuasion, even if I do act on
my own impulses and ideas eventually. But I will not be forced. I have
fled from one refuge to another in the hope of being free, of being
able to be myself, and uncle’s insistence on my not doing this and
that, resulted in argument, but no open break.

The result was that everything seemed to fall from under my feet, and
on January 10th, I made up my mind to commit suicide on my twenty-third
birthday, May 10th, next.

Of course, this was not the result entirely, or even principally, of
my trouble with uncle. That was only important insofar as it added the
last straw to my .... misunderstood and, if not persecuted, at least
worried beyond endurance, by my relatives.

My reasons, in a few words, for deciding on suicide were:

(1) Disillusionment. What had sustained me through the mental and
nervous shocks, sleepless nights, ecstasies, and despair of the years,
since my sixteenth (although it began before that) was the thought,
which I dare not acknowledge to myself, much less express to others,
that I was, if not a genius, at least a talented man, with the ability
to do big things. Sometimes business success appealed to me; at other
times, science or philosophy--mental and intellectual pre-eminence;
then artistic effort, vaguely the idea of being an author, dramatist or
literary and social reform leader.

Up to the day I left Cuba, despite reactions and pitiful weakness,
I kept my faith in myself, in my mission. Reading Ibsen only served
to confirm it. In .... I still had it. I lost it in .... to a great
extent. After I had purchased a typewriter and sat down to work, my
courage failed; I could do nothing.

Reading Bernard Shaw showed me that much that I had thought to be
artistic temperament, ideals, sentiment, was plain romantic illusion,
and I did not feel that I was called upon then to sacrifice myself for
humanity, without the esthetic pleasure my illusions had given me.
Before this I had unwittingly cloaked my own desires and passions under
the guise of doing something worth while, of uplifting and what not.

Curiously enough, all my ambition, ideas, etc., returned on further
reading of Shaw in Chicago, after I had started going on the assumption
of suicide on May 10th. I took them back, with the idea that now I was
through with romantic illusion and prepared to face reality.

Before recurring to this, I shall go on to the other suicide reasons.

(2) The continual moving about trying to find a resting place, and
consequent disgust and quarrels with relatives, and the feeling that I
was indeed alone and without a home.

Leaving Cuba in hope I left ----, swearing they would never hear from
me again. I left ---- with very much the same idea, but before leaving,
wrote a very short letter to Nellie, informing her that I had nothing
against her and thought as much of her as ever. Uncle was the last
straw, although I could not have the least doubt of his sincere desire
to benefit me, and when I realized this I tried to take advantage of
his advice and follow it to a great extent, but his wife chilled me,
and she really didn’t want me. Of course, she wasn’t well, and uncle
told me that but for that he would have had me stay with them, and take
a good room in which they had a roomer. Aunt had advised against my
coming--she did not want to be bothered.

However, all this only added to my feeling of loneliness, of
homelessness, and I took a small room, after sundry hints from my aunt.

(3) Related to the above, was the deeper feeling that I had not place
in the world. Forced to work myself into a nervous wreck, when I wanted
to shine in intellect; laughed at by my acquaintances, for I had no
friends, because of my theories, impracticality, temperament; inability
to get on with people socially, due to a peculiar inherent shyness,
not lost by contact with people in business, where I had a reputation
even for nerve or perhaps sometimes impertinence, although I meant no
harm. I was rather sharp in repartee, and suppose I showed a feeling
of superiority, whereas said acquaintances, openly at least, made me
feel inferior, unsocial, a crank--always in the wrong. What was the
use, I said time and again, of my brilliance, of my love of study, of
esthetics, of my careful life, if it was turned on me and made into a
fault, a crime.

(4) Fearful of gradual approach of insanity, brought on by above
causes, and degenerate stock on my father’s side. I have no proof of
this, except fact that my father was small, nervous, and vacillating,
and I am sure it is only my mother’s blood that has saved me thus far.

(5) The thought that my ideas, etc., instead of being due to higher
qualities, due to this degenerate tendency or strain, in short, that I
was a degenerate weakling, doomed to drift on until insanity or death
ended it all.

The above caused my resolution to commit suicide, taken on January
10th. My hand is tired now, but I have much to write of subsequent days.

I leave to-morrow morning for San Francisco, and shall fill in details
to date either on train or there.

