Sunday, October 7, 2007



Richard Harding Davis was born in Philadelphia on April
18, 1864, but, so far as memory serves me, his life and mine
began together several years later in the three-story brick
house on South Twenty-first Street, to which we had just
moved. For more than forty years this was our home in all
that the word implies, and I do not believe that there was
ever a moment when it was not the predominating influence in
Richard's life and in his work. As I learned in later years,
the house had come into the possession of my father and mother
after a period on their part of hard endeavor and unusual
sacrifice. It was their ambition to add to this home not only
the comforts and the beautiful inanimate things of life, but
to create an atmosphere which would prove a constant help to
those who lived under its roof--an inspiration to their
children that should endure so long as they lived. At the
time of my brother's death the fact was frequently commented
upon that, unlike most literary folk, he had never known what
it was to be poor and to suffer the pangs of hunger and
failure. That he never suffered from the lack of a home was
certainly as true as that in his work he knew but little of
failure, for the first stories he wrote for the magazines
brought him into a prominence and popularity that lasted until
the end. But if Richard gained his success early in life and
was blessed with a very lovely home to which he could always
return, he was not brought up in a manner which in any way could
be called lavish. Lavish he may have been in later years, but if
he was it was with the money for which those who knew him best
knew how very hard he had worked.
In a general way, I cannot remember that our life as boys
differed in any essential from that of other boys. My brother
went to the Episcopal Academy and his weekly report never
failed to fill the whole house with an impenetrable gloom and
ever-increasing fears as to the possibilities of his future.
At school and at college Richard was, to say the least, an
indifferent student. And what made this undeniable fact so
annoying, particularly to his teachers, was that morally he
stood so very high. To "crib," to lie, or in any way to cheat
or to do any unworthy act was, I believe, quite beyond his
understanding. Therefore, while his constant lack of interest
in his studies goaded his teachers to despair, when it came to
a question of stamping out wrongdoing on the part of the
student body he was invariably found aligned on the side of
the faculty. Not that Richard in any way resembled a prig or
was even, so far as I know, ever so considered by the most
reprehensible of his fellow students. He was altogether too
red-blooded for that, and I believe the students whom he
antagonized rather admired his chivalric point of honor even
if they failed to imitate it. As a schoolboy he was
aggressive, radical, outspoken, fearless, usually of the
opposition and, indeed, often the sole member of his own
party. Among the students at the several schools he attended
he had but few intimate friends; but of the various little
groups of which he happened to be a member his aggressiveness
and his imagination usually made him the leader. As far back
as I can remember, Richard was always starting something--usually
a new club or a violent reform movement. And in school or
college, as in all the other walks of life, the reformer must,
of necessity, lead a somewhat tempestuous, if happy,
existence. The following letter, written to his father when
Richard was a student at Swarthmore, and about fifteen, will
give an idea of his conception of the ethics in the case:
I am quite on the Potomac. I with all the boys at our table
were called up, there is seven of us, before Prex. for
stealing sugar-bowls and things off the table. All the youths
said, "O President, I didn't do it." When it came my turn I
merely smiled gravely, and he passed on to the last. Then he
said, "The only boy that doesn't deny it is Davis. Davis, you
are excused. I wish to talk to the rest of them." That all
goes to show he can be a gentleman if he would only try. I am
a natural born philosopher so I thought this idea is too
idiotic for me to converse about so I recommend silence and I
also argued that to deny you must necessarily be accused and
to be accused of stealing would of course cause me to bid
Prex. good-by, so the only way was, taking these two
considerations with each other, to deny nothing but let the
good-natured old duffer see how silly it was by retaining a
placid silence and so crushing his base but thoughtless
behavior and machinations.
In the early days at home--that is, when the sun shone--we
played cricket and baseball and football
in our very spacious back yard, and the programme of our
sports was always subject to Richard's change without notice.
When it rained we adjourned to the third-story front, where we
played melodrama of simple plot but many thrills, and it was
always Richard who wrote the plays, produced them, and played
the principal part. As I recall these dramas of my early
youth, the action was almost endless and, although the company
comprised two charming misses (at least I know that they
eventually grew into two very lovely women), there was no time
wasted over anything so sentimental or futile as love-scenes.
But whatever else the play contained in the way of great
scenes, there was always a mountain pass--the mountains being
composed of a chair and two tables--and Richard was forever
leading his little band over the pass while the band, wholly
indifferent as to whether the road led to honor, glory, or
total annihilation, meekly followed its leader. For some
reason, probably on account of my early admiration for Richard
and being only too willing to obey his command, I was
invariably cast for the villain in these early dramas, and the
end of the play always ended in a hand-to-hand conflict
between the hero and myself. As Richard, naturally, was the
hero and incidentally the stronger of the two, it can readily
be imagined that the fight always ended in my complete
undoing. Strangulation was the method usually employed to
finish me, and, whatever else Richard was at that tender age,
I can testify to his extraordinary ability as a choker.
