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Title: All In The Day's Work
Author: Tarbell, Ida M. (Ida Minerva)
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "All In The Day's Work" ***

[Illustration: _ALL IN THE DAY’S WORK_]


                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                      NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO
                    DALLAS · ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

                       MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
                       LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
                           MADRAS · MELBOURNE

                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                           OF CANADA, LIMITED


  _Photograph by Alfred Cheney Johnston_

  _At 70_

                         ALL IN THE DAY’S WORK
                            An Autobiography

                           BY IDA M. TARBELL


                                NEW YORK

                        _The Macmillan Company_


                         _Copyright, 1939, by_
                         THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

            All rights reserved—no part of this book may be
            reproduced in any form without permission in
            writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer
            who wishes to quote brief passages in connection
            with a review written for inclusion in magazine

                            FIRST PRINTING.



                            SARAH A. TARBELL
                     My Sister and My Loyal Friend



 CHAPTER                                                            PAGE
      1. MY START IN LIFE                                              1

      2. I DECIDE TO BE A BIOLOGIST                                   19

      3. A COEDUCATIONAL COLLEGE OF THE EIGHTIES                      37

      4. A START AND A RETREAT                                        49

      5. A FRESH START—A SECOND RETREAT                               64

      6. I FALL IN LOVE                                               89

      7. A FIRST BOOK—ON NOTHING CERTAIN A YEAR                      124

      8. THE NAPOLEON MOVEMENT OF THE NINETIES                       147

      9. GOOD-BYE TO FRANCE                                          161

     10. REDISCOVERING MY COUNTRY                                    179


     12. MUCKRAKER OR HISTORIAN?                                     231

     13. OFF WITH THE OLD—ON WITH THE NEW                            254

     14. THE GOLDEN RULE IN INDUSTRY                                 280

     15. A NEW PROFESSION                                            301

     16. WOMEN AND WAR                                               319

     17. AFTER THE ARMISTICE                                         336

     18. GAMBLING WITH SECURITY                                      359

     19. LOOKING OVER THE COUNTRY                                    385

     20. NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN                                   398

         INDEX                                                       409


         AT SEVENTY                              _Frontispiece_

         EARLIEST PORTRAIT                                    2

         OFFICE STAFF OF _THE CHAUTAUQUAN_, 1888             76

         AT _McCLURE’S_, 1898                               156

         AT THE _AMERICAN_, 1907                            258

         IN A CONNECTICUT GARDEN, 1914                      266

         AT RED CROSS HEADQUARTERS, PARIS, 1919             338

         POSING AS A GARDENER, 1925                         360

                         ALL IN THE DAY’S WORK

                            MY START IN LIFE

If it had not been for the Panic of 1857 and the long depression which
followed it I should have been born in Taylor County, Iowa. That was
what my father and mother had planned. In fact, however, I was born in a
log house in Erie County, Pennsylvania, on November 5, 1857. It was the
home of my pioneering maternal grandfather Walter Raleigh McCullough. No
home in which I have ever lived has left me with pleasanter memories of
itself. It was a Cape Cod house, a story and a half high, built of
matched hewn logs, its floors of narrow fitted oak planks, its walls
ceiled, its “upstairs” finished, a big fireplace in its living room.
There were spreading frame outbuildings to accommodate the multiple
activities of a farm which was in my time a going concern. I remember
best the big cool milk room with its dozens of filled pans on the racks,
its huge wooden bowl heaped with yellow butter on its way to the firkin,
its baskets piled with eggs, its plump dressed poultry ready for market.

Like all young married people of pioneer ancestry and experience having
their way to make, my parents wanted land. Land of their own, combined
with what my father could earn at his profession as a teacher and his
trade as a joiner, meant future security. It was the proved way of the
early American.

After much looking about in northwestern Pennsylvania where the families
of both were settled, they had decided that the West offered greater
opportunity and so in the spring of 1857, a year after his marriage, my
father, Franklin Sumner Tarbell by name, started out to find a farm. He
had but little money in his pocket, and the last one hundred fifty miles
of his search were made on foot. How enthusiastic he was over the claim
he at last secured! His letters tell of the splendid dome of sky which
covered it, of the far view over the prairie, of marvelous flowers and
birds, of the daily passing along the horizon of a stream of covered
wagons, settlers bound for California, Pikes Peak, Kansas, Nebraska; and
some of them, he found, were earlier Iowa settlers, leaving the very
state which for the moment seemed to him the gate to Paradise.

He set himself gaily at breaking land, building the house for mother,
working in a sawmill to pay for the lumber. He did it alone, even to the
making of window frames and doors. I know how he did it—whistling from
morning till night, mischief and tenderness chasing each other across
his blue eyes as he thought of my mother’s coming, their future

The plan they had made provided for her going west with their household
goods in August. The money was arranged for, so they thought; but before
it was taken from the bank the panic came, and every county bank in
Pennsylvania was closed. There was no money anywhere, nothing for my
mother to do but stay where she was while my father struggled to earn by
teaching and carpenter work the money which would bring us on. But the
panic reached Iowa, dried up its money supply. People were living by
barter, my father reported. What a heartbreaking waiting it was for
them, coming as it did after an engagement of six years every week of
which they had both found long!

The fall and winter of 1857, the spring and summer of 1858 passed. Still
there was no money to be had, and then in the fall of 1858 father
started out to _teach_ his way to us. Before he found a school he had
walked one hundred and eighty miles—walked until his shoes and clothes
were worn and tattered. It was “shabby and broke,” as he had written it
would be, that he finally in the spring of 1859, when I was a year and a
half old, made his way back to my mother still living in the log house
in Erie County.

According to the family annals I deeply resented the intimacy between
the strange man and my mother, so far my exclusive possession. Flinging
my arms about my mother, so the story went, I cried, “Go away, bad man.”


  _Esther Ann McCullough Tarbell and Ida Minerva Tarbell, November 5,

The problem for my father now was to earn money to take us back to Iowa,
for my mother to continue her patient waiting. For a dozen years before
her marriage she had taught in district schools in Erie County, as well
as in a private school of an aunt in Poughkeepsie, New York. She was a
good teacher, but she was married! She must stay with her family then
until her husband had a home ready for her; so ruled my grandmother,
chock-full as she was of the best and severest New England rules for
training girls to be ladies. You might live in a log house. You were
reminded loftily that many of the “best families” had done that while
“settling the country,” but you must “never forget who you are!”
“Remember that your father is a McCullough of an ancient and honored
Scotch clan, his mother a Raleigh of Sir Walter’s family, that I am a
Seabury, my great-uncle the first Episcopal Bishop in the United States,
my mother a Welles, her father on Washington’s staff.” It was a litany
her four daughters all had to learn!

Exciting employment waited my father. For six or seven years before his
marriage, when he was earning his way through the Academy of Jamestown,
New York, he spent his summers running a fleet of three or more
flatboats of merchandise to be delivered at trading points on the
Allegheny and the Ohio River—always as far south as Louisville,
sometimes even up the Mississippi. “Captain Tarbell,” his small and
jolly crew called him. The River was the chief highway of a great
country. To its waters came the pioneer and trader, the teacher, the
preacher, the scientist, the prophet, as well as every species of
gambler, charlatan, speculator, swindler, cutthroat. My father’s stories
of what he saw were among the joys of my childhood: a great fleet of
steamboats burning at Pittsburgh, a hanging, river churches and
preachers and show boats, children who never knew other homes than a
boat, towns, cities, and what he loved best of all—nights floating
quietly down the great Ohio, the moon above. Not strange that after
those cruel months of working his way back to us he should have seized
this opportunity again to take charge of his Jamestown friend’s river

The trip went well, and at the end of August, 1859, he turned back,
money in his pocket to take us to Iowa. But as he journeyed eastward he
was met everywhere by excitement. A man had drilled a well near a lumber
settlement in northwestern Pennsylvania—Titusville it was called—drilled
for oil and found it, quantities of it. My father, like most men who
traveled up and down the Allegheny and Ohio in those days, was familiar
with crude petroleum. He had used it to grease creaking machinery and,
too, as a medicine, a general cure-all, Seneca oil; used it for the
colds, the fever and ague, the weak lungs which had afflicted him from
boyhood. He knew, too, that there were those who believed that if rock
oil, as it was called, could be found in sufficient quantities it would
make a better light than the coal and whale oils then in common use. The
well near Titusville producing twenty-five to one hundred barrels a
day—nobody knew how much—proved that if other reservoirs or veins could
be opened by such drilling there would be oil to light the world.

Rumors were exciting and grew in the telling. The nearer he came to Erie
County, the bigger the well. He met men on foot and horseback making
their way in. Something to look into before he started back to Iowa. He
looked into it, not merely at Titusville with its first well, but down
the stream on which the first well stood and where other wells were
already drilling. Oil Creek, it was called. What if they continued to
get oil? my father asked himself. Where would they put it? They would
need tanks, tanks in numbers. He believed he could build one that would
hold five hundred or more barrels. He said as much to the owner of a
well drilling down the creek near the mouth of a tributary called Cherry
Run. “Show me a model that won’t leak, and I’ll give you an order.” He
lost no time in making his model and got his order.

Here was a chance for a business if oil continued to be found, a
business with more money in it than he had ever dreamed of making.
Moreover, he knew all the elements of that business, had had experience
in handling them. Tank building called for his trade, that of the
joiner. Iowa could wait.

By the summer of 1860 he had his shop going at the mouth of Cherry Run
near the well for which he had received his first order. The shop
running, he built what was to be my mother’s first home of her own, the
one for which with infinite confidence and infinite pain she had been
waiting since her marriage four years and a half before.

It was in October of 1860 that my father drove his little family over
the Allegheny foothills some forty miles. There were two of us children
now, for in July of 1860 my brother William Walter Tarbell, named from
his two grandfathers, had been born. Close beside his shop father had
built a shanty. It had a living room with an alcove, a family bedroom
with trundle beds for us children, and a kitchen. A covered passage led
into the shop, which was soon to be the joy of my life for here were
great piles of long odorous curly pine shavings into which to roll, to
take naps, to trim my gown, and in which to search day in and day out
for the longest, the curliest.

But these shavings and my delight in them were a later discovery. My
first reaction to my new surroundings was one of acute dislike. It
aroused me to a revolt which is the first thing I am sure I remember
about my life—the birth in me of conscious experience. This revolt did
not come from natural depravity; on the contrary it was a natural and
righteous protest against having the life and home I had known, and
which I loved, taken away without explanation and a new scene, a new set
of rules which I did not like, suddenly imposed.

My life in the log house had been full of joyous interests. There were
turkeys and ducks and chickens, lambs and colts and calves, kittens and
puppies—never could I be without playmates. There were trees and woods
and flowers in summer—a great fireplace with popcorn and maple candy in
winter, and I an only grandchild the center of it all. But what had I
come to? As mother realized, a place of perils, a creek rushing wildly
at the side of the house, great oil pits sunken in the earth not far
away, a derrick inviting to adventurous climbing at the door. No wonder
that warnings and scoldings and occasional switchings dogged my steps.
Moreover, I was no longer the center of the circle: a baby filled her
arms—“my” arms! A man still strange gave me orders and claimed her—“my”

It was not to be endured, and so one November day just after my third
birthday I announced I was going to leave. “Going back to Grandma.”
“Very well,” my mother said. I knew the way the men went when they
walked away from the shop, and I followed it, but not far. Across the
valley in which we lived ran an embankment. To my young eyes it was as
high as a mountain, and the nearer I came the higher it looked, the
higher and blacker. And then suddenly as I came to its foot I realized
that I had never been on the other side, that I did not know the way to
Grandma’s. I knew I was beaten, and sat down to think it over. Never in
all these years since have I faced defeat, known that I must retreat,
that I have not been again that little figure with the black mountain in
front of it, a little figure looking longingly at a shanty dim in the
growing night but showing a light in the window.

Finally I turned slowly back to the house and sat down on the steps. It
seemed a long time before the door opened and my mother in a surprised
voice said:

“Why, Ida! I thought you had gone to Grandma’s.”

“I don’t know the way,” I said humbly.

“Very well. Come in and get your supper.”

Respect for my mother, her wisdom in dealing with hard situations, was
born then. I was not to be punished; I was not to be laughed at; I was
to be accepted. Years later she told me of the unhappy hour she spent
watching me go off so sturdily, to come back so droopingly, watching
with tears running down her cheeks, but determined I must learn my
lesson. It was a bit of wisdom she never ceased to practice. My mother
always let me carry out my revolts, return when I would and no questions

In the three years we spent in the shanty on the flats there was but one
other episode that had for me the same self-revealing quality as this
revolt. It was my first attempt to test by experiment. The brook which
ran beside the house was rapid, noisy, in times of high water dangerous
for children. Watching it, fascinated, I observed that some things
floated on the surface, others dropped to the bottom. It set me to
wondering what would happen to my little brother, then in dresses, if
dropped in. I had to find out. There was a footbridge near the house,
and one day when I supposed I was unobserved I led him onto it and
dropped him in. His little skirts spread out and held him up.
Fortunately at that moment his screams brought a near-by workman, and he
was rescued. I suppose I was spanked; of that I remember nothing, only
the peace of satisfied curiosity in the certainty that my brother
belonged to the category of things which floated.

What I really remember of these early days concerns only my personal
discoveries, discoveries of the kind of person I was, of the nature of
things around me which stirred my curiosity. Whether a childish
experience was deep enough to etch itself on my memory or I only know of
it from hearing it told and retold, I always decide by this test: if I
really remember it, the happening is set in a scene—a scene with a
background, exits, entrances, and properties. I know I remember my
revolt and defeat because I always see it as an act on a stage, every
detail, every line clear.

Of the pregnant, bizarre, and often tragic development going on about me
I remember nothing; yet the uncertainties and dangers of it were part of
our daily fare.

Whether there was oil in the ground in sufficient quantities to justify
the prodigious effort being made to find it, nobody could know. If not,
the shop and shanty were a dead loss—another long delay on the road to
Iowa. All that winter of 1860 and 1861 my father was asking himself that
question; but in 1861 it was answered when up and down Oil Creek a
succession of flowing wells came in, wells producing from three hundred
to three thousand barrels a day—“fountain wells,” “gushers,” “spouters,”
they called them from the great streams which rose straight into the air
one to two hundred feet, to fall in an oily green-black spray over the
surrounding landscape.

Deadly, dangerous, too, as the Oil Region learned to its sorrow by a
disaster almost at the doorsteps of our Cherry Run home. It was the
evening of April 17, 1861. The news of the Fall of Sumter had just
reached the settlement, remote as it was from rail and telegraph
connections, and all the men of the town had gathered after supper at
one place or another to discuss the situation. What did it mean? What
would the President do? My father was sitting on a cracker barrel in the
one general store. As he and his friends talked a man ran in to tell the
company that a fresh vein of oil had been struck in a well on the edge
of the town. Its owner, Henry Rouse, had been drilling it deeper; the
oil was spouting over the derrick. Great news for the community still
uncertain as to the extent of its field. Great news for my father. It
meant tanks. Everybody jumped to run to the well when the earth was
rocked by a mighty explosion. A careless light had ignited the gas which
had spread from the flowing oil until it had enveloped everything in the
vicinity. Before my father reached the place nineteen men, among them
his friend the well—owner Henry Rouse, had been burned to death. How
many had escaped and in what condition, nobody knew.

Late that night as my father and mother grieved they heard outside their
door a stumbling something. Looking out, they saw before them a terrible
sight, a man burned and swollen beyond recognition and yet alive, alive
enough to give his name—one of their friends. My mother took him in—the
alcove became a hospital. For weeks she nursed him—the task of the woman
in a pioneer community, a task which she accepted as her part. Thanks to
her care, the man lived. The relics of that tragedy were long about our
household—comforts and bedquilts she had pieced and quilted for Iowa
stained with linseed oil, but too precious to be thrown away.

But all this is as something read in a book, something which has become
more poignant as the years have gone by and I am able to feel what those
long weeks of care over that broken man meant to my mother.

The business prospered, the shop grew. Little do I remember of all this,
or the increased comforts of life or moving into the new home on the
hillside above the town by this time known as Rouseville. But the change
in the outlook on the world about me, I do remember. We had lived on the
edge of an active oil farm and oil town. No industry of man in its early
days has ever been more destructive of beauty, order, decency, than the
production of petroleum. All about us rose derricks, squatted
engine-houses and tanks; the earth about them was streaked and damp with
the dumpings of the pumps, which brought up regularly the sand and clay
and rock through which the drill had made its way. If oil was found, if
the well flowed, every tree, every shrub, every bit of grass in the
vicinity was coated with black grease and left to die. Tar and oil
stained everything. If the well was dry a rickety derrick, piles of
debris, oily holes were left, for nobody ever cleaned up in those days.

But we left the center of this disorder, went to the hillside, looked
down on it; and as for me I no longer saw it, for opposite us was a
hillside so steep it had never been drilled. It was clothed with the
always changing beauty of trees and shrubs, the white shadflowers and
the red maples, the long garlands of laurel and azalea in the spring,
the green of every shade through the summer, the crimson and gold,
russets and tans of the fall, the frost- and snow-draped trees of the
winter. I did not see the derricks for the trees. The hillside above our
house and the paths which led around it became a playground in which I
reveled. I was not the only one about to forget the ugliness of the
Valley and remember through life the beauty of those hillsides. Years
later I was to know fairly well one of the great figures in the
development of oil, Henry H. Rogers, then the active head of the
Standard Oil Company. We discovered in talking over the early days of
the industry that at the very moment I was beginning to run the hills
above Rouseville he was running a small refinery on the Creek and living
on a hillside just below ours, separated only by a narrow ravine along
each side of which ran a path. “Up that path,” Mr. Rogers told me, “I
used to carry our washing every Monday morning, go for it every Saturday
night. Probably I’ve seen you hunting flowers on your side of the
ravine. How beautiful it was! I was never happier.” That reminiscence of
Henry H. Rogers is only one of several reasons I have for heartily
liking as fine a pirate as ever flew his flag in Wall Street.

Soon after we went to the home on the hill the oil country, at that
moment suffering a depression, was stirred by the news that a great well
had been struck ten miles from Rouseville at Pithole, an isolated
territory to which the veterans in the business had never given a
thought. The news caused a wild scramble. A motley procession of men
with and without money, with and without decency, seeking leases, jobs,
opportunity for adventure, excitement and swindling travelled on foot or
horseback up the Valley of Cherry Run in full view from our house.

Father was one of the first to take advantage of the Pithole discovery,
putting up his tank shops there and doing a smashing business during the
short life of the field. Its “bottom fell out” in 1869. He rode back and
forth from his shop on a little saddle horse—Flora, beautiful
creature—usually with considerable sums of money in his pocket. The
country was full of ruffians, and stories of robbery were common. When
he was very late in returning mother would walk the floor wringing her
hands. I could never go to bed those nights until he had returned, not
because I felt her anxiety but because of the excitement and mystery of
it. I carried a dramatic picture of him in mind, a kind of Paul Revere
dashing along the lonely road, the rein on Flora’s neck, his pistol in
hand. But he always came home, always brought the money he had
collected, which he must keep in the tiny iron safe in his office
annexed to the house until he could carry it to Oil City where he

My life became rapidly more conscious now that I had left the flats
behind, experience deeper. Here was my first realization of tragedy. It
was the spring of 1865. Father was coming up the hill, mother and I were
watching for him. Usually he walked with a brisk step, head up, but now
his step was slow, his head dropped. Mother ran to meet him crying,
“Frank, Frank, what is it?” I did not hear the answer; but I shall
always see my mother turning at his words, burying her face in her
apron, running into her room sobbing as if her heart would break. And
then the house was shut up, and crape was put on all the doors, and I
was told that Lincoln was dead.

From that time the name spelt tragedy and mystery. Why all this sorrow
over a man we had never seen, who did not belong to our world—_my_
world? Was there something beyond the circle of hills within which I
lived that concerned me? Why, and in what way, did this mysterious
outside concern me?

I was soon to learn that tragedy did not come always from a mysterious
beyond. What a chain of catastrophes it took to teach the men and women
who were developing the new industry the constant risk they ran in
handling either crude or refined oil. They came to our very door, when a
neighboring woman hurrying to build a fire in her cookstove poured oil
on the wood before she had made sure there were no live coals in the
firebox. An awful explosion occurred and she and two women who ran to
her assistance were burned to a crisp. I heard horrified whisperings
about me. The refusal to tell me what had happened aroused a terrible
curiosity. I gathered that the bodies were laid out in a house not far
away and, when nobody was looking, stole in to look at them. Broken
sleep for me for nights.

The mystery of death finally came into our household. There had been a
fourth child born in the house on the hill—“little Frankie,” we always
called him—blue-eyed like my father, the sunniest of us all. For weeks
one season he lay in the parlor fighting for life—scarlet fever—a
disease more dreaded by mothers in those days than even smallpox. Daily
I stood helpless, agonized, outside the door behind which little Frankie
lay screaming and fighting the doctor. I remember even today how long
the white marks lasted on the knuckles of my hands after the agony
behind the closed door had died down and my clenched fists relaxed.

Little Frankie died, became a pathetic and beloved tradition in the
household. My little sister, who had made a terrible and successful
fight against the disease, told me how she could not understand why
father and mother cried when they talked of Frankie.

“If they want to see him,” she thought, “why do they not put a ladder
from the top of the hill up to the sky into heaven and climb up? If
Frankie is there God would let them see him.”

I have said that my first recollection of Lincoln was the impression
made by the tragedy of his death. That this was so was not for the lack
of material on him in our household. My father was an ardent Republican.
Back in ’56 he had written from his river trip, “Hurrah for Frémont and
Dayton.” As soon as he had had more money than the actual needs of the
family required, he had subscribed to _Harper’s Weekly_, _Harper’s
Monthly_, the New York _Tribune_, began to buy books. Of all of these I
remember only the _Weekly_ and _Monthly_. My brother and I used to lie
by the hour flat on our stomachs, heels in the air, turning over the
exciting pages of the War numbers; but none of it went behind my
eyes—none concerned me. Only now when I go back to the files of those
old papers there is a whispering of something once familiar.

Of the _Monthly_ I have more distinct recollections. It was in these
that I first began to read freely. Many a private picnic did I have with
the _Monthly_ under the thorn bushes on the hillside above Oil Creek, a
lunch basket at my side. There are still in the family storeroom copies
of _Harper’s Monthly_ stained with lemon pie dropped when I was too deep
into a story to be careful. Here I read my first Dickens, my first
Thackeray, my first Marian Evans, as George Eliot then signed herself.
My first Wilkie Collins came to me in the _Weekly_. Great literature—all
pirated, I was to learn much later. My friend Viola Roseboro tells me
that at this time she was reading Harper’s pirated paper-bound copies of
Dickens. It was much later that they came my way.

However, all the reading I was doing was not so respectable. On the sly
I was devouring a sheet forbidden to the household—the _Police
Gazette_—the property of the men around the house, for we had men around
the house, men of various degrees of acceptability to my mother, but all
necessary to my father’s enterprises. The business had grown; it meant a
clerk, bosses, workmen. In a pioneer community like ours it was hard to
find comfortable living quarters for single men. My father and mother,
both brought up on farms, accepted as a matter of course the housing and
feeding of hired men. So it was in line with their experience as well as
with the necessities of the case that our household was arranged to take
care of a certain number of men connected with my father’s business. For
sleeping quarters a bunkhouse was built on the hillside; mornings and
evenings, they sat at the family table. This accepting men of whose
manners and ways she often heartily disapproved was distasteful to my
mother; but she had not been a schoolteacher for nothing, and she
applied her notions of discipline. She would not have swearing,
drinking, rough manners, and certainly she would not have had the
_Police Gazette_ in the house. But the men had it, and now and then when
my brother and I played about the bunkhouse it was easy for me to pick
up a copy and slip it away where my dearest girl friend and I looked
unashamed and entirely unknowing on its rough and brutal pictures. If
they were obscene we certainly never knew it. There was a wanton gaiety
about the women, a violent rakishness about the men—wicked, we supposed,
but not the less interesting for that.

One reason the _Police Gazette_ fascinated me was that it pictured a
kind of life I knew to be flourishing in a neighboring settlement, a
settlement where my father had shops run by a boss who, as well as his
sister, was a family friend, and where I was often allowed to visit.
This settlement, Petroleum Center, had by something like general consent
become Oil Creek’s “sink of iniquity.”

The discovery of oil, the growing certainty that it was the beginning of
a new industry, that money was flowing into the Oil Region quickly
brought an invading host of men and women seeking fortunes. It was a new
and rich field for tricksters, swindlers, exploiters of vice in every
known form. They were soon setting up shops in every settlement and, to
the credit of the manhood of the Oil Region, usually being driven out by
self-directed vigilantes.

At Rouseville a “joy boat” which made its way up the Creek that first
winter and tied up near my father’s shop was cut loose in the middle of
the night after its arrival. Its visitors found themselves floating down
the Allegheny River the next morning and obliged to walk back. From that
time open vice shunned the town. But when wealth poured out of the
ground at Petroleum Center there was too great excitement to think of
order, decency. Before it was realized, the town was alive with every
known form of wantonness and wickedness. By the time I was allowed to
visit our friends there, I saw from the corner of my eye as I walked
sedately the length of the street saloons, dance halls, brothels; and I
noted many curious things. The house where I visited stood on a slope
overlooking one of the most notorious dance halls of the Oil Region—Gus
Reil’s. Often I left my bed at night and watched that long low building
from which rose loud laughter, ribald songs, shouts, curses. Later
horror was added to Gus Reil’s fascination, for here a Rouseville boy
was shot one night.

If Petroleum Center was giving me an opportunity to feed my curiosity
about things in the world of which I was not supposed to know, it
happened also to be the indirect means of awaking my interest in the
stars, one of the most beautiful interests of my youth. My father had
seen the early passing of the wooden oil tank, the coming of the iron
tank, and had used his capital to become an oil producer. One of his
first investments had been in an oil farm on the hills above the wicked
town which so excited my curiosity. His partner in this venture, M. E.
Hess, lived on this farm with his family. In that family was a daughter
about my age and bearing my name—Ida. We became friends and visited back
and forth as chance offered. My chance came often when Mr. Hess, riding
with a companion over the hills to Rouseville to consult with father,
dropped his companion and took me back with him, usually at night. A
fine pair of saddle horses he had—“High Fly” and “Shoo Fly.” My first
experience in horseback riding was following him on “Shoo Fly” over the
hills after dark.

Mr. Hess was an altogether unusual man, educated, with a vein of poetry
in him. As we rode he would stop every now and then to name the stars,
trace the constellations, repeat the legends. My first consciousness of
space, its beauty, its something more than beauty, came then.

Not a bad counterbalance for what I was gathering in the town below the
farm on the hill and seeing reproduced in the _Police Gazette_, which so
perfectly pictured its activities.

But there were other correcting forces at work on me. The men who formed
the vigilante committee to make Rouseville difficult for commercialized
vice (my father one of them) set themselves early to establishing
civilizing agencies—first a church.

It was decided by the men and women who were to build and support this
church that it should be of the denomination of which there were the
largest number in the community. The Methodists had the numbers, and so
my father and mother who were Presbyterians became and remained
Methodists. Their support was active. We did not merely go to church; we
stayed to class meeting; we went to Sunday school, where both father and
mother had classes; we went to Wednesday night—or was it Thursday
night?—prayer meeting. And when there was a revival we went every night.
In my tenth or eleventh year I “went forward” not from a sense of guilt
but because everybody else was doing it. My sense of sin came after it
was all over and I was tucked away in bed at night. I had been keenly
conscious as I knelt at the Mourners’ bench that the long crimson
ribbons which hung from my hat must look beautiful on my cream-colored
coat. The realization of that hypocrisy cut me to the heart. I knew
myself a sinner then, and the relief I sought in prayer was genuine. I
never confessed. It wasn’t the kind of sin other converts talked about.
But it aroused self-observation; I learned that often when I was saying
the polite or proper thing I was thinking quite differently. For a long
time it made me secretly unhappy thinking that in me alone ran an
underground river of thought. Later I began to suspect that other people
were like this, that always there flowed a stream of unspoken thought
under the spoken thought. It made me wary of strangers.

A side of my life which moves me deeply now, as I think back, was the
continuous effort of my father and mother to give me what were called
advantages, to use their increasing income to awaken and develop in me a
taste for things which they had always been denied. They wanted music in
the household and our grandest possession became a splendid Bradbury
square piano—a really noble instrument—with one of the finest, mellowest
tones that I have ever heard in a piano.

A music teacher turned up in the community and I was at once set at
five-finger exercises, and I was kept at them and all that follows them
for many years; but I found no joy in what I was doing. It is possible
that with different teachers from those available there might have been
a spring touched, for untrained as I am I am not without a certain
appreciation of music.

I mastered the mechanics of piano playing well enough, however, to
become later one of the regular performers in the high school in the
town to which we were to move—Titusville, Pennsylvania. I remembered
nothing of this until two of my old friends in Titusville, school chums,
told me that I was one of the three or four who played the piano for the
morning exercises, that I sometimes played my show pieces, and that on
one occasion I was an actor in a scene which they recalled with glee.
They told me I was playing a duet with a classmate. We either lost our
place or did not agree as to time—stopped entirely, argued the matter
out, began over, and this time went through without dissension; but I
have only this secondhand memory of my contribution to the musical life
of the Titusville High School.

I remember the efforts of my father and mother to show me something of
the outside world much more clearly than I do those to awaken my
interest in books and music. There were little trips, once as far as
Cleveland—the whole family—the marvel of the “best hotel,” of new hats
and coats and armfuls of toys. There were summers at the farm, only
thirty miles away. Best remembered and most enjoyed were the
all-day-excursion picnics. No one can understand the social life of a
great body of the American people in the latter part of the nineteenth
century without understanding the hold the picnic had on them. The
Tarbell household took the picnic so seriously that it had a special
equipment of stout market baskets, tin cups and plates, steel knives and
forks, tin spoons, worn napkins (the paper ones were then unheard of).
The menus were as fixed as that for a Thanksgiving dinner: veal loaf,
cold tongue, hard-boiled eggs—“two apiece”—buttered rusks, spiced
peaches, jelly, cucumber pickles, chowchow, cookies, doughnuts (we
called them fried cakes), and a special family cake. And you ate until
you were full.

Our grandest picnic excursions in those days were to Chautauqua Lake, a
charming sheet of water only some fifty miles from home. Near the head
of the lake lay an old Chautauqua County town, Mayville; at its foot,
Jamestown where my father for several years had been a student in the
Academy, and from which in vacations he had gone on his annual trips
down the Ohio. Loaded with big baskets of lunch, we took an early train
to Mayville, changed there to a little white steamer: zigzagged the
length of the lake, twenty or so miles, stopping at point after point.
We ate our lunch en route, and at Jamestown went uptown to drink a
bottle of “pop.” And then came the slow return home, where we arrived
after dark exhausted by pleasure.

Three or four miles from Mayville on the west side of the lake jutted a
wooded promontory—Fair Point—the site in those days of a Methodist camp
meeting; and here we sometimes stopped for the day. We never liked it so
well as going to Jamestown; neither did father.

                       I DECIDE TO BE A BIOLOGIST

Five years went by in the house on the hill, and then in 1870 when I was
thirteen I found myself in Titusville, Pennsylvania, in a new house my
father had built. How characteristic of the instability of the oil towns
of that day, as well as of the frugality of my father, was this house!
From the beginning of the Pithole excitement he had, as I have said,
made money—more than he could ever have dreamed, I fancy; and then about
1869 practically without warning the bottom fell out, as the vernacular
of the region put it. The end shut up my father’s shops there, but it
also gave us the makings of a home. In that rapid development, only four
years long, a town of some twenty thousand had grown up with several big
hotels—among them, one called the Bonta House. It had features which
delighted my father—long French windows, really fine iron brackets
supporting its verandahs, handsome woodwork. The Bonta House was said to
have cost $60,000, but its owners were glad to take the $600 father
offered when the town “blew up.” He paid the money, tore down the
building, loaded its iron brackets and fine doors and windows, mouldings
and all, and I suppose much of its timber, onto wagons and carted it ten
miles away to Titusville where, out of it, he built the house which was
our home for many years.

Titusville was not like Rouseville, which had suddenly sprung from the
mud as uncertain as a mushroom of the future. It had been a substantial
settlement twenty years before oil was found there, small but sturdy
with a few families who had made money chiefly in lumber, owning good
homes, carefully guarding the order and decency of the place.

The discovery of oil overran the settlement with hundreds of fortune
seekers. They came from far and near, on foot, horseback, wagon. The
nearest railroad connection was sixteen miles away, and the roads and
fields leading in were soon cut beyond recognition by the heavy hauling,
its streets at times impassable with mud.

The new industry demanded machinery, tools, lumber—and the bigger it
grew, the greater the demand. Titusville, the birthplace of all this
activity, as well as the gateway down the Creek, must furnish food and
shelter for caravans of strangers, shops for their trades, offices for
speculators and brokers, dealers in oil lands and leases, for oil
producers, surveyors, and draftsmen—all the factors of the big business
organization necessary to develop the industry. In 1862 the overflow was
doubled by the arrival of a railroad with a connection sixteen miles
away with the East and West. The disbanding of the Army in June of 1865
brought a new rush—men still in uniform, their rifles and knapsacks on
their backs. Most of this fresh inflow was bound to the scene of the
latest excitement, Pithole.

Stampeded though she was, Titusville refused to give up her idea of what
a town should be. She kept a kind of order, waged a steady fight on
pickpockets, drunkards, wantons; and in this she was backed by the
growing number of men and women who, having found their chance for
fortune in oil, wanted a town fit for their families. After churches,
the schools were receiving the most attention. It was the Titusville
schools which had determined my father and mother to make the town their
permanent home.

But school did not play a serious part in my scheme of things at the
start. I went because I was sent, and had no interest in what went on. I
was thirteen, but I had never been in a crowded room before. In a small
private school the teacher had been my friend. Here I was not conscious
my teacher recognized my existence. I soon became a truant; but the
competent ruler of that schoolroom knew more than I realized. She was
able to spot a truant, and one day when I turned up after an
unexplainable absence she suddenly turned on me and read me a scathing
lecture. I cannot remember that I was ashamed or humiliated, only
amazed, but something in me asserted itself. I suppose that here a
decent respect for the opinions of mankind was born; at least I became
on the instant a model pupil.

A few months later I passed into high school; and when at the end of the
year the grades were averaged at a ceremony where everybody was present
I stood at the head of the honor roll. Nobody could have been more
surprised. I had not been working for the honor roll: I had simply been
doing what they expected me to do as I understood it, and here I was at
the top. I remember I felt very serious about it. Having made the top
once, I knew what would be expected of me. I couldn’t let my father and
mother or my teachers down, so I continued to learn my lessons. It was a
good deal like being good at a game. I liked to work out the mathematics
and translations—good puzzles, but that they had any relation to my life
I was unconscious. And then suddenly, among these puzzles I was set to
solve, I found in certain textbooks the sesame which was to free my
curiosity, stir desires to know, set me working on my own to find out
more than these books had to offer. The texts which did all this for me
were a series I suspect a modern teacher might laugh at—Steele’s
Fourteen Weeks in Zoology, Geology, Botany, Natural Philosophy,

Here I was suddenly on a ground which meant something to me. From
childhood, plants, insects, stones were what I saw when I went abroad,
what I brought home to press, to put into bottles, to “litter up the
house.” The hills about Rouseville were rich in treasures for such a
collector, but nobody had ever taught me more than their common names. I
had never realized that they were subjects for study, like Latin and
geometry and rhetoric and other such unmeaning tasks. They were too
fascinating. But here my pleasure became my duty. School suddenly became
exciting. Now I could justify my tramps before breakfast on the hills,
justify my “collections,” and soon I knew what I was to be—a scientist.
Life was beginning to be very good, for what I liked best to do had a
reason. No doubt this uplift was helped by the general cheerfulness of
the family under our new conditions of life.

Things were going well in father’s business; there was ease such as we
had never known, luxuries we had never heard of. Our first Christmas in
the new home was celebrated lavishly. Far away was that first Christmas
in the shanty on the flats when there was nothing but nuts and candy and
my mother and father promising, “Just wait, just wait, the day will
come.” The day had come—a gorgeous Christmas tree, a velvet cloak, _and_
a fur coat for my mother. I haven’t the least idea what there was for
the rest of us, but those coats were an epoch in my life—my first notion
of elegance.

This family blossoming was characteristic of the town. Titusville was
gay, confident of its future. It was spending money on schools and
churches, was building an Opera House where Janauschek soon was to play,
Christine Nilsson to sing. More and more fine homes were going up. Its
main street had been graded and worked until fine afternoons, winter and
summer, it was cleared by four o’clock for the trotting of the fast
horses the rich were importing. When New Year’s Day came every woman
received—wine, cakes, salads, cold meats on the table—every man went
calling. That is, Titusville was taking on metropolitan airs, led by a
few citizens who knew New York and its ways, even spoke familiarly of
Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, both of whom naturally enough had their eye on
us. Did not the Erie road from which they at the moment were filling
their pockets regard oil as one of its most profitable freights? We were
grain for their mill.

There was reason for confidence. In the dozen years since the first well
was drilled the Oil Creek Valley had yielded nearly thirty-three million
barrels of crude oil. Producing, transporting, refining, marketing,
exporting, and by-products had been developed into an organized industry
which was now believed to have a splendid future.

Then suddenly this gay, prosperous town received a blow between the
eyes. Self-dependent in all but transportation and locally in that
through the pipe lines it was rapidly laying to shipping points, it was
dependent on the railroads for the carrying of its crude oil to outside
refining points and for a shipping of both crude and refined to the
seaboard—a rich and steady traffic for which the Oil Region felt the
railroads ought to be grateful; but it was the railroads that struck the
blow. A few refiners outside the region—Cleveland, Pittsburgh,
Philadelphia—concocted a marvelous scheme which they had the persuasive
power to put over with the railroads, a big scheme by which those in the
ring would be able to ship crude and refined oil more cheaply than
anybody outside. And then, marvelous invention, they would receive in
addition to their advantage a drawback on every barrel of oil shipped by
any one not in the group. Those in the South Improvement Company, as the
masterpiece was called, were to be rewarded for shipping; and those not
in, to be doubly penalized. Of course it was a secret scheme. The Oil
Region did not learn of it until it had actually been put into operation
in Cleveland, Ohio, and leaked out. What did it mean to the Oil Region?
It meant that the man who produced the oil, and all outside refiners,
were entirely at the mercy of this group who, if they would, could make
the price of crude oil as well as refined. But it was a plan which could
not survive daylight. As soon as the Oil Region learned of it a
wonderful row followed. There were nightly antimonopoly meetings,
violent speeches, processions; trains of oil cars loaded for members of
the offending corporation were raided, the oil run on the ground, their
buyers turned out of the oil exchanges; appeals were made to the state
legislature, to Congress for an interstate commerce bill, producers and
refiners uniting for protection. I remember a night when my father came
home with a grim look on his face and told how he with scores of other
producers had signed a pledge not to sell to the Cleveland ogre that
alone had profited from the scheme—a new name, that of the Standard Oil
Company, replacing the name South Improvement Company in popular

There were long days of excitement. Father coming home at night, silent
and stern, a sternness even unchanged by his after-dinner cigar, which
had come to stand in my mind as the sign of his relaxation after a hard
day. He no longer told of the funny things he had seen and heard during
the day; he no longer played his jew’s-harp, nor sang to my little
sister on the arm of his chair the verses we had all been brought up on:

             Augusta, Maine, on the Kennebec River,
             Concord, New Hampshire, on the Merrimack, etc.

The commotion spread. The leaders of the New York Petroleum Association
left out of the original conspiracy, and in a number of cases (as was
soon to be shown) outraged chiefly for that reason, sent a committee to
the Oil Region to see what was doing. The committee was joyfully
welcomed, partly because its chairman was well known to them all. It was
my Rouseville neighbor, Henry H. Rogers.

Mr. Rogers had left the Creek in 1867 and become a partner in the Pratt
firm of refiners and exporters of Brooklyn, New York. He and his
associates saw as clearly as his old friends in the Oil Region that—let
the South Improvement Company succeed in its plan for a
monopoly—everybody not in the ring would be forced to go out of
business. The New York men seem to have been convinced that the plans
for saving themselves which the organized producers and refiners were
laying stood a good chance of success, for back in New York Mr. Rogers
gave a long interview to the _Herald_. He did not mince words. Cleveland
and Pittsburgh were “straining every nerve to create a monopoly.” They
would succeed if their control of the railroads continued. He and his
fellows felt as the men in the Oil Region did, that the breaking up of
the South Improvement Company was a “necessity for self-existence.” They
were as bold in action as in words, for when a little later the
president of the Standard Oil Company of Cleveland, John D. Rockefeller
(to date, the only beneficiary of the South Improvement Company), sought
an interview in New York with Mr. Rogers and his committee he was
treated cavalierly and according to the newspapers retreated after a
brief reception “looking badly crestfallen.”

Thus was the Henry H. Rogers of 1872.

Out of the long struggle begun as a scrimmage came finally a well
developed cooperative movement guaranteeing fair play all around. It was
signed by the Standard Oil Company’s representative and all the
oil-carrying railroads. The railroads indeed were the first to succumb,
knowing as they did that what they were doing was contrary to the common
law of the land, and being thundered at as they were by the press and
politicians of all the country. “I told Willie not to go into that
scheme,” said old Commodore Vanderbilt; and Jay Gould whined, “I didn’t
sign until everybody else had.”

Out of the alarm and bitterness and confusion, I gathered from my
father’s talk a conviction to which I still hold—that what had been
undertaken was _wrong_. My father told me it was as if somebody had
tried to crowd me off the road. Now I knew very well that, on this road
where our little white horse trotted up and down, we had our side, there
were rules, you couldn’t use the road unless you obeyed those rules, it
was not only bad manners but dangerous to attempt to disobey them. The
railroads—so said my father—ran through the valley by the consent of the
people; they had given them a right of way. The road on which I trotted
was a right of way. One man had the same right as another, but the
railroads had given to one something they would not give to another. It
was wrong. I sometimes hear learned people arguing that in the days of
this historic quarrel everybody took rebates, it was the accepted way.
If they had lived in the Oil Region through those days in 1872, they
would have realized that, far from being accepted, it was fought tooth
and nail. Everybody did not do it. In the nature of the offense
everybody could not do it. The strong wrested from the railroads the
privilege of preying upon the weak, and the railroads never dared give
the privilege save under promise of secrecy.

In walking through the world there is a choice for a man to make. He can
choose the fair and open path, the path which sound ethics, sound
democracy, and the common law prescribe, or choose the secret way by
which he can get the better of his fellow man. It was that choice made
by powerful men that suddenly confronted the Oil Region. The sly,
secret, greedy way won in the end, and bitterness and unhappiness and
incalculable ethical deterioration for the country at large came out of
that struggle and others like it which were going on all over the
country—an old struggle with old defeats but never without men willing
to make stiff fights for their rights, even if it cost them all they
ever hoped to possess.

At all events, uncomprehending as I was in that fine fight, there was
born in me a hatred of privilege—privilege of any sort. It was all
pretty hazy to be sure, but still it was well, at fifteen, to have one
definite plank based on things seen and heard, ready for a future
platform of social and economic justice if I should ever awake to my
need of one. At the moment, however, my reflection did not carry me
beyond the wrongness of the privilege which had so upset our world,
contradicting as it did the principle of consideration for others which
had always been basic in our family and religious teaching. I could not
think further in this direction, for now my whole mind was absorbed by
the overwhelming discovery that the world was not made in six days of
twenty-four hours each.

My interest in science, which meant for me simply larger familiarity
with plants and animals and rocks, had set me looking over my father’s
books. Among them I found Hugh Miller’s “Testimony of the Rocks,” and
sat down to read it. Gradually I grasped with a combination of horror
and amazement that, instead of a creation, the earth was a growth—that
the creative days I had so clearly visualized were periods, eons long,
not to be visualized. It was all too clear to deny, backed as it was by
a wealth of geological facts. If this were true, why did the Bible
describe so particularly the work of each day, describe it and declare,
“And the evening and the morning were the first day,” etc., and end,
“and he rested on the seventh day”? Hugh Miller labored to prove that
there was no necessary contradiction between Genesis and Geology. But I
was too startled to accept what he said. A Bible that needed
reconciling, that did not mean what it said, was not the rock I had
supposed my feet were on; that words could have other meaning than that
I had always given them, I had not yet grasped.

I was soon to find that the biblical day was disturbing a great part of
the Christian world, was a chief point of controversy in the church. I
had hardly made my discovery when Genesis and Geology appeared in the
pulpit of the Methodist Church of Titusville, Pennsylvania. Filling this
pulpit at that time was a remarkable and brilliant man, Amos Norton
Craft. Dr. Craft was an indefatigable student. It was told of him to the
wonder of the church that he laid aside yearly $200 of his meager salary
to buy books. Like all the ministers of those days, he was obliged to
face the challenges of science. Many of his fellows—most of them, so far
as my knowledge went—took refuge in heated declarations that the
conclusions that science was making were profane, godless, an affront to
divinity. Not so Dr. Craft. He accepted them, strove to fit them into
the Christian system. He startled his congregation and interested the
town profoundly by announcing an evening course of lectures on the
reconciliation of Genesis and Geology. The first of the series dealt
with the universe. I had never known there was one. The stars, yes. I
could name planets and constellations and liked nothing better than to
lie on my back and watch them; but a universe with figures of its size
was staggering. I went away from those Sunday night lectures fascinated,
horror-stricken, confused—a most miserable child, for not only was my
idea of the world shattered, not only was I left dizzily gyrating in a
space to which there was no end, but the whole Christian system I had
been taught was falling in a general ruin. I began to feel that I ought
to leave the church. I did not believe what I was supposed to believe. I
did not have the consolation of pride in emancipation which I find youth
frequently has when it finds itself obliged to desert the views it has
been taught. Indeed, I doubted greatly whether it was an emancipation.
What troubled me most was that if I gave up the church I had nothing to
put in place of something it had given me which seemed to me of supreme
importance; summed up, that something was in the commandment, “Do as you
would be done by.” Certainly nothing which Hugh Miller or Herbert
Spencer, whom I began to read in 1872 in the _Popular Science Monthly_,
helped me here. They gave me nothing to take the place of what had
always been the unwritten law of the Tarbell household, based as I knew
upon the teachings of the Bible. The gist of the Bible, as it had come
to me, was what I later came to call the brotherhood of man. Practically
it was that we should do nothing, say nothing, that injured another.
That was a catastrophe, and when it happened in our household—an
inarticulate household on the whole, though one extraordinarily
conscious of the minds and hearts of one another—when it happened the
whole household was shadowed for hours and it was not until by sensitive
unspoken efforts the injured one had been consoled, that we went on
about our usual ways.

This was something too precious to give up, and something for which I
did not find a substitute in the scientific thinking and arguing in
which I was floundering. The scientists offered me nothing to guide me
in human relations, and they did not satisfy a craving from which I
could not escape; that was the need of direction, the need of that which
I called God and which I still call God. Perhaps I was a calculating
person, a cautious one. At all events I made up my mind to wait and find
out something which better took the place of those things which I so
valued. It cost me curious little compromises, compromises that I had to
argue myself into. The chief came in repeating the creed.

I could repeat, “conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary,”
because for many years I did not know what that meant. It was the
resurrection that disturbed me. I could not accept it, nor could I
accept the promise of personal immortality. That had become a grave
doubt with me when I first grew dizzy with the consciousness of the
vastness of the universe. Why should I expect to exist forever as a
conscious mind in that vast emptiness? What would become of me? I did
not want to think about it, and I came then to a conviction that has
never left me: that as far as I am concerned immortality is not my
business, that there is too much for me to attend to in this mortal life
without overspeculation on the immortal, that it is not necessary to my
peace of mind or to my effort to be a decent and useful person, to have
a definite assurance about the affairs of the next world. I say this
with humility, for I believe that some such assurance is necessary to
the peace and usefulness of many persons, and I am the last to scoff at
the revelations they claim.

And yet it was hard to give up heaven. Among the books on our
shelves—many of them orthodox religious books—was one that had a
frontispiece which I had accepted as a definite picture of the heaven to
which I was to go. Jehovah sat on a throne, cherubim and seraphim around
him, rank upon rank of angels filling the great amphitheater below. I
always wondered where my place would be, and whether there would be any
chance to work up in heaven as there seemed to be on earth, to become a

But giving up this heaven was by no means the greatest tragedy in my
discovery that the world was not made in six days of twenty-four hours
each. The real tragedy was the birth in me of doubt and uncertainty.
Nothing was ever again to be final. Always I was to ask myself when
confronted with a problem, a system, a scheme, a code, a leader, “How
can I accept without knowing more?” The quest of the truth had been born
in me—the most tragic and incomplete, as well as the most essential, of
man’s quests.

It was while groping my way, frightened like a lost child, I found a
word to hold to—evolution. Things grew. What did they grow from? They
all started somewhere. I was soon applying the idea. Nothing seemed to
matter now, except to find the starting point of things and, having
that, see why and how they grew into something else. How were you to go
to work to find the start of life? With a microscope. And I soon was in
the heat of my first intellectual passion, my first and greatest—that
for the microscope. With a microscope I could perhaps get an answer to
my mystification about the beginning of life, where it started; and
then, I believed, I should find God again.

I was a practical person apparently, for I at once began to save my
money and soon had enough to put into a small instrument. The house in
Titusville, like many of its period, had a tower room, a steep staircase
running up to it. This room was surrounded on three sides with big
double windows. I begged to have it for my own. Here I was allowed to
set up shop; here I had my desk, my papers, and my microscope; here I
was alone with my problems. That little microscope had a good deal to do
with my determination to go to college. If I was to become a
microscopist—I had already adopted that word—I must study, get an

This determination of mine to get an education, go to college, was
chiefly due, no doubt, to the active crusade going on in those days for
what we called woman’s rights. Ours was a yeasty time, the ferment
reaching into every relation of life, attacking and remodeling every
tradition, every philosophy. As my father was hard hit by the attack on
his conception of individualism in a democracy—freedom with strictest
consideration for the rights and needs of others—as I was struggling
with all the handicaps of my ignorance, with the nature of life, a
search for God, so my mother was facing a little reluctantly a
readjustment of her status in the home and in society. She had grown up
with the Woman’s Rights movement. Had she never married, I feel sure she
would have sought to “vindicate her sex” by seeking a higher education,
possibly a profession. The fight would have delighted her. If she had
gone to Iowa she surely would have soon joined the agitation led there
in the late fifties by Amelia Bloomer, the inventor of the practical and
ugly costume which still carries her name, the real founder of dress
reform. We owe it to Amelia Bloomer that we can without public ridicule
wear short skirts and stout boots, be as sensible as our feminine
natures permit—which is not saying much for us when it comes to
fashions. But my mother found herself a pioneer in the Oil Region,
confronted by the sternest of problems which were to be settled only by
immediate individual effort and good will.

The move to Titusville, however, soon put my mother in touch with the
crusade for equal political rights which was taking the place of the
earlier movement for woman’s rights. The Civil War had slowed up that
agitation; indeed, many of its best talking points had been conceded and
were slowly going into practice. Most of the militants had thrown
themselves into war work and, after the war, into the campaign for negro
suffrage; but the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, for the
first time introducing the word “male” into the Constitution, aroused a
sense of outrage, not only in the advocates of equal rights but in many
women who had not approved of previous agitations. Elizabeth Cady
Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the greatest of the early leaders, failing
to keep the humiliating distinction out of the Amendment, began a
tremendous national crusade for woman’s suffrage. They marshaled a group
of splendid women and undertook an intensive campaign meant to reach
every woman in the country. It reached us in Titusville, even reached
our home where my father and mother, always hospitable to crusaders,
opened their doors to them. I remember best Mary Livermore and Frances
Willard—not that either touched me, saw me; of this neglect I was
acutely conscious. I noted, too, that the men we entertained did notice
me, talked to me as a person—not merely as a possible member of a
society they were promoting. There was Neal Dow—father by this time was
a prohibitionist—who let me show him our Dante with Gustave Doré’s
pictures. Men were nicer than women to me, I mentally noted.

As the struggle for equal rights grew in heat I became aware that it was
far from a united struggle, that as a matter of fact leaders and
followers were spending almost as much time disapproving of one
another’s methods as fighting for their cause. The friction came largely
from the propensity of Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony to form alliances
shocking to many of their oldest and wisest friends. Before the war they
had, rather recklessly from a political point of view, supported easier
divorce. As one of their friends wrote them, they had in so doing broken
the heart of the portly _Evening Post_ and nearly driven the _Tribune_
to the grave. Time had not cooled their ardor for strange bedfellows.
They made an alliance now of which I heard no little talk by my mother
and her friends; it was with the two most notorious women in the eye of
the public at the moment. “Hussies,” conservative circles in Titusville,
Pennsylvania, called them—Victoria Woodhull and Tennessee Claflin.

It was not difficult for even a girl of fifteen to pick up some idea of
what these women were, so well did they advertise themselves, and so
delightedly did the press back them up in their doings. Beginning their
careers as clairvoyants, they had developed professionally their
undoubted powers until they were in the sixties—the two best known and
best paid trance-physicians of their day. Victoria claimed to have
raised a child from the dead, and Tennessee, the harder worker of the
two, made enough money to keep thirty-five relations in comfort. “If I
am a humbug sometimes, look at the dead beats I have to support,” was
her answer to those who accused her of abusing her talents. Both women
frankly advocated free love, and so it was believed quite as frankly
practiced it.

With this equipment they entered Wall Street in the eighteen-sixties as
consultants. The “lady brokers,” they were called. They quickly built up
a profitable business. Old Commodore Vanderbilt was so tickled by their
combination of beauty and effrontery, talents and ambitions, that he is
said to have proposed marriage to Victoria. He was more valuable as a
friend. She kept his picture on the wall of the salon where she received
her clients, and under it the framed motto, “Simply to thy cross I

In 1870 Victoria Woodhull announced herself as a candidate for President
in 1872. So successful was she in attracting and holding big audiences,
and so brilliantly did she present the arguments for equal rights, that
Mrs. Stanton and Miss Anthony threw scruples to the wind and took her
into their camp—from which promptly there was a considerable exodus of
scandalized ladies. Not only did Victoria win the countenance of these
two great leaders, but she involved them in the Beecher-Tilton scandal,
which for months she worked steadily to force before the public.

The reverberations of the conflict inside the suffrage party, together
with what I picked up about the Beecher trial (I read the testimony word
by word in our newspapers), did not increase my regard for my sex. They
did not seem to substantiate what I heard about the subjection of women,
nor did what I observed nearer home convince me. Subjection seemed to me
fairly divided. That is all: I saw there were “henpecked men,” as well
as “downtrodden women.” The chief unfairness which I recognized was in
the handling of household expenses. Women who must do the spending were
obliged to ask for money or depend on charging. My mother had not been
trained to live on as generous a scale as was now possible, but my
father never said, “We have so much and no more to spend.” They worked
often at cross purposes. So I gathered as I listened to intimate talks
between women, listened to suffrage speakers, read the literature; so
did many American husbands and wives. I felt no restraint myself, for I
always had at least a little money and I, too, could charge. This
foolish practice led me into funny expenditures.

I had no sense of the appropriate in clothes. Often I had an ardent
desire for something fitted only for grown-ups, and I always had a keen
ambition to fit myself out for occasions. Some time in the early
seventies Clara Louise Kellogg came to town. My father and mother were
in the West, but they had arranged that I was to hear her. It seemed as
if some kind of regalia was necessary, so I charged a wide pink sash and
a pair of yellow kid gloves.

Out of the agitation for rights as it came to me, two rights that were
worth going after quite definitely segregated themselves: the right to
an education, and the right to earn my living—education and economic

The older I grew, the more determined I became to be independent. I saw
only one way—teach; but if I was to teach I must fit myself, go to
college. My father and mother agreed. I had a clear notion of what I
wanted to teach—natural science, particularly the microscope, for I was
to be a biologist. I made my choice—Cornell, first opened to women in
1872; but at the moment when the steps to enter Cornell were to be
taken, there appeared in the household as an over-Sunday guest the
president of a small college in our neighborhood, only thirty miles
away, Allegheny. Among the patrons of that college was the Methodist
organization known as the Erie Conference, to which the Titusville
church belonged. I had heard of it annually when a representative
appeared in our pulpit, told its story and asked for support. The
president, Dr. Lucius Bugbee, was a delightful and entertaining guest
and, learning that I was headed Cornellward, adroitly painted the
advantages of Allegheny. It was near home; it was a ward of our church.
It had responded to the cry of women for educational opportunity and had
opened its doors before the institution I had chosen.

Was not here an opportunity for a serious young woman interested in the
advancement of her sex? Had I not a responsibility in the matter? If the
few colleges that had opened their doors were to keep them open, if
others were to imitate their example, two things were essential: women
must prove they wanted a college education by supporting those in their
vicinity; and they must prove by their scholarship what many
doubted—that they had minds as capable of development as young men.
Allegheny had not a large territory to draw from. I must be a pioneer.

As a matter of fact the only responsibility I had felt and assumed in
going to college was entirely selfish and personal. But the sense of
responsibility was not lacking nor dormant in me. It was one of the few
things I had found out about myself in the shanty on the flats when I
was six years old and there was a new baby in the family.

The woman looking after my mother had said, “Now you are old enough to
make a cup of tea and take it to her.” I think, in all my life since,
nothing has seemed more important, more wonderful to me than this being
called upon by an elder to do something for mother, be responsible for
it. I can feel that cup in my hand as I cautiously took it to the bed,
and can see my mother’s touching smile as she thanked me. Perhaps there
came to her a realization that this rebelling, experimenting child might
one day become a partner in the struggle for life so serious for her at
the moment, always to be more or less serious.

But to return to Dr. Bugbee and his argument; before he left the house I
had agreed to enter Allegheny in the fall of 1876. And that I did.

What did I take with me? Well, I took what from my earliest years I had
been told was necessary to everyone—a Purpose, always spelled with a
capital. I had an outline of the route which would lead to its
realization. Making outlines of what was in my mind was the one and only
fruit that I had gathered so far from long terms of struggle over
grammar, rhetoric, composition. Outlines which held together, I had
discovered, cleared my mind, gave it something to follow. I outlined all
my plans as I had diagramed sentences. It was not a poor beginning for
one who eventually, and by accident rather than by intention, was to
earn her living by writing—the core of which must be sound structure.

One thing by choice left out of the plan I carried from high school was
marriage. I would never marry. It would interfere with my plan; it would
fetter my freedom. I didn’t quite know what Freedom meant; certainly I
was far from realizing that it exists only in the spirit, never in human
relations, never in human activities—that the road to it is as often as
not what men call bondage. But above all I must be free; and to be free
I must be a spinster. When I was fourteen I was praying God on my knees
to keep me from marriage. I suspect that it was only an echo of the
strident feminine cry filling the air at that moment, the cry that woman
was a slave in a man-made world. By the time I was ready to go to
college I had changed my prayer for freedom to a will to freedom. Such
was the baggage I carried to college, where I was soon to find several
things I had not counted on.


When I entered Allegheny College in the fall of 1876 I made my first
contact with the past. I had been born and reared a pioneer; I knew only
the beginning of things, the making of a home in a wilderness, the
making of an industry from the ground up. I had seen the hardships of
beginnings, the joy of realization, the attacks that success must
expect; but of things with a past, things that had made themselves
permanent, I knew nothing. It struck me full in the face now, for this
was an old college as things west of the Alleghenies were reckoned—an
old college in an old town. Here was history, and I had never met it
before to recognize it.

The town lay in the valley of a tributary of the Allegheny River—French
Creek. Its oldest tradition after the tales of Indians was that George
Washington once drank from a spring on the edge of the campus. Certainly
he passed that way in 1753 when he came up the river valley from Fort
Duquesne (Pittsburgh), following the route which led to Fort Le Bœuf
near Lake Erie. He comments in his diary, published the year after his
trip, on the extensive rich meadows through which he had passed, one of
which “I believe was nearly four miles in length and considerable wider
in some places.” To this particular “rich meadow” a few years later came
one David Mead and laid out a town and sold land. Here soon after came
the representative of the Holland Land Company, colonizers of first
quality. Good men came, distinguished names in Pennsylvania’s history,
and they wanted a college. The answer to their wish came in 1815 when
one of the most scholarly men of that day, Timothy Alden of
Massachusetts, heard their call and, picking up all his worldly
possessions, made the two months’ trip by coach and boat to the
settlement called Meadville.

Timothy Alden, like many of his fellows, was fired by a deep belief that
through Christian democracy alone could men arrive at the better world
towards which he, scholar that he was, knew they had been groping from
their earliest beginnings. But men could only come to an understanding
of their individual and collective responsibilities to democracy through
education. Therefore, as men spread westward he and others like him must
follow them with education.

But once in Meadville how little he found with which to carry out his
project—a log courthouse for a schoolhouse, and little or no money,
though of what they had men gave freely. Now Timothy Alden knew that
throughout the East were men of scholarly traditions convinced as was he
that democracy would work only if men were trained to understanding and
sacrifice. He believed that they would help his Western venture. In 1816
he went East to find out. He was not wrong in thinking there would be
sympathy for the young college. Out of their meager store men gave—this
one, fifty cents; that one, five dollars; few, more—and men gave books,
one, two, five. The list of donors now in the college archives shows
many of the best known names of the day—Lowell, Adams, Tucker, Parkman,
Channing in Boston and twenty-nine fine New York names. Friends were
made for Allegheny in every town and city where its brave story was
told. Timothy Alden came back with $361 in money and with books, more
needed than money, estimated to be worth $1,642.26.

From that time he kept the undertaking steadily before the East,
promoted it by every method known to the times. A great response to his
passionate effort came in 1819 when the college world of the East was
shocked by learning that William Bentley of Salem, Massachusetts, had
left his famous collection of “classical and theological books,
dictionaries, lexicons and Bibles” to a college in the wilderness of
northwestern Pennsylvania, a college without a home, still doing its
work in a log courthouse. That gift, long a bitter drop in the cup of
Harvard, it is said, made a home of its own necessity for Allegheny, and
in 1820 the corner stone of Bentley Hall, named for the donor, was laid.
It took many years to complete it; but, when done on the lines Timothy
Alden had himself laid down, it was one of the most beautiful buildings
in the country. Today it easily stands after Independence Hall as the
most perfect piece of Colonial architecture in the state of
Pennsylvania. For me Bentley Hall was an extraordinary experience. It
was the first really beautiful building I had seen, a revelation,
something I had never dreamed of.

Fifty-six years had passed since the corner stone of Bentley Hall was
laid, and not one of them without disappointments and sacrifices. More
than once it had seemed as if the brave attempt must fail. Two buildings
only had been added in these years: Culver Hall, a frame boarding house
for men; Ruter Hall, a grim uncompromising three-story rectangular brick
structure, fifty by ninety feet in size, a perfect reflection of the
straitened period to which it belonged. The “Factory” was our slighting
name for Ruter Hall, but in this stern structure I was to find a second
deep satisfaction—the library; in a room on the top floor, ninety feet
long and at least sixteen in height was housed not only the splendid
Bentley collection, but one even more valuable, that of Judge James
Winthrop of Cambridge, Massachusetts, rare volumes from the great
presses of Europe, three tons of books brought overland in wagons by
Boston teamsters in 1822. They lined the great unbroken inside wall, as
well as every space between openings. From the window seats one looked
out on the town in the valley, its roofs and towers half hidden by a
wealth of trees, and beyond to a circle of round-breasted hills. Before
I left Allegheny I had found a very precious thing in that severe
room—the companionship there is in the silent presence of books.

Allegheny did not of course admit women at the start; but the ferment
caused by the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment making it clear that
only men were to be regarded as citizens stirred the Allegheny
constituents mightily. Its chief patron, as I have said, was the
Methodist Church. Now the Methodist Church was a militant reformer. The
greatest of its bishops, Matthew Simpson, had backed Mrs. Stanton and
Miss Anthony and their colleagues at every step. Leaders among Methodist
women had been abolitionists, aggressive temperance advocates, and now
they became militant suffragists. Their influence began to tell. In
1870, with misgivings in not a few minds the admission of women was
voted. This was the same year that the University of Michigan opened its
doors to women, and two years before Cornell. In the six years before I
entered ten women had graduated. When I came there were but two seniors,
two juniors, no sophomores. I was a lone freshman in a class of forty
hostile or indifferent boys. The friendly and facetious professor
charged with the care of the “young ladies” put it that I was “Lost in
the Wilderness of Boy.”

From the first I was dimly conscious that I was an invader, that there
was abroad a spirit of masculinity challenging my right to be there, and
there were taboos not to be disregarded. My first experience was that of
which Virginia Woolf speaks so bitterly in “A Room of One’s Own”—the
closing of the college green to her at Oxbridge. Nearly fifty years
before her book was written I was having at Allegheny the same

The sloping green of the campus below Bentley Hall was inviting. Between
classes I made my way one day to a seat under a tree only to hear a
horrified call from the walk above, “Come back, come back quick.” An
imperative summons from an upper-class woman. “You mustn’t go on that
side of the walk, only men go there.”

It was not so simple to find a spot where you could go and be
comfortable. If Bentley Hall, where all the classes were held, was a
beautiful piece of architecture, its interior could hardly have been
more severe. The rooms were heated with potbellied cast-iron stoves,
seated with the hardest wooden chairs, lighted by kerosene lamps. In
winter (and the winters were long) the snow tracked in kept the floors
wet and cold. Often one wore a muffler in chapel. But of all that I was
unheeding. My pioneer childhood served me well. Moreover, I realized at
the start that I had found what I had come to college for, direction in
the only field in which I was interested—science. I found it in a way
that I doubt if Cornell could have given me at the moment, shy and
immature as I was: the warming and contagious enthusiasm of a great
natural teacher, one who had an ardent passion for those things which
had stirred me and a wide knowledge which he fed by constant study and
travel—Jeremiah Tingley, the head of Allegheny’s department of natural

Professor Tingley was then a man of fifty, sparkling, alive, informal.
Three years before, he had been one of the fifty chosen from many
hundred applicants to spend the summer with Louis Agassiz on the island
of Penikese in Buzzards Bay. Agassiz had planned with enthusiasm for the
Penikese Summer School, and for those privileged to enter who could
understand and appreciate it was an unforgettable experience; certainly
it was for Jeremiah Tingley. He carried there Agassiz’s faith in
observation and classification, as well as his reverence for Nature and
all her ways. For both men the material world was but the cover of the
spirit. Professor Tingley would quote Agassiz sometimes: “Nature always
brings us back to absolute truth whenever we wander.”

This fervent faith had a profound and quieting effect on my religious
tumult. I learned a new word: Pantheism. Being still in that early stage
of development where there must be a definite word by which to classify
oneself, I began to call myself a pantheist—and I had a creed which I
repeated more often than the creed I had learned in childhood:

              Flower in the crannied wall,
              I pluck you out of the crannies,
              I hold you here, root and all, in my hand
              Little flower—but _if_ I could understand
              What you are, root and all, and all in all,
              I should know what God and man is.

It reassured me; I was on the right track, for was I not going to find
out with the microscope what God and man are?

Professor Tingley’s method for those he found really interested in
scientific study was to encourage them to look outside the book. There
was where I had already found my joy; but I suspected it was the willful
way, that the true way was to know first what was in the books. Here in
Professor Tingley’s classes you were ordered to go and see for yourself.
He used to tell us a story of his first experience at Penikese. A stone
was put before him, a round water-washed stone, on which he was to
report. He looked at the stone, turned it over. There was nothing to
report. “It is not the outside, it is the inside of things that
matters,” said Agassiz. And in the laboratory that became our watchword:
Look inside.

Discovering my interest in the microscope, I was not only allowed, I was
urged to use the magnificent binocular belonging to the college, was
given the free run of the laboratory along with a few as crazy as
myself. Here my most exciting adventure apart from what I found under
the microscope came from actually having my hands on a “missing link.”
Evolution, to which I was clinging determinedly, could only be
established, I realized, by discovering the links. There was one
peculiar to the waters in our valley, the _Memopomo Alleghaniensis_, a
creature twelve to fifteen inches long with gills and one lung, able to
live in the water or mud as circumstances required. The mud puppy, as it
was appropriately called, was slimy, loathsome, but I worked over it
with awe. Was I not being admitted into the very workshop of Nature
herself—seeing how she did it?

Professor Tingley took his little group of laboratory devotees into his
home circle. He and Mrs. Tingley were housed in a wing of Bentley
Hall—big rooms built for classrooms. They had no children, and in the
years of their study and travel they had gathered about them things of
beauty and interest. The atmosphere of those rooms was something quite
new and wonderful to me. It was my first look into the intimate social
life possible to people interested above all in ideas, beauty, music,
and glad to work hard and live simply to devote themselves to their

And such good talks! Much of it was concerned with fresh scientific
thought, the inventions and discoveries which were stirring the world.
An omnivorous reader of the scientific publications of Europe and
America, Professor Tingley kept us excited, not only by what had been
done but what it might mean. There was the telephone. I had been in
college but a few weeks when my father asked me to go with him and my
brother to the Centennial Exposition of 1876. President Bugbee, who had
made me his special care for a time—Mrs. Bugbee even taking me into
their home until an appropriate boarding place could be found—was
heartily in favor of my going. I went, and when I returned Professor
Tingley’s first question was, “Did you see the telephone?” I hadn’t even
heard of it. Two exhibits only of that exposition made a deep enough
impression on me to last until today—my first Corot and the Corliss
engine. Professor Tingley was greatly disappointed, and I did not
understand why until a few weeks later he called the student body
together to explain and illustrate the telephone by a homemade
instrument. “You’ll talk to your homes from these rooms one day,” he
told us. “New York will talk to Boston.” He didn’t suggest Chicago.
“Dreamer,” the boys said. “Dreamer,” my father and his Titusville
friends said a little later when an agent of the Bell Associates, the
first company to attempt putting the new invention within reach of
everybody, came to town selling stock. How often I heard it said later,
“If I’d bought that telephone stock!”

Years later I told Alexander Graham Bell of my introduction to the
telephone. “Nobody,” he said, “can estimate what the teachers of science
in colleges and high schools were doing in those days not only to spread
knowledge of the telephone but to stir youth to tackle the possibilities
in electricity.”

What I best remember is not the telephone but Professor Tingley’s
amazing enthusiasm for the telephone. This revelation of enthusiasm, its
power to warm and illuminate was one of the finest and most lasting of
my college experiences. The people I had known, teachers, preachers,
doctors, business men, all went through their day’s work either with a
stubborn, often sullen determination to do their whole duty, or with an
undercurrent of uneasiness, if they found pleasure in duty. They seemed
to me to feel that they were not really working if they were not
demonstrating the Puritan teaching that labor is a curse. It had never
seemed so to me, but I did not dare gloat over it. And here was a
teacher who did gloat over his job in all its ramifications. Moreover,
he did his best to stir you to share his joy.

But while I looked on what I was learning in the laboratory as what I
had come to college for, while each term stiffened my ambition to go
deeper and deeper into the search for the original atom, science was not
all that interested me. The faculty, if small, was made up largely of
seasoned men with a perspective on life. There was not only deep
seriousness but humor and tolerance, and since we were so small a
college the student was close enough to discover them, to find out what
each man as an individual had to offer him. As I learned the power of
enthusiasm from Jeremiah Tingley, I learned from another man of that
faculty the value of contempt. Holding the chair of Latin was one of the
few able teachers I have known, George Haskins, father of that sound
scholar of international repute, the late Charles Homer Haskins, at the
time of his death Professor Emeritus of Medieval History at Harvard
University. What deep satisfaction his career gave his father, himself a
man of many disappointments!

George Haskins labored, usually in vain, to arouse us to the choiceness
of Latinity, the meaning of Rome’s rise and fall, the quality of her
men, the relation of that life to ours. Professor Haskins’ contempt for
our lack of understanding, for our slack preparation, was something
utterly new to me in human intercourse. The people I knew with rare
exceptions spared one another’s feelings. I had come to consider that a
superior grace; you must be kind if you lied for it. But here was a man
who turned on indifference, neglect, carelessness with bitter and
caustic contempt, left his victim seared. The sufferers lived to say,
some of them at least: “I deserved it. He was never unjust, never
inappreciative of effort.”

“Cherish your contempts,” Henry James advised me once when he had drawn
from me a confession of the conflict between my natural dislike of
saying anything unpleasant about anybody and the necessity of being
cruel, even brutal, if the work I had undertaken was to be truthful in
fact and logic. “Cherish your contempts,” said Mr. James, “and strength
to your elbow.” If it had not been for George Haskins I doubt if I
should have known what he meant; nor should I ever have become the
steady, rather dogged worker I am. The contempt for shiftlessness which
he inspired in me aroused a determination to be a good worker. I began
to train my mind to go at its task regularly, keep hours, study whether
I liked a thing or not. I forced myself not to waste time, not to loaf,
not to give up before I finished. If I failed at any point in this
discipline I suffered a certain mental and spiritual malaise, a
dissatisfaction with myself hard to live with.

In spite of my painful efforts to make a regular worker out of myself,
life at college was lightened by my discovery of the Boy. Incredible as
it seems to me now, I had come to college at eighteen without ever
having dared to look fully into the face of any boy of my age. To be
sure, I had from childhood nourished secret passions for a succession of
older individuals whom I never saw except at a distance, and with whom I
never exchanged a word. My brother and his friends, my father and his
friends—these I had always hobnobbed with; but those who naturally
should have been my companions, I shunned. I was unable to take part in
those things that brought the young people of the day together. I did
not dance—the Methodist discipline forbade it. I was incredibly stupid
and uninterested in games—still am. I had no easy companionable ways,
was too shy to attempt them. I had my delights; the hills which I ran,
the long drives behind our little white horse, the family doings, the
reading of French regularly with my splendid friend Annette Grumbine,
still living, still as she was then a vitalizing influence in the town
and state for all that makes for a higher social life—these things and
my precious evening walks, the full length of Titusville’s main street,
alone or with some girl friend while we talked of things deepest in our

But in all this there was no boy. I was not long in discovering him when
I reached Allegheny, for the taboos I encountered at the start soon
yielded under the increased number of women, women in college, in
special courses, in the Preparatory Department. They swept masculine
prohibitions out of the way—took possession, made a different kind of
institution of it, less scholastic, gayer, easier-going. The daily
association in the classrooms, the contacts and appraisements, the
mutual interests and intimacies, the continual procession of college
doings which in the nature of things required that you should have a
masculine attendant, soon put me at my ease. I was learning, learning
fast, but the learning carried its pains. I still had a stiff-necked
determination to be free. To avoid entangling alliances of all kinds had
become an obsession with me. I was slow in laying it aside when I began
to take part in the social life of the college, and because of it I was
guilty of one performance which was properly enough a scandal to the
young men.

There were several men’s fraternities in the college; most of the boys
belonged to one or another. It was an ambition of the fraternities to
put their pins on acceptable town and college girls. You were a Delta
girl, or a Gamma girl or a Phi Psi girl. I resented this effort to tag
me. Why should I not have friends in all the fraternities? And I had; I
accumulated four pins and then, one disastrous morning, went into chapel
with the four pins on my coat. There were a few months after that when,
if it had not been for two or three non-Frat friends, I should have been
a social outcast.

I spent four years in Allegheny College. Measured by what I got instead
of by what I did not get and was obliged to learn later, I regard them
as among the most profitable of my life. I find often that men and women
accuse the college of not opening their minds to life as it is in the
world. For a mind sufficiently developed to see “life as it is” I cannot
conceive a more fruitful field than the classics. If I had been
sufficiently mature I could have learned from George Haskins’ teachings
of Cicero and Tacitus and Livy more than I know today about the ways of
men in their personal and their national relations, more of the causes
of war, of the weaknesses of governments. But I was not ready for it.
Life is the great teacher, and she leads us step by step. It is not the
fault of the human teacher that his pupil must learn to climb by

It was in the spring of 1880 that I graduated. I still carried the same
baggage with which I had entered—a little heavier to be sure, a little
better packed, a little better adapted to the “Purpose.” The only
difference which threatened disturbance was that I had added an item
which I had refused to bring with me in 1876. Then I was not willing to
believe I would ever marry—now I thought possibly some day I might; but
the item was not heavy, not heavy enough at least to prevent my
rejoicing over the fact that I was graduating with a job. I had signed a
contract with an institution of which I had never heard until the
negotiations leading to it opened. After frequent communications with
the faculty a representative of the Poland Union Seminary of Poland,
Ohio, with some misgivings had employed me to serve as its
Preceptress—$500 a year “and board yourself.” I was jubilant. It meant
economic independence—the first plank in my platform. I would use my
leisure to work with the microscope; I would save my money; I would one
day go abroad and study with some great biologist. I would never abandon
my search for the beginning of life, the point where I expected to find

It was then with entire confidence in the future that I started out in
August of 1880 for the town of Poland on the Western Reserve of Ohio, to
begin what women were then talking of in more or less awed tones as a

                         A START AND A RETREAT

If I had been going on my honeymoon I should scarcely have been more
expectant or more curious than I was in August of 1880 when I left home
to take my first position: “Preceptress of Poland Union Seminary,
Poland, Mahoning County, Ohio—$500.00 a year and board yourself”! Poland
was not a long journey from my home—four or five hours.

I found the village delightful. It had the air of having been long in
existence, as it had. Here there was no noise of railroads, no sign of
the coal and steel and iron industries which encircled it but had never
passed its boundaries. Here all people seemed to me to live tranquilly
in roomy houses with pleasant yards or on near-by farms where there were
fine horses and fat blooded sheep, and where planting and harvesting
went ahead year in and year out in orderly fashion.

The chief and only industry of Poland was its seminary, now about thirty
years old. It was a community enterprise started in 1848 by Mr. B. F.
Lee, the financial agent who had hired me. Everybody in the village had
subscribed to its endowment, practically every church had at one time or
another been its patron. The long depression of the seventies had
crippled its finances sadly; but times were better now, and the
well-to-do Presbytery of Mahoning County had agreed to take it under its
care. But I was soon to learn that Poland Union Seminary in spite of the
patronage of the Presbytery lived on a narrow and worn shoestring.
Moreover, I at once divined, kind as were those who were responsible for
my being there, that I had been injected into a situation of which Mr.
Lee had given me no hint strong enough to penetrate my inexperience. It
was serious enough, as on the very day the school bell first rang for me
the villagers began to let me know. Men and women would stop me on the
street to say:

“So it’s you that’s taking Miss Blakeley’s place. You have no idea how
badly we feel about her resigning. I went to school to her, my father
and mother went to school to her. I had hoped all my children would go
to her. She was a wonderful teacher, a beautiful character. You look
pretty young; you haven’t had much experience, have you?”

I was not long in learning that the devotion of the community to Miss
Blakeley was deserved. The village was right in honoring her, in
mourning her. It no doubt felt a certain satisfaction in letting me know
at the start it in no way regarded me as an adequate substitute. Its
insistence was such that, before the end of my first fortnight, I was
ready to resign.

My morale would hardly have been so quickly shaken if I had not at once
discovered to my consternation that there was an important part of my
duties which was in danger of proving too much for me. The worst of it
was that it concerned the largest block of pupils in an institution
where every pupil counted, where Mr. Lee regarded it as of vital
importance that every pupil be given what he wanted. Here he advertised
you could prepare for college, here you could have special advanced work
in anything you wanted. And Mr. Lee was right if the seminary was to
live as a cog in the country’s educational wheel.