=Denver, Colo., February 2, 1913.= To continue where I left off, the
sixth reason, the last but not the least, to use a hackneyed term, is:

(6) Sex. I have previously gone into this at some length, so little
remains to be written. To use a medical term, I presume my affliction
may be called erotomania.

My passion, ungratified, except with mercenary women, has been a
terrible thing. If I could have had a little satisfaction, even without
actual intercourse, in my youth, as other fellows have, I might have
been spared the suffering, mental and physical, caused by my random
attempts to feed my insatiable hunger.

Not having anything pleasant to look back upon in an emotional way,
has probably contributed more than any one thing, to my despair of the

When in desperation, just after my twentieth birthday, I first had
intercourse with a prostitute, I made little distinction between moral
and immoral women, that is, some women I felt naturally attracted to;
others repulsed me, and this attraction, physical or mental, I was
generally unable to follow up more in practically every case.

With one or two exceptions, every prostitute I had intercourse with was
a source of bitter disappointment, and constant recriminations by my
bitter outraged nature. I worried and worried over these downfalls, as
I invariably considered them after.

The one or two exceptions, however, left me with no feelings of disgust
or disappointment. I enjoyed them thoroughly. They were with women who
had a strong attraction to me, and I would not have changed them for
many a virtuous woman, except for the experience of being the first.

Altogether, I have not had intercourse with more than twenty women, and
most of them, of the shortest, being generally driven by strong passion
without a worthy object.

Many a time have I cursed myself, however, for ever beginning. At about
the same time as my first fall, I first touched liquor.

I often feel that if I had been told by my parents, I might not have
taken the first downward step and waited until I could give my emotion
a healthy outlet on honorable terms.

As it is, I have lost something which is the cause of my condition of
despair, and it will take a long, slow process of upbuilding to give me
back my enthusiasm and grip on life, but events of to-day and yesterday
give me hope and encouragement.

=Denver, Colo., February 5, 1913.= To go back to my story, after
deciding on January 10th to commit suicide on May 10th, my troubles
became worse instead of better. The will to live rebelled against
this decision, and I endeavored to drown the still small voice, and
succeeded in doing so, only to have it come up again.

Only one reaction in Chicago, however, amounted to anything. In my
usual impulsive, emotional manner, after reading Shaw’s “Quintessence
of Ibsenism,” my old feelings about art and literature returned with
force augmented by the depth of the preceding condition of pessimism
and hopelessness. For a week I felt like a genius, went about full of
esthetic feelings, courage. I exercised twice a day, thus conquering an
habitual physical laziness, walked with a springy step, inhaling the
cold air enthusiastically. In short, it was the same old story.

I fed my esthetic feelings at the art gallery, library, and theatre.
I attended several performances at the Fine Arts Theatre of the Irish
Players, and enjoyed their simple, honest humor.

By Friday it began to peter out. Depression, unaccountable as usual,
began to come over me. I shook it off, but it could not be gainsaid,
and on Saturday night, January 25th, I attended a performance of
Strindberg’s “Creditors” and “The Stronger” at the Chicago Little
Theatre, with ill-suppressed feelings of impending disaster, which,
however, I realized, as of old, were temporary and unfounded, perhaps,
but nevertheless enough to give me hours of hell, hell, hell.

The circumstance agreed with my mood, and in a way awakened my ambition
to have my own work performed and read, but the realization after of
the work, utter lack of appreciation of such work of genius by the
general English and American reading public, and moreover, the ever
present dislike and fear of going back to office work and working on
from year to year to no purpose, until insanity or death ended it
all,--brought on all past forebodings, and I went down to the closed
district, found a woman, more, two, and disgusted myself with life to
the limit; went home and cursed, raved, and what not, until exhaustion
brought on fitful, wild slumber, and I awoke with a headache, weak,
repentant, defiant, and I know not what.

I might right here give the immediate supplementary cause of my suicide
decision, over and above those enumerated.

As long as I was at work I still had hope. In Havana I was weaker, felt
more poisoned physically and mentally than before or since, but the
thought of artistic success sustained me. I looked forward to dropping
the intolerable burden on finishing my work there, and going ahead and
becoming a writer.

This kept me on through it all, when I worked on sheer nerve and every
day was an agony. In ---- I still cherished the delusion--I was a
genius, a superman, and would show them all.