But these early days in the city were not at all the happiest
days of that period in Richard's life. He took but little
interest even in the social or the athletic side of his school
life, and his failures in his studies
troubled him sorely, only I fear, however, because it troubled
his mother and father. The great day of the year to us was
the day our schools closed and we started for our summer
vacation. When Richard was less than a year old my mother and
father, who at the time was convalescing from a long illness,
had left Philadelphia on a search for a complete rest in the
country. Their travels, which it seems were undertaken in the
spirit of a voyage of discovery and adventure, finally led
them to the old Curtis House at Point Pleasant on the New
Jersey coast. But the Point Pleasant of that time had very
little in common with the present well-known summer resort.
In those days the place was reached after a long journey by
rail followed by a three hours' drive in a rickety stagecoach
over deep sandy roads, albeit the roads did lead through
silent, sweet-smelling pine forests. Point Pleasant itself
was then a collection of half a dozen big farms which
stretched from the Manasquan River to the ocean half a mile
distant. Nothing could have been more primitive or as I
remember it in its pastoral loveliness much more beautiful.
Just beyond our cottage the river ran its silent, lazy course
to the sea. With the exception of several farmhouses, its
banks were then unsullied by human habitation of any sort, and
on either side beyond the low green banks lay fields of wheat
and corn, and dense groves of pine and oak and chestnut trees.
Between us and the ocean were more waving fields of corn,
broken by little clumps of trees, and beyond these damp
Nile-green pasture meadows, and then salty marshes that led to
the glistening, white sand-dunes, and the great silver semicircle
of foaming breakers, and the broad, blue sea. On all
the land that lay between us and the ocean, where
the town of Point Pleasant now stands, I think there were but
four farmhouses, and these in no way interfered with the
landscape or the life of the primitive world in which we
Whatever the mental stimulus my brother derived from his home
in Philadelphia, the foundation of the physical strength that
stood him in such good stead in the campaigns of his later
years he derived from those early days at Point Pleasant. The
cottage we lived in was an old two-story frame building, to
which my father had added two small sleeping-rooms. Outside
there was a vine-covered porch and within a great stone
fireplace flanked by cupboards, from which during those happy
days I know Richard and I, openly and covertly, must have
extracted tons of hardtack and cake. The little house was
called "Vagabond's Rest," and a haven of rest and peace and
content it certainly proved for many years to the Davis
family. From here it was that my father started forth in the
early mornings on his all-day fishing excursions, while my
mother sat on the sunlit porch and wrote novels and mended the
badly rent garments of her very active sons. After a
seven-o'clock breakfast at the Curtis House our energies never
ceased until night closed in on us and from sheer exhaustion
we dropped unconscious into our patch-quilted cots. All day
long we swam or rowed, or sailed, or played ball, or camped
out, or ate enormous meals--anything so long as our activities
were ceaseless and our breathing apparatus given no rest.
About a mile up the river there was an island--it's a very
small, prettily wooded, sandy-beached little place, but it
seemed big enough in those days. Robert Louis Stevenson made
it famous by rechristening it Treasure Island, and writing the
new name and his own on a bulkhead that had been built to
shore up one of its fast disappearing sandy banks. But that
is very modern history and to us it has always been "The
Island." In our day, long before Stevenson had ever heard of
the Manasquan, Richard and I had discovered this tight little
piece of land, found great treasures there, and, hand in hand,
had slept in a six-by-six tent while the lions and tigers
growled at us from the surrounding forests.
As I recall these days of my boyhood I find the recollections
of our life at Point Pleasant much more distinct than those we
spent in Philadelphia. For Richard these days were especially
welcome. They meant a respite from the studies which were a
constant menace to himself and his parents; and the freedom of
the open country, the ocean, the many sports on land and on
the river gave his body the constant exercise his constitution
seemed to demand, and a broad field for an imagination which
was even then very keen, certainly keen enough to make the
rest of us his followers.
In an extremely sympathetic appreciation which Irvin S. Cobb
wrote about my brother at the time of his death, he says that
he doubts if there is such a thing as a born author.
Personally it so happened that I never grew up with any one,
except my brother, who ever became an author, certainly an
author of fiction, and so I cannot speak on the subject with
authority. But in the case of Richard, if he was not born an
author, certainly no other career was ever considered. So far
as I know he never even wanted to go to sea or to be a
bareback rider in a circus. A boy, if he loves his father,
usually wants to follow in his professional footsteps, and in
the case of Richard, he had the double inspiration of following
both in the footsteps of his father and in those of his mother.
For years before Richard's birth his father had been a newspaper
editor and a well-known writer of stories and his mother a
novelist and short-story writer of great distinction. Of those
times at Point Pleasant I fear I can remember but a few of our
elders. There were George Lambdin, Margaret Ruff, and Milne
Ramsay, all painters of some note; a strange couple, Colonel
Olcott and the afterward famous Madam Blavatsky, trying to
start a Buddhist cult in this country; Mrs. Frances Hodgson
Burnett, with her foot on the first rung of the ladder of
fame, who at the time loved much millinery finery. One day my
father took her out sailing and, much to the lady's
discomfiture and greatly to Richard's and my delight, upset
the famous authoress. At a later period the Joseph Jeffersons
used to visit us; Horace Howard Furness, one of my father's
oldest friends, built a summer home very near us on the river,
and Mrs. John Drew and her daughter Georgie Barrymore spent
their summers in a near-by hostelry. I can remember Mrs.