Somebody ought to write, perhaps somebody has written of the passing of
this once valuable institution. It came before the college and the high
school and for a time did the work of both; but when the high school
began to prepare students for the college and the colleges added
preparatory departments and at the same time offered special courses the
seminary slowly realized that it must either go out of business or
combine with one or another of its healthy growing rivals.

In a few places, as in Poland Village, the seminary was hanging on
tenaciously, trying to demonstrate that it was still a better man than
these new undertakings, these high schools, these colleges with their
preparatory schools.

The faculty which was to make the demonstration at Poland was made up of
three persons: in order of rank, the President, the Preceptress, her
assistant. The acting President insisted on all the perquisites of his
title. His chief duty he regarded as conducting the chapel with more or
less grandiloquent remarks. When my assistant and I complained of too
much work he would scowl and say that his executive duties made it
impossible for him to take on more classes. The result was that I
started out with two classes in each of four languages—Greek, Latin,
French, and German, as well as classes in geology, botany, geometry,
trigonometry. In addition there was my threatened Waterloo, the two
largest classes in the school: one in what was called “verb grammar,”
the other, “percentage arithmetic”—so named from the points in the
textbooks where the term’s work began. From time immemorial these two
classes had been conducted in the interests of the district
schoolteachers of the territory. It was the custom for these teachers to
spend one term a year in the seminary, where, regardless of the number
of years they had been teaching, the number of times they had treated
themselves to a period of study, they always (so I was told) insisted on
their verb grammar and their percentage arithmetic. It was like a
ritual. As they were the numerical backbone of the institution, there
was nothing so important in the judgment of management as their

It was a killing schedule for one person, but I was so eager, so
ridiculously willing, so excited, and also so fresh from college that I
did not know it. Indeed, as I look back on it I think I did fairly well,
all things considered. I should have had no great alarm about my success
if it had not been for the grammar and the arithmetic. From the first
day I realized I was on ground there which, once familiar, was now
almost unintelligible. I could and did teach my geometry and “trig” with
relish; I could and did pilot fairly advanced classes in four languages
so that the pupils at least never discovered that in one of them I was
far beyond my depth, and that in all of them I at times knew myself to
be skating on thin ice; but these district schoolteachers, several of
them older than I, were not to be deceived or bluffed. They had had
experience—I had not; and like the villagers of Poland they proposed to
make me realize that no college diploma could make up for inexperience.
Experience in “percentage arithmetic” and “verb grammar” came from doing
the same examples and diagraming and parsing the same sentences year
after year and going back to teach them in their communities. Many of
these examples were tricky. Many of the sentences were ambiguous. They
had learned solutions for both, solutions which had the backing of
tradition. I was soon terrified lest I be trapped, so scared I would
wake up in the night in cold sweats. This was my state of mind when one
day the most important man in the Village, Robert Walker, the local
banker, stopped me on the street.

“Sis,” he said—he was to always call me Sis—“Sis, you are following a
fine teacher.” I could have wept—the same old story. “But don’t worry,
what you must do is keep a stiff upper lip.”

“Oh, thank you, sir,” I said as I hurried on lest I cry in the street.

But that “keep a stiff upper lip,” coming from the man it did, restored
me; and I resolved, cost what it would, to find a way to master my
district schoolteachers. True, it took me two months to discover the
weak place in their armor. Finally I learned they were solving problems
and parsing sentences not according to principles but according to
answers they had learned. The reason they insisted on going over them
year after year at the seminary was to keep the solutions in their
memory. I had no skill in solving puzzles, but I did know something
about the principles and determined to try them on problems and
sentences that were not in their books or any books to which they had

And so one day, luckily for me before they had a chance to demonstrate
my incapacity as two or three of them I am confident were expecting to
do, I casually put on the board two or three rather tough examples from
outside arithmetics, two or three not simple sentences from grammars I
felt sure they had never seen. I always recall with satisfaction the
perplexity with which the two or three young men I most feared looked at
what I had set for them, their injured protest. “But those examples are
not in our books.” “What difference does that make? The only important
thing is that you know the principles. If you can’t apply them, why
learn them?”

After a month of excursions into territory unfamiliar to them I had them
humbled and slowly grasping certain new ideas. I knew I was regarded
with respect. It was the one conquest in the two years I spent as the
Preceptress of the Poland Union Seminary of which I was proud.

Before these two years were up Mr. Lee must have realized he would never
get from me the help he needed in his ambition to preserve the school as
a seminary, that I would never become another Miss Blakeley. He wanted
some one ambitious to make teaching a life work. I was not. Teaching was
a mere stepping-stone in my plan of life, and at Poland Union Seminary
it had proved a slippery stone. From the time I bounded out of bed in
the morning—for in those days I did bound out of bed—until I dropped
into it at an early hour, dead tired, I had no time for my microscope.
It had become dusty on the table, but the passion for it and what it
might reveal was still strong in me. My confidence that I could save
money to continue my studies on five hundred dollars a year had proved
illusory. I found myself coming out short, obliged to borrow from my
father. There came to be a mutual, if unspoken, agreement between Mr.
Lee and me that I should resign. Neither of us was getting what he had
hoped, and so at the end of the second year, June, 1882, I gave up
teaching as a stepping-stone.

So far as I could then see or did see for a long time, this first effort
at an independent self-directing life was an interlude which had no
relation to what I wanted at the time to do or what, as it turned out, I
did do.

The most lasting impressions and experiences in this Poland interlude
had little or nothing to do with my work in the seminary. They came from
the friendships I formed while that work went on, centering in the
family of the understanding gentleman who had at the outset stopped me
on the street to say, “Keep a stiff upper lip.”

I was soon to realize that this shrewd bit of advice was instigated by
his daughter Clara, who was to become and who remains one of my dearest
friends. Indeed, it was due to her understanding and affection that my
two years in Poland, quite apart from the professional disappointment in
them, were the gayest, most interesting, and in many ways the happiest
of my life up to that time.

Clara Walker, or “Dot,” as high and low in and about Poland called her,
was a fine example of the out-of-door girl of the eighties, the girl who
had revolted against lacing, high heels, long skirts, and substituted
for them an admirable uniform of independence—tailor-made coat and
skirt, high-neck shirtwaist with four-in-hand tie, flat heels. This
outfit suited Clara Walker’s sturdy figure, her vigorous and free
movement. Her eyes suited her costume, for they were grey, direct,
merry, looking unwaveringly on everybody and everything.

Dot was close-mouthed, but when she sensed possible unfairness in a
situation which interested or concerned her she had her own wordless way
of dealing with it. It was she who realized the determination of the
villagers of Poland to make me feel that I never could fill Miss
Blakeley’s place to their satisfaction. She was loyal as they to the old
teacher, but she wanted me to have my chance and, the first week of
school, announced herself my champion by appearing at the door of the
seminary as I was making my weary way out at the end of the day.

“Wouldn’t you like to take a drive?” she said.

And there stood her smart turnout. What an escape from verb grammar and
percentage arithmetic and my growing inferiority complex! From that time
she never lagged in her determination to help me conquer my problem by
taking me away from it. She apparently took real pleasure in showing me
the country. Never a week that we did not go somewhere: Into town for
the theater—the first time I saw Mary Anderson, then the most beloved
actress as well as the most beautiful woman in the country, was in
Youngstown in “Pygmalion”; to big farms with great flocks of blooded
sheep and horses and ponies; to coal mines and iron mills; to little old
towns and run-down settlements skipped, like Poland, by the invasion of

Clara peopled all these various places with the unadorned realistic
tales of living and dead men and women. She had been born and had grown
up in Mahoning County. She had a widely scattered family connection, but
most important was her genuine interest in all human beings and theirs
in her. She was a perfect listener, never prying. People liked to talk
to her; she never forgot, related things, judged shrewdly and kindly,
with the result that she had in her mind a map of the human life of the
country, quite as reliable as a road map—a map in warm humorous colors.

Years later I realized that in those two years in Poland I had had under
my eyes a vivid picture of what happens to the farmer, his home, his
town, his children when industry invades his land.

This Mahoning country had been so rich, so apparently stable. The men
and women so loved what they and their forebears had done that they
yielded slowly to the coal miner and the mill man, but they were giving
way in the eighties. The furnace was in the back yard of the fine old
houses with their ample barns; and the shaft of the coal mine, in the
richest meadows. The effort to reconcile the two was making, but
industry was conquering: the destruction of beauty, the breaking down of
standards of conduct, the growth of the love of money for money’s sake,
the grist of social problems facing the countryside from the inflow of
foreigners and the instability of work—all this was written for him who
could read. I could not read then, but I gathered a few impressions
which I realize now helped shape my future interests and thinking.

It was on these long drives I first learned that not cities alone but
all communities have dregs, slums. Strange that it should be in such a
place as Poland, but here it was—a disreputable fringe where a group of
men and women had long been living together with or without marriage.
You heard strange tales of incest and lust, of complete moral and social
irresponsibility, and they were having a scandalously jolly time of it.
Why I was not more shocked, I do not know; probably because incest and
lust were almost unknown words to me in those days.

And there were indelible impressions of the industrial world. When we
drove into Youngstown, ten miles away, we passed between iron furnaces
lying along the Mahoning River. After the long depression of the
seventies they were again busy, and into the valley were coming hundreds
and hundreds of foreigners brought from Europe by the news that there
was once again work in the United States. It was in passing through the
very heart of this furnace district one night returning from the theater
that I first learned of the terrible dangers that lie in the smelting of
ore. A furnace had burst; men had been trapped by the molten metal, and
their charred remains were being carried across the road. Unforgettable

And it was on one of these chance drives that I first saw what women can
do in moments of frenzied protest against situations which they cannot
control, first had my faith challenged in the universally peaceful
nature of my sex. I learned the meaning of Maenads, Furies, as we came
upon a maddened, threatening crowd rushing towards the offices of the
mills which had been shut down without warning. It was led by big robust
shrieking women, their hair flying, their clothes disheveled. It was a
look into a world of which I knew nothing, but like the charred bodies
carried across the road as I rode from the theater it was an
unforgettable thing.

There were other introductions to the industrial world less horrifying.
It was while in Poland that I first went into a coal mine—a deep
old-fashioned coal mine, a subsidiary to a farm. Under some of these
great farms with their blooded sheep, their fine orchards and fields,
their horses and ponies, coal had been found. And it was being mined as
a side line of the farm, a new kind of crop. Near the head of the shaft
were little houses for the miners; and when dull times came and the mine
was shut down the farmers took on their care. There was a slaughter of
an immense number of pigs, the putting down of barrels of pork, the
smoking of an incredible number of hams, the making of sausages and

“But why, why all this?” I asked.

“Oh,” said my hostess, “mining is unstable business. When there are long
shutdowns we must help the miners out, see that they have food.”

The intimacy with Dot Walker gave me a home. Mrs. Walker treated me as a
daughter, and as for Robert Walker, who still called me “Sis,” he liked
to have me around and to give me a word of wise counsel now and then. It
is because, in those months, I learned him to be as kindly, shrewd,
honest, simple-minded a man as I have ever known that I must interrupt
my narrative long enough to put in here the story of one of the cruelest
episodes of which I personally have known in the fifty years that I have
been a more or less understanding observer of our national political
life. The story is of Robert Walker and his one-time friend William
McKinley, the twenty-fifth President of the United States.

When I became an intimate of the Walker household a person I often heard
mentioned by its head was “the Major”—Major McKinley. Now it was not in
1880 a name unfamiliar to me. I had met it already at Allegheny College,
where McKinley had once been a student. When the Civil War broke out he
had joined the exodus of students who volunteered at the first call. He
had come out of the war a major, studied law, and settled in Canton,
Ohio, only sixty or seventy miles from Poland and in the same
Congressional District. Here in 1876—the Mahoning district as it was
called—had sent him to Congress. It was a matter of interest in
Allegheny in my time to have one of its former students turn out a
Congressman, its usual crop being teachers, preachers, and missionaries.

When I came to Poland I learned quickly that McKinley had lived there as
a boy, had attended the seminary, and was their proudest example of “the
boy who had made good.” For four years he had been their Congressman.
How they boasted of him! How solidly they voted for him!

I was not long in the Walker household before I sensed something more in
Robert Walker than a citizen’s pride in McKinley. It was that species of
adoration a modest, honest-minded man often has for his leader—his
leader who can do no wrong. I realized this when I first saw them
together. The Major had come to our seminary commencement in June of
1881. I remember nothing at all of the speech he made, but the scene on
the wide green in front of the village church after the exercises were
over remains vivid. Scattered about were scores upon scores of girls and
women in the frilly white gowns, the long white feather boas, the
flower-trimmed hats, the gay parasols of the period; and in and out
wound the Major, shaking hands, smiling, exchanging friendly
greetings—all together at home, no back slapping, no kissing of babies.
It was all so gentle, so like a picture of an English garden party where
the politics are hidden beneath the finest of social veneers. And there
was Robert Walker almost effulgent.

“Well, Sis,” he asked me later, “what do you think of the Major?” A
remark to which he expected no answer. What answer other than his could
there be?

What I did not know then was that from the beginning of William
McKinley’s political career Robert Walker had been his chief—and for a
time, I think, his only—financial backer. Beginning with his first
campaign for Congress in 1875 Mr. Walker had advanced the Major $2,000
for expenses. He continued equal advances before each successive
campaign, the understanding being that $1,000 a year was to be paid on
the debt.

Along with this financial support went a staunch support of all the
Major’s political ideas. These ideas were those of the Republican party,
and for men like Robert Walker the party was hallowed. It was “the party
of Lincoln.” Loyalty to Lincoln required loyalty to all that was
directly or indirectly connected with him.

“Is Robert Lincoln a dude?” one of my Mahoning County acquaintances
asked me years later when I told him that I had been talking with Robert
Lincoln about his father.

“Is he a dude?”—by which he meant, as I took it, a kind of Ward

“No, no, not that,” I assured him.

“Well,” he said reflectively, “even if he was a dude I would vote for
him for President because he is Abraham Lincoln’s son.”

The chief test of loyalty to the party of Lincoln in Ohio was the degree
of support given to the high protective tariff. William McKinley’s
support was devout and unqualified. He looked on a duty so low that it
allowed importations as a species of treason. There was tin plate, for

The year that I went to Poland, 1880, McKinley first espoused a duty on
tin plate. There was strong opposition among iron and steel
manufacturers. They felt they already had all they could look after in
Congress; but when they told this to McKinley his answer was that unless
they supported tin plate he would not support their tariffs. Naturally
they yielded, and tin plate was added to their list of protégés.
McKinley felt so sure of ultimate victory for the duty that he evidently
did not hesitate to advise his friends to get ready for its coming. At
all events he encouraged Robert Walker, suggested to him in fact that he
establish in Youngstown, Ohio, a stamping plant for the making of
tinware, taking with him as partner his brother-in-law Andrew J. Duncan.
As Andrew Duncan had no money to invest the Major gave to Mr. Walker a
sheaf of signed notes to be used whenever he had need of money.

Now Robert Walker was not a manufacturer; he was a farmer and a good
one—a coal operator—the banker of the Village of Poland and the
surrounding country, but it was not in Robert Walker’s nature to refuse
to help the Major or his relatives in their ambitions, as he had already
frequently proved. Indeed, at that time he was backing McKinley’s
brother Abner in a business venture which was soon to fail with loss of
all he had put in. But Robert Walker’s faith in McKinley’s wisdom was
such that he could not conceive of failure in anything he advised.

The plant was started in 1890. There could not have been a more unlucky
moment to launch a new industry. The long depression of the nineties was
beginning. Iron and steel were already seriously affected. Money was
tight. Robert Walker found himself almost at once forced to use the
Major’s notes. He found only too soon that he had embarked on a hopeless
undertaking, and in February of 1893 the works were closed.

Now at that moment Mark Hanna and his colleagues on the National
Republican Committee were counting on William McKinley to win the
Presidential election for them in 1896. The announcement that he was
involved in the Walker failure to the tune of some one hundred thousand
dollars, more than the combined fortune of himself and wife, was a cruel
blow to their plan. McKinley was straightforward with them. He had
signed the notes; he must give up politics, go back to the law, and pay
his honest debts. But that could not be permitted. He was too
important—one hundred thousand dollars was a small sum compared to what
the Republican Committee expected from his election. The money was
raised—not so quietly. It became necessary to explain how McKinley had
become involved to this amount, and the explanation which McKinley’s
political friends put out was that he was a victim of “a man named
Walker,” as Mark Hanna’s able biographer, Herbert Croly, calls him—a man
whom he had trusted, and who had deceived him as to the amount of money
he was raising on his notes. That is, the Republican committee
deliberately put on Robert Walker the stigma of fraud, presented him to
the public as a man who had betrayed confidence, and William McKinley
never denied their presentation.

I have it from Robert Walker and from his daughter that no note of
William McKinley was ever cashed without consulting him, and I believe
them. Moreover, Andrew Duncan was in this enterprise and knew what was
going on. It is an interesting fact that when my friend Clara Walker,
who kept the accounts for the McKinleys and her father, went the morning
after the announcement of the failure to her office in Youngstown, all
her books had disappeared along with many papers which belonged to the

I had been living abroad for two years when all this happened, but just
before I had left America I had talked with Robert Walker about his
venture—the money he was trying to raise on McKinley’s notes. His
confidence was untarnished.

“The Major knows, Sis. He will see this thing through. I’d do anything
to back him.”

And he did. When on my return I went to see my friends I found they had
given up practically everything, and Robert Walker himself was utterly
broken by the ignominy heaped on him.

I begged him to give me his side of the story, let me tell it, told him
I would never rest until I had an opportunity to put down what I knew of
his long support of the Major’s ambitions, what I believed of him as a
man of unselfish integrity. He absolutely and finally refused. “Nobody
would ever believe the Major could do anything wrong. I didn’t.”

But the Major had allowed the oldest and most loyal friend he had in his
public life to be ruined not only in fortune but in reputation. Now that
Robert Walker and Mrs. Walker are both gone and reviving the episode can
no longer give them pain, it gives me a certain solace to put down the
story as I believe it.

I was leaving Poland, but what was I to do? Today, with my passion for
the microscope still undimmed, I would naturally seek a place in one of
the many laboratories now open to women. Hundreds of women in the
country bent on scientific research are now in industrial,
institutional, or governmental laboratories, but in 1882 there was
almost nothing of that kind open to women. The change is due, first, to
the tremendous advance in scientific research; second, to the way women
have proved their adaptability to laboratory work. No doubt the great
majority of them are, like the majority of women in offices, laboratory
wives, but we have inspired workers among them; probably, all things
considered, as large a proportion as among men.

If things had been as they were in 1876, when I asked my father if he
could put me through college and he had so cheerfully and happily, I
think, agreed, I could have asked to be financed for higher studies. But
things were not as they had been, and it would have been quite out of
the question in 1882, when I decided that my first step towards economic
independence was mistaken, for him to finance me—the country was coming
into a new depression, that of ’83 and ’84, and the oil business was in
a serious state for those who produced the oil.

But my home was open, wide open. I think it was this fact that is at the
bottom of my strong conviction that the home is an essential link in the
security of men and women. After one has gone forth on his own there
frequently comes a time when he is shelterless as far as his own
resources go. To have a refuge of which he is sure is one of the most
heartening and stabilizing experiences in a life. If my Poland venture
was a failure professionally it did not throw me on the street; I had a
place to go and think it over. When I asked my mother if it would be all
right for me to come home, her answer was what it always was to be in
the future when I was obliged (more than once) to make the request: “Of
course, that is your right.” That is, my father and mother looked on the
home they had created not as something belonging only to them—a place
they had for their comfort and privacy, it was a place for all of those
in the family procession who had no other place to go. In turn I saw
that home opened to grandmother and grandfather, aunts and uncles,
children and grandchildren, quite regardless of the extra burden it put
on their resources, limitations on their space, the irritations and
complications that are always bred by the injection of extra persons,
however beloved and close, into a settled group.

It was in June, 1882, that I went back home, dusted my desk in the Tower
room now shared with my sister’s playhouse and dolls—set up my
microscope and went to work on the Hydrozoa. But not for long.

                     A FRESH START—A SECOND RETREAT

It was the custom of the Tarbell household to do its part in
entertaining the Methodist ministers and presiding elders who
periodically “filled the pulpit” of our church. In the winter after my
return from the Poland venture we had a guest, an important local
personage, Dr. Theodore L. Flood, a preacher who had retired from active
ministry to take the editorship of a magazine called _The Chautauquan_,
published in the town thirty miles from Titusville where I had so
recently spent four years—Meadville, the home of Allegheny College.

On this visit Dr. Flood asked me to “help him out” for a month or two in
a new department in his magazine. I was quick to accept, glad to be
useful, for I had grown up with what was called the Chautauqua Movement.
Indeed, it had been almost as much a part of my life as the oil
business, and in its way it was as typically American. If we had a truer
measure for values we would count it more important.

This Chautauqua Movement had grown out of a Methodist camp meeting held
annually at Fair Point on the pleasant lake which in my childhood had
been the terminus of our most ambitious all-day excursions. The
president of this Association by 1870 was a man justly respected in all
that part of the world for his good deeds, as well as his business
acumen—Lewis Miller, a manufacturer of Akron, Ohio. Mr. Miller was to be
known nationally as the father-in-law of Thomas Edison, but old-time
Chautauquans put it the other way: “Edison is Lewis Miller’s
son-in-law.” That was enough recommendation for Edison in their minds.

Lewis Miller’s interest in Chautauqua went beyond the annual camp
meeting. He saw the opportunity to build up there a summer home where
parents could give their children healthy out-of-door amusement,
protection from the evil ways of the unregenerate, and sound modern
instruction in the Bible. Sympathy with this program induced a
half-dozen families in the Titusville Methodist Church to join in the
purchase of a lot on the outskirts of the grounds and start a Titusville
settlement—a cottage with a mess hall and a few rooms—tents serving as
sleeping quarters for extras. Father joined the colony soon after we
moved to Titusville. We had a tent and a flat-bottomed boat.

Through the years I have been recalling, the years in high school,
college, as Preceptress of Poland Union Seminary, part of all my summers
had been spent at Chautauqua. Lewis Miller’s laudable attempt to furnish
attractive instruction in the Bible meant little or nothing to me at
first; the flat-bottomed boat meant a great deal. But in 1874 something
happened that dragged me away from the water. Lewis Miller had persuaded
the most eminent advocate of the Sunday school in America, Dr.
(afterwards Bishop) John H. Vincent, to select Fair Point as the home of
a National Interdenominational Sunday School Institute which he and
those who saw with him had been for some time planning. The first
session of this new organization was held in 1874 under the name of the
Chautauqua Assembly. It was recognized at once as a revolution upsetting
the old order.

The most spectacular feature of the revolution was the Chautauqua
platform, making as it did stirring, challenging contacts with current
intellectual life. There one heard the great speakers of the day on all
sorts of subjects. There fine concerts were given. It was the scientific
lectures which caught me, particularly those of Dr. R. Ogden Doremus of
New York. His platform experiments, in which two skillful women
assisted, excited me as I had never been before. But what aroused me
most were certain demonstrations with a magnificent microscope which
they were giving in a little building at one side. Nothing in the world
seemed to matter to me so much as to be able to talk with these women,
to ask their advice about the work I was beginning with the little
instrument bought with my own carefully saved money. Perhaps, oh,
perhaps, I dreamed, they would let me look through the great beauty they
handled so deftly, focus it, watch the life which went on in its field.
So one day I hung around after the talk was over, slipped up to them,
steeled myself to tell them that I was going to be a microscopist,
begged them to give me a few lessons, advise me. The two ladies smiled
down from their height, so plainly showing they thought me a country
child with a queer behavior complex. “Quite impossible,” they said, and
turned back to their conference with Dr. Doremus.

Abashed, humiliated, but luckily too angry to cry I made my way back to
my flat-bottomed boat. I would show them, I resolved, clenching my

It was years before I attempted again to get from a Chautauqua
undertaking more than it was offering to the public at large. There were
many of these undertakings. Dr. Vincent saw to that. A man better fitted
by experience, conviction, and personality to persuade a half-asleep,
wholly satisfied community to accept a new order could not have been
found in the America of the eighties. John Vincent was forty-two years
old when he came to Chautauqua—handsome, confident, alert, energetic,
radiating well-being. And he was an orator, and orating at Chautauqua
made men tolerant even of heresy. He went about his business of
organizing the work of the Assembly with a skill which commanded the
admiration of everybody, even those hostile to the secularization of
their beloved camp meeting. As a platform manager I never have known his
equal. He had magnetism, but he knew when and how to turn it on; he was
shrewd, cunning, pungent. He pricked bubbles, disciplined his audience.
The Chautauqua audience came to be one of the best behaved out-of-door
audiences in the country. The fact that we were out of doors had
persuaded us that we were free to leave meetings if we were bored or
suddenly remembered that we had left bread in the oven, or that the baby
must have wakened. When the performance had been stopped once or twice
to “give that lady a chance to go out without further disturbing the
speaker” we learned to stay at home or to sit out the lecture.

There is only one word to describe what Lewis Miller and Dr. Vincent now
did to Chautauqua, and that is “electrification.” The community was made
up mainly of hard-working men and women who wanted a vacation in
surroundings where they would not “have to worry about the children.”
Certainly if high fences with gates through which you could not pass in
or out after ten P.M.—never pass without your ticket, and not even with
one on Sundays—if watchful guards and ten o’clock curfew, if a mass
public opinion on the part of elders in support of these restrictions,
could have suppressed all the mischief and lawlessness in the youth
which swarmed Chautauqua, parents were right in sleeping tranquilly. As
a matter of fact I never knew of any serious offenses, though there
probably were many which I was still too much of a little girl to
recognize. The worst mischief in which I personally assisted was playing
tag up and down the relief model of Palestine, which skirted the lake as
Palestine does the Mediterranean. It was spotted with plaster-of-Paris
models of towns from Damascus to Bethsaida. I remember one rule of our
game was that you could not be tagged if you straddled Jerusalem. The
most serious vandalism of which I knew and in which I had no part was
stealing Damascus or Nazareth or Tyre and carrying it away bodily.

Dr. Vincent did not change the restrictions, but he made them more
endurable by the fresh interest he put into our lives. His effect on the
community physically was immediate. It began to grow. The sound of the
hammers nailing together the, for the most part, flimsy cottages was
never still. The result was very like what Mark Twain found in the
summer colony of Onteora in the Catskills in its first year—“the
partitions so thin you can hear the women changing their minds.”

Housekeeping improved. It had been as sketchy as the cottages—picnic
housekeeping. You saw them at it, out in the rear of their cottages,
over an old wood stove or stone fireplace, the men in their shirt
sleeves, the women in big aprons, if not wrappers. Planks on sawhorses
for tables, mats (we had not learned to say “doilies” yet), benches for
seats. The natural practice of bringing discarded furniture from home to
furnish the cottages led to the only distinctive piece of Chautauqua
furniture I recall—a long high-backed bench made from an old-fashioned
four-post bedstead. There were few garrets in all the country about
Chautauqua that did not harbor one or more such bedsteads. They had been
hidden away when families could afford the new-styled quartered-oak or
walnut bedroom suites. Some ingenious mind had seen that by shortening
the sidepieces of a four-poster to seat width, using the headboard for a
back, you had a commodious and, with cushions, a comfortable seat, even
couch. They were scattered all over the place.

With the coming of Dr. Vincent, Chautauqua rapidly developed a Promenade
along the south end of the lake front. Cottages here were lathed and
plastered, had wicker chairs on their verandahs, and the residents soon
were taking their meals at the really stately Athenaeum Hotel. It was in
this front row that Dr. and Mrs. Vincent came to live in a tent, a tent
de luxe with a real house—so it looked to us—behind it.

Sometimes when we were properly dressed and shod we walked past the
hotel and the cottages housing our aristocrats, and if by chance we saw
Dr. or Mrs. Vincent or, best of all, the “Vincents’ little boy”—George,
we later learned his name to be—why, then we boasted of it at the supper
table as one might say today, “I saw President Roosevelt, Mrs.
Roosevelt, Sistie, Buzzie.”

Dr. Vincent kept the place on its toes not only by the steady
improvement of its platform, its amusements, in the quality of the
people who came to teach and preach, but by a steady flow of new
undertakings. He planned incessantly to stir not only our souls but our
minds. We came to expect new ideas at each successive session and were
never disappointed if sometimes a little bewildered. Behind all these
various undertakings was the steadying hand of Lewis Miller, the silent
partner, who had begun by spying out the land, establishing a community,
laying the foundations for the Institution as it exists today—a center
of democratic, Christian culture.

Dr. Vincent’s masterpiece, as I always thought, came in 1878 when he
laid before his Chautauquans a plan which had been long simmering in his
never quiet mind. He did this in the finest of what we call
inspirational talks that I ever heard—at least it stirred me so deeply
that I have never forgotten the face of the orator nor, more important,
the upturned faces of his hearers. He announced a scheme for a four-year
course of home reading under the direction of the Chautauqua management
adapted to men and women who had missed a college education, but who
felt a deep desire for knowledge and were willing to adopt any practical
plan which would give them a college outlook. It was to be called the
Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.

Now this does not sound exciting; but as a matter of fact it was deeply
exciting, for the speaker was pouring out his heart. He had never had a
college education; he had never ceased to feel the lack of what he
believed it would have given him. He had struggled to make up for his
loss by persistent, systematic daily reading and study. Establishing the
habit as a boy, he had never abandoned it. It had given him deep
satisfaction, supplied, he thought, the college outlook. He believed
there were thousands of men and women in the United States, scores,
possibly hundreds, in his audience, who had been forced, as he had been,
to sacrifice their early ambitions for education. They had hidden the
hunger in their hearts where at times it still gnawed. He was offering
them the same help he had found, and confidently, glowingly, he outlined
the course of home reading which Dr. John H. Finley has so aptly named
the American Adult Education Pioneer.

The uplifted faces all about me told the story, particularly the faces
of the women of thirty or more. Women of that generation had had their
natural desire for knowledge intensified by the Woman’s Rights movement,
in which the strongest plank had been a demand for the opportunity for
higher education. These women were now beyond the day when they could go
to college, but here was something which they saw intuitively was

The immediacy of their response was in a degree accounted for by their
devotion to Dr. Vincent. I suppose most of the women who frequented
Chautauqua were more or less in love with him, the worship a man of
overflowing sentiment receives from the benches, but most of his
audience would have preferred to die rather than reveal their secret

Well, it was a great emotional experience with large and immediate
practical results, for, before the summer session was over, eight
thousand people had joined the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific

They had joined, and they were buying the books chosen. The most
important volume in that first year’s course was Green’s “Short History
of the English People”—in my judgment the most important book save one
that the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle ever included, that
exception being W. C. Brownell’s “French Traits.” The sudden demand for
so large and expensive a volume as Green’s History, outside of regular
trade channels, followed as it was by spectacular sales of other books
from which neither publisher nor writer had expected anything out of the
normal, set the whole publishing world agog, and naturally raised the
question, “How are we to get in on this new market?”

There were many approaches, all legitimate enough so far as I know. I
found a rather amusing proof of one not long ago in Marjorie Wiggin
Prescott’s fine collection of manuscripts and rare books—a volume of Lew
Wallace’s “Ben Hur” enriched by a letter to the publisher, signed by
Mrs. Wallace and dated November 24, 1884. The letter, which is
self-explanatory, is reproduced here with Mrs. Prescott’s permission.

                                        Crawfordsville, Nov. 24, 1884.

  Dear Sir

  Because of inquiries of correspondents as to the _number_ of _wives_
  Gen. Wallace has had, I have thought best to instruct you to add to
  the dedication of _Ben-Hur_, making it:

                          The Wife of My Youth
                        who still abides with me

  This with Gen. Wallace’s consent.

  Several literary clubs have made it a handbook for study in
  connection with Roman History. If by some means you could have it
  adopted by the Chautauqua Club, which numbers twenty thousand
  members, it might be worth while to try. Pardon the suggestion.

  May I ask you to furnish me a report of the sales of _Ben-Hur_, year
  by year, from the beginning?

  With high regard,

                                         Very truly yours
                                                     SUSAN E. WALLACE.

As the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle grew, there came
increasing necessity of a steady sympathetic administration. To help in
this task it was decided in 1880 to establish a monthly organ—_The
Chautauquan_, it was to be called—in which portions of the required
readings could be published more cheaply than in book form, and through
which by counsel and suggestions the leaders could keep in closer touch
with the readers—better meet their needs. Dr. Vincent was quick to sense
weak places in the organization, and ingenious in devising ways to take
care of them. It was to try out one of his devices that Dr. Flood was
now asking my temporary help.

Here was the situation that had been uncovered—hundreds of those who had
joined the great circle and bought its books were without dictionaries,
encyclopaedias, explanatory helps of any kind, and they lived too far
away—on the Plains, in the mountains, on distant farms—to reach
libraries. Headquarters were inundated with questions: How do you
pronounce this word, translate this phrase? Who was this man, this
woman? What does this or that mean?

“Could not _The Chautauquan_ take care of this difficulty,” suggested
Dr. Vincent, “by annotating the portions of the various texts to be read
in that particular month? Let some one try it out.”

As I happened to be the “some one” within reach when Dr. Flood received
the suggestion, the attempt was put up to me—temporary trial, I was made
to understand. Now I had known from childhood homes and towns where
there were practically no books beyond the Bible and the children’s
spellers. As books had always come after bread in our household I
naturally pitied those who did not have them; so I undertook the notes
with the determination to make them as helpful as I could.

To my surprise and delight Dr. Vincent sent word to me that I had caught
his idea, and that he had advised Dr. Flood to ask me to prepare similar
notes each month.

“Will you do it?” asked Dr. Flood.

I jumped at the chance, calculating that it would take not over two
weeks of my month, give me pin money, and leave time for the
microscope—that my future was in it, I did not dream.

But my task required better equipped libraries than Titusville offered;
Meadville, only thirty miles away, headquarters for _The Chautauquan_,
had them, and so I arranged to do my work there, remaining until I had
read the proofs—an exacting job which never ceased to worry me. What if
the accent was in the wrong place? What if I brought somebody into the
world in the wrong year? Something of the kind happened occasionally,
and when it did I quickly discovered that, while there might be many
Chautauqua readers who did not have books of reference, there were more
that did and knew how to use them.

Once in touch with the office of _The Chautauquan_ I began to see things
to do. Dr. Flood had little interest in detail. The magazine was made up
in a casual, and to my mind a disorderly, fashion. I could not keep my
fingers off. A woman is a natural executive: that has been her business
through the ages. Intuitively she picks up, sets to rights, establishes
order. I began at once to exercise my inheritance, proved useful, was
offered a full-time job, and threw myself heartily into an attempt to
learn how to make up a magazine in the way I suspected a magazine should
be made up.

When the long-suffering foreman of the printing office discovered I was
in earnest he undertook my education, taught me the vocabulary—the only
galley I had heard of up to that time was a war vessel of the Middle
Ages—suggested dummies, and offered a model. He installed a proper
respect for the dates on which copy was to be in, and forms closed:
showed me the importance of clean copy by compelling me to see with my
own eyes the time it took to make a correction, trained me until I could
stand over the closing of the last form and direct the necessary changes
to be made in order to make room for a three-line advertisement which
had just arrived, and which, such was the need of _The Chautauquan_ for
advertising, must under no consideration be thrown out. When I could do
that nonchalantly I felt as if I had arrived. And this training I owed
to as fine a craftsman as there was in the trade at the time; as well,
he was a courteous and patient gentleman—Adrian McCoy, long the head of
the pressroom where _The Chautauquan_ was printed.

My willingness to take on loose ends soon brought to my desk much of the
routine office correspondence—letters to be answered by a more or less
set form, signed with Dr. Flood’s name and mailed without troubling him
to read them.

In this grist were many letters from readers, women chiefly, who laid
their troubles and hopes on our shoulders, confident of understanding
and counsel. Dr. Flood’s answers to such communications were courteous
but formal. Probably he appreciated as I did not that there lay safety.
I felt strongly that such an appeal or confidence should have a
personal, sympathetic letter, and I began producing them, pouring out
counsel and pity. I shudder now to think of the ignorant sentiment I
probably spilled. But my career as a professional counselor was checked
suddenly by the unexpected result of a series of letters to a
contributor. This gentleman, a foreign lecturer and teacher, had been
chilled by the lack of understanding by Americans of his ideals. And all
of this he was expressing in letters to the office after our acceptance
of one or two of his articles. I was deeply touched by his outpourings
and answered in kind—of course signing my editor’s name. Then one day
Dr. Flood received a letter saying that on such a day the gentleman
would be in Meadville. He must see the one who so understood him. And
come he did. Poor Dr. Flood did not know what it was all about.

“But these letters,” the visitor exclaimed. “Oh,” Dr. Flood said, “Miss
Tarbell wrote those. We’ll speak to her.”

And so he was presented—letters in hand—Dr. Flood looking sternly at me
and leaving me to my fate.

“Did you write these letters?” the bewildered and disappointed stranger

All I could say was, “Yes, I wrote them.”

“And Dr. Flood never saw them?”

“No,” I said, “he never does.”

“I might have known it was a woman,” he groaned, and fled. And that was
the last we ever saw or heard of him. But it made a vast difference in
my editorial correspondence.

I was not satisfied, however, with setting things to rights and
counseling the unhappy. Having convinced my editor-in-chief that I could
keep his house in better order than he had been interested in doing, I
became ambitious to contribute to its furnishing, to extend its field
beyond matters purely Chautauquan. I began by offering contributions to
what was called the Editor’s Table—the Editor’s Note Book. I began to
write articles, even went off on trips to gather information on subjects
which seemed to me to be fitting.

The first and most ambitious of these undertakings was an investigation
made in the Patent Office in Washington of the amount of inventing the
records showed women to have done. I had been disturbed for some time by
what seemed to me the calculated belittling of the past achievements of
women by many active in the campaign for suffrage. They agreed with
their opponents that women had shown little or no creative power. That,
they argued, was because man had purposely and jealously excluded her
from his field of action. The argument was intended, of course, to
arouse women’s indignation, stir them to action. It seemed to me rather
to throw doubt on her creative capacity. Power to create breaks all
barriers. Women had demonstrated this, I believed, again and again while
carrying on what I as an observer of society was coming to regard as the
most delicate, complex, and essential of all creative tasks—the making
of a home. There was the field of invention. At the moment it was being
said in print and on the platform that, in all the history of the Patent
Office, women had taken out only some three hundred patents.

I had seen so much of woman’s ingenuity on the farm and in the kitchen
that I questioned the figures; and so I went to see, feeling very
important if scared at my rashness in daring to penetrate a Government
department and interview its head. I was able to put my finger at once
on over two thousand patents, enough to convince me that, man-made world
or not, if a woman had a good idea and the gumption to seek a patent she
had the same chance as a man to get one. This was confirmed by
correspondence with two or three women who at the time were taking out
patents regularly.

These dashes into journalism, timid and factual as were the results,
gave my position more and more body, began slowly to arouse my
rudimentary capacity for self-expression. At the same time my position
was enriched by a novel feature of our undertaking, one that any editor
of a monthly journal can appreciate. We published but ten issues,
suspending in July and August in order to get out on the grounds at
Chautauqua an eight-page newspaper—the Chautauqua Assembly _Daily
Herald_. This meant moving our Meadville staff bodily to the Lake late
in June.

I was soon contributing two columns of editorials a day to the _Herald_,
comments on the daily doings of the Assembly, and making many
stimulating acquaintances in doing it. Among them I valued particularly
Dr. Herbert B. Adams and Dr. Richard T. Ely of Johns Hopkins University,
men who were stirring youth and shocking the elders by liberal
interpretations of history and economics. We felt rather proud of
ourselves at Chautauqua that we were liberal enough to engage Dr. Adams
and Dr. Ely as regular lecturers and teachers, and that our constituency
accepted them, if with occasional misgivings.

It was not only the faculty of Johns Hopkins which was adding to my
friends. One who remains today among those I most value came from its
student body—Dr. John H. Finley. Dr. Finley gave several summers to the
Assembly _Herald_, reading its copy and its proofs among other things.
It was he who read my two columns and, no doubt, kept me out of much
trouble; but once there did slip by him a misquotation over which he
still chuckles when we talk of Chautauqua days. I made it a practice to
head my first column with a digest of the day’s happenings—a line to an
event and, as a starter for the paragraph, a quotation. I had been
rather pleased one day to select a line from James Thomson:


  _Office staff of The Chautauquan, 1888: Miss Tarbell at left, sitting_

              The meek-eyed Morn appears, mother of dews.

A copy of the paper was always thrown on the verandah of my upstairs
room around five o’clock in the morning, and I hopped out of bed to see
what had happened to my column. That morning something dire had
happened, for my quotation ran:

            The _weak_-eyed _Worm_ appears, mother of dews.

Eminence came from across the water annually and gave color and
importance, so we thought, to our doings. A foreign visitor with whom I
had a pleasant acquaintance running over some years was Dr. J. P.
Mahaffy of the University of Dublin. Dr. Mahaffy had contributed a
series of delightful articles to the required readings in _The
Chautauquan_—“Gossip About Greece”—and in the summer of 1889 he came
over for two or three courses of lectures at the Assembly. A
distinguished figure, he was, and such a contrast in his tweeds, his
free movements, his spirited wide-ranging talk to most of us.

My acquaintance grew out of our mutual interest in the flora of any spot
where we happened to be. One day as I came in from a botanizing
expedition outside the grounds carrying stocks of the lovely field
lilies common in the region, Dr. Mahaffy seized my arm: “You care for
flowers and plants? I thought American women had no interest in them.” A
libel I quickly hooted. In defense of my sisterhood I went diligently to
work to show him our summer flora. But he cared for nothing as much as
our summer lilies, begged me after the flowering was over to send him
bulbs, which I proudly did. In exchange I received from his Dublin
garden seeds of a white poppy which, he wrote me, he had originally
gathered in the shadow of the statue of Memnon in Egypt. Those poppies
have always gone with me; they flourished in my mother’s garden in
Titusville—now they flourish in my Connecticut garden.

My life was busy, varied, unfolding pleasantly in many ways, but it also
after six years was increasingly unsatisfactory, so unsatisfactory that
I was secretly, very secretly, meditating a change.

I was scared by what _The Chautauquan_ seemed to be doing to the plan I
had worked out for the development of my mind. I had grown up with a
stout determination to follow one course of study to the end, to develop
a specialty. The work I was doing demanded a scattering of mind which I
began to fear would unfit me for ever thinking anything through. I
realized that an editor of value must have made up his mind about more
things than had I, feel himself ready to fight for those things if
necessary. I had no program in which _The Chautauquan_ was interested.
Moreover, I did not want to be an editor.

But to break with _The Chautauquan_ meant sacrificing security. I had
always had a vision of myself settled somewhere in a secure corner,
simple, not too large. I never had wanted things; I always had a dislike
of impedimenta, but I wanted something cheerful and warm and enduring.
There I could work over that which interested me, day in and day out,
with no alarm for my keep. Now _The Chautauquan_ was a secure berth; so
far as I could figure, it would last through my time at least. To give
it up meant complete economic insecurity. I probably should not have
been willing to sacrifice what I think I had honestly earned if there
had not been growing upon me a conviction of the sterility of security.
All about me were people who at least believed themselves materially
secure. They lived comfortably within their means, they were busy
keeping things as they were, preserving what they had. They were the
most respectable people in town, but secretly I was beginning to suspect
their respectability.

One day, listening to a fine elderly Scotch Presbyterian minister who
had in his congregation a large group of these stable, secure, best
citizens, I was startled when he leaned over his pulpit and, shaking his
fist at us, shouted, “You’re dyin’ of respectability.” Was that what was
happening to me? I saw with increasing clearness that I could not go
beyond a certain point on _The Chautauquan_, mentally, socially,
spiritually. If I remained, it was to accept a variety of limitations,
and my whole nature was against the acceptance of limitations. It was
contrary to the nature of things as I saw them; to be happy, I must go
on with fresh attempts, fresh adventuring. The thing that frightened me
earlier in my youth came to the top now: that thing that made me
determine I would never marry because it meant giving up freedom, was a
trap. It was clear enough that I was trapped—comfortably, most
pleasantly, most securely, but trapped.

As time went on I realized that this security to which people so clung
could not always be counted on. They might think so, but had I not seen
beautiful homes sold under the hammer in Titusville, homes of those whom
the town had looked on as impregnable financially? In my years on _The
Chautauquan_ in Meadville I had been a shocked observer of one of the
many dramatic political failures of the eighties, the defeat of the
Republican candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania at a critical moment—a
Meadville banker, Wallace Delamater. I was too much of a mugwump to
sympathize with the Republican platform, but I liked Wallace Delamater.
I believed him, as I think the records show, to be a tool of a past
master of machine politics—Matthew Quay. Taken up by Quay, the resources
of the Delamater bank and of allied banks in Meadville at the call of
his party, he made a campaign which was called brilliant. There was no
doubt of the result in Meadville.

I went to bed early, the night of the election, expecting to be aroused
by the ringing of bells, the blowing of whistles, for there was to be a
celebration. When I awakened with a start it was broad daylight. Had I
slept through the celebration? A sense of doom hung over me; I dressed
hurriedly, went down to get the paper. Wallace Delamater was defeated.
Promptly the Delamater bank closed and, one after another, four banks of
the town followed. There was a heavy run on the one remaining, the one
where I had my little deposit. The panic in the town was desperate;
everything was going. I don’t think I have ever been more ashamed of
anything in my life connected with money than I was when I took my bank
book and went to my bank to ask for my deposit. It was all the money I
had in the world—times were bad. But I have always continued to be a
little ashamed that I yielded to the panic, the more because my bank
didn’t fail!

No, the security men flattered themselves they had achieved was never
certain. Moreover, my security was costing more in certain precious
things than I was willing to pay. Take the matter of making something
professionally sound, useful, justifiable, out of myself, which is the
only one of these “precious things” that I am talking about! I could do
no more towards it where I was. To begin with, I at last knew what I
wanted to do. It was no longer to seek truth with a microscope. My early
absorption in rocks and plants had veered to as intense an interest in
human beings. I was feeling the same passion to understand men and
women, the same eagerness to collect and to classify information about
them. I find the proofs of this slow and unconscious change of
allegiance in an accumulation of tattered notebooks tucked away for
years, forgotten and only brought out after I had set myself this
curious task of tracing the road I have traveled through my eighty
years, trying to find out why I did this thing and not that, getting
acquainted with my own working life.

I seem to have begun to enter observations on human beings soon after I
had settled down to learn how to put a magazine together in an orderly
fashion. I applied the same method that I had used for so many years in
collecting and classifying natural objects which excited my curiosity.
Take leaves, on which I was always keen. I started out in high school to
collect them from all the flora in my territory, classifying them by
shapes, veins, stalks, color. Rarely do I take up a family book of those
early years that there do not fall out from between the pages leaves of
one thing or another that I had pressed to help me carry on my scheme of
classification. I suspect that I did not get much beyond a glib naming
of parts.

Something analogous happened when I recognized that men and women were
as well worth notes as leaves, that there was a science of society as
well as of botany.

What had happened was undoubtedly that the tumults, the challenges of my
day had finally penetrated my aloofness, and that I was feeling more and
more the need of taking a part in them. The decade I spent in Poland and
on _The Chautauquan_ had a background not so unlike that of the present
decade. At its beginning we were only fifteen years from a civil war
which had left behind not only a vast devastated region with the problem
of its reconstruction, but the problem of a newly freed people. It had
left bitterness which in intensity and endurance no war but a civil war
ever leaves. We had had our inflation, a devastating boom followed by
seven years of depression, outbreaks of all the various forms of radical
philosophy the world then knew. Youth talks glibly of communism today as
if it had just appeared in the country; but Marxian Communists
transferred the headquarters of the International to New York City in
the seventies. More conspicuous than the Communists were the Anarchists.
Every city in the United States had its little group, preaching and
every now and then practicing direct action. Indeed, they were a factor
in all the violent labor disturbances of the period.

In 1879 prosperity had come back with a whoop, and, as she usually does
after a long absence, had quickly exhausted herself by fantastic
economic excesses. By the time I undertook to annotate the Chautauqua
Literary and Scientific Circle’s readings the country had begun to
suffer again from its wanton speculation and reckless overbuilding of
railroads. Factories and mines and mills shut down; and when work
stopped disorder began, particularly on the railroads of the Southwest,
the awful massacre of Chinese in Wyoming—more awful, the Haymarket riot
in Chicago followed as it was by the execution of four men, all
counselors of violence to be sure, but no one of them found guilty
either of making or of throwing the bomb.

The eighties dripped with blood, and men struggled to get at causes, to
find corrections, to humanize and socialize the country; for then as now
there were those who dreamed of a good world although at times it seemed
to them to be going mad.

_The Chautauquan_ interested itself in all of this turbulent and
confused life. Indeed, it rapidly became my particular editorial
concern. We noted and discussed practically every item of the social
program which has been so steadily developing in the last fifty years,
the items which have crystallized into the Square Deal, the New Freedom,
the New Deal.

The present argument for high wages, we made in the eighties. We called
it “the new economic coefficient in our industrial life.” “It is the
well-paid workman,” said _The Chautauquan_, “who is a relatively large
consumer. We are built upon a foundation of which this well-paid workman
is an important part.”

As for hours and conditions, we were ardent supporters of the eight-hour
day, organized labor’s chief aim in the eighties, and we were for
contracts between labor and capital, each being held responsible for his
side of the bargain. We were for education, arbitration, legislation,
the program of the Knights of Labor rather than the program of force
which the growing American Federation of Labor was adopting. We
discussed interminably the growing problem of the slums, were
particularly strong for cooperative housing, laundries and bakeshops; we
supported the popular Town and Country Club, seeking to keep a healthy
balance between the two; we were advocates of temperance but shied at
prohibition—largely, I think, because it had become a political issue,
and we did not like to see our idealists going into politics, as Bellamy
and Henry George and the leaders of many causes were doing.

That is, in the decade of the eighties we were discussing and thinking
about the same fundamentals that we are today.

My realization of the stress of the period began at home. Titusville and
all the Oil Region of Pennsylvania were struggling to loosen the hold of
the mighty monopoly which, since its first attack on the business in
1872, had grown in power and extent until it owned and controlled over
90 per cent of the oil industry outside of the production of the raw
crude. The region was divided into two hostile camps—the Independent
Producers and Refiners, and the Standard Oil Company. Their maneuvers
and strategy kept town and country in a constant state of excitement, of
suspicion, of hope, and of despair.

There was a steady weakening of independent ranks both by the men worn
out or ruined by the struggle, and those who saw peace and security for
themselves only in settling and gave up the fight.

In those days I looked with more contempt on the man who had gone over
to the Standard than on the one who had been in jail. I felt pity for
the latter man, but none for the deserters from the ranks of the
fighting independents. Those were the days when the freeing of
transportation, the privilege which had more to do with the making of
the monopoly than anything else, more even than the great ability of its
management, was the aim of all reformers. For years the Independents had
worked for an interstate commerce law which would make rate
discrimination a crime. To me such a law had come to have a kind of
sanctity. It was the new freedom, and when it was passed in 1887 I felt
an uplift such as nothing in public life, unless I except Mr.
Cleveland’s tariff message of the year before, had ever given me.

But it was not the economic feature of the struggle in the Oil Region
which deeply disturbed or interested me. It was what it was doing to
people themselves, to the people I knew, to my father and mother and
their friends. It was the divided town, the suspicion and greed and
bitterness and defeats and surrenders. Here was a product meant to be a
blessing to men—so I believed; and it was proving a curse to the very
ones who had discovered it, developed it.

I began to fill pages with notes of things seen and heard, and finally I
decided I should write a novel about it. Very secretly indeed, I went at
it, assembling a cast, outlining a plot, writing two or three chapters.
Poor stuff. Luckily I soon found out I was beyond my depth and gave it

From my notebooks I judge that I abandoned my novel the more readily
because I had conceived what I called “a more fundamental research”!
This was nothing less than a Science of Society to be illustrated by my
own observations on men and women. Looking over it now, I see that the
framework came from reading the voluminous discussions of the nature of
society then flooding the public. I took my framework where I found it,
but I filled it in with observations, gathered on all sides, of people I
knew, heard about, particularly read about in the newspaper.

But this ambitious work soon met the same fate as the novel. It broke
off at the end of the third chapter because I had concluded I could not
construct society as it was until I knew more about woman. I suspected
she had played a larger part in shaping society than she realized or
perhaps was willing to admit. I was questioning the argument that this
is entirely a man-made world. I had found too many woman-made parts in
it to accept the characterization at its face value. My science of
society would not be honest, I concluded, if the only part woman was
allowed to play in it was that of doormat, toy, and tool. I was
troubled, too, by the argument that women must be given suffrage if
society was to be improved. Man had made a mess of the world, I was
told; woman must take his tools and straighten things up. I did not feel
the confidence of my courageous friends. “Why should we expect them to
do better with the vote than men have done?” I asked. “Because they are
women,” I was told. But they were human beings, like men, and they were
human beings with no experience of the tools they wanted to use; and I
had enough sense of the past to believe that experience counted, and
that it would be wise for all men and women to consult it when they
tried new ventures.

There had been women in public life in the past. What had they done? I
had to satisfy myself before I went further with my science of society
or joined the suffragists. It was humiliating not to be able to make up
my mind quickly about the matter, as most of the women I knew did. What
was the matter with me, I asked myself, that I could not be quickly
sure? Why must I persist in the slow, tiresome practice of knowing more
about things before I had an opinion? Suppose everybody did that. What
chance for intuition, vision, emotion, action?

My notebooks show that I began my plodding by making out a list of women
who seemed to offer food for reflection. The group that excited me most
were the women of the French Revolution. I made little studies of
several, wrote little pieces about them, and these little pieces I
submitted to the editor of _The Chautauquan_; he published several of
them—a study of Madame de Staël, of Marie Antoinette, of Madame Roland.
But soon I became heartily ashamed of my sketches, written as they were
from so meager an equipment. I felt this particularly about Madame
Roland. I made up my mind that I was going to know more about this
woman, that she probably would teach me what sort of contribution might
be expected from a woman in public life.

That meant research. How was I to carry it on? Whatever studying I did
depended on my ability to support myself while doing it; whatever
studying I did while on _The Chautauquan_ must be turned into something
available for the magazine. My time and strength belonged to it.
Obviously, I could not do sufficient research and continue my position;
it was as impossible as it had been to act as preceptress of the Poland
Union Seminary and at the same time carry on my study with the
microscope. Where was I to carry on this research? There was but one
place—Paris. And how was I to finance myself in Paris—a strange country
and a strange tongue—long enough to write a book? I did not consider the
possibility of getting a regular job: I did not want one. I wanted
freedom, and I had an idea that there was no freedom in belonging to
things, no freedom in security. It took time to convince myself that I
dared go on my own. But finally I succeeded.

Coming to a decision has a loosening, tonic effect on a mind which has
been floundering in uncertainty. Liberated, it rushes gaily, hopefully,
to the charting of a new course. I had no sooner resolved to strike out
on my own than my mind was bubbling with plans. I forgot that I was
thirty-three years old and, according to the code of my time and my
society, too old for new ventures; I forgot that outside of my very
limited experience on _The Chautauquan_ I knew nothing of the writing
and publishing world, had literally no acquaintance among editors; I
forgot that I was afraid of people, believed them all so much greater
and more important than they often turned out to be that it cost me
nervous chills to venture with a request into a stranger’s presence.

Dismissing all these real handicaps, I plunged gaily into planning for a
career in journalism, self-directed, free-lance journalism. Surely I
could find subjects enough in Paris to write about, subjects that would
interest American newspapers. We were in the thick of a great agitation
over the condition and the conduct of American cities. _The Chautauquan_
had touched it occasionally. How did Paris keep house? I planned a
syndicate of my own which would answer all questions. Out of my
newspaper work might not articles grow for magazines? I thought so, and
books, beginning of course with my study of Madame Roland. So long as I
told nobody about my plans, they worked beautifully, carried me upward
and onward into a new and happier, more profitable, more satisfying
world. But when I announced my decision, laid out what I proposed to do,
all the glow and confidence went out of me, all the weaknesses in my
venture came again to the top. There were friends who said none too
politely: “Remember you are past thirty. Women don’t make new places for
themselves after thirty.” There were friends who resented my decision as
a reflection on themselves. A woman whose friendship I valued said
bluntly: “You are one of us. Aren’t we good enough for you?” My act was
treason in her eyes. The whole force of the respectable circles to which
I belonged, that respectable circle which knew as I did not the value of
security won, the slender chance of replacing it if lost or abandoned,
was against me and so out of friendliness.

When I told my editor-in-chief I was leaving, going to Paris to study,
he was shocked. “How will you support yourself?” he asked, really
anxious, knowing that I must depend on my own efforts.

“By writing,” I said.

“You’re not a writer,” he said. “You’ll starve.”

He had touched the weakest point in my venture: I was not a writer, and
I knew it. I knew I never should be one in the high sense which I then
and still more now give to that word. I had neither the endowment nor
the passion nor the ambition to be a writer. I was rather a student,
wanting to understand things quite regardless of how I could use that
understanding if I reached it. There was much selfishness in my wanting
to know for the sake of knowing, much of a dead scholar in me; and that
dead scholar has always hung, more or less a weight, about my neck.

But if I was not a writer I had certain qualifications for the practice
of the modest kind of journalism on which I had decided. I counted no
little on my habit of planning in advance what I was going to do, and I
had a strong conviction that a plan of my own was worth more than any
plan which was made for me. Again, if I could not write, I did have a
certain sense of what mattered in a subject and a strong conviction that
it was my sense of what mattered, and not somebody else’s, that would
give my work freshness and strength if it was to have any.

Then there was my habit of steady, painstaking work—that ought to count
for something. And perhaps I could learn to write. If I were to do so,
could I do better than soak myself in French prose? I had read French
steadily from my school days; I had done not a little translating of
articles from the big reviews for _The Chautauquan_. If I could live
with the language, might I not master something of what seemed to me its
essential qualities, those which gave it both body and charm? These
qualities were the soundness of structure, the way it held together, and
the beautiful clarity of expression. At least I could try for them.

But when I tried to explain all this to my critical friends they
continued frankly skeptical, indignant. It was my father and mother who
backed me up, though I think they were both puzzled and fearful. “I
don’t know what you can do, Ida,” my father said, “that’s for you. If
you think you can do it, try it.” But in the end it took all the grit I
had to go ahead.

Breaking up established relations is not easy. You begin by pulling up
deeply rooted things, rooted in your heart; you abandon once cherished
purposes. When I left _The Chautauquan_ I was no longer the eager and
confident young woman who ten years before had started out for herself
in Poland, Ohio; I was ten years older, and I was keenly conscious that
I had in those ten years accumulated a fairly complete collection of
shattered idols. That I could forget them as quickly and as completely
as I did, I owe to the Paris of the nineties. I had scarcely passed her
gates before I had fallen under her spell. At once I was experiencing
all the amazing rejuvenation that comes from falling in love, whatever
the object. It was not to be “See Paris and die,” as more than one
friend had jeered. I knew with certainty it was to be “See Paris and

                             I FALL IN LOVE

Falling in love with Paris at first sight—a _coup de feu_, it was—in no
way dimmed the energy and the care with which on the day of my arrival I
began to put into operation the cautious and laborious Plan for
self-support I had brought along. It rather intensified it. As I must
begin at the bottom to build up contacts with strangers on the other
side of the ocean, and as there was but $150 in my pocket, there was no
time to waste.

In the ten years I had been trying to support myself I had learned that
the art of spending money is quite as important in a sound financial
program as the art of earning it. I had been going on the theory, as I
still am—practice is another story—that what I earned must cover my
expenses and leave a surplus for emergencies and expansion. I had
applied my principles to my small salary on _The Chautauquan_—never over
$100 a month—well enough to get myself to Paris and have this little
reserve to care for myself while I was proving or disproving that I
could convince a few American editors whom I had never seen that my
goods were worth buying.

The first step, obviously, in carrying out my program was cheap living.
Luckily for me, two of my associates on _The Chautauquan_, excited by my
undertaking, had decided to join me. One, Josephine Henderson, was a
friend of Titusville days and like myself a graduate of Allegheny
College. Jo, as we called her, was a handsome woman with a humorous look
on life—healthy for me. I have never had a friend who judged my balloons
more shrewdly or pricked them so painlessly. With us was a beautiful
girl, Mary Henry, the daughter of one of the militant W.C.T.U. workers
of that day, a neighbor and a friend as well as a co-worker of the great
temperance leader Frances Willard. At the steamer a friend of Mary’s
appeared, announcing that she, too, was going along. This meant four of
us to share rent and food.

Back in Titusville I had picked on the Latin Quarter as at once the
cheapest and the most practical place in Paris for one to live who must
go on the cheap. Then, too, the University was in the Latin Quarter, and
we were all planning to take lectures. I was even flirting with the idea
that I might find time to take a degree.

So on arrival, putting our bags in the little room of the cheap hotel on
the Right Bank to which we had gone, we headed at once for the Latin
Quarter. I had picked on the neighborhood where I wanted to settle, near
the Musée de Cluny. Not that I knew a thing about the Musée or what was
in it; simply Cluny was one of the words that had always pulled me. This
magic was largely responsible for our settling in the Rue du Sommerard
almost next door to the spot in the city which save one was to have the
greatest fascination as well as the deepest consolation for me.

But finding these quarters was no easy task. My friends gulped as I did
at the stuffiness, the dinginess, the primitive sanitation, the obvious
fleas, and the suspicion of other unmentionable pests in the places at
which we looked. But settle I would, and so with groans they consented
finally to the taking of two tiny bedrooms, a salon, along with the use
of a kitchenette in one of the four apartments controlled by a Madame
Bonnet. Our selection was not as unwise as it looked at the moment.
Indeed, as it turned out, Madame Bonnet remained my landlady throughout
the coming three years.

As quickly as we had found our lodging we established relations with the
little shops in the neighborhood where one could for a few sous buy all
the makings of a meal. You bought exactly what you needed and no more—a
single egg, one roll or croissant, a gill of milk, two cups apiece of
café au lait, never having a drop left in the pot. Brought up as we had
all been at loaded tables, the close calculation shocked us at first as
something mean, stingy. “Why, the very scraps from a meal at home would
feed us here.” And that was true—more shame to our bringing up. But we
learned to buy as our thrifty neighbors did and to like it, and we
learned how to order at the cheap and orderly little restaurants of the
Quarter so as to get a sufficient meal of really excellent food for a
franc (then nineteen cents or, as we carelessly reckoned it, twenty-one
hundred centimes to a franc). Only on grand occasions did we allow
ourselves two francs.

The pleasantest and most profitable part of the experience was the
acquaintances we made with the women who kept the little shops, the
little restaurants. As soon as they were convinced of our financial
responsibility and our social seriousness, they became friendly—a
friendliness not based on the few sous we were spending so carefully but
on interest and curiosity. We were new types to them; but, once
convinced we were what we pretended to be, they treated us with a
deference quite different from the noisy greetings they gave the people
of the neighborhood or their rather contemptuous familiarity with the
occasional cocotte who strayed in. That is, we were very soon placed by
the shopkeepers of the vicinity. It was my first lesson in the skill,
almost artistry with which all classes of the French people classify
those with whom they are thrown in contact, notably foreigners. Later I
was to observe this in the more highly developed classes where I
established professional relationship.

I was a stranger seeking information—an American journalist, a student,
so I told them. But what kind of person was I? What was there in me they
could tie to, depend upon?

Obviously I was not rich. If I had been, there would have been quickly
gathered around me a group to offer entertainment as well as treasures
to buy; but it was clear I had little money, so that was out of the
question. There are other things by which the French label you, a woman
particularly—charm, beauty, chic, _l’esprit_, seriousness, capacity to
work, intelligence, _bonté_. Those with whom I had dealings for any
length of time hit perfectly on my chief asset. I was a worker. “A
_femme travailleuse_,” they said to one another, and if they passed me
to an acquaintance that was the recommendation. No people believe more
than the French in the value and dignity in hard work. I was treated
with respect because of my working quality. It was not saying that I
should not have gone farther and faster if I had been a beauty, if I had
had what they call charm and the fine secret of using it, but they were
willing to take me for what I had. Being a worker, the chances were I
was serious. I might or might not prove intelligent, but here they gave
me the benefit of the doubt and waited for a final answer. That which
they were slowest in making up their minds about was goodness—_bonté_.
They were not willing to accept anything but natural unconscious
goodness, and it takes time to make sure about that.

While we were finding our way about, I was at work. If I did not have
the documents to prove it I would not believe today that just a week
after arriving, and in spite of the excitement and fatigue of settling,
I had written and mailed two newspaper articles.

Enamored as I was of the city, no work could have been more satisfying
than that I had laid out for myself. My little self-directed syndicate
concerned itself with the practical everyday life of the city. One is
always keen to know all the common things about the thing or person one
loves. How did Paris keep herself so clean? What did she eat and drink,
and where did she get it? How much did it cost her? Where did she go for
fun? How did she manage it that even her very poor seemed to know how to
amuse themselves, that her beggars were a recognized institution? There
were a multitude of things I thirsted to know about her. And if I could
get my bread and butter in finding out, what luck! What luck!

At once I became an omnivorous reader of the newspapers, and I found to
my joy that many of them felt as I did about the Parisian scene. They
carried paragraphs as captivating as those that our _New Yorker_
unearths for its fascinating editorial department on the city to which
it belongs. Another discovery which surprised me was that my best source
for illustration was the illustrated catalogues of the French Salons of
recent years. I wanted pictures of markets, of rivers, of beggars, of
marriages, of all the things that people were doing as they went about
their business. And what rejoiced me was that many French artists seemed
to love the streets and what went on there in much the same way that I
did. They loved to see Paris at her daily toil, meeting her daily
problems, and every year they turned out pictures showing her at it.

Later I was to discover that this daily life of the Parisians of
different classes has always been material for able artists. The best
illustrations I found for my Madame Roland in her youth were those of
Chardin in the Louvre.

My manner of living, the contacts and circumstances attending the
gathering of my material for my newspaper articles brought me for the
first time in my life into daily relations with that greatest segment of
every country’s population—those whom we call the poor, and of whom if
we are well-to-do or if we are rich we are so curiously unconscious. I
had belonged all my conscious life to the well-to-do, those who spent a
dollar without seriously weighing it. Society had seemed to me to be
chiefly made up of such people. Of course there were the rich, but they
were so few in number as to be negligible—at least they had never
counted in my life; nor had the poor counted as a permanent class. I had
the American notion that the chief economic duty of the poor was to
become well-to-do. The laborer, the clerk, the man who worked for others
should save his money, put it into the business, or start out for
himself, no matter how hard, how meager the return. Dignity and success
lay in being your own master, owning your own home—I am sure my father
would rather have grubbed corn meal and bacon from a piece of stony land
which was his own than have had all the luxuries on a salary. One of his
complaints against the great oil trust was that it was turning the men
of the Oil Region into hired men—mighty prosperous hired men, some of
them, but nevertheless taking orders, even orders as to what to say, for
whom to vote.

To his way of thinking this was failure for an American. I suspect his
philosophy working in me was at least partially responsible for my
revolt against the kind of security I had achieved on _The Chautauquan_.
I was a hired girl.

But in the society where I found myself in Paris there was no such
contempt for the fixed job. On the contrary, it was something for which
you were responsible, to which you owed an obligation. Serious workers
in Paris seemed to me to give to the job the same kind of loyalty that
serious men and women in America gave to the businesses they owned. You
respected yourself and were respected in proportion to your fidelity to
it. You might be advanced, but more probably not. Opportunity did not
grow on every bush as at home, and if it came a Frenchman’s way he
weighed it—at home you seized it, trusting to luck. Here luck seemed to
me to have little or no standing in a business enterprise, big as it
counted in the lotteries in which everybody took part. To my surprise I
found these people, working so busily and constantly, were not restless
like the Americans; nor were they generally envious. I had a feeling
that my concierge, who never had been across the Seine to the Right
Bank, who lived in a room almost filled by her huge bed and its great
feather puffs, who must have looked long at a sou before she spent it,
would not have changed places with anybody in Paris. Were not the
lodgers on whom she kept so strict a watch kind, generous, and regular
with fees? Had she not friends in the street? Might she not win a slice
of a fortune one day from the fraction of a lottery ticket which she
annually found a way to buy? And who had so magnificent a cat? The pride
of the House. What more could she ask?

Certainly there was more interest in the tasks, less restlessness, less
envy, than in the same class in America. Was it my father’s philosophy
which made the difference? Was it your duty if you were poor to struggle
to be well-to-do, and if well-to-do struggle to be rich? It meant you
were always trying to be somebody else. If it was your duty to be
discontented, could you escape envy? Was it not necessary, if you were
to keep yourself up to the effort, to feed yourself on envy as in war
men must be fed on hate if they are to kill with vigor and gusto?

It was too much to believe that the content, the fidelity to the job
were universal. Nevertheless, it was sufficient to cement the laborious
poor into a powerful and recognized class, a class with traditions,
customs, recognized relations to other classes, having its own manner of
homes, amusements, worship; a class self-respecting, jealous of its
prerogatives, and able in need to protect itself.

But the multitude of hard-working and fairly satisfied men and women
were not all the poor with whom I came close. There were those who could
find no work; there were many of them, for the long world depression of
the nineties was on its way. The winter of ’91 and ’92 was a cruel one,
and the museums, libraries, lecture rooms, churches where I went about
my daily duties were swarmed with poor souls trying to deceive the
guardians into thinking that they had come to study pictures, read
books, listen to lectures, to confess their sins or listen to mass. The
guardians only saw them when they became a crowd or attempted to camp
for the day. Most pathetic to me were their efforts to make furtive
toilets, taking a comb from a pocket to smooth tangled hair, scissors to
cut the fringe from a frayed cuff.

There were soup kitchens to keep them from starving, though many a one
starved or froze or ended his misery in the Seine that winter. At one of
these kitchens I officiated for a brief time. It was run by the McAll
Mission in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. I was not there as a Samaritan
but as a reporter looking for copy. What could I do for them but tell
Americans what a few Americans were doing in Paris to ease the vast
misery? It might bring a few sous for soup. I believe it did.

But they pulled less strongly on my sympathy than a class of the poor
which I found to be in our Quarter—men and women no longer young, past
the employing age, who lived alone on tiny incomes, sometimes the fruit
of their own past thrift, sometimes an inheritance, again the gift of a
friend. I watched and speculated about how they did it, the more
seriously because I asked myself if the day might be coming when I
should belong to this class. If I ever did, I hoped I could carry it off
with as much dignity as the one called the Countess on our street. She
lived _sous les toits_ in a high house opposite me, a tall, erect,
white-haired woman in a gown and cape of faded and patched silk which
still showed its quality as did its wearer. More than once I watched her
stop late at night at the garbage can on the sidewalk opposite, turning
over its contents. Many of the tradespeople seemed to feel that she
honored them when she came in to buy an occasional egg or apple. She was
so gracious, so completely _grande dame_. One day I heard the woman from
whom I bought my café au lait say: “Will not Madame honor me by trying
my coffee? It is still hot.” She was pouring out a cup as she said it,
and the Countess with a benignant smile said, “If that will give you
pleasure, my good Marie.” She needed it. Marie knew that, but Marie was
more than paid by that smile. “It is a great honor,” she told me lest,
being a foreigner, I did not understand the Countess, “to have so great
a lady come into one’s shop.” There it was again, another standard than
money, the standard of class, breeding, cultivation, the grand manner.

The more I saw of the gallant poor of Paris, the more convinced I was if
they could get on so could I, learning to live on what I could make. And
I was going to make something. My doubt about that was set at rest some
six weeks after my arrival when I received a check for my first
syndicate article—$5.00. It was quickly followed by checks from two more
of the six papers to which I had submitted my syndicate proposition—50
per cent was not a bad percentage and they were good papers, the
Pittsburgh _Dispatch_, the Cincinnati _Times-Star_ and the Chicago
_Tribune_. These three papers remained faithful to me until the election
of 1892 compelled them to give all their space to politics, so they
explained. I believed them, for they had all written me kind letters
about my stuff and the _Times-Star_, unsolicited, raised my pay to

Then the unbelievable happened. In December, a little less than three
months after my arrival in Paris, _Scribner’s Magazine_ accepted a
story—a grand Christmas present indeed, that news. Fiction was not in
the Plan, but one of the first pieces of work that I did after arriving
in Paris was a story born of a delightful relationship with an old
French dyer of Titusville, Monsieur Claude. As soon as I had finally
determined that I would burn all bridges and go to Paris for study, I
had set about my preparation in thorough fashion. There was the
language. I had read it fluently for years—but speak it? No. Could I
master enough in the few months I had before sailing to find my way
about? If so, I must have some one to talk with. The best the town
afforded was Monsieur Claude and his mouselike wife. They were flattered
by my request. Three times a week I went, and we talked and studied
until they both were sure I could make myself understood in common
matters. In this delightful association I discovered that the passion of
Monsieur Claude, the longing of his heart, was to see France before he
died. He had insisted that I learn and almost daily repeat Béranger’s
“France Adorée.” Once in Paris, I understood him, wrote his story, sent
it—a trial balloon—to _Scribner’s Magazine_.

The selection was made on a principle which young writers too rarely
consider when they attempt to place their wares, and that is
understanding of the tastes and prejudices and hobbies of periodicals.
Useless in 1890 to send a story on “France Adorée” to a magazine which
was interested purely and simply in realistic literature; but the
inexperienced writer frequently does not realize that. Naturally I had
learned in my work on _The Chautauquan_ something of the pet interests
of the leading publishing houses. I knew that _Scribner’s_ enjoyed
French cultivation, French character, French history. I hoped my
sentimental title “France Adorée” would not antagonize the editor of
_Scribner’s Magazine_.

But I had expected nothing from it, being in that state of mind where I
had ceased to expect, only to accept. So that when I received a friendly
letter from Mr. Burlingame, the editor of the magazine, saying that he
liked the story, that he accepted it, I felt as one must who suddenly
draws a fortune in the sweepstakes.

In due time a check for $100 arrived. What excitement in our little
salon when I showed my companions that check! “Now,” declared our
beautiful Mary, “we can move to the Champs Elysées.” And she would have
done it, for she was one of those who always see spring in a single
sparrow. We stayed where we were, I requiring a whole flock of sparrows
to convince me that it was spring.

The influence of the story on my fortunes was all out of proportion to
its value. Most important was the courage it gave me. If I, a stranger,
could do something that a great editor of a great magazine thought good
enough to accept, why, after all, I might work it out. That which moved
me most deeply, gave me joy that made me weep, was that now I should
have something to show to my family. I had felt a deserter. Times were
hard in the Titusville household in these early nineties. My father’s
and brother’s experiences in the oil business—of which I want to speak
later—were more than discouraging; they were alarming. My sister was ill
and in the hospital; my mother’s letters were saturated with anxiety.
And here was I—the eldest child in the family, a woman of years and of
some experience, who had been given an education, whose social
philosophy demanded that she do her part in working out family
problems—here was I across the ocean writing picayune pieces at a fourth
of a cent a word while they struggled there. I felt guilty, and the only
way I had kept myself up to what I had undertaken was the hope that I
could eventually make a substantial return. If any one of the family
felt that I should have been at home there never was a hint of it. From
them I had unwavering sympathy and encouragement.

But if in three months’ time I could do what I had done, and I made the
most of it in my letters home, why, then they would see some hope for
the future. Not only would the story help them to believe in me, it
would give something more imposing to show to inquiring friends than the
newspaper articles which had been their only exhibit.

When the story appeared in the following spring the reverberations in my
Paris circle were encouraging and useful. I even heard of it from “the
other side,” as we called the Right Bank, for Theodore Stanton (at that
time the head of the Associated Press in Paris) came with Mrs. Stanton
to call on me and tell me he liked the story.

The most important fruit was that Mr. Burlingame looked me up when he
made his annual spring visit to Europe. Here was my chance to tell him
about Madame Roland, to ask if he thought his house would be interested
in such a biography if it turned out to be a good piece of work. “The
suggestion would have to be considered in New York,” he replied. But he
promised me it would be considered. And it was, for not long afterwards
he wrote me that the house was interested in my project, certainly
wanted to see the manuscript.

This was enough to settle finally a struggle that had tormented me for
many weeks. I had come to Paris determined to fit myself for magazine
work along historical and biographical lines; but once close to the
world of the scholar, surrounded by men and a few women who lived stern,
self-denying lives in order to master a field however small I was seized
with an ambition to be a scholar. It was a throwback to my old passion
for the microscope. I would specialize in the French Revolution—I would
become a professor.

But Mr. Burlingame’s answer to my inquiry as to whether the Scribner
company would be friendly to a biographical study of my lady settled the
matter; which shows, I take it, how shallow my scholarly ambitions
really were.

The Scribner connection was not the only one putting heart into me.
Among my early trial balloons was one marked for McClure’s Syndicate,
New York City. It carried an article of two thousand words with a catchy
title—“The King of Paris”—cribbed from a French newspaper. It was the
story of Jean Alphand and his services to the city. The balloon reached
its destination. The article was promptly accepted with a promise of $10
when it was published, also a suggestion that they would be glad to
consider other subjects if I had them to offer—which I did. Indeed, I
gave them no time to forget me; not that they took all I hustled across
the Atlantic, but they took enough to make me feel that this might be a
stable and prosperous market for short and timely articles. When
suggestions finally began to come from them I felt the ground firmer on
my feet. One of these suggestions led me into an especially attractive
new field, and in the long run had important bearing on my major
interest, Madame Roland. It was that I try a series of sketches of
French women writers. There was a respectable group of them, and I asked
nothing better than to look them up.

I began with a woman who at that time was introducing leading
contemporary English and American writers to the French through the
_Revue des deux Mondes_—Madame Blanc, her pen name Théodore Bentzon, a
person of rare distinction and of gallant soul. She had been a lady in
waiting at Napoleon III’s court, had made an unfortunate marriage, was
now living on a small income and what she could earn by writing. In her
salon there was a portrait taken in her young womanhood which charmed
me, but when I spoke of it she shook her head as if she did not want to
remember it. “Une femme qui n’existe plus,” she said.

Hard worker as Madame Blanc was, she found time to start me on my rounds
among the French women writers. I doubt if there was an American writer
of our day who would have had both the kindness of heart and the
sureness of herself to take so much trouble for an unknown woman. She
started me off, and I turned out ten or a dozen little pieces before I
was through. With one of my subjects I had an amusing flirtation—I think
I may call it a flirtation. This was Madame Dieulafoy who with her
husband had done eminent work in archaeology, and who had a roomful of
exhibits in the Louvre to her credit—a very great person indeed. Madame
Dieulafoy was the only woman I had ever seen at that time who wore men’s
clothes. It had been found necessary to put her into trousers for
excavating work, and she liked them so well and Monsieur Dieulafoy loved
her so in them that they had obtained permission from the French
Government for her to wear them in Paris. From more than one source I
heard of the sensation she created among servants when she came to call.
They abandoned their duties to peep from dark places at the woman in
men’s clothes.

Madame Dieulafoy and I grew friendly over the history of the exploits of
women in the world, and it took no time at all for me to decide to write
the history of women from Eve up, as if I had not already enough on my
hands. She applauded my idea, gave me many suggestions, but it never
went any further than my few visits, which as I say were more or less
flirtations. She was such a pretty little man, so immaculate (the best
tailors in Paris did her, I was told), that I could not keep admiring
eyes off her. She used her eyes, too, and loved to pat me on the knee,
partly I suppose because I always blushed when she did it. It was an
amusing acquaintance and a profitable one to me, for she was as
interested in my plans for articles as if I had been one of her own.