When I settled down in ---- and bought a typewriter I started
typewriting my shorthand notes, put down in Havana, describing my
moods, passions and various mental conditions, having in mind writing
a book, “The Youth Who Was Prematurely Tired” .... mental struggles and

On getting down to it, however, the thought that if I was to do anything
it must be done while the money I had saved by scrimping, scraping,
sacrificing social life, amusement, almost everything,--lasted, which
would not be any too long, and then, the old agony of uncongenial
hellish work,--this thought took away everything.

The bottom fell out, and from that time on, last September and October,
I have steadily lost all confidence and hope in myself, and my grip on
life. The thought of going back to work .... the mental state of which
it had been the product, haunted me unceasingly.

I dared not face the situation. I quarrelled at home, with reason,
however, fled to Arthur’s house in ----. The wild idea I had conceived
in .... of disappearing, going away secretly and suddenly returned.
No matter where I turned there seemed no refuge from my own diseased
mind. Wild anarchical schemes entered my head. Now I understood why men
killed, went insane. Before I had experienced passion, good and bad,
honest and dishonest, clean and sane, and unclean and insane, poetic
frenzy, glowing emotional enthusiasm, and now new ranges of wildness
came to me.

I cursed myself, my parents, heaven and earth; then the reaction
brought sorrow and spasmodic attempts at reparation.

I destroyed my books and objects of fond remembrance, the next day
repented and endeavored to undo the damage. This began in Havana,
continued in ---- and became worse in ----.

Then in a sudden impulse I decided to go away from it all, using the
excuse of going to California with my aunt, then to Chicago, which I
really intended to do.

In Chicago I at first felt like making a new start, but after accepting
a position, I had a foreboding I should fall down on it, and I cursed
the social system and employing class for not offering me a living
salary for just as much work as I could stand, and have leisure for
writing, study, etc.

Death seemed preferable to working, and, dreading to go back to what
it had represented in Havana and New York previous to that, I made the
suicide decision. The reasons enumerated all came to me night after
night as I lay awake, and I called for death .... it was this dread of
work that finally took the ground away from under my feet. I felt in
my heart that, with a weekly income of $20 to $25 I would persist and
fight my mental disabilities, finding consolation in reading, studying,
especially philosophy and writing. My idea would be not to write with
the idea of making money, but of making literature.

I got cold feet whenever I thought of the sordid commercialism of
present American authorship. My ideas and ideals, delusions, illusions,
call them what you will, were too strong to face the facts.

I had wild ideas of laying my case before some rich man, or at least
some institution endowed by one, seeing if they, out of pity, sympathy,
or some other feeling, could be induced to allow me an income of $20
to $25 per week, and not require of me definite results.

I thought of going to sociologists, insanity experts, those whom we
read so much about in the papers, who are always talking of reform,
eugenics, social service; but the realization that these glittering
generalities meant nothing to one poor, weak, degenerate individual
like me, deterred me.

Two other reasons kept me back, the first self-respect; for despite my
weaknesses and downfalls, I still had an inordinate pride, and repulsed
pity, sympathy, and felt how humiliating it would be to depend on some
one else like that even were such a wild idea possible.

Wild idea, indeed. I remember the letters I wrote in the heyday of
my ambition and enthusiasm, to Carnegie, Patten, E. H. R. Green, and
several others, asking for a hearing before some board to further
education--and the fact of hearing nothing.

Time and again I had bitterly reflected what good is all this charity,
social work. It is all general, where does my personal case come in,
who is there to give me a little human consideration, a helping hand,
encouragement, sociability, love?

Reformers, women reformers and social workers spend their efforts in
closing up districts, scattering prostitutes, making it difficult to
gamble and generally taking away the means for such as me to forget
our troubles now and again, but not a hand is lifted to save me from
insanity or death by my own hand.

Outside of this feeling of death being preferable to the humiliation
and shuddering at the shocks to my sensitive nature which would be
engendered by making public this record, there was the additional
feeling that instead of freedom from the bondage of poverty resulting
from such an appeal, confinement would be the result.

I dread this about as much as going back to work, because the sanctity,
jealous regard and fear about my personality, my individuality is such
that if I thought that the result of an appeal would be confinement, I
would welcome death as a gift from heaven.

I am an agnostic, and, philosophically at least, an anarchist. I want
to be free, to glory in liberty; to have no boss, to be able to develop
my intellect. To do this I am willing to pay the price of keeping
within the law, to refrain from indulging sexually more than seems
absolutely necessary, but I cannot look forward to being fed and given
a place to rest in, and otherwise allowed to develop in my own way, but
not being allowed freedom of action and residence.