Barrymore at that time very well---wonderfully handsome and a
marvellously cheery manner. Richard and I both loved her
greatly, even though it were in secret. Her daughter Ethel I
remember best as she appeared on the beach, a sweet,
long-legged child in a scarlet bathing-suit running toward the
breakers and then dashing madly back to her mother's open
arms. A pretty figure of a child, but much too young for
Richard to notice at that time. In after-years the child in
the scarlet bathing-suit and he became great pals. Indeed,
during the latter half of his life, through the good days and
the bad, there were very few friends who held so close a place in
his sympathy and his affections as Ethel Barrymore.
Until the summer of 1880 my brother continued on at the
Episcopal Academy. For some reason I was sent to a different
school, but outside of our supposed hours of learning we were
never apart. With less than two years' difference in our ages
our interests were much the same, and I fear our interests of
those days were largely limited to out-of-door sports and the
theatre. We must have been very young indeed when my father
first led us by the hand to see our first play. On Saturday
afternoons Richard and I, unattended but not wholly unalarmed,
would set forth from our home on this thrilling weekly
adventure. Having joined our father at his office, he would
invariably take us to a chop-house situated at the end of a
blind alley which lay concealed somewhere in the neighborhood
of Walnut and Third Streets, and where we ate a most wonderful
luncheon of English chops and apple pie. As the luncheon drew
to its close I remember how Richard and I used to fret and
fume while my father in a most leisurely manner used to finish
off his mug of musty ale. But at last the three of us, hand
in hand, my father between us, were walking briskly toward our
happy destination. At that time there were only a few
first-class theatres in Philadelphia--the Arch Street Theatre,
owned by Mrs. John Drew; the Chestnut Street, and the Walnut
Street--all of which had stock companies, but which on the
occasion of a visiting star acted as the supporting company.
These were the days of Booth, Jefferson, Adelaide Neilson,
Charles Fletcher, Lotta, John McCullough, John Sleeper Clark,
and the elder Sothern. And how Richard and I worshipped them
all--not only these but every small-bit actor in every stock
company in town. Indeed, so many favorites of the stage did my
brother and I admire that ordinary frames would not begin to hold
them all, and to overcome this defect we had our bedroom entirely
redecorated. The new scheme called for a gray wallpaper
supported by a maroon dado. At the top of the latter ran two
parallel black picture mouldings between which we could easily
insert cabinet photographs of the actors and actresses which
for the moment we thought most worthy of a place in our
collection. As the room was fairly large and as the mouldings
ran entirely around it, we had plenty of space for even our
very elastic love for the heroes and heroines of the footlights.
Edwin Forrest ended his stage career just before our time, but
I know that Richard at least saw him and heard that wonderful
voice of thunder. It seems that one day, while my mother and
Richard were returning home, they got on a street-car which
already held the great tragedian. At the moment Forrest was
suffering severely from gout and had his bad leg stretched
well out before him. My brother, being very young at the time
and never very much of a respecter of persons, promptly fell
over the great man's gouty foot. Whereat (according to my
mother, who was always a most truthful narrator) Forrest broke
forth in a volcano of oaths and for blocks continued to hurl
thunderous broadsides at Richard, which my mother insisted
included the curse of Rome and every other famous tirade in
the tragedian's repertory which in any way fitted the occasion.
Nearly forty years later my father became the president of the
Edwin Forrest Home, the greatest charity ever founded by an actor
for actors, and I am sure by his efforts of years on behalf of
the institution did much to atone for Richard's early unhappy
meeting with the greatest of all the famous leather-lunged
From his youth my father had always been a close student of
the classic and modern drama, and throughout his life numbered
among his friends many of the celebrated actors and actresses
of his time. In those early days Booth used to come to rather
formal luncheons, and at all such functions Richard and I ate
our luncheon in the pantry, and when the great meal was nearly
over in the dining-room we were allowed to come in in time for
the ice-cream and to sit, figuratively, at the feet of the
honored guest and generally, literally, on his or her knees.
Young as I was in those days I can readily recall one of those
lunch-parties when the contrast between Booth and Dion
Boucicault struck my youthful mind most forcibly. Booth, with
his deep-set, big black eyes, shaggy hair, and lank figure,
his wonderfully modulated voice, rolled out his theories of
acting, while the bald-headed, rotund Boucicault, his
twinkling eyes snapping like a fox-terrier's, interrupted the
sonorous speeches of the tragedian with crisp, witty
criticisms or "asides" that made the rest of the company laugh
and even brought a smile to the heavy, tragic features of
Booth himself. But there was nothing formal about our
relations with John Sleeper Clark and the Jefferson family.
They were real "home folks" and often occupied our spare room,
and when they were with us Richard and I were allowed to come
to all the meals, and, even if unsolicited, freely express our
views on the modern drama.
In later years to our Philadelphia home came Henry Irving and
his fellow player Ellen Terry and Augustin Daly and that
wonderful quartet, Ada Rehan, Mrs. Gilbert, James Lewis, and
our own John Drew. Sir Henry I always recall by the first
picture I had of him in our dining-room, sitting far away from
the table, his long legs stretched before him, peering
curiously at Richard and myself over black-rimmed glasses and
then, with equal interest, turning back to the ash of a long
cigar and talking drama with the famous jerky, nasal voice but
always with a marvellous poise and convincing authority. He
took a great liking to Richard in those days, sent him a
church-warden's pipe that he had used as Corporal Brewster,
and made much of him later when my brother was in London.