Another woman who interested me greatly was Judith Gautier. My interest
was stirred by my indignation that her name had been left off the list
of living women distinguished in French literature sent to the Chicago
Exposition of 1893. There was much speculation among my friends as to
how it happened. My own conclusion was that it was because of her long
and impassioned devotion to the music of Richard Wagner.

The first Wagner opera to be given in Paris was “Tannhäuser.” This was
in the early sixties, when Judith Gautier was about fourteen years old.
She went to the opera with her father—Théophile Gautier—and was
enthusiastic although the house received it coldly. As they were walking
home a little fellow with hollow cheeks, eagle nose, and very bright
eyes joined them. He rejoiced with cheerful violence over the failure of
the opera. The girl, angered, forgot her manners and blurted out, “It is
clear, sir, that you know you have heard a masterpiece, and that you are
talking of a rival.”

“Do you know who that was, saucebox?” her delighted father asked as they
passed on.

“No, who?”

“Hector Berlioz.”

It was the beginning of a lifelong devotion. Wagner was to her not only
the master musician but a species of divinity. In 1882 she published a
volume on him—valuable for its reminiscences.

Early in the winter of 1892 “Lohengrin” was announced for the season of
Grand Opera. I was amazed at the loud and bitter protests. Among the few
lovers of Wagner who had courage to come to the defense of the master
was Judith Gautier. She was abused for it. As this was my first
realization that political hatred ever influences the judgment in
matters of art, I took the incident very much to heart. I could
understand why people might dislike Wagnerian music, but that the
soldiers should be called out to protect the Opera House when one of his
greatest works was to be given shocked me. You could then so hate an
enemy that beauty herself was outraged!

It was easy for me to conclude that Judith Gautier’s name had been left
off the list of writing women sent to the Chicago Exposition because the
committee wanted to punish her for defending the works of a great artist
in whom she profoundly believed.

The opening up of opportunities so much more quickly than I had dared
dream spurred me to longer and harder hours at work. There were few
mornings that I was not at my desk at eight o’clock; there were few
nights that I went to bed before midnight, and there was real drudgery
in making legible copy after my article was written. It was all done by
longhand—careful and painstaking handwriting, it was. I was to find
later that Mr. McClure’s partner in the Syndicate, Mr. J. S. Phillips,
trying to estimate the possibilities in this correspondent bombarding
them with articles and suggestions, set me down from my handwriting as a
middle-aged New England schoolteacher.

But if life was hard and life was meager, and if down at the bottom of
my heart it was continuously in question to which class of the poor I
would finally belong, life to my surprise was taking on a varied pattern
very different from the drab existence of hard work and self-denial that
I had planned and was prepared to endure to the end. It began at the Rue
du Sommerard, where at the outset we stumbled on what turned out to be
the most colorful, unusual, and frequently perplexing association that
had ever come the way of any one of us.

When we took our rooms from Madame Bonnet she had told us that one room
in the apartment was reserved for an Egyptian Prince who came only for
the week ends. He was _bien comme il faut_, _très riche_, _très_
everything desirable. He would not disturb us, we might never see him.
Upon inquiry we discovered that all Madame Bonnet’s rooms save those we
were taking were occupied by Egyptian students of law or medicine or
diplomacy. The Prince, himself, a cousin of the Khedive, was in the
military school at Saint-Cyr. He kept a room at Madame Bonnet’s to spend
an occasional holiday or Sunday with his compatriots, all of his age and
all of the upper classes.

We all shared the American flutter over titles, and when we caught a
first glimpse of the Prince and his friends we were still more excited.
They were quite the most elegant-looking male specimens so far as
manners and clothes went that any one of us had ever seen. Here was more
in the way of flavor than we had bargained for. We had come to study the
French and had dropped into an Egyptian colony.

We soon discovered that they were as curious about us as we were about
them, for hardly were we settled when Madame Bonnet came to say that the
_messieurs_ were all in her salon. Wouldn’t we come in and make their
acquaintance? Of course we went. They wanted us to dance. Now it was
Sunday, and we had all been brought up under the Methodist discipline.
Sunday was a day of rest and worship and no play, no amusement of any
kind. In my household at least I was supposed to play only hymns on the
piano as we were supposed to read only religious books. My mother and I
compromised at last on Gottschalk’s “Last Hope”; she, being moved by the
story of its composition, thought that it must be religious, but
“Martha” and “Poet and Peasant,” my two other show pieces, were

Indeed, when I was forty years old my father, catching me reading a
volume of a certain Congressional trust investigation on a Sunday
afternoon, reproved me in his gentle way. “You shouldn’t read that on
Sunday, Ida.” I quickly exchanged it for “Pilgrim’s Progress,” which is
not without suggestion for a student of the trust.

My young companions were particularly shocked at the Egyptians’
invitation to dance. I think it had never occurred to them that all
people did not keep Sunday. “No,” we said a little severely, “we don’t
dance on Sunday.” I had the satisfaction of hearing them whisper soberly
to one another, “_très religieuses_.” It was just as well, I thought,
they should have that idea to start with; better than starting with the
degree of intimacy they might see in our dancing in their landlady’s
salon on a first meeting.

But we had what was for us an exciting evening, and when we left and
they all begged “Come again” we promised that we would.

It was the beginning of a weekly party. Madame Bonnet gave the Egyptians
their dinners. We agreed to take dinners once a week with her. We
couldn’t afford more, and besides we wanted to be on the safe side in
our relations. There must be no question in their minds about our entire
respectability—respectability as we understood it. What interested me
particularly was that at once they wanted to understand our conventions,
social and religious and political. Nothing disturbed them more, I
found, than a feeling that perhaps they had not quite understood, that
unintentionally they had infringed on our customs. Once convinced of
this, we could go with entire freedom to our weekly Egyptian evenings.
As I recall them they were happy evenings much like children’s parties
at home, for the Egyptians loved games, tricks, charades, play of any
sort. They laughed and shouted and, if something went wrong, flew into a
rage like children.

The meat of the connection was the talk which sometimes ran far into the
night. All of these young men were in training for some kind of
professional or official position. Two or three of them had taken from
three to four years at German gymnasia or English universities. All of
them spoke three or four languages. The Prince’s English was perfect,
and no one of us could ever hope to approach the French of the group,
learned for the most part in Switzerland as children. They had much more
curiosity and real information about the social customs of other
countries than we had. They were eager to know all about our ways,
particularly the life of women, their relation to men before and after

There were would-be reformers of Egyptian marriage customs among them;
especially did they resent the convention which prevented them looking
at the face of the bride before the marriage ceremony. One of the group
had made a vow never to marry as long as that custom existed and was
urging his compatriots to join him. Nearly all of them insisted that
they would never marry more than one woman. They asked with a frankness
startling to our ears about the way monogamy worked in the United
States. They were curious to know the position of the mistress, and when
we were shocked and insisted that a good man never had a mistress they
were frankly incredulous. It would never work out, they insisted. One
wife they understood; but one wife and no mistress seemed entirely

Politics interested them profoundly. Particularly did they hate
England—how deeply and bitterly I did not realize until in January of
’92 news of the death of the Khedive, Tewfik Pasha son of Ismail Pasha,
great-grandson of Mehemet Ali, came to the Rue du Sommerard. Madame
Bonnet came in at once to tell us how sorrowful our friends were and to
ask that we dine with them that night. We found them very grave. “He was
a good man,” they insisted, “our friend.” What was going to happen now?
I took it they feared changes in government which might make their own
futures uncertain. They were uneasy, frightened and wanted us to
understand the reason behind their anxiety.

After dinner a large number of their compatriots filed into the room. We
were begged to stay. They evidently wanted us to understand better their
suspicion of what England might do in this crisis. The longer the talk,
the more bitter they grew.

“Down with England!” they began to cry.

Indignation and enthusiasm are qualities as contagious as disease.
Before I realized it, I shared their anger and was drinking repeatedly
in _l’eau sucrée_—good Mohammedans that our Egyptians were, they never
touched wine—drinking repeatedly to loud and angry roars of “A bas

The Egyptians were not only a picturesque and enlivening feature in our
life: they had a social value which they never suspected. We used them
rather shamelessly to impress wandering Americans who looked with badly
concealed scorn on the Latin Quarter and particularly on our narrow and
stuffy rooms. “A Prince was our neighbor,” we said loftily, and to prove
it we could show an autographed photograph which the Prince on his own
notion had given me. I kept it on the mantel in the little salon. When
we felt particular need of asserting ourselves we told of our weekly
dinners and they lost nothing of their gaiety and interest in our
telling. There was so much more flavor in them, we always assured those
who tried to high-hat us, than ordinary sightseeing offered!

I have always felt rather proud of the way we handled ourselves in that
year, keeping the entire respect of our Egyptians. It was not always so
easy. It fell into my awkward hands to handle one rather violent love
affair. A pretty and vivacious young girl had joined our party at the
request of her brother: “Will you look after her?” The Egyptians were
delighted with her, and she treated them as she might a group of
American boys, could see no reason why she should not go out with them.
Only our combined disapproval, our insistence that if she did she soon
would be classed in the Quarter as little better than the gay little
girls who swarmed about, and with whom we occasionally out of the corner
of our eyes saw our Egyptians: she must not run that risk. But while
that was managed the inevitable stir of youth could not be managed, and
it was not long before I had one of the nicest of the boys begging me on
his knees to let him pay his addresses to my little friend, insisting
that he would marry her, never take another wife. He wept and pleaded,
but I held my ground until finally the young girl who loved his suit but
not the boy was safely on the ocean.

A long time afterwards I had proof that we did look after ourselves.
When a couple of our party were going to Italy one of these young men
gave them a letter of introduction to an Egyptian friend in Milan. The
letter was not presented, and not opened until two or three years later,
when my friend showed me the postscript. It read: “Surtout soyez
convenable avec ces dames.”

After the Egyptians came our French professor, a woman of forty, buxom,
competent, gay-hearted, an able teacher. I have never known man or woman
more shrewd in gauging character or more expert in turning the qualities
she found to her own advantage. If she respected or admired them she
took no more than she gave—frequently, as in my case, much less. But if
she found a pupil lazy or dishonest or stingy or rich and irresponsible,
she took mercilessly. “Such people deserve nothing—nothing,” she
declared once when I protested.

She respected me because I worked, but she always told me frankly that
although I read French easily and wrote it _pas mal_ I should always
speak it with the “detestable” English accent. “No ear—too old.”
However, I could be made more fluent, my vocabulary enlarged, my grammar
perfected. And to that end she bent all her efforts, establishing
several useful exchange relations. The chief of these was her most
intimate friend, Monsieur X, a man who I suppose had been for many years
her lover.

Monsieur X had no superior intelligence; but he was industrious and _bon
enfant_, and partly at least through the help of Madame A had come to
hold an excellent official position. She kept him busy improving his
chances. At the moment she took me on she had him translating a big
volume on the English system of handling the unemployed and the
helplessly poor, an acute problem for France in the early nineties. As
she already had pried out of me full information of all I was trying to
do, she saw at once the possibility of a trade. If I would help him in
translating, he would secure reports and information on subjects in
which I was interested. It seemed a good thing for me at any rate, and
the arrangement was made.

I continued to help with the book until it was published. It was well
received, even _couronné_ by the Academy of Science. To my astonishment
I found then that Madame A’s interest in this book and its success was
that it would help her in making a more profitable marriage for Monsieur
X. They had settled on a wife—that, I knew—but, as she told me, his
position was so much improved by the success of his book that he was
worth a much larger dot. Therefore, she set out with his help, I
suppose, to find another wife. They succeeded, and the affair was

I was deeply disturbed by the matter. I believed, as I still do, that
the only safe basis for a happy marriage is a compound of physical
harmony, capacity for companionship combined with understanding and
acceptance of each other’s ideals. I could see little chance where it
was a matter chiefly of balanced income. But Madame A had no sympathy
with my idealistic attitude towards marriage.

Of course it left her high and dry. The little dinners which the three
of us had shared almost every week became dinners _à deux_. The first
night I was torn with sympathy.

“Will you never see him again?” I asked.

“Of course, not now, later perhaps. These things arrange themselves,

But I noticed she ordered a double cognac that night.

Madame A rendered one very great service to our group, one which we
could never repay. We had been but a short time in Paris before we
realized that one of our duties was to be helping out American girls and
women who had come to Europe to study a little, sight-see a little,
travel a little, expecting easily to form congenial relations with the
people of the country, and who for one reason or another had never been
able to do this. They were disappointed and unhappy. The four of us
standing together made a nucleus they envied. We made it a rule to do
our best to help them out; but at least in one case it involved us in
serious trouble.

Among those who had attached themselves to us was a woman of some forty
or more years with a curiously repellent personality. I have never known
a person to produce a more melancholy effect on strangers. I have seen
our little salon empty itself if she dropped in on our evening at home.
Even Madame Bonnet’s little black dog Riquet, who had adopted us, would
slink around the edge of the room and beg to be let out if she came in.
What was the matter? We could not imagine. More than once she threw
herself into my arms and sobbed that she was unhappy, in great trouble,
of which she could not speak.

Miss C had been some three months in the house when we came home from a
week-end trip to be met by an outraged Madame Bonnet. Miss C, she told
us, had been arrested, arrested for stealing at the Bon Marché and the
Louvre. She was in Saint-Lazaire. There was a note for me. I must do
something. Think of the disgrace to her establishment!

The note told me only where she was, that she had engaged a lawyer,
asked me to see him. I did, and found him of the type which I suppose
hangs around all prisons into which great cities dump women of the
street and petty criminals. His only interest was in a possible
retainer. How much would I pay him for taking the case? Nothing, I
assured him, until I had talked to the American authorities. I went to
the consulate, where an irate and worried official swore loudly at the
faculty of American women for getting into trouble in France.

“Here I am,” he said, “saddled with a girl who is going to have a baby
and who swears she’ll kill herself if I don’t arrange for her to have it
so her family will never know.

“I was afraid she would do it too, and then there would be another nasty
scandal to hush up, so I got the man here and told him he must put up
the money to see her through.

“He laughed at me; but I pulled this revolver out of the drawer”
(suiting the action to the word) “and told him I thought I ought to
shoot him, but that if I didn’t I’d send for the girl’s brother and see
that he did. Well, he settled for ten thousand francs. But that does not
let me off. What am I going to do with the baby? And now here you are
with one of the nastiest kind of cases for a French court. They can’t
stand foreigners stealing from them.”

“But what am I to do?” I wailed.

“She’ll have to stand a public trial. You must impress the judges. Find
out if she’s got friends. Get cablegrams. Show she has relatives willing
to help her. Read her letters. See if they don’t show what is behind
this, and when the trial comes have all the pretty girls and
prosperous-looking men you know present. They’ll look at you, and
they’ll think twice. Put on a campaign, woman.”

And so I started out to put on a campaign. I began by reading her
letters. I did not go far before I had the story—a tragic one. Miss C
was well born, her family prosperous and important in her state, she a
graduate of a great university. She had been a successful teacher, was
to have been married to a man whom she had loved for years with passion
and depth. For reasons I never knew the engagement was broken. In an
attempt to forget, patch up her shattered hopes, she had come to Europe
for study and travel; but she couldn’t forget, and every week for months
she had written the man long letters and every week they had come back
to her unopened.

Her despair became so black that, as she told me later, “I had to do
something.” And so, as when one bites on a sore tooth, she had begun to
steal. The proofs of it were all there in her room: a pathetic
collection of articles, not worth stealing, slipped mainly from bargain
counters. Among them there were at least seventy pairs of gloves of
every size and color—none of them any one of us would have worn. There
were some fifty pen knives; there were a pile of half-bolts of ribbon
and lace, innumerable spools of silk and cotton, packages of pins and
needles. All taken not because she wanted them, only to hurt herself in
another spot, take her mind from the original wound.

Understanding her wretchedness, I could sympathize with her folly. I
began my campaign by telling Madame of our trouble. She detested Miss C,
thought her crazy, though she admitted she was a better pupil than any
one of us, but here was excitement, also an opportunity to serve us.
What the consul had not suggested, she did.

There was a long wait. Our prisoner was transferred to the Conciergerie,
where I went to see her. A gruesome trip under the very windows from
which I knew Madame Roland had looked in the days before she mounted the
cart and took her last ride along the quay to the guillotine.

When the trial came the sympathizing claque was a grand success. At
Madame A’s suggestion we dressed for it in the best we had, bought new
flowers for our hats and fresh gloves, brought over two or three
handsome young women from the Champs Elysées Quarter. As for Madame A
herself, she made a toilette which even a judge would see and hear.

I had suggested that Monsieur X, being an important person, might
impress the judge. She was horrified. “Drag a member of the Government
into such a stupid affair! No, you Americans must do it. I’ll bring the
rich American.”

And she did. The rich American was a wealthy idler who for several
winters had taken lessons from her, largely, I think, because he found
her so pungent and amusing. He treated her royally as to fees and kept
her in flowers and candy. He looked his part of important man of
affairs. No one could have added more to our display, for one could see
even the judges eyeing enviously the elegance of his clothes.

Petty larceny cases were at that time, and I suppose still are, taken
into a courtroom perhaps forty by twenty, with seats for friends and the
public. On a mounted platform at the end sat three judges in their
robes. A dossier of each case lay before them; they had for our friend a
rather impressive collection of documents, cablegrams from her family,
proofs that her father was or had been a man of importance in public
affairs, her college diploma, her check book and a letter of credit
showing her to have ample funds.

When all was ready seven prisoners were brought in, six men half
degenerate petty thieves and our poor pale tired friend between them.
Nothing more incongruous could have been seen than this well dressed
woman of evident breeding flanked by these hopeless derelicts.

After looking over the papers in her dossier the judges looked at her
and then at us, now paler than she and praying for mercy with eyes and
clasped hands. They were perplexed and annoyed. Was there an
international angle to the case?

“What are you doing in Paris?” asked one of them harshly.

“Studying,” Miss C answered.

“You take a queer way to do it,” he said tartly. “Why did you do this?”
he asked more gently.

With a weary shake of her head she said, “Je ne sais pas.”

It was Madame A who won the case, for it was to her the judges turned as
one who, they knew at a glimpse, talked their language. She sailed down
the aisle to take her stand before them, and I never have seen any one,
man or woman, to whom one could so aptly apply the old figure, “like a
full-rigged ship.” They let her talk. She told how _comme il faut_ we
all were—as they could see. We were important, serious, rich. Yes, rich.
Then she said candidly: “This woman is crazy. Send her home to her

She had solved their problem, told them their duty, and they followed
her advice, adding a fine of five hundred francs and an order that she
leave France in a week after her dismissal, and never return.

Madame A had saved Miss C, but she wanted no thanks from her, wouldn’t
see her; nor would Madame Bonnet let her come into the house save to
gather up her things. She had been a fool and got caught. To steal the
_riens_ as she had! It was a disgrace and respectable people like them
could not afford to have her cross their doorways.

Luckily for us, our association with American women was not confined to
problem cases. There was a disturbing number of them compelling me to
ask myself again and again if this break for freedom, this revolt
against security in which I myself was taking part was not a fatal
adventure bound to injure the family, the one institution in which I
believed more than any other, bound to produce a terrible crop of
wretchedness and abnormality. Had not even the few successes I saw about
me been paid for by a hardening of heart, a suppression of natural human
joyousness that was uglier even than the case of my poor Miss C?

But I was saved from too much perplexity over what freedom might be
doing to my compatriots by a gradual drifting into rather close
companionship with a number of Americans like ourselves taking lectures
at the Sorbonne, and the Collège de France. It was a great piece of luck
for us since these Americans were all students of more experience and
attainment than any one of us. There was Dr. John Vincent of the History
Department of Johns Hopkins University, and along with him his wife who
spent hours of every day making beautiful copies of canvases in the
Luxembourg. There were Fred Parker Emery of the English Department of
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his wife. There was a younger
man, Charles D. Hazen, a Hopkins graduate—a man who was to make a
distinguished career for himself in French history, and now Professor
Emeritus of History at Columbia, the author of many valuable books.

Serious work did not dull our new friends’ curiosity about French life
in general nor prevent a humorous detached view of things. We soon were
dining together every week in restaurants of the Quarter into which we
had never ventured before. Here for one franc, fifty (thirty cents) we
got a decent dinner—_vin compris_, as well as a gay company of students
and their girls. They were so merry, so natural in their gaiety that
none of us were anything but amused over their little ways. It was in
one of these restaurants that for the first time in my life I saw a girl
take out a compact, straighten her hat—her head had been on her
cavalier’s shoulder and it was out of plumb—straighten her hat and
powder her nose. That the day would come when the manners and customs of
the Latin Quarter of the nineties would be the manners and customs of
American girls in practically every rank of life would have been
unthinkable to me then.

Our new friends added greatly to the pleasure of the weekly sightseeing
excursions which had been one of the features of The Plan. “Every week
end, go somewhere”—I had laid down. So every Saturday we were taking a
_bateau mouche_ or train or tram journey costing only a few of our
precious sous—to Saint-Denis, the September fête at Saint-Cloud,
Versailles. If the weather was bad we went to the museums, the churches,
the monuments. Our new friends liked the idea. When spring came our
promenades took on a wider range. There were week-end trips to
Fontainebleau and to one after another of the great cathedral and
château towns—Chartres, Beauvais, Rheims, Pierrefonds, Compiègne.

Week ends in company as genial, unaffected and intelligent as that of
our new friends proved were a rare experience. When the time came for a
final break-up of the crowd in August of 1892—my first companions had
already gone back to America—those left of us decided to take a farewell
vacation together. The difficulty was to settle on a place. Here was
something not on my schedule. We considered Etaples, Beuzeval-Houlgate,
Belle-Île and finally at the last moment took tickets to
Mont-Saint-Michel—a glorious spot; but after watching the tide come in
for two successive days, after climbing to the top and descending to the
bottom of the château, sitting out sunsets on the wall and eating
omelettes at Madame Poulard’s until we were fed to the full we pushed on
to Saint-Malo and exhausted it as quickly as we had Mont-Saint-Michel.
As we listened bored to the orchestra in the square a poster on a wall
suddenly caught our collective eyes. It told us to go to the Island of
Jersey. With one accord we said “Let’s,” packed our bags and caught the
steamer all within an hour. At Jersey we walked into lodgings: rooms,
plenty of them; a salon looking on the sea; such sea fish and vegetables
and fruit as only that island offers. We thought it was costing a
fortune, but when the bill came—house, housekeeper, maid, and food such
as we had not had for a year—it totaled just eighty cents apiece for a

That vacation put a gay finish on my first year in Paris. I began the
second in deep depression, for several good reasons. First, I had
exhausted my reserve. I think I came back from my vacation with twenty
francs in my pocket. All my American associates were gone or going soon.
I had a new address, for Madame Bonnet had moved from the neighborhood
of the Musée Cluny to the more somber neighborhood of the Panthéon and,
hardest of all, I knew now that instead of one year more I must have at
least two to finish my undertaking. The homesickness and hunger for my
family had never been appeased. I had lived on their letters. If they
did not come regularly I scolded and wailed; I begged for details of
their daily life. My mother was an intimate letter writer, delightfully
frank about her neighbors and about the family. She told who was at
church, fretted because father spent so much time with his precious
Sunday school class of girls, described every new frock, told what they
had for Sunday dinner, announced the first green corn in the garden, the
blossoming of her pet flowers—snowdrops and primulas and iris in the
spring, roses in the summer, anemones in the fall, cactus in the winter.
Occasionally she would apologize for her homely details, particularly
after I had written a long guidebookish epistle home describing some
ancient monument I had been visiting. How I must have bored them
sometimes! But home details—“I live off them,” I told her. “You can’t
tell me too much about your daily doings.”

This feeling about my family made me a sensitive receiving plate and
accounts, I suppose, for the only proof I personally have ever had of
the possibilities in telepathy. This came the first Sunday of June,
1892. I had hardly taken my coffee when I fell prey to a most
unaccountable alarm. What it was about, I did not know. I could not work
and finally went to the street. For hours I walked, not able to throw
off the black thing that enveloped me. It was late in the afternoon when
I returned to find a compatriot with a letter of introduction waiting.
As he was leaving the apartment after his call I picked up my daily copy
of _Le Temps_ and as I always did turned first to the news from _les
Etats Unis_. It was to read that the city of Titusville and its neighbor
Oil City had been utterly destroyed by flood and fire. The only
buildings left in my home town were said to be the railroad station and
a foundry. A hundred and fifty persons had been drowned or burned to
death—the inhabitants had taken to the hills.

At that moment my caller came back for his umbrella. I seized him
roughly: “Read, read. What shall I do?”

He was a sensible man. “Steady, steady,” he said. “Put on your hat, and
we’ll go out and get other papers.” We were soon back with the last
editions of all the English and French journals. They all gave space to
the disaster, each more distressing and unsatisfactory than the one

This explains my black day, I told myself. The family is dead—our home
gone. It was useless to cable, for the newspapers all spoke of broken
communications. But the next morning as I was dressing, Madame Bonnet
came in with a cablegram. Hardly daring to open it I backed into the
corner of the room to feel the support behind me of the walls while my
friend Mrs. Vincent, still with me, watched with white face. The
telegram was from my brother, and it had just one word. “Safe.”

When finally a letter came, I found I had justification for my day of
horror. For many hours there had been but little doubt in the minds of
my father and brother that the family would have to take to the hills.
But they were safe, our home was standing. The experience left me more
nervous than ever about them, and now that my friends were gone it took
all the resolution I could summon to keep my foolish alarms under

Although I was beginning my second year with no money in the bank I had
friendly relations with two publishing firms that seemed to see a
possible something in my work. There was _Scribner’s Magazine_, a
relation of which I was justly proud; not only had they encouraged me
about my book, but they had asked me to let them consider magazine
subjects that interested me and that I was doing. But, while it was the
relation on which I hoped to build serious work in the future, at the
moment I must share it with something of quicker return; and that seemed
to be the McClure Syndicate. I felt surer of this after my first meeting
with its founder, S. S. McClure. That meeting had been just before my
vacation in the summer of 1892; Mr. McClure had dropped into Paris in
the meteoric fashion I found was usual with him, and came by appointment
to see me at my new address in the Rue Malebranche. This crooked and
steep passage off the Rue Saint-Jacques was unknown to half the
_cochers_ of Paris, but Mr. McClure found it and arrived bareheaded,
watch in hand, breathless from running up my four flights—eighty steps.

“I’ve just ten minutes,” he announced; “must leave for Switzerland
tonight to see Tyndall.”

A slender figure, S. S. McClure, a shock of tumbled sandy hair, blue
eyes which glowed and sparkled. He was close to my own age, a vibrant,
eager, indomitable personality that electrified even the experienced and
the cynical. His utter simplicity, outrightness, his enthusiasm and
confidence captivated me. He was so new and unexpected that practical
questions such as, “Would you be interested in articles on ...” and “How
much will you pay?” dropped out of mind. Before I knew it I was
listening to the story of his struggle up. How as a peddler he had
earned money for college—who could have let him go without buying?—his
vast schemes of learning undertaken when a freshman at Knox College, one
of which was to study every word in the English dictionary, its start,
its development, its present stage, its possible future, his beautiful
romance with Hattie, his wife, the story of the Syndicate and of
John—always John this, John that, and last a magazine to be—soon. And
here I was to come in. While he talked I was managing somehow to tell
him the story of my life and hopes and to fit things together.

What was to have been ten minutes stretched to two hours or more. “I
must go,” he suddenly cried. “Could you lend me forty dollars? It is too
late to get money over town, and I must catch the train for Geneva.”

“Certainly,” I said. I had forty dollars there in my desk, the sum set
aside for my farewell vacation. It never occurred to me to do anything
but give it to him.

“How queer,” he said, “that you should have that much money in the

“Isn’t it?” I replied. “It never happened before.” But I didn’t mention
the vacation.

I had some bad moments after he was gone. “Will-of-the-wisp,” I said, “a
fascinating will-of-the-wisp. I’ll never see that money. He’ll simply
never think of it again. I’ll have to give up that vacation. Serves me

I did see the money promptly, for Mr. McClure did not forget as I
expected him to do, but wired his London office that night to send me a

What the new magazine would want from me, I gathered in my long and
exciting interview with Mr. McClure, was articles on the achievements of
the great French and English scientists. Not history, not literature,
not politics, but science, discoveries, inventions, and adventures.

Here I was back to my college days. I found my natural enthusiasm for
the physical world and its meanings which Professor Tingley had directed
was not dead, only sleeping. I found that, little as I knew of all these
things, I still had something of a vocabulary and knew enough to find my
way about by hard work. There was Pasteur; there was Janssen, who was
building an observatory on Mont Blanc; there was Bertillon, the inventor
of the system of criminal identification then attracting the attention
of the world. It took all my courage to talk with these gentlemen, but I
was soon to find they were the simplest and friendliest of people. For
two years I kept on hand popular scientific articles whose success
depended on interviews with distinguished specialists, and in that time
I met with only one rebuff; but that was a very contemptuous one. It was
not from a man but from a gifted American woman who was doing valuable
special work in one of the great French scientific institutions. The
effect of scholarship on a woman, I told myself. She doesn’t ripen, she
hardens. I know better now. It happens, but by no means to all women.
Take Dr. Florence Sabin, a great human being as well as a great

The contacts I made on this work left me precious memories. There was my
acquaintance with Madame and Monsieur Pasteur. One of the first articles
Mr. McClure asked for was on the Institute, then but eight years old. Of
course that meant an interview with Pasteur if it could be managed. It
turned out to be easy enough.

The Pasteurs lived in a spacious apartment in the Institute: big rooms
with heavy furniture, heavy curtains, dark soft rugs of the period. It
was not until I was actually in the library where Madame Pasteur led me
that I realized how sadly Pasteur was crippled by the paralysis of his
left side which he had suffered twenty-five years earlier after three
years of incessant and exhausting labor on the diseases of the silkworm.
He moved with difficulty, he hesitated painfully over words; but his
eyes were bright, curious, interested.

After a few more or less stumbling explanations on my part we fell to
talking naturally. They made it so easy. Mr. McClure was insistent at
that moment on what were called human documents, series of portraits of
eminent people from babyhood to 1893. I must have a Pasteur series.
Monsieur and Madame were delighted with the idea. The old albums were
brought out, and the three of us bent over them exactly as we did now
and then at home when the question of W. W. T. at one, S. A. T. at two,
I. M. T. at three came up. Again and again they stopped to say: “Tiens!
Voilà Pierre, comment il est drôle!” “Marie, comme elle est jolie!”

When the album was closed and we had talked long of his early life I
made an effort to get some idea of what he was thinking of now, but he
said: “No science. If you want that, go see Monsieur Roux.” And so
reluctantly I went down the stairs that led from the apartment, the
kindly old faces watching me, for Monsieur and Madame Pasteur had done
me the honor to see me off, and Monsieur kept repeating as I went down,
“Look out, the stairs are dark.”

When finally the article came out, in the second issue of _McClure’s
Magazine_, September, 1893, I took a copy to him. He was as pleased as a
boy with the pictures. On a later visit he complained that one of his
colleagues had carried off the copy. Could I get him another? When I
took this to him it was with the request that he write a maxim for the
January, 1894, issue of the magazine.

Mr. McClure had had the happy idea of asking from leaders of science,
industry, religion, literature a paragraph or two embodying their
convictions as to the outlook for the world’s future, their hopes for
it. There was need enough of encouragement. The world had been going
through as bad a year as often comes its way, a year of despair,
uncertainty, hopelessness. What was ahead? The replies which filled
eighteen pages of the magazine included letters and sentiments from
Huxley, Tyndall, Max Müller, Henry Stanley, Julia Ward Howe, Cardinal
Gibbons, and a score of others: noble collection. It was published under
the heading “The Edge of the Future.” It raised my interest in the
venture to a high pitch of enthusiasm. It was for me the spirit, the
credo of the new magazine. It meant something more than I had dreamed
possible in magazine journalism.

For the “Edge of the Future” undertaking I was asked at a last moment to
collect all the sentiments I could from distinguished Frenchmen.
Pasteur, certainly, and he was easy. “Of course I will do it,” he said.
“Come back, and I’ll have it ready.” But when I went back I found him in
a flurry. He had written his _pensée_, and it was lost.

“Never mind,” comforted Madame Pasteur. “She’ll come back when you have
it ready for her.”

And so I did; but it was unfinished, and Madame Pasteur had to stand
over him, encouraging him with tender _très biens_ and little pats while
he wrote. He was peevish as a child; he didn’t like the looks of it,
tried again, and finally with a pathetic look said: “I’m afraid you
don’t want either. But if you do, take your choice.” And so I did.

What he had written was:

“_In the matter of doing good, obligation ceases only when power

Before the time limit was up I had autographed sentiments from Alphonse
Daudet, Zola, Alexandre Dumas, François Coppée and Jules Simon, as veil
as a collection of impressions still clear. There was Zola.

I carried away from my visit with him an impression of a man agitated,
confused, sulky, an impression emphasized by the amazing conglomeration
of furnishings of all ages and all countries which cluttered the entry,
stairway, and big salon of his house. I had to wind my way between suits
of armor, sedan chairs, Chinese lacquered tables and seats, carved and
painted wood to reach him standing at the end of the room. The whole
house was like that, as is shown in a series of sketches McClure
published in one of the early numbers. He talked long and violently
about his enemies, defended his realism, hinted that he was a latter-day
Balzac, also a great collector spending his leisure in Paris at art
sales, which accounted for my difficulty in finding him in his own
salon. The sentiment he gave me was a reflection of his talk and of the
point of view of his school.

“War,” he wrote, “is the very life, the law of the world. How pitiful is
man when he introduces ideas of justice and of peace, when implacable
nature is only a continual battle field.”

Dumas _fils_ was the only serene person in the group and was very
courteous, the quietest Frenchman I ever met.

Jules Simon touched me deeply by what he wrote:

                         “Faire le bien
                         Récolter l’ingratitude
                         Se confier à Dieu.”


Now that _McClure’s_ was really started, I felt that on what I could do
for them and the two or three articles in which I had interested
_Scribner’s_ I could live, and that I might drop everything else and
devote the bulk of my time to my real business—a study of the life of
Madame Roland. She had never been out of my mind. Soon after my arrival
I had found to my joy that my daily walks to and from the National
Library, where I was spending most of my time, could be laid through the
very Quarter in which her father had carried on his trade of goldsmith
and past the house in which she had been born, the church where she had
taken her first communion, the prison where she had spent her last days,
along the route she followed to the guillotine.

“What luck, what luck,” I used to say, “that I should be taking the very
walks she took!” It was amazing how little things had changed. The house
where Madame Roland was born still stands at the western point of the
Ile de la Cité looking down on the statue of Henry IV and the busy
Seine, and to the right the Pont-Neuf, in her day the heart of Paris and
still to me one of its most fascinating spots.

As she slowly came to life something more important began to take shape,
something which had been little more than a set of dates and events in
my mind. I began to see the Revolution already well on its way when she
was born; I saw it rising around her, sucking her in, using her when she
thought it had gone far enough and should check its excesses, throwing
her over without her head while true to type it went the whole way,
finally falling exhausted into the hands of a dictator equipped with

The physical scars of all this long train of violence could be seen on
my daily walks or studied in the Musée Carnavalet where Paris has
gathered documents and relics of what she has destroyed as well as of
what she has achieved. But besides the scars of Madame Roland’s time
were other scars dating from the centuries, scars of revolutionary
outbreaks of the same type hardly to be distinguished from those of the
period I was trying to visualize; and the more you knew of these
explosions, the more they seemed to fit together. You could not bound
Madame Roland’s Revolution as I had supposed. What I had called the
French Revolution was only an unusually violent episode in the lifelong
struggle of Paris to preserve herself as a free individual, the slave of
no man or group of men. Revolution had always been her last resort in
making herself what she was, in forcing kings to do her bidding,
tolerating them when they fed her well, beautified her, protected her,
but throwing them over when they asked too much money for the job they

The marks were all over the city. How could I understand Madame Roland
until I understood the elemental force which for centuries had been
sweeping Paris in big or little gusts? Did these who sought to loosen
the force suppose that they created it or could control it, once
loosened? Had Madame Roland, confident as she had been of her ability to
act as Providence, frank as she was in saying that no role but that of
Providence was suited to her powers, been anything more than a
revolutionary tool and victim?

It had always been at work and still was. I must find out about it, and
it looked at the moment as if I were going to have a good opportunity to
watch a revolutionary revival—of what proportions no man could tell.

The Panama affair had disgusted all self-respecting Frenchmen. “Is the
Republic to be a failure?” they were asking. Nothing so gives heart to
the leaders of lost causes, disappointed political groups, advocates of
panaceas and particularly to the radical-minded, as a rousing political
scandal. Panama stirred all the parties of France to action—Bourbons and
Bonapartists, extreme conservatives, socialists of all the many
varieties, and particularly the anarchists.

There were four groups of the latter, no one of which would have
anything to do with any of the others. It was the Independents who now
went into action. Members of this group worked alone, letting not even
their fellows know what they had in mind. A branch of the order existed
in the United States, and it was one of them, Alexander Berkman, who
attempted this same year, 1892, to assassinate Henry Frick in
Pittsburgh. The Independent who acted first in Paris was Jules Ravachol
by name, a man some thirty-three years old, a dyer by trade, with a
courageous but not a criminal face. So I thought when, a little later, I
secured his photograph and measurements from the Criminal Identification
Bureau for _McClure’s Magazine_.

Ravachol began by blowing up various houses. It was like a tocsin. All
over France similar outrages followed, and they continued at intervals
for two or more years—the crowning one a bomb thrown in the Chamber of
Deputies in December of 1893 by a notorious anarchist known as Auguste
Vaillant. Several Deputies and eighty or more spectators in the gallery
were wounded seriously. It was a ghastly affair.

The outbreaks and the rumors of outbreaks as well as the actual
destruction had a bad effect on the nerves of many of the French. There
was Alphonse Daudet.

Madame Daudet had offered to get me a _pensée_ for the collection I was
making for _McClure’s Magazine_, and arranged for me to call for the
copy. After we had tea she took me to the library to see how “Alphonse
was getting on.” It was my first glimpse of him: a little man, with a
shock of straight black hair which stood out rather ferociously at the
moment, evidently from running his fingers through it. His face was
pale, his eyes astonishingly black and bright. He had lost two or three
teeth, and the remaining ones were not very good. He was terribly
excited. He had not finished his _pensée_, he said, because he had just
had a visit from an anarchist. The servant had let in a man who had
demanded twenty francs to buy a wagonload of dynamite to blow up the
Hôtel de Ville. He grew more and more excited as he talked.

“I really expected the man to kill me,” he said, “and I got out this
revolver which I always keep in the drawer.” And he pulled it out to
show it to me. “A pretty affair,” he said, “if while you two were
visiting in there a tragedy had gone on in here.”

I so shared the general nervousness that, more than once when I saw a
man on the omnibus carrying a package, I feared a bomb and abruptly
descended; yet along with all my nervousness I was always nosing around,
hoping to see a bomb go off. It seemed to me that was my journalistic
duty, but I never saw anything more than the ruins they had caused. I
did see a pretty good revolution, one that had all the earmarks that I
had been finding in my attempted study of Revolution. It was in July of
1893. This time it was youth in revolt, the youth of the Latin Quarter
and the Beaux Arts. From start to finish the revolt went on practically
under my windows.

The Annual Ball of the Beaux Arts in the winter of 1893 had scandalized
Paris. As I remember, the exhibit which outraged was a lady who
promenaded with no other covering than a mosquito net. The protest
finally reached the Chamber of Deputies, where a member—Berenger—took it
up in a serious way and proposed a restrictive law which angered the
students. It was, they said, an interference with their right to amuse
themselves. Immediately long and picturesque _monômes_—single lines of
men, one hand on the shoulder of the man in front, the other grasping a
hand of the one behind—threaded their way up and down the boulevards,
particularly in the vicinity of the Luxembourg, chanting at the top of
their voices, “Conspuez Berenger!” “Conspuez Loze [Chief of Police]!”
“Down with the puritans!”

The demonstration began on a Saturday, and that night a great crowd
centered in a café in my neighborhood. The place was packed inside and
out with youths noisier and noisier as the hours went on. Finally the
crowd became so unruly that a squadron of police charged them. There was
a great hubbub and in the mêlée somebody hurled one of the heavy white
match boxes which were used on all the tables in the Latin Quarter
restaurants—a dangerous missile. It hit an innocent spectator who had
come to see the fun—a young man of twenty-two or twenty-three from the
other side of the river—and killed him. The students were wild with
rage, and all that night and all next day they tore up and down the
streets, pulling up trees, knocking over kiosks, breaking windows.

The shopkeepers of Paris, having the experience of centuries of
revolutionary outbreaks behind them, knew when to retire; and before
Monday night the heavy wooden shutters with which they protect their
fronts were all up, their doors closed, and the Quarter was alive with
soldiers and mounted police. The center of the disturbance that day,
however, was not the Latin Quarter but the streets around the Chamber of
Deputies, where a great band of angry students kept up a tumult. There
were funny incidents. A big group of deputies came out to look over the
demonstration, and on the instant the air rang with the jingling of
hundreds of big copper sous pitched on the pavements to cries of
“Panama, Panama.”

The Dahomans were pets of Paris in those days, a picturesque addition to
the population. Handsomer creatures never were seen. It happened a
carriageful, naked to the waist, attempted to pass through the crowd. At
once the students set up the cry, “Berenger, Berenger, bring ’em a
figleaf, bring ’em a figleaf.”

By Tuesday the Latin Quarter had begun to look sinister. The inevitable
had happened.

A popular disturbance never remains long in the full control of those
who start it. Advocates of all sorts of systems and causes join it,
seize it, if one of them can produce a real leader. A students’ revolt
can easily become an anarchist raid, with looting and arson on the side
by professional lawbreakers, who always come out of their hiding places
when anarchy breaks out. As the to-be-expected invasion of the Latin
Quarter from without began, destruction increased. Omnibuses were seized
and, at strategic points, piled up as barricades.

But the rioters never succeeded in making a stand. Steadily and quietly,
night and day, platoons of mounted police moved up and down the
boulevards and into the Quarter. I tried at first to go on my usual
round, hoping to learn something of revolutionary technique, but after I
had been caught in a crowd the cavalry was driving from the Place de la
Sorbonne, had heard bullets whistling over my head, been forced to take
refuge in the portal of the church, I was content to stay at home.
However, there was excitement enough there.

Our street was narrow and steep. When the cavalry charged, it would fill
up with the rioters. The movement was amazingly quiet—no shouting, no
shots, the only noise the clatter of the horses’ feet as they drove the
mass ahead.

This invasion of our street produced panic among the foreigners in the
house. There were a couple of middle-aged American women on the floor
below me out seeing the world; but they had not bargained for a
Revolution, and during the three or four days our Revolution was going
on they shut themselves night and day in their room.

The Egyptians were in a worse panic. They whispered horrible stories of
what happened in revolutions, and one night when fires had been set in
our neighborhood and the firemen were out, they were sure we were all
going to be burned alive. “Here we are, fourth floor,” cried one of
them, “too high up to get out. We’ll all be dead by morning.”

A week was as long as the students could hold out in the torrid weather.
There were too many cavalry, too many soldiers, too alert a police
force, and also there were the apaches, the anarchists. It was no longer
their revolution. They gave up; and by the end of the week kiosks were
replaced, trees replanted, windows and doors opened, and we were all
going on in our normal way.

Over, all quiet, nevertheless it was a pretty fine little revolution
while it lasted. Was it not like Ravachol and Vaillant, a symptom, the
kind of symptom by which the rise of the revolutionary fever always
announces itself? Were there those who would nourish these symptoms as
carefully as Madame Roland and her friends had nourished them in her
day? If so, you would get your explosion. And for what good, I was
asking myself.

Madame Roland had lost her head because she was not content with a first
Revolution which had given the country a Constitution. She wanted to get
the King and Queen and the highborn of all varieties out of the way. She
wanted a Republic. She lost her head to those who were not satisfied
with getting King and Queen out of the way, who wanted her and her
followers out of the way as soon as they began to cry for order. Her
Republic had collapsed under Napoleon Bonaparte. There had come a return
to the Bourbon, then a Republic, then a return to a Bonaparte and again
her Republic. But was this corrupt and vulgar Republic I was hearing
about any better than the corrupt and scandalous court she hated and
helped overthrow? Was the affair of the diamond necklace any worse than
the affair of Panama? Was the Bastille a more ghastly prison than the
spot where they were now sending political prisoners—the Devil’s Island
of the Tropics?

I did not have the consolation of a fixed political formula to pull me
out of my muddle. It is very easy to put everything in its place when
you have that and are armed with its faith and its phrases. But here was
I with a heroine on my hands whose formula and methods and motives I was
beginning to question as I was questioning the formula, the methods and
motives of France of the moment.

What kept me at my task, prevented me from throwing up Madame Roland and
going on a blind research for the nature and roots of revolution, was
the brilliant and friendly intellectual circle into which my quest of
Madame Roland had led me.

Among the names I had been advised to include in my series on the
writing women of Paris was that of A. Mary F. Robinson, an Englishwoman
of the pre-Raphaelite school, a poetess of delicacy and distinction who
had married one of the eminent scholars of France, James Darmesteter, a
Hebrew and a cripple. One had only to look into his face to know that
here was a great soul. And what interested me so was that this something
in his face, his remarkable head, wiped out all sense of incongruity
between the mating of this slender and exquisite woman with this man of
alien race and crippled body. I never felt for a moment an incongruity.

When Monsieur Darmesteter learned I was after Madame Roland he was
immediately helpful. “You must know Léon Marillier of the Ecole des
Hautes Etudes. He is a great-great-grandson of Madame Roland. He has
papers which have never been given to the public. I will write you a
letter.” Which he did, a letter which brought me an invitation to

This dinner was the gate to a whole new social and intellectual world.
Here was a French academic household of the best sort, simple,
hard-working, gay. Léon Marillier was an excellent and respected
scholar. Jeanne, his wife, a sister of the Breton poet, Anatole Le Braz,
was not only a skillful household manager but, like the wives of many
French scholars, her husband’s amanuensis, copy and proof reader, and
general adviser. She had particular charm among Parisians, for she was a
Bretonne who loved her _pays_ and kept its distinguishing marks without
being provincial. Here I found, too, eager to go over the papers which
Léon Marillier spread out after dinner for my inspection, one who was to
prove a most helpful and delightful friend, Charles Borgeaud the eminent
Swiss scholar, a friend of my friends the Vincents now back at Johns

But this was not the end of it. There was a closer connection, Léon
Marillier’s mother, the great-granddaughter of Madame Roland, and they
quickly passed me on to her.

Here again I was invited to dinner, and here I discovered a circle
different from anything I had ever known, a household of brilliant men
presided over by Madame Marillier, a most gracious woman, of fine
intelligence, freed and mellowed by a tragic life, as I was to learn.
More than any woman I have ever known, Madame Marillier came to stand in
my mind and heart as the personification of that quality which the
French hold so high—_bonté_.

The leader of the group of men was a Sorbonne professor of
history—Charles Seignobos. He was a learned man who carried his learning
not as an accomplishment but as a social utility. Seignobos was a not
too dogmatic socialist and materialist, a good pianist, a marvelous
talker, a lovable and pungent personality. Around him there gathered
every Wednesday evening for dinner at Madame Marillier’s table a number
of young men—all serious students, liberal minds, hard workers. After
dinner six or eight more habitués of the house were sure to drop in for
coffee and for talk.

Among these regular habitués was Lucien Herr, who at that moment was
seeking to convert to socialism the two men who in the years since have
done most to make the doctrine an impregnable factor in political life
in France—Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum, the recent premier of France. Herr
at that time was the librarian at the Ecole Normale, as well as managing
editor of the _Revue de Paris_. In both positions he met many young
would-be scholars and writers. When one of them seemed to him to have
the makings of a liberal thinker he worked over him as a missionary
works to save a soul. He was so working in the early nineties over Jean
Jaurès and Léon Blum.

Occasionally Lucien Herr brought to the Seignobos circle one of those
whom he was seeking to convert. If Jaurès and Blum were ever among them
they made no particular impression on me, much as I dislike to think so.
They were simply a couple of Lucien’s young men.

Although Herr believed the socialistic state he sought would and could
come by a peaceful evolution, the thing I remember best about him was an
exhibit of indifference to bloodshed which shocked me to the core. The
night that Vaillant threw the bomb in the Chamber of Deputies the group
was dining with Madame Marillier; Lucien was late, not an unusual
happening. We were halfway through when he came in, pale, exalted. We
all turned in our seats as he standing told us how he had been in the
Chamber when the bomb was thrown, of the explosion in mid-air, of the
wounded all about him. He had no word of the suffering, only of the
political bearings of the deed.

“But the wounded, Lucien,” broke in Seignobos, who could not endure the
thought of pain.

“Cela ne me fait rien,” said Lucien.

His opposition to bloodshed was intellectual, not emotional like that of

On the face of it nobody could have been less at home in such a group
than I, a tongue-tied alien, all eyes and ears, contributing nothing but
my presence; yet it came about before many weeks that “Mademoiselle
Mees,” as Seignobos called me, had a place at the weekly dinners.
Undoubtedly the friendship that sprang up quickly between Madame
Marillier and me, as well as the fact that I asked nothing but to
listen, explained it. I could afford to listen; I had never heard such
talk. There was nothing on earth that was foreign or forbidden. Opinions
were free as the air, but they had to fight for their lives. There was a
complete absence of pretense, and sophistry was thrown as soon as it
came to its feet. That it was a friendly circle, its acceptance of me
was proof enough.

Friendliness began at the door when I arrived Wednesday evening. It was
always Seignobos who came rushing to meet me, seized my hand, helped me
off with my wraps, danced about me asking eager boyish questions about
what I had been doing since I was there last. The talk begun, I was
forgotten unless by chance he suddenly recalled me. Then he would jump
up, run over, demand, “What do you think of that?” Half the time I was
thinking less about what they were saying than about their exciting
personalities. They seemed to be vividly related to life, but much of
their talk was based on something that was not life—abstract literature,
learning, speculation. I realized this when they talked of America.
Seignobos saw it only as he had read about it in books. It seemed to him
not to be producing that intellectual élite on which he felt the
salvation of society depended—a group capable of doing the thinking and
planning for a world of lesser men. It was the lesser men who were
coming to the top in America. Confronted with superiority from America,
he refused to believe it native. One summer I presented to him a friend
of mine, a woman of exquisite mind and manner. “She is not American?” he
said. “They do not produce that kind in America. Where was she
born—where was she educated?”

“In Kansas,” I said. He bounded out of his chair like a ball. “It
couldn’t be, it couldn’t be. Kansas is only a half-settled state. One
has only to look to see this is a rare type that you have brought here.
She never came out of Kansas.”

I never saw him more outraged than one day when pressure was brought to
bear on him to accept a position in the University of Chicago at a
handsome salary. Jumping up, he raced around the room. “Chicago! What
can a man of intelligence find there? You can’t build an intellectual
center on money and organization. It is a growth. Five hundred years
from now Chicago may be fit for scholars, but not now.”

He mistrusted the intelligence of the United States, but less than that
of England. Americans were not stupid: Englishmen were. He wanted none
of them in his circle. I met this prejudice head-on when I asked
permission to introduce to him a brilliant young English friend, H.
Wickham Steed.

I had never known a young man who was surer of what he wanted to do in
life or who was preparing for it in a more thorough and logical fashion
than Steed. His ambition was to become a foreign correspondent of the
London _Times_. He knew that for this it was necessary for him to be
familiar with the languages, the history, the men, the politics of the
leading countries of the Continent. He began by taking some two years in
Germany. Now he was acquainting himself with the French language,
literature, politics, leaders. I found Steed especially interesting on a
subject of which I knew little, although we were having reverberations
in the United States. This was the philosophy of Karl Marx. Steed was
familiar with its then status in Germany, knew its leaders—Liebknecht
and Engels. He envied me my relations with the group at Madame
Marillier’s, envied me my Wednesday night dinner, as he might very well.

“Could you not present me?” he asked.

I knew how jealous they were of their circle, and knew, too, they
thought the English a stupid bigoted race and wanted none of it. But
Steed was certainly not stupid. Besides, he was young, and I had a
feeling that nothing would be better for him than contact with these
enlightened friends of mine. And so with some hesitation I told
Seignobos about him and asked him if I might bring him.

“Never! The English are stupid.”

“You are wrong about Steed,” I argued. “You ought to be willing to give
him the benefit of the doubt.”

After some arguments I was allowed to present my protégé. As I expected,
they pounced on him mercilessly. It was fine to see the way he held his
own and a relief when, after an hour or more of baiting, Seignobos came
to my corner and in a tone of surprise and wonder said, “Mademoiselle
Mees, your Englishman is intelligent.”

When they came to that conclusion they took Steed in, and from that time
on he was welcome. All through the years of his brilliant career as a
correspondent and later through the war as foreign editor of the London
_Times_, the association with Seignobos continued. In his recollections,
“Through Thirty Years,” Steed tells of his introduction to the circle—“a
sort of entrance examination” which convinced his examiners he was less
stupid than he ought to have been.

This then was the group in which my interest in Madame Roland had landed
me. As the weeks went on, the intimacy grew greater. Whatever occurred
to them that might help me in my work, they suggested. It was through
their introduction that I was given every opportunity in the manuscript
room of the National Library to work over the large collection of Roland
manuscripts which had just been catalogued. Indeed, I was the first
person to work on them in the Library.

Delightful as well as important to my enterprise was the invitation
Madame gave me in the spring of 1893 to go with her for a fortnight to
Le Clos, a country estate which had been in the Roland family for at
least a hundred years before the Revolution. After the death of Monsieur
and Madame Roland in 1793 Le Clos had passed to their daughter. It now
belonged to Madame Marillier, who managed it, giving special care to its
chief yield, grapes—made into wine on the place.

Le Clos lay in the Beaujolais, some thirty miles north of the city of
Lyons and close to a hamlet called Theizé. Here Madame Roland had spent
some four years while her husband served as inspector of manufactures at
Lyons. The château was little changed, so Madame Marillier told me. The
activities were what they had been a hundred years ago. It was a rare
chance to see my heroine in a different role, busy with other duties
than those of student, tuft-hunter, political diplomat, Providence to a
Nation. I needed to see her in a more natural and helpful environment,
for I was beginning to mistrust her.

The journey to Le Clos with Madame Marillier, taken in May, was an
adventure for both of us. How much she had jeopardized her position in
her own family by traveling with a foreigner and a Protestant, I did not
realize until the day we spent sightseeing at Dijon. She left me for an
hour to visit an important and ancient aunt. “I should not dare take you
with me,” she said, “my aunt would cast me out if she knew I was
traveling with a heretic.”

To reach Le Clos we left the railroad at Villefranche and climbed in a
horse-cart for an hour and more, steadily up hills, across valleys, a
high broad country, striped by many colored ribbonlike farms, dotted by
stout buildings of dull yellow, the stone of the country, sprinkled with
splendid trees, vineyards and orchards. Theizé, the hamlet we sought,
lay high. We drove between its walls, turned into a lane, and stopped
before a big gate in a yellow wall. Behind it lay Le Clos, a little
white château of Louis XIV’s time with corner towers and red-tiled
roofs, a court on one side, a garden on the other. From this garden one
looked out over a magnificent panorama of hills, mountains, valleys,
stretching to the Swiss Alps in the east. On clear evenings the snowcaps
were visible and now and then the round crown of Mount Blanc glowed on
the sky line like an immense opal.

Within the château there had been little outward change from Madame
Roland’s time. There was the same great dark kitchen, with its stone
floor, its huge fireplace (although now a stove helped out), the same
shining copper vessels on the walls. There was the same brick floor in
the billiard room with its ancient table, its guns and caps of
successive generations of soldiers on the walls. The brightest place
within the house was the salon, done in yellow plush, family portraits
on the walls, a piano, books.

I had an apartment to myself looking out on the garden and beyond to the
mountains: a bedroom, toilet and workroom, severe as a nun’s cell with
its uncovered floor, its unadorned walls, but containing every necessary
comfort and a wealth of books—five hundred or more in my workroom,
including several magnificent sets. Among them, Voltaire complete in
seventy volumes. They nearly all bore eighteenth century dates, and some
of them the name of Roland himself. Indeed, the home was rich in books
of value. In Madame Marillier’s library there were two thousand or more;
but these were only “what was left.” From the collection she had
inherited she had given Léon Marillier complete early sets of Voltaire,
Rousseau, Diderot; she had made a collection of scientific books for
Louis Lapique, one of the members of her Paris household, and another of
historical books for Charles Seignobos, and still there were all these
hundreds, many of which I had the right to believe Madame Roland herself
had handled. We ransacked them for marginal notes and hunted through the
drawers of old desks and bureaus for papers, finding not a few small
bits which were grist for my mill.

Books were about all the original possessions of Le Clos that the
Revolutionists of the seventeen-nineties had not made away with. The
château itself had not suffered seriously, though there were still some
slight scars; but, books aside, it had been completely stripped of
furnishings. Even today, so Madame Marillier told me, it was not unusual
when inquiry was made about the origin of some interesting old piece in
a Beaujolais farmhouse to be told, “Oh, that came from Le Clos a hundred
years ago.”

The Revolution stripped Le Clos of its possessions and all but ended the
family. But it did not succeed in convincing all the Beaujolais of its
beneficence. There was not a little outspoken antirevolutionary feeling
still abroad. The Marseillaise was never played in Theizé, I was told.
The curé and the municipal council would not permit it, nor would they
allow the 14th of July to be celebrated. While I was at Le Clos there
was a sharp dispute in a neighboring hamlet on the playing of the
“Marseillaise.” The bandmaster refused to lead when it was asked. It was
put up to the band who voted yes. Thereupon the master laid down his
baton and went off in a huff. Madame Roland’s Revolution was not ended.

But I did not think much of such dark matters at Le Clos. They did not
belong to the years I had come there to relive. Those were only gay,
happy, useful years. I knew from her letters before me she could and did
fill the role of a local Providence, adjusting her activities and
reforms to what her constituency understood and was willing to accept.
She filled her time as I saw my friend Madame Marillier filling hers,
busy from morning until night with the affairs of the estate, visiting
the people, prescribing remedies for man and beast, vegetables and
vines, arranging a marriage for this pair, making an invalid more
comfortable, taking care of some peasant’s wayward son, climbing up the
steep hillside to early mass to set a good example, discharging
naturally and intelligently that responsibility to the family, the
estate, the dependent countryside, which the Frenchwoman seems to accept
as her contribution to the state. It makes her something steady, wise,
superior, a strong factor in the economic, social, and religious
stability of France.

I had never seen anything which seemed to me more useful than what
Madame Marillier was doing, and I had opportunity to judge, for
everywhere she went she took me with her. Her invariable card of
introduction to these natural-born skeptics of the value of all persons
not born and raised in France was, “Mademoiselle comes from the same
country as your vines.” That was enough for them. Their vines had been
devastated by repeated visitations of the phylloxera, and it was not
until the introduction of American roots that the vineyards had
recovered. They were looking well now. I was welcome at once; they
treated me as if I were the benefactor, yet I doubt if any of them knew
where America was. Most of them with whom I talked placed it somewhere
in Africa. Africa they did know, as a name at least, because many of
their sons went there for military service. One of the most surprising
things to me among the French, high and low, was their utter
indifference to the geography of the rest of the world. Why should they
bother about the rest of the world? There was only one land about which
they should know: that was France, and that they should know to the last
corner. Even many educated people I met did not distinguish North from
South America. In Madame Darmesteter’s drawing room I met cultivated
people who believed that all Americans carried weapons in their pockets,
and that Indians walked the streets of Chicago. When I protested that it
was against the law to carry a revolver, and that the only Indians in
Chicago were those that were imported as they imported the Dahomans,
they smiled incredulously.

Many of them, I concluded, got their notions of what America was like
from the exhibits in a certain public hall on the Grand Boulevards. Here
you paid a sou or two to look through stereoscopes at amusing and
sometimes very improper pictures. Here the walls were decorated with
illustrated newspapers from different countries, and among them were
always copies of the _Police Gazette_. As a matter of fact it was in
this hall of the Grand Boulevard of Paris that I saw the first copy of
the _Police Gazette_ that I had seen since those days back in Rouseville
when my friend and I carefully studied the underworld in the sheets that
we could slip away from the bunkhouse of my father’s workmen.

The visit to Le Clos with its grist of impressions, the conviction that
I had seen Madame Roland herself, in her happiest as well as her most
useful days, completed the study of source material for her life on
which I had been working as I found time through the twenty months I had
been in Paris. It rounded out the woman she was, softened the asperity
which I was beginning to feel for her; also it strengthened my suspicion
that while a woman frequently was a success as the Providence of a
countryside she did no better than a man when she attempted to fill that
function for a nation.

Now I was ready to write my book. Of course while I was doing this I
must keep the wolf from the door, and it was not so easy in the year
1893 for a stray journalist in Paris to get out of the distracted
American market orders or pay for orders. The depression of the
nineties, now in its third year with five years more to go, was working
havoc everywhere. It was hard to get your money even if your debtors
consented you had earned it. I was depending at the moment largely upon
the new magazine, _McClure’s_. It had started in the summer of 1893, an
undertaking which only the young and innocent and the hopelessly
optimistic would ever have dared. It has always been a marvel to me that
Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips were able to hold on through that dreadful
year; but they did, and with a resourcefulness, even gaiety, that nobody
but those who saw it can appreciate.

I knew perfectly well that if the magazine lived I should get all the
money I earned, but in the summer of 1893 they did not have it. It came
to a serious pass with me, a point where I did not have a sou or anybody
to whom I could confide my predicament. Not for the world would I have
told my devoted Madame Marillier that there was no money in my purse;
not for the world would I have confided it to Madame A; and, as for the
Americans on the scene, I was bent on impressing them with the fact I
was really getting on. At all events it must not go back to Titusville
or Meadville, Pennsylvania, that this questionable venture of mine had
brought me so low.

And so one warm summer day I took my sealskin coat, which really was a
very good one quite out of keeping with the rest of my wardrobe—by this
time close to scandalous—I took the coat and marched over town to the
Mont de Piété. They were polite to me; but I was a foreigner, that coat
might be stolen, probably was. What credentials did I have, whom could I
give as reference? There was nobody in the town that I was willing to
have know what I was doing. But did I have documents to prove my

Yes, I said, I had; and I would bring them. So I left my coat and raced
back to the Left Bank for my credentials. And what were they? What did I
have? There were letters from my publishers; there was my
checkbook—exhausted but nevertheless a checkbook. Without thinking it
would be of any particular use I took my Allegheny College diploma. The
inspector passed lightly over the letters of editors, the stubs in my
checkbook, but the diploma impressed him; and so it was on my Allegheny
College diploma I made the loan which helped me over the bad months of
1893 while I was waiting for a check from a land in the grip of one of
the most serious money famines that it had ever known.

Although there might be anxious moments over money I was freer to work
on my book than I had ever been. And work I did, as hard as I could, all
that terrifically hot summer. My friend Madame Marillier had gone to
Brittany. She begged me to come along; but I had used up all my vacation
money in my trip to Le Clos—a trip I had extended to Switzerland and to
a chain of French towns where there were beautiful things I wanted to
see, to Bourg, Mâcon, Cluny, Autun. There was nothing that I wanted to
do more except finish up and go home.

But the finishing up was not so easy. I had undertaken the study of this
woman in order to clear up my mind about the quality of service that
women could give and had given in public life, particularly in times of
stress. I had hoped to come out with some definite conclusions, to be
able to say: “The woman at this point will be a steady, intuitive,
dependable force. She will never lend herself to purely emotional or
political approaches to great social problems; she knows too much of
human beings. Her business has always been handling human beings.
Building families has been her job in society. You can depend upon her
to tell you whom to trust, whom to follow, whom to discard. These
intuitions of hers about people are born of centuries of intimate
first-hand dealing with human beings from babyhood on—they are among the
world’s greatest values. And she will be no party to violence. She knows
that solutions are only worked out by patient cooperation, and that
cooperation must be kindly. She knows the danger of violence in the
group as she knows the danger of selfishness. She has been the world’s
greatest sufferer from these things, and she has suffered them in order
that she might protect that thing which is her business in the world,
the bearing and the rearing of children. She has a great inarticulate
wisdom born of her experience in the world. That is the thing women will

That was what I had hoped to find Madame Roland giving; and I had found
a politician with a Providence complex. I had also found what I had been
trying to shove aside, as women do, new proof of that eternal and
necessary natural law that the woman backs up her man. Madame Roland had
been Royalist, Republican, Revolutionist, according to the man she
loved. She had served her man with unyielding conviction, would not
temper or cooperate, intolerant, inflexible.

But what woman in America seeking the vote as a sure cure for injustice
and corruption would listen to such a message? That, of course, was no
affair of mine. My affair was clearing my own mind. So far I had only
succeeded in adding to its confusion, even in destroying faiths I had
held. There was the ancient faith that you could depend upon the woman
to oppose violence. This woman had been one of the steadiest influences
to violence, willing, even eager, to use this terrible revolutionary
force, so bewildering and terrifying to me, to accomplish her ends,
childishly believing herself and her friends strong enough to control it
when they needed it no longer.

The heaviest blow to my self-confidence so far was my loss of faith in
revolution as a divine weapon. Not since I discovered the world not to
have been made in six days of twenty-four hours each, had I been so
intellectually and spiritually upset. I had held a revolution as a noble
and sacred instrument, destroying evil and leaving men free to be wise
and good and just. Now it seemed to me not something that men used, but
something that used men for its own mysterious end and left behind the
same relative proportion of good and evil as it started with.

Never did I so realize my ignorance of life and men and society as in
the summer of 1894, when I packed up the manuscript of my life of Madame
Roland to take it back to America for its final revision in the peace of
my home.

Of course, I told myself, I would go through with it. I would put down
what I had found as nearly as I could, even if I had not got what I came
for. And then came the question, Can I get what I came for? Is it to be
found—the real answer to my question about woman in society, the point
or position where she can best serve it? Can I find an answer to this
other question that has so disturbed me—the nature of revolution?
Apparently, I told myself, as I packed my bag finally to go back to
America, you have only begun; but at least you have a new starting
point. Cheer up, make a new plan. And I was making a new plan. I had
been making one for some time. It was laid down economically,
professionally, and socially with as much precision as the plan with
which I had come to Paris in 1891. It was a plan for my return to Paris.

I would go home, get my book into shape, try to convince the Scribners
that it was worth their publishing. I would get a good long visit with
my family, the only thing I felt now to be worth while in life. I wanted
to be sure they were there, that the house was there, that my father’s
chair stood by the living-room center table under the drop gas reading
light, that the family Sunday dinner was what it had always been. I
wanted to hear my father ask the blessing at the table, to sit with my
sister and mother afternoons out on the shady side of the lawn. I wanted
all the home flowers I could gather—and it was queer what a big place
flowers took in my dreams of home. My mother was one of those women for
whom, they say, “anything will grow.” And she had had flowers, summer
and winter. One of the deprivations of not having money in Paris had
been that I could not buy flowers. I had to content myself with lounging
around the flower markets on the Square of Notre Dame. I lingered there
almost as much as I did over the bookstalls along the Seine. But at home
I could gather all I wanted.

I would come back to France on different terms. My friendly publishers
would give me work. I had schemes for books and articles which I felt
sure would interest the Scribners, that history of women, for instance.
Then there was this lively, friendly, aggressive, delightful
_McClure’s_. There were plenty of things I could write for them.

I would take an apartment in the Latin Quarter up high where I could
look over the roofs, see the sky. I would have a salon like Madame
Marillier’s. She would find me a _bonne à tout faire_, and I could have
people in to dinner—Madame Marillier, Seignobos, and perhaps Lucien Herr
and Louis Lapique and Charles Borgeaud would come. The summer would
bring over my precious American friends—the Vincents, Emerys, Hazens,
and my sister must join me. Life would be full and satisfying while I
cleared up my mind on women and revolution and continued my search for
God in the great cathedrals.

It was with this baggage and a terrible thirst for a long drink of
family life that in June, 1894, I said “Au revoir” to my friends. I felt
so sure it was Au revoir.

The first two months after I reached America I spent at home convincing
myself that my family in spite of the trials it had been suffering was
unchanged in its ways, its loyalties, and its philosophy. If life was
not as easy materially for my father and mother as their long years of
labor and self-denial gave them the right to hope, I found that they
were enjoying that most precious experience, the evidence of the
continuity of their lives. My brother and his fine wife with their
children, two girls and a boy, lived only a few doors away, and the
grandchildren were as much in one home as in the other. They gave, I
found, a continual fresh zest to the household and its doings. My father
again had the legitimate excuse for going to the circus which our
growing up had taken from him: “The children want to go.” My mother had
as strong a justification for family picnics and birthday celebrations
on which she tired herself out: “The children enjoy them so.”

For me those children were a challenging experience. Three years had
made the youngsters keen observers, and I found them appraising me in
the fashion of natural unspoiled children. Launched on one of the long
narrative monologues to which I am addicted with intimates I would
suddenly be checked by the cool impersonal stare of nieces or nephew.
They did not know they were doing it, but I knew they were taking my
measure. They were not only an unending interest and joy to me but a
salutary correction, as they have continued to be to this day.

But before I was really sure of my standing with them, though quite
reassured as to that with their elders, and just as I had put the
finishing touches to my Madame Roland, I was snatched away from
Titusville by a hurried letter from Mr. McClure. I must come at once to
New York and write a life of Napoleon Bonaparte.


When I reached New York I found that the situation behind the hasty call
to come on and write a life of Napoleon was pressing. The Napoleon
Movement, which I had been following in Paris for two years, had reached
the editorial desk of _McClure’s Magazine_ in the form of a permission
to reproduce a large and choice collection of Napoleon portraits, the
property of a distinguished citizen of Washington, D.C.—Gardiner Green
Hubbard. Mr. Hubbard was popularly known as the father-in-law of
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone. He was as well the
father-in-law of the telephone since it was largely through his faith in
the invention before it was recognized as a practical utility, and his
shrewd and indefatigable work in securing patents, in enlisting
supporters, and in fighting rival claimants, that the telephone had been
developed and secured for Mr. Bell and his family.

Mr. Hubbard had long been a Napoleon collector. The revival of interest
in the man in the early nineties had made him feel that his collection
ought to be reproduced for the public. But he insisted a suitable
text—that is, one he liked—must go with the pictures. Mr. McClure had
secured something well written from an able Englishman, Robert Sherard,
a great-grandson of Wordsworth; but it was so contemptuously
anti-Napoleon that Mr. Hubbard would not allow his pictures to go with
it. And here it was August, and Mr. McClure with the headlong speed in
which he conducted affairs had announced the first installment for

I was both amazed and amused by the idea that a popular American
magazine would think of such an undertaking. Why? I asked myself. I had
seen the Napoleon Movement start and grow in Paris in 1892 and 1893. I
had read everything that came along in the way of fresh reminiscences,
of brilliant journalism, particularly that of _Figaro_, and I had tucked
away in my clippings a full set of the Caran d’Ache cartoons which so
captivated Paris; but I looked on the Movement as political, an effort
of the Bonapartists to revive the popular admiration for the country’s
most spectacular figure. If the revulsion against the Panama brand of
republicanism could be kept alive, fed, might there not be a turning to
Bonaparte? Just as the anarchists took advantage of the situation by
hurling bombs, so the Bonapartists turned to blazoning France with the
stories of the glory that had been hers under the Little Corporal. It is
an amazing record of achievement, and one had to be a poor Frenchman, or
poor human being for that matter, not to feel his blood stir at its

But write a life of Napoleon Bonaparte? It was laughable. And yet how
could I refuse to try?

In passing through New York in June I had given Mr. McClure the right to
call upon me, promising to join his staff after my vacation. He would
give me forty dollars a week—more money than I had ever expected to
earn. With care I could save enough to carry me back to Paris, and at
the same time I could learn more of the needs of the McClure

The forty dollars a week was a powerful argument. Moreover, I had been
talking largely about devoting myself to French Revolutionary history.
If this wasn’t that, what was? But there was something else. This man
had pulled France out of the slough where she lay when Madame Roland
lost her head. I had a terrific need of seeing the thing through, France
on her feet. Napoleon had for a time set her there and brought back
decency, order, common sense.

I would try, I told Mr. McClure, at his expense, but I should have to go
back at once to Paris. Where else could I get sufficient material? That
idea of getting to Paris encouraged me to try, but first we all agreed I
must go to Washington and talk with Mr. Hubbard, look over the
collection. Promptly an invitation came from Mrs. Hubbard to come at
once to their summer home out Chevy Chase way on Woodley Lane not far
from the Rock Creek Zoo. President and Mrs. Cleveland had their summer
home on the Lane, and the Maclean place, where Admiral Dewey was to go
when he returned the conquering hero from the Philippines, was across
the way. Twin Oaks, as the Hubbard place was called from two big oaks
just in front of the house, was the finest country estate in the
Washington district, as well as the most beautiful home into which I had
ever been admitted. Mrs. Hubbard herself was a woman of rare taste and
cultivation, a really great lady, and what she was showed from end to
end of that lovely sunny house. Maids, butler, gardener, all took on
something of her dignity and gentleness.

Mr. Hubbard was a man of some seventy years then, wiry, energetic,
putting in every moment of his time serving his friends and family and
in worshiping Mrs. Hubbard. I think he tried her preference for quiet
and dignity and for people of her own kind. It must have made her a
little uneasy to have a strange woman with a meager wardrobe and a
preoccupied mind drop into her carefree, gaily bedecked society; but she
took it all in the best nature and with unvarying kindness and
understanding. I liked her particularly for the way she accepted Mr.
McClure in the days to come. He would burst unexpectedly into the house
at any moment which suited his convenience, his bag loaded with proofs
of the Napoleon prints, and almost before he had made his greeting the
bag was open and the proofs spread helter-skelter over the carpet. Being
very much on my good behavior I was a little horrified myself, and then
I did so want them to like and appreciate Mr. McClure. When I tried to
apologize for the dishevelment he wrought Mrs. Hubbard laughed. “That
eagerness of his is beautiful,” she said, “I am accustomed to geniuses.”
And so she was, as I was to find.

It did not take me long to discover that there was plenty of material in
Washington for the Napoleon sketch. Mr. Hubbard had the latest books and
pamphlets. It was easy to arrange that I have proofs from Paris of two
or three volumes of reminiscences that had been announced. In the State
Department I found the full Napoleonic correspondence published by the
order of the French Government. Files of all the leading French
newspapers of the period were in one library or another. In the
Congressional Library there was a remarkable collection of books
gathered by Andrew D. White when he was minister to Germany from 1879 to
1881, the bulk of them in German, French, and English. An item of this
collection not to be duplicated was some fifty volumes of pamphlets in
several different languages made in Germany during the Revolution and
covering the Napoleonic era. They were for the most part the hasty
agitated outbreaks of _vox populi_—protests, arguments, prophecies,
curious personal adventures—but among them were rare bits. Taken as a
whole they reflected the contemporary state of mind of the people of
Europe as did nothing I had ever seen.

Convinced of the adequacy of material, I reluctantly gave up Paris and
settled down to work in the Congressional Library. It was not so easy to
find a writing table there in the early nineties, and it took some
persuasion to convince the ruler of the place, Ainsworth Spofford, that
I was worth the effort, that is that I was there to use his books day in
and day out until my task was done. Certain of that, he tucked me in,
though stacks of books rising from floor to ceiling had to be moved to
find room.

I wonder if students in the United States know how much they owe to this
man. He gave his life to making a library first to serve Congress, for
he held the firm conviction that Congressmen generally needed educating,
and that books handy in which he could find materials for their
committee work and their speeches would contribute to the process. He
made it his first business to provide them as near on the instant as
possible with what he thought they needed. In return for this service he
used every opportunity to wheedle, shame, beg money from them, money for
books, equipment, an increased staff, and always for better
accommodations; for Mr. Spofford had a great vision of a national
library, educating not only Congress but the people. To realize that
vision he had become what he was when I knew him, a devoted,
domineering, crabbed czar of his realm. He worked incessantly, doing
everything, knowing everything. He paid little attention to the
irritated criticisms of those who saw only the inconveniences and dust
and overcrowding of the old rooms, and who charged him with inefficiency
and tyranny. His mind was on the arrangement and administration of the
marble pile already under way across the square. This was what he had
been working for—a worthy place for books. His sharp, irritated, “There,
maybe you can find something in that,” banging a dusty volume on my
table, has often sounded in my ears as in later years I worked at the
commodious desks of the library he had dreamed, and which to my mind is
a monument to him more than to any other man—naturally enough since he
was the only man I ever knew who had anything to do with its existence.

Six weeks, and I had my first installment ready. I had done it with my
tongue in my cheek. Impudence, it seemed to me, to write biography on
the gallop. I had kept myself to it by repeating in moments of disgust:
“Well, a cat may look at a king. I’ll sketch it in, and they can take or
leave it.” But Mr. Hubbard liked what I had done, and that meant Mr.
McClure hurried it to the printers while I in hot haste went ahead with
my sketching.

I expected nothing for myself from it more than the forty dollars a
week, and the inner satisfaction of following the thrilling drama from
the terror of ’93 down to St. Helena. That satisfied me. But to my
surprise I did get the last thing in the world I had expected, the
approval of a few people who knew the field. John C. Ropes wrote me he
liked the treatment: “Come and lunch with me when you are in Boston and
see my Napoleon collection.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course I

Charles Bonaparte, the grandson of Jerome Bonaparte, and Mrs. Bonaparte
invited Mr. Hubbard and me to lunch with them in Baltimore to see their
collection. Curious the little things one remembers of long-ago
experiences! Out of that visit I recall only that Mrs. Bonaparte told me
that in the garret when she came into the house where Jerome and his
American wife, Elizabeth Patterson, had lived, there were literally
barrels of string, short lengths neatly rolled, accumulated by the
sister-in-law of Napoleon. Why remember that when the home was full of
treasures on my subject? Probably because I have never been able to
throw away a string without a pang.

Something better worth remembering was the startling resemblance to
Napoleon in a certain pose of Charles Bonaparte. As he stood talking
unconsciously, hands behind his back, slightly stooped, he was the
counterpart of Raffet’s Napoleon, the most natural of them all.

A bit of consolation for my hasty work came from the last source I would
have expected: William Milligan Sloane, the author of an elaborate
study, the outcome of years of research, recently published by the
_Century Magazine_. That was the way biography should be written, I told
myself: years of research, of note-taking, of simmering and saturation.
Then you had a ripened result. I said something of this once to Mr.

“I am not so sure,” he replied, “that all the time you want to take, all
the opportunity to indulge your curiosity and run here and there on
bypaths, to amuse yourself, to speculate and doubt, contribute to the
soundness or value of a biography. I have often wished that I had had,
as you did, the prod of necessity behind me, the obligation to get it
out at a fixed time, to put it through, no time to idle, to weigh, only
to set down. You got something that way—a living sketch.”

I couldn’t have listened to more consoling comment. There must have been
something in his characterization of “living,” for now, over forty years
since it first appeared in book form, I still receive annually a small
royalty check for my “pot-boiling” Napoleon!

What really startled me about that sketch was the way it settled things
for me, knocked over my former determinations, and went about shaping my
outward life in spite of me. It weakened my resolve never again to tie
myself to a position, to keep myself entirely footloose; it shoved Paris
into the future and substituted Washington. It was certainly not alone a
return to the security of a monthly wage, with the possibility that the
wage would soon grow, that turned my plans topsy-turvy, though that had
its influence. Chiefly it was the sense of vitality, of adventure, of
excitement, that I was getting from being admitted on terms of equality
and good comradeship into the McClure crowd.