I am not insane now, but any attempt at coercion or confinement would
drive me violently insane. I should beat at the doors of my cell, curse
everything and die raving, and it is the fear of confinement that keeps
me from submitting this to those who could probably save me if they

Before the day when my last dollar is gone comes I may in desperation
[decide] to risk this, in the hope of being allowed to live in my own
way rather than commit suicide, but I don’t know.

=Denver, Colo., February 6, 1913.= After that fall in Chicago, after
Strindberg, Saturday, January 25th, hope left me until the 30th.
Leaving that day for ’Frisco a certain old time grim resolution to make
another big effort took possession of me, but to no purpose as usual.

At noon of the 31st, I changed trains at La Junta for a side trip to
Denver. While on the way to Denver I became acquainted with the man who
put me back in fighting mood for several days. Our conversation started
when he asked permission to sit beside me, which was unnecessary, but
polite. He casually asked if I was going to stay in Denver. I said no,
that I was merely on a visit. I asked to be referred to a hotel. He
told me of the ---- kept by his brother.

We talked along, and he painted Colorado in glowing colors--said he
had left New York twenty-two years ago, and with the exception of one
year in Texas, had lived in Denver ever since. To his mind there was
no place like it. He told me business was quiet, but that I could
undoubtedly get something within a short time. He invited me to call at
his house on Sunday.

We arrived Friday night, the 31st, and he pointed out the hotel from
the station, and hurried off. Saturday, I took sight-seeing car
through city, and Sunday foothills trip. The air was fine, as he had
enthusiastically said, and the bright appearance of things, despite
a snowstorm on Saturday, argued well for this as a healthy, bright,
beautiful city and all he said it was.

I called on him Sunday, and found he had a beautiful house, a pleasant
wife and two fine children. The little girl of three took to me right
away, which surprised them but not me, as children do take to me.
The boy of thirteen was also very enthusiastic, bright and friendly,
and after supper we three grown-ups had a pleasant talk on various
subjects. I left with a delightful feeling of having had a glimpse of
a nice home, which brought back all my thoughts of times past of a
home, with a lovely wife and children on my knee, dreams which in my
bad periods I had rejected as hopeless for me, thus taking away a great
spur to work and ambition.

Impulsively the next day I put in my ticket for refund, being willing
in my enthusiasm to lose $11 or so for baggage, which had gone on to
Frisco, to say nothing of freight charges of over $7, including boxing,
for return to Denver. Thus I expect to pull out $10 of my $49.75 for
ticket from Chicago, fare to Denver being $22.60, tourist. I give these
figures to show how great was my ecstasy on Monday morning, February
3d, perhaps the last time I shall feel so optimistic and in love with
everything, great enough to make me, without work and less than $100 in
cash, drop $18 carelessly and without worry--me, who had skimped and
scraped ever since started working, although only to lose recklessly on

Then I went after work in the same spirit; called on the Chamber of
Commerce, was referred to two reliable employment agencies, went to the
typewriter companies, and visited one prospective employer. On Tuesday
I visited three, and could probably have landed one, but my old
bugaboo, the reaction, had begun to set in, and at 5 o’clock Tuesday,
after lying down in my room at the hotel I got up, hurriedly dressed,
rushed to the railroad ticket office, and asked to have my baggage
stopped. My ticket had gone in for refund, and the freight agent
promised to telegraph immediately to hold baggage if not already sent.
Yesterday I found it had been sent, and now await returns on that and
my ticket.

When I got these I thought of going on to Frisco and ending it all
there. Last night I wrote a despairing letter home, offering to return
if they would send me $50, but did not mail it, and this morning tore
it up, merely writing saying I would be here until the latter part of
this month in case the family had any proposition to make to me or
money to send.

If they ask me to return and send some money, I probably will.
Otherwise I shall probably go to Frisco with a week or two week’s
expenses in my pocket after paying fare, and finishing this story. I
say probably in both cases because I now realize my hopeless lack of
will-power, my whole life practically being impulse with a delusive
current of purpose running through it.

=--, February 6, 1913, 10:37 P. M.= This morning I cast out hope.
To-night I feel that beneath all my degeneracy and weakness, I am a
genius and I feel that I cannot die without leaving something behind.
No, I will fight. It is harder for my yielding, but I cannot give up
without a struggle. Somewhere and at some time I must prove that I
am something besides a weakling. Good and evil predominate by turns,
love and hate, weakness and strength. Reconciliation is the solution. I
have just read an article in The International for November, 1911--“J.
William Lloyd, Philosopher of the Paradox,” and it gives me new faith
in myself.