Miss Terry was a much less formal and forbidding guest,
rushing into the house like a whirlwind and filling the place
with the sunshine and happiness that seemed to fairly exude
from her beautiful magnetic presence. Augustin Daly usually
came with at least three of the stars of his company which I
have already mentioned, but even the beautiful Rehan and the
nice old Mrs. Gilbert seemed thoroughly awed in the presence
of "the Guv'nor." He was a most crusty, dictatorial party, as
I remember him with his searching eyes and raven locks, always
dressed in black and always failing to find virtue in any
actor or actress not a member of his own company. I remember
one particularly acrid discussion between him and my father in
regard to Julia Marlowe, who was then making her first bow to
the public. Daly contended that in a few years the lady would
be absolutely unheard of and backed his opinion by betting a
dinner for those present with my father that his judgment would
prove correct. However, he was very kind to Richard and myself
and frequently allowed us to play about behind the scenes, which
was a privilege I imagine he granted to very few of his
friends' children. One night, long after this, when Richard
was a reporter in New York, he and Miss Rehan were burlesquing
a scene from a play on which the last curtain had just fallen.
It was on the stage of Daly's theatre at Thirtieth Street and
Broadway, and from his velvet box at the prompt-entrance Daly
stood gloomily watching their fooling. When they had finished
the mock scene Richard went over to Daly and said, "How bad do
you think I am as an actor, Mr. Daly?" and greatly to my
brother's delight the greatest manager of them all of those
days grumbled back at him: "You're so bad, Richard, that I'll
give you a hundred dollars a week, and you can sign the
contract whenever you're ready." Although that was much more
than my brother was making in his chosen profession at the
time, and in spite of the intense interest he had in the
theatre, he never considered the offer seriously. As a matter
of fact, Richard had many natural qualifications that fitted
him for the stage, and in after-years, when he was rehearsing
one of his own plays, he could and frequently would go up on
the stage and read almost any part better than the actor
employed to do it. Of course, he lacked the ease of gesture
and the art of timing which can only be attained after sound
experience, but his reading of lines and his knowledge of
characterization was quite unusual. In proof of this I know
of at least two managers who, when Richard wanted to sell them
plays, refused to have him read them the manuscript on the
ground that his reading gave the dialogue a value it did not
really possess.
In the spring of 1880 Richard left the Episcopal Academy, and
the following September went to Swarthmore College, situated
just outside of Philadelphia. I fear, however, the change was
anything but a success. The life of the big coeducational
school did not appeal to him at all and, in spite of two or
three friendships he made among the girls and boys, he
depended for amusement almost wholly on his own resources. In
the afternoons and on holidays he took long walks over the
country roads and in search of adventure visited many
farmhouses. His excuse for these calls was that he was
looking for old furniture and china, and he frequently
remained long enough to make sketches of such objects as he
pretended had struck his artistic fancy. Of these adventures
he wrote at great length to his mother and father, and the
letters were usually profusely decorated with illustrations of
the most striking incidents of the various escapades. Several
of these Swarthmore experiences he used afterward in short
stories, and both the letters and sketches he sent to his
parents at the time he regarded in the light of preparation
for his future work. In his studies he was perhaps less
successful than he had been at the Episcopal Academy, and
although he played football and took part in the track sports
he was really but little interested in either. There were
half-holidays on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and when my brother
did not come to town I went to Swarthmore and we spent the
afternoons in first cooking our lunch in a hospitable woods
and then playing some games in the open that Richard had
devised. But as I recall these outings they were not very
joyous occasions, as Richard was extremely unhappy over his
failures at school and greatly depressed about the prospects for
the future.
He finished the college year at Swarthmore, but so unhappy had
he been there that there was no thought in his mind or in that
of his parents of his returning. At that time my uncle, H.
Wilson Harding, was a professor at Lehigh University, and it
was arranged that Richard should go to Bethlehem the following
fall, live with his uncle, and continue his studies at
Ulrich's Preparatory School, which made a specialty of
preparing boys for Lehigh. My uncle lived in a charming old
house on Market Street in Bethlehem, quite near the Moravian
settlement and across the river from the university and the
iron mills. He was a bachelor, but of a most gregarious and
hospitable disposition, and Richard therefore found himself
largely his own master, in a big, roomy house which was almost
constantly filled with the most charming and cultivated
people. There my uncle and Richard, practically of about the
same age so far as their viewpoint of life was concerned, kept
open house, and if it had not been for the occasional qualms
his innate hatred of mathematics caused him, I think my
brother would have been completely happy. Even studies no
longer worried him particularly and he at once started in to
make friendships, many of which lasted throughout his life.
As is usual with young men of seventeen, most of these men and
women friends were several times Richard's age, but at the
period Richard was a particularly precocious and amusing youth
and a difference of a few decades made but little
difference--certainly not to Richard. Finley Peter Dunne once
wrote of my brother that he "probably knew more waiters,
generals, actors, and princes than any man
who lived," and I think it was during the first year of his
life at Bethlehem that he began the foundation for the
remarkable collection of friends, both as to numbers and
variety, of which he died possessed. Although a "prep," he
made many friends among the undergraduates of Lehigh. He made
friends with the friends of his uncle and many friends in both
of the Bethlehems of which his uncle had probably never heard.