The “Napoleon” had given the magazine, now in its second year, the
circulation boost it needed. My part in it was not exaggerated by the
office or by me. We all agreed that it was the pictures that had done
it, but the text had framed the pictures, helped bring out their value,
and it had been done at a critical moment.

The success of the “Napoleon” sketch did me a good turn with the
Scribners, who had had my manuscript of “Madame Roland” for some time.
They were hesitating about publishing it. There was no popular appeal. I
was entirely unknown, but the “Napoleon” work gave me sufficient backing
to persuade them. At least that was the explanation the literary head of
the concern, William C. Brownell, gave me. Thus my first book was my
second to appear. My reward for writing it came from my interest in
doing it, what I learned about how to go at a serious biographical
study, certainly not in royalties. My first check was for forty-eight
cents. I had used up my share of the small sales in corrections of the
proofs and gift copies.

I must stay with them, declared Mr. McClure. And the more I saw of Mr.
McClure and his colleagues, the more I wanted to stay. Of my first
impression of S. S. McClure in Paris I have spoken. Closer views
emphasized and enlarged that impression. He was as eager as a dog on the
hunt—never satisfied, never quiet. Creative editing, he insisted, was
not to be done by sitting at a desk in a comfortable office. It was only
done in the field following scents, hunts. An omnivorous reader of
newspapers, magazines, books, he came to his office primed with ideas,
possibilities, and there was always a chance that among them was a
stroke of genius. He hated nothing so much in the office as settled
routine, wanted to feel stir from the door to the inner sanctum. And he
had great power to stir excitement by his suggestions, his endless
searching after something new, alive, startling, and particularly by his

He stood in awe of no man, but dashed back and forth over the country,
back and forth to Europe interviewing the great and mighty. He brought
back from his forays contracts with Stevenson, Conan Doyle, Anthony
Hope, Kipling. It was something to find yourself between the covers of a
book printing a Jungle story. They all came out in _McClure’s_ in those
years and were followed by “Captains Courageous” and “Stalky” as well as
many of the greatest of the short stories and poems—“The Ship That Found
Herself,” “The Destroyers,” the “Recessional”—things that left you
breathless and gave to a number the touch of genius for which the office
searched and sweated.

Mr. McClure was always peering over the Edge of the Future. It was this
search for what was on the way that brought to _McClure’s_ the first
article in an American magazine on radium, the X-ray, Marconi’s
wireless, Lilienthal’s and Octave Chanute’s gliders, Langley’s
steam-driven air-runner and in time the first article on the Wrights’
flying machine.

In my field of biography and history the Edge of the Future meant to Mr.
McClure the “unpublished” or the so poorly published that its
reappearance was equal to a first appearance. The success of a feature
spurred him to effort to get more of it, things which would sharpen and
perpetuate the interest. He was ready to look into any suggestion,
however unlikely it might seem to the cautious-minded. He was never
afraid of being fooled, only of missing something.

His quick taking of a hint, his warm reception of new ideas, new facts,
had its drawbacks. If they were dramatic and stirring Mr. McClure was
impatient of investigation. He wanted the fun of seeing his finds
quickly in print. At one point in the publication of the Napoleon he
caused me real anxiety by his apparent determination to print a story
for which I could find no authority.

Among the contributors to the Syndicate at that time was a picturesque
European with a title and an apparently endless flow of gossip. He
pretended to have been a member of the Court of Napoleon III and in the
confidence of the Emperor. This relation accounted for his having been
invited to join a strange secret party made up by the Emperor, who was
worried over a rumor that the body of Napoleon I did not lie under the
dome of the Invalides. It was not known who did lie there or what had
become of Napoleon. To reassure himself the Emperor decided to go with a
few chosen friends and open the tomb. They gathered in the dead of
night. The tomb was opened. There lay Napoleon, unchanged. The Emperor’s
mind was at rest. He swore the group to secrecy, but took affidavits to
be used in case of political necessity. The fall of the Empire seems to
have made the gentleman feel that his oath was no longer binding, and
that he could cash in on his adventure.

I did not believe the story, but when I expressed my doubt all I could
get out of Mr. McClure was a severe, “What a pity you do not know
something about Napoleon!” No new idea to me, since it was the first
thing I was thinking every morning when I went to work. What I did not
know, as I worried over the possible publication of what I believed a
fake, was that in spite of his quick and enthusiastic acceptance of a
good story, S. S. McClure cared above all for the soundness, the
truthfulness of the magazine. Good stories—yes. But they must hold
water, stand the scrutiny of those who knew. Moreover, he knew what I
did not as yet, that he could go the limit in his enthusiasms since he
had at his side a partner on whom he counted more, I think, than he then
realized to balance his excitements.

This happened now. The story was in type, scheduled. Mr. McClure was
going to Europe. “While you’re over there, Sam,” said his partner
quietly, “you better verify that Napoleon story. We’ll hold it until we
hear from you.”

A few weeks later came a laconic postal card. “Don’t publish the story
of the opening of Napoleon’s tomb. It wasn’t opened.”

I never heard the matter referred to after that. By the time he returned
he had forgotten what to me was a near tragedy, to him a joyful bit of
editorial adventure.

I came later to feel that this quick kindling of the imagination, this
untiring curiosity, this determination to run down every clue until you
had it there on the table, its worth or worthlessness in full view, was
one of Mr. McClure’s greatest assets; but it was an asset that would
have landed him frequently in hot water if it had not been for the
partner who had saved him from the Napoleon hoax, John S. Phillips—J. S.
P. as he was known in the office.

Living in Washington as I had been doing, I had seen little of Mr.
Phillips, only heard of him, for his name was the one oftenest on Mr.
McClure’s tongue. His calm and tactful handling of the “General,” as the
office called Mr. McClure, in the ticklish Napoleon story delighted me.

“Here’s a man,” I told myself, “who has a nose for humbugs as well as
one who knows the power of patience when dealing with the impatient.”


  _At her desk in the McClure’s office, 1898_

As time went on and I spent more and more of it in New York, finally
settling there at the end of the decade, I had better opportunities to
watch Mr. Phillips in action. I was not long in learning that he was the
focus of every essential factor in the making of the magazine:
circulation, finance, editing. Into the pigeonhole of his old-fashioned
roll-top desk went daily reports of bank balances, subscriptions
received, advertising contracts to be signed, books sold. I doubt if he
ever went home at night without having a digest of those reports in his
head. He knew their relation to the difficult problem of putting the
undertaking on its feet.

It was largely Mr. Phillips’ love of fine printing and his habit of
keeping track of the advances in printing processes that led _McClure’s_
late in the nineties to set up its own plant. It included all of the new
miraculous self-feeding machines, automatic presses, folders, binders,

It was the first magazine plant of the kind in the country and had many
visitors. Among them was Mark Twain. Mr. Phillips tells an amusing story
of his visit. As they stood watching the press perform, a sheet went
awry on the bed. The press at once stopped and rang a bell calling for
the pressman, who immediately came and helped the big automat out of its

“My God, man!” cried Mark Twain, “That thing ought to vote.”

It did more than cast votes for _McClure’s_. It saved the money which
finally balanced the budget—and then some.

To those of us on the inside it was always a marvel that John Phillips
found time to be an editor, as well as a focusing center for everything
that went on. At the bottom of his constant editorial supervision was, I
think, a passion for the profession. He was unmistakably the most
intellectual, as well as the best intellectually trained, person in the
office. After graduating at Knox College in Illinois he had taken a
degree at Harvard and later spent two years studying literature and
philosophy in the University of Leipzig. When he came to the magazine he
put all his training into the professional problem.

He was an invaluable aid to the group of staff writers the magazine was
building up. He was no easy editor. He never wheedled, never flattered,
but rigidly tried to get out of you what he conceived to be your best,
taking it for granted that you wanted to make the most of your piece and
it was his business to help you. I never had an editor who so quickly
and unerringly spotted weaknesses, particularly in construction. He had
a fine feeling, too, for the right word, took the trouble to search for
it, often bringing in a penciled memo of suggestions long after you had
decided to let it go as it was. He knew the supreme value of
naturalness, detested fake style. “A kind of disease,” I have heard him
say, quoting somebody.

It always disturbed a few of us that nobody outside of the office knew
what an important part in the making of _McClure’s_ John Phillips
played. He had that rare virtue—the willingness and ability to keep out
of the picture if thereby he could make sure the picture was not spoiled
in the making.

The one member of the staff besides Mr. McClure whom I knew, when I
began to find myself so to speak absorbed, was already by virtue of his
unusual gift for comradeship a friend as well as a species of boss—that
was Auguste F. Jaccaci, a brilliant artist and art editor as well as one
of the most versatile and iridescent personalities I have ever known. I
first met Jac, as he was called by everybody, in Paris, when as an
advance agent of the new magazine he was sounding out possibilities for
writers and illustrators. He took me out to dinner and paid the
_addition_. We talked until late, then he simply put me on my omnibus
and let me go back to the Latin Quarter alone. Here was established the
_modus operandi_ for our frequent visiting in the future, in Paris, in
New York, in Washington—with one revision. After that first dinner I
paid my share of the check, save on special occasions when Jac, a
knowing epicure, selected the dinner and treated me.

It was he who showed me the first copy of _McClure’s_, that of August,
1893, showed it to me at five-thirty in the morning, at a café across
the square from the Gare Saint-Lazare where he had ordered me by
cablegram from London to meet him. For nobody in the world excepting a
member of my family should I have been willing at that hour to cross
Paris. But I couldn’t afford to show a lack of interest. Moreover, I
must confess that this preposterous order flattered me a little. It was
taking me man to man, I said to myself. And so I was there. He had to
bully the garçon to get a table out on the sidewalk and make us coffee.

All this was a good basis for a comradeship which lasted to his death.
It lives in my memory as something quite apart in my relations with men.
Jac had a certain superior appreciation and wisdom never quite put into
words, but which you felt. I for my part was always straining to
understand, never quite reaching it. Part of his charm was his
confidence in his own superiority and his anxiety lest we didn’t quite
realize it. And then there were his rages. They came and went like
terrible summer thundershowers. He would roar down the corridor of the
office while I sat and watched him enthralled. Those rages, whether
directed at me or somebody else, never made any other impression on me
than that of some unusual natural phenomenon.

Here then were the leaders in the crowd to which I had been admitted by
virtue of a hasty sketch of Napoleon Bonaparte done on order.

Thank God I had sense enough to realize that here were three rare
personalities, and that to miss such associations would be sheer
stupidity. Also to know that I was an unusually lucky woman to be

Then there was the magazine they were making. There was something
youthful, gay, natural about it which captivated me. Often, too, it
achieved a most precious thing. Mr. Phillips called it a “lift.” To be
youthful, gay, natural with a “lift”—that was an achievement.

And then I found the place so warmly and often ridiculously human. Mr.
McClure was incapable of standing up before a hard-luck story, with the
result that he brought into that overcrowded office a string of
derelicts ranging from autocratic scrub ladies to indigent
editors—brought them in and left them for J. S. P. to place. But J. S.
P. was not far behind in his sympathy for those who were down and out. I
watched him more than once rescue an author who perhaps out of sheer
discouragement had taken to drink and landed in jail. Mr. Phillips saw
that he was bailed out, his debts paid, work given him. I never ceased
to wonder that these two men loaded with work and responsibility should
seemingly consider it part of their daily job to rescue the wastrel and
the disheartened.

There was reason enough for me to stay with _McClure’s_.

                           GOOD-BYE TO FRANCE

The Napoleon sketch had not been finished before Mr. McClure was urging
me into a new job—not writing this time, but editing, editing according
to his recipe. “Out with you—look, see, report.” Abraham Lincoln was the
subject. My heart fell. “If you once get into American history,” I told
myself, “you know well enough that will finish France. It will also
finish your determination to solve the woman question and determine the
nature of revolutions. They will go the way of the microscope and your
search for God. Are you to spend your life running, now here, now there,
never follow a path to its end?” Or was I taking my ambitions too
seriously? It seemed probable. However, I was to have five thousand a
year if I went along. There was no question in my mind but it was my
duty to earn that money.

Lincoln was one of Mr. McClure’s steady enthusiasms. I once saw him, in
puzzled efforts to find the reason for the continued life of a certain
great American magazine, going through the file from the Civil War on,
solely to find out what attention had been given to Lincoln. “Not a
Lincoln article in this volume, nor in this,” he cried. “It is not a
great magazine, it has overlooked the most vital factor in our life
since the Civil War, the influence of the life and character of Abraham

His insight told him that people never had had enough of Lincoln.
Moreover, he believed that there was to be had for the seeking a large
amount of “unpublished” reminiscences. It was on this conviction that he
started me off.

He was right about “unpublished” material. Lincoln had been dead only
about thirty years, and hundreds of those who had known him in one
connection or another were still living. His secretaries Nicolay and Hay
had finished their great documentary life of their chief. They should
have personal material not in their volumes. There were members of his
Cabinet still living, members of Congress of his time, editors like
Joseph Medill of the Chicago _Tribune_, Horace White of the Chicago
_Tribune_ and later of the New York _Evening Post_, Colonel McClure of
the Philadelphia _Inquirer_. There were scores of men in Illinois towns
who had traveled the circuit with him, for whom he acted as counsel,
scores of people who had as a youth heard the Lincoln-Douglas Debates,
and had been stirred to say, “Lincoln’s got it right.” They had followed
him in his fight against the extension of slavery and later into the war
to save the Union. There was indeed no point of his short trail from
birth to death where living men and women had not known him as
colleagues, friends, opponents, critics.

Also, there had never been a time from the day he had become a
Presidential candidate to the hour of his assassination that his life
had not been under scrutiny. Yet it had been difficult to find out much
about him. “There is not much of me,” he told a friend searching for
biographical material. But there had been enough always to touch deep
springs in American hearts and consciences. Men like William Dean
Howells and J. G. Holland, later to occupy high places in our literary
life, had written campaign lives of him. Hardly was he in his coffin
before his brilliant, if unstable, law partner William Herndon was
gathering from all sources reminiscences, estimates, documents on his
life up to the Presidency; and from his gathering Herndon made a story
of extraordinary vitality and color. Most important—always to remain
most important—was the collection of his Letters and Speeches and the
ten-volume “Abraham Lincoln: A History” by Nicolay and Hay.

Why do more? What was there to be had? Mr. McClure insisted that there
was plenty if one searched.

I went to talk it over with John Nicolay, who as well as his fine
daughter Helen was an honored member of the famous old Washington
Literary Society where I was a frequent guest. I told him what Mr.
McClure proposed. Did he not have something he could give me? He was
emphatic in saying there was nothing of importance to be had. The
collection of letters and speeches he and Mr. Hay had made was complete;
they had told all there was worth telling of Lincoln’s life. He would
advise me not to touch so hopeless an assignment. I think Mr. Nicolay
never quite forgave me for going ahead. Later when the results of my
search began to appear and gradually to shape themselves into a Life of
Lincoln he came to me one evening to protest. “You are invading my
field. You write a popular Life of Lincoln and you do just so much to
decrease the value of my property.”

I was deeply distressed. He thought me a poacher. I told him I believed
he was mistaken. I pleaded that if I could write anything which people
would read I was making readers for him. To know a little of Lincoln was
for the serious a desire to know more. He and Mr. Hay had written
something that all students must have. I could never hope to make an
essential lasting contribution. But he went away unconvinced.

Mr. Nicolay’s point of view, if not generous, was certainly honest. I
understand it better now than I did then. He had lived through the great
years of the Civil War always at Lincoln’s elbow. He had been the stern,
careful, humorless guardian of a man who carried his mail in his hat and
a laugh on his lips. His reverence for him was a religion. He had given
years of conscientious hard labor to the editing of the “Complete Works”
and the writing of the history, and now he was retired. Lincoln was his
whole life. We all come to rest our case on the work to which we have
given our best years, frequently come to live on that, so to speak. When
the time comes that our field is invaded by new workers, enlarged,
reshaped, made to yield new fruit, we suffer shock. We may put up a “No
trespassing” sign, but all to no use.

Mr. Nicolay’s tragedy was in not having found a fresh field. How
different it was with his colleague John Hay, whose secretaryship with
Lincoln had been an episode in a diplomatic career of unusual
distinction and usefulness! In 1894 everybody recognized that he had a
greater future before him. His part in the Life of Lincoln had been but
one of many contributions to the literature of his day. His social
circle was the choicest, and he was rich. Hay had everything; Nicolay,
only Lincoln, and he looked on all who touched his field as invaders.

Mr. Nicolay’s rebuff settled my plan of campaign. I would not begin at
the end of the story with the great and known, but at the start in
Kentucky with the humble and unknown; I would follow the trail
chronologically; I would see for myself what sort of people and places
those were that had known Lincoln, reconstruct the life of his day as
far as living men and women backed by published records furnished
reliable material. I would gather documents as I went, bits of color,
stories, recollections; I would search in courthouses and county
histories and newspapers; I would pick up pictures as I went, a picture
of everything that directly or indirectly touched on what I was after. I
would make sure if among these people who had known him there might not
be letters not in the “Complete Works”; and, if I were lucky, somewhere
on the trail I might turn up the important unpublished reminiscences
which Mr. McClure was so certain existed. It was a gamble, the greater
because I was so profoundly ignorant of American life and history.

It was in February of 1895, the Napoleon work still unfinished, though
far enough ahead to give me a month for a preliminary survey, that I
started for the Lincoln country of Kentucky to begin work on this
program. It was characteristic of Mr. McClure, as he saw me off in the
deadly cold, to take sudden alarm for my comfort. “Have you warm _bed
socks_?” he asked anxiously. “We’ll send you some if not. It will be
awful in those Kentucky hotels.” It was—Louisville aside—awful in more
than one hotel and train in my first month of Lincoln hunting.

The results were not exciting. They were too fragmentary: bits of
unrecorded recollections, a picture, a letter, a newspaper paragraph, a
court record which had passed notice. What was to be done with them?
Here was no smashing new contribution such as an article of unpublished
recollections from Mr. Nicolay might have been, but here were bits of
value if you were to enlarge and retouch the popular notion of the man
Lincoln. It was soon clear to Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips that what I
was collecting must be dovetailed into the published records; and that,
they told me, was my business. Before I knew it I was writing a Life of
Lincoln, though the first three chapters carried the legend, “Edited by
Ida M. Tarbell.” The office seemed gradually to conclude that the editor
had become the author, though I think they were ahead of me in this

We had a lucky break at the start which launched the undertaking even
better, I think, than the big article we were looking for. Among my
Washington acquaintances was a delightful Chicago woman, Mrs. Emily
Lyons. She belonged to the group of early settlers who were still at
this time in the thick of the exciting struggle to make the city the
richest, the finest physically and socially in the country. Their
energy, their daring, their confidence, their eagerness to learn, to
adapt, was one of the social phenomena of the day. Now Mrs. Lyons’
husband was important in the wealth-producing class as she was in the
social. She knew practically everybody. When she learned that I was
interested in new material on Lincoln she said at once: “Come to
Chicago. I’ll see that you meet Robert Lincoln, and I’ll see that he
gives you something.” Too good to be true. But Mrs. Lyons kept her
promise when I reached Chicago on my first expedition, producing Mr.
Lincoln at once.

“Now, Robert,” she ordered as she filled our cups, “I want you to give
her something worth while.”

To be drinking tea with the son of Abraham Lincoln was so unbelievable
to me that I could scarcely take note of his reply. I searched his face
and manners for resemblances. There was nothing. He was all Todd, a big
plump man perhaps fifty years old, perfectly groomed, with that
freshness which makes men of his type look as if they were just out of
the barber’s chair, the admirable social poise of the man who has seen
the world’s greatest and has come to be sure of himself; and this in
spite of such buffeting as few men had had—the assassination of his
father when he was twenty-four, the humiliation of Mary Lincoln’s
half-crazed public exhibition of herself and her needs, the death of his
brother Tad, the heartbreaking necessity of having his mother committed
for medical care, and more recently the loss of his only son. Robert
Lincoln had had enough to crush him, but he was not crushed. At the
moment he looked and felt, I think, that he had arrived where he
belonged. The Republican party would have been happy, no doubt, to make
him its leader if he had shown political genius recalling that of his
father. They tried him out. Garfield and Arthur made him Attorney
General, Harrison named him minister to the Court of St. James’s, but
nothing happened. He was not political timber, but by this time big
business wanted him. It was his field. He was now president of the
Pullman Company.

I devoured him with my eyes. He was very friendly. To Mrs. Lyons’ order
to do his best for me he laughingly replied, “Of course if you say so,
Emily.” But he went on to say he was afraid he had little that would
help me. Herndon had taken all his father’s papers from the law office.
I think he used the word “stolen,” but I am not sure; at least I knew he
_felt_ they were stolen. He had protested, but was never able to get
anything back. As for the Presidential period, all the correspondence
was packed away in Washington, but it had been fully used by Nicolay and
Hay. However, he had what he believed to be the earliest portrait made
of his father—a daguerreotype never published. I could have that.

I held my breath. If it was true! I held my breath still longer when the
picture was finally in my hands for I realized that this was a Lincoln
which shattered the widely accepted tradition of his early shabbiness,
rudeness, ungainliness. It was another Lincoln, and one that took me by

Of course we made it the frontispiece to our first installment, and the
office saw to it that those whose opinions were of value had fine prints
of it. It called out some remarkable letters. Woodrow Wilson wrote that
he found it “both striking and singular—a notable picture.” He was
impressed by “the expression of the dreaminess, the familiar face
without its sadness.” Charles Dudley Warner wrote that he found it “far
and away the most outstanding presentation of the man” he had ever seen.
“To my eyes it explains Mr. Lincoln far more than the most elaborate
engraving which has been produced.” A common enough comment was that it
“looks like Emerson.” Edward Everett Hale wrote us that he had shown the
picture to “two young people of intelligence who each asked if it was
not Waldo Emerson.”

A valuable and considered comment came from John T. Morse, the author of
a Life of Abraham Lincoln, as well as editor of a series on leading
American statesmen:

  I have studied this portrait with very great interest [wrote Mr.
  Morse]. All of the portraits with which we are familiar show us the
  man as made; this shows us the man in the making. And I think every
  one will admit that the making of Abraham Lincoln presents a more
  singular, puzzling, interesting study than the making of any other
  man in human history. I have shown it to several persons without
  telling them who it was. Some say a poet; others a philosopher, a
  thinker, like Emerson. These comments also are interesting, for
  Lincoln had the raw material of both these characters very largely
  in his composition though political and practical problems so
  overlaid them that they show only faintly in his later portraits.
  This picture, therefore, is valuable evidence as to his natural

Robert Lincoln was almost as proud as I was of the character of the
comment. If he felt, as he well may have done, that he was taking a
chance in responding so generously to his friend Mrs. Lyons’ order, he
was rewarded by the attention the picture received from those whose
opinions he regarded highly. Always thereafter he was quick to see me
when I took a Lincoln problem to him, as I did when I had exhausted all
other sources. He was always frank and downright. One puzzle I brought
amused him no little. It was the recurring rumor that Abraham Lincoln
had written a letter to Queen Victoria early in the war begging her not
to recognize the Confederacy. He was said to have sent it direct. Now no
hint, however unlikely, no clue, however shadowy, was passed by in what
had become in the McClure office a veritable bureau of Lincoln research.
“Anything is possible,” was our watchword. I was carrying on a
widespread correspondence and continually dashing in one direction or
another on what turned out often to be wild-goose chases, but also not
infrequently brought in valuable game. Mr. McClure was especially
excited over this letter. The State Department pooh-poohed the idea; the
curator of documents in London was noncommittal. I interviewed people
who were in position to know what was going on, but learned nothing.
Finally I went to Chicago to see Robert Lincoln. His eye seemed harder
to me in his office than over Mrs. Lyons’ tea table, but he quickly put
me at ease. I was certain that my quest was going to seem ridiculous to
him; indeed, it had become a little so to me. But he didn’t throw it
aside. He picked it up and played with it. He had never heard of such a
letter and doubted if it had been written.

“If father had done that,” he said with emphasis, “and Mr.
Adams”—Charles Francis Adams, then minister to Great Britain—“had
learned of it, he would have resigned. Father knew of course that all
communication between governments must be carried on by the credited

And then he fell to talking laughingly of his own experiences at the
Court of St. James’s. He said he had received all sorts of things to be
presented to the Queen—patchwork quilts, patent medicines, books, sheet
music. “I suppose,” he said, “that lots of Americans fancy that their
ambassador smokes cigarettes awhile every morning after breakfast with
the Queen. They take it for granted he can drop in for tea any time and
present quilts. Of course such people see no reason why a President
cannot write a Queen direct.” And he laughed until the tears came.

That interview put an end for the time being to the search for “the
letter to the Queen,” as the item had come to be called in the office.

When the Life was finally complete Mr. Lincoln wrote me: “It seemed to
me at first that the field had been too many times gleaned to hope for
much from the work you were undertaking, and I must confess my
astonishment and pleasure upon the result of your untiring research. I
consider it an indispensable adjunct to the work of Nicolay and Hay.”

Mr. Nicolay, however, never agreed.

If Robert Lincoln was always friendly he threw me once into the greatest
panic I suffered in the course of my Lincoln work, though this was long
after the Life was published. I had gone to him to ask if he would
arrange for me to consult the collection of Presidential papers.
“Impossible,” he said. “They are in the safety vault of my bank. I won’t
allow anybody to see them. There is nothing of my father’s there, that
is of value—Nicolay and Hay have published everything; but there are
many letters _to_ him which if published now would pain, possibly
discredit able and useful men still living. Bitter things are written
when men are trying to guide a country through a war, particularly a
Civil War. I fear misuse of those papers so much that I am thinking of
destroying them. Besides, somebody is always worrying me about them,
just as you are, and I must be ungenerous. I think I will burn them.”

I was scared; I feared he would do it, but Herbert Putnam, the head of
the Congressional Library, had already seen to that. He did not burn
them; the Library got them finally, but with the condition that they
were not to be opened until twenty-one years after Robert Lincoln’s
death. He died in 1926. The papers will not be available to students
until 1947, which probably lets me out!

The early portrait set the key for the series and, as it turned out, a
much higher key than I had believed possible. I found that court records
did yield unpublished documents, that every now and then I ran on a man
or woman who said more or less casually, “Why, we have a letter of
Lincoln’s written to father in ——. Copy it if you wish.” Occasionally I
found a speech not in the “Complete Works.” By the time the work was put
into book form in 1899 I had an appendix of three hundred unpublished
speeches and letters. This did not mean that none of them had ever been
in print. Many of them had appeared in newspapers or historical
magazines. “Unpublished” meant uncollected. On the whole this collection
stood the scrutiny of experts very well, though I think I was swindled
in the case of at least one document, a forgery by a man recommended to
me by an honest scholar who had used the man frequently for years.

Forgery was easy, so was pilfering of documents in those days, so little
attention did clerks give to their old papers, so glad were they to get
rid of them. There was frequently no objection to a student carrying off
anything that interested him. One of the most important documents in the
controversy over the legitimacy of Lincoln’s mother is now to be found
in the Barton collection which the University of Chicago bought. Mr.
Barton probably asked permission to take it home for examination, a
common enough practice in Illinois as well as in Kentucky, and forgot to
return it. Probably most of the legal documents in the private Lincoln
collections have been stolen. The original thief would have been
horrified to have that harsh word applied to him. He simply put it into
his pocket with or without permission, saying, “I’ll just take this

But while I did get together some three hundred pieces I came nowhere
near turning up all the letters and speeches then at large. I was under
a time limit. Since I ended my search scores of items, some of value,
have been published in one or another collection. I shall be surprised
if, as time goes on, there does not turn up every now and then a genuine
letter, though now more than ever caution must be taken in accepting a
new piece. The forging of historical documents has become a lucrative

From the beginning I did my best to reconstruct the physical
surroundings of Lincoln’s homes and activities. I was particularly
interested in the setting of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which I
followed in their order; but it was not until I reached Galesburg,
Illinois, where on October 7, 1858, the fifth debate was staged, that I
found the stirring and picturesque material I sought in order to picture
the scene of a debate. I was delighted that it should have been the
fifth debate, which I have always considered the most important of the
series, for it was in that that Lincoln brought his argument down to
what to him was the crux of the whole matter, that is, that slavery was
wrong and must be kept back or it would spread over the whole country.

The debate had taken place on the campus of Knox College on the east
front of its historic Old Main, one of the most beautiful college
buildings of that period in the Middle West.

I had the luck to find in Galesburg a helper who not only
enthusiastically seconded my conviction that here was the place for the
illustration which we wanted, but set out heartily to help me find
material. This was John H. Finley, my old friend on the Chautauqua
Assembly _Daily Herald_. Dr. Finley was now president of the
college—“the youngest college president in the United States,” he was
popularly called, doing a piece of work which was winning him more and
more recognition. It was through him that I was able to find the
newspaper reports of the debate. It was through him that I was able to
meet people who could give me recollections of the day.

The picture which resulted from our joint efforts was made by that
excellent artist William R. Leigh, who did many of the illustrations for
the series. It has had a continuing life, being reproduced again and
again on the occasion of the commemorative celebrations of the debate
which Dr. Finley inaugurated in 1896. It was at this celebration that
Robert Lincoln made his first and only public address about his father.

The real fun of the Lincoln work, as well as some of the worth-while
results, came from setting myself little problems. I was curious, for
instance, to know more of Lincoln as a speaker. Whenever I found an
Illinois man who had been with him on the circuit or in public life I
would bombard him with questions. He would tell me how Lincoln looked,
what his voice was like, how he used stories. They all talked more about
the Lincoln and Douglas debates than any other exhibit, but frequently
would conclude by saying, “Well, those were good speeches, but they were
nothing like the Lost Speech. That was the greatest thing Lincoln ever
did.” Or a man would begin by saying, “Well, you can never know much
about him as a speaker, nobody can that never heard the Lost Speech.”

It was, they said, a speech which so stirred his audience that the very
reporters forgot to take their notes. Knowing reporters, I was skeptical
about that, so I looked up some of them. They all told me that when
Lincoln finally ended his speech they found themselves standing on,
instead of sitting by their writing tables—and without a note!

Still I believed that somebody must remember something about the
speech—enough at least to give an idea of the argument. Perhaps, I said
to myself, I may pick up some of the phrases—get some real notion of it;
so I went prowling about asking questions and finally learned that in
the state of Massachusetts was a man who was said to have taken notes—a
cool-headed man—a lawyer, not a reporter. His name was Henry C. Whitney.
He knew Lincoln well, had travelled the circuit with him, had published
a “Life on Circuit with Lincoln” with which I was familiar.

Of course there was nothing to do but look up Mr. Whitney, and that I
did. To my great satisfaction I found he had a bunch of yellowed notes.
He had always intended to write them up, he said; but when he tried it
the result seemed so inadequate that he gave it up.

After much persuasion Mr. Whitney did get out a version of the Speech.
When he turned it over to me I took it to the men in Illinois with whom
I had talked and asked them what they thought of it. There were those
who said, “It’s impossible to write out that Speech.” But there were
others who said, “Yes, Whitney has caught the spirit, he has the
argument, he even has many of the phrases, as of course he would have if
he made notes.”

The most emphatic and enthusiastic statement came from a man of
importance—Joseph Medill, the editor of the Chicago _Tribune_. Mr.
Medill had been one of the reporters at Bloomington in 1856 when the
speech was made who found himself in the end on top of the table without
a note! He thought Mr. Whitney’s version was close to the original.
Indeed, he wrote to Mr. McClure a long and interesting letter giving his
recollections of the Convention. In that letter he said:

  Mr. Whitney has reproduced with remarkable accuracy what Mr. Lincoln
  said, largely in his identical language and partly in synonymous
  terms. The report is close enough in thought and word to recall the
  wonderful speech delivered forty years ago with vivid freshness.

Well, that seemed to us reason enough for publishing Mr. Whitney’s
report along with the story of how I had found it, what the people who
heard the speech in the first place said about it, both for and against.
And that we did.

But out in Illinois there were a number of people who did not want to
give up the tradition. The Lost Speech was the greater to them because
it was lost. As long as it was lost you could make it bigger than any
speech any man ever made, and nobody could contradict you. And so you
will find those who claim that the Lost Speech is still lost. And of
course you can take it or you can leave it.

More than once when I plumed myself on a “discovery” I encountered the
loyalty of men to their legends. There was the Herndon story of
Lincoln’s failing to appear at the first wedding arranged for him and
Mary Todd. I realized he rather lets his “historical imagination” loose
in his description, but I never had questioned his story until by chance
I mentioned it to one of the family, a woman who would have been there
if there had ever been such a wedding ready. She froze me with her
indignation. “Mr. Herndon made that story up out of whole cloth. No such
thing ever happened.” Amazed, I flew around to see what other men and
women of the circle said. They all denied it. A sister of Mary Lincoln
was particularly indignant because Mr. Herndon had put the bride in
white silk. “Mary Lincoln never had a white silk dress until she went to
Washington,” she sputtered.

But in spite of all the documents and evidences I collected demolishing
the episode, I reaped only sour looks and dubious headshakes. I had
spoiled a good story or tried to. It still remains a good story. Every
now and then somebody tells it to me. A biographer who tries to break
down a belittling legend meets with far less sympathy than he who
strengthens or creates one.

The most important piece of ghost writing I ever did came in the course
of the Lincoln work—Charles A. Dana’s “Recollections of the Civil War.”
Mr. Dana, at that time the active editor of the New York _Sun_, had had
an exceptional war experience dating from 1862 to 1865 as assistant to
Secretary Stanton. He had spent much time in the field; he had been with
Grant at Vicksburg, with Rosecrans and Thomas at Chattanooga, again with
Grant in the Peninsular Campaign. “The eyes of the government at the
front,” Mr. Lincoln called him.

No man in the administration had had better opportunity of judging
Lincoln, particularly in relation to the conduct of the war, and none
was a better judge of character.

Could I get the whole story as far as it concerned Lincoln? I hesitated
to ask it. The truth was, I was afraid of Mr. Dana. I knew him only on
the editorial page of the New York _Sun_. He was too clever, too
quick-witted, too malicious for me to get on with, I feared. They
laughed at me at the office when I voiced my qualms. Nobody was held
higher there than Charles A. Dana. He had been a customer of the McClure
Syndicate from the beginning, and they believed in his professional
integrity, admired his detestation and relentless pursuit of fakers,
honored and tried to imitate his editorial motto, “If you see it in THE
SUN it’s so.”

“Why should you feel this way?” reproved Mr. Phillips. “Mr. Dana is a

“Nonsense! I’ll take care of it for you,” said Mr. McClure, and he
rushed to the _Sun_, office. He did fix it and more, for, returning, he
told me with glee that Mr. Dana was willing to give his whole war story,
that is if I would do the work and arrange some practical plan for the
interviews. The first step, of course, was to find what Dana material,
published and unpublished, was in the war records. The editing of the
records then under way was in charge of J. Leslie Perry. Mr. Perry did
not believe in women fussing with history, particularly with Civil War
history. War was man’s business.

“How can you understand it?” he shouted at me.

However, I insisted on my rights, and nobody could have been more
helpful when he considered a thing an obligation of his official
position. To the end Mr. Perry’s chief satisfaction came when he caught
me slipping. “That’s what comes from allowing a woman to write history,”
he would say jubilantly.

Between us we brought together a grist of Dana’s dispatches and reports.
I crammed on the campaigns, and by appointment appeared at the end of
Mr. Dana’s day, about four o’clock in the afternoon, for my first

His desk was stripped of everything that pertained to the newspaper, but
held a row of the latest books, not only in English but in three or four
other languages, as well as a copy of the _Cosmopolis_, an ambitious and
rather pretentious review in three or four languages issued for a short
time in the late nineties.

Mr. Dana had already repented of his promise to Mr. McClure. “I am not
interested in what I did in the past,” he said irritably. “I am
interested only in the present; I am trying to keep up with the world of
today. I am studying Russian now—a very fascinating language. I don’t
want to bother with what I did in the Civil War. What do you propose?”

What I proposed was that he let me come to him with a stenographer and a
set of prepared questions, say three times a week. He agreed, and for a
good many weeks of the winter of ’96 and ’97 I went regularly to the
_Sun_ office after the paper was put to press. By the summer of 1897 I
had my manuscript well in shape. Mr. Dana had never seen any of it.
“Send me the proofs, I’ll read them.”

Publication was to begin in November of 1897. Mr. Dana went to London
for the summer. I sent the proof of the first chapter over with a good
many qualms, for it was all in the first person—“I” and “We.” It came
back with only a few verbal corrections—no comments. He was never to
read more of his Recollections. The number of the magazine which carried
the first chapter carried the notice of his death.

We published the entire story, and later the articles were put into a
book, but with no credit to the ghost!

Taking it all in all it was the most impersonal job I ever had. I do not
remember that Mr. Dana ever volunteered a word in all the many
interviews I had with him except on the subject in hand, and that in
answer to my questions. We never talked of the things which I knew he
loved—pictures, orchids, poetry. It was a businesslike operation from
start to finish. Probably it was his way of punishing me for being
afraid of him.

Another and more important series which came out of the Lincoln work was
Carl Schurz’s “Reminiscences.” Here I acted not as a ghost but as an
editorial representative. Mr. Schurz had given me liberally for my story
from his rich Lincoln experiences—the most important unpublished item
being the part he played in helping Mr. Lincoln launch his plan for
compensated emancipation.

As I reported these interviews the office became more and more convinced
that here was a great series of reminiscences—just the kind of thing
that Mr. McClure had hoped for when he first commissioned me to gather
Lincoln material. Could Mr. Schurz be persuaded to write his
reminiscences? When I broached the subject he almost immediately said:
“No, no, I refused Gilder [Richard Watson Gilder, editor of the
_Century_]. I cannot do it for anybody else.”

But I felt so convinced that he ought to do it that I persisted in my
begging, and finally he began to yield. The handsome sum _McClure’s_ was
willing to pay had something to do with it, for Mr. Schurz was not a
rich man and here was a chance to leave to his family this extra money.
Once he had made up his mind to the task, he thoroughly enjoyed it; and
no one could have been more anxious to use material to suit the needs of
the magazine. Working with him was a joy. He was gay, companionable,
full of anecdotes, frank in comment. I remember him best at his summer
home at Lake George where it was necessary for me to go two or three
times to settle some editorial point. Here you would hear him in the
morning as he was getting ready for breakfast giving the Valkyrie cries,
singing motive after motive of the Wagnerian operas, in a clear youthful
voice. Sometimes he would spring up from the table where he was at work,
and seating himself at the piano would improvise dashingly until the
mood which had taken him from his desk passed; then back to his labor.

The house stood in the upper corner of a park of fifty or sixty acres of
woodland—not over-cleared—and open by winding paths down the hillside to
the lake. Every turn, every rock had its name usually celebrating some
Wagnerian scene, and as you passed Mr. Schurz would roll out the
appropriate song. There never was a more lovable or youthful man of
seventy than Carl Schurz.

The completion of the Life of Lincoln did not end my interest in the
man. He had come to mean more to me as a human being than anybody I had
studied. I never doubted his motives, and he never bored me. Still,
whenever I have the opportunity I pick him up. The greatest regret of my
professional life is that I shall not live to write another life of him.
There is so much of him I never touched.

                        REDISCOVERING MY COUNTRY

The four years I put in on “The Life of Abraham Lincoln” did more than
provide me with a continuing interest. They aroused my flagging sense
that I had a country, that its problems were my problems. This sense had
been strong in my years on _The Chautauquan_, but the period following
had dimmed it. Now I was beginning to ask myself why we had gone the way
we had since the Civil War. Was there not enough of suffering and of
nobility in that calamity to quiet the greed and ambitions of men, to
soften their hates, to arouse in them the will to follow Lincoln’s last
counsels—“With malice toward none; with charity for all ... let us ...
do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among
ourselves and with all nations.” But greed and hate and indifference to
the sufferings and rights of others had been rampant since the war. Did
war as a method of righting wrongs so loosen the controls which man in
times of peace establishes over himself that he is incapable of
exercising the charity, the peaceful adjustments for which Lincoln
called? Was there always after war an unescapable crop of corruption, of
thirst to punish and humiliate and exploit the conquered? Must men go
back where they had started, go back with controls weakened and burdened
with a load of new and unexpected problems? True, this war had ended
slavery as a recognized institution, given the black man legal freedom,
but how about opportunity, discipline for freedom? And then again was a
war necessary to destroy slavery? Was it not already doomed? Lincoln
thought so. Doomed because it was showing itself unsound economically as
well as because it outraged man’s sense of justice and humanity. And how
about the effect of this war on democracy? Were the problems it loosed
less threatening to democratic ideals than slavery had been? Were they
not possibly a more subtle form of slavery, more dangerous because less

A nice box of problems to tease me as I worked on Lincoln’s life and out
of the corner of the eye watched what was going on in the country. The
number of things in America I was beginning to want to find out about
was certainly dimming the things in France I had wanted to find out
about. Unquestionably these new interests were helping to wean me from
the plan on which I had settled. The process was painful. More than once
I told myself that the sacrifice of my ambitions, of my love for Paris,
for my friends there, was too much to ask of myself. I could never
replace those interests and associations; but I was replacing them and
suffering as I realized what was happening, revolting that nothing in my
life seemed to last, to be carried through. By nature I was faithful. To
give my time to new friends, neglect old ones in spite of never
forgetting them, as I never did, was disloyal. I was beginning to repeat
dolefully as well as more and more cynically, _“Tout lasse, tout casse,
tout passe.”_

Washington was helping in my weaning. The city as I knew it in the
1890’s is lost in the Washington of the 1930’s. The pivots on which it
swings, the Capitol, the White House, were there then to be sure. So was
the Washington Monument; but they stood by themselves, the near-by
flanking unpretentious, often squalid. Today they are almost lost in the
piles of marble heaped about them to accommodate the ambitions and
creations of the last frantic twenty years. The town has stretched
unbelievably to the northwest. Where once I knew wide lawns, wooded
tracts, pleasant walks, are now acres upon acres of apartment houses and
hotels. They have engulfed the delightful Woodley Lane where my friends
the Hubbards lived in summer, and they have changed no less the quarter
in which their fine town house stood—Connecticut Avenue where it merges
into Dupont Circle. Great houses were only just beginning then to find
their way into the Circle. George Westinghouse had built there, so had
Mrs. Leiter of Chicago. Old Washingtonians sniffed at their houses and
their ways, laughed at Mrs. Leiter’s “spinal staircase” as she was said
to call it, and professed disgust at Mrs. Westinghouse’s “reported”
white velvet tablecloths. They resented the invasion of rich women
attracted by the social possibilities of a diplomatic circle, of rich
men attracted by the field for lobbying furnished by a Congressional

But of this side of Washington I saw nothing. My social life was shaped
largely by the continued kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard. I had become
almost one of the family, was freely invited to meet their friends.
Their circle was wide, including diplomats and statesmen and eminent
visitors, though its core was the large group of distinguished
scientists which made up the working forces of the Smithsonian
Institution, the Agriculture Department, the Geological Survey, the
Bureau of Mines, the Observatory. An important group they were, and
nobody in town appreciated them more or took more pains to show his
appreciation than Mr. Hubbard. Naturally the center of this group was
Alexander Graham Bell, married to the Hubbards’ daughter, Mabel.

The Bells lived across the Avenue from the Hubbards, and I soon had the
good fortune to be welcomed there—a great privilege, for both Mr. and
Mrs. Bell were rare persons. Mrs. Bell’s story is well known, but it was
only in seeing her with her husband and daughters that one could realize
what a fine intellect and what an unspoiled and courageous character she
had. She had been deaf and dumb from infancy, and Mr. Hubbard had
determined to open life to her. Among the teachers of speech he brought
to her was a young man then at Boston University—Alexander Graham Bell.
Under his tutelage she made rapid strides, and the two young people
learned to love one another. At that time Mr. Bell was giving his nights
to trying to “make iron talk.” I once heard Mr. Hubbard say that when he
found Mr. Bell had made iron talk he told him he must develop his
telephone to a practical point or he could not have Mabel. Probably no
other argument would have persuaded Alexander Graham Bell, for he was
the type of inventor whose interest flags when he has solved his
problem. Let somebody else take care of the development. He would be off
on a new voyage of discovery.

At the time I came into the circle Mr. Bell was, I think, the handsomest
and certainly the most striking figure in Washington. It was amusing to
hear people discussing who was the handsomest man in town. There were
various candidates—General Miles, General Greely, Colonel John Foster;
but while I conceded they all had their points no one of them had the
distinction of Alexander Graham Bell, and no one of them certainly had
the gay boyish appetite for what he found good in life. He was more like
Massa Henry Watterson in that than anybody else I have ever known,
though the activities and interests of the two were utterly different.

Mr. Bell’s plan of living was modeled to suit himself. Often he slept
through the day when interruptions naturally came and the telephone most
often rang! If restless at night he played the piano. Mrs. Bell could
not hear, and the rest of the family, being young and devoted, were
never disturbed. He was up and began his day around four to six. Often
there were guests for dinner, for everybody of note the world over who
came to Washington wanted to meet him. On Wednesdays after dinner there
usually gathered a group of scientists and public men to talk things
over. Mr. Bell was something to see at these dinners and gatherings, the
finest social impresario I ever saw in action, so welcoming,
appreciative, eager, receptive. I thought then I had never seen anybody
so generous about what others were doing. He loved to draw out great
stories of adventure and discovery and would silence all talkers when
once such narrating was started. Partly this was because of Mrs. Bell,
his intense desire that she enjoy everything that was going on; and she
did, thanks to the intelligent devotion of her daughters, Elsie and
Marian, the first now the wife of Gilbert Grosvenor, one of the founders
and the present editor of the _National Geographic Magazine_, the second
the wife of David Fairchild, botanist and explorer, the organizer in the
Agriculture Department of the work now known as the Division of Foreign
Plant Exploration and Introduction—two men to whom the public owes big
debts for services.

The most distinguished member of this Washington group of scientists
after Mr. Bell was Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley, the head of the
Smithsonian Institution, at that time agonizing over the problem of

When I first met Dr. Langley in 1894 he was working on his air runner or
aerodrome, a machine which, as I gathered from the talk I heard and did
not too well understand, was to run on the air as an engine does on
rails. He finally came out with a machine weighing about twenty-five
pounds made up of a pair of rigid wings, twelve to fifteen feet across,
and an engine which weighed not over seven pounds. It had cost him four
years’ work to develop the engine to that lightness. But would it fly?
Could it be launched? Attempts were made from a houseboat down the
river. These experiments were carried on with the utmost secrecy, for
Dr. Langley was a taciturn man, proud, dignified, always awesome to me.
He knew that there was a public that thought him a little touched in the
head and wondered that the Government kept, as director of a great
national institution, a man who held the crazy notion that one day
people would fly, and who was willing to give his days and nights to
proving it.

Dr. Bell took the most genuine and enthusiastic interest in Dr.
Langley’s experiments, was always present, I think, when an attempt to
launch the air runner was made. I recall his disappointment when it
fell, his rejoicing when it did finally fly. This was one day in May of
1896. I have heard him tell how suddenly the air runner rose to one
hundred feet and flew in a big circle. It did not fall but made a
perfect landing. Again it was launched and again it flew; and this time
it went over the land and over the treetops, came back to the river and
when its power was exhausted settled quietly on the water.

Inside that little circle at Dr. Bell’s there was the consciousness of a
great discovery, a certain solemnity that again it had been proved that
labor, training, thought, patience, faith are not in vain.

Mr. McClure was as excited as any one of the Washington group over the
news. He must immediately have an article from Dr. Langley himself, and
I was commissioned to get it. I think perhaps it was a little strain on
Dr. Langley’s good will to have a young woman come to him and say: “Now
we want the whole story of how you have done this thing, what it means;
but no scientific jargon, please. We want it told in language so simple
that I can understand it, for if I can understand it all the world can.”
Which, knowing me, he probably knew was true. He consented, and I had
the privilege of talking with him occasionally about the article, of
reading what he did and saying when necessary, “I don’t see quite what
this or that means,” of seeing him docilely make it clear enough for me
to understand. A year after the Langley contraption first flew we had in
_McClure’s Magazine_ the whole story.

As a reward for my persistent effort to see that article come out to his
satisfaction, he gave me what I think he considered the greatest treat
he could give his friends. He took me to the Rock Creek Zoo after the
crowds had gone and, with the help of the director, Dr. Baker, made the
kangaroo jump and the hyena laugh.

But the public interest in his air runner, the fresh honors that now
came to him did but little to wipe out the bitterness that ridicule had
stirred in Dr. Langley. “There was a time,” he said as he was going to
England to take a degree which Oxford University (I believe it was) was
giving him, “there was a time when I should have been glad of this. It
means little now.” Yet he had his moments of strong emotion. Rarely have
I been more moved than at a dinner at Mr. Hubbard’s soon after the
Greco-Turkish War began in 1897. A half-dozen men of seventy or
thereabouts were at the table, among them Senator Hoar of Massachusetts,
Major Powell, Edward Everett Hale, and Dr. Langley. They talked only of
Greece and her helplessness before the Turk. They recalled the wave of
sympathy which in their boyhood had swept over the country when the Turk
attacked Greece. It was to Greece, said Senator Hoar, that he first gave
money of his own, a long treasured twenty-five-cent piece. Dr. Hale and
Dr. Langley fell to quoting Byron. Their voices shook as they declaimed,

               “The Isles of Greece, the Isles of Greece!

                      ·       ·       ·       ·       ·

               Earth! render back from out thy breast
                 A remnant of our Spartan dead!
               Of the three hundred grant but three,
               To make a new Thermopylae.”

“It was Byron,” said Dr. Langley with an emotion of which I had thought
him incapable, “who first stirred in me an enthusiasm for man’s
struggles for freedom, with a desire to join those who fight for it.” He
thought Byron first opened England’s eyes to her duty to the oppressed
of the Continent of Europe and at the same time opened the eyes of the
Continent to the love of liberty, the sympathy with the helpless, in
English literature. Certainly here was a Dr. Langley I had never before

This was not all of Washington I was seeing. As in Paris I set aside
time for learning the city. How thin and young and awkward Washington
seemed compared with the exhaustless life and treasures of Paris! Here
was none of that wisdom of experience, that subtile cynicism, that pity
and patience with men which made Paris like a great human being to me.
Nor was there here the ripe charm of old palaces, quaint streets, hidden
corners. Everything was new, sprawling in the open. But if Washington
had little to offer but promise it had that in abundance, and it did not
know its own lacks. It was too full of pride in what it had done since
John Adams moved into the White House and Congress into the Capitol. And
then I had a problem to think about—the Washington Lincoln knew—and I
went about with him from White House to War Department, up to the
Congress, down to the Arsenal, into this and that hospital, up to the
Soldiers’ Home, over to Arlington. The pain and tragedy behind almost
every step he took in the town dignified its unfinished streets, gave a
meaning and a sanctity to its rawness. By such steps I told myself did
Paris come through the centuries to be what she is.

But I did more than follow Lincoln about. I wanted to know the
Washington of thirty years after Lincoln, and so I went to the Capitol
when debates promised excitement, and I missed no great official show.
When McKinley’s inauguration came in 1896 I arranged to see it all.
Once, I told myself, will do forever for an inauguration—as it has done.
I began after breakfast and did not stop until the Inaugural Ball was
far on its way. A fine colorful sightseeing experience, leaving a series
of pictures which have never quite faded. Years later one of these
pictures brought me a curious bit of minor political history. I was
trying to persuade Richard Olney to write the story of the Venezuela
message for _McClure’s_ and remarked that the first time I met him was
at the McKinley Inaugural Ball. To my surprise he flushed.

“Outgoing Cabinet members are not expected to attend the Inaugural Ball
of a new President,” he said. (I hadn’t known that, or of course I
should not have spoken.) “But there was a reason for my presence.
General Miles, then head of the Army, had come to me to say that there
were rumors of an attempt on McKinley’s life. ‘Suppose that both he and
Hobart should be assassinated before a new Cabinet is appointed,’ he
said. ‘You would be Acting President. You must go to the Ball, walk with
Mrs. McKinley, and stay until the end.’ I didn’t like the idea, but
General Miles insisted; so I went. But the new President walked with his
wife, and I had to hang around, conscious that more than one Republican
was saying, ‘What’s Olney doing here?’”

What was behind General Miles’ precaution, I never knew. The lives of
presidents are always in danger, even in what we are pleased to call
normal times, there being always plenty of grievances, real and fancied,
to be squared. At the moment of the McKinley inauguration the despair
and bitterness of many radicals over the defeat of Bryan were outspoken.
The experience of the country with assassination in the thirty preceding
years had been alarming. A man in General Miles’ position charged with
the safety of the heads of the government must keep in mind all
possibilities. It would, of course, have been easy to assassinate the
President and Vice President at the Ball. Given clever and determined
conspirators, there would have been a chance to seize the government
while a new President was being elected. But with a determined man like
Olney on the ground, backed by a watchful and sufficient military guard
scattered through the great Patent Office where the Ball was held, a
temporary government could have been formed while the murderer was being

How General Miles would have enjoyed such a coup! In the first years of
McKinley’s administration I came to know him well, another one of the
friendly acquaintances made in carrying out the varied tasks that came
my way in my position as a contributing editor of _McClure’s Magazine_.
For several years popular interest in military affairs had been growing.
There were several reasons: doubt of the efficiency of our army, talk of
revolution, and particularly our strained relations with Spain.

Interest was still further excited in 1896 by the outbreak of the
Greco-Turkish War, which, starting as a skirmish, soon grew until it
looked as if it might involve all southeastern Europe, perhaps England,
Russia. Obviously we should have an observer over there, and so in May
General Miles and a staff started for the field. He studied the military
organization of Turkey and of Greece, watched the armies lined up for
battle, saw the end of the war. From Greece he and his staff went to
London to represent the United States at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
Following that great show he had attended the autumn maneuvers of the
greatest of then existing armies, those of Russia, Germany, and France.

Mr. McClure thought there was an important story in General Miles’
observations, and I was commissioned to get it. But General Miles,
willing and glad as he was to tell of his European experiences—he had
never been abroad before—wanted to tell only of the sights he had seen,
sights which had nothing to do with armies, their equipment, and their
maneuvers. All that was shop for him. “They’ll think I didn’t see
anything but soldiers and guns,” he growled, “think I’m not interested
in history and art. People don’t know how wonderful Pompeii is, and I
would like to tell them. A lot of them never heard of Alexander’s
sarcophagus—finest thing I ever saw. There are countries that would pay
a million dollars to get it, and there’s the Parthenon and Moscow and
the Tower of London and the Louvre. There are the things I want to write
about.” And he was preparing to do it, as I saw by the stack of
Baedekers, the volumes of the Britannica, the pamphlets and travel books
on his desk. It took all my tact and patience to persuade the General
that, whatever his interest, ours was centered only on military Europe.

In the course of this distasteful task I came to have a real liking for
General Miles. He was as kindly and courteous a gentleman as I have ever
known, and certainly the vainest. One of the real disappointments of his
European visit was that the American uniform was so severe. There were
hundreds of lesser ranks than himself on parade with three times the
gold braid he was allowed. When it came to the Queen’s Jubilee he
revolted and had special epaulets designed. I was at Headquarters the
day they arrived from London, and nothing would do but I must see them.
He ordered the box opened, disappeared into an inner office and came
back arrayed in all the glory the American Army allowed him.

I was working on the Miles articles on February 16, 1898, when the
_Maine_ blew up in Havana harbor. As no message came canceling my
appointment with General Miles that morning I presented myself as usual
though with some misgiving, for it seemed as if the very air of
Washington stood still. At Headquarters there was a hush on everything,
but the routine went on as usual. As we worked an orderly would come in
with the latest report: “Two hundred fifty-three unaccounted for, two
officers missing, ship in six fathoms of water only her mast visible,
sir.” Then a second report: “All but four officers gone, sir, and there
are two hundred women up in the Navy Department.” (The Army and Navy
were in the same building in 1898.)

The General made no comment, but every now and then blew his nose
violently, while his smart Chief of Staff, a gallant simple-minded
officer with a bullet hole in his cheek, kept saying to himself: “Ain’t
it a pity! By Jove, ain’t it a pity!”

Through the two months between the blowing up of the _Maine_ and the
declaration of war I vacillated between hope that the President would
succeed in preventing a war and fear that the savage cries coming from
the Hill would be too much for him, as they were in the end. I honestly
believed then as I do now that he was doing his best, and this in spite
of the fact that my heart was hot with resentment for what I considered
his cowardly desertion of my Poland friends in 1893.

McKinley was patient, collected, surprisingly determined. Everybody
indeed in the departments where the brunt must fall if war came seemed
steady to me, as I watched things in my frequent visits to General
Miles’ Headquarters. Everybody was at his post, everybody except
Theodore Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy. He tore up and down
the wide marble halls of the War and Navy Building—“like a boy on roller
skates,” a disgusted observer growled. More than once he burst into
General Miles’ office with an excited question, an excited counsel.
Already he was busy preparing his Rough Riders for the war to be if he
had his way. Already he saw himself an important unit in an invading

I remember this because it shocked me more than anything else I was
noting. What chance had government in peace or war if men did not stay
on their jobs? Was not fidelity to the trust committed to you a first
obligation? And if Theodore Roosevelt felt—as he evidently did—that he
was needed in the Army, did not good manners if nothing else require
resignation? I was very severe on him in 1897, the more so because he
had bitterly disappointed me in 1884 when he had refused to go along
with the mugwumps in the revolt against Prohibitive Protection, refused
and gone along with my particular political abomination, Henry Cabot
Lodge. I had not been able to reconcile myself to him even when as a
Police Commissioner of New York City he made his hearty and effective
fight on the town’s corruption.

The steadiness of General Miles and his staff in the weeks between the
blowing up of the _Maine_ and the breaking out of war with Spain raised
my respect for Army training as much as Roosevelt’s excited goings-on
antagonized me. At the same time my contempt for the outpouring of
Congress in a crisis was modified by almost daily association with one
of its oldest members, the Senator from Massachusetts, George Frisbie

When I had decided in 1894 that sufficient materials were at hand in
Washington for the sketch _McClure’s_ wanted, to go with Gardiner
Hubbard’s Napoleon portraits, I went to live at a boarding house on I
Street between Ninth and Tenth recommended by Mrs. Hubbard, chiefly
because Senator and Mrs. Hoar lived there. The neighborhood had been not
so long before one of the desirable residential sections of the town,
but business and fashion were pushing well-to-do residents into
Connecticut and Massachusetts avenues, into Dupont Circle and beyond.
The fine old brownstone houses left behind were being used by trade and
occasionally by owners, whose incomes had been cut or destroyed, as
rooming or boarding houses. The head of the house into which I was
received was a Mrs. Patterson, the widow of a once distinguished
Washington physician. She and her daughter Elizabeth made of their home
one of the most comfortable and delightful living places into which I
had ever dropped. Such food! And best of all the Senator.

At this time Senator Hoar was close to seventy years of age. He had been
in Congress for twenty-six consecutive years, seventeen of them in the
Senate, and everybody knew that as long as he lived Massachusetts
Republicans would insist on returning him. He embodied all the virtues
of the classic New Englander and few of the vices. His loyalty was
granite-ribbed; he revered the Constitution and all the institutions
born and reared under it. He was proud of the United States, but his
heart belonged to Massachusetts. In his mouth the name took on a beauty
and an emotion which never ceased to stir me—Westerner that I was.

Combined with his patriotic loyalties was a passionate devotion to
classic literature—Greek, Roman, English. He knew yards of Homer and
Virgil, as well as of the greatest of the early English writers, and not
infrequently at our Sunday morning breakfasts he would repeat long
passages in his sonorous voice. This was the one hour in the week when
the Senator laid aside all formality and became our entertainer. He
never spoiled things by opinions on current events, but poured forth
daily whatever came into his mind. We were a good audience, willing to
sit until noon if he would talk. He claimed that it was Mrs. Patterson’s
codfish balls and coffee that put to flight all his cares and loosened
his tongue. That Patterson Sunday morning breakfast was enough to put
gaiety into any heart. Senator Hoar had already celebrated it in a
widely circulated letter to a Pennsylvania editor who attacked him for
never having done a stroke of useful work in his life and, what greatly
amused the Senator, living in Washington on “champagne and terrapin!”:

  My dear man [he wrote the irate critic], your terrapin is all in my
  eye, very little in my mouth. The chief carnal luxury of my life is
  in breakfasting every Sunday morning with an orthodox friend, a lady
  who has a rare gift for making fish balls and coffee. You
  unfortunate and benighted Pennsylvanians can never know the
  exquisite flavor of the codfish, salted, made into balls and eaten
  on a Sunday morning by a person whose theology is sound, and who
  believes in all the five points of Calvinism. I am myself but an
  unworthy heretic, but I am of Puritan stock, of the seventh
  generation, and there is vouchsafed to me, also, some share of that
  ecstasy and a dim glimpse of that beatific vision. Be assured, my
  benighted Pennsylvania friend, that in that hour when the week
  begins, all the terrapin of Philadelphia or Baltimore and all the
  soft-shelled crabs of the Atlantic shore might pull at my trouser
  legs and thrust themselves on my notice in vain.

As we all knew, Senator Hoar had no money for “champagne and terrapin.”
He had sacrificed his law practice to public service, “getting a little
poorer year by year.” As a matter of fact he had no interest in making
money. I never saw him more irritated than after taking a difficult case
for which he was to get a fee of twenty-five thousand or thirty thousand

“Earning money is hateful to me,” he said. “Never in all my life before
have I undertaken a thing I did not want to do simply for money. Some
things I like to do, believe that I can do better than I could do
anything else. I never was such a donkey before. There are so many
things I long to do; one of them is to learn Italian well enough to read
Dante and Boccaccio and Ariosto in the original; and I want to commit
Homer to memory. I would like to have my head _packed with Greek_.”

The Senator’s Sunday morning talks were rich with anecdotes of New
England types. He had his antipathies—Margaret Fuller Ossoli was one of
them. He used to tell the story of an old Concord doctor who was called
up in the night by a quavering voice outside his window asking, “Doctor,
how much camphire can a body drink without its killing ’em?” “Who drunk
it?” he asked. “Margaret Fuller.” “A peck,” snapped the doctor, shutting
his window with a bang.

Dr. Mary Walker, who in her rather shabby man’s attire was a familiar
figure in those days, was a particular abomination. She made him
“creepy,” he said. Simply to mention her, I found, would dry up his
talk. But the mention of Jonathan Edwards’ name, although he
particularly detested him, always loosened his tongue. “He was an
inhuman cuss,” he said one morning. “There is a true story of his riding
through Northampton with a slave boy whom he had just bought tied to a
cord and trotting behind the horse. ‘Is thee doing as thee would be done
by?’ a woman of his faith called him, and Edwards said, ‘I’ll answer you
some other time.’”

Senator Hoar rather enjoyed calling a man whose acts he disliked by hard
names. Indeed he very much enjoyed salty words generally, and one
morning ably defended them: “‘Dammit’ is a useful word. It eases one’s
feelings.” He also put up a strong argument for “whoppers.” “They are,”
he contended, “a valuable weapon with the impertinent and the imbecile.”
There was much boyish mischief in him. He greatly admired our wholesome
big-hearted Elizabeth, daughter of the house, her common sense and her
gaiety, and loved to pinch her plump arm. He did it in the presence of
us all and in spite of Mrs. Hoar’s reproaches. “Do you know, Elizabeth,”
he said one evening as he followed us up the stairs from the dining
room, “that it has taken nineteen hundred years of Christian
civilization to produce a man who does not pinch a girl’s pretty ankle
when she is going upstairs ahead of him?”

In July, 1898, after Congress had adjourned Senator Hoar made up a party
for a trip through the Berkshire Hills and I had the good fortune to be
asked to join it. I had heard him talk much of his walking trips there
in Harvard days with his favorite classmate, Francis Child: “as great a
man at seventeen when he entered college,” he said, “as when he died—a
real genius.” From the moment our little caravan left his home at
Worcester the trip was like champagne to him. Trees, graveyards,
epitaphs, views, the homes of the honored in this day and past days kept
him busy. There was the Sheffield elm which we must stop to measure, the
grave of Mumbet with the inscription his favorite Catharine Sedgwick had
written for it; there was the best view of the Sleeping Napoleon on
Cedar Mountain—this for me. Then we must spend the night at a certain
inn on Mount Washington to give Elizabeth plenty of time to look up
family graves and records. Her father had been born on Mount Washington,
which was one of many reasons why the Senator admired her. He went with
her to look up the graves and, returning late, said, “If we had not
feared you would wait supper we would have stayed and been buried

I have certainly never known anyone for whom life at seventy was more
joyous and full. He hated weakness, as well as everything that impaired
his dignity, his self-reliance. He was a true untouchable and would fall
into a rage if friend or stranger offered to assist him. “Unhand me,” he
thundered at a street car conductor who one day seized his arm to help
him up the steps, and his wrath lasted until he had told us about the
indignity at the dinner table. On this Berkshire trip a little accident
happened to him which caused an explosion of the same nature. We were at
an inn in the mountains, and after dinner had gone on to the lawn. The
Senator was sitting on a rustic bench which gave way, turned him on his
back, feet in the air. We all ran to assist him but were stopped in our
tracks by a stentorian voice which roared, “I decline to be assisted.”

But this was the Senator on a vacation, the Senator of our Sunday
morning’s breakfast. Take him when public affairs were in a serious
tangle, and he was glum, unapproachable. He suffered deeply over the
trend to imperialism after the Spanish-American War. To save Cuba from
the maladministration of Spain, to watch over her until she had learned
to govern herself seemed to him a noble expression of Americanism, but
to annex lands on the other side of the globe for commercial purposes
only, as he believed, was to be false to all our ideals. He had the
early American conviction that minding one’s own business was even more
important abroad than at home. He wanted no entangling alliances, and in
those days following the treaty of Paris he feared as never before for
the country. Certainly there were far fewer Sunday morning breakfast
table talks. His greatest speech against the advancing imperialism was
made in April of 1900. At the head of the printed copy of his speech
distributed by the Senate he placed these sentences:

  No right under the Constitution to hold Subject States. To every
  People belongs the right to establish its own government in its own
  way. The United States can not with honor buy the title of a
  dispossessed tyrant, or crush a Republic.

I was learning something of what responsibility means for a man charged
with public service, of the clash of personalities, of ambitions,
judgments, ideals. And it was not long before I was saying to myself, as
I had not for years, You are a part of this democratic system they are
trying to make work. Is it not your business to use your profession to
serve it? But how? That was clearly now my problem. I could not run away
to a foreign land where I should be a mere spectator. Indeed, I was
beginning to suspect that one great attraction of France was that there
I had no responsibility as a citizen. I must give up Paris. Between
Lincoln and the Spanish-American War I realized I was taking on a
citizenship I had practically resigned.

The war had done something to _McClure’s_ as well as to me. In all its
earlier years its ambition had been to be a wholesome, enlivening,
informing companion for readers, to give fiction, poetry, science of
wide popular appeal—an ambition which it must be admitted opened the
pages occasionally to the cheap, though it rarely excluded the fine. An
eager welcome was given new writers. Indeed it was always a great day in
the office when we thought a “real one” had reached us. While it
fostered new writers it held on to the best of the old. It had touched
public matters only as they became popular matters. Thus, when the
Spanish-American War came it was quickly recognized that it yielded more
interesting material than any other subject. There was a great war
number and there was a continuous flow of war articles. _McClure’s_
suddenly was a part of active, public life. Having tasted blood, it
could no longer be content with being merely attractive, readable. It
was a citizen and wanted to do a citizen’s part. It had a staff
sympathetic with this new conception of the work. Mr. McClure had had in
mind from the start the building of a permanent staff of good craftsmen,
reporters on whom he could depend for a steady stream of contributions,
as well as of editorial ideas. He wanted them versatile, flexible, as
interested in the magazine as in themselves, capable of sinking
themselves in a collective effort.

After I came in, the first to become such a permanent acquisition was
Ray Stannard Baker. An article on the capture of John Wilkes Booth by
Baker’s uncle, Colonel L. C. Baker, written from personal reminiscences
and documents, was submitted by Baker, then on the staff of the Chicago
_Record_. It was “the General’s” ideal of a _McClure’s_ article. Baker
was urged to write more, and each piece emphasized the first impression.
The year after his first appearance in the magazine, May, 1897, he
joined the staff and became a regular contributing editor.

Baker was an admirable craftsman, as well as a capital team worker. He
had curiosity, appreciation, a respect for facts. You could not ruffle
or antagonize him. He took the sudden calls to go here when he was going
there, with equanimity; he enjoyed the unconventional intimacies of the
crowd, the gaiety and excitement of belonging to what was more and more
obviously a success. He was the least talkative of us all, observant
rather than garrulous, the best listener in the group, save Mr.
Phillips. He had a joyous laugh which was more revealing of his healthy
inner self than anything else about him.

When I learned a few years later that Baker was the author of the wise,
homely, whimsical “Adventures in Contentment,” “The Friendly Road” and
other delightful essays under the nom de plume of David Grayson I said
at once, “How stupid of me not to have known it! Haven’t I always known
that Baker is a David Grayson?” Few practical philosophers, indeed, have
so lived their creed as Ray Stannard Baker, and none have had a more
general recognition from the multitude of people in the country who,
like him, believe in the fine art of simple living. It is a comforting
and beautiful thing to have had as a friend and co-worker over many
years so rare a person as Ray Stannard Baker.

By good fortune _McClure’s_ in this period happened on a reader of real
genius—Viola Roseboro—the only “born reader” I have ever known. I found
her in the office after one of my frequent jaunts after material. It was
as a talker that I first learned to admire and love her. Her judgments
were unfettered, her emotions strong and warm, her expressions free,
glowing, stirring, and she loved to talk, though only when she felt
sympathy and understanding. She loved to share books, of which she read
many, particularly in the biographical field; she wanted none but the
best—no imitation, no mere fact-finding. Her eagerness to let no good
thing slip, her consciousness of the all too little time a human being
has in this world to explore its riches made her rigid in her choice. An
unsleeping eagerness to find talent and give it a chance, and
secondarily, she said, to enrich the magazine, made every day’s work
with the unsifted manuscripts an adventure. If she found exceptional
merit that was also suited to _McClure’s_ she might weep with
excitement. And she stood to it till faith grew in those less sure of
the untried. It was when _McClure’s_ was making a great hunt for a good
serial that I saw her one morning bringing into the editorial sanctum
Booth Tarkington’s “The Gentleman from Indiana,” tears celebrating the
discovery as she cried, “Here is a serial sent by God Almighty for
_McClure’s Magazine_!”

This woman of unusual intelligence, loyalty and of truly Spartan courage
was a precious addition to the crowd. Ill health, threatened blindness,
have never lowered her enthusiasm, her ceaseless effort to find the
best, to give the best. She is still doing it.

The most brilliant addition to the _McClure’s_ staff in my time was
Lincoln Steffens. He had made himself felt in the journalistic and
political life of New York City by a fresh form of reportorial attack.
Young, handsome, self-confident, with a good academic background and two
years of foreign life and observation, Steffens began his professional
career unencumbered by journalistic shibboleths and with an immense
curiosity as to what was going on about him. He was soon puzzled and
fascinated by the relations of police and politicians, politicians and
the law, law and city officials, city officials and business, business
and church, education, society, the press. Apparently groups from each
of these categories worked together, supporting one another, an
organization close, compact, loyal from fear or self-interest or both.
It was because of this organization, Steffens concluded, that graft and
vice and crime were established industries of the city. Attacks from
outraged virtue had slowed up the system at intervals ever since the
Civil War, but never permanently deranged it. A few rascals might be
exterminated, but they were soon replaced. The system had bred new
rascals, grown stronger and more cunning with time. He set out to trace
its pattern. Incredibly outspoken, taking rascality for granted,
apparently never shocked or angry or violent, never doubtful of himself,
only coolly determined to demonstrate to men and women of good will and
honest purpose what they were up against and warn them that the only way
they could hope to grapple with a close corporation devoted to what
there was in it was by an equally solid corporation devoted to decent
and honest government, business, law, education, religion. First as a
reporter and later as the city editor of the _Globe_, Steffens stirred
the town.

It was entirely in harmony with the McClure method of staff building
that this able, fearless innocent should be marked for absorption. He
was persuaded to take the editing of the magazine, now in its tenth year
and steadily growing in popularity and influence. He was to be the great
executive—the editorial head that would shift some of the burden from
the shoulders of Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips. But the machine was
running smoothly even if with little outward excitement. Steffens made a
brave effort to adjust himself to the established order, to learn the
situation. Naturally he took Mr. McClure’s meteoric goings and comings,
his passionate and often despairing efforts to make his staff “see” what
he did, his cries that the magazine was stale, dying, more seriously
than those of us who had been longer together. He seems to have been
bewildered by what went on in the excited staff meetings held whenever
Mr. McClure came in from a foraging expedition. I had come to look on
Mr. McClure’s returns as the most genuinely creative moments of our
magazine life. He was an extraordinary reporter; his sense of the
meaning, the meat of a man or event, his vivid imagination, his
necessity of discharging on the group at once, before they were cold,
his observations, intuitions, ideas, experiences, made the gatherings on
his return amazingly stimulating to me. Sifting, examining, verifying,
following up, were all necessary. Mr. McClure understood that and
trusted John Phillips to see that it was done, but he properly fought
for his findings. In his “Autobiography” Steffens credits me with a tact
in our editorial scrimmages which I do not deserve. It is true, as he
says, that I was the friend of each and all, but what I was chiefly
interested in was seeing the magazine grow in delight and in usefulness.
I knew our excited discussions were really fertile. They also were
highly entertaining.

It was in this unsatisfied seeking by Mr. McClure for more and more of
contemporary life that Lincoln Steffens’ chief contribution to it and to
the political life of his period had its root. Mr. McClure’s fixed
conviction that great editing was not to be done in the office he
finally applied to Steffens, who was bravely struggling there to become
the great editor he had been called to be.

“You can’t learn to edit a magazine in the office,” Mr. McClure told
him. “Get out, go anywhere, everywhere, see what is going on in the
cities and states, find out who are the men and the movements we ought
to be reporting.”

And so Stef went for a month, to the Middle West mainly, constantly
reporting back to the office in McClure fashion what he was finding. He
combed the universities and the newspaper offices; he looked up
politicians; he searched for writers, anything and everywhere which
might possibly be grist to the greedy mill in New York.

One of the schemes on which he had been commissioned to check up was a
series of articles on city and state governments. Almost at once he
began to see larger and larger possibilities in the idea. There should
be two series, he wrote the office, descriptions of the actual
government of four or five typical cities and of as many states,
humanized by studies of the men who ruled them or who were fighting the
true rulers. A meeting with young district attorney Folk of St. Louis,
then in the thick of a fight to reform his town, whetted his appetite.
“If we take up the states,” he wrote, “I would prefer to wait for
William Allen White to write the articles. The cities will be more in my
line. If I should be entrusted with the work I think I could make my

A few weeks later he was entrusted with the work. The result was “The
Shame of the Cities” which, as he prophesied, made his name.


As Steffens’ case shows there was always much fingering of a subject at
_McClure’s_ before one of the staff was told to go ahead. The original
hint might come from Mr. McClure’s overflowing head and pocket, Mr.
Phillips’ notebooks, as much a part of him as his glasses, the daily
mail, the chance word of a caller. We all turned in our pickings. They
must concern the life of the day, that which was interesting people. An
idea, once launched, grew until fixed on somebody; and, once started, it
continued to grow according to the response of readers. No response—no
more chapters. A healthy response—as many chapters as the material

It was by this process that my next long piece of work came into being:
“The History of the Standard Oil Company.”

The deluge of monopolistic trusts which had followed the close of the
Spanish-American War and the “return of prosperity” was disturbing and
confusing people. It was contrary to their philosophy, their belief
that, given free opportunity, free competition, there would always be
brains and energy enough to prevent even the ablest leader monopolizing
an industry. What was interfering with the free play of the forces in
which they trusted? They had been depending on the Federal Antitrust Law
passed ten years before. Was it quite useless? It looked that way.

There was much talk in the office about it, and there came to the top
finally the idea of using the story of a typical trust to illustrate how
and why the clan grew. How about the greatest of them all—the Standard
Oil Company?

I suppose I must have talked rather freely about my own recollections
and impressions of its development. It had been a strong thread weaving
itself into the pattern of my life from childhood on.

I had come into the world just before the discovery of oil, the land on
which I was born not being over thirty miles away from that first well.
The discovery had shaped my father’s life, rescuing him as it did
thousands of others from the long depression which had devastated the
eighteen-fifties. I had grown up with oil derricks, oil tanks, pipe
lines, refineries, oil exchanges. I remembered what had happened in the
Oil Region in 1872 when the railroads and an outside group of refiners
attempted to seize what many men had created. It was my first experience
in revolution. On the instant the word became holy to me. It was your
privilege and duty to fight injustice. I was much elated when, not so
long afterwards, I fell on Rousseau’s “Social Contract” and read his
defense of the right to revolt.

I had been only dimly conscious of what had happened in the decade
following—the decade in which the Standard Oil Company had completed its
monopoly. It was the effect on the people about me that stirred me, the
hate and suspicion and fear that engulfed the community. I had been so
deeply stirred by this human tragedy, as I have told, that I had made a
feeble and ineffectual attempt to catch it, fix it in a novel.

The drama continued to unfold while I was abroad, came into our very
household when a partner of my father’s ruined by the complex situation
shot himself, leaving father with notes. To pay them it was necessary in
the panic of ’93 to do what in his modest economy was unsound and
humiliating—mortgage our home. While the personal tragedies came in my
mother’s letters, my brother wrote me vivid accounts of what was going
on in the outside oil world, of the slow action of the Interstate
Commerce Commission from which all independents had hoped so much, of
businesses ruined while they waited for the decision; of the Ohio suit
which drove the trust to reorganization, a legal victory which in no way
weakened its hold or crippled its growth. Depressing as this was, I was
elated by my brother’s reports of the growing strength of a strongly
integrated cooperative effort of producers, refiners, transporters,
marketers, the Pure Oil Company. The only escape possible for those who
would do independent business, he argued ably, was to build their own
combination depending less on agitation, politics, legislation, more on
sound business. Fight if necessary, but above all do business.

While I was still in Paris this clutter of recollections, impressions,
indignations, perplexities, was crystallized into something like a
pattern by Henry D. Lloyd’s brilliant “Wealth Against Commonwealth.” I
had been hearing about the book from home, but the first copy was
brought me by my English friend H. Wickham Steed, who, fresh from two
years’ contact with German socialism, took the work with great
seriousness. Was not this a conclusive proof that capitalism was
necessarily inconsistent with fair and just economic life? Was not
socialism the only way out, as Lloyd thought?

I was more simple-minded about it. As I saw it, it was not capitalism
but an open disregard of decent ethical business practices by
capitalists which lay at the bottom of the story Mr. Lloyd told so

The reading and discussions whetted my appetite; and when I came back to
America in 1894, and heard anew in the family circle of what had been
going on, my old desire to get the drama down seized me. Where were
those notes I had made back in my _Chautauquan_ days? Gathering dust in
the tower room. I looked them up, saw that I had done well in choosing
Pithole for my opening scene. Nothing so dramatic as Pithole in oil
history. How many men it had made and ruined! But “the bottom had
dropped out” in 1866. What was left of it now—1894? My brother and I
drove over to see.