=Denver, Colo., February 8, 1913.= Yesterday was a good day. I went to
bed feeling the same way as when I wrote the above, and even felt I had
made a discovery, or rather discovered or realized an old truth in its
application to my case, namely, moderation.

Instead of going to the extreme in one direction as I have done, I said
go as far as the conditions permit, but cease before the pleasure does.

Applying this to intellect it would mean study philosophy, but don’t
overwork it--dream with the poets, but not too much. In this plan,
Strindberg, Shaw, Ibsen, and others all have their place.

Women, well the same here--quit before becoming weary, and a mental
reservation to endeavor to hold off more and more, but not to take it
to heart if not able to. This is a natural weakness, and is good if not
too much. Can I do it? That is the question. If I can tide over that
terrible reaction that comes several times a week, and sometimes night
after night, I think I can endure life, or hell, as I am coming to
regard it.

Reversing the conventional view I might say, “Life is hell, and we
have nothing to look forward to which is worse, therefore if there is
any future life, it must be better.” Whether this is logical or not, I
don’t know, but it looks good to me, even if not altogether original.

I have been reading Strindberg at the Denver Library the last few days.
I have read “Countess Julia, the Dream Play, the Link and the Dance of

I enjoyed them, which is a matter of course, as I always understand and
enjoy deeply the work of genius, especially so-called degenerate genius.

Last night some time or other I dropped hope, only to pick her up again,
for she must be a woman--she tantalizes me so much.

=Denver, Colo., Monday, February 10, 1913.= Yesterday as the day wore
on, gloom prevailed, increasing until last night, but I clenched my
fists and grit my teeth this morning, and will go on.

Three months to a day to my birthday, I notice, who am always looking
for auspicious dates for a new start.

The principal issue is clear, I must crucify my perverted hereditary
sexual appetites. Absolute continence except under favorable conditions.
As these conditions are unlikely to occur, as I am not going looking for
them, namely, that a woman yield from pure love or passion, and the only
other alternative is marriage, I have a big fight on, but as the issue
is life with honor, or death, with or without honor, I feel that I
shall make this stand at last, after which the fight will be easier, if
without the prospect of happiness, for, after all, I must not expect
happiness; I must learn to live without it, to make my life represented
by my work, and finally I may attain a degree of peace and rest, if not
of happiness. Yes, crucify, the devil.

=New York, Sunday, February 23, 1913.= Arrived here last Tuesday night,
the 18th. Thursday on bad attack of grippe. Misery, of course, induced
exceeding pessimism, but .... although physically miserable, my mental
condition is hopeful.

Shall endeavor to remain in New York. Depends on whether I get well
quick and get work quick, as I have just $24 in cash left from the
$400 I saved in Havana, with $10 from railway refund coming sometime.
If health and work come out, then it is only a matter of being able to
keep it up.

If not pride humbled, back to ..... Apropos of this, I am not so sure
but that I made a bigger fool of myself than others whom I consigned to
that class.

Have been with old friend ----, first time in five years, with
exception of one brief day. He has changed considerably. Now is all
for experience and practicality--theories merely a sideline, and, of
course, for both of us to live it must be so.

=New York, February 28, 1913.= I leave to-morrow for ----, my last
trip. On the eve of a new month I feel indifferent. Hopelessness took
possession of me several days ago, and I pretty well decided to end it
all as planned.

However, as my money is gone I must work if I am to live even until
May 10th, and, of course, if I work again for ever so short a time in
view, I cannot say how long I may keep it up, so I say nothing.

I make no grand resolutions for beginning [of month], but the usual
sexual one, having fallen again. Even if I must die because of my
weakness physically I would like a

                            *  *  *  *

=--, Sunday, March 23, 1913.= I had not intended writing in my diary
to-day, but at the end of the month. This evening, alone in the house,
everything quiet, the fire gently singing, even the cat asleep. I was
reading in the kitchen Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” I just heard
a sound and find my brother Percy asleep on the sofa in the next
room. A feeling of peace came over me as I laid down my book that I
was prompted to write in my diary, for moments of peace have been
so infrequent of late that it was a remarkable contrast to my wild
vagaries and desperately suppressed emotions.