Even at that early age he counted among his intimates William
W. Thurston, who was president of the Bethlehem Iron Company,
and J. Davis Brodhead, one of Pennsylvania's most conspicuous
Democratic congressmen and attorneys. Those who knew him at
that time can easily understand why Richard attracted men and
women so much older than himself. He was brimming over with
physical health and animal spirits and took the keenest
interest in every one he met and in everything that was going
on about him. And in the broadest sense he saw to it then, as
he did throughout his life, that he always did his share.
During those early days at Bethlehem his letters to his family
were full of his social activities, with occasional references
to his work at school. He was always going to dinners or
dances, entertaining members of visiting theatrical companies;
and on Friday night my mother usually received a telegram,
saying that he would arrive the next day with a party of
friends whom he had inadvertently asked to lunch and a
matinee. It was after one of these weekly visits that my
mother wrote Richard the following:
Monday Night.
You went off in such a hurry that it took my breath at the
last. You say coming down helps you. It
certainly does me. It brings a real sunshine to Papa and me.
He was saying that to-day. I gave Nolly a sort of holiday
after her miseries last night. We went down street and got
Papa a present for our wedding day, a picture, after all, and
then I took Miss Baker some tickets for a concert. I saw her
father who said he "must speak about my noble looking boy." I
always thought him a genius but now I think him a man of
penetration as well. Then Nolly and I went over to see the
Russians. But they are closely boxed up and not allowed
to-day to see visitors. So we came home cross and hungry.
All evening I have been writing business letters.
Papa has gone to a reception and Charley is hard at work at
his desk.
I answered Mr. Allen's letter this morning, dear, and told him
you would talk to him. When you do, dear, talk freely to him
as to me. You will not perhaps agree with all he says. But
your own thoughts will be healthier for bringing them--as I
might say, out of doors. You saw how it was by coming down
here. Love of Christ is not a melancholy nor a morbid thing,
dear love, but ought to make one more social and cheerful and
I wish you could come home oftener. Try and get ahead with
lessons so that you can come oftener. And when you feel as if
prayer was a burden, stop praying and go out and try to put
your Christianity into real action by doing some
kindness--even speaking in a friendly way to somebody. Bring
yourself into contact with new people--not John, Hugh, Uncle
and Grandma, and try to act to them as Christ would have you
act, and my word for it, you will go home with a new light on
your own relations to Him and a new meaning for your prayers.
You remember the prayer "give me a great thought to refresh me."
I think you will find some great thoughts in human beings--they
will help you to understand yourself and God, when you try to
help them God makes you happy my darling.
It was in this year that Richard enjoyed the thrill of seeing
in print his first contribution to a periodical. The date of
this important event, important, at least, to my brother, was
February 1, the fortunate publication was Judge, and the
effusion was entitled "The Hat and Its Inmate." Its purport
was an overheard conversation between two young ladies at a
matinee and the editors thought so well of it that for the
privilege of printing the article they gave Richard a year's
subscription to Judge. His scrap-book of that time shows
that in 1884 Life published a short burlesque on George W.
Cable's novel, "Dr. Sevier," and in the same year The
Evening Post paid him $1.05 for an article about "The New
Year at Lehigh." It was also in the spring of 1884 that
Richard published his first book, "The Adventures of My
Freshman," a neat little paper-covered volume including half a
dozen of the short stories that had already appeared in The
Lehigh Burr. In writing in a copy of this book in later
years, Richard said: "This is a copy of the first book of
mine published. My family paid to have it printed and finding
no one else was buying it, bought up the entire edition.
Finding the first edition had gone so quickly, I urged them to
finance a second one, and when they were unenthusiastic I was
hurt. Several years later when I found the entire edition in
our attic, I understood their reluctance. The reason the book
did not sell is, I think, because some one must have read it."
In the summer of 1882 Richard went to Boston, and in the
following letter unhesitatingly expressed his opinion of that
city and its people.
BOSTON, Wednesday.
July 1882.
I left Newport last night or rather this morning. I stopped
at Beverly and called on Dr. Holmes. He talked a great deal
about mama and about a great many other things equally lovely
in a very easy, charming way. All I had to do was to listen
and I was only too willing to do that. We got along splendidly.
He asked me to stay to dinner but I refused with
thanks, as I had only come to pay my respects and put off to
Dr. Bartol's. Dr. Holmes accompanied me to the depot and saw
me safely off. Of all the lovely men I ever saw Dr. Bartol is
the one. He lives in a great, many roomed with as many
gables, house. Elizabethan, of course, with immense
fireplaces, brass and dark woods, etchings and engravings,
with the sea and rocks immediately under the window and the
ocean stretching out for miles, lighthouses and more Elizabethan
houses half hid on the bank, and ships and small boats
pushing by within a hundred rods of the windows. I stayed to
dinner there and we had a very jolly time. There were two
other young men and another maiden besides Miss Bartol. They
talked principally about the stage; that is, the Boston Stock
Company, which is their sole thought and knowledge of the
drama. The Dr. would strike off now and then to
philosophizing and moralizing but his daughter
would immediately sit upon him, much to my disgust but to the
evident relief of the rest. His wife is as lovely as he is
but I can't give it to you all now. Wait until I get home.