Thirty years before, Pithole had been a city of perhaps twenty thousand
men and women with all the equipment for a permanent life. Now here were
only stripped fields where no outline of a town remained. We spent a
long day trying to place the famous wells, to fix my father’s tank
shops, so profitable while Pithole lasted, to trace the foundations of
the Bonta House, which had furnished the makings of our home in
Titusville. The day left us with a melancholy sense of the impermanence
of human undertakings; and, more to the point, it showed me that if I
were to reconstruct the town with its activities and its people, picture
its rise and its fall, I must go back to records, maps, reminiscences;
that I must undertake a long and serious piece of investigation before I
began. But, given the material, how about my ability to make it live, to
create the drama which I felt? One must be an artist before he can
create—that I knew. I was no artist.

Mr. McClure’s call to come on and write a life of Napoleon put an end to
my hesitations; and, Napoleon done, there had been Lincoln and the
Spanish-American War—no time to consider oil or even to rejoice over the
final success of the integrated industry to which my brother had tied
his fortune.

But here I was again faced with the old interest. The desire to do
something about it, get down what I had seen, seized me. Was it possible
to treat the story historically, to make a documented narrative? The
more I talked, the more convinced I was that it could be done. But to
tell the story so that people would read it was another matter. Mr.
Phillips finally put it up to me to make an outline of what I thought
possible. We couldn’t go ahead without Mr. McClure’s approval, and he
was ill, in Europe with all his family.

“Go over,” said John Phillips; “show the outline to Sam, get his
decision.” And so in the fall of 1890 I went to Lausanne in Switzerland
to talk it over with Mr. McClure. A week would do it, I thought; but I
hadn’t reckoned with the McClure method.

“Don’t worry about it,” said he. “I want to think it over. Mrs. McClure
and you and I will go to Greece for the winter. You’ve never been there.
We can discuss Standard Oil in Greece as well as here. If it seems a
good plan you can send for your documents and work in the Pantheon.” And
he chuckled at the picture.

Almost before I realized it we were headed for Greece via the Italian
Lakes, Milan and Venice. In Milan Mr. McClure suddenly decided that he
and Mrs. McClure needed a cure before Greece and headed for the ancient
watering place of Salsomaggiore. Here, in the interval of mud baths and
steam soaks and watching such magnificent humans as Cecil Rhodes and his
retinue recuperating from their latest South African adventure, we
finally came to a decision. I was to go back to New York and see what I
could make of the outline I had been expounding. Greece was to be

Leaving Mr. and Mrs. McClure to finish their cure, I headed for New York
to write what, as far as title was concerned, certainly looked like a
doubtful enterprise for a magazine like _McClure’s_: “The History of the
Standard Oil Company.”

“_McClure’s_ has courage.” How often that remark was made after our
undertaking was under way! But courage implies a suspicion of danger.
Nobody thought of such a thing in our office. We were undertaking what
we regarded as a legitimate piece of historical work. We were neither
apologists nor critics, only journalists intent on discovering what had
gone into the making of this most perfect of all monopolies. What had we
to be afraid of?

I soon discovered, however, that, if we were not afraid, I must work in
a field where numbers of men and women were afraid, believed in the
all-seeing eye and the all-powerful reach of the ruler of the oil
industry. They believed that anybody going ahead openly with a project
in any way objectionable to the Standard Oil Company would meet with
direct or indirect attack. Examination of their methods had always been
objectionable to them. “Go ahead, and they will get you in the end,” I
was told by more than one who had come to that conclusion either from
long observation or from long suffering.

Even my father said, “Don’t do it, Ida—they will ruin the magazine.”

It was a persistent fog of suspicion and doubt and fear. From the start
this fog hampered what was my first business, making sure of the
documents in the case. I knew they existed. Almost continuously since
its organization in 1870 the Standard Oil Company had been under
investigation by the Congress of the United States and by the
legislatures of various states in which it had operated, on the
suspicion that it was receiving rebates from the railroads and was
practicing methods in restraint of free trade. In 1872 and again in 1876
it was before Congressional committees; in 1879 it was before examiners
of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and before committees appointed by
the legislatures of New York and of Ohio for investigating railroads.
Its operations figured constantly in the debate which led up to the
creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887; and again and
again since that time the Commission had been called upon to examine
directly or indirectly into its relations with the railroads.

In 1888, in the Investigation of Trusts conducted by Congress and by the
State of New York, the Standard Oil Company was the chief subject for
examination. In the state of Ohio, between 1882 and 1892, a constant
warfare was waged against the Standard in the courts and the
legislature, resulting in several volumes of testimony. The legislatures
of many other states concerned themselves with it. This hostile
legislation compelled the trust to separate into its component parts in
1892, but investigation did not cease; indeed, in the great industrial
inquiry conducted by the Commission appointed by President McKinley, the
Standard Oil Company was constantly under discussion, and hundreds of
pages of testimony on it appear in the nineteen volumes of reports which
the Commission submitted.

This mass of testimony—most, if not all, of it taken under
oath—contained the different charters and agreements under which the
Standard Oil Trust had operated, many contracts and agreements with
railroads, with refineries, with pipe lines; and it contained the
experiences in business from 1872 up to 1900 of multitudes of
individuals. These experiences had exactly the quality of the personal
reminiscences of actors in great events, with the additional value that
they were given on the witness stand; and it was fair, therefore, to
suppose that they were more cautious and exact in statement than are
many writers of memoirs. These investigations, covering as they did all
of the important steps in the development of the trust, included full
accounts of the point of view of its officers in regard to that
development, as well as their explanations of many of the operations
over which controversy had arisen.

Aside from the great mass of sworn testimony accessible to the student,
there was a large pamphlet literature dealing with different phases of
the subject, as well as files of the numerous daily newspapers and
monthly reviews, supported by the Oil Region, in the columns of which
were to be found, not only statistics, but full reports of all
controversies between oil men.

But the documentary sources were by no means all in print. The Standard
Oil Trust and its constituent companies had figured in many civil suits,
the testimony of which was in manuscript in the files of the courts
where the suits were tried.

I had supposed it would be easy to locate the records of the important
investigations and cases, but I soon found I had been too trustful. For
instance, there was a Federal investigation of the South Improvement
Company, the first attempt to make a hard and fast alliance between
oil-bearing railroads and oil refiners, an alliance which inevitably
would kill everybody not admitted, since by the contract the railroads
not only allowed the privileged refiners a rebate on all their
shipments, but paid them a drawback on those of independents. The
railroads also agreed to give them full information about the quantity
and the destination of their rivals’ shipments. The Standard Oil Company
as a monopoly had grown out of this pretty scheme.

Where could I get a copy of that investigation? More than one cynic
said, “You’ll never find one—they have all been destroyed.” When I had
located copies in each of two private collections I was refused
permission to put my hands on them.

To be sure, I did by persistent searching find that so-guarded
investigation in a pamphlet which is one of the three which are all I
know to be in existence. I am not supposing that there are not others,
for I quickly learned, when I was told that the entire edition of a
printed document had been destroyed, to go on looking. Once a document
is in print, somewhere, some time, a copy turns up, however small the
edition. For instance, there was the important Hepburn investigation of
the relations of railroads and private industries made by the State of
New York in 1879. I could not find a copy in the Oil Region where I was
working. The Standard had destroyed them all, I was told. At that time
there was in the Public Library of New York City one of the ablest of
American bibliographers—Adelaide Hasse. She had helped me more than once
to find a scarce document.

“How about this Hepburn investigation?” I wrote Miss Hasse.

“Here in the Library for your use whenever you will come around.” But
she added: “Only one hundred copies were ever published. It is a scarce
piece. I have known of a complete set selling for $100.00. It was
understood at the time,” she explained, “that one or two important
railroad presidents whose testimony was given before the committee
bought up and destroyed as many sets as they could obtain.”

In the end all the printed documents were located. But there was the
unprinted testimony taken in lawsuits. Had incriminating testimony been
spirited away from the court files? Henry Lloyd made such an accusation
in his first edition of “Wealth Against Commonwealth.” It disappeared
from a second edition. I wrote to ask him, “Why?” “The testimony was put
back after my book first appeared,” he answered. I was particularly
anxious to have the original of one of these documents, but when I came
to look for it, it was not in the files. Where was it? How was I to
locate it? And if I did succeed would there be any chance—to judge from
past experience—that it would be turned over to me? I saw that I must
have an assistant, someone preferably in Cleveland, Ohio, so many years
the headquarters of the Standard’s operations. It meant more expense,
and I was already costing the office an amount which shocked my thrifty
practice. But Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips, being generous and patient
and also by this time fairly confident that in the end we should get
something worth while, told me to go ahead.

I had learned in my Lincoln work that an assistant, even if faithful and
hard-working, may be an incumbrance when it comes to investigation. It
needs more than accuracy; it needs enthusiasm for finding out things,
solving puzzles—anybody’s puzzles. I wanted a young man with college
training, a year or two of experience as a reporter, intelligent,
energetic, curious, convinced everything he was asked to do was
important, even if he did not at the moment know why. He must get his
fun in the chase—you in the bag. Also he must be trusted to keep his
mouth shut.

I can recommend the technique I practiced in this case for finding my
rare bird. From each of three different editors in Cleveland I asked the
name of a young man whom he thought competent to run down a not very
important-looking bit of information. To each of the names given me I
wrote instructions from New York. I would be around soon to pick up the
report, I told them, adding that I should prefer that he say nothing
about the assignment.

When I went to Cleveland to view my prospects I found both number one
and number two fine intelligent fellows. Their reports were excellent,
but they had not the least interest in what they had done. I thanked
them, paid them, and said, “Good day.” The third young man came, short
and plump, his eyes glowing with excitement. He sat on the edge of his
chair. As I watched him I had a sudden feeling of alarm lest he should
burst out of his clothes. I never had the same feeling about any other
individual except Theodore Roosevelt. I once watched the first Roosevelt
through a White House musicale when I felt his clothes might not contain
him, he was so steamed up, so ready to go, attack anything, anywhere.

The young man gave me his report; but what counted was the way he had
gone after his material, his curiosity, his conviction that it was
important since I wanted it. I thought I had my man. A few more trials
convinced me John M. Siddall was a find. He at that time was an
associate of Frank Bray in the editing of _The Chautauquan_, the
headquarters of which had been shifted to Cleveland from Meadville.

When Siddall once understood what I was up to he jumped at the
chance—went to work with a will and stayed working with a will until the
task was ended. He was a continuous joy as well as a support in my
undertaking. Nothing better in the way of letter writing came to the
_McClure’s_ office. In time everybody was reading Siddall’s letters to
me, whether it was a mere matter of statistics or a matter of the daily
life in Cleveland of John D. Rockefeller, the head of the Standard Oil
Company. If anything in or around Ohio interested the magazine the
office immediately suggested, “Ask Sid.” And Sid always found the
answer. Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips began to say, “We want Sid as soon
as you are through with him.” Sid saw the opportunity, and as soon as I
could spare him in Ohio he joined the _McClure’s_ staff.

I had been at work a year gathering and sifting materials before the
series was announced. Very soon after that, Mr. McClure dashed into the
office one day to tell me he had just been talking with Mark Twain, who
said his friend Henry Rogers, at that time the most conspicuous man in
the Standard Oil group, had asked him to find out what kind of history
of the concern _McClure’s_ proposed to publish.

“You will have to ask Miss Tarbell,” Mr. McClure told him.

“Would Miss Tarbell see Mr. Rogers?” Mark Twain asked.

Mr. McClure was sure I would not ask anything better, which was quite
true. And so an interview was arranged for one day early in January of
1902 at Mr. Rogers’ home, then at 26 East Fifty-seventh Street. I was a
bit scared at the idea. I had met many kinds of people, but this was my
first high-ranking captain of industry. Was I putting my head into a
lion’s mouth? I did not think so. It had become more and more evident to
me that any attempt to bite our heads off would be the stupidest thing
the Standard Oil Company could do, its reputation being what it was. It
was not that stupid, I told myself. However, it was one thing to tackle
the Standard Oil Company in documents, as I had been doing, quite
another thing to meet it face to face. And then would Mr. Rogers “come
across”? Could I talk with him? So far my attempts to talk with members
of the organization had been failures. I had been met with that
formulated chatter used by those who have accepted a creed, a situation,
a system, to baffle the investigator trying to find out what it all

My nervousness and my skepticism fell away when Mr. Rogers stepped
forward in his library to greet me. He was frank and hearty. Plainly he
wanted me to be at ease. In that way he knew that he could soon tell
whether it was worth his while to spend further time on me or not.

Henry Rogers was a man of about sixty at this time, a striking figure,
by all odds the handsomest and most distinguished figure in Wall Street.
He was tall, muscular, lithe as an Indian. There was a trace of the
early oil adventure in his bearing in spite of his air of authority, his
excellent grooming, his manner of the quick-witted naturally adaptable
man who has seen much of people. His big head with its high forehead was
set off by a heavy shock of beautiful gray hair; his nose was aquiline,
sensitive. The mouth, which I fancy must have been flexible, capable
both of firm decision and of gay laughter, was concealed by a white
drooping moustache. His eyes were large and dark, narrowed a little by
caution, capable of blazing as I was to find out, shaded by heavy gray
eyebrows giving distinction and force to his face.

I remember thinking as I tried to get my bearings: Now I understand why
Mark Twain likes him so much. They are alike even in appearance. They
have the bond of early similar experiences—Mark Twain in Nevada, Henry
Rogers in the early oil regions.

“When and where did your interest in oil begin?” Mr. Rogers asked as he
seated me—a full light on my face, I noticed.

“On the flats and hills of Rouseville,” I told him.

“Of course,” he cried, “of course! Tarbell’s Tank Shops. I knew your
father. I could put my finger on the spot where those shops stood.”

We were off. We forgot our serious business and talked of our early days
on the Creek. Mr. Rogers told me how the news of the oil excitement had
drawn him from his boyhood home in New England, how he had found his way
into Rouseville, gone into refining. He had married and put his first
thousand dollars into a home on the hillside adjoining ours.

“It was a little white house,” he said, “with a high peaked roof.”

“Oh, I remember it!” I cried. “The prettiest house in the world, I
thought it.” It was my first approach to the Gothic arch, my first
recognition of beauty in a building.

We reconstructed the geography of our neighborhood, lingering over the
charm of the narrow ravine which separated our hillsides, a path on each

“Up that path,” Mr. Rogers told me, “I used to carry our washing every
Monday morning and go for it every Saturday night. Probably I’ve seen
you hunting flowers on your side of the ravine. How beautiful it was! I
was never happier.”

Could two strangers, each a little wary of the other, have had a more
auspicious beginning for a serious talk? For what followed was serious
with moments of strain.

“What are you basing your story on?” he asked finally.

“On documents. I am beginning with the South Improvement Company.”

He broke in to say: “Well, that of course was an outrageous business.
That is where the Rockefellers made their big mistake.”

I knew of course that Mr. Rogers had fought that early raid tooth and
nail; and I also knew that later he had joined “the conspirators,” as
the Oil Region called them, in carrying out point by point the initial
program. But I did not throw it up to him.

“Why did you not come to us at the start?” Mr. Rogers asked.

“It was unnecessary. You have written your history; besides, it would
have been quite useless,” I told him.

“We’ve changed our policy,” he said. “We are giving out information.” As
a matter of fact Mr. Rogers may be regarded, I think, as the first
public relations counsel of the Standard Oil Company—the forerunner of
Ivy Lee—and I was, so far as I know, the first subject on which the new
policy was tried.

In the close to two hours I spent that afternoon with Henry Rogers we
went over the history of the oil business. We talked of rebates and pipe
lines, independent struggles and failures, the absorption of everything
that touched their ambition. He put their side to me, the mightiness of
their achievement, the perfection of their service. Also he talked of
their trials, the persecution (as he called it) by their rivals, the
attack of Lloyd: “I never understood how Harper could have published
that book. Why, I knew Harry Harper socially.

“There has always been something,” he said a little ruefully. “Look at
things now—Russia and Texas. There seems to be no end of the oil they
have there. How can we control it? It looks as if something had the
Standard Oil Company by the neck, something bigger than we are.”

The more we talked, the more at home I felt with him and the more I
liked him. It was almost like talking with Mr. McClure and Mr. Phillips.

Finally we made a compact. I was to take up with him each case in their
history as I came to it. He was to give me documents, figures,
explanations, and justifications—anything and everything which would
enlarge my understanding and judgment. I realized how big a contribution
he would make if he continued to be as frank as he was in this
preliminary talk. I made it quite clear to him, however, that while I
should welcome anything in the way of information and explanation that
he could give, it must be my judgment, not his, which prevailed.

“Of course, Mr. Rogers,” I told him, “I realize that my judgments may
not stand in the long run; but I shall have to stand or fall by them.”

“Well,” he said as I rose to go, “I suppose we’ll have to stand it.
Would you be willing to come to my office for these talks? It might be a
little more convenient.”

“Certainly,” I replied.

He looked a bit surprised.

“Will you talk with Mr. Rockefeller?”

“Certainly,” I said.

“Well,” he said a little doubtfully, “I’ll try to arrange it.”

For two years our bargain was faithfully kept, I usually going to his
office at 26 Broadway. That in itself at the start, for one as
unfamiliar as I was with the scene and customs of big business, was an
adventure. My entrance and exit to Mr. Rogers’ office were carried on
with a secrecy which never failed to amuse me. The alert, handsome,
businesslike little chaps who received me at the entrance to the Rogers’
suite piloted me unerringly by a route where nobody saw me and I saw
nobody into the same small room opening on to a court, and it seemed
never the same route. I was not slow in discovering that across the
court in the window directly opposite there was always stationed a
gentleman whose head seemed to be turned my way whenever I looked
across. It may have meant nothing at all. I only record the fact.

The only person besides Mr. Rogers I ever met in those offices was his
private secretary, Miss Harrison: a woman spoken of with awe at that
date as having a $10,000 salary, one who knew her employer’s business
from A to Z and whom he could trust absolutely. She radiated
efficiency—business competency. Along with her competency went that
gleam of hardness which efficient business women rarely escape. Miss
Harrison appeared only on rare occasions when an extra document was
needed. She was as impersonal as the chairs in the room.

We discussed in these interviews, with entire frankness, the laws which
they had flouted. I could not shock Mr. Rogers with records—not even
when I confronted him one day with the testimony he had given on a
certain point which he admitted was not according to the facts. He
curtly dismissed the subject. “They had no business prying into my
private affairs.” As for rebates, “Somebody would have taken them if we
had not.”

“But with your strength, Mr. Rogers,” I argued, “you could have forced
fair play on the railroads and on your competitors.”

“Ah,” he said, “but there was always somebody without scruples in
competition, however small that somebody might be. He might grow.”

There it was, the obsession of the Standard Oil Company, that danger
lurked in small as well as great things, that nothing, however trivial,
must live outside of its control.

These talks made me understand as I could not from the documents
themselves the personal point of view of independents like Mr. Rogers
who had been gathered into the organization in the first decade of
monopoly making. For instance, there was Mr. Rogers’ reason for desiring
the trust agreement made in 1882:

“By 1880,” said Mr. Rogers, “I had stock in nearly all of the seventy or
so companies which we had absorbed. But the real status of these
companies was not known to the public. In case of my death there would
have been practically no buyer except Mr. Flagler, Mr. Rockefeller, and
a few others on the inside. My heirs would not have reaped the benefit
of my holdings. The trust agreement changed this. The public at once
realized the value of the trust certificate. That is, my estate was
guarded in case of my death.”

He often emphasized the part economies had played not only in building
up the concern but in their individual fortunes—economies and putting
their money back into the business. “We lived in rented houses and saved
money to buy stock in the company,” he told me once.

Only one who remembers, as I do, the important place that owning your
own home took in the personal economy of the self-respecting individual
of that day can feel the force of this explanation.

I was curious about how he had been able to adjust his well known
passion for speculation with Mr. Rockefeller’s well known antagonism to
all forms of gambling.

“Didn’t he ever object?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said a little ruefully, “I was never a favorite. I suppose I
was a born gambler. In the early days of the Charles Pratt Company, the
company of which I was a member—I always carried on the speculations for
the concern—Mr. Pratt said: ‘Henry, I haven’t got the nerve to
speculate. I kicked all the clothes off last night worrying about the
market.’ ‘Give me the money,’ I told him, ‘and I will furnish the
nerve.’ We simply raked in the money”—making a gesture with both hands.
“And of course it came out of the producer.”

“That is what my father always said,” I told him. “One of the severest
lectures he ever gave came from one of those booms in the market which
sent everybody in the Oil Region crazy. I suppose you were responsible
for it. I remember a day when the schools were practically closed
because all the teachers in Titusville were on the street or in the Oil
Exchange—everybody speculating. I was in high school; the fever caught
me, and I asked father for $100 to try my luck in the market. He was as
angry with me as I ever saw him. ‘No daughter of mine,’ he said, etc.,

“Wise man,” Mr. Rogers commented.

“But it was not because he was so cautious,” I said. “It was because he
thought it was morally wrong. He would no more have speculated in the
stock market than he would have played poker for money.”

“I always play poker when the market is closed,” commented Mr. Rogers.
“I can’t help it. Saturday afternoons I almost always make up a poker
party, and every now and then John Gates and I rig up something. He’ll
come around and say, ‘Henry, isn’t it about time we started something?’
We usually do.”

All of these talks were informal, natural. We even argued with entire
friendliness the debatable question, “What is the worst thing the
Standard Oil Company ever did?” Only now and then did one of us flare,
and then the other generally changed the subject.

“He’s a liar and hypocrite, and you know it,” I exploded one day when we
were talking of a man who had led in what to me was a particularly
odious operation.

“I think it is going to rain,” said Mr. Rogers, looking out of the
window with ostentatious detachment.

Mr. Rogers not only produced documents and arguments; he produced people
with whom I wanted to talk. The most important was Henry Flagler, who
had been in on the South Improvement Company, that early deal with the
railroads which had started the Standard Oil Company off on the road to
monopoly. There had always been a controversy as to who had suggested
that fine scheme. Mr. Flagler was in it. What did he know? Mr. Rogers
arranged that I talk with him.

Henry Flagler was not an acceptable figure even to Wall Street in those
days. There were scandals of his private life which, true or not, his
fellow financiers did not like. Bad for business. I found him a very
different type from Henry Rogers. He, for instance, did not conceal his
distrust of John Rockefeller. “He would do me out of a dollar today,” he
cried, off his guard, and with an excited smash of his fist on the
table; and then, catching himself and with a remarkable change of tone:
“That is, if he could do it honestly, Miss Tarbell, if he could do it

Mr. Flagler knew what I had come for, but instead of answering my direct
questions he began to tell me with some show of emotion of his own early
life, how he had left home because his father was a poor clergyman—$400
a year, a large family of children. He had not succeeded until he went
into the commission business with Mr. Rockefeller in Cleveland. “And
from that time we were prospered,” he said piously. In the long story he
told me, the phrase, “We were prospered,” came in again and again. That
was not what I was after. Their prosperity was obvious enough. Finally I
returned with some irritation to the object of my visit.

“I see you do not know or are unwilling to say, Mr. Flagler, who
originated the South Improvement Company; but this is certain: Mr.
Rockefeller had the credit of it in the Oil Region. You know, yourself,
how bitter the feeling was there.”

“But, ah, Miss Tarbell,” he said, “how often the reputation of a man in
his lifetime differs from his real character! Take the greatest
character in our history. How different was our Lord and Saviour
regarded when he was alive from what we now know him to have been!”

After that, further questioning was of course hopeless, and until Mr.
Rogers returned I sat listening to the story of how the Lord had
prospered him. I never was happier to leave a room, but I was no happier
than Mr. Flagler was to have me go.

Mr. Rogers produced Mr. Flagler and others of lesser importance. But
although I referred to his semi-promise in our first interview to
produce Mr. Rockefeller I found that after a few months there was no
hope of this. If I hinted at it he parried.

Nearly a year went by after my first interview with Mr. Rogers before
the articles began to appear. I rather expected him to cut me off when
he realized that I was trying to prove that the Standard Oil Company was
only an enlarged South Improvement Company. But to my surprise my
arguments did not seem to disturb him. They had won out, had they not?
He sometimes complained that I had been unnecessarily blunt or a bit
vindictive, but he continued to receive me in friendly fashion and to
give me, perhaps not all the help he might, but always something to make
me think twice, frequently to modify a view.

But if he was not himself disturbed by what I was doing why did he
continue the interviews? Gradually I became convinced it was because of
his interest in my presentation of a particular episode in their
history. It was a case in which Mr. Rogers and John Archbold, along with
all of the members of the board of a subsidiary company, the Vacuum Oil
Company of Rochester, New York, had been indicted for conspiring to
destroy an independent refinery in Buffalo, New York.

In my opening interview with Mr. Rogers he with some show of feeling had
told me he wanted me to get a correct and impartial version of this
Buffalo case, as he always called it. There had been a break in his
voice when with hesitation he said: “That case is a sore point with Mr.
Archbold and me. I want you to go into it thoroughly. I have the reports
of the testimony before the grand jury; it took me months to secure
them. Of course in a sense I have no right with them. I told my children
that if their father’s memory is ever attacked this will serve to
vindicate him. He must stand or fall in their estimation by that

At our second interview he produced the testimony before the grand jury,
repeating again that of course he had no business with it but he had to
have it. He would not allow me to take it away, and at his request I
read the sixty or more pages in his presence. It seemed quite clear to
me, as I told Mr. Rogers on finishing the reading, that his connection
with the affair had been so indirect that there was no reason for his
indictment, although it seemed equally clear to me that there was ample
reason for the indictment of certain members of the Vacuum board. The
judge was of that opinion, for he dismissed the indictment against Mr.
Rogers and two of his fellow directors while sustaining that against the
responsible operating heads of the concern.

I soon discovered that what Mr. Rogers wanted me to make out was that
the three men who had founded the independent enterprise, all of them
former employees of the Vacuum Oil Company, had done so for the sole
purpose of forcing the Standard to buy them out at a high price; that
is, that it was a case of planned blackmail. But the testimony certainly
showed little evidence of that while it did show clearly enough that the
managers of the Vacuum Oil Company, from the hour they had learned of
the undertaking, had made deliberate and open attempts to prevent the
Buffalo refinery doing business.

The more thoroughly I went into the matter—and I worked hard over it—the
more convinced I was that, while there had been bad faith and various
questionable practices on the part of members of the independent firm,
they had started out to build up a business of their own. Also it was
clear they had had hardly a shadow of success under the grilling
opposition of the Standard concern. This included various suits for
infringement of patents, all of which the Standard had lost. In course
of the years of litigation four juries—two grand juries and two petit
juries—gave verdicts against the Standard Oil Company.

Finally the independent concern was so shot to pieces by the continuous
bombardment that it had to be put into the hands of a receiver. The
Standard offered to settle for $85,000, and the judge ordered the
acceptance. This made it the owner of the bone of contention.

I had a feeling that my final conclusion in the matter would probably
end my relations with Mr. Rogers. I did not want to spring that
conclusion on him, that is, I wanted him to know ahead of publication
where I had come out. Although I had never allowed him to read an
article before its appearance, that being part of the original compact,
I broke my rule in this case. Promptly I received a letter asking me to
call at 26 Broadway. He received me in his usual cordial way and told me
he had gone over my article carefully, compared it with certain papers
in his possession and had written me a letter in which he had stated his

Handing me the letter, he said, “I think it will be a good plan for you
to read that out loud, so that we can talk it over here.”

I began to read, but broke off with the first sentence. Mr. Rogers had
written that he appreciated my request that he should make the story
correspond with his knowledge and opinion of the case.

“Mr. Rogers,” I said, “if you will look at my letter you will see that I
did not suggest that you make the article correspond with your opinion
of this case. I am convinced that I cannot do that. I asked you to
examine the article and see if I had made any errors in statement or had
omitted any essential testimony on either side.”

He smiled. “Never mind, go ahead,” he said.

The letter was admirable, almost every point well taken. There was
nothing which it was not proper for me to consider at least, and with
certain of his points I said at once that I was willing to comply. The
discussion of the letter finished, I inwardly breathed a sigh of
satisfaction. We were going to part on friendly terms with neither of us
having yielded our convictions.

But I had not counted on the resources of Henry Rogers in a matter in
which he was deeply concerned, particularly one which touched his
personal pride and aroused his fighting spirit. For as I was about to go
he sprang on me an entirely new interpretation of the case. Not only was
the suit of the independent refinery in which he had been indicted a
continuation of the original blackmailing scheme, but the lawyers in the
case had themselves been in the conspiracy. He laid before me a number
of documents which he claimed proved it. The chief of these was the
itemized report of the receiver. This report, he said, showed that the
lawyers had taken the case knowing that if the Buffalo concern did not
win there would be no fees, and showed that when the matter had finally
been settled they had made what the receiver considered exorbitant
claims for their services. There were five of them, and they finally
were allowed some thirty thousand dollars.

“You can see,” Mr. Rogers said as he pointed out these facts, “why they
were so eager to convict us. They were making a raid on the Standard,
and the bench was with them.”

His charge that the bench was with them, he based on the fact that two
of the lawyers originally in the case had later been elevated to the
bench. They had not of course heard the case, but they had put their
information and conclusions at the disposal of their successors.

I was startled by this sudden and sinister accusation and sat for some
time with my head bent over the papers, forgetting his presence, trying
to get at the meaning of the documents. Was there any other explanation
than that which Mr. Rogers had given me with such conviction? Looking up
suddenly for the first time in my experience with Mr. Rogers, I caught
him looking at me with narrowed and cunning eyes. I took alarm on the

“We are not the only ones, you see, Miss Tarbell.”

“If this means what it seems to mean you are not. But I shall have to
study these documents, Mr. Rogers; I shall have to consult a lawyer
about the practice common in such cases.”

“That will be all right,” he said.

He was more exultant than I had ever found him. “I knew that paper would
come in well some day. To get it I consented to our people buying the
Buffalo refinery—we did not want it, but I wanted to get the receiver’s
reports and know just what had been done with the money we had paid

On the whole I had never seen him better pleased with himself than he
was at that moment. His satisfaction was so great that for the first
time in our acquaintance he gave me a little lecture for a caustic
remark I had made. “That is not a Christian remark,” he said. I
contended that it was a perfect expression of my notion of a Christian.

“You ought to go to church more frequently,” he said. “Why don’t you
come and hear my pastor, Dr. Savage?”

We parted on good terms after a discussion of our religious views and
churchgoing practices, and he gave me a cordial invitation to come back,
which I agreed to do as soon as I had studied the new angle in the
Buffalo case.

Aided by a disinterested and fair-minded lawyer, I gave a thorough study
to the documents; but do my best I could not convince myself that Mr.
Rogers’ contention was sound. It is not an unusual thing for lawyers to
take cases they believe in, knowing that their compensation depends on
their winning. Many clients with just cases would be deprived of counsel
if they had to insure a fixed compensation, for not infrequently, as in
the Buffalo case, all that a client has is involved in a suit. The
practice is so common among reputable lawyers that it certainly cannot
be regarded as a proof of a conspiracy, unless there is a reason to
suppose that they have taken a case of whose merits they themselves are
suspicious. There was no evidence that the counsel of the independent
concern were not convinced from the first that they had a strong case.
Their claims were large; but lawyers are not proverbial for the modesty
of their charges and, besides, exorbitant charges can hardly be
construed as a proof of conspiracy.

When I finally had written out my conclusion I sent a copy of it to Mr.
Rogers, saying I should be glad to talk it over with him if he wished.
He did wish—wrote me that he had new material to present. But before the
date set for the meeting an article in our series was published which
broke off our friendly relations.

In studying the testimony of independents over a period of some thirty
years I had found repeated complaints that their oil shipments were
interfered with, their cars side-tracked en route while pressure was
brought on buyers to cancel orders. There were frequent charges that
freight clerks were reporting independent shipments.

I did not take the matter seriously at first. The general suspicion of
Standard dealings by independents had to be taken into consideration, I
told myself. Then, too, I was willing to admit that a certain amount of
attention to what your competitor is doing is considered legitimate
business practice. I knew that in the office of _McClure’s Magazine_ we
were very keen to know what other publishers were doing. And, too, there
is the overzealous and unscrupulous employee who in the name of
competition recognizes no rules for his game.

But the charges continued to multiply. I met them in testimony, and I
met them in interviews. There was no escaping espionage, men told me.
“They know where we send every barrel of oil. Half the time our oil
never reaches its destination.” I could scarcely believe it. And then
unexpectedly there came to my desk a mass of incontrovertible proofs
that what I had been hearing was true and more. As a matter of fact this
system of following up independent oil shipments was letter-perfect, so
perfect that it was made a matter of office bookkeeping.

“It looks sometimes,” Mr. Rogers had said to me, “as if something had
the Standard Oil Company by the neck, something bigger than we are.”

In this case the something bigger was a boy’s conscience. A lad of
sixteen or seventeen in the office of a Standard plant had as one of his
regular monthly duties the burning of large quantities of records. He
had carried out his orders for many months without attention to the
content. Then suddenly his eyes fell one night on the name of a man who
had been his friend since childhood, had even been his Sunday-school
teacher, an independent oil refiner in the city, a Standard competitor.
The boy began to take notice; he discovered that the name appeared
repeatedly on different forms and in the letters which he was
destroying. It made him uneasy, and he began to piece the records
together. It was not long before he saw to his distress that the concern
for which he was working was getting from the railroad offices of the
town full information about every shipment that his friend was making;
moreover, that the office was writing to its representative in the
territory to which the independent oil was going, “Stop that
shipment—get that trade.” And the correspondence showed how both were

What was a youth to do under such circumstances? He didn’t do anything
at first, but finally when he could not sleep nights for thinking about
it he gathered up a full set of documents and secretly took them to his

Now this particular oil refiner had been reading the _McClure’s_
articles. He had become convinced that I was trying to deal fairly with
the matter; he had also convinced himself in some way that I was to be
trusted. So one night he brought me the full set of incriminating
documents. There was no doubt about their genuineness. The most
interesting to me was the way they fitted in with the testimony
scattered through the investigations and lawsuits. Here were bookkeeping
records explaining every accusation that had been made. But how could I
use them? Together we worked out a plan by which the various forms and
blanks could be reproduced with fictitious names of persons and places
substituted for the originals.

It was after this material had come to my hands that I took the subject
up with Mr. Rogers. “The original South Improvement Company formula, Mr.
Rogers, provided for reports of independent shipments from the
railroads. I have come on repeated charges that the practice continues.
What about it? Do you follow independent shipments? Do you stop them? Do
you have the help of railroad shipping clerks in the operation?”

“Of course we do everything we legally and fairly can to find out what
our competitors are doing, just as you do in _McClure’s Magazine_,” Mr.
Rogers answered. “But as for any such system of tracking and stopping,
as you suggest, that is nonsense. How could we do it even if we would?”

“Well,” I said, “give me everything you have on this point.”

He said he had nothing more than what he had already told me.

As I have said, the article came out just before I was to see Mr. Rogers
on what I hoped would be the last of the Buffalo case. The only time in
all my relations with him when I saw his face white with rage was when I
met the appointment he had made. Our interview was short.

“Where did you get that stuff?” he said angrily, pointing to the
magazine on the table.

All I could say was in substance: “Mr. Rogers, you can’t for a moment
think that I would tell you where I got it. You will recall my efforts
to get from you anything more than a general denial that these practices
of espionage so long complained of were untrue, could be explained by
legitimate competition. You know this bookkeeping record is true.”

There were a few curt exchanges about other points in the material, but
nothing as I now recall on the Buffalo case. The article ended my visits
to 26 Broadway.

Nearly four years passed before I saw Henry Rogers, and in that period
exciting and tragic events had come his way.

There was the copper war. He and his friends had attempted to build up a
monopoly in copper to match that of the Standard Oil Company in
petroleum, the Amalgamated Copper Company. A youngster, F. Augustus
Heinze, had come into Montana, and by bold and ruthless operation put
together a copper company of his own. The two organizations were soon at
each other’s throats. It was a business war without a vestige of
decency, one in which every devious device of the law and of politics
was resorted to by both sides.

But Mr. Rogers had other troubles. He and his friends had been engaged
in organizing the gas interests of the East. They had engineered stock
raids which had been as disastrous to Wall Street as to gambling Main
Street. Such operations in the past had never cost him more than a
passing angry comment by the public press. Now, however, came something
damaging to his reputation and his pride. It was a series of lurid
articles by a bold and very-much-on-the-inside broker and
speculator—Thomas Lawson of Boston. For nearly two years Lawson
published monthly in _Everybody’s Magazine_ under the admirable title
“Frenzied Finance” circumstantial accounts of the speculation of the
Rogers group and what they had cost their dupes. That story cut Mr.
Rogers’ pride to the quick. He is said to have threatened the American
News Company with destruction if it circulated the magazine.

Taken all together the excitement and anger were too much for even his
iron frame and indomitable spirit, and in the summer of 1907 he suffered
a stroke which put him out of the fight for many weeks. When he came
back it was at once to collide with the Government suit against the
Standard Oil Company, and soon after that with the “rich man’s panic” of
1907, a panic for which his old enemy in copper, F. Augustus Heinze, was
largely responsible.

Early in November, when the panic was still raiding the banks and the
millionaires of the country, I stood one day at a corner on Fifth Avenue
waiting for the traffic to clear. Suddenly I saw an arm waving to me
from a slowly passing open automobile, and there was H. H. Rogers
smiling at me in the friendliest way.

When I reported the encounter at the office Mr. Phillips at once said:

“Why not try to see him? If he’ll talk about what is going on, what a
story he could tell!”

But would he see me? I was a little dubious about trying. Still the
greeting and the smile seemed to mean that at least he harbored no ill
will. Suppose, I said, he is sufficiently subdued to go over with me his
exciting life. What a document of big business in the eighties and
nineties he could produce if he would put down his recollections with
the frankness with which he had sometimes talked to me! It seemed worth
trying for, and I asked for an appointment. I had not made a mistake.
Mr. Rogers was harboring no ill will. I was promptly invited to come to
his house. He greeted me heartily. I found him physically changed,
stouter, less sinewy, but quite as frank as ever. He told me of his
stroke; he spoke bitterly of what he called the Roosevelt panic as well
as of Roosevelt’s interference with the business of the Standard Oil
Company. He gave me my cue when he began to talk about the early days of
the Oil Region. “There is a whole chapter,” he said, “that has not been
written, that from ’59 to ’72.”

We were getting on swimmingly when our interview was cut short by a card
handed him—Joseph Seep, the head of the Standard Oil Purchasing Agency.
It amused him greatly that Mr. Seep should have come in while I was

“Now you’ll have to go,” he said, and he put me out by a circuitous
route. As at 26 Broadway callers were not to see one another.

As we came into a dark hall he turned on the light. “You see we have to
economize now,” he said laughingly. Our good-bye was cordial. “We’ll
talk about this again,” he said. “Call up Miss Harrison in a week or ten
days, and we’ll make an appointment.”

The appointment was never made. The coming months were too difficult for
Mr. Rogers. His vast business affairs continued complicated; the legend
of his invincibility in the market was weakened. Moreover, such was the
bitterness of the Standard Oil Company over the Government suit that I
doubt if he or his associates would have considered it wise for him to
talk to me. They probably thought he had talked already too much to too
little purpose. They—and he probably—never understood how much he had
done to make me realize the legitimate greatness of the Standard Oil
Company, how much he had done to make me understand better the vastness
and complexity of its problems and the amazing grasp with which it dealt
with them.

Their complaint against me, Mr. Rogers’ complaint, was that I had never
been able to submerge my contempt for their illegitimate practices in my
admiration for their genius in organization, the boldness of their
imagination and execution. But my contempt had increased rather than
diminished as I worked.

I never had an animus against their size and wealth, never objected to
their corporate form. I was willing that they should combine and grow as
big and rich as they could, but only by legitimate means. But they had
never played fair, and that ruined their greatness for me. I am
convinced that their brilliant example has contributed not only to a
weakening of the country’s moral standards but to its economic
unsoundness. The experience of the last decade particularly seems to me
to amply justify my conviction.

I was never to see Mr. Rogers again, for in May of 1909 he suddenly
died—two years before the Supreme Court dissolved the Standard Oil

                        MUCKRAKER OR HISTORIAN?

It was inevitable that my visits to 26 Broadway should be noised among
critics and enemies of the Standard Oil Company curious about what
_McClure’s_ was going to do. It was not infrequent for some one on the
independent side to say with a wise nod of the head: “Oh, they’ll get
around you. You’ll become their apologist before you get through.” It
was quite useless for me to insist that I was trying to be nobody’s
apologist, that I was trying to balance what I found. At least two
people of importance whose experiences I was anxious to hear from their
own lips refused to see me. I learned later that Henry D. Lloyd had
written them after he learned I was seeing Mr. Rogers that they had
better not talk, better not show me their papers, that inevitably I
should be taken in.

Now I had already talked with Mr. Lloyd, already had help from him, but
the Rogers association evidently upset him for a time. My first article
seemed to reassure him, for he wrote me at once on its appearance: “I
read your first installment of the story of the Standard Oil Company
with eager curiosity, then intense interest and then great
satisfaction.” He seems to have divined at once where I was heading.

The suspicion of my relations with 26 Broadway cut me off for some two
years from one of the most interesting independent warriors in the
thirty years’ struggle. This was one Lewis Emery, Jr., whom I had known
from childhood. He had grown up in the oil business, side by side with
H. H. Rogers; he had been a producer and a refiner as well as one of the
powerful factors in building up the Pure Oil Company, the integrated
concern in which my brother was carrying on. From the start Mr. Emery
had fought the Standard’s pretensions, individually and collectively,
politically and financially. He had a gift for language—a marvelous
vituperative vocabulary—and he had no restraint in using it. He was a
feature of almost every investigation, every lawsuit, a member of every
combination of producers and refiners. Where he was, there were sure to
be lively exchanges between him and the representatives of the other
side. His particular abomination was John Archbold, vice president of
the Standard Oil Company, a person as free with charges and epithets as
Lewis Emery himself.

“You are a liar,” he shouted one day in an investigation when Mr. Emery
had made an exaggerated charge.

Joseph H. Choate was Mr. Archbold’s lawyer.

“There, there, Mr. Archbold!” he said. “We’ll put Mr. Emery on the stand
and convict him of perjury.”

Without noticing Mr. Choate’s remark Mr. Emery called across the table,
“Young man, if this table wasn’t so wide I would tweak your nose for

Such exchanges were not infrequent.

Henry Rogers, who really liked Lewis Emery, was always trying to calm
him down. “Can’t you stop this, Lew?” he said one day. “Come with us,
and it will be better for you. There is no hope for you alone, but with
us there is a sure thing.”

Mr. Emery, who told me of this offer, said: “Henry, I can’t do it even
if I wanted to. They would mob me in the Oil Region if I went back on

They would not have mobbed him, but they would have done what would have
been worse for a man of his temperament, his passion for free action
whether wise or unwise—they would have ostracized him.

The most tragic effect I had seen in my girlhood of “going over to the
Standard,” as it was called, was partial ostracism of the renegade. When
a man’s old associates crossed to the other side of the street rather
than meet him, when nobody stopped him on the street corner to gossip
over what was going on, few men were calloused enough not to suffer. It
was worse than mobbing. The Oil Region as a matter of fact never mobbed
any man so far as I know, though it did occasionally destroy property
and once at least hung Mr. Rockefeller himself in effigy.

By this time Lewis Emery had fought his way to a substantial position in
the oil world; but to the end he prided himself on being a victim. When
he finally talked to me after he learned from Mr. Lloyd that the embargo
against me had been raised, he said, with what seemed to me considerable
satisfaction: “I have been tortured. I am a wounded man because of them,
and I hate them.”

In spite of this he was getting a good deal out of life. He was a rich
man, and he was making the most of his money. He never let money stifle
his personality. His success in being himself was in striking contrast
to that of most of the successful oil men of that day whom I knew. Most
of them, independent and Standard, submitted to an application of
veneer, a change of habits which destroyed much of their natural flavor.
They took little part in politics and social agitation; they remained
regular in all things; they made their investments only in sure
enterprises. You knew always where to find them. But not so Lewis Emery,
Jr. He continued to wear his clothes naturally, to go on his own erratic
way. He threw himself into political movements, wise and unwise, and he
never lost his pioneering spirit. After he was seventy years old, as a
final fling, he took on a gold mine in Peru, a gold mine which was
reached by climbing mountains and descending narrow paths cut out of
rock, crossing swaying rope bridges—approaches fit only for the most
daring mountain climbers. Yet there he was when nearly eighty charging
up and down those mountains and trotting his mule across those bridges
when younger men led their mules and crept.

The degree to which he was reconciled to me after two years of ostracism
was proved by his annual invitation to come along to Peru with his
party. And I would have gone and told the story of his mine as he wanted
me to do if it had not been for the pictures he sent me—those pictures
of unprotected swaying bridges suspended from mountain side to mountain
side, hundreds of feet above the rushing rocky streams. I had not the
head for that, and so gave up what would have been, I am sure, one of
the most amusing adventures that ever came my way.

Not a few of the personal experiences in gathering my materials left me
with unhappy impressions, more unhappy in retrospect perhaps than they
were at the moment. They were part of the day’s work, sometimes very
exciting parts. There was the two hours I spent in studying Mr. John D.
Rockefeller. As the work had gone on, it became more and more clear to
me that the Standard Oil Company was his creation. “An institution is
the lengthened shadow of one man,” says Emerson. I found it so.

Everybody in the office interested in the work began to say, “After the
book is done you must do a character sketch of Mr. Rockefeller.” I was
not keen for it. It would have to be done like the books, from
documents; that is, I had no inclination to use the extraordinary gossip
which came to me from many sources. If I were to do it I wanted only
that of which I felt I had sure proof, only those things which seemed to
me to help explain the public life of this powerful, patient, secretive,
calculating man of so peculiar and special a genius.

“You must at least look at Mr. Rockefeller,” my associates insisted.
“But how?” Mr. Rogers himself had suggested that I see him. I had
consented. I had returned to the suggestion several times, but at last
was made to understand that it could not be done. I had dropped his name
from my list. It was John Siddall who then took the matter in hand.

“You must see him,” was Siddall’s judgment.

To arrange it became almost an obsession. And then what seemed to him
like a providential opening came. It was announced that on a certain
Sunday of October 1903 Mr. Rockefeller before leaving Cleveland, where
he had spent his summer, for his home in New York would say good-bye in
a little talk to the Sunday school of his church—a rally, it was called.
As soon as Siddall learned of this he begged me to come on. “We can go
to Sunday school; we can stay to church. I will see that we have seats
where we will have a full view of the man. You will get him in action.”

Of course I went, feeling a little mean about it too. He had not wanted
to be seen apparently. It was taking him unaware.

Siddall’s plan worked to perfection, worked so well from the start that
again and again he seemed ready to burst from excitement in the two
hours we spent in the church.

We had gone early to the Sunday-school room where the rally was to
open—a dismal room with a barbaric dark green paper with big gold
designs, cheap stained-glass windows, awkward gas fixtures. Comfortable,
of course, but so stupidly ugly. We were sitting meekly at one side when
I was suddenly aware of a striking figure standing in the doorway. There
was an awful age in his face—the oldest man I had ever seen, I thought,
but what power! At that moment Siddall poked me violently in the ribs
and hissed, “There he is.”

The impression of power deepened when Mr. Rockefeller took off his coat
and hat, put on a skullcap, and took a seat commanding the entire room,
his back to the wall. It was the head which riveted attention. It was
big, great breadth from back to front, high broad forehead, big bumps
behind the ears, not a shiny head but with a wet look. The skin was as
fresh as that of any healthy man about us. The thin sharp nose was like
a thorn. There were no lips; the mouth looked as if the teeth were all
shut hard. Deep furrows ran down each side of the mouth from the nose.
There were puffs under the little colorless eyes with creases running
from them.

Wonder over the head was almost at once diverted to wonder over the
man’s uneasiness. His eyes were never quiet but darted from face to
face, even peering around the jog at the audience close to the wall.

When he rose to speak, the impression of power that the first look at
him had given increased, and the impression of age passed. I expected a
quavering voice, but the voice was not even old, if a little fatigued, a
little thin. It was clear and utterly sincere. He meant what he was
saying. He was on his own ground talking about dividends, dividends of
righteousness. “If you would take something out,” he said, clenching the
hand of his outstretched right arm, “you must put something
in”—emphasizing “put something in” with a long outstretched forefinger.

The talk over, we slipped out to get a good seat in the gallery, a seat
where we could look full on what we knew to be the Rockefeller pew.

Mr. Rockefeller came into the auditorium of the church as soon as Sunday
school was out. He sat a little bent in his pew, pitifully uneasy, his
head constantly turning to the farthest right or left, his eyes
searching the faces almost invariably turned towards him. It was plain
that he, and not the minister, was the pivot on which that audience
swung. Probably he knew practically everybody in the congregation; but
now and then he lingered on a face, peering at it intently as if he were
seeking what was in the mind behind it. He looked frequently at the
gallery. Was it at Siddall and me?

The services over, he became the friendly patron saint of the flock.
Coming down the aisle where people were passing out, he shook hands with
everyone who stopped, saying, “A good sermon.” “The Doctor gave us a
good sermon.” “It was a very good sermon, wasn’t it?”

My two hours’ study of Mr. Rockefeller aroused a feeling I had not
expected, which time has intensified. I was sorry for him. I know no
companion so terrible as fear. Mr. Rockefeller, for all the conscious
power written in face and voice and figure, was afraid, I told myself,
afraid of his own kind. My friend Lewis Emery, Jr., priding himself on
being a victim, was free and happy. Not gold enough in the world to
tempt him to exchange his love of defiance for a power which carried
with it a head as uneasy as that on Mr. Rockefeller’s shoulders.

My unhappiness was increased as the months went by with the multiplying
of tales of grievances coming from every direction. I made a practice of
looking into them all, as far as I could; and while frequently I found
solid reasons for the complaints, frequently I found the basic motives
behind them—suspicion, hunger for notoriety, blackmail, revenge.

The most unhappy and most unnatural of these grievances came to me from
literally the last person in the world to whom I should have looked for
information—Frank Rockefeller—brother of John D. Rockefeller.

Frank Rockefeller sent word to me by a circuitous route that he had
documents in a case which he thought ought to be made public, and that
if I would secretly come to him in his office in Cleveland he would give
them to me. I knew that there had been a quarrel over property between
the two men. It made much noise at the time—1893—had gone to the courts,
had caused bitterness inside the family itself; but because it was a
family affair I had not felt that I wanted to touch it. But here it was
laid on my desk.

So I went to Cleveland, where John Siddall had a grand opportunity to
play the role of sleuth which he so enjoyed, his problem being to get me
into Mr. Rockefeller’s office without anybody suspecting my identity. He

I found Mr. Rockefeller excited and vindictive. He accused his brother
of robbing (his word) him and his partner James Corrigan of all their
considerable holdings of stock in the Standard Oil Company. The bare
facts were that Frank Rockefeller and James Corrigan had been interested
in the early Standard Oil operations in Cleveland and had each acquired
then a substantial block of stock. Later they had developed a shipping
business on the Lakes, iron and steel furnaces in Cleveland. In the
eighties they had borrowed money from John D. Rockefeller, putting up
their Standard Oil stock as collateral. Then came the panic of ’93, and
they could not meet their obligations. In the middle of their distress
John Rockefeller had foreclosed, taking over their stocks, leaving them,
so they charged, no time in which to turn around although they felt
certain that they would be able a little later, out of the substantial
business they claimed they had built up, to pay their debt to him. Their
future success proved they could have done so.

I could see John Rockefeller’s point as I talked with his brother Frank.
Frank Rockefeller was an open-handed, generous trader—more interested in
the game than in the money to be made. He loved good horses—raised them,
I believe, on a farm out in Kansas; he liked gaiety, free spending. From
his brother John’s point of view he was not a safe man to handle money.
He did not reverence it; he used it in frivolous ways of which his
brother did not approve. So it was as a kind of obligation to the
sacredness of money that John Rockefeller had foreclosed on his own
brother and his early friend James Corrigan. He was strictly within his
legal rights and within what I suppose he called his moral right.

But the transaction left a bitterness in Frank Rockefeller’s heart and
mind which was one of the ugliest things I have ever seen. “I have taken
up my children from the Rockefeller family lot. [Or “shall take up”—I do
not know now which it was.] They shall not lie in the same enclosure
with John D. Rockefeller.”

The documents in this case, which I later analyzed for the character
sketch on which we had decided, present a fair example of what were
popularly called “Standard Oil methods” as well as what they could do to
the minds and hearts of victims.

The more intimately I went into my subject, the more hateful it became
to me. No achievement on earth could justify those methods, I felt. I
had a great desire to end my task, hear no more of it. No doubt part of
my revulsion was due to a fagged brain. The work had turned out to be
much longer and more laborious than I had had reason to expect.

The plan I had taken to Mr. McClure in the fall of 1890, which we had
talked over in Salsomaggiore, Italy—I still have notes of our talk on a
yellow piece of the stationery of the Hôtel des Thermes—called for three
papers, possibly twenty-five thousand words. But before we actually
began publication Mr. Phillips and Mr. McClure decided we might venture
on six. We went through the six, and the series was stretched to twelve.
Before we were through we had nineteen articles, and when the nineteen
were off my hands I asked nothing in the world but to get them into a
book and escape into the safe retreat of a library where I could study
people long dead, and if they did things of which I did not approve it
would be all between me and the books. There would be none of these
harrowing human beings confronting me, tearing me between contempt and
pity, admiration and anger, baffling me with their futile and
misdirected power or their equally futile and misdirected weakness. I
was willing to study human beings in the library but no longer, for a
time at least, in flesh and blood, so I thought.

The book was published in the fall of 1904—two fat volumes with generous
appendices of what I considered essential documents. I was curious about
the reception it would have from the Standard Oil Company. I had been
told repeatedly they were preparing an answer to flatten me out; but if
this was under way it was not with Mr. Rockefeller’s consent, I
imagined. To a mutual friend who had told him the articles should be
answered Mr. Rockefeller was said to have replied: “Not a word. Not a
word about that misguided woman.” To another who asked him about my
charges he was reported as answering: “All without foundation. The idea
of the Standard forcing anyone to sell his refinery is absurd. The
refineries wanted to sell to us, and nobody that has sold or worked with
us but has made money, is glad he did so.

“I thought once of having an answer made to the McClure articles but you
know it has always been the policy of the Standard to keep silent under
attack and let their acts speak for themselves.”

In the case of the Lloyd book they had kept silent, but only because Mr.
Rockefeller had been unable to carry out his plans for answering. What
he had proposed was a jury of the most distinguished clergymen of the
day to consider Mr. Lloyd’s argument and charges. Certain clergymen
invited refused unless there should be a respectable number of
economists added to the jury. That, apparently, Mr. Rockefeller did not
see his way to do, and the plan was abandoned. So far as I know Mr.
Lloyd’s book was never answered by the Standard Oil Company.

But I wanted an answer from Mr. Rockefeller. What I got was neither
direct nor, from my point of view, serious. It consisted of wide and
what must have been a rather expensive anonymous distribution of various
critical comments. The first of these was a review of the book which
appeared in the _Nation_ soon after its publication. The writer—one of
the _Nation’s_ staff reviewers, I later learned—sneered at the idea that
there was anything unusual in the competitive practices which I called
illegal and immoral. “They are a necessary part of competition,” he
said. “The practices are odious it is true, competition is necessarily
odious.” Was it necessarily odious?

I did not think so. The practices I believed I had proved, I continued
to consider much more dangerous to economic stability than airing them,
even if I aired them in the excited and irrational fashion the review
charged. As I saw it, the struggle was between Commercial Machiavellism
and the Christian Code.

The most important of the indirect answers was an able book by Gilbert
Holland Montague. It separated business and ethics in a way that must
have been a comfort to 26 Broadway.

As soon as published, Mr. Montague’s book became not exactly a best
seller but certainly a best circulator—libraries, ministers, teachers,
prominent citizens all over the land receiving copies with the
compliments of the publisher. Numbers of them came back to me with
irritated letters. “We have been buying books for years from this
house,” wrote one distinguished librarian, “and never before was one
sent with their compliments. I understand that libraries all over the
country are receiving them. Can it be that this is intended as an
advertisement, or is it not more probable that the Standard Oil Company
itself is paying for this widespread distribution?”

The general verdict seemed to be that the latter was the explanation.

Some time later there came from the entertaining Elbert Hubbard of the
Roycroft Shop of East Aurora, New York, an essay on the Standard
extolling the grand results from the centralization of the industry in
their hands.

I have it from various interested sources that five million copies were
ordered printed in pamphlet form by the Standard Oil Company and were
distributed by Mr. Hubbard. They went to schoolteachers and journalists,
preachers and “leaders” from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Hardly were
they received in many cases before they were sent to me with angry or
approving comments. For a couple of years my birthday and Christmas
offerings were sure to include copies of one or the other of these
documents with the compliments of some waggish member of the McClure

I had hoped that the book might be received as a legitimate historical
study, but to my chagrin I found myself included in a new school, that
of the muckrakers. Theodore Roosevelt, then President of the United
States, had become uneasy at the effect on the public of the periodical
press’s increasing criticisms and investigations of business and
political abuses. He was afraid that they were adding to the not
inconsiderable revolutionary fever abroad, driving people into
socialism. Something must be done, and in a typically violent speech he
accused the school of being concerned only with the “vile and debasing.”
Its members were like the man in John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” who
with eyes on the ground raked incessantly “the straws, the small sticks,
and dust of the floor.” They were muckrakers. The conservative public
joyfully seized the name.

Roosevelt had of course misread his Bunyan. The man to whom the
Interpreter called the attention of the Pilgrim was raking riches which
the Interpreter contemptuously called “straws” and “sticks” and “dust.”
The president would have been nearer Bunyan’s meaning if he had named
the rich sinners of the times who in his effort to keep his political
balance he called “malefactors of great wealth”—if he had called them,
“muckrakers of great wealth” and applied the word “malefactors” to the
noisy and persistent writers who so disturbed him.

I once argued with Mr. Roosevelt that we on _McClure’s_ were concerned
only with facts, not with stirring up revolt. “I don’t object to the
facts,” he cried, “but you and Baker”—Baker at that time was carrying on
an able series of articles on the manipulations of the railroads—“but
you and Baker are not _practical_.”

I felt at the time Mr. Roosevelt had a good deal of the usual conviction
of the powerful man in public life that correction should be left to
him, a little resentment that a profession outside his own should be
stealing his thunder.

This classification of muckraker, which I did not like, helped fix my
resolution to have done for good and all with the subject which had
brought it on me. But events were stronger than I. All the radical
reforming element, and I numbered many friends among them, were begging
me to join their movements. I soon found that most of them wanted
attacks. They had little interest in balanced findings. Now I was
convinced that in the long run the public they were trying to stir would
weary of vituperation, that if you were to secure permanent results the
mind must be convinced.

One of the most heated movements at the moment was the effort to
persuade the public to refuse all gifts which came from fortunes into
the making of which it was known illegal and unfair practices had gone.
“Do not touch tainted money,” men thundered from pulpit and platform,
among them so able a man as Dr. Washington Gladden. The Rockefeller
fortune was singled out because about this time Mr. Rockefeller made
some unusually large contributions to colleges and churches and general
philanthropy. “It is done,” cried the critics, “in order to silence
criticism.” Frequently some one said to me, “You have opened the
Rockefeller purse.” But I knew, and said in print rather to the disgust
of my friends in the movement, that there was an unfairness to Mr.
Rockefeller in this outcry. It did not take public criticism to open his
purse. From boyhood he had been a steady giver in proportion to his
income—10 per cent went to the Lord—and through all the harrowing early
years in which he was trying to establish himself as a money-maker he
never neglected to give the Lord the established proportion. As his
fortune grew his gifts grew larger. He not only gave but saw the money
given was wisely spent; and he trained his children, particularly the
son who was to administer his estate, to as wise practice in public
giving as we have ever had. That is, it did not take a public outcry
such as came in the early years of this century against the methods of
the Standard Oil Company to force Mr. Rockefeller to share his wealth.
He was already sharing it. Indeed, in the fifteen years before 1904 he
had given to one or another cause some thirty-five million dollars.

If his gifts were larger at this time than they had ever been before,
his money-making was greater. If they were more spectacular than ever
before, it may have been because he thought it was time to call the
public’s attention to what they were getting out of the Standard Oil
fortune. At all events it seemed to me only fair that the point should
be emphasized that it had not taken a public revolt against his methods
to force him to share his profits.

I could not escape the controversies, hard as I tried. Nor could I
escape events, events which were forcing me against my will to continue
my observations and reports. My book was hardly published before it was
apparent that the oil field which it had covered and which for so long
had been supposed to be the only American oil field of importance was
soon to be surpassed by those in the Southwest. The first state to force
recognition of the change on the country at large was Kansas, where
suddenly in the spring of 1905 there broke out an agitation as
unexpected to most observers as it was interesting to those who knew
their oil history. Kansas, we old-timers told ourselves, was duplicating
what the Oil Creek had done in 1872. It was putting on a revolt. How had
it come about?

For a number of years “wildcatters” with or without money had been
prospecting for oil in the state. Only a modest production had rewarded
them at first, but in 1904 oil suddenly poured forth in great
quantities. On the instant Kansas went oil-mad, practically every farmer
in the state dreamed of flowing wells. As soon as it was proved that
Kansas was to be a large field the Standard took charge. It leased,
drilled, and, most important, it threaded the state with its pipe-line
system. No sooner was oil proved to be on a farmer’s land than the
pipe-line people were there caring for it at market rates. But they
began not only to develop and handle scientifically and efficiently, but
quite as scientifically and efficiently they began to get rid of all the
small fry that in the early days of small wells had been refining and
marketing. They would take all the oil that Kansas could produce, they
said, but on their own terms: they wanted no interference.

As soon as this became clear to Kansas the state rose in revolt. The
Populists, who for six years now must needs grumble in a corner, came
out to inveigh with all of their old fervor against the trust. Women’s
clubs took it up, political parties took it up. A program was developed,
the gist of which was that Kansas would take care of its own oil. Bills
were introduced into the legislature calculated to control railroad
rates, pipe-line rates, competitive marketing. To the joy of the
Populists and to the horror of the conservatives a bill for a state
refinery was presented by the governor himself. Kansas had a hemp
factory in the state penitentiary not doing so badly. Why should not the
penitentiary run an oil refinery, too? The legislature agreed to do it.

The excitement grew and so attracted the attention of the country that
the office concluded that I must go out and see what I could make of it.
I did not much want to go, not only because of my desire to free myself
of the subject but because my heart was too heavy with personal loss to
feel enthusiasm for any task. In the spring of 1905 my father had died
after a long slow illness. To me he had always been everything that is
summed up in the word “dear.” Modest, humorous, hard-working, friendly,
faithful in what he conceived to be the right, he loved his family and
friends and church, and asked only to serve them. His business
associates held him as a man of honor and a gentleman.

Father’s death for a time darkened my world. Later I began to realize
that the dearness of him was to remain as a permanent thing in my life.
But in 1905 this sense of continued companionship was something which
came slowly out of a dark sea of loss. So it was with a heavy heart that
I went to see what was happening in Kansas.

First I wanted to see with my own eyes if the fields I had been hearing
about were as rich as advertised; so I spent some ten days driving about
southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma, then just coming in with
the promise of great wells. It was about as exciting a journey as I ever
have made. It was on one of these trips I saw my first dust storm.
Driving in a buckboard behind two spirited horses across a practically
unbroken prairie, my companion suddenly looked behind him.
“Jehoshaphat!” he shouted. “Wrap your head up.” I turned to see the sky
from horizon to zenith filled with dark rolling clouds. It was not from
fire. What was it? “A dust storm,” my companion cried.

Quickly and expertly he prepared to take it. He loosened the checkreins
of the horses, and the spirited animals evidently knowing what they were
in for dropped their heads as low as they could hold them and leaned up
against each other. We wrapped ourselves as closely as we could and,
like the horses, clung to each other. The storm did not last long, but
it was pretty awful while it did. The air was thick, you could not
breathe. But it passed, and I was ordered to shake myself out. I found
that I was almost engulfed with a fine black dust, that it was packed
close to the hubs of the wheels of our buckboard. It was ten days before
I got rid of that dust, for it was ten days before I had a real bath.
The dust had turned the primitive water supplies into a muddy liquid
quite impossible to drink and hopeless for cleansing.

The wonder of it was that the real discomforts counted not at all at the
time. I had joined an eager, determined, exultant procession of
wildcatters and promoters, of youths looking for their chance or seeking
adventure for the first time, tasting it to the full.

Nothing so great as this Kansas and Indian Territory field had ever been
known. Every well was to be a gusher, every settlement a city. On every
side they were selling town lots and stock in oil companies. One of the
most irresponsible stock-selling schemes I have ever known, I happened
on in one of these trips. Two anxious-faced boys were going about among
experienced oilmen begging them for oil leases, preferably oil leases on
which there was a proved well. The lads had come as sightseers and had
been caught in the wild excitement of the region. Everybody had a scheme
to make himself and his friends rich. Why not they? And largely as a
joke they had sent out a flamboyant letter offering stock in a mythical
oil field. The letter had gone to scores of innocents in the East, and
in answer schoolteachers, clergymen, and women with little or no money
had poured in subscriptions.

If there had been few subscriptions they would have been able to return
them, but here they were when I saw them with literally a suitcase full
of checks and money orders and not a foot of land leased, and in the
excitement there was practically no land to be had. They must either get
a lease or go to the penitentiary, they concluded. Hence their alarm,
their pitiful begging of older men to help them out of the predicament
into which their irresponsibility had plunged them.

It was not long before I found I was being taken for something more
serious than a mere journalist. Conservative Standard Oil sympathizers
regarded me as a spy and not infrequently denounced me as an enemy to
society. Independent oilmen and radical editors, who were in the
majority, called me a prophet. It brought fantastic situations where I
was utterly unfit to play the part. A woman of twenty-five, fresh, full
of zest, only interested in what was happening to her, would have
reveled in the experience. But here I was—fifty, fagged, wanting to be
let alone while I collected trustworthy information for my
articles—dragged to the front as an apostle.

The funniest things were the welcomes. The funniest of all was at the
then new town of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had arrived late at night in what
seemed to me a no man’s land, and after considerable trouble had found a
place in a rough little hostelry where I was so suspicious of the look
of things that I moved the bureau against the lockless door. I am sure
now that I was as safe there as I should have been in my bed at home.

I had registered, of course, and the next morning before I had finished
my breakfast I was waited on by the editor of the local newspaper, who
took me to his office, a barnlike structure next door, for an interview.
Almost immediately a handsome youth in knickerbockers and high laced
boots came hurriedly in.

“I think I ought to tell you, Miss Tarbell,” he said with a grin, “that
you are in for a serenade.”

“A serenade,” I said, “what do you mean?”

“Well,” he said, “the Tulsa boomers have been making a tour of cities to
the north. Their special train has just come in; they want something to
celebrate, and, learning that you were in town they are sending up the
band to welcome you. They want a speech.”

I had never made an impromptu speech in my life. I was horrified at the
idea. “You must get me out of this,” I begged of my gallant but very
amused informer.

“No,” he said, “there is no way to escape. Here they are.”

And there they were—a band of thirty or forty pieces, several of the
players stalwart Indians.

I had to face it, and for once in my life I had a happy idea. “Go buy me
two boxes of the best cigars that are to be had in town.” And I shoved a
bill into his hand. “Go quickly.”

And then the band began. Not so bad, but so funny. There I was standing
on the sidewalk with all the masculine inhabitants of Tulsa—so it seemed
to me—packed about, some of them serious and some of them highly
delighted at my obvious consternation. I had not guessed wrong about the
cigars. They preferred them to a speech, I saw as I passed around the
circle distributing them to the players. What was left I gave to the
bodyguard which had assembled to back me up. A compliment I have always
treasured was given by one of the Indians, as he watched me disposing of
my goods: “He all right.” Still more flattering it was as I went around
in Tulsa that day to meet gentlemen who had fat cigars tied with little
red ribbons in their buttonholes, and to have them point gaily to them
as I passed.

But the serenade was not the end of the celebration. That afternoon I
was taken out in a barouche—the only one in the countryside, I was
told—the band behind, and paraded up and down the distracted streets of
Tulsa. A day or two later when I went on my journey, it was with a
seatful of candy, magazines, books, flowers, everything that the
community afforded for a going-away present. I never had been before nor
have been since so much the prima donna.

But all this was preliminary to the real task of finding out what was
happening in Kansas, outside of the production of oil. The legislation
already passed was intended to make the Standard Oil Company the servant
of the state. But I had long ago learned it was one thing to pass laws
and another thing to enforce and administer them. How were they getting

I went first to see the governor—E. W. Hoch—a humorless and honest man.
It was he who had sponsored the state refinery. I found him impressed by
what he had done, but a little doubtful about how things were going to
come out. He was opening his mail when I went in and he showed me
letters nominating him for the Presidency. He had been receiving many of
them, he said. It was obvious they came from radical socialists
rejoicing over the encouragement that he was giving to the public
ownership of industry. He liked the applause but did not like the
source. He was no socialist, he protested to me. He was a firm believer
in the competitive system. The state refinery was a “measuring stick.”

He had wanted to settle definitely just what the profits of the refinery
business in Kansas were. Nobody knew except experts, and they wouldn’t
tell. A first-class oil refinery would settle for all time the cost of
refining Kansas oil and force the sale at a reasonable price. He was not
trying to drive private industry out of the state. He merely wanted to
force private industry to be reasonable—the private industry being of
course the Standard Oil Company.

Governor Hoch and the state as a whole were soon feeling the effect of
the letdown which always follows an exciting legislative campaign,
particularly for the winner. Not since the early nineties had Kansas
enjoyed so rousing a time. And now it was over and they had to come down
to business. But could they get down to business? Could they administer
the new laws? Meetings were being held, half in jubilation over the
successful legislation, half in anxiety about the next step. I was asked
to come and speak at one of them.

I was no speaker, but I could not let them down. Moreover, because of my
familiarity with past exciting experiments on the part of indignant oil
independents I realized better than they did, so I thought, the hard
pull they had before them.

“Your problem now,” I told them, “is to do business. As far as laws can
insure it you have free opportunity; but good laws and free opportunity
alone do not build up a business. Unless you can be as efficient and as
patient, as farseeing as your great competitor—laws or no laws, you will
not succeed. You must make yourselves as good refiners, as good
transporters, as good marketers, as ingenious, as informed, as
imaginative in your legitimate undertakings as they are in both their
legitimate and illegitimate.”

My speech was not popular. What they wanted from me was a rousing attack
on the Standard Oil Company. They wanted a Mary Lease to tell them to go
on raising hell, and here I was telling them they had got all they could
by raising hell and now they must settle down to doing business.

“You have gone over to the Standard Oil Company?” said one disgusted

I saw I had ruined my reputation as the Joan of Arc of the oil industry,
as some one had named me. But there were hard-headed independent
legislators and business men in the state who consoled me, “You are
right, we must learn to do business as well as they do.”

One immediate national effect of the Kansas disturbance was to arouse
the legislatures of other oil-producing states in the Southwest to enact
laws not unlike those of Kansas, though I do not remember that a state
refinery was sponsored anywhere else. There was a wide demand that
Congress place the pipe-line system under the Interstate Commerce
Commission, subject it to the same restrictions as interstate rails, but
most important was the fine popular backing the row gave the
trust-busting campaign of Theodore Roosevelt, now President of the
United States. He had begun his attack on big business by putting an end
to the first great holding company the country had seen—the Northern
Securities Company. He had followed this by a bill establishing a
department for which people had been asking for a decade or more, that
of Commerce and Labor, including a Bureau of Corporations with power to
examine books and question personnel. Congress at first shied at the
measure, but Mr. Roosevelt thundered, “If you do not pass it this
session I will call an extra session.” And they knew he would.

Ironically enough it was the Standard itself that broke the reluctance
of Congress. The proposal had shocked it out of its usual discretion.
There never was an organization in the country which held secrecy more
essential to doing business. Breaking down the walls behind which it
operated was not to be tolerated. It seems to have been the peppery John
Archbold who took charge of the fight against the bill, using all the
political influence of the company, which was considerable at that

Roosevelt soon learned something of what was going on—it is not certain
how much; and when he saw his measure in danger he gave out the
statement that John D. Rockefeller had wired his friends in the Senate,
“We are opposed to any antitrust legislation—it must be stopped.”

The last thing in the world that John D. Rockefeller would have done was
to send such a telegram to anybody. Probably Mr. Roosevelt knew that;
but somebody in the Standard was passing on such a word, and Mr.
Rockefeller was the responsible head of the organization. His name did
the work. Congress passed the bill in a hurry. The Bureau of
Corporations was speedily set up, an excellent man at its head—James
Garfield. The first task assigned it by the President was an
investigation of the petroleum industry.

This investigation reported in 1906 that the Standard Oil Company was
receiving preferential rates from various railroads and had been for
some time. One of the most spectacular business suits the country had
seen up to that time followed. The Standard was found guilty by Judge
Kenesaw Landis, the present arbitrator of the manners and morals of
national baseball, and a punishment long known as the “Big
Fine”—twenty-nine million dollars—inflicted. The country gasped at the
size of the fine, but not so the Bureau of Corporations. My
correspondent there contended that over eight thousand true indictments
had been found, and that the maximum penalty would have amounted to over
a hundred and sixty million dollars!

But even the twenty-nine million dollars, so modest in the view of the
Bureau of Corporations, was not allowed to stand, for in 1908 Judge
Peter Grosscup of the Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois upset it.
Roosevelt was angry. “There is too much power in the bench,” he told his

But by this time the Government had under way another and a much more
serious line of attack, from which Roosevelt was hoping substantial
results. Back in 1890 the Congress had enacted what was known as the
Sherman Antitrust Law, a law making illegal every contract and
combination restraining trade and fostering monopoly. The Government was
now seeking to apply this law to the Standard Oil Company. Was it not
the first industry to attempt monopoly? Had it not been the model for
all the brood?

Such a suit was no new idea. Independent oilmen had long talked of it,
and in 1897 they had been ready to go ahead when at the last moment the
lawyer to whom they had entrusted their case was taken suddenly ill and
died. It must have seemed to the energetic Lewis Emery, Jr., who had
been engineering the attack that the Lord himself had “gone over to the

Ten years went by, and then in September, 1907, the United States of
America began suit against the Standard Oil Company of New York _et al._
There were months and months of hearings. If I had been a modern
newspaper woman I could have made a good killing out of that long
investigation, for more than one editor asked me to analyze the
testimony as it came along or give my impressions of the gentlemen who
appeared on the witness stand. But I had no stomach for it; I never
attended a public examination though I of course read the published
testimony with care.

I knew well enough that the time would come when, if I did my duty as a
historian, I must analyze the suit; but that must be after it was ended
and a sufficiently practical test had been made of the decision. It
would be a long time, I told myself, before I should be obliged to take
up the story where I had left it.

                    OFF WITH THE OLD—ON WITH THE NEW

Twelve years had gone by since I tied myself, temporarily as I thought,
to the McClure venture. To my surprise, the longer I was with the
enterprise the more strongly I felt it was giving me the freedom I
wanted, as well as a degree of that security which makes freedom so much
easier a load to carry. Here was a group of people I could work with,
without sacrifice or irritation. Here was a healthy growing undertaking
which excited me, while it seemed to offer endless opportunity to
contribute to the better thinking of the country. The future looked fair
and permanent.

And then without warning the apparently solid creation was shattered and
I found myself sitting on its ruins.

Looking back now, I know that the split in the McClure staff in 1906 was
inevitable. Neither Mr. McClure nor Mr. Phillips, the two essential
factors in the creation, could have done other than he did. The points
at issue were fundamental. Each man acted according to an inner
something which made him what he was, something he could not violate.

Back of the difficulty lay the fact that at this time Mr. McClure was a
sick man. The hardships of his youth and early manhood, the intense
pressure he had put on himself in founding his enterprises had exhausted
him. For several years he had been obliged to take long vacations,
usually in Europe with his family, his staff carrying on his work in his
absence. The enterprises were bringing him larger and larger returns and
more and more honor; but that was not what he most wanted. He wanted to
be in the thick of things, feel himself an active factor in what was
doing. Above all he wanted to add to what he had already achieved, to
build a bigger, a more imposing House of McClure.

“What he wanted was more money,” I have heard men comment.

They were wrong. I have never known a man freer from the itch for money
as an end than S. S. McClure. Money for him meant power to do things, to
build, to help others. On his way up he had gathered about him a horde
of dependents with whom he was always ready to share his last dollar. He
was reckless with money as with ideas.

In these years when he was practically living in Europe, though
returning regularly to the United States, his chief interest was not in
what his enterprises were accomplishing, but in adding something bigger
than they were or could be. Only by doing this could he prove to himself
and to his colleagues that he was a stronger and more productive man
than ever. Nothing else would satisfy him.

His passion to build, to realize his ambitions, made him careless about
laying foundations. What he did usually had the character of
improvisation, frequently on a grand scale, sometimes merely gay spurts
of fancy. I was myself caught in one of the latter when Mr. McClure in
London suddenly ordered me in Paris to drop whatever I was doing and to
hurry into Germany to collect material for an animal magazine.

Animals were an abiding interest with _McClure’s_. Rudyard Kipling laid
the foundation in the Jungle tales. After that great series few were the
numbers that did not have an animal in text and picture. It was as much
a passion as baseball was to become in the latter days with _The
American Magazine_.

I spent a lively month visiting zoos, interviewing animal trainers and
hunters and keepers, buying books and photographs, turning in what I
considered a pretty good grist of materials and suggestions. What became
of it, I never knew, for I never heard a word of it after I came back to
America. The only remnant I have now of that month is a powder box of
Dresden china bought at the showrooms of the factory of the crossed
swords, it being my practice when on professional trips to use my
leisure seeing the town, guidebook in hand, and buying all the souvenirs
my purse permitted.

It was in 1906 that Mr. McClure brought home from one of his foraging
expeditions the plan which was eventually to wreck his enterprises. He
had it cut and dried ready to put into action. Without consultation with
his partners he had organized a new company, the charter of which
provided not only for a _McClure’s Universal Journal_, but a McClure’s
Bank, a McClure’s Life Insurance Company, a McClure’s School Book
Publishing Company, and later a McClure’s Ideal Settlement in which
people could have cheap homes on their own terms. It undertook to
combine with a cheap magazine—which it goes without saying was to have
an enormous circulation with the enormous advertising which circulation
brings—an attempt to solve some of the great abuses of the day, abuses
at which we had been hammering in _McClure’s Magazine_. He proposed to
do this by giving them a competition which would draw their teeth.

By the time Mr. McClure got around to explaining his plan to me and
asking my cooperation he had worked himself up to regarding it as an
inspiration which must not be questioned. It seemed to me to possess him
like a religious vision which it was blasphemy to question. Obsessed as
he was, he was blind and deaf to the obstacles in the way. I am sure I
hurt Mr. McClure by telling him bluntly and at once that I would never
have anything to do with such a scheme.

In a recently published letter Lincoln Steffens tells how he saw Mr.
McClure’s plan. To him it was not only “fool” but “not quite right.”
Certainly it was not right. As organized, it was a speculative scheme as
alike as two peas to certain organizations the magazine had been

The tragedy of the situation was that Mr. McClure did not see and could
not understand the arguments of his associates that his plan was not
only impossible but wrong. This failure of judgment was, I am convinced,
due to his long illness. The mental and physical exhaustion from which
he was suffering, and which he could not bring himself to understand or
accept, explains the unwisdom of this undertaking, his contention that
it was an inspiration, his stubbornness in insisting that it be accepted
and set to work. Human reason has little influence on one who believes
he is inspired.