For I am working again. I arrived here night of Saturday, March 1st,
and on Tuesday the 4th, commenced work with ---- at the fine salary of
$55 a month, with prospects. They offered $50; I suggested it ---- and
we compromised on $55. Of course, there have been openings in my line
at higher salaries, but I took the first thing and will not change, as
it seems good as business goes, unless the prospects do not materialize.

Though I hated to acknowledge it to myself, I needed to get back to
work more than anything else to save me. I had my opportunity, or
rather I saved up $400 by sacrifices in Havana, and then sat down and
did nothing until half was gone, afterwards wasting the rest in a wild
goose chase after my destiny.

However, I entered into my work with a spirit of hopeful resignation.
Being inevitable, and for the first time in my work, acknowledging it,
I will not say I attend to it more conscientiously, but I grip myself
when a wave of the old dissatisfaction passes over me and work, work.

At night I sleep, but at intervals during day and evening, and in the
morning I find it a great effort not to fly off the handle in protest
of it all, but keep on just the same.

I have had several passionate weak outbursts during the month, several
times I have made a fool of myself by venting my temper on those around
me, but generally I hold myself in better and am more conscious of
having command of myself.

As for my ideas and ambition. It is still alive. The will to live is
stronger than any misery as a force for life as against death. Taking
this as a mere basis, I must of necessity have some larger view than
the mere cramping effect of a clerkship.

I work, because I must and under protest, but I try to do my best, and
I work honestly and I earn my salary and more, as much as I can under
the circumstances.

I am just getting settled and am getting my books together. I am
now going in for drama and I still have a soft spot in my heart for
philosophy, although I am still at the beginning of Kant’s Critique.
I read a little of it to-day.

I still feel the call of a larger mission, but I feel more like going
about it in a practical, business-like way, because I realize I must.
I acknowledge that. Experience has had to push facts down my throat
before I would face them with the aid of Bernard Shaw.

I feel more sincere now. A tendency I have noted to theatricalism I
will sternly suppress. I sometimes act cruelly after a mental struggle
and I just hold myself by calling on Neitzsche and the philosophy of
the superman, and then woe betide the one who crosses me.

While I will not force it, and avoid self-pity, I cannot help feeling
at bottom the tragedy of life to me. It is such an effort to live,
there is so little to look back on, no youth, no sweetheart, no love
except that of the children, and the mistaken love of a weak mother.
The short peace to-night stands out but as soon as I became conscious
of it I said to myself that I must cultivate that frame of mind to do
the best work and find out the truth quickest.

=--, Sunday, June 1, 1913.= This morning, the beginning of week and
month, and the first real spring Sunday of the season, I once more
start on a process of rehabilitation. For three years I have been
fighting my sexual passions. Previous to May 21, 1910, as I note from
that date in my diary, I was clean absolutely, as I have said before.
Three years of the fiercest action and reaction. Despair to the verge
of suicide, exultation to such heights of ecstasy that Heaven opened
its gates almost. And in between indifference, or simply dull care,
daily monotonous, hopeless toil, restless, tired nights.

I lived over the date set for my suicide, May 10th, this year. Every
month I determined to start in anew, practically every month for
these three years. At the first of the years 1911, 1912 and 1913; at
birthdays May 10, 1911, 1912 and 1913, Leap-year, February 29, 1912,
and after every despair I started in anew with the determination to not
only conquer that weakness, but to restrain myself in speech and act
sufficiently .... ahead and accomplish something.

Failure has been the result every time. I ask myself why, and the
answers are many and various, according to the last disappointment.

In a large measure it has been due to that emptiness of my life, to
the lack of affection and a definite ambition, and to my not being
more positive instead of attempting to be merely negatively virtuous
or self-controlled (as I don’t like the word virtuous), combined with
nervousness, strong passions and emotional qualities with no proper
outlet for them when they became so put up as to threaten to overflow.

To-day I begin on a new ground, that of being positive and rigidly
self-controlled until I feel I can relax with impunity. I have tried
relaxing before after a week, two weeks, but one relaxation in word or
act has been followed by others until the circle has been completed
by a blind unreasoning yield to the sexual impulse under conditions
of mental chaos and physical exhaustion, and then new resolutions and
reaction set in.