The young lady, the youths and myself came up to Boston
together and had as pleasant a ride, as the heat would allow.
I left them at the depot and went up to the Parker House and
then to the Art Museum. The statuary is plaster, the coins
are copies, and by the way, I found one exactly like mine,
which, if it is genuine is worth, "well considerable", as the
personage in charge remarked. The pictures were simply vile,
only two or three that I recognized and principally Millet and
some charcoal sketches of Hunt's, who is the Apostle of Art
here. The china was very fine but they had a collection of
old furniture and armor which was better than anything else.
Fresh from or rather musty from these antiques, who should I
meet but the cheerful Dixey and Powers. We had a very jolly
talk and I enjoyed it immensely, not only myself but all the
surrounding populace, as Dixey would persist in showing the
youthful some new "gag," and would break into a clog or
dialect much to the delectation of the admiring Bostonians. I
am stranded here for to night and will push on to Newport
to-morrow. I'll go see the "babes" to night, as there is
nothing else in the city that is worth seeing that I haven't
investigated. I left the Newburyportians in grief with
regret. I met lots of nice people and every one was so very
kind to me, from the authoresses to the serving maids.
In the fall of 1882 Richard entered Lehigh, but the first year
of his college life varied very little from the one he had
spent in the preparatory school. During that year he had met
most of the upper classmen, and the only difference was that
he could now take an active instead of a friendly interest in
the life and the sports of the college. Also he had formed
certain theories which he promptly proceeded to put into
practical effect. Perhaps the most conspicuous of these was
his belief that cane-rushes and hazing were wholly unnecessary
and barbarous customs, and should have no place in the college
of his day. Against the former he spoke at college meetings,
and wrote long letters to the local papers decrying the
custom. His stand against hazing was equally vehement, and he
worked hand in hand with the faculty to eradicate it entirely
from the college life. That his stand was purely for a
principle and not from any fear of personal injury, I think
the following letter to his father will show:
BETHLEHEM, February 1882.
You may remember a conversation we had at Squan about hazing
in which you said it was a very black-guardly thing and a
cowardly thing. I didn't agree with you, but when I saw how
it really was and how silly and undignified it was, besides
being brutal, I thought it over and changed my mind completely,
agreeing with you in every respect. A large number of our class
have been hazed, taking it as a good joke, and have been laughed
at by the whole college. I talked to the boys about it, and said
what I would do and so on, without much effect. Wednesday a
junior came to me, and told me I was to be hazed as I left the
Opera House Friday night. After that a great many came to me
and advised and warned me as to what I should do. I decided
to get about fifty of our class outside and then fight it out;
that was before I changed my mind. As soon as I did I
regretted it very much, but, as it turned out, the class
didn't come, so I was alone, as I wished to be. You see, I'd
not a very good place here; the fellows looked on me as a sort
of special object of ridicule, on account of the hat and cane,
walk, and so on, though I thought I'd got over that by this
time. The Opera House was partly filled with college men, a
large number of sophomores and a few upper class men. It was
pretty generally known I was going to have a row, and that
brought them as much as the show. Poor Ruff was in agony all
day. He supposed I'd get into the fight, and he knew he'd get
in, too, sooner or later. If he did he'd be held and not be
able to do anything, and then the next day be blamed by the
whole college for interfering in a class matter. He hadn't
any money to get into the show, and so wandered around outside
in the rain in a great deal more excited state than I was.
Howe went all over town after putting on his old clothes, in
case of personal damage, in search of freshmen who were at
home out of the wet. As I left the building a man grabbed me
by my arm, and the rest, with the seniors gathered around; the
only freshman present, who was half scared to death, clung as
near to me as possible. I withdrew my arm and faced them. "If
this means hazing," I said, "I'm not with you. There's not
enough men here to haze me, but there's enough to thrash me, and
I'd rather be thrashed than hazed." You see, I wanted them to
understand exactly how I looked at it, and they wouldn't think
I was simply hotheaded and stubborn. I was very cool about it
all. They broke in with all sorts of explanations; hazing was
the last thing they had thought of. No, indeed, Davis, old
fellow, you're mistaken. I told them if that was so, all
right, I was going home. I saw several of my friends in the
crowd waiting for me, but as I didn't want them to interfere,
I said nothing, and they did not recognize me. When among the
crowd of sophomores, the poor freshman made a last effort, he
pulled me by the coat and begged me to come with him. I said
no, I was going home. When I reached the next corner I
stopped. "I gave you fair warning, keep off. I tell you I'll
strike the first man, the first one, that touches me." Then
the four who had been appointed to seize me jumped on me, and
I only got one good blow in before they had me down in the
gutter and were beating me on the face and head. I put my
hands across my face, and so did not get any hard blows
directly in the face. They slipped back in a moment, and when
I was ready I scrambled up pretty wet and muddy, and with my
face stinging where they had struck. It had all been done so
quickly, and there was such a large crowd coming from the
theatre, that, of course, no one saw it. When I got up there
was a circle all around me. They hadn't intended to go so
far. The men, except those four who had beaten me, were
rather ashamed and wished they were out of it. I turned to
Emmerich, a postgraduate, and told him to give me room. "Now," I
said, "you're not able to haze me, and I can't thrash twelve of
you, but I'll fight any one man you bring out." I asked for the
man that struck me, and named another, but there was no response.