The members of the staff were little more than outsiders when it came to
the final decision. It was up to John Phillips to accept and do his
utmost to aid in the grandiose adventure or patiently to wait while
persuading the General that it was not the mission of the McClure crowd
to reconstruct the economic life of the country, that we were
journalists, not financial reformers. I think no man ever tried harder
to keep another from a suicidal undertaking; and certainly no man could
have been firmer from the start in his refusal to go along.

The struggle went on for six months, and no two men ever tried more
honestly to adjust their differences; but they were irreconcilable. It
came to a point where one or the other must sell his interest in the
magazine. It was Mr. McClure who bought out his partner.

Although _McClure’s Magazine_ is no longer on the newsstands, it does
occupy a permanent place in the history of the period that it served,
because it worked itself into the literary and economic life of the

It was a magazine which from the first put quality above everything else
and was willing to chase checks around town in order to pay for it. For
those who collect Kipling there are the first publications of many of
his rarest poems, short stories, and such distinguished serials as
“Captains Courageous” and “Kim.” Here first appeared Willa Cather and O.

It was a magazine which backed regardless of expense, one might say, the
investigations and reports of men like Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln
Steffens. For twelve years it encouraged with liberality and patience
the work of which I have been talking in this narrative.

Mr. McClure had two editorial policies when it came to getting the thing
he felt was important for the Magazine. First, the writer must be well
paid and the expense money be generous. Second, and most important of
all, he must be given time. He did not ask that you produce a great
serial in six months. He gave you years if it was necessary. I spent the
greater part of five years on “The History of the Standard Oil Company.”
I was what was called a contributing editor; that is, I turned in
suggestions as they came to me in my work around the country. I did
occasional extra articles that seemed to be in my line. I read and took
part in editorial counsels, but it was recognized that all the time I
demanded should be given to the serial. I know of no other editor and no
other publisher who has so fully recognized the necessity of generous
pay and ample time, if he were to get from a staff work done according
to the best editorial standard, and worthy of the magazine and the

When it was finally decided that Mr. Phillips was to sever his long
relation to _McClure’s_ several members of the editorial staff resigned,
including Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens, John Siddall, the
efficient young managing editor Albert Boyden, and myself. We could not
see the magazine without Mr. Phillips.

The last day we left the office, then on Twenty-third Street near Fourth
Avenue, some of us went together to Madison Square and sat on a bench
talking over our future. We were derelicts without a job.

But not for long.


  _First year of The American Magazine, 1907_

There was then in New York, though it was not generally known, a
magazine group which wanted a change. The magazine was very old—long
known as _Frank Leslie’s Illustrated_ _Monthly_, recently changed to
_The American Magazine_. Its owner was Frederick L. Colver; its editor,
Ellery Sedgwick (afterward editor of the _Atlantic_); its publisher,
William Morrow (afterward the founder of William Morrow & Company, the
book publishing house). Mr. Colver approached Mr. Phillips: “Why don’t
_you_ take it over?”

Finally in council assembled, our editorial group together with David A.
McKinlay and John Trainor of the McClure business department, decided to
incorporate the Phillips Publishing Company and buy _The American
Magazine_. With what we could put in ourselves and money from the sale
of stock to interested friends, we secured funds for the purchase and
sufficient working capital.

We left _McClure’s_ in March: six months later, October, 1906, appeared
our first issue. The announcement shows how seriously we took ourselves,
as befitted people who had seen something in which they deeply believed
go to pieces. We had been too cruelly bruised to take anything lightly,
but luckily we were able to make two additions to our staff, each man
with a vein of humor not to be dried up or muddled by any
cataclysms—William Allen White and Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley).

We had known Mr. White in the _McClure’s_ office since the day of his
famous editorial, “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” After that came his
Boyville stories, two or three of which _McClure’s_ published, and then
at intervals studies of political situations and political figures. It
was not long before he began to come to New York. He was a little
city-shy then, or wanted us to think so. As I was one of the official
entertainers of the group, it occasionally fell to me to “take him by
the hand,” as he put it, and show him the town. I could have hardly had
a more delightful experience. He judged New York by Kansas standards,
and New York usually suffered. His affection and loyalty for his state,
his appreciation and understanding of everything that she does—wise and
foolish—the incomparable journalistic style in which he presents her are
what has made him so valuable a national citizen. His crowning
achievement among the many to be credited to him has been remaining
first, last, and always the editor of the Emporia _Gazette_. A staunch
friendship had sprung up between Mr. White and Mr. Phillips, and it was
natural enough that he interested himself in the new venture.

As for Peter Dunne, we went after him and rather to my surprise he came
along, taking a desk in our cramped offices and appearing with amazing
regularity. At this time he was some forty years old—the greatest
satirist in my judgment the country has yet produced. He had a wide
knowledge of men and their ways. There was no malice in his judgments,
but a great contempt for humbuggery as well as for all forms of
self-deception devoted to uplifting the world. However, he felt kindly
towards our ardent desire to improve things by demonstrating their
unsoundness and approved our unwillingness to use any other tools than
those which belonged legitimately to our profession. He came out
strongest in his contributions to the department of editorial comment,
which Mr. Phillips had introduced under the head of “The Interpreter’s
House.” We were all supposed to contribute whatever was on our minds to
this department. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Dunne did the censoring and
dovetailing. I did not often make “The Interpreter’s House,” much to my
chagrin. Dunne said, “You sputter like a woman,” which I fear was true.
If it had not been for him the first Christmas issue of “The
Interpreter’s House” would have been bleak reading. We had each of us
broken forth in lament for the particular evil of the world which was
disturbing us, offering our remedies.

  It seems to me [wrote Dunne, editing our contributions] that we are
  serving up a savory Christmas number ... a nice present to be found
  in the bottom of a stocking....

  You cannot go to the Patent Office in Washington and take out a
  patent that will transform men into angels. The way upward, long and
  tedious as it is, lies through the hearts of men. It has been so
  since the founding of the Feast. Nothing has been proved more
  clearly in the political history of the race than this, that good
  will to men has done more to improve government than laws and wars.

  ... Let us close down our desks for the year. If you want to find me
  for another week I will be found in the wonderful little toy shop
  around the corner.

That editorial broke the tension which had made me think this was no
time to go home for Christmas. I went.

Peter Dunne hated the pains of writing. His labor affected the whole
office—sympathy with what he was going through, fear that his copy would
not be in on time, eagerness to see it when it came, to know if it was
“one of his best.” But Peter’s work was never what he thought it ought
to be, and he sought forgetfulness.

Indispensable on the new editorial staff, seeing Peter through his birth
pains, keeping the rest of us at our tasks, nursing new writers, making
up the magazine, was Albert Boyden. He had come fresh from Harvard to
_McClure’s_ and had at once made himself a place by his genius for
keeping things going and his gift for sympathetic friendliness. It was a
combination which became more valuable and irresistible as time went on.
Bert was everybody’s friend, whether editor, artist, or writer. “One can
have friends, one can have editors,” Ray Stannard Baker was to write
later, “but Bert was both.”

He was of the greatest value to the _American_ in bringing together
writers and artists who were attaching themselves to the new magazine.
Bert was so fond of us all that he could not endure the idea that we did
not all know one another, and he made it his business to see that we had
at least the opportunity. He lived on the south of Stuyvesant Square,
four flights up. There was no one in all that circle of distinguished
contributors who did not welcome the chance to climb those stairs to
Bert’s dinners and teas. And what a group of people came! They are
recorded in his guest book: Booth Tarkington, Edna Ferber, Stewart
Edward White, his wife and his brother Gilbert, Julian and Ada Street,
the Norrises, the Rices and Martins of Louisville, Joe Chase, Will
Irwin, and a dozen more, along with visiting celebrities, politicians,
scientists, adventurers. What talk went on in that high-up living room!
What wonderful tales we heard!

Bert was so much younger than the rest of us, so full of enthusiasm and
hope, so much more vital and all-shedding, that it is still to me
incredible that he should have left this world so much earlier than I.
He died in 1925, but he lives in a little book which J. S. P. edited in
his memory. How proud Bert would have been of that! “There is nobody
like J. S. P.,” he used to say. Many of his big circle of friends
contributed their recollections of him. I have never known another
person in my life for whom quite such a book could have been written.

In spite of the gay unity of our group, the vigor and steadiness with
which it began and continued its operation, I had suffered a heavy
shock. I know now I should not have taken it as well as I did (and
inwardly that was nothing to boast of) if it had not been cushioned by
an engrossing personal interest. I had started out to make a home for

I had already made three major attempts to establish myself—first in
Meadville, then in Paris, then in Washington—and all had failed. When in
1898 it became evident that if I were to remain on the _McClure’s_ staff
I must come to New York, I was in no mood to adopt a new home town. New
York might be my writing headquarters, but Titusville should be home.
Finally I would return there, I told myself. But Titusville was five
hundred miles away. There were no airplanes in those days. The railroad
journey was tedious and expensive, week-ending was impossible. I soon
grew weary of the week-end makeshifts of a homeless person in a city. I
wanted something of my own. And at last by a series of circumstances,
purely fortuitous, I acquired forty acres and a little old house in

I had meant to let the land and the house run to seed if they wanted to.
I had no stomach, or money, for a “place.” I wanted something of my very
own with no cares. Idle dream in a world busy in adding artificial cares
to the load Nature lays on our shoulders.

Things happened: the roof leaked; the grass must be cut if I was to have
a comfortable sward to sit on; water in the house was imperative. And
what I had not reckoned with came from all the corners of my land:
incessant calls—fields calling to be rid of underbrush and weeds and
turned to their proper work; a garden spot calling for a chance to show
what it could do; apple trees begging to be trimmed and sprayed. I had
bought an abandoned farm, and it cried loud to go about its business.

Why should I not answer the cry? Why should I not be a farmer? Before I
knew it I was at least going through the motions, having fields plowed,
putting in crops, planting an orchard, supporting horses, a cow, a pig,
a poultry yard—giving up a new evening gown to buy fertilizer!

Seeing what I was in for and fearing lest I should do as so many of my
friends had done—go in deeper than my income justified, find myself
borrowing and mortgaging in order to carry out the fascinating things I
saw to do—I laid down a strict rule which I have followed ever since,
and which I recommend to people of limited incomes who acquire a spot in
the country, and want it to be a continuous pleasure instead of a
continuous anxiety. I resolved that I would spend only what I could lay
aside from income, that I would divide this appropriation into three
parts—one for the land, one for the house, one for furnishing. As the
budget was very small it meant that a thousand things that I wanted to
do went undone, and still are undone. But it meant also that I had
little or no financial anxiety.

If the call of the land had been unexpected and not to be denied, even
more unexpected and still less to be denied was the call of the
neighborhood. I was not long in learning that in the houses I could see
in valley and on hillside centered the most genuine of human dramas,
tragic and comic.

After the land and its background, the greatest gift of God to us (“us”
including my niece Esther) was our nearest neighbors Mr. and Mrs. G.
Burr Tucker, at the side of whose house swung a sign, “Antiques for

But it was as neighbors, not as customers Mr. and Mrs. Tucker regarded
us from the start. When Burr was not over helping us settle he was
watching what was going on from his front porch. I have never had more
pungent, salty, faithful friends. They had spent most of their lives on
the corner, not always selling antiques. Mrs. Tucker had taught in the
schoolhouse at the top of the hill for twenty-nine years, and Burr had
had a varied and picturesque career as a salesman of pumps, fruit trees,
any gadget that seemed to be useful to his country neighbors.

Not long before we moved in he had discovered by accident that there
were people in the outside world who bought old spinning wheels, ancient
chairs, ancient pottery. Burr knew the contents of every garret and
woodshed for twenty miles around, and when he made his discovery he
began systematically to buy them out. By the time I arrived on the scene
he had an established business.

Not knowing whether we were going to like our new acquisition well
enough to make it permanent, Esther and I had decided to furnish out of
a department store basement. But in looking over Burr’s miscellaneous
assortment my eye fell on an old-fashioned melodeon, charming in line,
its bellows broken but easy to repair—$10. I couldn’t resist it, and so
I became almost from the first day a customer of my nearest neighbor. It
was a great day when Burr went “teeking,” as they called the hunt for
treasures. We would watch for his return, and when his white horse and
wagon loaded high with loot appeared down the road we were on the ground
as soon as he was.

Not only did the immediate vicinity yield rich and exciting material,
but a little distance away there were people from the world we knew.
There were the friends who had first shown me the country—Noble and Ella
Hoggson, up the Valley, the center of a jolly and interesting group
known as the “Valley Crowd.” A mile or so away was one of the most
interesting women in the literary world of that day—Jeannette Gilder,
sister of Richard Watson Gilder, a lively writer and editor.

Perhaps no woman in her time carried to more perfection the then
feminine vogue for severe masculine dress: stout shoes, short skirt,
mannish jacket, shirt, tie, hat, stick. They were the last word in
style. They suited her as they did few, for she was large of frame, with
strong, bold features and a fine swinging gait; but the masculinity was
all on the surface. Esther came home one day shouting with laughter:
“Miss Gilder is a fake. She wears silk petticoats and is afraid of

Soon after I acquired my farm the countryside was stirred by the news
that Mark Twain was building only eight or nine miles away from us.
Everybody seemed to know what was happening with the building, the
settling, the life going on. That was partly because of our omnivorous
curiosity and partly because Mark Twain was a friendly neighbor. He
every now and then gave a great party, sending the invitations around by
our peripatetic butcher, a member of one of our first families, a
gentleman as well as a good tradesman.

I have a few treasured recollections of days when Jeannette Gilder and I
drove over to tea or lunch with Mark Twain, heard great stories of the
doings in his new home. It was from him that I heard the story of the
famous burglary; it was from him I heard the story of one of the best
practical jokes ever played—when Peter Dunne and Robert Collier sent him
an elephant.

Not only was all this fun and excitement and novelty shared by my niece
and those of my family who came to see what we were so excited about,
but every member of the _American_ staff sooner or later appeared at the
farm to look us over. From the start our chief counselor had been Bert
Boyden, who six months after I had taken the first option on the place
had insisted on accompanying me to see whether I had better take it up.

Bert looked at the oaks, he looked at the gay little stream that ran
across the land, and without hesitation said, “Buy it.” And buy it, I
did. Having had a part in the purchase, Bert superintended henceforth
all changes. He approved my plan of budgeting. He helped me select the
wallpapers which were hung; he was interested in the larder for the

In the summer when his family was at a distance J. S. P. came often to
discuss the perplexities of the magazine and rest himself from the
commotion of the office. The Norrises came, and Kathleen named my pig.
Who but Kathleen would have called him “Juicy”? He looked it, fat as
butter. The Siddalls came often, for in the summer we kept their famous
cat, “Sammy Siddall.” The Rices, the Martins, the Bakers—all came to
look on that rough land and shell of a house and wonder, I suspect, how
I could be happy with anything so simple, be satisfied with no more
pretentious plans than I had.

Among those who came in those early days was one who has left a crimson
streak across the history of his time—Jack Reed. Jack, just out of
Harvard, was giving half-time to the _American_, half-time to writing.
We would invite him for the week end but he was never at the station
when we drove over to find him. Likely he had missed his train, taken a
freight—that was more fun. And late in the evening he would come walking
over the hilltop demanding food and a bed, and we would sit long hearing
the adventures of his day.

It was on one of these trips that Jack found near by a natural
amphitheater. Before he had left he had planned to buy the place and
worked out in detail a Greek theater. He started towards New York on
foot, expecting to raise the money from friends en route. “I was all
ready to put up money,” one of them told me not many years ago.


  _From Lumière autochrome by Arnold Genthe, N. Y._

  _Miss Tarbell in her garden at her Connecticut farm, 1914_

But when Jack was back at his desk in New York he forgot the theater—I
never heard of it afterwards. That was the delightful creature Jack Reed
was, up to the time that he discovered what is called life. He took it
hard. Now his bones lie under a tomb in Moscow, one of the martyrs to
Lenin’s great vision of the communal life.

All this was good for me, cushioned the shock I had suffered, convinced
me that at least I had gotten my hands on something permanent, a
fundamental factor in my future security—a home—a home capable of
feeding me if the worst came to the worst. But while it was good for me
it was not so good for my work on the magazine.

I had believed I could work better in the quiet of the country, but I
was discovering that the country was more exciting than the town and the
office as I knew it. Its attractions were proving too much for the
difficult task which had been assigned me in the planning for the first
year of the _American_. The task was nothing less than to write a
history of the making of our tariff schedules from the Civil War on. It
had been a natural enough selection for me after the experience with the
history of the Standard Oil Company for the tariff was quite as much a
matter of popular concern at the moment as the trust had been in 1900.
There was a growing demand for revision. How could we get into the
fight? A subject must be found for me. How about the tariff? Was a
historical treatment possible? I thought so; at least I so despised the
prohibitive tariff that I was willing to try if the magazine was willing
to back me.

I suppose most of us have had at various periods of our life homemade
remedies for the economic ills we see about us. When I was a girl in
high school I looked on an eight-hour day of productive labor for
everybody as the way out. I was much less worried by the hardships the
long day brought working people than the mental and moral deterioration
I imagined suffered by people who did not work. Idleness, not labor, was
the scourge of the world. For me the eight-hour day was a save-the-idle

Before I left _The Chautauquan_ I had concluded that there was a trilogy
of wrongs—all curable—responsible for our repeated depressions and our
poorly distributed wealth: discrimination in transportation; tariffs
save for revenue only; private ownership of natural resources. I was
still of that opinion when, largely by accident, I had my chance to
strike at number one in my trilogy. Could I by the method I had followed
in that case, and the only one I knew how to use, present a plausible
argument against Number Two?

What had particularly aroused me was the way tariff schedules were made,
the strength of what we now call pressure groups—the powerful lobbies in
wool and cotton and iron and sugar which for twenty-five years I had
watched mowing Congress down like a high wind. There was no concealment
of the pressure. The lobbyists went at it hammer and tongs and battered
down opposition with threats, bribes, and unparalleled arrogance. By
these tactics they had overcome Mr. Cleveland’s famous tariff message of
1886, had passed the outrageous McKinley bill of 1890, had ruined the
Wilson bill of 1893, had defeated the promise of McKinley and Dingley
and Aldrich to lower duties in 1896, and had substituted the highest and
most distorted schedules the country had yet seen. But it looked in 1906
as if the Day of Judgment was near, and I asked nothing better than to
be on the jury.

I went into it blindly—on faith, certainly not on knowledge—and I had a
handicap that I was far from realizing at the time: that was that, while
in the case of the Standard Oil I had spent my life close to the events,
the tariff and its makers had never touched my life. This was something
that I had read in a book.

Another handicap was that my indignation was directed towards legal
acts. Congress had adopted these schedules, under coercion if you
please, but still it had adopted them. The beneficiaries had the
sanction of law. It was a different case from challenging railroad
discriminations, which were forbidden by law.

As I worked on the _Congressional Record_ and related documents I looked
up men still living who had had a part in the struggle on one side or
the other. There were many of them scattered around the country, now out
of Congress for the most part, but not averse to talking. As a rule I
got little from them. The fight which seemed to me so important was a
dead issue to them. They had lost or won. It was all part of a game.
Fresh from reading the daily discussions in the _Record_, curious about
this or that man or argument, I found them hazy, often not particularly
interested. There was little of the righteous indignation which I
thought I found in their recorded speeches. Had that been political,
instead of righteous, indignation? I began to think so.

It was Grover Cleveland who put heart in me. He had lost none of his
righteous indignation over the aid prohibitive tariffs were giving
certain trusts, none of his alarm over the growing disparity between
industry and agriculture they were fostering. He felt deeply the wrong
of the prices they were inflicting on the farmer, the professional
class, the poor. I got nothing but encouragement from him for the review
I had planned.

Luckily I already had a pleasant working relation with Mr. Cleveland. It
had come about in my last two years on _McClure’s_, when my chief
editorial task had been trying to persuade him that it was his duty to
write his reminiscences for us, incidentally offering myself as a ghost
if he felt that he needed one.

As his letters to me at this time show he was not entirely unfriendly to
the project:

  I want to do the thing; and yet I am afraid the difficulties in the
  way of doing it are fundamental and inexorable. You see the project
  requires me to exploit myself and my doings before the public. I do
  not see how I can do this, though I am terribly vain and often bore
  my friends privately by tiresome reminiscence. And yet I cannot but
  think that there are incidents and results in my career, which, by
  their narration might be of service in stimulating those who aspire
  to good citizenship—“and there we are.” This latter consideration
  hints of duty; but then comes the fear that what seems to me duty is
  a mere fantastic notion, and thereupon the old disinclination
  resumes its sway.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  I have frequently thought no one could help me so much as you; and
  it has seemed to me more than once that you and I might possibly
  “cook up something” in a summer vacation’s freedom from

Nothing came at this time, 1904, of the “Tarbell-Cleveland fantasy,” as
Mr. Cleveland gaily dubbed it, and two years later the project was
dismissed, but in a letter so friendly that I cannot resist quoting from

  I do not believe a man who has turned the corner of sixty-nine
  years, is any less vain and self-satisfied than when he was a youth.
  At any rate here I am, in this sixty-nine predicament, delighted
  with the generous things you say of me in the goodness of your
  heart, and more than halfway deluding myself into the notion that I
  deserve them. I want to be very sensible and hard-headed in this
  affair; but in any event I am entitled to rejoice in your good
  opinion of me, and your hearty wishes for my welfare and happiness.

  I thank you from the bottom of my heart for them; and I shall
  gratefully remember them as long as I live. Somehow I have an idea
  that you know me well—and surely I need not afflict myself with the
  fear of vanity if I have found a friend in you.

With those letters in my files I felt free, when I undertook the tariff
work for the _American_, to ask Mr. Cleveland to talk to me about the
making of his tariff message in 1886, and the failure of the Wilson bill
in 1893. He was most generous, and when I had completed my story of the
two episodes I asked him to read the manuscript and give me a candid
judgment and of course his corrections and his suggestions. The chief
suggestion that he made showed a sensitiveness to his literary style in
public documents which I had not suspected. Charming letter writer as
Mr. Cleveland was, in his public documents he was ponderous. I must have
enlarged a little on this, for I find this paragraph in his letter with
which he sent back the proofs:

  I have ventured to suggest a little toning down of your
  characterization of my style—thinking perhaps you would be willing
  to make an alteration to please me if for no other reason. You know
  we are all a little sensitive on such a point.

There was another paragraph in that letter which touched me deeply:

  Your article has caused me to feel again the greatest sorrow and
  disappointment I have ever suffered in my public career—the failure
  of my party to discharge its most important duty and its fatuous
  departure from its appointed mission.

But lean as heavily as I dared on Mr. Cleveland, work as I would and did
on the tariff debates of Congress (I can wish my worst enemy no greater
punishment than reading them in full), I could not put vitality into my
narrative. It was of the _Congressional Record_—it was secondhand.

It was the making of the Payne-Aldrich bill in 1909 that finally gave a
certain life to my narrative. Here was something belonging to the
present, not something of the past. By all the signs Theodore Roosevelt
should have been the St. George to lead in the revision the public was
calling so loudly for, particularly after the panic of 1907. Few of his
party leaders paid attention.

“Are not all our fellows happy?” Speaker Joseph Cannon asked as the
demand for revision became louder.

Roosevelt himself heard it, but frankly said to his intimates that he
did not know anything about the tariff. He did not and he would not take
the time to learn. He hammered at the effects of privilege, pursued
“malefactors of great wealth,” but was not willing to do the hard
studying of the causes which produced the malefactors.

Mr. Taft, who followed Roosevelt, had no choice. The platform on which
he was elected called “unequivocally” for tariff reform, and as soon as
he was inaugurated he called a special session to do the work. My
chagrin was great when I realized at once that all the ancient technique
I had been trying to discredit was repeating itself. It is, I told
myself, the same old circus, the same old gilded chariots, the same old
clowns. So far as arguments were concerned they might have been taken
from the hearings of ’83, of ’88, of ’93, of ’96. Figures were changed,
and nobody could deny that these figures of growth were impressive; but
they came from interested men.

“They are incapable of judging,” Mr. Carnegie told the committee. “No
judge should be permitted to sit in a cause in which he is interested;
you make the greatest mistake in your life if you attach importance to
an interested witness.”

The process which “Sunset” Cox back in the seventies characterized as
“reciprocal rapine”—buying votes for the schedule their constituents
wanted by voting for schedules they could not justify—was in full swing.

Never was the tariff as the “cause of prosperity” worked harder. It was
the answer of the prohibitive protectionist to the charge that the
tariff was a tax. In all the early years they had called it so—a tax to
produce revenue, encourage new industries, protect higher wages, a
better standard of living. But Mr. Cleveland had called it boldly “a
vicious, inequitable, illogical tax,” and illustrated his adjectives
tellingly. The effect of his attack was so disastrous that the
supporters of prohibitive duties went into a huddle to find a new name.
“The cause of prosperity” was the euphemism they produced.

A repeater that had figured in every tariff bill was the answer of the
priests of the dogma to the argument that the poor should be considered.
According to the pictures they drew there were no poor in the United
States. This refusal to recognize poverty was no more discouraging in
the making of the bill of 1909 than the indifference to the effect high
tariffs were having on the cost of the necessities of life. In this they
ran true to historical precedent. From the time the business man took
charge in the late seventies any attempt to call the attention at
hearings to what a duty would do to the price of a necessity of life was
ignored or jeered.

Justice Brandeis, then plain lawyer Brandeis, was before a committee
considering the Dingley bill.

“And for whom do you appear?” he was asked.

“For the consumer,” he answered.

The committee, chairman and all, laughed aloud, but they were good
enough to say, “Oh, let him run down.”

This old indifference to the effect of higher prices on the living of
the poor stirred me to the only article in my series which seemed to
“take hold.” I called it, “Where Every Penny Counts.”

The worth-while thing, from my point of view, was that it reached women.
“I never knew what the tariff meant before,” Jane Addams wrote me.

Here was something which touched those in whom she was interested—wage
earners. She knew from actual contact what the increase of a cent in the
price of a quart of milk, a spool of thread, a pound of meat, meant to
working girls with their six or eight dollars a week. She knew that
every penny added to the cost of their food, clothes, or coal gave less
warmth, less covering. It was not difficult to show that what they were
trying to do in Washington in the making of the Payne-Aldrich bill was
just that—a tariff that would add to the cost of things that must be had
if people were to live at all.

To my deep satisfaction this effort to make the new tariff bill in the
good old way was promptly met by a rousing challenge from a group of
progressive Republican Senators, men who had been largely responsible
for forcing the promise to reform into the party platform. When they
discovered that there would be no reform if the lobbyists and their
friends in Congress could prevent it, they crystallized into one of the
most vigorous and intelligent fighting bands that had been seen for many
years in Congress. Insurgents, they were called.

The leader in the revolt, interested in railroad reform rather than the
tariff, was La Follette of Wisconsin. Others were Beveridge of Indiana,
Cummins and Dolliver of Iowa, Borah of Idaho, and Bristow of Kansas.
They were already familiar figures at the _American_ along with certain
members of the House, particularly the salty and peppery William Kent of
California—Phillips, Baker and Steffens being in frequent communication
with them.

The most brilliant and witty, as well as the most thoroughly informed of
the tariff insurgents was the amiable Senator Dolliver from Iowa—twenty
years in Congress—always regular—always stoutly supporting the tariff
bills turned out by the committee.

“What ails you now?” I asked him.

“Well,” he said, “I had been going on for twenty years taking
practically without question what they handed me; but these alliances
between the party and industrial interests have at last set me thinking.
I began to understand something of the injustice that was being done to
the consumer. And then we promised to reform the tariff.”

When the insurgents divided up the schedules for study, Schedule
K—wool—the most difficult and the most important politically, fell to
Senator Dolliver. He found he had been voting for years for duties
which, when he sat down to read the schedule, he could not understand.
He discovered they were a mixture of tricks, evasions, and
discriminations—intended to be so, he believed. He determined to master

And master them he did by months of the severest night work. He pored
over statistics and technical treatises. He visited mills and importing
houses and retail shops. He sought the aid of experts, and in the end he
knew his subject so well that he went onto the floor of the Senate
without a manuscript and literally played with Schedule K, and
incidentally also with Senator Aldrich, who was said to fly to the cloak
room whenever Senator Dolliver rose to speak. When he had finished his
clean, competent dissection, Schedule K lay before the Senate a law
without principles or morals; and yet, just as it was, the Senate of the
United States passed it, and the President of the United States signed
it, and it went on the statute books.

Why? Neither Mr. Taft nor Mr. Aldrich defended the wool schedule which
made the bill odious. They both were frank in explaining that it was
politically necessary, not at all a question of the fairness of the
schedule, but a question of what powerful interests demanded. The wool
interests could defeat the bill if they did not get what they wanted.

My conviction about the inequity of Schedule K was so strong that when
the _Outlook_ published a long defense of it, plainly an advertisement
but not so marked, I protested in a personal letter to its vociferous
contributing editor, Theodore Roosevelt, with whom by this time I was on
fairly friendly terms. Just what I said in my letter about the _Herald_
which so stirred his wrath I do not remember, but his answer to my
comment is so typically Rooseveltian in temper and reasoning that I
think it should be preserved:

                                                           May 6, 1911

  Oh! Miss Tarbell, Miss Tarbell!

  How can you take the view you do of the Herald! You compare it with
  the Tribune. It is perfectly legitimate to compare the Tribune with
  Mr. Watterson’s paper, the Courier-Journal. Honest people could
  agree or disagree about those two papers. Personally I think that
  during the last thirty or forty years the Tribune has been
  infinitely more helpful to good causes than the Courier-Journal,
  but, as I say, people can differ on such a subject; and I should be
  very glad to meet at any time either Henry Watterson or Whitelaw
  Reid. But to compare either one of them with the Herald is literally
  and precisely as if I should compare either the American Magazine or
  The Outlook with Town Topics.

Having expressed his opinion of the _Herald_, he proceeded to an
elaborate specious explanation of the matter which had so stirred my ire
that I had protested to him.

  Now as for what you say about The Outlook’s publishing “The Truth
  about K.” In the first place, I admit at once that the title, the
  type, and the placing of this advertisement _did_ make it look to
  many readers like an editorial article. We used the same title, type
  and placing that had been used for similar articles for twenty
  years; but our attention was subsequently called to the fact, to
  which you now call my attention, i.e., that some people were misled
  in the matter; and in consequence we at once abandoned this twenty
  years’ custom. From now on, every article of the kind will appear
  under the heading of “Advertising Department” or “Advertising
  Section,” so that there cannot be any possible mistake in the
  future. As for the publication of the article itself, I most
  emphatically think that it was not only justifiable, but
  commendable. The Outlook publishes continually letters from people
  upholding policies or views with which The Outlook diametrically
  disagrees. (For example, The Outlook has on several different
  occasions published letters taking a very dark view of my own
  character and achievements, whether at San Juan Hill or elsewhere.)
  This particular article by Spencer I should have been glad to see
  published in the regular section of the Outlook as putting forth his
  side of the case, just as I am now trying to secure publication in
  The Outlook of an article from the North Western farmers giving
  their side of the case against Canadian reciprocity. Spencer’s
  article, however, was too long, and such being the case, as I say, I
  was not merely willing but glad to see it put in. (I did not know it
  had been put in, of course, until long after it had appeared; but
  when I did see it, I was glad that it had been put in.) Probably you
  know that on April 8th The Outlook editorially took up this
  question, stated that the American Woolen Company was entirely
  justified in printing their article as an advertisement, and that
  The Outlook violated in no degree the ethics of journalism in
  admitting the advertisement to its pages and expressed its total
  disagreement with the views expressed in the article. I would have
  gone further than this; I would have stated that The Outlook did not
  violate the ethics of journalism, but rendered a great and needed
  service as an example in showing its willingness to accept the
  statement of a case with which it did not agree, to put it in
  exactly as it was written, and then itself to comment with absolute
  freedom, as it has done, upon the arguments made in the
  advertisement. Let me repeat that if The Outlook had had space,
  which it unfortunately did not have, I should have been glad to see
  Spencer’s article inserted, not as an advertisement, but as a
  communication signed by Spencer, and avowedly stating his side of
  the case.

                                            Sincerely yours
                                                    THEODORE ROOSEVELT

I felt that I had won my case with Mr. Roosevelt’s assurance that
henceforth every article of the kind would appear under the head of
“Advertising Department.”

When the Payne-Aldrich bill was finally passed with Mr. Taft’s and Mr.
Aldrich’s brutally frank explanations, I was done with the tariff as a
subject for further study and writing. Four years later came the
Democratic effort to make a revision. I had only the most casual
interest. It was the same old method. They might make a better bill, I
told myself, but there never could be a fair one as long as tariffs were
set by a Congress under the thumb of people personally interested.

One thing seemed to me clear which is still clearer now, the combined
prohibitive tariff industries were digging their own grave. Foreign
markets they had to have; but they refused to buy from those to whom
they wanted to sell. What the gentlemen did not realize was that by this
procedure they were practically forcing nations not naturally industrial
to copy their methods, industrialize themselves. These nations soon were
succeeding with such skill that in spite of the boosting of the tariff
again and again the foreigners continued to undersell us.

But the prohibitive protectionists were building a future competitor
threatening to be stronger than foreign trade. This in the realm of
politics. There had been no more hearty and conscienceless supporters of
prohibitive tariffs than certain groups of organized labor,
conspicuously the Amalgamated Steel and Iron Workers under John Jarrett.
They were not a numerous body, but with the cry of the full dinner pail
they were able to back the demands of the employers. They had a body of
votes that no political party dared defy. But in teaching organized
labor the power of political pressure the industrialists gave them a
weapon that they did not see might one day be turned against themselves.

Back in the eighties one of the wisest and soundest economists we have
produced, David A. Wells, said in substance of the victory of the tariff
lobbies: “This is a revolution. It will take another revolution to
overthrow the leadership now established by business men.”

I felt after the bill of 1909 that there was nothing for an outsider
like me to do but wait for that revolution.

I felt this so deeply that when President Wilson invited me to be a
member of the Tariff Commission he formed in December, 1916, I refused.
I was pleased, of course, that Mr. Wilson thought me fit for such a
place. I knew that I should find the associations interesting. The dean
of tariff students in the United States—Dr. Taussig of Harvard—was the
chairman. To be under him would be an education that would be worth the
taking, but I did not hesitate.

First, there was my personal situation—my obligations. I had no right to
give up my profession for a connection of that sort, in its nature
temporary. Then I realized my own unfitness as Mr. Wilson could not. I
had had no experience in the kind of work this required. I was an
observer and reporter, not a negotiator. I am not a good fighter in a
group; I forget my duty in watching the contestants. But primarily there
was my hopelessness about the service the Tariff Commission might
render. Its researches and its conclusions, however sound, would stand
no chance in Congress when a wool or iron and steel or sugar lobby
appeared. A Tariff Commission was hamstrung from the start.

Of course it was not only my interest and work on the tariff that had
led Mr. Wilson to offer me the position. He was looking about for women
to whom he could give recognition. He was an outspoken advocate of
suffrage and wanted to use women when he thought them qualified.

Jane Addams pleaded with me to accept “for the sake of women,” but I did
not feel that women were served merely by an appointment to office.
Women, like men, serve in proportion to their fitness for office, to the
actual fact they have something to contribute. I had no enthusiasm for
the task, did not even respect it greatly. I believed, too, that harm is
done all around by undertaking technical jobs without proper scientific
training. The cause of women is not to be advanced by putting them into
positions for which they are untrained.

The press comments on the idea of a woman on this commission were not
unfriendly, as far as I saw them; but they were a little surprised and,
as I was to find later, protests were made to Mr. Wilson. My friend Ray
Stannard Baker, working on the Wilson papers, came across an answer of
the President on December 27, 1916, to one protesting gentleman which I
am not too modest to print:

  As a matter of fact, she has written more good sense, good plain
  common sense, about the tariff than any man I know of, and is a
  student of industrial conditions in this country of the most serious
  and sensible sort.

                      THE GOLDEN RULE IN INDUSTRY

I was done with the tariff, but it was out of the tariff that my next
serial came—born partly of a guilty conscience! In attempting to prove
that in certain highly protected industries only a small part of a duty
laid in the interest of labor went to labor, I had taken satisfaction in
picturing the worst conditions I could find, badly ventilated and
dangerous factories, unsanitary homes, underfed children. But in looking
for this material I found, in both protected and unprotected industries,
substantial and important efforts making to improve conditions, raise
wages, shorten hours, humanize relations.

My conscience began to trouble me. Was it not as much my business as a
reporter to present this side of the picture as to present the other? If
there were leaders in practically every industry who regarded it not
only as sound ethics but as sound economics to improve the lot of the
worker, ought not the public to be familiarized with this belief?

At that moment, and indeed for a good many years, the public had heard
little except of the atrocities of industrial life. By emphasizing, the
reformers had hoped to hasten changes they sought. The public was coming
to believe that the inevitable result of corporate industrial management
was exploitation, neglect, bullying, crushing of labor, that the only
hope was in destroying the system.

But if the practices were not universal, if there was a steady, though
slow, progress, ought not the public to recognize it? Was it not the
duty of those who were called muckrakers to rake up the good earth as
well as the noxious? Was there not as much driving force in a good
example as in an evil one?

The office was not unfriendly to the idea. As a matter of fact _The
American Magazine_ had little genuine muckraking spirit. It did have a
large and fighting interest in fair play; it sought to present things as
they were, not as somebody thought they ought to be. We were
journalists, not propagandists; and as journalists we sought new angles
on old subjects. The idea that there was something fundamentally sound
and good in industrial relations, that in many spots had gone far beyond
what either labor or reformers were demanding, came to the office as a
new attack on the old problem. Mr. Phillips, always keenly aware of the
new and significant, had his eye on the movement, I found, and was
willing to commission me to go out and see what I could find.

This was in 1912, and for the next four years I spent the bulk of my
time in factories and industrial towns. The work took me from Maine to
Alabama, from New York to Kansas. I found my material in all sorts of
industries: iron and steel in and around Pittsburgh, Chicago, Duluth;
mines in West Virginia, Illinois, and Wisconsin; paper boxes and books
and newspapers everywhere; candy in Philadelphia; beer and tanneries and
woodwork in Wisconsin; shirts and collars and shoes in New York and
Massachusetts. I watched numberless things in the making: turbines and
optical lenses, jewelry and mesh bags, kodaks and pocketknives, plated
cutlery and solid silver tea services, Minton tableware and American
Belleek, cans and ironware, linen tablecloths and sails for a cup
defender, furniture I suspected was to be sold in Europe for antiques,
and bric-a-brac I knew was to be sold in America as Chinese
importations, railroad rails and wire for a thousand purposes, hookless
fasteners and mechanical toys. I seemed never to tire of seeing things
made. But do not ask me now how they were made!

I never counted the number of factories I visited. Looking at the volume
in which I finally gathered my findings, I find there are some
fifty-five major concerns mentioned; but these were those which in my
judgment best illustrated the particular point I was trying to make.
There were many more.

My visits had to be arranged beforehand. I took pains to make sure of my
credentials, but I soon discovered that my past work served me well. The
heads of the industries and many workmen were magazine readers, liked to
talk about writers and asked all sorts of curious questions about men
and women they had become acquainted with in _McClure’s_ and the
_American_: Kipling, Baker, Steffens, Will White, Edna Ferber, just
coming on at that time. There was often considerable asperity at the top
when I presented my letters of introduction. They set me down as an
enemy of business; but again and again this asperity was softened by a
man’s love of Abraham Lincoln. He had a habit of reading everything
about Lincoln that he could put his hands on, collected books, brought
out my “Life” to be autographed. That is, while I was _persona non
grata_ for one piece of work, another piece softened suspicion and
opened doors to me.

My first move in a factory was to study the processes of the particular
industry. Machines were not devils to me as they were to some of my
reforming friends, particularly that splendid old warrior Florence
Kelley, then in the thick of her fight for “ethical gains through
legislation.” To me machines freed from heavy labor, created abundance.
That is, I started out free of the inhibition that hate of a machine
puts on many observers. I think because of this I was better able to
judge the character of a factory, to see its weak as well as its good
points. I was able to understand what the enemy of the machine rarely
admits: that men and women who have arrived at the dignity of steady
workers not only respect, but frequently take pride in, their machines.

Again, I gave myself time around these factories. The observer who once
in his life goes down for half a day into a mine or spends two or three
hours walking through a steel mill, naturally revolts against the
darkness, the clatter, the smoke, the danger. As a rule he misses the
points of real hardship; he also misses the satisfactions. As my
pilgrimage lengthened, I became more and more convinced that there is no
trade which has not its devotee.

“Once a miner, always a miner.” “Once a sailor, always a sailor.” One
might go through the whole category.

“Why,” I now and then asked miners, “do you stay by the mine?”

“I was brought up to it.” “I like it.” “Nobody bothers you when you are
working with a pick.” “Nice and quiet in the mines.”

“But the danger!”

“No worse than railroading.” “My brother got killed by a horse last

In the end I came to the conclusion that there was probably no larger
percentage of whose who did not like the work they were doing than there
is in the white-collar occupations. In the heavy industries
particularly, I found something like the farmer’s conviction that they
were doing a man’s job. It made them contemptuous of white-collar

I spent quite as much time looking at homes as at plants. The test I
made of the industrial villages and of company houses was whether or no,
if I set myself to it, I could make a decent home in them. I found even
in the most barren and unattractive company districts women who had made
attractive homes. There was the greatest difference in home-making
ability, in the training of women for it. The pride of the man who had a
good housekeeper as a wife, a good cook, was great. I do not remember
that a man ever asked me to come to his house unless he considered his
wife a good housekeeper. I remember one so proud of his home that he
took me all over it, showing with delight how his Sunday clothes, his
winter overcoat, the Sunday dress of his little girl, were hung on
hangers with a calico curtain in front to keep them clean. His
housekeeper, in this case a mother-in-law, confided to me in talking
things over that night that in her judgment the reason so many men drank
was that the women did not know how to keep house.

Visiting with the family after the supper dishes were cleared away, I
managed to get at what was most important in their lives. After steady
work it was the church. After minister or priest, the public-school
teacher was the most trusted friend of the household. In many places,
however, I found her authority beginning to be divided with the company
nurse, for the company nurse was just being added to industrial staffs.
Many of my reforming friends felt that in going into a factory and
taking a salary a nurse was aligning herself with the evil intentions of
the corporation, but the average man did not feel that way. She helped
him out in too many tight places.

As to the relation of workmen to their union—for often they belonged to
a union—I concluded that in the average industrial community it was not
unlike that of the average citizen to his political party and political

Both the union and the employer seemed to me to be missing opportunities
to help men to understand the structure of industry, perhaps because
they did not themselves understand it too well, or sank their
understanding in politics. Both union and employer depended upon one or
another form of force when there was unrest, rather than education and
arbitration. In doing this they weakened, perhaps in the end destroyed,
that by which they all lived.

The most distressing thing in mills and factories seemed to me to be the
atmosphere of suspicion which had accumulated from years of appeal to
force. I felt it as soon as I went into certain plants—everybody
watching me, the guide, the boss, the men at the machines.

But to conclude that because of this suspicion, this lack of
understanding, which keeps so many industries always on the verge of
destruction, there were no natural friendly contacts between the
management and the men is not to know the world. I found that
practically always the foreman or the boss, sometimes the big boss, in
an industry had come up from the ranks. In various industrial towns I
found the foreman’s family or the superintendent’s family living just
around the corner, and his brother, perhaps his father, working in the
mine or the mill. He was one in the family who had been able to lift
himself. Nor did it follow that there was bad blood between a “big boss”
and the head of a warlike union. I had been led to believe they did not
speak in passing. I had supposed that, if Samuel Gompers and Judge Gary
met, they would probably fly at each other’s throat; but at the
Washington Industrial Conference in 1919, standing in a corridor of the
Pan-American Building, I saw the two approaching from different
directions. They were going to pass close to me. I had a cold chill
about what might happen. But what happened was that Mr. Gompers said,
“Hello, Judge,” in the friendliest tone and Judge Gary called
cheerfully, “Hello, Sam.” And that was all there was to it. Later, when
I was to see much of Judge Gary, trying to make out what the famous Gary
code meant, and how it was being applied, we talked more than once of
Samuel Gompers and his technique. The Judge had great respect for him as
a political opponent, as well he might.

It is hard to stop talking when I recall these four years, drifting up
and down the country into factories and homes. The contrast between old
ways and new ways was always before me. Many a sad thing I saw—nothing
more disturbing than the strikes, for I managed to get on the outskirts
of several and follow up the aftermath, which was usually tragic.

There was the ghastly strike in certain fertilizer plants at Roosevelt
on the Jersey coast. I followed it through to its unsatisfactory end.
Rival labor and political bodies fought each other for days while the
men with drawn and hopeless faces loafed in groups in saloons or on

“All going to the devil while their unions fight,” said the woman who
gave me my meals in the only boarding house in the desolate place. “I am
for the union, but the union does not know when they go into a strike
which they can avoid what they are doing to men. It turns them into
tramps. They leave their families and take to the road. It is better
that they leave. I think the women often think that, so they won’t have
any more babies. No, the union does not see what it does to men. But
what are the men going to do when things were like they were in this
place? You know what their wages were. You know what a hellish sort of
place this is. What are they going to do?”

It was the men who saw industry as a cooperative undertaking who gave me
heart. I do not mean political cooperation, but practical cooperation,
worked out on the ground by the persons concerned. The problems and
needs of no two industrial undertakings are ever alike. For results each
must be treated according to the situation. The greatest contributions I
found to industrial peace and stability came when a man recognized that
a condition was wrong and set out to correct it.

There was Thomas Lynch, president of the Frick Coke Company of
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Tommy Lynch had swung a pick before
John Lewis did and, like Lewis, had risen by virtue of hard work and
real ability, from one position to another—one to become the head of a
group of mines, the other to become the head of a group of miners. But
no union could keep up with Tommy Lynch in the improvements he demanded
for his mines and miners. It was he who originated the famous slogan
“Safety First.” When I talked with him about rescue crews he swore
heartily, “Damn rescue work—prevent accidents.”

Tommy Lynch’s work did not end in the mine. He had a theory that you
could not be a good worker unless you had a good home. He literally
lifted some seven thousand company houses, which he had inherited from
an old management, out of their locations between high mountains of
lifeless slag and put them onto tillable land, gave every woman water in
her kitchen and a plot of land for a garden.

In 1914, when I was first there, out of 7,000 homes 6,923 had gardens.
And such gardens! It took three days for Mr. Lynch and two or three
other distinguished gentlemen to decide on the winners of the nine
prizes given for the finest displays. They were estimating that the
vegetable gardens yielded $143,000 worth of vegetables that year. I went
back to see what they were doing with those gardens in the middle of the
late depression. There were even more of them, and they were even more
productive. Knowing what the garden meant, the miners had turned to the
cultivation with immense energy. The company had plowed and fertilized
tracts of untilled land near each settlement, and the men were raising
extra food for the winter. Many of these miners were selling vegetables
in the near-by town markets.

Believing as I do that the connection of men and women with the soil is
not only most healthy for the body but essential for the mind and the
soul, these gardens aroused almost as much thankfulness in my heart as
the safety work.

But Tommy Lynch could not have worked out his notions of safety and
gardening without the cooperation of the miners, even if it was
sometimes begrudging.

Then there was Henry Ford attacking the problem which most concerned his
plant, labor turnover—in his case something like 1200 per cent. He had
come into the industrial picture with his minimum wage of five dollars a
day just before I began my work. In May of 1915 I set up shop for ten
days in a Detroit hotel in order to study what he was doing. The days I
spent in and around the Ford factory; nights, tired out with
observations and emotions, I came back to a hot bath and dinner in bed,
talking my findings into a dictaphone until I fell off to sleep.

Connections had not been hard to make. There was then at the head of
Ford publicity an experienced and able gentleman who realized that
articles in _The American Magazine_ on the Ford plant, whether favorable
or not, were good for the concern, and who saw to it that I had every
chance. Mr. Ford himself was my first important objective. He saw me in
his big office looking down on the plant, a plant then employing
eighteen thousand men. At the first glimpse of his smiling face I was
startled by the resemblance to the picture of the young Lincoln which
had played such a part in the launching of the Lincoln articles in
_McClure’s_. It was the face of a poet and a philosopher, as in the
young Lincoln there was a young Emerson.

Like a poet and a philosopher, Henry Ford was unhurried. He was no slave
to his desk. I saw it practically abandoned when he was wrestling with
the successor to Model T. “Mr. Ford does not often come in,” my
conductor told me. “He is wandering through the factories these days. We
never touch his desk.”

He was boyish and natural in off hours. Coming into the private
lunchroom for officers at the plant, where I judged a place was always
left for him, I saw him throw his long right leg over the back of the
chair before he slid leisurely into the seat.

“I have got an idea,” he said. “People complain about the doors of the
car—not convenient. I am going to put a can opener into every car from
now on and let them cut their own.”

He delighted in the flow of Ford jokes, wanted to hear the latest, to
see it in the house organ.

When he saw me, it was he who did the talking, and he seemed to be
straightening out his thoughts rather than replying to my questions.
When I asked him his reasons for mass production he had a straight-away

“It is to give people everything they want and then some,” he said. And
then he went on to enlarge in a way I have never forgotten.

“There’s no reason why everybody shouldn’t have everything he needs if
we managed it right, weren’t afraid of making too much. Our business is
to make things so cheap that everybody can buy ’em. Take these shears.”
He picked up a handsome pair of large shears on his desk. “They sell for
three or four dollars, I guess. No reason you couldn’t get them down to
fifty cents. Yes, fifty cents,” he repeated as I gasped. “No reason at
all. Best in the world—so every little girl in the world could have a
pair. There’s more money in giving everybody things than in keeping them
dear so only a few can have them. I want our car so cheap that every
workman in our shop can have one if he wants it. Make things everybody
can have—that’s what we want to do. And give ’em money enough. The
trouble’s been we didn’t pay men enough. High wages pay. People do more
work. We never thought we’d get back our five dollars a day; didn’t
think of it; just thought that something was wrong that so many people
were out of work and hadn’t anything saved up, and thought we ought to
divide. But we got it all back right away. That means we can make the
car cheaper, and give more men work. Of course when you’re building and
trying new things all the time you’ve got to have money; but you get it
if you make men. I don’t know that our scheme is best. It will take five
years to try it out, but we are doing the best we can and changing when
we strike a snag.”

What it simmered down to was that if you wanted to make a business you
must make men, and you must make men by seeing that they had a chance
for what we are pleased to call these days a good life. And if they are
going to have a good life they must not only have money but have low

There was much more, I soon found, than five dollars a day and upwards
that was behind the making of men at Ford’s. There was the most
scientific system for handling mass production processes that I had ever
seen. Tasks were graded. A workman was given every incentive to get into
higher classes. But I was not long at Ford’s before I discovered that it
was not this system, already established, it was not the five dollars,
it was not the flourishing business, it was not advertising—deeply and
efficiently and aggressively as all these things were handled—which at
the moment was absorbing the leaders of the business. It was what Mr.
Ford was calling “the making of men.” It was a thoroughly worth-while
and deeply human method. Mr. Ford knew that, do all you can for a man in
the factory—a short day, higher wages, good conditions, training,
advancement—if things are not right for him at home he will not in the
long run be a good workman. So he set out to reorganize the home life of
the men.

It was done by a sociological department made up at that time of some
eighty men all taken out of the factory itself, for Mr. Ford’s theory
was then that, no matter what you wanted done, you could always find
somebody among the eighteen thousand “down there,” as he called it, that
was qualified. So they had selected eighty for social service work and
these men were doing it with a thoroughness and a frankness which was
almost as important as the five dollars a day had been.

“Paternal” was the adjective generally applied to the Ford method; but
one of the interesting things about Mr. Ford is the little effect a word
has on him. Call a thing what you like, it is the idea, the method, that
he is after. If that seems to him to make sense, you may have your
word—it doesn’t trouble him.

So they went energetically about their determination to add to what they
were doing for the making of men inside of the factory a thorough
overhauling of the men’s lives outside. There were certain things that
were laid down as essential. You had to be clean—cleanliness had played
no part in the lives of hundreds of these men. But when they did not get
their “big envelope” and asked why, they were told it was because their
hands were dirty, they didn’t wash their necks, didn’t wear clean
clothes. Ford’s men must be clean. Already it had made an astonishing
difference in the general look of the factory. And this cleanliness was
carried by the sociological department into the home. The men must be
kept clean, and the women must do their part. Many of the women as well
as the men were discovering for the first time the satisfaction of
cleanliness. “Feels good,” said a working woman to me, reluctant but
thorough convert according to my conductor. “Feels good to be clean.”

They were enemies of liquor, and no man who drank could keep his place.
But he was not thrown out: he must reform. And some of the most
surprising cures of habitual drunkenness that I have ever come across I
found in the Ford factory in 1915.

There was a strong sympathy throughout the factory for derelicts. There
were four hundred men in Ford’s when I was there who had served prison
terms. Nobody knew them, but each had his special guardian; and no
mother ever looked after a child more carefully than these guardians
looked after their charges.

In this social work Mr. Ford was constantly and deeply interested. As
nearly as I could make out, there was nothing of which they all talked

I dined one night with four or five of the officers, including Mr. Ford,
and while I had expected to hear much about mass production and wage
problems the only thing I heard was, “How are you getting on with Mary?”
“How about John?” “Do you think we can make this housing scheme work?”
That is, what I was discovering at Ford’s was that they were not
thinking in terms of labor and capital, but in terms of Tom, Dick, and
Harry. They were taking men and women, individuals, families, and with
patience and sense and humor and determination were putting them on
their feet, giving them interest and direction in managing their lives.
This was the Henry Ford of 1916.

But work like that of Tommy Lynch and Henry Ford depended upon
individual qualities of a rare and exceptional kind, also upon the
opportunity to test ideas. Neither Lynch nor Ford was willing to let bad
situations, a stiff problem alone. It challenged their wits,
particularly when it concerned men in mine and factory. They were not
hampered by dogmas or politics. They did things in their own way, and if
one method did not work tried another; and both had a rare power to
persuade men to follow them. They were self-made, unhampered products of
old-fashioned democracy, and both were thorns in the flesh of those who
worked according to blue prints, mechanized organizations or the status
quo. But the success of both with the particular labor problems they
tackled was the answer to critics.

Only how could men of lesser personality, lesser freedom of action, and
lesser boldness in trying out things follow? They could not. They had to
have a more scientific practice if they were to achieve genuine
cooperation in working out their problems. And what I was seeing in
certain plants, as I went up and down the country, convinced me it had
come in the Frederick Taylor science of management.

I had first heard of Taylor in the _American Magazine_ office. John
Phillips had sensed something important on foot when he read that Louis
Brandeis, acting as counsel for certain shippers in a suit they had
brought against the railroads, had told the defendants that they could
afford lower rates if they would reorganize their business on the lines
of scientific management which Frederick Taylor had developed. They
could lower rates and raise wages.

“And who is Frederick Taylor?” asked Mr. Phillips. “Baker, you better
find out.”

And so Frederick Taylor had come to know the _American_ group, and he
had given to the _American_, much to our pride, his first popular
article explaining what he meant by scientific management. In the
following letter Mr. Taylor tells a protesting friend why he gave it to

  I have no doubt that the Atlantic Monthly would give us a better
  audience from a literary point of view than we could get from the
  American Magazine. But the readers of the Atlantic Monthly consist
  probably very largely of professors and literary men, who would be
  interested more in the abstract theory than in the actual good which
  would come from the introduction of scientific management.

  On the other hand, I feel that the readers of the American Magazine
  consist largely of those who are actually doing the practical work
  of the world. The people whom I want to reach with the article are
  principally those men who are doing the manufacturing and
  construction work of our country, both employers and employees, and
  I have an idea that many more persons of that kind would be reached
  through the American Magazine than through the Atlantic Monthly.

  In considering the best magazine to publish the paper in, I am very
  considerably influenced by the opinion I have formed of the editors
  who have been here to talk over the subject; and of these Ray
  Stannard Baker was by far the most thorough and enthusiastic in his
  analysis of the whole subject. He looked at all sides in a way which
  no other editor dreamed of doing. He even got next to the workingmen
  and talked to them at great length on the subject. I cannot but
  feel, also, that the audience which reads the work of men of his
  type must be an intelligent and earnest audience.

  Mr. ——, who has just been here, suggested that among a certain class
  of people the American Magazine is looked upon as a muckraking
  magazine. I think that any magazine which opposed the
  “stand-patters” and was not under the control of the moneyed powers
  of the United States would now be classed among the muckrakers.
  This, therefore, has no very great weight with me.

Taylor believed like Henry Ford that the world could take all we could
make, that the power of consumption was limitless. “To give the world
all it needs is the mission of industry,” he shouted at me one day I
spent with him at Boxley (his home near Philadelphia)—shouted it with
many picturesque oaths. I have never known a man who could swear so
beautifully and so unconsciously.

Mr. Taylor’s system in part or whole had been applied in many factories
which I visited in my four years. You knew its outward sign as soon as
you entered the yard. Order, routing, were first laws, and the old
cluttered shops where you fell over scattered material and picked your
way around dump heaps were now models of classified order. A man knew
where to find the thing he needed, and things were placed where it took
the fewest steps to reach them.

Quite as conspicuous as the physical changes in the shop was the change
in what may be called its human atmosphere. Under the Taylor System the
business of management was not only planning but controlling what it
planned. Management laid out ahead the day’s work for each man at his
machine; to him they went with their instructions, to them he went for
explanations and suggestions. Office and shop intermingled. They
realized their mutual dependence as never before, learned to respect
each other for what they were worth. Watching the functioning, one
realized men had come to feel more or less as Taylor himself felt: that
nothing of moment was ever accomplished save by cooperation, which must
be “intimate and friendly.” Praised once for his work on the art of
cutting metal he said a thing all leaders would do well to heed:

“I feel strongly that work of any account in order to be done rightly
should be done through true cooperation, rather than through the
individual effort of any one man; and, in fact, I should feel rather
ashamed of any achievement in which I attempted to do the whole thing

Nothing was more exciting to me than the principles by which Taylor had
developed his science. They were the principles he had applied to
revolutionary discoveries and inventions in engineering. I made a brief
table of them. They make the best code I know for progress in human

  1) Find out what others have done before you and begin where they
  left off.

  2) Question everything—prove everything.

  3) Tackle only one variable at a time. Shun the temptation to try
  more than one in order to get quick results.

  4) Hold surrounding conditions as constant and uniform as possible
  while experimenting with your variable.

  5) Work with all men against no one. Make them want to go along.

There is enduring vitality in these principles and there is
universality. They are as good for battered commonwealths as for
backward disorganized industries. Think what it would mean in Washington
today if all the experimenters began where others had left off, if no
demonstrated failure was repeated, if theory was held to be but 25 per
cent of an achievement, practice 75, if one variable at a time was
experimented with, if time were taken for solutions and above all if
everybody concerned accepted “intimate and friendly” cooperation as the
most essential of all factors in our restoration.

This hunt for practical application of the Golden Rule in industry left
me in much better spirits than my studies of transportation and tariff
privileges. The longer I looked into the latter the deeper had been my
conviction that in the long run they would ruin the hope of peaceful
unity of life in America. They seemed to me inconsistent with democracy
as I understood it and certainly inconsistent with my simple notions of
what made men and women of character. Were we not getting a larger and
larger class interested only in what money would buy? Particularly did I
dislike the spreading belief that wealth piled up by a combination of
ability, illegality, and bludgeoning could be so used as to justify
itself—that the good to be done would cancel the evil done. What it
amounted to was the promotion of humanitarianism at the expense of
Christian ethics; and that, I believe, made for moral softness instead
of stoutness.

But there was nothing soft about the experiments I had been following.
Where they succeeded, it was by following unconsciously in general
Taylor’s stiff principles. Patient training, stern discipline, active
cooperation alone produced safety, health, efficient workmen, abundance
of cheap honest output. I had faith in these things. They were the
foundation of genuine social service. All desired goods followed them as
they became part of the nation’s habit of life, reaching down to its
lowest depths.

Many of my reforming friends were shocked because the one and only
reason most industrial leaders gave for their experiments was that it
paid. Generally speaking, the leaders were the kind who would have cut
their tongues out before acknowledging that any other motive than profit
influenced them. Certainly they sought dividends; but they believed
stability, order, peace, progress, cooperation were back of dividends.
That industry which paid must, as Mr. Ford said, “make men.” That the
right thing paid, was one of their most far-reaching demonstrations. Men
had not believed it. They were proving the contrary; so in spite of the
charge of many of my friends that I was going over to the enemy, joining
the corporation lawyer and the company nurse, I clung to the new ideals.
What I never could make some of these friends see was that I had no
quarrel with corporate business so long as it played fair. It was the
unfairness I feared and despised. I had no quarrel with men of wealth if
they could show performance back of it untainted by privilege.

Sometimes I suspected that the gains I set forth as practical results of
this experimenting inside industry were resented by those who had been
working for them for years through legislation, organization, agitation,
because they had come about by other methods than theirs and generally
in a more complete form than they had ventured to demand. But that the
idealists had been a driving force behind the new movement inside
industry was certain. Their method could not do the thing, but it could
and did drive men to prove it could be done.

My critics who charged me with giving comfort to the enemy did not see
that often this enemy disliked what I was trying to do even more deeply
than my so-called muckraking. Indeed, he took those pictures of new
industrial methods and principles as a kind of backhanded
muckraking—indirect and so unfair. It threw all established methods of
force into a relief as damaging as anything I ever had said about high
duties and manipulations of railroad rates.

Whatever challenges my new interest aroused, however confused my own
defense of it was, I knew only that I should keep my eye on it and
report any development which seemed to me a step ahead. That, of course,
was counting on continued editorial sympathy in the _American_. But
hardly had I finished my book before that sympathy was cut off by a
change in ownership.

The change was inevitable, things being as they were in the magazine
world after 1914. The crew who had manned our little ship so gallantly
in 1906 when we left _McClure’s_ had lost only one of its numbers. A few
months after we started Lincoln Steffens withdrew. He objected to the
editing of his articles, demanded that they go in as he wrote them. The
same editorial principles were being applied to his productions that
were applied to those of other contributors. They were the principles
which he himself had been accustomed to applying and to submitting to on
_McClure’s_. The editorial board decided the policy could not be changed
and accepted Steffens’ resignation.

Back of his withdrawal, as I saw it, was Steffens’ growing
dissatisfaction with the restrictions of journalism. He wanted a wider
field, one in which he could more directly influence political and
social leaders, preach more directly his notions of the Golden Rule,
which certainly at that time was his chosen guide.

Certainly it was the creed of the _American_. It had always been John
Phillips’ answer to our fervent efforts to change things, “The only way
to improve the world is to persuade it to follow the Golden Rule.”

I suppose Steffens had heard of the Golden Rule, but I am certain he had
never thought about it as a practical scheme for improving society. It
seemed to me, at the time, that it came to him as an illumination, and
for some years he held tight to it, preaching it to political bosses, to
the tycoons of Wall Street, the Brahmins of Boston, confronting them
with amazing frankness and no little satisfaction with their open
disregard of its meanings. He became greatly disillusioned finally by
discovering that men were quite willing to let their opponents act upon
the Golden Rule but much less so to be governed by it themselves.

My first realization that Steffens was struggling with the problem which
confronted us all—that is, whether we should stick to our profession or
become propagandists—was one day when I looked up suddenly to find him
standing by my desk more sober, less certain of himself than I had ever
seen him.

“Charles Edward Russell has gone over to the Socialist party,” he said.
“Is that not what we should all be doing? Should we not make _The
American Magazine_ a Socialist organ?”

I flared. Our only hope for usefulness was in keeping our freedom,
avoiding dogma, I argued. And that the _American_ continued to do.

In the years that were to come, wars and revolutions largely occupied
Steffens. Wherever there was a revolution you found him. He wrote many
brilliant comments on what was going on in the world. When he came back
from Russia after the Kerensky revolution he was like a man who had seen
a long hoped-for vision.

“I have looked at the millennium and it works,” he told me.

It was to be the practical application of that Golden Rule he had
so long preached. But to my mind the Russian Revolution had only
just begun. The event in which he saw the coming of the Lord I
looked on as only the first of probably many convulsions forced by
successive generations of unsatisfied radicals, irreconcilable
counterrevolutionists. When I voiced these pessimistic notions to
Steffens he called me heartless and blind.

But there were other forces working against the type of journalism in
which we believed. We were classed as muckrakers, and the school had
been so commercialized that the public was beginning to suspect it. The
public is not as stupid as it sometimes seems. The truth of the matter
was that the muckraking school was stupid. It had lost the passion for
facts in a passion for subscriptions.

The coming of the War in 1914 forced a new program. It became a grave
question whether, under the changed conditions, the increased confusion
of mind, the intellectual and financial uncertainties, an independent
magazine backed with little money could live. In undertaking the
_American_ we had all of us put in all the money we could lay our hands
on. We had cut the salaries of _McClure’s_ in two, reduced our scale of
living accordingly, and done it gaily as an adventure. And it had been a
fine fruitful adventure in professional comradeship. We had made a good
magazine, and we were all for making a better one and convinced we could
do it. “I don’t think,” Ray Baker wrote me not long ago, “that I look
back to any period of my life with greater interest than I do to
that—the eager enthusiasm, the earnestness, and the gaiety!” But we had
come to a time when under the new conditions the magazine required fresh
money, and we had no more to put in.

The upshot was that in 1915 the _American_ was sold to the Crowell
Publishing Company. The new owners wanted a different type of magazine,
and John Siddall, who had been steadily with us since I had unearthed
him in Cleveland as a help in investigating the Standard Oil Company,
was made active editor. Siddall was admirably cut out to make the type
of periodical the new controlling interests wanted. I have never known
any one in or out of the profession with his omnivorous curiosity about
human beings and their ways. He had enormous admiration for achievement
of any sort, the thing done whatever its nature or trend. His interest
in humankind was not diluted by any desire to save the world. It
included all men. He had a shrewd conviction that putting things down as
they are did more to save the world than any crusade. His instincts were
entirely healthy and decent. The magazine was bound to be what we call
wholesome. Very quickly he put his impress on the new journal, made it a
fine commercial success.

Gradually the old staff disintegrated. Peter Dunne went over to the
editorial page of _Collier’s_—Bert Boyden went to France with the
Y.M.C.A.—Mr. Phillips remained as a director and a consultant—Siddall
would hear of nothing else. “He is the greatest teacher I have ever
known. I could learn from him if I were making shoes,” he declared. And
years later when, facing his tragic death, he was preparing a new man to
take his place he told him solemnly, “Never fail to spend an hour a day
with J. S. P. just talking things over.”

As for me it was soon obvious there was no place for my type of work on
the new _American_. If I were to be free I must again give up security.
Hardly, however, had I acted on my resolution before along came Mr.
Louis Alber of the Coit Alber Lecture Bureau, one of the best known
concerns at that time in the business. Mr. Alber had frequently invited
me to join his troupe, and always I had laughed at the invitation: I was
too busy; moreover I had no experience, did not know how to lecture.
Now, however, it was a different matter. I was free, and I might forget
the situation in which I found myself by undertaking a new type of work.
Was not lecturing a natural adjunct to my profession? Moreover, Mr.
Alber wanted me to speak on these New Ideals in Business which I had
been discussing in the magazine, and he wanted me to speak on what was
known as a Chautauqua circuit, a kind of peripatetic Chautauqua. Perhaps
my willingness to go had an element of curiosity in it, a desire to find
out what this husky child of my old friend Chautauqua was like.

At all events I signed up for a seven weeks’ circuit, forty-nine days in
forty-nine different places.

                            A NEW PROFESSION

It was not until my signed contract to speak for forty-nine consecutive
days in forty-nine different places was laid before me that I realized I
had agreed to do what I did not know how to do. I had never in my life
stood on my feet and made a professional speech. To begin with—could I
make people hear? I felt convinced that I had something to say, and so
did my sponsors—but to what good if I could not be heard? What was this
thing they called “placing the voice”? I went to my friend Franklin
Sargent of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, told him of my
predicament. After a first test he agreed with me that I did not know
how to use my voice, and that unless I could learn I was letting myself
in for a bad failure.

Mr. Sargent was good enough to take me on as a pupil, uninteresting a
one as I must have been. He began by putting me on the simplest
exercises but with severe instructions about keeping them up. I went
about my apartment day and night shouting “Ma, Me, Mi, Mo,” “Ba, Be, Bi,
Bo.” I learned that the voice must come from the diaphragm, and that the
diaphragm must be strong to throw it out for an hour at a time.
Regularly every morning and every night, lying on my back with books on
my stomach, I breathed deeply until I could lift four or five volumes.

By the time the circuit opened in July I knew theoretically how to use
my voice; but I soon found that to do it without now and then getting it
into my throat, making horrible noises and throwing myself into nervous
panics, I must be more conscious of it than was good for my method of
handling my material. Indeed, it was not until my second year of
speaking that I could count on my voice for the hour of the performance.
I never came to a point where I did not have to ask that a glass of
water be put within reach—just in case. I found a glass of water a
safety device if my attention was distracted for a moment and I lost my
line of argument. I could pick it up, pretend to drink, change my
position, regain poise.

So much for my voice. I knew how to make people hear what I was saying.
Now as to material. I was to talk on the same subject day after day.
That is, I was supposed to make daily the same speech. I was afraid of a
memorized speech. A lecture experience of my old friend George Kennan
was largely responsible for that. After he had published his classic
work on Siberia Mr. Kennan took his story to the lecture platform. He
wrote his lecture with characteristic care—memorized it and repeated it
night after night on the long tours he made. It was an admirable
lecture, one of the most moving I ever heard.

In telling me of his platform experiences Mr. Kennan dropped this
warning: “In giving a memorized lecture one must be very careful that no
two sentences end with the same words. In my lecture on Siberia I
unwittingly used five or six identical words to end different
sentences—one near the opening, the other near the closing of my talk.
One night when perhaps I was unusually tired, instead of picking up what
followed the first sentence I picked up the words that followed the
second. That is, I was ending my lecture when I had only just begun it.
I saved myself, but after that I always took care that there were no two
sentences in my talk with identical, even similar endings.”

My memory is a tricky and unreliable organ—never properly trained, never
held resolutely to its job. I should have been afraid to trust it on a
lecture platform. Moreover, I realized that, since I was no orator and
never should be, my only hope was to give the appearance of talking
naturally, spontaneously. I put together what seemed to me a logical
framework and decided to drape it afresh every day, never to begin with
the same words, to use fresh illustrations, to think aloud,
experimenting. I soon discovered a fresh beginning every day was too
much to ask of myself under the conditions of travel. I found it
foolish, too, for if I had struck an opening that arrested attention,
why change it for one that might not? I soon found that illustrations
which were all right in an article did not serve with an audience. The
line of argument which I would have followed in an article became more
effective on a platform if switched. That is, as it turned out, although
I was giving the same lecture every day, it was never quite the same. I
worked on it constantly; and that is what kept my interest. I think,
because always I found however tired I might be, however much I despised
myself for undertaking to do what I more and more realized I did not
know how to do, I always was interested in my subject, talking as if it
was something of which I had never talked before. It was that personal
interest in my material which carried me through.

I had not given a thought in advance to the physical aspect of my
undertaking. I had known that every day for forty-nine days I was to
speak in a different place; I knew that meant daily traveling, but that
had not disturbed me. I had always prided myself that I was superior to
physical surroundings. I had not been long on the Chautauqua Circuit
before I was realizing that they played an enormous part in my day. I
found I was inquiring about the town to which we were headed: “How about
the hotel? Are there bathrooms? If so, am I to get one?”

I was uneasy about the table—the ideas of cooking and serving—and at
night about the noises, the drafts and other unmentionable worries. To
my amazement the bed in which I was to sleep soon was taking an
altogether disproportionate place in my mind. It is a fact that, when
the circuit was over and I came to tell its story, I could draw a
diagram of any one of the rooms in which I had slept, giving the exact
location of the bed in relation to windows and doors and bathroom. I
remembered these beds when I did not remember the hotel.

To my surprise I found myself deeply interested in the physical life of
the circuit, so like the life of the circus. We performed in tents, and
our outfit was as gay as ever you saw—khaki tents bound in red, with a
great khaki fence about, pennants floating up and down the streets, and
within, order, cleanliness, and the smartest kind of little platform and
side dressing rooms.

Naturally I had no little curiosity about my traveling companions.
Scoffing eastern friends told me that there would be bell ringers,
trained dogs, and Tyrolese yodelers. I found no such entertainment, but
I could hardly have fallen in with pleasanter company. A quintette of
young people whose business it was to sing for three-quarters of an hour
before my afternoon lecture and for a like period before the evening
entertainment, proved to be the gayest, kindest, healthiest of
companions. They were hard workers, seriously interested in pleasing
their audiences. They knew not only how to work, but how to live on the
kind of junket that I had undertaken. In other words, here was a group
of five young people who were doing what to me was very unusual, in a
thoroughly professional way. The seventh member of our party, the
evening entertainer, Sydney Landon, had had long experience on the
circuit. He was doing his work exactly as a good writer or a good lawyer
would do his. I saw at once that what I had joined was not, as I had
hastily imagined, a haphazard semi-business, semi-philanthropic,
happy-go-lucky new kind of barnstorming. It was serious work.

In starting the Chautauqua work I was not conscious that there was a
large percentage of condescension in my attitude. My first audience
revealed my mind to me with painful definiteness, and humbled me beyond
expression. It was all so unlike anything that I had had in my mind. I
was to speak in the evening and arrived at my destination late and after
a rather hard day. It was a steel town—one which I had known long years
before. The picturesqueness of the thing struck me with amazement.
Planted on an open space in the straggling, dimly lighted streets, where
the heavy panting of the blast furnaces could be clearly heard, I saw
the tent ablaze with electric lights, for, if you please, we carried our
own electric equipment. From all directions men, women, and children
were flocking—white shirtwaists in profusion, few coats, and still fewer
hats. And there were so many of them! I felt a queer sensation of alarm.
Here in the high-banked tiers were scores upon scores of serious faces
of hard-working men. I had come to talk about the hopeful and optimistic
things that I had seen in the industrial life of the country; but face
to face with these men, within sound of the heavy panting of great
furnaces, within sight of the unpainted, undrained rows of company
houses which I had noticed as I came in on the train, the memory of many
a long and bitter labor struggle that I had known of in that valley came
to life, and all my pretty tales seemed now terribly flimsy. They were
so serious, they listened so intently to get something; and the tragedy
was that I had not more to give them. This was my first audience. I
never had another that made so deep an impression upon me.

I had not been long on the Circuit before I realized that my audience
had only a languid interest in my subject, that what they were really
interested in, wanted to hear and talk about, was the War, then ending
its second year. But I could not talk about the War. Nothing had ever so
engulfed me as in a black fog, closed my mouth, confused my mind.
Chiefly this was because of the apparent collapse of organized efforts
to persuade or to force peaceful settlements of international quarrels.
These had taken so large a place in the thinking and agitating of the
liberal-minded with whom I lived that I had begun to delude myself that
they were actually strong enough to prevent future wars. Largely these
efforts were the result of the revulsion the conflicts of the nineties
had caused; the Boer War, the Greco-Turkish War, the Spanish War. People
who wanted to live in peace wrote books, talked, organized
societies—national and international. Jane Addams stirred the
English-speaking world by her “Newer Ideals of Peace.” William H. Taft,
Elihu Root, leading public men, educators, combined in one or another
society advocating this or that form of machinery.

And while this was going on Theodore Roosevelt was doing his best to
counteract it by his bold talk of war as a maker of men, the only
adequate machine for preparing human beings for the beneficent strenuous
life he advocated.

What was the _American Magazine_ to do about it? It seemed to us that we
ought to find some answer to Theodore Roosevelt. Certainly we could not
do it by promoting organized efforts; certainly not by preaching. We
must prove him wrong.

In 1910 our attention was turned to what seemed a possibly useful
educational effort against war, inaugurated at Stanford University by
its president, David Starr Jordan. I knew Dr. Jordan slightly. His
argument for opening the channels of world trade in the interest of
peace had helped keep up my spirits when laboring against the tariff
lobbies that so effectively closed them. What were they doing in
Stanford? It was decided that I go out and see; at least there might be
material for an article or two. Early in 1911 Dr. Jordan arranged that I
spend a few weeks at the university. He was very cordial, meeting me at
Los Angeles, where I arrived low in mind and body from an attack of

There was to be a peace meeting that night—Dr. Jordan was to speak. They
had announced me, and when I refused to get out of my bed they took it
as proof of indifference to the cause. The truth was that the idea of
speaking extemporaneously was at that time terrifying to me; ill too, I
could not, or perhaps would not, rally my forces. I would rather be
regarded as a sneak than attempt it.

But Dr. Jordan understood and laughed off my apology, and together we
made a leisurely trip to Palo Alto. He was a delightful companion when
he felt like talking, as he often did! There was nothing which did not
interest him. Looking out of the car window, he talked not of peace at
all but of birds and trees and fishes and Roosevelt and the recent

At Palo Alto I found that the most exciting course then offered to the
students was the six weeks on war and peace which I had come to study.
The big assembly room was packed for all the public lectures. Among the
advanced students following the course were several who have since made
names for themselves: Bruce Bliven, Robert L. Duffus, Maxwell Anderson.

There was considerable intensive work on special themes. One student was
collecting war slogans; another, making a comparison of declarations of
war, each of which called God to witness that its cause was just.
Another student was compiling tables showing the yearly increase in the
costs of armament in the twenty years from 1890 on; another, the
economic losses through the devastations caused by war; and so on. All
interesting and useful material.

But, study the work as closely as I could, I could not for the life of
me lay my hands on that definite something which the _American_ needed.
Finally I took my discouragement to Dr. Jordan, and together we planned
collaboration on a series of articles to be called “The Case Against
War.” Dr. Jordan in his autobiography, “The Days of a Man,” tells of our
scheme and what became of it; “crowding events permitted war to frame
its own case.”

In August, 1914, all of the machinery on which peace lovers had counted
collapsed. The Socialists in a body in every country took up arms; so
did organized labor, so did the professional advocates of peace.

It was not only this collapse of effort that had stunned me. From the
hour war was declared I had a sense of doom quite inexplicable in so
matter-of-fact a person. We should go in; of that, I felt certain. After
we did go in John Siddall more than once recalled how in August of 1914,
when a party of us were dining at the then popular Hungarian Restaurant
on Houston Street, I had said that before the thing was ended the United
States, the world, would be in.

“You are a prophet,” Siddall would laugh.

But I was not a prophet. It was the logic of my conviction that the
world is one, that isolation of nations is as fantastic as isolation of
the earth from the solar system, the solar system from the universe.

All this made a species of Fabian pacifist of me. I was for anything
that looked to peace, to neutrality, but it was always with the hopeless
feeling that one simply must do what one can if the house is on fire.

I could not share the hate of Germany, in spite of my profound devotion
to France, my conviction that Germany had believed a war of conquest
essential to realize what she called her destiny, that she had been
consciously preparing for it, that she thought the Day had come when she
could venture it.

The awful thing seemed too big for hate by puny humans, and I was amazed
and no little shocked soon after the outbreak when, visiting my friend
John Burroughs at Squirrel Lodge in the Catskills, I found him whom I
had always regarded as an apostle of peace and light in a continuous
angry fever against all things German. Woodchucks were troubling his
corn, and every morning he went out with his gun. “Another damned Hun,”
he would cry savagely when he returned with his dead game.