I would go far to state that it is different now, but so repeatedly
and in such a series of shocks has the lesson been driven home, that
I have simply in desperation put suicide on one side and restraint on
the other, and, realizing that it is impossible to go on as I have been
doing, I have, with all the remaining strength, passion, love, honor,
or whatever is left in me, ambition and enthusiasm, and the like,
determined once and for all and for one year at least to be absolutely
ascetic as the first step. To restrain myself all around is, of course,
the next, and I will succeed fairly well.

The big questions of sex I leave open. I must get an impersonal view
away from the conflict first.

Philosophy I also leave open, tentatively adopting the simple formula
from that of the superman, the will to live because life is painful and
the will to power, endeavoring to thrust out everything that makes for

=Friday, June 13, 1913.= Just writing to-day because it happens to be
Friday the 13th--13th more because I have nothing but contempt for the
silly superstition.

Have maintained my resolution as far as sex is concerned easily enough
to date, but otherwise I am not satisfied with self-control attained,
that is, in speech and temper, but time will tell. I’ll pull through
a full year on the one thing in any case, and I am still fighting for
all around control, and a settled scheme of work towards becoming a
successful playwright.

=Saturday, July 26, 1913.= Nearly two months passed since June 1st, and
I have failed to keep my good resolutions and also to commit suicide
after several failures. It seems a silly business all around, these
writings included, but I must keep on for awhile in this strain.

The only thing is to try again. I only realize the more keenly the
utter hopelessness of the easiest way. Self-control, and the thought
as I look ahead of giving up things is harder, but the other is
impossible. I hesitate to express myself so confidently as to my
ability to be a superman and a genius, but I can still fight on for a
time at least. The end is not yet. What it will be I don’t know. The
depths have been deep and the heights might have been higher, but there
is a fair middle course possible and I’ll try to do my best.

At twenty-three I have to go back to the self-consciousness of youth
before I can cast it all off and face life as it is. I often realize
the apparent priggishness and silliness of this diary, but I at least
try to be sincere sometimes, and after the shocks of the realization of
life I may write as a man. Things cannot go on as they have been doing.
Circumstances will force me to sink or swim, either to rise from this
slough and weakness or collapse utterly, and this knowledge will help
me. I may be silent for a long time now, because I am about to cast off
my romantic youth and be a man, and the break will appear more sudden
than it is. Up to now this diary does not show the vast progress
towards disillusioned manhood I have taken. In reality they are so big
that I have at times bridged the gulf and said, “All is illusion.” I
have felt the utter pettiness of this struggle and seen things from the
impersonal and even transcendental viewpoint. The difficulty is, after
making the jump, to come back to where I left off and take up the daily
struggle. It is hard after realizing that finally one will say, “All is
illusion, whether it be worldly success--money and honor, or artistic
success and the personal satisfaction of work well done.” However, I
must come back in order to live at all, and if I find it too much and
after repeated attempts some day give it up as hopeless, then it will
be necessary to take the jump at once from youth to death and leave out
what comes in between.

=New York, September 27, 1913.= Suicide again presenting itself as the
only way out, I was prompted to read over my diaries. As a result my
sense of humor caused me to destroy the first one, dating from 1905, my
fifteenth year. Full of childish struggles and events, at least until
my eighteenth year, I could not let it live after my death. After my
eighteenth year in New York, I began to face reality, but yet I could
not allow even that part of the record to survive.

True, from my fifteenth year I have been in a bad way, but until several
years ago a solution seemed bound to come. Suicide never entered my
thoughts in those days.

Sex worried me, however, from fourteenth or fifteenth year. Mentally,
only until my twentieth, but thinking without acting didn’t strengthen

However as this is a sort of last testament I must not waste time on
those days. I hardly know how to begin and what to say, but something
seems necessary.

I could not write the greater part of this even now, because I have
realized since that it is altogether foreign to the spirit prevailing
among the Anglo-Saxon, so-called, at least, and I myself am sufficiently
contaminated with their spirit to feel cynical about it.

If these writings do come to print I can imagine cynical and damn
foolish newspapermen writing about weaklings and degenerates in line
with silly editorial in New York _Times_ recently about suicide and
another in the _World_ on occasion of suicide of a girl who was
tired of 20 cent dinners, to say nothing about those arch idiots and
hypocrites, the Hearst hirelings with their talks about the idle rich
and the good thing it is most of us have to work for little.

Of course, I do not compare myself to the average man. If I had no
sense of humor I would have persisted and made myself a genius in spite
of the hell life has been. Nietzsche could never have been if he was
born in England or the States.