The upper classmen, who had just arrived, called out that was
fair, and they'd see it fair. Goodnough, Purnell and Douglas,
who don't like me much, either. Ruff was beside me by this time.
He hadn't seen anything of it, and did not get there until he
heard me calling for a fair chance and challenging the class
for a man. I called out again, the second time, and still no
one came, so I took occasion to let them know why I had done
as I did in a short speech to the crowd. I said I was a
peaceable fellow, thought hazing silly, and as I never
intended to haze myself, I didn't intend any one to haze me.
Then I said again, "This is the third time, will one of your
men fight this fair? I can't fight twelve of you." Just then
two officers who had called on some mill-hands, who are always
dying for a fight, and a citizen to help them, burst into the
crowd of students, shouldering them around like sheep until
they got to me, when one of them put his arm around me, and
said, "I don't know anything about this crowd, but I'll see
you're protected, sir. I'll give 'em fair play." One officer
got hold of Ruff and pretty near shook him to pieces until I
had to interfere and explain. They were for forming a
body-guard, and were loud in their denunciations of the
college, and declaring they'd see me through if I was a
stranger to 'em.
Two or three of the sophomores, when they saw how things were
going, set up a yell, but Griffin struck out
and sent one of them flying one way and his hat another, so
the yells ended. Howe and Murray Stuart took me up to their
rooms, and Ruff went off for beefsteak for my eye, and treated
the crowd who had come to the rescue, at Dixon's, to beer.
The next day was Saturday, and as there was to be a meeting of
the Athletic Association, of course, I wanted to show up. The
fellows all looked at my eye pretty hard and said nothing. I
felt pretty sure that the sympathy was all with me.
Four men are elected from the college to be on the athletic
committee. They can be nominated by any one, though generally
it is done by a man in their own class. We had agreed the day
before to vote for Tolman for our class, so when the president
announced nominations were in order for the freshmen class,
Tolman was instantly nominated. At the same time one of the
leading sophomores jumped up and nominated Mr. Davis, and a
number of men from the same class seconded it. I knew every
one in the college knew of what had happened, and especially
the sophomores, so I was, of course, very much surprised. I
looked unconscious, though, and waited. One of the seniors
asked that the nominees should stand up, as they didn't know
their names only their faces. As each man rose he was hissed
and groaned down again. When I stood up the sophomores burst
into a yell and clapped and stamped, yelling, "Davis! Davis!
vote for D!" until I sat down. As I had already decided to
nominate Tolman, I withdrew my name from the nominees, a
movement which was received by loud cries of "No! No!" from
the sophs. So, you see, Dad, I did as you said, as I thought
was right, and came out well indeed. You see, I am now the
hero of the hour, every one in town knows it, and every one
congratulates me, and, "Well done, me boy," as Morrow '83 said,
seems to be the idea, one gets taken care of in this world if you
do what's the right thing, if it is only a street fight. In
fact, as one of the seniors said, I've made five friends where
I had one before. The sophs are ashamed and sorry, as their
conduct in chapel, which was more marked, than I made it,
shows. I've nothing to show for it but a red mark under the
eye, and so it is the best thing that could possibly have
happened. Poor Ruff hugged me all the way home, and I've
started out well in a good way, I think, though not a very
logical one.
Uncle says to tell you that my conduct has his approval throughout.
To which letter my father promptly replied:
PHILADELPHIA. February 25th, 1882.
I'm glad the affair ended so well. I don't want you to fight,
but if you have to fight a cuss like that do it with all your
might, and don't insist that either party shall too strictly
observe the Markis O' Queensbury rules. Hit first and hardest
so that thine adversary shall beware of you.
At that time the secret societies played a very important part
in the college life at Lehigh, and while I do not believe that
Richard shared the theory of some of the students that they
were a serious menace to the social fabric, he was quite firm
in his belief that it was inadvisable to be a member of any
fraternity. In a general way he did not like the idea of secrecy
even in its mildest form, and then, as throughout his life, he
refused to join any body that would in any way limit his complete
independence of word or action. In connection with this phase
of his college life I quote from an appreciation which M. A.
De W. Howe, one of Richard's best friends both at college and
in after-life, wrote for The Lehigh Burr at the time of my
brother's death:
"To the credit of the perceptive faculty of undergraduates, it
ought to be said that the classmates and contemporaries of
Richard Harding Davis knew perfectly well, while he and they
were young together, that in him Lehigh had a son so marked in
his individuality, so endowed with talents and character that
he stood quite apart from the other collegians of his day.
Prophets were as rare in the eighties as they have always
been, before and since, and nobody could have foreseen that
the name and work of Dick Davis would long before his untimely
death, indeed within a few years from leaving college, be
better known throughout the world than those of any other
Lehigh man. We who knew him in his college days could not
feel the smallest surprise that he won himself quickly a
brilliant name, and kept a firm hold upon it to the last.