Time did not cure John Burroughs’ wrath, for in December, 1917, he
pledged himself in an open letter published in the New York _Tribune_
never to read a German book, never to buy an article of German make. But
John Burroughs was not the only one of my supposedly gentle-souled
friends who felt this serious necessity to punish not only now but

I was too befogged to hate or to take part in the organizations looking
to ending the War which sprang up all about, and which I felt so
despairingly were all futile.

There was Mr. Ford’s Peace Ship. Mr. Ford had startled me one day in the
spring of 1915, when in Detroit I was observing his methods for making
men, by saying suddenly: “You know I am rather coming to the conclusion
that we ought to join the Allies. If we go in we can finish the thing
quickly. And that is what should be done. As it is now, they will fight
to a finish. It ought some way to be stopped, and I see no other way.”

Six months later Mr. Ford called me up at my home in New York and asked
if I would not come to his hotel: he and Miss Addams wanted to talk with
me. Of course I went at once.

It is curious how sometimes, when one steps inside a door without
knowing what is behind it, one senses caution. The door was open to Mr.
Ford’s suite—nobody in sight, no answer to my ring; but I could hear
voices and followed them to a room at the end of the hall. Mr. Ford was
standing in the corner facing me. Before him were two rows of
men—reporters, I knew.

“Here, boys, is Miss Tarbell—she will go with us,” he called.

“Go where, Mr. Ford?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said, “we are chartering a Peace Ship. We are going to Europe
and get the boys out of the trenches by Christmas.”

I had a terrible sinking of heart. “Oh, Mr. Ford, I don’t think I could
go on such an expedition!”

“Come with me and we will convince you.”

And he led me into a room where Madame Rosika Schwimmer and my old
friend Fred Howe were talking—Jane Addams was not there.

“Tell Miss Tarbell what we are going to do. We want her to go along.”
And he went back to the reporters.

I put in one of the most difficult hours of my life. Madame Schwimmer
argued ably; so did Mr. Howe; and all that I could say was, feeling like
a poor worm as I said it, “I can’t see it.”

When Mr. Ford came back and they told him, “She can’t see it,” I tried
to explain my doubts. He listened intently and then very gently said,
“Don’t bother her—she’ll come.”

On top of this interview came a long telegram followed by a longer
letter, both signed by Henry Ford. I doubt now if he ever saw either of
them. Certainly the signature at the foot of the letter is not his. I am
putting them in here, long as they are, because they are important in
the history of the Peace Ship, and so far as I know have never been
printed. Here they are:

                                                     November 24, 1915

  Will you come as my guest aboard the Oscar Second of the
  Scandinavian-American Line sailing from New York December fourth for
  Christiania, Stockholm and Copenhagen? I am cabling leading men and
  women of the European Nations to join us en route and at some
  central point to be determined later establish an International
  Conference dedicated to negotiations leading to a just settlement of
  the War. A hundred representative Americans are being invited among
  whom Jane Addams, Thomas A. Edison and John Wanamaker have accepted
  today. Full letter follows. With twenty thousand men killed every
  twenty four hours, tens of thousands maimed, homes ruined, another
  winter begun, the time has come for a few men and women with courage
  and energy irrespective of the cost in personal inconvenience, money
  sacrifice and criticism to free the good will of Europe that it may
  assert itself for peace and justice with the strong probability that
  international disarmament can be accomplished. Please wire reply.

                                                     November 27, 1915

  Dear Miss Tarbell:—

  From the moment I realized that the world situation demands
  immediate action, if we do not want the war fire to spread any
  further, I joined those international forces which are working
  toward ending this unparalleled catastrophe. This I recognize as my
  human duty.

  There is full evidence that the carnage, which already has cost ten
  millions of lives, can and is expected to be stopped through the
  agency of a mediating conference of the six disinterested European
  nations, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, and
  the United States.

  Envoys to thirteen belligerent and neutral European governments have
  ascertained in forty visits that there is a universal peace desire.
  This peace desire, for the sake of diplomatic etiquette, never can
  be expressed openly, or publicly, until one side, or the other, is
  definitely defeated, or until both sides are entirely exhausted.

  For fifteen months the people of the world have waited for the
  governments to act; have waited for governments to lead Europe out
  of its unspeakable agony and suffering and to prevent Europe’s
  entire destruction. As European neutral governments are unable to
  act without the cooperation of our government, and as our
  government, for unknown reasons, has not offered this cooperation,
  no further time can be wasted in waiting for governmental action.

  In order that their sacrifice may not have been in vain, humanity
  owes it to the millions of men led like cattle to the slaughter
  house, that a supreme effort be made to stop this wicked waste of

  The people of the belligerent countries did not want the war. The
  people did not make it. The people want peace. It is their human
  right to get a chance to make it. The world looks to us, to America,
  to lead in ideals. The greatest mission ever before a nation is

  This is why I appealed to you, as a representative of American
  democracy, in my telegram of the twenty-fourth. It is for this same
  reason that I repeat my appeal to you and urge you to join a peace

  Men and women of our country, representing all of its ideals and all
  of its activities, will start from New York on the 4th of December
  aboard the Scandinavian-American Steamship Oscar II. The peace ship
  that carries the American delegation will proceed to Christiania,
  where Norway’s valiant sons and daughters will join the crusade. In
  Stockholm, the ship’s company will be reinforced by the choicest of
  Sweden’s democracy. The crusade will then go on to Copenhagen, where
  further harbingers of peace will be foregathered.

  These various groups will add such momentum to the crusade that when
  the pilgrims reach The Hague, with its achievements of international
  justice and comity, the moral power of the peace movement will be
  irresistible. In The Hague we hope to meet delegations from
  Switzerland and from Spain.

  From all these various delegations will be selected a small
  deliberative body which shall sit in one of the neutral capitals.
  Here it will be joined by a limited number of authorities of
  international promise from each belligerent country. This
  International Conference will frame terms of peace, based on justice
  for all, regardless of the military situation.

  This International Conference will be an agency for continuous
  mediation. It will be dedicated to the stoppage of this hideous
  international carnage and further dedicated to the prevention of
  future wars through the abolition of competitive armaments.

  In case of a governmental call for an official neutral conference
  before the Peace Ship departs from New York, or even reaches
  European shores, our party will continue on its mission, rejoicing
  that the official gathering has materialized. We will then place our
  united strength solidly behind those entrusted by the governments to
  carry on the peace negotiations.

  In The Hague the members of the Peace Pilgrimage will dissolve.
  Accommodations will be provided for each one back to his home. It is
  impossible to determine the exact length of time the pilgrimage will
  take. Six weeks, however, should be allowed.

  I respectfully beg of you to respond to the call of humanity and
  join the consecrated spirits who have already signified a desire to
  help make history in a new way. The people of Europe cry out to you.

  Information about the meeting place in New York, the hour of
  sailing, the amount of luggage, your accommodations, etc., will be
  sent as soon as we have your reply. I should appreciate it if you
  would telegraph your affirmative decision. Will you send it to the
  Hotel Biltmore, Suite 717, New York, our temporary headquarters.

                                               Yours for peace
                                                           HENRY FORD.

I have no copies of my replies, but I know the gist of them must have
been a heavy-hearted “I can’t do it, Mr. Ford.”

The night after my visit to the hotel Miss Addams called me up, and for
a half-hour we argued the matter on the telephone. All I could say was:
“If you see it you must go, Miss Addams. I don’t see it and I can’t. It
is possible that standing on the street corner and crying, ‘Peace,
Peace,’ may do good. I do not say that it will not, but I cannot see it
for myself.”

We were to talk it over in the morning, but that night they took her to
Chicago, hurried her into a hospital. She was very ill. Jane Addams did
not go on the Peace Ship.

Years after, I asked her, “Would you have gone if you had not been ill?”

“I certainly should,” she said. “There was a chance, and I was for
taking every chance.”

She always took every chance when it was a matter of human relief. And
if she had gone things would have been different on the Peace Ship, for
she and not Madame Schwimmer would have been in command. She saw quite
clearly the managerial tendencies of Madame Schwimmer, but she saw also
her abilities. She was not willing because of doubts to throw over a
chance to strengthen the demand for peace, and she undoubtedly trusted
to her own long experience in handling people to handle Madame
Schwimmer. But she did not go.

It was a tragedy of hasty action, of attempting a great end without
proper preparation. Mr. Ford would never have attempted to build a new
type of automobile engine as he attempted to handle the most powerful
thing in the world—the unbridled passions of men organized to come to a
conclusion by killing one another.

The Peace Ship was a failure; but so were the under-cover official
efforts the President and his sympathizers then steadily pushed. Things
grew blacker. The day when we would go in seemed always nearer to me. In
February of 1916 my depression was deepened by hearing Mr. Wilson
himself admit it. My friends Secretary and Mrs. Daniels had been so
gracious as to include me among their guests at the Cabinet dinner they
were giving in honor of the President and the new Mrs. Wilson.

We were all standing in the Daniels drawing room waiting their arrival.
I was talking so interestedly with somebody that I had forgotten what it
was all about, when I was conscious of a distinguished pair in the
doorway. It took me an instant to remember what we were there for, and
that this was the President and his lady. How they looked the part!

At the dinner table the President was gay, telling stories, quoting
limericks. Later, when it came my turn to talk to him and I told him how
charming I had found Mrs. Wilson’s animation and lively wit, he rather
eagerly fell to talking of her and, to my amazed delight, of the
difficulties of courting a lady when each time he calls the house is
surrounded by secret service men!

Dropping his gaiety, he told me a little of the situation at the moment.
“I never go to bed without realizing that I may be called up by news
that will mean that we are at war. Before tomorrow morning we may be at
war. It is harder because the reports that come to us must be kept
secret. Hasty action, indiscretion might plunge us into a dangerous
situation when a little care would entirely change the face of things.
My great duty is not to see red.”

I carried away from that dinner a feeling of the tremendous difficulty,
of the tremendous threat under which we lived, and of a man that had
steeled himself to see us through. It strengthened my confidence in him.

But of all this I could say nothing on my Chautauqua circuit, even when
I began to realize that, more than anything else, these people were
interested in the War.

One of the most convincing proofs I received of this came from things I
overheard at night. We ended our circuit with a siege of terrific
heat—the kind of heat that made sleep impossible. The best room you
could get was generally on the second-floor front. You pulled your bed
to the window, and lay with your head practically out; but if you could
not sleep you would certainly be entertained, for on the sidewalks below
there would gather, around nine-thirty or ten, a little group of
citizens who had come downtown after supper “to see a man.” Shopkeepers,
laborers, traveling men, lawyers, and occasional preachers and hotel
keepers would sit out talking war, preparedness, neutrality, Wilson,
Hughes, for half the night.

“Look at them,” said a talkative Congressional candidate. “Four years
ago I could have told how practically every one of the men in this town
would vote in November. I can’t do it today. Nobody can. They are freed
from partisanship, as I could never have believed. They are out there
now thrashing over Wilson and Hughes, and not 25 per cent of them know
which it will be when election day comes.”

More and more I came to feel that you could count on these people for
any effort or sacrifice that they believed necessary. One of the most
revealing things about a country is the way it takes the threat of war.
Just after we started, the call for troops for Mexico came. It seemed as
if war were inevitable. There was no undue excitement where we traveled,
but boys in khaki seemed to spring out of the ground.

I shall never forget one scene, which was being duplicated in many
places in that region. We were in an old mountain town in Pennsylvania.
Our hotel was on the public square, a small plot encircled by a row of
dignified, old-fashioned buildings. In the center stood a band-stand,
and beside it a foolish little stone soldier mounted on an overhigh
pedestal—a Civil War monument. We were told that on the square at
half-past nine in the evening a town meeting would be called to say
good-bye to the boys who were “off to Mexico on the ten-thirty.” “How
many of them?” I asked. “One hundred and thirty-five,” was the answer.
And this was a town of not over twenty-eight hundred people.

As the hour approached, the whole town gathered. It came quietly, as if
for some natural weekly meeting; but a little before ten o’clock we
heard the drum and fife, and down the street came a procession that set
my heart thumping. Close beside the City Fathers and speakers came a
dozen old soldiers, some of them in faded blue, two or three on
crutches, and behind them the boys, one hundred and thirty-five of
them—sober, consciously erect, their eyes straight ahead, their step so
full of youth.

The procession formed before the little stone soldier, who somehow
suddenly became anything but foolish; he took on dignity and power as
had the boys in rank—boys whom, if I had seen them the day before, I
might have called unthinking, shiftless, unreliable. The mayor, the
ministers, a former Congressman, all talked. There was a prayer, the
crowd in solemn tones sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” There was a curt
order; the procession re-formed; the old soldiers led the way, and the
town followed the boys to the “ten-thirty.”

Nothing could have equaled the impression made by the quietness and the
naturalness of the proceedings. Beside the continuous agitations and
hysteria to which the East had treated us in the last two and a half
years, this dignity, this immediate action, this willingness to see it
through, gave one a solemn sense of the power and trustworthiness of
this people. It was a realization that I should have been willing to pay
almost any price to come to. Certainly it more than paid me for my
forty-nine nights in forty-nine different beds.

Eight months later this impression of the steadiness of the people under
the threat of war was deepened. After my Chautauqua circuit, which I had
supposed to be a temporary adventure, the lecture bureau asked to book
me for a month of lyceum work, most of it in the Middle West. Late in
January of 1917 I started out.

I was on the road when the break with Germany came. Our evening papers
of February 3rd had the digest of the President’s speech to Congress.
The next Sunday morning there was the full text. I went out to walk
early that morning, and one of the first things I saw was a lively row
in front of a barber shop. Inquiring, I found that a big Swede had
expressed sympathy with the Kaiser, and was being thrown into the
street. At the hotel, my chambermaid, the elevator boy, the table
waiter, did not wait for me to introduce the subject. Everybody was
talking about what the break meant—war of course. They were ready, they

As the days went on, I found that was the opinion of everybody. One
morning I landed at a railway junction town, with no train until late
afternoon. It was a forlorn place at any time, but deadly now, with the
thermometer around twenty below. A friendly ticket agent warned me that
the only hotel was no place for ladies, and sent me off into the
territory beyond the railroad shops to a dingy-looking house which, he
said, was kept by a woman who was clean and decent. It was anything but
inviting on the outside, but travelers who are choosers are poor sports.
The woman gave me a room and, following the only wisdom for the lecturer
who would keep himself fit, I went to bed. It was four o’clock in the
afternoon when I came down. The woman of the house, whom I had found in
the morning rubbing out clothes, was in a fresh gingham dress, sitting
in the living room reading the Chicago _Tribune_. Beside her lay a copy
of the _Record Herald_. I found that this woman since the beginning of
the trouble in Europe had been reading full details in these admirably
edited newspapers. She had not been for a war, she said, until they went
back on their word.

“That settled it for everybody out here. Now,” she said, “there is
nothing else to do.”

I do not know how often I heard those words in the days that followed.
When the President said of America in closing his address to Congress on
April 2, 1917, “God helping her she can do no other,” he was only
expressing that to which the majority of the people of the West, as I
heard them, had made up their minds.

Closely watching, I personally felt utterly remote. There was nothing
for me to do. In the pandemonium of opinion nothing I could say or do
would hinder or help, and so I went on with my daily rounds.

I was speaking at a big dinner in Cleveland early in April when a
telegram was handed to me, signed by the President. It appointed me a
member of what he called the Woman’s Committee of the Council of
National Defense.

I did not know what the appointment meant, but when your Government is
trying to put through a war, whether you approve or not, I had long ago
concluded that as for me I would do whatever I was asked to do. And so I
sent at once an acceptance of what I took as an order. Two weeks later I
received my first instructions. They came from the head of the
committee, Dr. Anna H. Shaw.

                             WOMEN AND WAR

What is it all about? That is what we asked ourselves when on May 2nd,
answering the call of our chairman Dr. Anna Shaw, we met in Washington.
And where were we to sit? We were but one of many anxious, confused,
scrambling committees for which a place must be found. Our predicament
was settled by finding a room somewhere on Pennsylvania Avenue—a dreary
room with a rough table and not enough chairs to go around. My first
contribution to winning the War was looting chairs from adjacent
offices. My success gave me hope that after all I might be at least an
errand boy in the war machine.

It was not long, however, before the Woman’s Committee was a beneficiary
of the civilian outbreak of patriotic generosity which had swept
Washington. “You may have our house, our apartment,” people cried. A
fine and spacious old house close to Connecticut Avenue facing the
British Embassy was offered us, a much more comfortable and dignified
headquarters than I think we expected under the conditions. We remained
there throughout the War.

But what were we there for? The Administration had called us into being.
What did it expect of us? It was quickly obvious that what it wanted at
the moment was an official group to which it could refer the zealous and
importuning women who wanted to “help,” the various organizations
already mobilizing women for action. Considerable rivalry had developed
between them, and it was certain to become more and more embarrassing.
Our committee had been cleverly organized to spike this rivalry,
including as it did the presidents of the leading national groups of
women: the National Suffrage Society, the Women’s Federation of Clubs,
the National Women’s Council, the Colonial Dames, the National League
for Women’s Service. Everybody in the list represented something except
myself. I was a lone journalist with no active connection with any
organization or publication. I was conscious that that was against me in
the committee though apparently it had not been in the minds of
President Wilson and Secretary Baker.

We were not an independent body, but one of the many subsidiaries of the
Council of National Defense, the managing head of which was the present
president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, Walter
Gifford—a man of intelligence, sense, amazing self-control and patience.
This I had reason to know, as I frequently represented the committee
before him.

The fact that we had to go to men for orders irritated Dr. Shaw from the
start. She felt we ought to be able to decide for ourselves what women
should do, or at least she, the head of the committee, should sit on the
Council of National Defense. I think Dr. Anna never quite forgave the
Administration for subjecting us to the directions of man, whose
exclusive authority in world affairs she had so long disputed.

Our mandate had been to consider women’s defense work for the nation.
But what were we to do with the results of our consideration, our
recommendations? Our conclusion was that we must find a way to get them
to the women of the country. To do that, we must coordinate the various
agencies represented in our body, enlist others, create a channel for
the Government’s requests and orders. It meant organization. Here we
were strong, for Dr. Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt were the most
experienced and successful organizers of women in the country. Moreover,
they could command not only the organizations which they had created
but, through their partners on the committee, other great national
groups. To me the way that organization came into existence so quickly
and so quietly was magic, unaccustomed as I was to organization in any
form. It was not long before every state, every county, practically
every community, had a branch of the Woman’s Committee of the Council of
National Defense. Before the year was up there were states which in
twenty-four hours after receiving our requests could pass them down to
their remotest corner.

From the start the committee worked—Dr. Anna saw to that. She and Mrs.
Catt settled down in Washington. For myself I canceled two book
contracts, determined to do what I could, indefinite as the task seemed.
We met regularly; we kept office hours; we were keen to make something
of our job.

The committee took it for granted that we were to handle the food
problem already looming so large. By midsummer we had our organizations
everywhere, planting and hoeing. On top of this came dehydration, and we
had many hot discussions about the best method. I remember a morning
when the committee gave itself over to reminiscences of helping
grandmother string apples for drying, of the way mother dried corn and

Then came canning—the larder was to be full. We were pretty well under
way and rather proud of ourselves, thinking this was a special job, when
Herbert Hoover came back from feeding Europe and was put at the head of
the American Food Administration in a building of his own, practically a
dictator of the food of America. Obviously Mr. Hoover was the one man in
the world who could properly manage the huge and many-sided job; but it
caused considerable heartburning in the Woman’s Committee that gardening
and canning and drying should not be left entirely to us. Were we not
already in the field? Had we not an organization which was rapidly
extending to the last woman in the country? Were they not digging and
planting and canning and saving? But in spite of Dr. Anna’s bristling
opposition we were soon put in our place, made an auxiliary. It fell to
me to act as liaison officer, which amounted to nothing more than
finding out at food headquarters what they wanted from women and passing
it on.

What we soon had contrived to become, thanks largely to Dr. Anna and
Mrs. Catt, was a free channel through which we could pour speedily and
uninterruptedly any request which came to us from any department of the
war machine. We developed a disciplined army with other things to do
than knitting and bandage making, gardening and canning, essential and
important as these were.

Our most useful service, as I see it, was a growing activity in
preventing the machinery of daily life from rusting in the storm of war.
Take the women going in droves into industry. For the most part they
were as untrained as the boys drafted into the Army, as willing as these
to take it, throw themselves away.

Jane Addams had said to me at the beginning of the War: “Everything that
we have gained in the way of social legislation will be destroyed. It
will throw us back where we were twenty-five years ago.”

That did not seem to me to be necessary nor indeed to be the way things
were already going. Take this woman in industry for whom Miss Addams was
especially alarmed. Recruiting for munition factories had been pushed
before we went into the War by the National League for Woman’s Service,
of which Maude Wetmore, a member of the Woman’s Committee, was chairman.
As early as March, 1917, the league was at work in the Department of
Labor. Soon after war was declared the President and the Secretaries of
War and Labor called for general support of labor laws for women as well
as for men. Mrs. J. Borden Harriman was soon made chairman of a
committee on women in industry of the Council of National Defense. About
the same time our committee created a department to handle the problem
and was given a tenth member from the ranks of organized women—Miss
Agnes Nestor of Chicago, a leader in the glove workers’ union. We were a
little concerned about the new appointee, but Miss Nestor from the start
was one of the most useful members of the committee—wise and patient in
understanding all problems though naturally concentrated chiefly on her
own, which were grave enough, because of the rapid multiplication of
agencies with their unavoidable rivalries and jealousies.

The determination not only to protect woman in her new capacity but
educate her, thrust her ahead, was strong. Representatives of organized
women met in Kansas City in June demanding new standards for war
contracts. The upshot was that Florence Kelley was made a member of the
Board of Control of Labor standards for Army Clothing. Things went
rapidly after that. A woman’s division was created in January in the
United States Employment Service with Mrs. H. M. Richard at its head.
About the same time Mary Van Kleeck was made head of a woman’s branch in
the Ordnance Service and our Agnes Nestor, who had by this time become
generally recognized for her intelligence and steadiness, was appointed
on the newly formed advisory council to the Secretary of Labor in war
labor legislation.

Agnes Nestor and Mary Anderson, the present head of the Women’s Bureau
of the Department of Labor, demonstrated as I had never seen it the
education to be had in a labor organization which seeks by arbitration
and more arbitration and still more arbitration to improve its situation
without weakening the industry by which it lives, one that appeals to
force only as a last resort, never as a mere threat.

What all this amounts to is that through the activities of women in and
out of industry there was a steady clarification and strengthening of
our position.

The chief service of the Woman’s Committee in the matter was seeing that
full information of what was going on was sent broadcast. Miss Nestor’s
reports reached women in quarters where labor standards had probably
never been heard of. In our bulletins we kept up a constant stream of
news items of what women were doing in industry not only in this country
but in others. To make our vast horde conscious of the needs of sisters
at the machine, eager to support what the Government had decided was
right and just for her protection, was our aim. We did our part in
proving that even in war determined women can not only prevent backward
movements but even move forward.

Similar to what we did for the woman in industry was the help we were
able to give to the Children’s Bureau. Julia Lathrop, its head, told us
how its work was falling behind: playgrounds in many places given up,
maternity work shut down. Could we help to stem this backward flow? We
turned our machinery at once to the support of the bureau. Women in
districts where its work had never been known were aroused to establish
nursing centers, look after maternity cases, interest themselves afresh
in what was happening to children. It was a work of education as well as
of renewal.

Julia Lathrop told me one day just before the committee went out of
existence that the work of her bureau had been extended more in the few
months that we had been promoting it than it could have been with their
machinery in as many years.

As the effectiveness of our national channel began to be understood,
naturally enough all sorts of requests came to help out in putting over
this or that scheme, to grant favors for this or that friend. While the
majority of such efforts were entirely legitimate, there were some of
dubious character.

I recall an amusing illustration of the latter. Just after war began to
take its toll the Gold Star Mothers were organized, and our committee
was asked to prepare an official arm band with a gold star or stars. The
idea had not been noised about before a gentleman high in the counsels
of the nation came to us with the request that we make the badge not of
black as decided but purple—purple velvet. His reason was that a friend
of his, a manufacturer of velvet, had on hand some thousands of yards of
purple velvet which he would like to dispose of. We did not see our way
to change our choice of color and material.

A request which led to a peck of trouble for me came from the two
persons in the country I least expected to look to us for help—Loie
Fuller and Sam Hill, friends of Queen Marie of Rumania. If I remember
correctly they wanted us to bring her over in the interest of the Allied
cause. We compromised by promising to send her a message of sympathy. I
was commissioned to see that it was properly illuminated, and through my
affiliation with the Pen and Brush Club of New York, a group of women
writers and artists, a really beautiful parchment roll was turned out.
We were so pleased with it that we had one made for Queen Elisabeth of

But how were we going to get them to the Queens? Mr. Gifford of the
Council was unsympathetic. No one would have dared suggest to Mr.
Lansing that the State Department interest itself. The War Department
could not be expected to carry them. Those messages lay about the
Woman’s Committee for weeks a burden and finally a joke, a burden and a
joke which was thrown on my shoulders when in January of 1919 I went to
Paris for observation for the _Red Cross Magazine_. Surely in Paris
there would be some way of delivering them. It was Robert Bliss of our
Embassy who came to my help in the case of Queen Marie, and much to my
relief passed the roll on—to a representative of the Rumanian
Government, I understood, although I never had any diplomatic assurance
that it really landed on the desk of the Queen.

As to the message to Queen Elisabeth, Mrs. Vernon Kellogg, who was
_persona grata_ with the Queen, was in Paris and, knowing that she was
going back to Brussels, I hastened to her with my roll, told her my
predicament, begged her to take it off my hands, which she kindly did.
And that was the last I heard of the messages to the Queens.

By the end of our first year I was persuaded that the making of a
permanent Federal agency lay in the Woman’s Committee. I took my notion
to the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin Lane, who had proved a
helpful friend of the committee in moments of strain.

“Why,” I asked, “could not the present Woman’s Committee be continued
after the War in the Department of the Interior? Why could it not be put
under a woman assistant secretary and used as a channel to carry to
women in the last outposts of the country knowledge of what the various
departments of the Government are doing for the improvement of the life
of the people? You know how limited is the reach of many of the findings
of the bureaus of research, of their planning for health and education
and training? Why not do for peace what we are doing for war?”

Secretary Lane was interested, but in the committee itself there was
little response. Dr. Anna pooh-poohed it. It was too limited a
recognition. What she wanted was a representative in the Cabinet, and
she was unwilling to take anything else.

It is possible that Dr. Anna did not want to encourage ideas concerning
women from a woman as lukewarm as I had always been in the matter of
suffrage. She wanted a committee as actively interested in pushing ahead
the cause of votes for women as it was in defense work, in protecting
women and children. From her point of view the cause was as vital as
protecting women in industries, indeed essential to that problem.

There was only one other woman on the committee as lukewarm as I in the
matter of suffrage, and that was one of our most valuable and
distinguished members—Mrs. Joseph Lamar of Atlanta, the widow of Justice
Lamar of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mrs. Lamar and I saw
eye to eye as a rule in the work of the committee, and we both felt it
should keep out of suffrage work. Not so easy for old-time national
leaders like Dr. Anna and Mrs. Catt, with militant suffragists picketing
the White House, begging for arrest; but they showed admirable
restraint. Indeed, I believe that restraint to have been in the long run
the soundest politics. It certainly helped in bringing both Houses of
the Congress to accept the Nineteenth Amendment in the early summer of
1919, giving nation-wide suffrage to women.

Dr. Anna’s attitude towards me was quite understandable. She was
familiar with and resented, as she told me quite frankly, certain
activities of mine which had conflicted with both her convictions and
her arguments—activities which had been a surprise and a regret to many
of those whose opinions I valued highly.

I had always resented the pains that militant suffragists took to
belittle the work that woman had done in the past in the world,
picturing her as a meek and prostrate “doormat.” They refused, I felt,
to pay proper credit to the fine social and economic work that women had
done in the building of America. And in 1909, after we took over the
_American Magazine_, I burst out with a series of studies of leading
American women from the Revolution to the Civil War, including such
stalwarts as Mercy Warren, Abigail Adams, Esther Reed, Mary Lyon,
Catharine Beecher, the fighting antislavery leaders—not omitting two for
whom I had warm admiration, if I was not in entire agreement with them,
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

I thought I made a pretty good showing, but I found it was not welcome.
And on top of that I settled my position in the minds of Dr. Anna and
many of her friends by a series of little essays which I finally brought
together under the title of “The Business of Being a Woman.” That title
was like a red rag to many of my militant friends. The idea that woman
had a business assigned by nature and society which was of more
importance than public life disturbed them; even if it was so, they did
not want it emphasized.

Feeling as I did, I could not fight for suffrage, although I did not
fight against it. Moreover, I believed that it would come because in the
minds of most people democracy is a piece of machinery, its motive power
the ballot. The majority of the advocates for women’s suffrage saw
regeneration, a new world through laws and systems; but I saw democracy
as a spiritual faith. I did not deny that it must be interpreted in laws
and systems, but their work deepens, broadens, only as the spirit grows.
What I feared in women was that they would substitute the letter for the
spirit, weaken the strategic place Nature and society had given them for
keeping the spirit alive in the democracy, elevating it to the head of
the procession of life, training youth for its place. But what chance
had such ideas beside the practical program of the suffragist?

My arguments again had no emotional stuff in them. They carried no
promise of speedily remaking the hard life most women were living, had
always lived. The suffragists pictured a society renewed, regenerated,
stripped of corruption and injustice, all done by a single stroke—giving
votes to women. They would never betray the trust—the old fiction to
which they held so tenaciously that women are by nature “better” than
men and need only the chance in politics to clear society of its
corruption. I could not agree.

It is not to be wondered that Dr. Anna suspected me, had a certain
resentment at my being a member of her committee. In spite of all this,
as the months went on she and I became better and better friends. She
was so able, so zealous, so utterly given to her cause that I had always
had genuine admiration for her. Now I found her a most warm-hearted and
human person, as well as delightfully salty in her bristling against men
and their ways.

An event in the history of our committee was a grand evening gathering
in one of Washington’s theaters. We all sat in state on the platform,
and in the boxes were several members of the Cabinet with President
Wilson himself, for a part of the evening at least. Dr. Anna made a
capital speech, little antimasculine chips flying off her shoulder every
now and then, to the particular delight of the President.

“Dr. Anna,” I told her the next day, “you are one of the most
provocative women I have ever known, an out-and-out flirt.” But we were
good enough friends by this time for her to laugh. I am not sure but she
was a bit flattered.

When the work of the committee was over and she was sending out her
final report, thanking each of us officially for our part in what I
always think of as her achievement, she included in mine a hand-written
personal letter which I shall always treasure as a proof of the bigness
and the beauty of the nature of this splendid woman.

Evidently she remembered how she had sputtered at me sometimes. “You
talk too much, Miss Tarbell.” True—I always do if I have a listening
audience. “I hate a lukewarm person,” she declared when I persisted in
balancing arguments. She did; she had never known for a moment in her
life the frustration, the perplexities of lukewarmness.

But now she wrote thanking me for what she called “my consideration and
kindness” toward what she called her “blunders and mistakes.” Just what
she meant, I do not know. It was enough for me that she should end with
“sincere and affectionate regard”—enough because I knew she understood
what I had never put into words, that for her I had never had anything
but a sincere regard—a regard which our associations had turned to real

The only professional work I did in this period was a few weeks of
lecturing, a contract which I had made before we went into the War.

I have spoken of the quietness and steadiness with which people through
the country seemed to me to be taking the call for troops in 1916 when I
was on the Chautauqua circuit—of the conviction I had as I saw them in
the Middle West on the declaration of war in April of 1917, that they
had already made up their minds, were ready to go.

But I confess I was unprepared for what I everywhere met early in 1918,
traveling chiefly in the South, the Middle West, and the Southwest. The
country was no longer quiet, no longer reflective. On every street
corner, around every table, it was fighting the War, watchfully,
suspiciously, determinedly. All the paraphernalia of life had taken on
war coloring; the platforms from which I spoke were so swathed in flags
that I often had to watch my step entering and leaving. I found I was
expected to wear a flag—not a corsage. At every lunch or dinner where I
was a guest all declarations were red, white, and blue.

When you are on a lecture trip one of your few resources is the
newsstand. I had the habit of searching the postal-card racks for local
points of interest—local celebrations. But now all these had
disappeared. The racks were filled with pictures of soldiers in all of
their scores of operations, humble and otherwise—not only on parade, but
on “spud duty.” There were thrilling pictures of cavalry charges, of
marches across country, of aeroplanes directing field maneuvers,
touching scenes in hospitals, cheering ones of games, endless
sentimental ones to be sent to the boys.

A change had come over the literature of the newsstands. Serious
magazines I had never before seen in certain southwestern towns were
there now. “Anything that pertains to patriotism is a good seller,” a
railroad station news agent told me. “Why, look at the books we carry!”
And there they were, Hankey, Empey, Boyd Cable, disputing attention with
“Slashaway, the Fearless,” “Gunpowder Jim,” “The Mystery of Demon

The libraries of scores of towns made a specialty of war books. At
Council Bluffs—an old, large, rich, and cultivated town of course—I
found on an open shelf beside the librarian’s desk Hazen’s “Modern
European History,” John Masefield’s “Gallipoli,” “The Old Front Line,”
André Chéradame’s essays, Hueffer’s “Between St. Denis and St. George,”
and a score of others. They all showed signs of much reading.

As for the newspapers, they were given over to the war. It was my duty
to make sure that they were giving the releases of our committee fair
attention. They were—the local women were attending to that. Editors
might and did grumble because Washington was swamping them with
information and suggestions which often they felt were “old stuff,”
repetition; but they sweated to do their part.

The editorial attitude was not characterized by excessive respect for
great names, particularly if the great name was that of an enemy. I was
in Texas when the Zimmermann note was given out by the President.
Nothing could have been more amusing than the contemptuous attitude of
the average Texan citizen whom I met. Some of the country newspapers did
not even take the trouble to print the gentleman’s name, but called him
“Zim.” You received the impression that a German-Japanese attack on our
Southwest border would be a very simple matter for Texans to clean up.
All they asked, I was told, was for Uncle Sam to keep his hands off.
They would take care of it. There was little anger but much contempt.

Everywhere the boys were the absorbing interest. In the Southwest and
along the Atlantic coast I practically lived with them. They crowded
every railroad station, hustled into every train. There was rarely a
night that I was not wakened by their demanding beds in already
overflowing sleepers. Troop trains passed you en route, all sorts of
slogans scribbled in chalk on the cars. From wherever they came they
were sure to announce that they were bound for Berlin.

It is of course beside the truth to say that all young soldiers were big
and cheerful and spirited and brave; but the total impression was
certainly one of bigness, of freedom, and of exultation in the
enterprise. One came to have a fierce pride in them, an impatience of
any criticism of what they did, a longing to fight for them, since one
could not fight beside them.

Crossing the Apache Trail in March of 1918, we picked up three silent,
rough youths who had come from somewhere out of the desert, and were
making for camp to enlist. They were fascinating traveling companions,
shy, watchful, suspicious, discovering for the first time the ordinary
arrangements of railroad life. I remember a wonderful young savage with
whom I traveled for a day. We were depending on eating houses for food
and woke up to find our train six hours late. This meant no breakfast
until possibly eleven o’clock. Of course the boy was famished. He ate
ravenously and then bought right and left sandwiches, pie, hard-boiled
eggs, an armful of packages. You could almost hear him saying to
himself, “They are not going to catch me again.” They had put one over
on him, but next time he would be ready for them.

The interest of the boys in what was before them was unflagging. They
were not afraid to talk about the worst. When the _Tuscania_ went down,
those bound for sailing points were not fazed in the least by the danger
of the passage; but more than once I felt that the tragedy had whetted
their desire to get at the enemy.

The interest of older men in the young soldier was inexhaustible. They
were like the little boys in that. Little boys could not resist a
soldier. It was startling to see a baby of three years slip away from
his mother, walk down the aisle to where a soldier boy was sitting,
watch him silently with wide-open eyes, get a little bolder, stretch out
his hand and stroke his clothes, get a little bolder still and ask him
if he might put on his cap.

Soldier or not soldier, however, the men talked war, talked it all the
time when they were not reading their newspapers. How the news filtered
to them in certain remote spots, it was hard to understand. In crossing
the Apache Trail I was startled to see a man rise from the desert, as it
seemed, and ask if we had any more news about “them big guns,” if
anybody had found out “how they do it.” We gave him all the papers we
had, and the passengers freely aired their theories of the mystery.

With the inexhaustible interest went a fierce determination to see that
every suggestion of the Government was carried out. When the Third
Liberty Loan opened I was traveling in a section where there were many
German settlers.

“What is their attitude?” I asked a woman active in the work of our

“We have but one family in this town,” she said. “After being waited on
by five of our leading citizens they took $10,000 of Liberty Bonds.”

I do not know whether these citizens carried ropes in their hands when
they made the call, but I did see in one town a detachment of citizens
parading with ropes on the pummels of their saddles and banners marked

It had been agreed by all concerned that I talk on what was doing in
Washington as I had been seeing it. Now and then I was “lent” by my
sponsor to aid in a drive of one kind or another. Once I spoke from the
platform of “Oklahoma Billy Sunday,” a picturesque and highly successful
revivalist who patterned his campaigns after those of his great
namesake. A liberty loan drive was on, and no gathering, not even a
revival, certainly not a lecture, was allowed in the town which did not
share its time with the grim banker heading the local committee. He
opened the meeting and left me shivering with what might happen to those
who differed with him about the size of their purchase. Then came
boisterous singing and praying, broken to let me tell my story. How dull
and uninspired it sounded, sandwiched between this goading and

I realized more and more as I went on that I did not really know much
more of my subject than they did in Bisbee, Arizona, or Little Rock,
Arkansas, so persistently did they tap every source of information; but
I certainly knew fewer things that were not so. It was inevitable that,
stirred to their depths by the continuous flow of all this young life
towards the battle fields of Europe, they should “see red,” hate,
suspect. I could neither give them the inside information they craved
nor stir them to the hate of which they had absolute need, I sometimes
felt, to keep up their courage.

“Are you a pacifist?” a stern citizen on a Missouri railway platform
asked me one morning as I was leaving a town where I had spoken the
night before, and where I had deplored the will to hate I was sensing.

“Well,” I parried, “I am for winning this war.”

“Did you sign this?” He pulled out a prewar list of names, a peace
society list where my name appeared. It was headed by Jane Addams—“that
woman,” he called her.

“I am proud to be classed with ‘that woman,’” I said indignantly. “She
is one of the world’s greatest, and if the world could or would have
heeded her counsels you boys would not be dying in France.”

There was no time for argument or arrest, for my train came. I took it,
followed by the black looks of more than one listener.

But it was the boys that were doing this. They had given of their blood,
and their hearts went with the gift. They were all like an old fellow
that I heard cry out one day, “I can’t bear to think of one of Ours
gettin’ hurt.”

It would be idle of course to pretend that in the territory over which I
traveled between the break with Germany and the Armistice—in twenty-five
different states, something like twenty-five thousand miles—there were
no indications of revolt; but, as I saw them, they were infrequent and
never in public. Now and then I came upon a man or woman who dared to
say to me when he had me in a corner: “I am a pacifist. We must find
another way.” With which I so heartily agreed. But that man or woman
would not have said that on the street corner without danger to his

People generally did not have much interest in what was to happen after
the War was ended. They took it for granted that Germany would be driven
back. That was what they were working for. But how the adjustments were
to be made—that did not deeply concern them. What they wanted was to
have it over and get the boys back. That done, they were willing to
forget, pay the bill—but there must be no more of this senseless
business in the world. Even the most violent occasionally confided that
to you.

All these observations—of which I talked, I am afraid too much, to the
members of the committee when I came back—strengthened my conviction
that, whatever it cost, there was no doubt that the country would insist
on seeing it through. That conviction was never stronger than when the
Armistice was suddenly signed.

                          AFTER THE ARMISTICE

The War was over and the United States was setting the brakes on its war
machinery, setting them so hurriedly in some cases that they created
situations almost as destructive as war. There was nothing left now for
the Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense but to clean up
and move out. Dr. Anna stayed by while an admirable executive secretary
and a small clerical force put things into order, reported what had been
done, thanked everybody for his or her cooperation.

By the end of the year my desk had been cleared and I was preparing for
a new job, to go to France for the _Red Cross Magazine_. My old editor,
John S. Phillips, had been in charge there for some months, making a
really significant and stimulating journal. He wanted a fresh eye on the
rehabilitation work the organization was carrying on in France. He
thought I might furnish it. I agreed to try.

Crossing the ocean in January, 1919, gave one some notions of what war
had done to the accustomed orderly procedure of life. I was to sail to
Bordeaux at a fixed hour; but no ship as yet went on time, though
passengers were expected to arrive on time and to sit for hours as we
were locked in the waiting room at the dock. At least it gave you an
opportunity to eye as a whole those who were to be your fellow
passengers. Everybody on my ship was evidently connected with some
problem of restoration, the most interesting being the French bent on
rehabilitating families they feared were stripped of everything. They
were even taking food. As we waited a woman who guarded two enormous
hams explained to me that her mother had begged her to bring a _jambon_.
She had not had a _jambon_ for so long. It was a new idea to me. I knew
that sweets would be welcome to my friends, and I had armed myself with
chocolates and bonbons; but a _jambon!_ Why should I not take one to my
dear Madame Marillier? Securing a permit to leave the dock, I hunted up
a neighboring market and after much negotiation persuaded a wholesale
dealer to sell me a ham, almost as big as I was. It was a problem to get
it into the ship, but it was more of a problem to get it off, get it to
Paris. I had queer ideas of what I might need in the way of luggage, and
in my equipment was a pair of enormous saddlebags into which I had
thrown high boots, heavy blankets, sweaters, woolen tights and hose—just
in case. Crowding them all into one bag, into the other I put my
_jambon_. In the long and tedious railroad journey from Bordeaux to
Paris, I was packed in with a group of fine serious young Quakers going
over to help a reconstruction project, and that terrible piece of
luggage jumped from the rack and almost brained one of my companions. I
cannot recall all the adventures of that ham, but I know that I was
never more relieved than when I laid it at the feet of my old friend.

“What in the world?” she exclaimed (or its equivalent). And Seignobos
said, “Oh, these Americans.”

I was not long in Paris before I felt keenly that many of the French
were saying, “Oh, these Americans!” We seemed to swarm over everything,
to absorb things. At least this was true in the quarters where, at the
urgency of my friends Auguste Jaccaci and William Allen White, I had
gone to live—the Hôtel de Vouillemont just off the Place de la Concorde.

Walking down the Rue de Rivoli to the Red Cross Headquarters was like
walking the streets of Washington in the vicinity of the governmental
departments active in the prosecution of the War. All the familiar faces
seemed to have been transported to Paris, as indeed great numbers of
them had. Mingling with them were officers and men on leave, many
seeking desperately to drown ghastly memories in any form of pleasure
that would bring forgetfulness, more of them intent on sightseeing,
buying gifts to take home. I found the pleasantest duty my Red Cross
uniform brought me in Paris was when stalwart doughboys accosted me.
“Say, sister, won’t you help me find something to take home to my
mother—my girl?” Before we were through with the shopping I had the
family history but never a word about the war—that was done with. They
wanted to forget it and go home. They resented the delay.

“We have paid our debt to Lafayette. Now who in hell do we owe?” This
was the legend I saw once on a camion crossing the Place de la Concorde.
I was told it was torn down by a scandalized officer and forbidden to be
used in the future. But it expressed the doughboy’s opinion, as I got
it, better than anything else I saw or heard.

Not only the scenes in my quarter but the conditions of living shattered
all my preconceived notions of hardship. I had been prepared for
hardtack, but once at Vouillemont I found that if I took the trouble to
market and bring in my purchases I could supplement the unbalanced meals
with almost anything I wanted. The prices were high to be sure—sixteen
cents each for eggs—two to four dollars a pound for butter—a dollar and
a half for a little jar of honey. Many extras could be bought more
cheaply at the American Commissariat. William Allen White was buying at
the Commissariat the prunes on which he seemed principally to live, but
marketing gave me the opportunity I wanted for finding out what the
alert Parisian shopkeepers were thinking and saying. I sounded out that
opinion daily until it was cut off by the conviction running through the
town that America no longer sympathized fully with the French, that she
was not going to force Germany to pay the sixty-five billion dollars the
people felt they should have.


  _Photograph by Christian Duvivier_

  _Red Cross Headquarters, Paris, France, 1919_

The Americans living around the Place de la Concorde assured me that
Paris was not changed; not for them perhaps, but when I went among my
old French friends, most of whom had stuck it through the War, changes
stared me in the face. I had hurried to my old quarter on the Left Bank.
Great gaps in the circle around the Panthéon and in the Boulevard
Saint-Michel skirting the Luxembourg told the story of what the quarter
had endured. The _laiterie_ where once I had bought eggs and milk and
cheese was gone, the space carefully boarded. I hunted among the
neighbors for the cheerful Madame whom I had so enjoyed. She had died
with the building, they told me.

There were little neglects in the once carefully kept apartments of my
friends that affected me all out of proportion to their importance. The
door into Madame Marillier’s _chambre à coucher_ would not close.

“Nothing has been mended in Paris, you know, now for three years,” my
friend explained.

It was literally true: nothing painted, nothing mended, little replaced.
Craftsmen and tradesmen were in the trenches or in their graves. So many
of those whom once you had known, the people who had served you or had
been your comrades, were in their graves. Madame Marillier, pointing to
a long roster of names on her desk in the salon, said: “Look, these are
our dead. Read them. You will remember some of the names.” And I did,
men whom I had known twenty-five years before, and whose brilliant talk
I had listened to at her Wednesday night dinners.

They could not bring back their dead; but after all the horror life was
to go on, and they were bravely doing their best to give it something of
its character before the War.

One thing they were counting on was the return to their homes and to the
museums of their treasured _belles choses_. When I went out to dinner
with French acquaintances who had possessed beautiful things, often
pictures catalogued as national treasures, empty frames stared from the
walls. The canvases had been cut out and sent to a safe place, generally
somewhere in the South; but they would soon have them back, and that
would help.

Not only in Paris but wherever invasion was threatened there had been an
immediate effort to hustle the best loved treasures out of reach. At
Amiens, they told me, they had “sent away” the famous _L’Ange pleurant_.
It was back when I was there in March, and people were coming from all
the towns near by to see it, to gloat and weep over it.

I was concerned with the fate of the “pretty girl of Lille” that
exquisite wax bust attributed by some to Leonardo da Vinci; and when I
made Lille my headquarters for a few days I at once made inquiries. The
gallery was closed, but there had just been received many boxes of
pictures which the Germans were carrying off when stopped on their
retreat. The authorities were not adverse to having an accredited
journalist see with his own eyes what had happened, and I was permitted
to visit the gallery. The boxes were there standing against the wall,
still unopened, and on each was clearly printed the name of the picture
and of the German museum to which it had been assigned—beautiful
evidence of the amazing efficiency with which the Germans had conducted
their looting.

“Why, there,” I said as I went about, “there is the ‘pretty girl of

The curator winked at me. “Do you think so?” he said. “That is what the
German Emperor thought when he went through the museum. It is a replica.
The pretty girl is in a safe place and she will stay there until I am
sure they won’t come back.” (“They” was the term I heard almost
universally applied to the Germans in the devastated regions.)

Everywhere was the same joy over the safety and the return of their
_belles choses_. I think I have never been in a group where gratitude
mingled with sorrow was stronger than when my friend Auguste Jaccaci,
who had been in Paris throughout the War at the head of the beautiful
work for Belgian and French children lost or orphaned by the War, asked
me to go with him to the opening of a room in the Louvre, closed of
course through the dark period. It was one of the smaller galleries, but
in it had been gathered new possessions, things bought in the War,
others left by wills, a collection of choicest pieces. They were
welcomed by the leading connoisseurs of the city: the directors of the
Louvre and the Luxembourg, a few artists, a few great ladies. Everybody
was in black and went about with unsmiling but touching appreciation,
hardly believing, it seemed to me, that again he or she was free to
rejoice in beauty. It was like coming home after the long funeral of a
beloved member of a family.

But I was more concerned with the everyday conditions under which humble
people were living, particularly in the territory so lately occupied.
That was where the Red Cross could now be of the most practical help, it
seemed to me. It took but little looking about to see that nothing we
could provide would come amiss, either to those who had been caught and
so remained through the War or to those who were now coming back,
generally under the protest of the authorities.

I had not imagined that a bombardment could so strip a community, a
countryside, of all the little conveniences of life. At Lens—once a
great manufacturing and mining town, now a vast mass of red brick dust,
hardly a wall left—I went about looking for signs of life, for I had
been told that a few people had weathered the horror and were to be
found living underground. Coming on what seemed to be a path running
over a pile of debris, I followed it into an opening; and there, in what
was left of a basement, sat a woman sewing. There was a fire on the
hearth. She got up to greet me—a child ran out, a little girl with
tousled head, dirty and ragged. “You must pardon the way we look. We
have been here for many months. We haven’t a comb. No pins, nothing. But
we are happy they have gone.”

Every now and then I came upon little groups who had found shelter in
enemy trenches throughout the War. In a small town southeast of Laon, in
the region occupied at the beginning of the War and held until the final
retreat, I came upon a half-dozen children who had been brought up in
the trenches. A couple of French sisters had come back to the region and
were trying to civilize them. “You have no idea,” they told me, “how
difficult it is to teach them to use handkerchiefs.” This was an apology
for running noses. But, if ignorant of all civilized ways, these
youngsters were remarkably healthy. They had had the food of the
invaders, and they had lived in the earth very much like young animals.
While they knew nothing of books they knew everything about war: guns,
batteries, shells, uniforms. On the latter they had positive ideas. They
had never seen a Red Cross uniform before, and they criticized it
openly: “pas chic”—by which I suppose they meant “bungling.” And I must
confess mine was.

Continually as I went about I asked myself how it could be that every
pin, every needle, every spool of thread, every comb, had gone. Larger
articles you understood, but these little things! The silence of the
devastated regions was even more perplexing than this stripping. I drove
to the Belgian border several times, and it was a long time before I
could make out why it was so still. Finally it occurred to me that I saw
and heard nothing alive, no cat, no dog, no hen. All these creatures had
completely disappeared. And when they began to be brought back the
rejoicing was like that of the return of the beautiful things to the
cities. One would live again perhaps.

At Vic-sur-Aisne where the American Committee for Devastated France was
carrying on its fine practical work, among the many, many, things it was
doing was attempting to restock with poultry. The daughter of an eminent
New York family had an incubator in her bedroom where she told me she
soon hoped to have a flock of chicks. The day that I was there a hen
which had been imported laid an egg. It was an event in the countryside.
I saw peasant women wipe away tears that day as they looked at that hen
and her egg. They would live again.

I shared this feeling later when spring began to come, and in going over
torn battlefields I saw the primroses. One day I heard a skylark sing
and sing until it came out of the blue and dropped like a stone to the
ground. It was like a voice of promise from heaven.

What saved one’s reason within this immense devastation—so completely,
incredibly horrible—was the intelligent and energetic way in which
restoration was going on. Highways had been opened from Paris to Lille
and on to Brussels. They included such shattered towns as Albert, Arras,
Béthune, Lens, Armentières. I could go comfortably, and did, to Ypres,
Cambrai, Saint-Quentin, Laon, Rheims—to all important points in
northeastern France and along the border. It was when you disobeyed
orders and explored unopened territory that you got into trouble. I
tried Messines Ridge and landed in a shell hole. It took twenty small
Annamese, located by my doughboy chauffeur at work on a clean-up job a
mile or so away, to lift out our car and carry it a quarter of a mile to
something like safety. The angry berating of an English officer—the
English being responsible in that territory—still rings in my ears.

The most heartening sight was the steady, slow redemption of the
mutilated land. As a rule the job of clearing away the first layer of
war debris was given to German prisoners and soldiers from French
colonies. It was a horrifying mess of abandoned tanks, artillery, guns,
shells, hand grenades—not all duds, unhappily, as daily accidents
demonstrated. With the debris cleared away, the heavy task of leveling
the land followed. It was often deeply riddled, as over the Chemin des
Dames, where the underpinning of hard white limestone lay shattered on
the top—the soil far below. After the leveling came the tractors plowing
the land, and finally the seeding. Along the highways outside of most of
the big wrecked towns I saw between Paris and Lille were short stretches
in one or another stage of this orderly redemption.

French, English, and Americans were all connected with the restoration.
What really mattered, I felt, was the work of the French: first, it was
their business; then, they understood their people—what they could and
could not expect them to do. They were most successful in getting
individuals to do the things they had always done in the way they had
always done them. The American workers, marvelous as they were, wanted
to reform the French modes of life. They were keen on sanitation and
chintz curtains; the Frenchmen were keen on community tractors; the
Frenchwomen, on community sewing machines.

After I had seen one little group of Frenchwomen gathered by an
energetic duchess in a wing of her battered château making over old
clothes for ragged refugees, who had had literally nothing new for
years, I thought I knew what the Red Cross could best do for the
devastated regions.

The Red Cross had on hand at the end of the war millions of garments,
the output of thousands of little sewing and knitting circles scattered
from ocean to ocean and from Great Lakes to Gulf. Innumerable shirts,
drawers, pajamas, scarfs, sweaters, were piled in storehouses—the most
extensive that I saw being at Lille. My cry was: “Turn them over to the
French sewing circles so rapidly forming and if possible send a sewing
machine with them. You can be sure that the Kalamazoo pajamas, the
Topeka shirts, everybody’s sweaters, will be refitted for children and
men and women who at present have not a decent shirt to their backs, or
decent drawers to their legs.” A desultory distribution was already
making, but I wanted it general and systematic. It was consoling to have
found at least one thing, obvious as it was, which I felt I could
energetically back.

Practical help was the more worth while because so intelligently turned
to use. The few returning to the towns from which they had been driven
often showed amazing resourcefulness and courage. They wanted to rebuild
their homes, set up their shops; but when they came to the town where
they once had lived it frequently was impossible to find the spot which
they supposed they owned. At Cantigny, an utterly devastated flat ruin
the day I saw it, a Frenchman and his wife appeared and quietly went
about trying to locate the site of their home. They went away in
disagreement as to where their street had run.

At Péronne I talked with a carpenter who had set up his shop. He told me
he had had difficulty in finding his old location, but he thought he was
on the right spot—at least the authorities told him he might settle
there. By pulling scaffoldings from tumbledown houses and bringing in
corrugated iron from near-by trenches he had made himself a waterproof
shelter, arranged a workbench and already was earning a little money
helping the authorities here and there in the cleaning up. A piece of
constructive work he had taken on was salvaging doors. Here he had found
a solid doorframe, there a panel; and, putting these together, he was
producing a stock. He was certain it would not be long before he would
have customers for them.

All this put heart in me in the same way the first primrose, the first
skylark, had done. There was an indomitable something in men then, as
there was in nature, something that made them live and grow.

Paris and the Peace Conference taxed my faith more severely than the
devastated regions. My brother back in the United States wrote me that
the job the Conference seemed to have set itself was as big as creating
the world. Men were not big enough for that, and one was aghast that
they felt so equal to it—or, if not that, were willing to give the
impression of feeling equal.

What scared me was that so many battered people accepted this notion of
what the Conference could and would do. From all over the globe they
brought their wrongs and hopes and needs to be satisfied. Many of them
also brought along ideas for the making and running of the new
world—ideas in which they felt the quality of inspiration. The success
of the Conference would depend in the mind of each of these suppliants,
upon his getting what he was after.

But at the very outset they were balked by their failure to reach the
one man who they believed had not only the will but the power to satisfy
their grievances and hopes—the Messiah of the Conference, Woodrow

There was always somebody in the complex and all-embracing organization
of the Conference to hear, sift, report their case; but again and again
they could get no notion of what was happening to it. Insistence on an
answer, on knowing how things were going, often closed doors which at
first had welcomed them. I felt this deeply in the case of the
Armenians. My interest in them had been aroused by a delegation at the
Hôtel de Vouillemont. In the number was a woman with one of the most
beautiful and tragic faces that I had ever looked on. It was not long
before this woman was putting her case before me in excellent English,
for she had had all the advantages of a European education. She and her
companions had all suffered from the cruel and relentless atrocities
which had paralyzed their country. Now their hope was that the United
States would take the mandate for Armenia. Before I realized it I had
become a determined advocate of that solution of their problem. I feel
sure that, if we had gone into the League of Nations, I should have felt
called to work for a mandate for Armenia.

The saddest thing was to see the gradual fall of their hopes, to know
the day had come when, whatever had been the original reception, they
could no longer get the ear of principals or experts. Balfour was said
to have shouted at an aide as he threw the memoranda of the Armenians in
the corner: “Do not bring me another of these things at this Conference.
I know all I want to know about this cause, and I will not read any more

Something of this kind was happening in delegation after delegation, and
as hope went out of the suppliants resentment took its place. Soon many
of the disappointed were joining the no small number that from the start
had come to Paris, so far as I could see, to do their best to ruin the
Conference. From every country came political opponents of the chosen
delegates and of the settlements which they were seeking; from no
country were there more of these than from the United States, and
certainly from no country were there so many whose chief weapon was
malicious gossip.

There was nothing for these political malcontents to do but talk, and
that they did whenever they could find a listener—in cafés, on street
corners, at French dinner tables—dinner tables becoming more and more
unsympathetic as it began to be rumored that the full measure of
punishment they asked was not to be given Germany. These groups
naturally absorbed the bewildered people who were getting no answer to
their supplications, who were being put off from day to day. It was easy
to persuade them that the Peace Conference was a failure.

What startled me as the days went on was the passing of the will to
peace which had been strong, even taken for granted at the start. Hate
was replacing it. Again and again I recalled in those days a shrine I
had once seen in Brittany called “Our Lady of the Hates”—one of those
frank realistic shrines where symbolic figures portray the devils which
torment men and prevent peaceful living. That shrine haunted my dreams
when the confusion and bitterness seemed daily more confounded.

The social revolutionists at the Peace Conference never reached the
point of building barricades as I had seen them do in Paris twenty-five
years before; but they did make it rather lively on May 1st and
inconvenient for many people who wanted to do their part in keeping the
world moving in an orderly fashion—their humdrum part of delivering
milk, looking after the sick, keeping things clean. They threatened such
dire calamity if they were not allowed to meet and obstruct circulation
in certain central places that the Government, usually stupid in such
matters, shut down on their ambition so completely that of course they
collected in these forbidden places and did their best to cause

I remember one young thing who thought the time had come and meant to be
in the center of carnage. She went out early in the morning and posted
herself on the steps of the Madeleine and sat there all day in a state
of honest, genuine enthusiasm ready to sacrifice herself as well as
everybody in sight. But there was no real fray—only some discouraging
little street rows, with theatrical attempts to make capital out of
them, and a few pitiful dead, little useful people with dependents
taking a holiday and eager to see.

It was a great day for American doughboys. They had been ordered to stay
indoors, to give up their firearms, and to do nothing that in any way
would invite disaster. Their answer was like that of the would-be
revolutionist for they streamed by hundreds over the monuments and
cannon of the Place de la Concorde. There was not a monument or a point
of vantage around that Place that any human being could climb to that
was not occupied by these youths. If there was to be a revolution, they
were going to be there to see it break out.

That which contributed more than anything else, it seemed to me at the
time, to the suspicion and commotion around the Peace Conference was
that it fed the onlookers (the press included) so little actual
information to chew on. The delegates and committees sat behind closed
doors, only spoke when a conclusion was reached, a document adopted. The
public wanted to sit in a gallery and hear the discussions leading to
conclusions and documents, and—being shut out—speculated, gossiped,
believed the worst, spread false and damaging reports.

It took out its resentment by creating a four-headed monster—Wilson,
Clemenceau, Lloyd George, and Orlando—preparing to dragoon the world
into a fresh crop of unholy alliances and commitments and to refuse
justice to multitudes of small and weak peoples and causes. It was
prepared beforehand to doubt whatever the Conference did.

In the confusion and discouragement the one concrete thing I found was
the International Labor Conference. At the beginning of the century one
of the hopes of pacifists like Dr. Jordan, Jane Addams, and their
associates had been the International Association for Labor Legislation,
organized in 1900. It had been carried on without much help from labor
itself until the War came; then labor set up a loud demand for
international action. The undertaking added to that Americanization of
the Place de la Concorde and the Rue de Rivoli which had struck me on my
arrival. Many men and women I had known when I was working editorially
and otherwise on labor relations turned up. It was like home to see Mr.
Gompers barging up and down the Rue de Rivoli and to run onto Mary
Anderson and Rose Schneiderman in the garden of the Tuileries.

I was lucky enough to fall in at the start with Dr. James T. Shotwell,
the active head of the labor committee of the American delegation. Dr.
Shotwell’s intelligence and patience were of the utmost help, I have
always felt, in getting the final agreement adopted, early in April in a
full session. Certainly it was due to his generous explanations that I
was able to follow what was going on.

At the same time I had the satisfaction of finding old-time French
friends interested and active in the undertaking—most important of these
Albert Thomas, who from the start was one of the vital influences in the
Conference. Then my old friend Seignobos was actively interested.
Shotwell in his “At the Paris Peace Conference” describes him as “a
little old man, talking fast and furiously, very well satisfied with our
labor business, which he seems to hold in higher regard than we do.”
Seignobos did hold it in high regard, hoped much for its future. I
suspect he too was glad to find something in the complicated peace
negotiations he could put his hands on, see through.

One of the most unexpected of my experiences in these days was the
revival of past episodes in my life. The friends I had known so well in
Paris back in the nineties, such as had escaped death or disability,
were constantly turning up in important positions. Most influential
among them all was the Englishman Wickham Steed, now the editor of the
London _Times_, a person who ranked with ambassadors, but who was good
enough to take notice of his old Latin Quarter friends.

Another of my intimates of those days was Charles Borgeaud, who had come
up from Geneva with the Swiss plan for a confederation of nations, a
sound and excellent document, which I suppose was filed away with the
multitudes of plans which flooded the Conference in those days. I was so
excited by seeing about me so many of these old acquaintances and
friends that I attempted to get them together for lunch one
day—Seignobos, Madame Marillier, Steed, Louis Lapique, all that I could
put my hands on. The result gave me a melancholy sense of what
twenty-five years can do, particularly a twenty-five years ending in
such a catastrophe as they had all been going through, to take the edge
off once keen friendships.

A more satisfactory revival of past and gone associations came from
meeting numbers of former professional friends who were filling one or
another post. Here were William Allen White and Auguste Jaccaci; here
was Ray Stannard Baker, the head of the American press delegation, one
of the few Americans having an easy entree to the President himself,
conducting his difficult post with fine judgment and an absolute
fairness which silenced the tongues of some of the most bumptious and
political-minded correspondents.

“How can you bully so straight a chap as Ray Baker?” a correspondent
anxious for a special privilege said disconsolately in my hearing one

There were hours when it seemed like a gathering in the office of the
old _American Magazine_, so natural and intimate it was.

But these hours were not very many. My business was to furnish at least
an article a month for the _Red Cross Magazine_ and to follow the
progress of the efforts to bring about a peace settlement including a
league of nations. There were days when it seemed to me an inexplicable
confusion, a bedlam; but, as a matter of fact, as the days went on I
became satisfied by studying the communiqués, following the press
conferences, reading the reliable English and French papers and the
daily digests of what the papers of the United States were saying
(posted at our press quarters), that a practical plan for international
cooperation was taking form and that gradually more and more of the
delegates of the thirty-one nations represented were consenting to it.
To get something they would all sign seemed to me creative statesmanship
of the highest order. For each of these nations had problems of its own,
political, economic, social, religious, which must be considered before
its representative dared sign. Thirty-one varieties of folks back home
sat at that peace table, and they all had to be heard. In final analysis
it was the failure patiently to listen to the political objections
coming from the United States and trying openly to meet them which kept
us out of the largest and soundest joint attempt the world had ever
seen, to put an end to war. For that is what I believed the Covenant of
the League of Nations to be when I heard the final draft read and
adopted at the Plenary Session of the Conference on April 28.

But no one could have studied the truly august assembly adopting the
Covenant without realizing the threats to its future in its make-up.
They lay in the certainty of a few that the problem was solved—there
would be no more wars. President Wilson, the noblest and the most
distinguished figure of them all, seemed to believe it. But there were
men putting down their names who did not believe it, who sneered as they
signed; and still more dangerous were the stolid ones who accepted
without knowing what it meant. Clemenceau had told his people what the
Covenant meant—“sacrifices,” sacrifice for all; he was the only man at
the Peace Conference whom I heard use the word, and yet the key to the
peace of the world is sacrifice, sacrifice of the strong to meet the
needs and urges of the weak. If the League of Nations, led as it has
been by the great satisfied nations, had grappled with that truth at the
start, it is possible we should not now be seeing signatories take up
war to satisfy their needs and urges.

These doubts weighed heavily upon me as I left the Plenary Session. But
in the group of exultant Americans who that day saw the world made over
I had no desire to voice them. There was only one of my friends to whom
I could confide my fears—that was Auguste Jaccaci, a doubting Thomas
with profound faith in some things (I never quite made out what): beauty
and a directing God, I think. The night after the signing of the
Covenant, Jac and I sat long in troubled silence over our coffee and
_petit verre_, for neither of us could believe that the signing of a
paper by however many nations could in itself bring immediate peace to
the world.

Still I believed with all my heart in the attempt. My business now as a
journalist and a lecturer, I told myself, was to explain the intent of
the Covenant, what it set out to do, also to warn that it must be given
time to work out its salvation.

Before leaving America for the Peace Conference I had signed a contract
to go for ten weeks of the summer of 1919 on a Chautauqua circuit in the
Northwest. By this time I had an understanding with my sponsors that I
should be allowed to talk on what I had seen and heard at the Peace
Conference. I now hurried home to fill that contract. I had hardly
landed before I realized how bitter was the political attack on the
Covenant. Would audiences in the Northwest listen to its defense?

But I did not allow this worry to intrude itself into my lecturing. In
fact it was not in me to worry, once on the road, for I quickly
discovered I was making what would probably be the most interesting trip
of my life. And so it turned out. The country was incredibly exciting
and of endless variety. I joined a circuit already ten weeks old in
northern Utah. We skirted the Great Salt Lake and traveled from one
Mormon settlement to another. It amuses me now to remember how surprised
I was to discover that Mormons were like Gentiles, that I at once felt
towards them exactly as I did towards different religious sects at home.
True, the attempt of taxi drivers, hotel clerks, baggagemen, to convert
me when they caught me idle in their vicinity was a bit disconcerting at
first, but I soon began to expect it and to find interest in their

After Utah came the lava country of southern Idaho along the Snake
River. We climbed over the mountains into Oregon, went down the
Columbia, over to the sea, up the coast to Portland, Tacoma, Seattle. We
were in the Yakima apple country and in the berry fields of Puyallup,
and everywhere in cherry orchards, such cherries as I had never

For a week we junketed around Vancouver Sound in primitive little
steamers. We pitched our tents in lumber towns built on stilts, crossed
fire-devastated mountains into the Coeur d’Alene region of northern
Idaho, where one still heard reverberations of the labor struggles which
had so agitated us on _McClure’s_ and the _American_. Then Montana—miles
of plateaus and plains, the air thick with smoke, the earth sprinkled
with ashes, for the mountains were on fire.

This magnificent and varied country carried with it a varied and
compelling human story. Each new town turned up some bit of human
tragedy or comedy. These people were pioneers, or pioneers once removed.
They knew all the dangers, the hardships, the defeats, and conquests of
pioneering. Their talk was of what they or their fathers had lived and
seen. Whatever it had been, their hope was unquenchable. Every town we
entered was the finest in the Northwest, the finest even when you knew
that shifting trade and industry was cutting the very feet out from
under it.

This was the land of Borah, but never in all those ten weeks, talking on
the League of Nations, did I receive from press or individuals anything
but respectful hearing. I was the first person who had come into their
territory from the Peace Conference, and they wanted to hear all I had
to give. They would do their own appraising.

As the days went by, I sensed a growing bewilderment at the fight
against the League. These people had listened for years to people they
honored urging some form of international union against war. They had
heard Dr. Jordan and Jane Addams preaching a national council for the
prevention of war, President Taft advocating a league to enforce peace.
In many of the towns there had been chapters of these societies.

On our circuit there was a superintendent who reminded me every time we
met that back in the 1890’s he had spent practically all his patrimony
going about the Northwest preaching a league of nations. It irked him,
he said, that I should be receiving money for talking what he
twenty-five years before had talked without price, purely for love of
the cause. And no wonder!

With such a background, was it strange that many people in the Northwest
should have been puzzled that the Congress of the United States was
seemingly more and more determined that we should not join this first
attempt of the civilized world to find substitutes for war in
international quarrels?

Seeking reasons for this refusal, I felt the one which had most weight
with people was the guarantee that France was asking from England and
the United States to come to her aid in case of unprovoked attack by
Germany, that is, a guarantee which was to remain in force until the
League of Nations was a going concern.

I found that most people were against this. They wouldn’t run the risk
of having to help France again. I was for granting the guarantee
provisionally and for a limited period. I believed such a guarantee
would quiet what I felt to be one of the real dangers of the after-war
situation, the near hysteria of France. Americans proud of their
generous part in saving France from what looked to them like calculated
annihilation said: “Why these hysterics? The War is over. The nations
are going to enforce peace. The devastated region is to be restored at
Germany’s expense. Forget it.”

How could America understand the years of horror France had just
suffered, the devastation of centuries of loving labor, the wiping out
of three and a half million of her best youth? And most serious of all
perhaps, how could America realize what France so clearly realized, that
the Great War was but the latest expression of centuries of
determination on the part of Central Europe to reach the sea? It must
have an ocean front even if this could be obtained only by crossing the
dead body of France.

I had spent some hours at Châlons-sur-Marne just before I returned.
Nobody in that town was so alive to me as Attila. Fifteen hundred
years before, he had led the forces of Central Europe so far and had
been stopped; but Central Europe had come back again and again, driven
by the urge for the sea. Again and again France had saved herself, but
she knew now she could never do it without the help of those who
believed her culture one of the earth’s great possessions. She must
have guarantees. But how could the United States understand that
centuries of experience were behind France’s fear? They had not met
Attila at Châlons-sur-Marne—I had.

All of this I talked in more or less detail until in midsummer my lips
were closed for two weeks by William Jennings Bryan. Mr. Bryan for many
years had been the brightest star of the Chautauqua platform. The
management of the circuit liked to introduce him for whatever time he
could give and they afford. It meant that the regular performer must
either step down or divide his period. The evening was the proper hour
for Mr. Bryan, for only then could the men come. Now I spoke in the
evening. “Cut your time to forty minutes, and go on a half-hour
earlier,” were my instructions. I, of course, obeyed.

Now Mr. Bryan was presenting a two-hour discussion of what he considered
the ideal political Democratic platform at that moment. In his planks he
included joining the League of Nations but turning down the guarantees
to France. At our first joint appearance he rose to condemn guarantees
an hour after I had pleaded for them. When he was told of the conflict
of opinion he at once looked me up, and in effect told me that I must
not present views opposed to his on a platform where he was speaking. He
in no way tried to influence my opinion, only to shut it off. I insisted
that it was good for the audience to hear both sides. “The audience came
to hear me,” said Mr. Bryan; “it is important they know my views.” He
did not want them confused as they might be, he said, if I began the
evening by airing mine.

Of course Mr. Bryan did not say, “You are of no political importance,
and I am of a great deal,” but that was what he meant. It was quite
true, and I bowed for the time being to the demands of politics, but
only for the moment. The two weeks over, I began again to talk
guarantees with more interest on the part of my audience because of what
Mr. Bryan had been saying and also, I suspect, less agreement.

By the time the circuit ended, the League was in a bad way in Congress.
A bitter partisan war had broken out and Woodrow Wilson ill, his Scotch
stubbornness the harder because of his illness, would not budge an inch.
It was a sickening thing to watch. The only consolation was that the
rest of the world wanted peace enough to make the sacrifices and run the
risks a League undoubtedly demanded.

Wilson’s enemies gloated: he was beaten, stripped of his glory; the
world would forget him, was already forgetting him. They were wrong.

In the months that followed the final collapse of the League as far as
the United States was concerned, I was much in Washington; and nothing I
saw was more moving than the continual quiet popular tributes to Woodrow
Wilson. On holidays and Sundays groups were always standing before his
home, watching for a glimpse of him. Let him enter a theater and the
house rose to cheer, while crowds waited outside in rain and cold to see
him come out—cheer him as he passed.

On November 11, 1921, the body of America’s Unknown Soldier was carried
from the Capitol where it had lain in state to its grave in Arlington—a
perfect ceremony of its kind. The bier was followed by all we had of
official greatness at that moment: President Harding and his Cabinet,
the Supreme Court, the House, the Senate, officers of the Army and Navy,
and General Foch our guest of honor. At the end, following all this
greatness but not of it, came a carriage. As the packed ranks between
which the procession had passed in silence saw its occupants, Woodrow
Wilson and Mrs. Wilson, a muffled cry of love and gratitude broke out,
and that cry followed that carriage to the very doorway of their home.
It was to be so until he died. He was the man they could not forget.

They will not forget him in the future. He is the first leader in the
history of society who has treated the ancient dream of a peaceful world
as something more than wishful thinking, the first who was willing to
stake all in drawing the nations of the world together in an effort to
make that “just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations”
for which Abraham Lincoln pleaded.

In Paris in 1919 Woodrow Wilson actually persuaded the leaders of the
majority of the earth’s nations to help him build and set up a machine
for such a peace. The complaint is that it has not done all it
attempted. But how can any person who knows anything of man’s past
efforts to create machinery for the betterment of his life suppose that
this, the most ambitious international undertaking ever made, would from
the start run without friction or breakdown, would never need
overhauling, even rebuilding?

That is not in the nature of things. The League has lived for eighteen
years now. Its weaknesses have developed with experience, so has its
usefulness. Its services to the world have been innumerable if not
spectacular. If its failures have been spectacular, they have not
destroyed the structure; rather they have demonstrated certain points at
which it must be rebuilt.

The world will not forget the man who led in this effort to achieve
enduring peace. That is what I was saying in those bitter days and have
been saying in all the melancholy ones since.

                         GAMBLING WITH SECURITY

My ten weeks of daily talking on the Peace Conference and the Covenant
of the League of Nations ended the War for me. Also, it forced me to
consider anew the problem of security. It was nearly four years now
since I had put an end to it by severing my connection with _The
American Magazine_. But the years had been so full of the War, the
scramble to do something that somebody thought was needful, and at the
same time to keep the pot boiling, that I had not realized what had
happened. It meant for me, as I now saw, the end of an economic era.

I sat down to take stock. Here I was sixty-three with only a small
accumulation of material goods. I must work to live and satisfy my
obligations. To be sure I had my little home in Connecticut which in the
fifteen years since I had acquired it had not only grown increasingly
dear to me; it had also taken on an importance which I had not foreseen.
It had become the family home. Here my mother had come to pass the last
summers before her death in 1917; here my niece Esther had been married
under the Oaks; here my niece Clara and her husband Tristram Tupper,
battered by war service, had come in 1919 to live in our little guest
house. Here Tris had written his first successful magazine story. Here
their two children passed their first years. Near by, my sister had
built herself a studio to become her home. A hundred associations gave
the place a meaning and dignity which I had never expected to feel in
any home of my own, something that only comes when a place has been
hallowed by the joys and sorrows of family life.

I had carried out my original intention of never letting it become a
financial burden; so, adrift as I now was, I not only could afford my
home but felt that it was the strongest factor in my scheme of security,
for here I knew I could retire and raise all the food I needed if free
lancing petered out.

I was quite clear about the work I wanted to do. It was to continue
writing and speaking on the few subjects on which I felt strongly, and
of which I knew a little. These subjects had made a pattern in my mind.
If men would work out this pattern I felt that they would go a long way
towards ending the world’s quarrels, quieting its confusions. First and
most important were the privileges they had snatched. I wanted to see
them all gradually scrapped, cost what it might economically. They were
a threat to honest men, to sound industry, to peaceful international

I wanted to help spread the knowledge of all the intelligent efforts
within and without industry and government, to put an end to militancy,
replace it with actual understanding. And then I wanted to do my part
towards making the world acquainted with the man who I believed had best
shown how to carry out a program of cooperation based on consideration
of others—that was Abraham Lincoln.

There was a man, I told myself, who took the time to understand a thing
before he spoke. He knew that hurry, acting before you were reasonably
sure, almost invariably makes a mess of even the best intentions. He
wanted to know what he was about before he acted, also he wanted all
those upon whom he must depend for results to know what he was about and
why. Whatever he did, he did without malice, taking into account men’s
limitations, not asking more from any one than he could give. More than
anybody I had studied he applied in public affairs Frederick Taylor’s
rules for achievement of which I have spoken above. The more people who
knew about Lincoln, the more chance democracy had to destroy its two
chief enemies, privilege and militancy. I proposed to take every chance
I had to talk about him.


  © _Jessie Tarbox Beals_

  _Posing as a gardener, 1925_

This was the program on which I was so set that I was willing to follow
it even if it did take away from me the comforts of a regular salary.

Giving up the salary troubled me less than finding myself without the
regular professional contacts which I had so enjoyed for twenty years,
and on which I found, now I was free, that I had come to depend more
than I would have believed.

Not belonging to an editorial group meant that when I dropped my pen at
lunch time I no longer could join a half-dozen office mates full of
gossip of what the morning had brought: the last Tarkington manuscript;
something of Willa Cather’s; a letter from Kipling; that new person from
Louisville, George Madden Martin, with a real creation, Emmy Lou; that
new person from Wisconsin, Edna Ferber, with a bona fide human being in
hand, Emma McChesney; or it might be Dunne’s last “Dooley,” or Baker’s
last adventure in “Contentment,” or gossip from the last man in
Washington, perhaps direct from the White House, and always surely from
our liberal friends in Congress. This was the stuff of our lunch-table
talk. We gloated or mourned, and our eyes were always on what was coming
rather than what had been.

I no longer had an office next door to these friends. My study had
become my workshop. Now I must pay my own secretary’s bill, my own
telephone calls, buy my own stationery. I gasped when I found what these
extras amounted to. Freedom, I saw, was going to be expensive as well as

However, for nineteen years I have kept to my decision. How little I
have contributed to my program in these nineteen years! The chief piece
of writing I planned to do I have never finished. That was bringing “The
History of the Standard Oil Company” up to date. I had dropped the story
in 1904, but the dissolution of the company in 1911 left me with the
melancholy conviction that sooner or later I should have to estimate the
trial and put down how the new set-up was working. I talked two or three
times with George Wickersham, the Attorney General who brought the suit,
and he always cautioned me not to hurry, to let the decision have a
chance to work out. I think we decided that about ten years would do it.
But the War put a different face on oil. It suddenly became a matter for
government control. It was no longer a private business. It was life and
death for the Allies. Oil was as necessary to them, Clemenceau wrote to
Wilson, as the blood of men. Everything that rolled or sailed or flew
must have it. The great struggle of the nations with navies, England at
the head, to command oil at its source, followed the War. The earth was
ransacked for it in a terrific predatory hunt. In this effort of the
nations to command oil supplies great names arose challenging that of
Rockefeller—Sir Henri Deterding, Marcus Samuel, William Knox D’Arcy. The
Standard Oil Company no longer ruled the oil world. There were the Royal
Dutch and the Shell making up finally the Royal Dutch Shell; there was
the Anglo-Persian. All of the dramatic and frequently tragic goings-on
had to settle down into something like orderly procedure before the
history I had in mind could be written.