But I only feel at home when I read men of genius. Always without a
friend, the average man is a stranger to me. Women have killed me,
because with all my temperament and passion I have been too shy to
ever have any love or outlet to my passion.

It is hard to say that if things had been different that such and such
would be the case. Sometimes I have thought absolutely sincerely that
if I had had enough money to be able to dispense with the daily grind,
which, with its necessity of strong excitement as a reaction, has so
impaired my will-power as to bring me from supreme egoism of imagining
and believing myself to be a genius to a miserable death alone and away
from home by my own hand.

At other times I have said that if I question myself honestly that with
money I would have simply degenerated into a good for nothing vicious
idler of the Thaw class.

Now, when about to die, I will be honest and say that the latter would
have probably been the outcome, but it is by no means certain. After
all I have been outraged and disgusted in the past after every fall
from a certain standard and my love of books does die while I live.
Who knows but that I might have got down to study and work and done
something? Undoubtedly, I would have had affairs with women (had time
and money permitted) under any circumstances, but drink and drug has
never appealed to me, even in imagination.

I have been honest and sincere, particularly to the fine point on
matters of honor, at least until I began to lose my grip on life. While
I never got down and faced things, it was because I was incurably
romantic, and when I finally began to realize life it came to me in
such a series of shocks that independence would have probably made me
a Baudelaire, without his creative work to balance the scale. With such
an impractical, childish mother and failure of a father, uncongenial
brothers and sisters, almost hating each other, with bad heredity
on both sides and a hellish environment, a shy nervous, suspicious
disposition, extremes of ecstasy and despair, ungratified passions,
alone and friendless, how could I end otherwise than a suicide?

I claim that any man who commits suicide of necessity suffers more
than any who continues to live. I don’t want to die. I cannot make any
outsider realize by anything I can write how I have tried to avoid
this step. I have tried every subterfuge to fool myself, to kid myself
along that life wasn’t so bad after all. This record does not show up
my humorous side, but I laugh as much as I feel like crying. I enjoy a
comedy as well as a tragedy, am tickled by the very things that amuse
the average American, and at a baseball game I actually feel like one
of the boys, but where I differ is in my tragic and morbid side, and my
keen sensitiveness.

Things which pass over most men afflict me with terrible force. My
pride has stood in the way of my hope of success under conditions which
exist in this country at present. I cannot indefinitely pretend as I
apply for work that I am just like the rest. I cannot always conceal
the resentment and scorn I feel as I interview business men and stand
or sit before them as a mere stenographer. I, a fellow in spirit with
men of genius, must show my references, call and beg and implore, for
a miserable salary which I despise, must haggle for a few dollars more,
the price of a meal.

The indignity of it all. I, an aristocrat at heart, of the aristocracy
of brains and sentiment, must elbow with the ignorant vulgar bourgeois
who could not for an instant understand if they would.

What is the use? Death only holds forth relief. I cannot look back on a
really happy day. Light-hearted and merry have I been on occasions, but
seldom a day without morbid thoughts sometime or other, generally at
night. If I could have had a mistress things might have been different.
When I have gone out and had sexual intercourse with a woman who pleased
my imagination I have slept well--seldom otherwise.

Sex has been my Nemesis, and to-day if I had money I would continue to
live. Without it, the whole dreary past and prospective future is too
much for me. With it I could dispense with the grind and do work after
my own heart.

Of course, others have the grind, also; but the fact that they continue
to live shows that they can stand it much better, and were born to it.
I wasn’t. My whole nature is outraged by the life I have had to lead.
Empty, cold, dismal, hellish.

Let the cynical hirelings of the newspaper whom Bernard Shaw well
shows his contempt for, laugh and write editorials. The day will
come when men will be allowed to live, not rot, the New York _Times_

If a thousand men could be persuaded to commit suicide in protest, the
powers that be would sit up and take notice.

Arise you Americans who have some blood in you and get rid of your
Comstocks, Bryans, religious hypocrites and grafters, and let the
so-called degenerates and insane men have a say, and if you do not live
bigger and better, then you deserve what you get.

The majority is always wrong, and the minority of supermen and
degenerates--Zolas, Ibsens, etc.--must band together and overthrow the
whole damn system which drives the best, the most sincere and honest to
suicide or starvation.

The December issue of THE GLEBE will present “The Azure Adder,” a
one-act comedy by Charles Demuth.

Subscription price per year, $3.00

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