The time came, along in 1922, when Mr. Wickersham said, “You had better
go at it.” But it was not Mr. Wickersham’s dictum that hurried me to
undertake to tell the story of what had happened since 1904. It was an
entirely unexpected piratical attack on the two-volume edition of the
history which had been exhausted for some time. My publisher, wisely
enough, was waiting for the promised third volume before reprinting.
When it became known in the trade that the book was no longer on the
market a report was spread that the Standard Oil Company had bought and
destroyed the plates, and the price soared. Down in Louisiana Huey Long
paid one hundred dollars for a set, so I was told.

As I frequently received inquiries as to where the books could be found
or where a purchaser could be found for a set, I turned the
correspondence over to my secretary, a canny woman, who established a
trading relation with a dealer in old books; and the two of them were in
a fair way to do a nice little business when their hopes were blasted by
the appearance in a New York bookstore of an entirely new edition of the
work—a cheap edition, selling for five or six dollars. My publishers
made an immediate investigation and found that it had been printed in
England, probably from German plates.

As the third volume was not ready, there was nothing for the publisher
to do but reprint the two, which he very promptly did. On the appearance
of the reprint the pirated edition disappeared from the market. This
episode set me to work promptly at the third volume.

But I needed a financial backer if the work was to be put through
promptly. I found it unexpectedly in the editor-in-chief for whom the
first two volumes had been written—S. S. McClure. _McClure’s Magazine_,
which had been suspended for a few years, had been revived, Mr. McClure
in charge. He felt that bringing Standard Oil history up to date was a
logical and might be an important feature for the periodical.

For me there was satisfaction in trying to revive the old editorial
relations. I had always missed the gaiety and excitement Mr. McClure
gave to work, and, too, I had always felt a little anxious about, what I
suspected was happening to him in a group which, even if it was made up
of the very best of the town—men and women of ability and loyalty,
naturally eager to prove that they could make a _McClure’s Magazine_ as
good as ever had been made or better—could not, I was convinced,
understand Mr. McClure, get out of him what he had to give like his old
partner and friend John S. Phillips. So I was willing to give all I had
to help in the revival of the old periodical.

I had my book well in hand, some twenty thousand words written, when the
new _McClure’s_ was suspended and the third volume on the Standard Oil
Company was cast out before publication had begun.

Perhaps it was just as well, both for _McClure’s_ and for me. Repeating
yourself is a doubtful practice, particularly for editor and writer. I
feel now there was no hope of my recapturing the former interest in the
former way. The result would have smelt a bit musty. Indeed, though I
hate to admit it, I think there has been a slight mustiness about all I
have done in the nineteen years since I started “on my own”—that is, not
on assignment—built as it has been on work done before the Great War.

Left with twenty thousand words on hand and no editor, I was obliged to
make a quick turn in the interest of security and took on the first
piece of work that offered. For one reason or another I have never been
able to return to that third volume and it looks now as if it were a
piece of work for my ninth decade since it failed to mature in the
seventh and eighth!

If I failed to carry out my plan for tracing the maneuvers of the master
monopoly after the Government had taken it apart in 1911 and after it
adapted itself to the new and extraordinary situations forced by the
Great War, I did trace what could be done in a corporation whose parts
all had been built more or less on privilege, and which itself enjoyed
high tariff protection, when a man took hold of it who believed that
ordinary ethics did apply to business. This study was shaped around the
life of Judge Elbert H. Gary.

It was no idea of mine, this life of Gary, and when it was proposed to
me by that energetic and resourceful editor Rutger Jewett I promptly
said, “No.” But Mr. Jewett was insistent. He had talked the matter over
with Judge Gary, who had told him he would open his records and answer
my questions if I would do the book.

That meant, I supposed, that he had confidence in my ability to be
fair-minded, whatever my suspicions. His judgment was formed on my
handling of certain efforts to improve and humanize the conditions of
labor in the mills, factories, and towns of the United States Steel
Corporation. The Corporation under his direction had been a pioneer in
safety and sanitation work. It had developed a pension system, improved
communities, improved its housing, built schools and hospitals where
there was no community to take care of these needs. It was the broadest,
soundest record that I had found in my gathering of material for the
articles _The American Magazine_ had published under the title of “The
Golden Rule in Business.” I knew from my talks with Judge Gary that
there was nothing going on in the Steel Corporation in which he was more
deeply interested.

Moreover, I knew he was a man I could talk with freely. More than once,
when he as spokesman of the Corporation was under attack for arbitrary
dealings with labor, I had gone to him for his side of the case; and
although I might not agree, and frequently did not, I always came away
enlightened and with a rather humiliated feeling that I had shown myself
an amateur in a conversation where he was very much the expert.

But was I equal to finding out the truth of things in this enormous
industrial labyrinth which he ruled? Moreover, if Judge Gary had been an
industrial plunderer, should I be willing so to present him? I had no
heart for a repetition of my experience with H. H. Rogers.

Another reason for hesitation was that I knew if I did undertake it, and
was as fair as I knew how to be, I should at once be under suspicion by
groups with whose intentions for the most part I sympathized. They were
unwilling to consider Gary in any light save that of Scapegoat Number
One. An attack—yes—they would welcome it. An attempt to set down his
business life as he had actually lived it—no. That was whitewashing.

Finally I took the matter to Judge Gary himself. “I do not know that I
want to write your life,” I told him. “If I find practices which seem to
me against public policy as I understand it I shall have to say so. I
appreciate your efforts to make working conditions for labor as good as
you know how to make them, but it does not follow that I can stand for
your financial policies. It is not your humanitarianism but your ethics
I suspect.”

“Well,” Judge Gary laughed, “if you can find anything wrong in our
doings I want to know it. I had George Wickersham in here for a year or
more going over the whole set-up telling me what he thought we ought not
to do, and I followed every suggestion he made. The Government has had
its agency here for two years examining our books, and they gave us a
clean bill of health. The Supreme Court has refused to declare us a
monopoly in restraint of trade. Do your worst, and if you find anything
wrong I shall be grateful.”

I felt more of an amateur than ever after that. I also concluded that it
would be sheer cowardice on my part to refuse the job which I really
needed. I had not been long at my task, however, before I was heartened
by the certainty that, from the formation of the Corporation, Judge Gary
had made a steady and surprisingly successful fight to strip the
businesses which he was putting together of certain illegal privileges,
as well as to set up an entirely new code of fair practices—the Gary
Code, it was jeeringly called in Wall Street.

Orders went out neither to ask nor to accept special favors from the
railroads. Full yearly reports of the financial condition of the
Corporation, whether good or bad, were sent out. These reports reached
the public as early as they did the directors themselves, putting an end
to the advance information which many insiders were accustomed to using
for stock selling or buying. Various forms of predatory competition were
attacked from the inside. Judge Gary not only laid down his code, he
followed it up, preached it zealously to his board.

Another unheard-of innovation was his support of President Theodore
Roosevelt’s attempts to control business. It had become an axiom of Big
Business to fight every effort of the Government to inspect or regulate.
When Gary took the opposite course, applauded Roosevelt’s efforts,
declared that he was doing business good, doing him good, he was treated
as a traitor by many colleagues.

Well, this seemed to me as good business doctrine as I had come across
in any concern—much better, more definite and practical as a matter of
fact than I got from most corporation critics. But how far was this
followed up in practice? Before I was through I made up my mind that
Judge Gary’s code was applied just as completely and as rapidly as he
could persuade or drive his frequently doubting and recalcitrant
associates to it. But that took time, took frequent battles. Indeed,
more than once he had come close to losing his official head, fighting
for this or that plank in his platform. The Gary Code and the effort to
put it into practice reconciled me to my task.

Judge Gary was an easy man to work with because he was so interested in
following his own story. He had been too busy all his life to give
attention to the route by which he had come. Now he enjoyed the looks
back. Finding that he was willing to take literally his promise to open
records and answer questions, I laid out a little plan for covering his
life chronologically. It pleased him, for he was the most systematic of
men. It gave him delight to remember. “How a man’s mind unravels!” he
exclaimed one day when he had suddenly recalled something long

Our interviews were carried on always at 71 Broadway. He kept his
appointments exactly. Rarely did he keep me waiting, and if by necessity
he did he always apologized. If I came late I was made to feel clearly
that that was a thing not to be done.

While Judge Gary was prepared to be frank in his talks with me he was
not prepared to be misquoted. He evidently had learned that even with
the best intentions a reporter may distort what a man has said out of
all resemblance to what he meant. He guarded against this by always
having at our interviews a secretary who took down in shorthand all that
he said, all that I said. I made longhand notes, dictating them as soon
as I went back to my desk. I do not remember that a question of
misunderstanding of meaning ever came up.

Convinced that the Gary Code was genuine, not mere window dressing for
the public, nothing interested me more than how a man in his fifties who
had been for twenty years a successful corporation lawyer was willing to
preach to Wall Street as he had done. I finally concluded the truth to
be that Elbert Gary had never outgrown his early bringing up. He had
never gotten over a belief in the soundness of what he had learned in
Sunday school and of what later he had taught through most of his
manhood in Sunday school. The difference between him and some of his
fellows in business brought up in the same way was that he insisted that
the Sunday-school precepts of honesty, consideration for others, fair
play, should be preached on week days as well as Sundays, in the board
room as well as the church. If he ever sensed that his preaching was
both comic and irritating to Wall Street—which I doubt—he never gave
sign of such a perception.

I soon found that I need not hesitate to bring him all sorts of
criticisms of his doings as I unearthed them in studying the public’s
reactions to the Steel Corporation’s operations. They never fretted or
irritated him; rather he enjoyed analyzing them for my benefit. He never
dismissed radical opinions as nonsense. In the year I was working with
him there was never a public radical meeting in New York—and there were
a good many of them that year—that he did not read all the speeches, and
comment on them intelligently and with good humor.

“We must know about these things,” he said. “We must know all about
Lenin, all about Mussolini. They are great forces; they are trying new
forms of government.” His knowledge prevented him from being scared.

Above all Gary enjoyed stories of his struggles to establish his own
preeminence and his own code in the Steel Corporation. At the start he
had several of the strong men in the Corporation against him; but he had
won out, and it gave him the greatest satisfaction to show me letters of
congratulation, to quote former opponents as saying, “You were right, I
was wrong.” Particularly he enjoyed the very good terms on which he
stood with Theodore Roosevelt, whose unpopularity in Wall Street
surpassed even that of the second Roosevelt.

He still talked with emotion of the decision of the Government to bring
suit against the Steel Corporation under the Sherman Law. He thought he
had satisfied it that the Steel Corporation was not a monopoly in
restraint of trade, that it was what Mark Twain called a good trust; and
when the Attorney General’s office decided that there might be a
question about the quality of this goodness Gary was terribly disturbed.
There were advisers who thought he ought to try to settle the suit
outside, but he would not have it so. The Government had doubts, and he
must satisfy them. He believed that the law did not apply to the Steel
Corporation; he believed that the Corporation was not contrary to a
sound business policy, a menace to the country. That must be settled
once for all. Of course he was jubilant over the outcome: it justified
his conviction.

Judge Gary had done a great job, and he knew it; but, interestingly
enough, it never made him pompous. As a matter of fact he was simple,
natural, in talking about it. Along with this really simple enjoyment of
his own conflict he had a nice kind of dignity and a carefulness of
conduct which were not entirely natural to him. To be sure he had always
been a good Methodist, a good citizen, a hard-working lawyer; but at the
same time in all these earlier years he had led what was then called a
gay life. He had liked a fast horse, liked to hunt and see the world. He
was curious about all kinds of human performances, looked into them
whenever he had the chance. When he became the head of the Steel
Corporation he could no longer sing in the choir—he had to go to the
Opera and sit in a box. He no longer drove fast horses. He wanted to
fly, and the board of the Steel Corporation passed an ordinance against
it—too dangerous. When he traveled it was more or less in state, and he
couldn’t slip out with a crowd of men at the stopping places to see the

It was hard on him, but he felt deeply that he owed it to the Steel
Corporation to be above reproach. Not a little of this carefulness was
due, I think, to the effect on the public, the exhibits that several of
the new steel men had made of themselves after the Corporation was
formed in 1901 and their offices were centered in New York. They were
rich beyond their wildest dreams. The restrictions of the home towns
were gone, and they broke loose in a riotous celebration which
scandalized even Mr. Morgan. Gary joined in nothing which approached
orgies. He was too hard a worker and always had been, and he saw with
distress the effect the high living of certain of the steel men was
having on the public. It was a danger, he felt, equal to the speculation
in steel stock by officers of the corporation. To counteract it he
gradually became more and more a model of correctness.

I came out of my task with a real liking for Judge Gary and a profound
conviction that industry has not produced one in our time who so well
deserves the title of industrial statesman. But I had to pay for saying
what I thought. Under the heading of “The Taming of Ida M. Tarbell” my
favorite newspaper declared that I had become a eulogist of the kind of
man to whom I was sworn as an eternal enemy. But Judge Gary was not the
kind of captain of industry to which I objected. On the contrary, he was
a man who, at the frequent risk of his position and fortune, had
steadily fought many of the privileges and practices to which I had been

However, one is judged largely by the company one keeps. Judge Gary
belonged to an industrial world where the predatory, the brutal, the
illegal, the reckless speculator constantly forced public attention.
That there was another side to that world, a really honest and
intelligent effort in the making to put an end to these practices, few
knew or, knowing, acknowledged. I could not complain. I knew how it
would be when I started. But I must confess that more than once, while I
was carrying on my work, I shivered with distaste at the suspicion I
knew I was bringing on myself. The only time in my professional life I
feel I deserve to be called courageous was when I wrote the life of
Judge Gary.

My active interest in the industrial life of the country brought me
unexpected adventures. The most instructive as well as upsetting was
serving on a couple of those Government conferences which twentieth
century Presidents have used so freely in their attempts to solve
difficult national problems. An Industrial Conference called by
President Wilson for the fall of 1919 was the first of these. Mr. Wilson
felt clearly at the end of the War that our immediate important domestic
problem was to establish some common ground of agreement and action in
the conduct of industry. What he wanted evidently was a covenant by
which employer and employee could work out their common problems as
cooperators, not as enemies. There was need of action, as any one who
remembers those days will agree. The whole labor world was in an uproar,
and one of the periodical efforts to organize the steel industry was
under way. Mr. Gompers, the head of the American Federation, sponsoring
the strike, had had little or no sympathy with a contest at the moment
but had been pushed into it by the adroitness of the radical elements
boring from within throughout the War.

“These disturbances must not go on. It should be possible to make plans
for a peaceful solution,” Mr. Wilson said.

And so a Conference was called. In spite of my refusal to serve on his
Tariff Commission, President Wilson had evidently not given me up. As a
matter of fact our acquaintance and mutual confidence had grown during
the War.

He now named me as one of four women representatives, the others being
Lillian Wald, head of the Nurses’ Settlement in New York City, Gertrude
Barnum, assistant director of the investigation service of the United
States Department of Labor, and Sara Conboy of the textile workers’

The Conference was an impressive and exciting body of some fifty persons
divided into three groups representing the public, labor, the employers.
I, of course, sat in the first group, where I found as my colleagues a
bewildering assortment of men from various ranks of life. There were Dr.
Charles Eliot, Charles Edward Russell, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Judge
Gary, John Spargo, Bernard Baruch, Thomas L. Chadbourne, Jr., and a
score or more less known to the public, though not necessarily less

At the head of the labor group was Samuel Gompers. Among his colleagues
were some of the most experienced labor leaders in the country.

The members of the employer group were chosen from among men who had
been particularly helpful in directing their industries during the War.

There were many interesting characters on the body. Two that I
particularly enjoyed were Henry Endicott, who with the Johnsons had
established the famous shoe towns near Binghamton, New York, and a
delightful pungent character from Georgia—Fuller E. Callaway—who in
twenty years had built up from scratch mills and a village with homes
and schools—everything to give life and a chance to hard-working mill
people. Mr. Callaway’s story of what he had done in Georgia was one of
the very few joyous contributions to a gathering doomed to be a dismal

A body could have scarcely had a heartier welcome from the public than
we did. People seemed to feel we should find a way to end the fighting;
that was what we were there for, Secretary of Labor Wilson told us in
his keynote speech. If we could produce a document which would secure
the rights of all those concerned in an industry, it would find a place
in the hearts of men like the Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, the
Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and
the Emancipation Proclamation. He brought us all to our feet—all save a
few who were too interested in political strategy to entertain a high

We were there to plan for the future of industry. But almost at once we
discovered that it was not peace or the future of industry that was in
Mr. Gompers’ mind. Also, we discovered that the master politician of the
body was Mr. Gompers. We were hardly organized before he called upon us
to appoint a committee to report on the steel strike.

Dr. Charles Eliot, outraged, rose in all his very genuine majesty and
reminded the body that we were not there to attend to the troubles of
the present but to plan that such troubles might be avoided in the
future. But the steel strike was on the table, and we left it there when
we disbanded, a menace and an irritation.

It was not Mr. Gompers’ resolution, however, which ruined the
Conference. It was the inability of the representatives of labor and
employers to agree on a definition for collective bargaining. The
Conference as a whole contended that such a definition must be a leading
plank in the platform we were there to make, but there were to be many
other planks. Committees were at once formed to frame them. Almost every
member of the Conference, too, had some particular resolution that he
wanted to incorporate. I know I did. But most of us never found an
opportunity to present our notions. Collective bargaining and what it
meant were always getting in our way. The employer group and a
considerable number of the public group believed that the definition
which the labor group offered meant a closed shop. Judge Gary openly
charged this. But labor was quite as strong in its suspicion that the
definition which came from the employer group encouraged company unions,
at that moment flourishing in numbers that alarmed them. Suspicion
governed both groups.

This went on for two weeks; then Secretary Lane, the acting chairman of
the Conference, appealed to a very sick President, and from his bed
Woodrow Wilson begged us not to allow division on one point to destroy
our opportunity:

  At a time when the nations of the world are endeavoring to find a
  way of avoiding international war [he wrote], are we to confess that
  there is no method to be found for carrying on industry except in
  the spirit and with the very method of war? Must suspicion and
  hatred and force rule us in civil life? Are our industrial leaders
  and our industrial workers to live together without faith in each
  other, constantly struggling for advantage over each other, doing
  naught but what is compelled?

  My friends, this would be an intolerable outlook, a prospect
  unworthy of the large things done by this people in the mastering of
  this continent; indeed, it would be an invitation to national
  disaster. From such a possibility my mind turns away, for my
  confidence is abiding that in this land we have learned how to
  accept the general judgment upon matters that affect the public
  weal. And this is the very heart and soul of democracy.

But it was too late. The labor body walked out, except a few railroad
men, wise and experienced in negotiations. A group of employers followed
them. It was defeat. There was nothing for the President to do but
disband the Conference. He did ask, however, that the public group of
some twenty-five carry on. Now this group included a number of
extraordinarily able men. From them had come some of the wisest and
broadest suggestions that had been placed before the Conference. They
could have presented an impressive program, but they had been
outmaneuvered. They lost heart; they refused to go on. The only remarks
I made at that Conference, bewildered as I had been by the political
maneuvering, were when I saw the public group prepared for the cowardly
business of denying the President’s request. “Let us stick to it, do our
best, make some report,” I pleaded.

But I do not think anybody heard me. I had an impression as I talked
that most of them were calculating when they could get a train to New

My next adventure in Government service came two years later as a member
of President Harding’s Unemployment Conference. The country had been
caught in the first great postwar depression, and nobody was ready for
it. Nobody knew, indeed, how widespread the unemployment was. Mr.
Harding called a conference to deal with the problem without attempting
to find out. The result was that on one hand you had an opposition
belittling the numbers, on the other hand you had the responsible
sponsors of the Conference probably exaggerating them. Nobody knew. And
how easy it would have been to find out, by the same method the country
had used in the War when, by a cooperative effort, the number of
draftable men was counted in twenty-four hours at a limited expense!

This was an impressive Conference because of the make-up, and it was a
mighty well conducted Conference: the chairman, Secretary of Commerce
Hoover, kept it in hand from the start—and this in spite of the fact
that there were all the elements of conflict found in the Industrial
Conference and some extra, for here we had rivalry between the labor
groups themselves, particularly that thorny problem of trade
jurisdiction. But Mr. Hoover was enormously skillful, and we came out
with a program which, if it had been carried out with the machinery
which the Conference devised, would have brought the country to 1929 in
a very different state of preparedness.

After our dismissal I put together in a lecture what I conceived to be
the practical conclusion of the Conference. As my text I used one of the
first principles laid down, “The time to act is before a crisis becomes
inevitable.” This text was an official and authoritative recognition of
the unpalatable fact that business always moves in cycles—that a boom
will be followed by a slump, that common sense demands preparedness.

How prepare? The Federal Government, state, county, community down to
the smallest, was to have in reserve plans and money for work it wanted
done that was not absolutely essential at the moment. When a slump
started, this reserve was to be called out.

Private industry was by no means let off. In good times it was to lay up
a surplus with which to keep plants and laboratory alive and ready for
action as soon as there was a return of orders. The employee was to be
protected by employment insurance. The individual householder was to
keep back certain needed repairs and improvements for the day of need.
That is, everybody was to be ready with his life preserver.

For two years I talked with the conviction of one who has a scheme he
believes sound, and I was listened to with more or less enthusiasm,
until it was obvious the slump was passing. It was a bad dream well
over—good times had come. Why lay plans for the future? By 1926 there
were no longer audiences to listen to a talk on preparing for
unemployment. Apparently everybody, even President Hoover, who had been
the all-efficient chairman of the Conference, forgot all about the

On the whole my little excursions into public service were discouraging
and disillusioning; but they did convince me that I was right when I
gave as one of my reasons for not going on to President Wilson’s Tariff
Commission the fact that I was not fitted for the kind of work a
commission or conference requires.

I was an observer, a reporter. What interested me was watching my fellow
members in action: the silent wariness of Secretary Hoover; the amused
and slightly contemptuous smile of Charlie Schwab when he heard a woman
had been put on the coal committee; the unwillingness of representatives
of rival mining unions to do anything to relieve the immediate suffering
of West Virginia miners, sufferings so useful in their campaigns; the
stubborn look on the faces of those who fought over jurisdiction in an
effort to reach an adjustment which would permit hungry men to take up
work waiting for them; the quick political lineup; the clever political
plays; the gradual fade-out of the objective, its replacement by party

All together it was a revealing study of the reason there is so little
steady progress in the world. These failures joined to the refusal to
have anything to do with the League of Nations put an end to my hope
that the War had taught us much of anything. We were not ready for the
sacrifices necessary for peace, nor had we grasped the natural methods
by which things grow. We believed we could talk, petition, legislate,
vote ourselves into peace and prosperity. We had not learned that toil
and self-control are three-fourths of any achievement, and that toil and
self-control begin with the individual.

I went on with my talking in these years with a troubled mind. Continue
this way, and we would destroy democracy. We had allowed, often
encouraged, groups of self-interested individuals to have their way.
That meant transformations in government machinery, new types of
leaders, a multiplication of the children of privilege we had always so
feared, the substitution of humanitarianism for ethics, sympathy for

I was discouraged, but I never lost faith in our scheme of things. I
never came to believe that we must change democracy for socialism or
communism or a dictatorship. You do not change human nature by changing
the machinery. Under freedom human nature has the best chances for
growth, for correcting its weaknesses and failures, for developing its
capacities. It is on these improvements in men that the future welfare
of the world depends. So I believed, and so I argued as I went about,
though sometimes, I confess, with a spirit so low that my tongue was in
my cheek.

Such was my growing disillusionment when in 1926 I was asked to go to
Italy to report on the Fascist State of Benito Mussolini, now four years
in power, a scandal to the democracies at which he openly jeered, but an
even greater one to the Socialists and Communists who once had thought
him on the way to being the strongest radical leader in Europe.

I knew little of what had gone on in Italy after the end of the War. I
knew the parliamentary system had broken down; I knew there had been two
years of guerrilla warfare after the Peace Conference, a period in which
it was nip and tuck whether the next ruler of Italy would be Communist
or Fascist. The Fascists under their leader Mussolini had won out. I had
been amazed, and had never ceased to be amazed, that the dramatic march
on Rome which ended in changing a parliamentary form of government into
a dictatorship had been carried out without bloodshed. An astonished
world had seen tens of thousands of unorganized and in part unarmed men
march from every point in Italy to Rome, call for Mussolini, get him by
order of the King and then march home again—not a brick thrown, not a
head broken. It was the most amazing transfer of government I had known

But I had never given much attention to what had followed. I had never
asked myself if it was inevitable that a dictator should arise in Italy.
I had never asked who was this man Mussolini or what was this corporate
state which was emerging.

Uneasy as I was over the way things were going in the United States, I
vaguely felt when I was asked to go look all this up that possibly there
were lessons there. Possibly I might learn something from Italy’s
experience about the process by which manacles are put on free
government. However, the real reason I went to Italy was because I was
offered so large a sum that I thought I could not afford to refuse.

My friends did their best to discourage my going. Down in Washington a
worried undersecretary who gave me my passport and letters of
introduction told me pessimistically that I probably should be arrested.

“But why?” I asked.

“Well, that is what is happening now to all our Americans. They drink
too much, talk too much. The chief reason, as far as we can make out, is
that they have to arrest them because they are attacking the government.
We do the same thing here now and then, you know.”

In Paris my best friends, among them Mr. Jaccaci, so much of an Italian
that he talked the dialects of several provinces, told me with all
seriousness that I should be searched. I must not carry letters to
members of the opposition, nor books hostile to Mussolini. Now I was
armed with things of that sort, collected in Washington, New York, and
Paris. I did not propose to give them up without a struggle.

I was told I should find no newspapers excepting those sympathetic to
the regime—a serious handicap, as I always count largely on newspapers.
I must always use the Fascist salute. I took this so seriously that I
practiced it in my Paris bedroom. I must not speak French. I was
counting on that, as I speak no Italian. That is, I started off to Italy
with a large collection of “don’ts” coming from people I considered
informed. If I had not had a natural dislike of giving up an undertaking
I never would have carried out my assignment.

However, at the end of the first day in Rome, a very exciting day, I
awakened to the fact that nobody had searched my bags for incriminating
documents, that I had talked French all day, and that I hadn’t noticed
anybody using the Fascist salute, and, most important, that I had found
at every newspaper kiosk all the French and English papers side by side
with the Italian. It gave me confidence. As a matter of fact in the four
to five months that I was in Italy I did practically what I had planned
to do, and nobody paid any attention to me. My mail was never interfered
with, so far as I know. That is, none of the dire prophecies of
interference to which I had listened at the start came true.

I do not mean to say it was always easy to get to the people with whom I
wanted to talk; more than once, when I succeeded, I found the person
fearful of quotation. I do not mean to say that I found no revolts. Down
in Palermo, in corners of Milan and Florence and Turin, as a matter of
fact almost everywhere, I ran across bitter critics of the new regime
such as I hear every day in this year of 1938 of the President of the
United States; but on the whole even good parliamentarians were
accepting Mussolini. “He has saved the country,” men told me. “We don’t
accept his methods, we don’t believe in dictatorship; but it is better
than anarchy.”

Making my headquarters at Rome, I went over the country fairly well,
particularly the industrial sections. I visited Turin with its
hydroelectric developments, its great Fiat factory, its artificial silk,
all plants of the first order. I spent some days in Milan, visited the
great Pirelli plant, at the moment making underground cables for
Chicago. I saw what was left of the cooperatives at Bologna. I climbed
into that plucky little independent Republic of San Marino. Mussolini
had been there just before I arrived. They were all for him. He worked
and made people work. That is what had made San Marino.

I went south into Calabria, over into Sicily—always looking for the
effects of the new regime on the life of the people. There was no doubt
sensible things were going on—redemption of land, extension of water
power, amazing efforts at wheat production; and the people were
accepting the regime with understanding, realists that they were.

The first thing that springs to my mind now when I recall those months
in Italy is a long procession of men, women, and children bent in labor.
They harvested fields of rice, wheat, alfalfa, laying grain in perfect
swaths; they sat on the ground, stripping and sorting tobacco leaves.
Tiny girls, old women crowded narrow rooms, embroidering with sure
fingers lovely designs on linen, fine and coarse; they cooked their
meals before all the world in the narrow streets of Naples; they carried
home at sunset from the terraces or slopes of mountains great baskets of
grapes, olives, lemons—young women straight and firm, their burdens
poised surely on their heads, old women bent under the weight on their
backs. They drove donkeys so laden that only a nodding head, a switching
tail were visible; they filled the roads with their gay two-wheeled
carts, tended sheep, ran machines, sat in markets, spun, weaved, molded,
built—a world of work.

Mingled with these pictures of labor were equally vagrant ones of these
same men and women at play: holiday and Sunday crowds filling the
streets, the roads, the cinemas, the dancing pavilions, the squares of
little towns that traced their history back clearly more than two
thousand years. In those squares, gay with flags and streamers and light
and booths, in the evenings, throngs held their breath as to the notes
of soft music the lithe figures of the ropewalkers passed high overhead
with slow and rhythmic steps.

It was hard to realize when I looked on them that six years earlier
these same people had been as badly out of step as they were perfectly
in step at the present moment, that instead of rhythmic labor, there was
a clash of disorder and revolt. Men and women refused not only to work
themselves, but to let other people work. Grain died in the fields,
threshing machines were destroyed, factories were seized, shops were
looted, railway trains ran as suited the crew. Sunday was a day, not of
rest, amusement, prayer, but of war; fêtes were dangerous, liable to be
broken up by raids. Instead of the steady balance, orderly action, so
conspicuous today, were the disorganization, anger, violence of a people
unprotected in its normal life: a people become the prey of a dozen
clashing political parties and not knowing where to look for a Moses to
lead it out of their Egypt. How could it be, one asked, that in so brief
a time a people should drop its clubs and pick up its tools?

There was only one answer: Mussolini. Already he was a legend, a name
everywhere to conjure with. I used it myself after I had talked with
him, on scared gentlemen to whom I had letters of introduction, and who
feared quotation: “But Mussolini saw me—talked with me.” Nothing too
much trouble after that.

But what kind of man was this dictator?

“You must go and see Mussolini,” our able and friendly Ambassador Henry
P. Fletcher told me one morning while I was working on the Embassy’s
voluminous records of what had gone on in Italy since the end of the
War. I balked.

“I am not ready with the questions I want to ask him.”

“Oh,” said Mr. Fletcher, “just go down and have a chat with him.”

With my notion of Mussolini gathered largely from English and American
as well as hostile Italian sources, the word seemed utterly incongruous.
Could one chat with this bombastic and terrifying individual who never
listened, told you what to think, to say? Impossible. But of course I

The most exciting and interesting hour and a half I spent in Italy was
in an anteroom watching twoscore or more persons who were waiting to be
received, watching them go in so scared, come out exultant, go in
inflated, come out collapsed. There was no one of them but was anxious,
even the Admiral of the Fleet then at Ostia. He walked nervously about
while he was waiting, adjusting his uniform, and when his turn came
strode in as if marching in a parade.

Nothing I saw in Italy, as I have said, was more interesting to me.
Though I must confess that all the time there was an undercurrent of
nervousness. What I was afraid of was that my French would go to pieces,
provided he gave me a chance to speak at all—of which I had a doubt.
What if I should forget and say “vous” instead of “votre excellence”?
Should I be shot at sunrise?

It was all so different from what I had anticipated. I must have misread
and misheard the reports of interviews to have had such an unpleasant
impression of what was waiting me. As I crossed the long room towards
the desk Mussolini came around to meet me, asked me to take one of the
two big chairs which stood in front of his desk—and, as he seated me,
was apologizing, actually apologizing, in excellent English for keeping
me waiting. As he did it I saw that he had a most extraordinary smile,
and that when he smiled he had a dimple.

Nothing could have been more natural, simple, and courteous than the way
he put me at my ease. His French, in which he spoke after his first
greeting, was fluent, excellent. I found myself not at all afraid to
talk, eager to do so. If he had not been as eager, I think I should have
done all the talking, for luckily at once we hit on a common
interest—better housing. His smiling face became excited and stern. He
pounded the table.

“Men and women must have better places in which to live. You cannot
expect them to be good citizens in the hovels they are living in, in
parts of Italy.”

He went on to talk with appreciation and understanding of the various
building undertakings already well advanced, some of which I had seen in
different parts of the country. He talked at length of the effect on
women of crowded, cheerless homes. “A reason for their drinking too much
wine sometimes,” he mused.

He was particularly interested in what prohibition was doing to working
people in the United States. “I am dry,” he said, “but I would not have
Italy dry [_sec_].” And he amused me by quickly changing _sec_ to
_seche_. “We need wine to keep alive the social sense in our
hard-working people.”

Altogether it was an illuminating half-hour, and when Mussolini
accompanied me to the door and kissed my hand in the gallant Italian
fashion I understood for the first time an unexpected phase of the man
which makes him such a power in Italy. He might be—was, I believed—a
fearful despot, but he had a dimple.

I left Italy, my head alive with speculations as to the future of the
man. There was a chance, and it seemed to me a very good one, that he
would be assassinated. Three dramatic attempts were made on his life
while I was there, attempts known to the public. There may have been
others, the authorities kept quiet. As I was sailing there came a rash
attack on him at Bologna, the assassin being torn to pieces, so it was
said, by an enraged crowd. For months after my return I watched my
morning paper for the headline, “Mussolini Assassinated.”

Of course there was a chance—so far as I could see, it was what
Mussolini himself believed he could realize—to bring Italy to an even
keel economically, by thrift, hard work, development of resources and by
a system of legitimate colonization in the parts of the earth where he
could obtain land, by treaty or by purchase.

And there was a third possibility to one at all familiar with the course
of dictators in the world, particularly with the one with whom you
instinctively compare Mussolini—Napoleon Bonaparte—that the day would
come when he would overreach himself in a too magnificent attempt, an
attempt beyond the forces of his country and so of himself, and he would
finally go down as Napoleon went down.

Are Ethiopia and the alliance with Franco and the rebels of Spain to be
to Mussolini what Spain and Russia were to Napoleon?

I was glad to breathe the air of the United States. It was still free,
whatever our follies. There was at that moment no dictator in sight—no
talk of one. But it was not Mussolini or the Corporate State which
mattered to us: it was what was back of them. Why had parliamentary
government broken down in Italy, the Italy of Garibaldi, of Cavour,
Victor Emmanuel? Why had a dictator been able to replace it with a new
form of government? Could this happen in the government of Washington
and Lincoln? Those were the questions of importance to Americans. There
was where there was something to learn.

                        LOOKING OVER THE COUNTRY

My chief consolation in what I looked on as the manhandling of
democratic ideals and processes in all ranks of society, public and
private, was Abraham Lincoln. In spite of his obvious limitations and
mistakes he had won the biggest battle for freedom we have yet had to
fight. He had done it by taking time to figure things out, by sticking
to the conclusions he had reached so long as, and no longer than, they
seemed to him sound, by squaring his conduct always with what he
conceived to be just, moral principles. The more I knew of him, the
better I liked him and the more strongly I felt we ought as a people to
know about how he did things, not ask how he would solve a problem
tormenting us, but how he would go to work to solve it.

Feeling as I did and do about him, I have kept him always on my
workbench. There has never been a time since the War that I have not had
a long or short piece of Lincoln work on hand. The result has been five
books, big and little, and a continuous stream of articles, long and

The only fresh water in this Lincolnian stream was in a book I called
“In the Footsteps of the Lincolns.” Beginning with the first of the
family in this country—Samuel, who came in 1637—I traced them mile by
mile from Hingham, Massachusetts, where Samuel started, down through
Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Shenandoah Valley, the
wilderness of Kentucky, southwestern Indiana, into Illinois, to the
final resting place. I ran down the records that had been left behind,
copied the inscriptions on gravestones, went over houses in which they
had lived, looked up the families into which they had married, the
friends they had made. When I finished my journey I felt that I had
quite definitely and finally rescued the Lincolns from the ranks of poor
white trash where political enemies had so loved to place them.

I have the satisfaction of knowing that this seven-generation pilgrimage
of the Lincoln family has been added to the itineraries which
enthusiastic students include in the cult of Lincoln now growing so
strong in this country. I have never had an honor which pleased me more
than a certificate from this group naming me Lincoln Pilgrim Number One.

My conviction that we needed in all our difficulties to familiarize
ourselves with good models, sound laboratory practices led me to publish
in 1932 a life of Owen D. Young. Mr. Young had impressed me as being
just what I called him, “A New Type of Industrial Leader.” And how we
needed one! I had first heard of him in connection with what was called
the President’s Second Industrial Conference. After what I regarded as
the cowardly retreat of the members of the President’s first conference
Mr. Wilson had called a second with the same objective, a distinguished
body of men, among them Owen D. Young.

The sessions of this conference were all secret—a contrast to the noisy
publicity which had surrounded the first gathering, and which had been
partly responsible for its failure, the political-minded conferees being
able in this way to speak to the country when they made speeches to
their fellows—a privilege they valued more than trying to understand and
cooperate with their fellows.

It was not long before I began to hear rumors of the satisfactory way
the second conference was going and to hear the name of Owen D. Young as
the man who as much as anybody else was leading to a broad, fair program
of recommendations. His fairness, based on his experience in industrial
relations, came as a surprise to not a few of the members of the
conference, for Mr. Young represented the General Electric Company.

Secretary Wilson, who was then at the head of the Federal Labor
Department, declared that Mr. Young had no fear and no prejudice as a
conferee, that he worked with an open mind. Attorney General Gregory
said of him that there was no man on the conference who was so
progressive in his philosophy of industrial relations. These opinions
from the inside of the conference, followed by its admirable published
report, with which I learned Mr. Young had had much to do, set me to
following his work in labor matters so far as it reached the public.

I was deeply impressed by the showing he made as a negotiator on the
Dawes and Young committees called to settle the thorny problem of what
reparations Germany should make to the Allies—the first sitting in 1924
and the second, in 1929—Mr. Young being the chairman of the latter.

He proved himself a negotiator of unusual quality. He knew the facts. He
kept his head under all circumstances. He had the warmest kind of human
sympathies as well as what one of his colleagues called “a superior
emotional sensitiveness,” which made him steer clear of danger points
before anybody else realized that they were near.

Such were the qualities, I told myself, needed in a leader to handle the
infinitely difficult tangle in labor relations that was more and more
disturbing industry.

All I could do was to say so in print, and that I tried to do in a book
that came out in 1932 and had the misfortune to collide with a
Presidential boom for Mr. Young which misguided friends were cooking up
contrary to his wishes. It was the last thing that he wanted. He had the
good sense to see that there were vastly important things for the good
of the public to be done inside his industry. He wanted to go on with
them. He was doing a good job and should have been left with it, I felt.
But numbers of admirers and interested politicians continued to cry for
him for President until finally Mr. Young came out flat-footed to say
that under no circumstances would he accept a nomination.

But here was my book coming out while this outcry was going on, and
naturally enough political-minded reviewers took it as intended for a
campaign biography. The point I had been trying to make, that here was
somebody with rare ability to lead in the labor struggle, was entirely
lost. I still believe that if we could have had him active in these past
years so disheartening for peaceful industrial relations, the years
which have set back so far the hope of genuine understanding cooperation
inside industry, we should have been saved the peck of trouble that we
are now in.

It was out of the stuff gathered in these various undertakings that I
was depending for security. But the return from the books and articles
of a free lance is more or less uncertain, particularly when they come
in so sober a form as mine and are always shaped to fit a self-made

I saw that I must have an annual sure if modest money crop, and I found
it from 1924 on in lyceum work. My two seasons on the Chautauqua
platform had encouraged the lecture bureau to add me to its list of
“talent,” and it was arranged that I go out from four to six weeks a
year beginning around Lincoln’s birthday when dinners and celebrations
called for speakers, and running on into March—usually five engagements
a week, the local committees choosing the subject from the half-dozen I

These bookings covered the country from North to South and East to West,
long and erratic journeys. Frequently I occupied two different beds a
night, and now and then three. It was brutal, exhaustive business, but I
learned to climb into an upper berth without a fuss, to sleep on a bench
if there was no berth, to rejoice over a cup of hot coffee at an
all-night workmen’s lunch counter, to warm my feet by walking a platform
while waiting for a train. By the end of the first season I had
developed a stoical acceptance of whatever came. This, I argued, saved
nervous wear and tear. I think now a certain amount of indignant
protest, useless as it would have been, might have put more zest into my
travel, as well as my talking.

It was not only hard but lonesome business. From the day I started out I
felt myself a detached wanderer, one who had laid aside personality and
become a cog in the mechanism called a lecture bureau. My one ambition
was to fill the specifications of the schedule and have it over with. It
was not until I said good-bye to the last committee and was headed home
that I felt the joyful rush of reviving personality.

This is putting an unfair face on my experiences. These long railroad
journeys, these nights waiting in dreary stations were not without their
rewards. I carry no more beautiful pictures in my mind than those
flashed on me riding across this country: glittering snow mountains with
stars hanging over them as big as a moon; miles of blossoming redbuds
rising from the mist along an Oklahoma stream; the lovely rounded forms
of the Ozark Mountains stretched as in sleep across Missouri; amethyst
deserts; endless rolling prairies yellow with wheat or white with snow.
These journeys took me at one time or another into every state in the
Union, and there is no one of them in which some bit of remembered
beauty does not take the curse off the almost universal disorder, even
squalor of their towns and cities as I saw them going in and out by

These long rides, these night waits, brought unforgettable looks into
human lives. Strange how travelers will confide their ambitions, unload
their secrets, show their scars to strangers. Never have I been more
convinced of the supreme wisdom of the confessional of the Catholic
Church than by the confidences poured into my ears in these brief and
accidental meetings. Memorable and poignant though these experiences are
of the country’s beauty as well as of its human tragedy and comedy, they
are little more than a blur. The rapid and crowded succession of events
left no time to follow up, digest, get at the meaning, the solution.
This was particularly tantalizing when it came to the actual filling of
the engagement, for here you were for a time in close contact with a few
people, your committee, and you had an hour or more facing an audience
representative of a community.

The committee represented authority. It was my business to follow its
instructions, please it if I could. Its chairman was the first person I
sought on arrival—that is, the first after checking up on how and when I
was to get away from the place at which I had just arrived.

To be sure, I had careful routing, but was the train by which I was
ordered to leave still running? Had there been a flood or blizzard or
accident to make a detour necessary? Sometimes it was an exciting
detour. More than once I had to go fifty or a hundred miles by car over
flooded or snowbound roads which the pessimistic declared impassable,
and which only an adventurous youth for a good round sum would undertake
to negotiate. In one of these hold-ups I traveled two hundred miles in a
freight car behind an engine, the first to go over the snowbound road in
a week. More than once on these exciting detours I felt that probably I
should not come out alive; but I always did and always found, however
late my arrival, my audience was waiting me. As a matter of fact those
little adventures were highly stimulating after hours and hours of the
benumbing comfort of trains.

When I knew how I was to get away, I looked up the committee. So far as
I was concerned, the point at which I most frequently found a serious
conflict in a committee was the subject on which I was to talk. That was
supposed to have been settled—I had their letter for it. But not
everybody wanted me to talk on so-and-so. Usually I found it was because
somebody feared I might be too radical. They didn’t want anything said
on their platform which would antagonize the well-to-do conservative
sponsors of the course or encourage the town’s social and economic

I remember times when, after an exciting discussion behind the scenes, I
stood in the wings waiting for the signal to come onto the platform
while behind me the discussion went on. Only at the last moment did the
chairman say begrudgingly, “Well, talk on so-and-so.” But the chief
objector meeting me after the lecture said, “I would so much have
preferred to have heard you on so-and-so.”

But the indecision of the committee was not the only trying experience
before I was actually on my feet and at my job. There was the
introduction. You never knew exactly what was to happen. As a matter of
fact the introduction should and frequently does give opportunity for
repartee, for anecdote—an easy way for putting yourself at once on terms
of friendliness with your audience. But I was never happy at that kind
of thing. On the Chautauqua circuit the fashion has been for the speaker
to go out as soon as the music was over, take his stand and begin.
Nobody said, “This is So-and-So who will speak on so-and-so.” Nobody
told them anything about you—you stood up and said your piece.

The ritual on the lyceum platform was different. There they made the
most of me, as a rule. It sometimes seemed to me that each successive
committee had a different way of presenting me. Sometimes I marched out
with the master of ceremonies, a man or woman, and was placed in an
armchair while the chairman made remarks about me which were often
bewildering. I have been introduced as the author of George Kennan’s
Siberian books and of Edna Ferber’s Emma McChesney stories. I have heard
a long explanation of why I had never married. Once I was called a
notorious woman by the speaker, he evidently thinking that the word was
flattering. Often I had a bodyguard made up of important women of the
community—a tribute to my sex.

One of the most peculiar fashions, as well as the most trying, was
having a scene arranged behind the drop curtain. The stage was turned
into a pleasant sitting room, and a half-dozen of the leading women of
the town in their best gowns were seated about in informal fashion. When
we were all ready the curtain went up. There would be music, and then
the chairman would tell them who I was, and why I was supposed to be
worth their attention. While this was going on the audience was locating
the different persons of importance on the stage and criticizing the
setting and the costumes.

One going as a lecturer to the most remote parts of the country that
support a lecture course may think he will be a treat, but if he has any
sensibility he will soon discover that, far from that, he usually has a
critical audience. It is interested in what he has to say, treats him
with courtesy and respect; but it has also had experience with scores of
lecturers in past years and compares his matter and his manner with
theirs. I have been in towns in the Middle West where they had heard
Thackeray and Dickens read, had listened to Emerson and Bronson Alcott,
and had heard every popular lecturer in all the years since their day.

Your real opportunity to judge of the intelligence and alertness of the
community comes while you are speaking. Look for an hour or more into
the faces of a group of men and women who, whatever they may think of
you, are courteous enough to give you their attention, and you know soon
what certain individuals think of what you are saying. Always I found
myself speaking to someone who I knew heartily disagreed with me,
someone I felt I would like to convince. Always I knew that there was a
man waiting to challenge me. Usually these challenges came from
Socialists or Single Taxers. If an opportunity was given to ask
questions after my talk (something which I always encouraged), they were
the first on their feet. The community knew them and knew what their
questions would be, and frequently laughed at them. But a really good
audience enjoys seeing a speaker heckled a bit and the speaker, if he is
really interested in his business, is glad to take the heckling. I know
nothing better for a lecturer who is going over the same arguments night
after night than to know that there will probably be somebody in his
audience who will seize the first opportunity to pick on a weak point,
challenge his generalization, his facts. If that happens you always go
away from your lecture better equipped than you came to it.

In the twelve years in which I regularly made an annual lecture trip—I
gave up the work in 1932, finding it too much for my strength—in all
those twelve years I everywhere found the liveliest absorption in
national policies. People told you how they felt about an undertaking,
how it was working out in their particular community—important, for here
you had the test of the pudding in its eating. It was what I saw of the
workings of prohibition in the 1920’s that drove me to do one of the
most unpopular things I ever did—that was to tell bluntly how I saw it
working in hotels from one end of the land to the other, disheartening
evidences of its effect on the young, the unexpected dangers it brought
to a woman traveling alone at night, both in stations and on trains. I
set down what I had seen over a wide range of territory, what I had
heard from the mouths of men and women who had been ardent
prohibitionists, and who were appalled by the things that were happening
particularly to youth in their own communities.

I had never been a prohibitionist in principle. My whole theory for the
improvement of society is based on a belief in the discipline and the
education of the individual to self-control and right doing, for the
sake of right doing. I have never seen fundamental improvements imposed
from the top by ordinances and laws. I believed that the country was
gradually learning temperance. But if prohibition could be made to work
I was willing it should be tried. But what I saw in these years had led
me by 1928 to feel that something unexpected and very disastrous was
going on, and that it must be faced, not hidden. It was the most
important observation that my crowded lecture days yielded, but as I say
it brought me bitter criticism and now and then an intimation from some
indignant woman of power and parts that I had sold myself to the liquor
interests. One lady even intimated that if she had known that my pen was
for sale she would have bid for it. This kind of criticism, however, is
one of the things that one who says what he thinks must be prepared to
meet. It is very difficult to believe that those who disagree with you
are as convinced of the right of their point of view as you are, that
they are not being bribed or unduly influenced, have no selfish purpose
as you are sure you have not.

Two generalizations topping all others came out of this going up and
down the land in the years between 1920 and 1932. The first is the
ambition of our people to live and think according to what they
conceive to be national standards. They adopt them whether they suit
their locality or not, and often in adopting them destroy something
with individuality and charm. For the traveler it begins with the
hotel, spick and span, and as like as two peas to the one in
A-ville—B-ville—and so on. Over the way is a sturdy stone building
dating from the days of the coach and four. You may sigh for its great
rooms and for a sight of the old lithographs sure to be on the wall,
but you know it is run down. The town cannot support two, and it
prefers the smart and comfortable commonplace to modernizing its fine
old inn.

Look out your hotel window and you will see opposite a smart, little
dress shop, a duplicate of one you have been seeing everywhere you have
halted, a duplicate of many a one you have seen on New York avenues.
Next door is a standardized beauty parlor, and the pretty girl who waits
on you at the table, the daughter probably of some solid and
self-respecting townsman, has the latest coiffure and blood-red nails.
She is struggling to look as she supposes girls do in Chicago or New

When the committee takes you out to drive it is to show their one high
building, a high building on a prairie with limitless land to occupy, or
a country club as fine as the one in the nearest city. The pride is in
looking like something else, not themselves. The growth of this progress
in imitation can be traced in the change that has come over the local
postal card. All my life I have been a buyer of postal cards, largely on
account of my mother, to whom I always sent pictures of the localities
through which I was passing. Mother died in 1917, but up to this day I
rarely go through a station that I do not say to myself, “I must find a
card for Mother”—and turn away with a pang. In the years between 1920
and 1932 the postal card grew steadily less interesting. Once there were
pictures of a near-by fort, the earliest house, a local celebrity, a
rare view, but now it is all of high buildings and new blocks. They give
of course the pictures of the Zoo and the parks, and even the Zoo and
the parks pride themselves, like the country club, on their resemblance
to those of the nearest large city.

The growing evidence that nationalization is blotting out local
individuality, destroying the pungent personality of sections, states,
communities, struck me with new force after the months I spent in Italy
in 1926. In Italy I had found that, however deeply unionism might be
written in the hearts of some men, you were a Roman, a Perugian, a
Venetian, a Neapolitan before you were an Italian. The long arm of
Fascism was reaching into the provinces and the towns, but it did not as
yet disturb their ways of life. Mussolini had shown, up to that date,
rare knowledge of his Italians. He had left them their ways. Sure of
them, they did not worry so much about the change in government. Most of
them could see about them the proofs of two thousand years of change;
they could show you records and scars of a long succession of emperors,
kings, consuls, dictators. It did not seem to make a vast difference to
them what the government was if they could go on being themselves.

Perhaps our national ambition to standardize ourselves has behind it the
notion that democracy means standardization. But standardization is the
surest way to destroy the initiative, to benumb the creative impulse
above all else essential to the vitality and growth of democratic

The second of my two generalizations was slower in its making. It came
when I began to scratch below the surface of the imitative life so
conspicuous. Then I found a stable foundation of people who stayed at
home and went about their business in their own way and without much
talking. These were people who in spite of droughts and dust storms
stuck to their farms, making the most of good years, saving enough to
carry them through the evil ones, adding a little, year by year, to
their possessions in town and country, supporting schools, churches, and
incidentally lecture courses. They were people who believed in freedom
to work out their own salvation and asked from the state nothing more
than protection in this freedom. It was the business of government, as
they saw it, to keep off the plunderers and let them alone.

Democracy to them was not something which insured them a stable
livelihood. It was something which protected them while they earned a
livelihood. If they failed it was their failure. If the Government did
not protect them from transportation plunderers, manipulations of money,
stock gambling in goods which they raised to feed the world, it was the
Government’s failure. Then they had the right to change the Government,
hold it up to its duty. That was their political business.

This was about what I found, the country over. When once I had learned
to look beyond the restless imitative crowd, to hunt out people who were
going about their business steadily, and for the most part serenely, I
began to breathe more freely and to say: “Well, perhaps, after all, the
men and women of this country as a whole do know what they are about.
They do know what democracy means, and in the best way that they can
under many hampering circumstances they are trying to live it.”

Some such conclusion I always brought back with me from my annual swings
around the country, my dozens of nights in dozens of different
places—the high spot of which always was the hour of searching the faces
of the men and women who came to listen to what I had to say, and who, I
knew, sized me up for just about what I was worth. I might be fooling
myself but not them.

                       NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN

Here then is the record of my day’s work still unfinished at eighty.
Nobody can be more surprised than I am that I am still at work. Looking
forward at life at thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, generally finding myself
tired and a little discouraged, having always taken on things for which
I was unprepared, things which were really too big for me, I consoled
myself by saying, “At seventy you stop.” I planned for it. I would
burrow into the country, have a microscope—my old love. I knew by this
time that was not the way for me to find God, but I expected to have a
lot of fun watching the Protozoa and less anguish than watching men and

But I discovered when seventy came that I still had security to look
after. I could make it by seventy-five, I thought, but I did not. And I
have come where I am with a consciousness that, so long as my head holds
out, I shall work. More important, I am counting it as one of my
blessings. In spite of the notion early instilled into me that the place
of the aged is in the corner resignedly waiting to die, that there is no
place for their day’s work in the scheme of things, that they no longer
will have either the desire or the power to carry on, I find things to
do which belong to me and nobody else.

It is an exciting discovery that this can be so. Old age need not be
what the textbooks assure us it is. Shakespeare is wrong. Cicero, dull
as he is in comparison, is more nearly right. More, it can be an
adventure. My young friends laugh at me when I tell them that, in spite
of creaking joints and a tremulous hand, there are satisfactions
peculiar to the period, satisfactions different from those of youth, of
middle life, even of that decade of the seventies which I supposed ended
it all.

I have been finding it a surprising adventure, if frequently
disillusioning and disturbing, to review my working life, to pick out
what seems to be the reason for my going here and not there, for
thinking this and not that. It has been a good deal like renewing
acquaintance with a friend I had not seen since childhood. Probably the
reason for this is that I have never stopped long enough after any one
piece of work to clean up, valuate what I had done. Always a new
undertaking was on my table before I was finished with what went before.
Packing boxes and letter files of badly classified material still
clutter up my small space with the physical evidence of the
incompleteness of every piece of work I have undertaken.

This explains why telling my story has been so full of surprises. “I did
not realize I felt that way,” I have told myself more than once. “I had
forgotten I did that.” “I cannot imagine why I thought that.”

I took on self-support at the start that I might be free to find answers
to questions which puzzled me. After long floundering I blundered into
man’s old struggle for the betterment of his life.

My point of attack has always been that of a journalist after the fact,
rarely that of a reformer, the advocate of a cause or a system. If I was
tempted from the strait and narrow path of the one who seeks for that
which is so and why it is so, I sooner or later returned. This was
partly because of the humor and common sense of my associates on
_McClure’s_ and _The American Magazine_, and partly because the habit of
accepting without question the teachings and conventions of my world was
shattered when in girlhood I discovered that the world was not created
in six days of twenty-four hours each. That experience aroused me to
questioning, qualifying even what I advocated, which no first-class
crusader can afford to do.

I have never had illusions about the value of my individual
contribution! I realized early that what a man or a woman does is built
on what those who have gone before have done, that its real value
depends on making the matter in hand a little clearer, a little sounder
for those who come after. Nobody begins or ends anything. Each person is
a link, weak or strong, in an endless chain. One of our gravest mistakes
is persuading ourselves that nobody has passed this way before.

In our eagerness to prove we have found the true solution, we fail to
inquire why this same solution failed to work when tried before—for it
always has been tried before, even if we in our self-confidence do not
know it.

We are given to ignoring not only the past of our solutions, their
status when we took them over, but the variety of relationships they
must meet, satisfy. They must sink or swim in a stream where a multitude
of human experiences, prejudices, ambitions, ideals meet and clash,
throw one another back, mingle, make that all-powerful current which is
public opinion—the trend which swallows, digests, or rejects what we
give it. It is our indifference to or ignorance of the multiplicity of
human elements in the society we seek to benefit that is responsible for
the sinking outright of many of our fine plans.

There are certain exhibits of the eighty years I have lived which
particularly impress me. Perhaps the first of these is the cyclical
character of man’s nature and activities. If I separate my eighty
years—1857 to 1937—into four generations, examine them, compare my
findings, I find startling similarities in essentials. Take the effort,
to create, distribute, and use wealth. How alike are the ups and downs
that have marked that effort!

I was born in the year of a major panic. The depression which followed
it was smothered in war. That war over, quickly there followed in 1866 a
serious depression—world-wide. In 1873 came a major panic. When this
first period came to an end in 1877 the country was still deep in the
clutch of the unhappy depression which followed that panic.

Each of my three successive generations beginning in 1877, 1897, 1917,
has featured a “major” panic followed by five to seven years of
depression. Then has come a brilliant short-lived recovery ending in
what we euphoniously call today a recession.

My fifth generation, just opening, promises well to duplicate its
predecessor. If I live ten years longer I no doubt shall see another
major panic, and one still more difficult for the productive individual
or group to handle because the practice of following the provident ant’s
example and storing up in the good time reserves to meet the bad has
been made a political offense.

Each generation repeats its leaders. Each sees men endowed with superior
inventiveness, energy, and genius for business, inspired by love of
power and possession, launch selfish schemes—Carnegies, Rockefellers,
Goulds. If each of these strong men left something sinister behind, each
also contributed to higher living standards and hurried on the
nationalization of the country. The public without whom they could not
have lived a day saw in their greedy grandiose undertakings whatever was
for its benefit, and took it while ordering its government to control
whatever was sinister.

And while they built and served and exploited, other men endowed with
far greater idealism than practical sense planned new forms of
government, new laws, advertised panaceas, all guaranteed to produce
security and justice. Each generation has had its Henry George, its
Bellamy, its Bryan, intent on persuading mankind that he had found the
way, could lead men to the good life.

In each generation employer and employee have faced the decision—war or
cooperation. If war has been the answer in the majority of cases, there
have always been those who have gone ahead building up a great mass of
evidence of what men inspired by good will, free from suspicion and
self-interest, can do in industry by patient cooperative experiments.

Side by side with these exhibits have gone magnificent governmental
attempts to correct abuses, to make man’s life in the Republic freer,
securer, more just, efforts to carry out the avowed purpose of the
government we started a hundred and fifty years ago. And these efforts
are alike in essentials—the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, the New
Freedom of Woodrow Wilson, the Square Deal of Theodore Roosevelt, the
fight for a larger freedom of opportunity of Grover Cleveland, the
struggle to wipe out slavery of Abraham Lincoln.

Again and again in these generations have we seen the great airship of
democracy lift from the ground, stagger, gather itself together, soar,
sail, while those who had chosen the pilot and loaded in his cargo
watched the flight with confidence and exultation. This time their dream
had come true.

But the ship has always come back, its journey unfinished, and doubters
have jeered at those who believed in it, cried out that it would never
fly, that freedom, equal opportunity were only foolish fancies; men,
they gloated, function only under strong single rulers. Dictatorship
alone makes efficient government—national power and glory. The state,
not the individual, is the end.

There is no denying that these repeated failures or half-successes have
made cynics of many who have had a hand in the flights, or at least been
sympathetic watchers.

It has been sickening to see hopes grow dim under the hammering of
reality, to see a generation lose its first grand fire and sink into
apathy, cynicism. One asks oneself if man has the staying power ever to
realize his ideals. One is inclined when this hour of futility comes to
agree with Arthur Balfour that human life is but a disreputable episode
on one of the minor planets. As far as I am concerned that smart and
cynical estimate never could stand a good night’s sleep.

If I find little satisfaction or hope in examining and comparing one by
one my four successive generations, I find considerable in looking at
them as a whole. When I do that, I see not a group of cycles rolling one
after another along a rocky and uneven road but a spiral—the group moves
upward. To be sure it is not a very steady spiral, but I am convinced
that is the real movement.

Could there be greater evidence that this is true than that the world as
a whole has today come to conscious grips over that most fundamental of
problems: Shall all men cooperate in an effort to make a free, peaceful,
orderly world, or shall we consent that strong men make a world to their
liking, forcing us to live in it? more than that, train us to carry it

It is well that the issue should be clear, so clear that each of us must
be forced to choose.

Even more hopeful, if not so clear to many people, is the increasing
knowledge that we are getting of man as an individual and as a mass,
coming to us particularly from men of science. What we have yet to find
out, apparently, is what we can expect of man under this or that
circumstance, what words and what promises stir him, what persuades him
to cooperation or to revolt, why he follows a particular type of leader
at a particular time and how long he can be counted on. Once we know
better what we can get out of man under particular circumstances we can
plan our action with something like the certainty with which the
electrician plans his machine. He knows the nature of the current, what
it will do and not do. He puts no strain on it which experiment has
proved fatal.

When we reach that knowledge and control of human forces we shall know
why the League of Nations works so badly, why we have before us the
terrible and apparently uncheckable shambles of Spain and China, why an
intolerable outbreak of racial and religious prejudice should shame us
at this period of our history, why we must be prepared to meet the
savage outbreaks of men and peoples still contemptuous of contracts,
unamenable to ideals of honor, peace, and conciliation.

One consolation in any effort to socialize and democratize our plans of
life is that the mass of men want a simple world. In every country they
ask little more than security, preferably of their own making, freedom
to build in the way they like so far as possible. They will follow any
system or any leader that promises them that. Politicians would do a
better job for men if they wrote fewer constitutions, devised fewer
automatic cures, gave more attention to disciplining and training common
men and women the world over to honest labor, to cooperation with their
fellows, to sacrifice when necessary, keeping alive in them their
natural spark of freedom.

How are we going to do it? That is the gravest question we face. In 1921
I went to Washington to report Secretary Hughes’ Conference on the
Limitation of Armaments. It seemed to me that I had better do some
preliminary reading on the problems, so I went to a wise man at the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace for advice. He turned out to
be a philosopher.

“First,” said he, “read ‘Don Quixote’: he will tell you what they cannot
do. Then read Aesop’s Fables: that will tell you what they can do. But
above all read the King James Version of the Bible, which tells you that
peace on earth is promised only to men of good will.”

There you have it. If we want peace we must make men of common sense,
knowing what can be done and what cannot be done, also men of good will.

How are we to do that? I see no more promising path than each person
sticking to the work which comes his way. The nature of the work, its
seeming size and importance matter far less than its right relation to
the place where he finds himself. If the need at the moment is digging a
ditch or washing the dishes, that is the greatest thing in the world for
the moment. The time, the place, the need, the relation are what decide
the value of the act.

It is by following this natural path that new and broader roads open to
us, moments of illumination come. There is the only reliable hope of the
world. It takes in all of us but puts it up hard to each of us to fit
the day’s work into the place where we stand, not crowding into
another’s place: no imitation, no hurry, growth always, knowing that
light and power come only with growth, slow as it is.

Madame Curie so saw it. Asked what a woman’s contribution to a better
world should be, she replied that it began at home, then spread to those
immediately connected, her immediate friends, then the community in
which she lived; and if the work proved to meet a need of the world at
large it spread there. But the important thing was the beginning, and
that beginning, Madame Curie insisted, was in the home, the center of
small things.

Work backed by such a faith makes life endurable. I doubt if I could
have come into my eighties with anything like the confidence I feel in
the ultimate victory of freedom, the ultimate victory of man’s
self-respect, if I had not groped my way through work into some such

I know I should find this end of life less satisfactory if it were not a
working end, conditioned as it must be by certain concessions to years,
easements necessary if I am to keep vigor for my two or three hours a
day at my desk and, once accepted, becoming more and more enjoyable.

No one can imagine what a satisfaction it is to me to find that I need
not go to conferences and conventions and big dinners. That job belongs
to youth. It alone has the appetite, the digestion, the resilience for
the endless talk and late hours of those functions, also the confidence
that salvation is to be reached through them.

Still more satisfactory is the acceptance of the fact that I have not
the strength to run about on trains and give lectures. That, too, is the
job of young people, and the best I can hope for them in carrying it on
is that they will learn as much about people as I think I did. The
humility which that will engender will be all to their good.

A discovery which has given me joy, and which had something of the
incredible about it, is the durability of friendship born at any period
in one’s life. I have enlarged in this narrative only on professional
friendships, those that belong legitimately to my day’s work, but this
discovery does not cover them alone but all the range from childhood to

Circumstances, time, separations, may have completely broken
communication. The break may have been caused by complete divergence of
opinion, differences as grave as those which caused the breaking up of
our old McClure crowd, as grave as the ghastly separations that war
brings; but you pick up at the day when the friendship was—not broken
but interrupted.

One of the most beautiful personal demonstrations I have had of this
unbreakable quality in friendship was a birthday party which S. S.
McClure gave Viola Roseboro, John Phillips, and myself when he was
seventy-eight, and I close to it. Miss Roseboro had stayed with Mr.
McClure when the rest of us left him. That had never made a rift in
anybody’s relations with her, and now we all sat down together as once
we had sat down in the old St. Denis, the old Astor, the old Holland
House—lunching places that marked the stages by which _McClure’s_ worked
itself successively into better quarters, went uptown. And we talked
only of the things of today, as we always had done. We sat enthralled as
in the old years while Mr. McClure enlarged on his latest enthusiasm,
marveling as always at the eternal youthfulness in the man, the failure
of life to quench him.

One of my great satisfactions has been a revival of curiosity. I lost it
in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Human affairs seemed to me to be headed
for collapse. War was not over, and men were taking it for granted it
was. The failure of the hopes of previous generations had taught us
nothing. The sense of disaster was strong in me. What I most feared was
that we were raising our standard of living at the expense of our
standard of character. If you believed as I did (and do) that permanent
human betterment must rest on a sound moral basis, then our house would
collapse sooner or later.

It was taking a longer view, looking at my fifty years as a whole, that
revived me. I thought I saw a spiral, was eager to prove it.

Once more I am curious. It is an armchair curiosity—no longer can I go
out and see for myself; but that has its advantages. It compels longer
reflection, intensifies the conviction that taking time, having
patience, doing one thing at a time are the essentials for solid
improvement, for finding answers. Perhaps, I tell myself, I may from an
armchair find better answers than I have yet found to those questions
which set me at my day’s work, the still unanswered questions of the
most fruitful life for women in civilization, the true nature of
revolutions, even the mystery of God. It is the last of the three which
disturbs me least. The greatest of mysteries, it has become for me the
greatest of realities.


 Adams, Dr. Herbert B., 76

 Addams, Jane, 273, 279, 305, 309, 310, 312, 313, 322, 334, 349, 354

 Agassiz, Louis, 41, 42

 Alber, Louis, 300

 Alden, Timothy, 37–39

 Aldrich, Esther Tarbell (niece), 264, 265, 359

 Allegheny College, 34–47, 58, 64, 89, 142

 American Federation of Labor, 82, 371

 _American Magazine, The_, 255, 259, 261, 265–267, 270, 274, 276, 281,
    282, 288, 292, 293, 297–300, 306, 307, 327, 350, 353, 359, 365, 399

 Anderson, Mary, 55, 323, 349

 Anderson, Maxwell, 307

 Anthony, Susan B., 31–33, 40, 327

 Archbold, John D., 220, 221, 232

 Baker, Ray Stannard, 196, 197, 242, 258, 261, 266, 274, 279, 282, 292,
    299, 350

 Barton Lincolniana, 170, 171

 Beecher-Tilton scandal, 33

 Bell, Alexander Graham, 44, 147, 181–184

 Bellamy, Edward, 83, 401

 Bentley, William, 38, 39

 Berkman, Alexander, 126

 Blanc, Madame (Théodore Bentzon), 100, 101

 Bliven, Bruce, 307

 Bloomer, Amelia, 31

 Bonaparte, Napoleon, 130, 146–153, 155, 156, 159, 161, 164, 205, 384

 Bonnet, Madame, 90, 103–106, 110, 112, 114, 116–118

 Bonta House, 19, 205

 Borgeaud, Charles, 131, 145, 350

 Boyden, Albert, 258, 261, 262, 266, 300

 Bryan, William Jennings, 355, 356, 401

 Bugbee, Dr. Lucius, 35, 43

 Burlingame, Edward L., 98–100

 Burroughs, John, 308

 Catt, Carrie Chapman, 320–322, 326

 Chautauqua Assembly, 65–72

 Chautauqua Circuit, 300–305, 314, 329, 352–356, 388–397

 Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, 69–71, 81

 _Chautauquan, The_, 64, 71–79, 81–83, 85–89, 94, 98, 179, 204, 211, 268

 Cherry Run, 4, 5, 8, 10

 Claflin, Tennessee, 32, 33

 Claude, Monsieur, 97

 Cleveland, Grover, 83, 149, 268–272, 402

 Coppée, François, 122, 123

 Corrigan, James, 237, 238

 Craft, Amos Norton, 27, 28

 Dana, Charles A., 174–177

 Darmesteter, James, 131

 Daudet, Alphonse, 122, 126, 127

 Delamater, Wallace, 79, 80

 Dieulafoy, Madame, 101, 102

 Doremus, Dr. R. Ogden, 65, 66

 Duffus, Robert L., 307

 Dumas, Alexandre, 122

 Duncan, Andrew J., 60, 61

 Dunne, Finley Peter (Mr. Dooley), 259–261, 265, 300, 361

 Edison, Thomas A., 64, 310

 Ely, Dr. Richard T., 76

 Emery, Fred Parker, 114

 Emery, Lewis, Jr., 231–234, 236, 237, 252

 Fairchild, David, 183

 Finley, Dr. John H., 70, 76, 77, 171, 172

 Fisk, Jim, 22

 Flagler, Henry, 217–220

 Fletcher, Henry P., 382

 Flood, Dr. Theodore L., 64, 72–75, 87

 Ford, Henry, 287–293, 296, 309–312

 Gary, Judge Elbert H., 285, 364–374

 Gautier, Judith, 102, 103

 Gautier, Théophile, 102

 George, Henry, 83, 401

 Gifford, Walter S., 320, 325

 Gilder, Jeannette L., 265

 Gladden, Dr. Washington, 243

 Gompers, Samuel, 285, 349, 371–373

 Gould, Jay, 22, 25

 Grayson, David, 197. _See also_ Baker, Ray Stannard

 Grosvenor, Gilbert II., 183

 Grumbine, Annette, 46

 Hanna, Mark, 60, 61

 Harding, Warren G., 375

 Haskins, George, 44–45, 47

 Hasse, Adelaide, 209

 Hay, John, 162–164, 166, 169

 Haymarket riot, 82

 Hazen, Charles D., 114–116, 145, 330

 Heinze, F. Augustus, 228, 229

 Henderson, Josephine, 89

 Henry, Mary, 89, 90, 98

 Herr, Lucien, 132, 133, 145

 Hess, Ida, 15

 Hess, M. E., 15

 “History of the Standard Oil Company, The,” 202, 206, 239–241, 244,
    258, 361–364

 Hoar, George Frisbie, 190–195

 Hoch, E. W., 249

 Hoggson, Ella, 265

 Hoggson, Noble, 265

 Holland Land Company, 37

 Hoover, Herbert, 321, 375, 376

 Howe, Frederic C., 309

 Hubbard, Gardiner Green, 147, 149–152, 180–182, 185

 Hubbard, Mrs. Gardiner Green, 149, 150, 180, 181, 190

 Jaccaci, Auguste, 158, 159, 337, 340, 350, 352, 379

 James, Henry, 45

 Janssen, Pierre Jules César, 120

 Jewett, Rutger B., 364, 365

 Jordan, David Starr, 306, 307, 349, 354

 Kellogg, Clara Louise, 34

 Kennan, George, 302, 391

 Langley, Samuel Pierpont, 183–185

 Lapique, Louis, 145, 350

 Lathrop, Julia C., 324

 Lee, B. F., 49, 50, 53

 Leigh, William R., 172

 Lincoln, Abraham, 8, 11, 12, 59, 161, 175, 177–180, 186, 205, 282, 288,
    357, 360, 384–386, 402

 Lincoln, Robert Todd, 59, 165–170, 172

 Livermore, Mary A., 32

 Lloyd, Henry D., 204, 209, 210, 214, 231, 233, 240

 Lynch, Thomas, 286, 287, 291, 292

 Lyons, Mrs. Emily, 165–166, 168

 _McClure’s Magazine_, 121, 124, 126, 141, 145, 147, 153, 154, 157–160,
    177, 184, 186, 187, 190, 195–198, 202, 206, 211, 212, 225–227, 231,
    240, 242, 254–259, 261, 262, 269, 282, 288, 297, 299, 353, 363, 364,
    399, 406

 McClure, S. S., 118–123, 141, 146–150, 151, 154–156, 158, 160–165, 168,
    173, 175–177, 184, 188, 196, 199, 200, 202, 205, 206, 210–212, 215,
    239, 254–258, 363, 406

 McClure’s Syndicate, 100, 103, 118, 155, 175

 McCoy, Adrian, 73

 McCullough, Esther Ann (mother), 1–3, 5–13, 16, 17, 20–22, 31, 32, 34,
    35, 63, 98, 116, 117, 144–146, 203, 357, 395

 McCullough, Walter Raleigh (grandfather), 1, 3

 McKinley, Abner, 60

 McKinley, William, 58–62, 186, 187, 189, 207, 268

 Mahaffy, Dr. J. P., 77, 78

 Marillier, Madame Cécile, 132, 133, 135, 139, 141, 142, 145, 337, 339,

 Marillier, Léon, 131, 132, 138

 Marx, Karl, 135

 Mead, David, 37

 Meadville, Pa., 38, 64, 72, 74, 76, 79, 141, 262

 Medill, Joseph, 173

 Miles, General Nelson Appleton, 186–190

 Miller, Hugh, 27, 28

 Miller, Lewis, 64, 65, 67, 69

 Montague, Gilbert Holland, 240, 241

 Morse, John T., 167, 168

 Mussolini, Benito, 368, 377, 378, 380–384, 395

 Nestor, Agnes, 322, 323

 Nicolay, John G., 162–166, 169

 Norris, Kathleen, 266

 Oil City, Pa., 11, 117

 Oil Creek, 4, 8, 13, 14, 244

 Pasteur, Louis, 120–122

 Pasteur, Madame Louis, 120–122

 Perry, J. Leslie, 175, 176

 Petroleum Center, 14, 15

 Phillips, John S., 103, 119, 141, 156–160, 165, 175, 197, 199, 202,
    205, 210, 211, 215, 229, 239, 254, 257–260, 262, 266, 274, 281, 292,
    297, 300, 336, 406

 Pithole, 10, 19, 20, 204, 205

 Poland Union Seminary, Poland, Ohio, 48–59, 62–65, 81, 85

 Pure Oil Company, 204, 231

 _Red Cross Magazine_, 325, 336, 350

 Reed, Jack, 266, 267

 Robinson, A. Mary F., 131, 140

 Rockefeller, Frank, 237, 238

 Rockefeller, John D., 25, 211, 214, 215, 217, 219, 220, 233–240, 243,
    251, 362, 372

 Rogers, Henry H., 10, 24, 25, 211–232, 234, 365

 Roland, Madame, 85, 86, 93, 99, 100, 112, 124, 125, 130–132, 136–140,
    143, 144, 146, 148, 153

 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 67, 369, 402

 Roosevelt, Theodore, 189, 190, 211, 229, 241, 242, 251, 252, 271, 272,
    275–277, 306, 366, 367, 369, 402

 Roseboro, Viola, 13, 197, 198, 406

 Rouse, Henry, 8

 Rouseville, 9, 10, 14, 15, 19, 21, 24, 135, 213

 Sabin, Dr. Florence, 120

 Schurz, Carl, 177, 178

 Schwimmer, Madame Rosika, 309, 313

 _Scribner’s Magazine_, 97, 98, 118, 124, 144, 145, 153

 Seignobos, Charles, 132–136, 138, 145, 337, 349, 350

 Shaw, Dr. Anna H., 318–322, 326–329, 336

 Sherman Antitrust Law, 252

 Shotwell, Dr. James T., 349

 Siddall, John M., 211, 234–237, 258, 266, 299, 307, 308

 Simon, Jules, 123

 Sloane, William Milligan, 152

 South Improvement Company, 23–25, 208, 214, 218–220, 227

 Spofford, Ainsworth, 150, 151

 Standard Oil Company, 10, 24, 25, 83, 202, 203, 206–212, 214–216,
    218–223, 225, 226, 228–232, 234, 237–241, 243, 244, 249–253, 267,
    268, 299, 362–364;
   “History” of, _see_ “History”

 Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, 31–33, 40, 327

 Stanton, Theodore, 99

 Steed, H. Wickham, 135, 136, 204, 350

 Steffens, Lincoln, 198–202, 256, 258, 274, 282, 297, 298

 Tarbell, Franklin Sumner (father), 1–6, 8, 10–22, 24, 25, 27, 31, 32,
    34, 43, 46, 53, 63, 65, 88, 93–95, 98, 104, 116, 118, 144–146, 203,
    207, 213, 218, 245

 Tarbell, Franklin Sumner, Jr. (brother), 12

 Tarbell, Sarah A. (sister), 12, 24, 63, 98, 121, 144, 145, 359

 Tarbell, William Walter (brother), 5, 12, 14, 46, 98, 118, 121, 145,
    203–205, 231, 345

 Tariff Commission, 278, 279

 Taylor, Frederick W., 292–295, 360

 Tingley, Jeremiah, 41–44, 120

 Titusville, Pa., 4, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 27, 30–32, 46, 64, 65, 72, 79,
    83, 89, 90, 97, 98, 117, 141, 146, 205, 218, 262

 Tucker, G. Burr, 264

 Tucker, Mrs. G. Burr, 264

 Tupper, Clara Tarbell (niece), 359

 Tupper, Tristram, 359

 Twain, Mark, 67, 68, 157, 211–213, 265, 369

 Vacuum Oil Company, 220, 221

 Vanderbilt, Commodore, 25, 33

 Vincent, Dr. John H., 65–72, 114–116, 145

 Walker, Clara, 54, 55, 57, 61

 Walker, Robert, 52, 57–62

 Wallace, Lew, 71

 Wallace, Susan E., 71

 White, William Allen, 200, 259, 260, 282, 337, 338, 350

 Whitney, Henry C., 173, 174

 Wickersham, George W., 362, 366

 Willard, Frances E., 32

 Wilson, Woodrow, 167, 278, 279, 313–318, 320, 322, 328, 331, 346, 348,
    350, 351, 356–358, 362, 371, 374–376, 386, 402

 Winthrop, Judge James, 39

 Woodhull, Victoria, 32, 33

 Woolf, Virginia, 40

 Young, Owen D., 386–388

 Zola, Emile, 122, 123


                                 ALL IN
                             THE DAY’S WORK

                           _An Autobiography_


                            _Ida M. Tarbell_

  _author of “The History of the Standard Oil Company,” “The Life of
  Abraham Lincoln,” etc._

“I don’t know how this book will come out,” Miss Tarbell explained to
reporters on her eightieth birthday. “I am putting down the things I
have seen, the men and women I have known in five stirring decades.
Always there have been exciting things going on, things that upset
me—wars, depressions, bloody rows.”


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 2. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "All In The Day's Work" ***

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