"What was it that made him so early a marked man? I think it
was the spirit of confidence and enthusiasm which turned every
enterprise he undertook into an adventure,--the brave and
humorous playing of the game of life, the true heart, the
wholesome body and soul of my friend and classmate. He did
not excel in studies or greatly, in athletics. But in his own
field, that of writing, he was so much better than the rest of
us that no one of his fellow-editors of the Epitome or
Burr needed to be considered in comparison with
him. No less, in spite of his voluntary nonmembership in the
fraternities of his day, was he a leader in the social
activities of the University. The `Arcadian Club' devoted in
its beginnings to the `pipes, books, beer and gingeralia' of
Davis's song about it and the `Mustard and Cheese' were his
creations. In all his personal relationships he was the most
amusing and stimulating of companions. With garb and ways of
unique picturesqueness, rarer even in college communities a
generation ago than at present, it was inevitable that he
sometimes got himself laughed at as well as with. But what
did it all matter, even then? To-day it adds a glow of color
to what would be in any case a vivid, deeply valued memory.
"It is hard to foresee in youth what will come most sharply
and permanently in the long run. After all these years it is
good to find that Davis and what his companionship gave one
hold their place with the strongest influences of Lehigh."
But Richard was naturally gregarious and at heart had a great
fondness for clubs and social gatherings. Therefore, having
refused the offer of several fraternities that did him the
honor to ask him to become a member, it was necessary for him
to form a few clubs that held meetings, but no secrets.
Perhaps the most successful of these were "The Mustard and
Cheese," a dramatic club devoted to the presentation of farces
and musical comedies, and The Arcadia Club, to the fortnightly
meetings of which he devoted much time and thought. The
following letter to his father will give some idea of the
scope of the club, which, as in the case of "The Mustard and
Cheese," gained a permanent and important place in the social
life of Lehigh.
We have started the best sort of a club up here which I am
anxious to tell you of. It consists of a spread, net price of
which will be about 30 cents each, every two or three weeks.
Only six fellows belong and those the best of the College.
Purnell, Haines and myself founded it. I chose Charley,
Purnell, Reeves, Haines and Howe. We will meet Saturday
nights at 9 so as not to interfere with our work, and sing,
read, eat and box until midnight. It is called the "Pipe and
Bowl," and is meant to take the place that The Hasty Pudding,
Hammer and Tongs and Mermaid do at other colleges. Two of us
are to invite two outsiders in turn each meeting. We will
hope to have Dad a member, honorary, of course, when we can
persuade him to give us a night off with his company. We want
to combine a literary feature and so will have selected readings
to provoke discussions after the pipes are lit. The men
are very enthusiastic about it and want to invite Mr. Allen
and you and every one that they can make an honorary member of
It was first as an associate editor and afterward as
editor-in-chief of the college paper, The Lehigh Burr, that
Richard found his greatest pleasure and interest during his
three years at Lehigh. In addition to his editorial duties he
wrote a very great part of every issue of the paper, and his
contributions included short stories, reports of news events,
editorials, and numerous poems.
As, after his life at college, Richard dropped verse as a mode
of expression, I reprint two of the poems which show him in
the lighter vein of those early days.
"I'm a Freshman who has ended his first year,
But I'm new;
And I do whate'er the Juniors, whom I fear,
Bid me do.
Under sudden showers I thrive;
To be bad and bold I strive,
But they ask--`Is it alive?'
So they do.
I'm a Sophomore who has passed off his exams,
Let me loose!
With a mark as high as any other man's,
As obtuse
I'm fraternal. I am Jolly.
I am seldom melancholy
And to bone I think is folly,
What's the use?
I'm a Junior whom exams. have left forlorn,
Flunked me dead;
So I'll keep the town awake 'till early morn;
Paint it red.
At class-meetings I'm a kicker,
Take no water with my liquor,
And a dumb-bell's not thicker
Than my head.
I'm a Senior whose diploma's within reach,
On Commencement Day you'll hear my maiden-speech;
I will soar!
I got through without condition;
I'm a mass of erudition;
Do you know of a position!"
"Our street is still and silent,
Grass grows from curb to curb,
No baker's bells
With jangling knells
Our studious minds disturb.
No organ grinders ever call,
No hucksters mar our peace;
For traffic shuns our neighborhood
And leaves us to our ease.
But now it lives and brightens,
Assumes a livelier hue;
The pavements wide,
On either side,
Would seem to feel it too.
You might not note the difference,
The change from grave to gay,
But I can tell, and know full well,
Priscilla walks our way."
Shortly after his return to college Richard celebrated his
nineteenth birthday, and received these letters from his
father and mother:
April 17th, 1883.
When I was thinking what I could give to you to-morrow, I
remembered the story of Herder, who when he was old and weak
and they brought him food and wine asked for "a great thought
to quicken him."
So I have written some old sayings for you that have helped
me. Maybe, this year, or some other year, when I am not with
you, they may give you, sometimes, comfort and strength.
God bless you my son--
who loves you dearly--dearly.
PHILADELPHIA, April 17th, 1883.
You are to be nineteen years old on Wednesday. After two
years more you will be a man. You are so manly and good a boy
that I could not wish you to change in any serious or great
thing. You have made us very happy through being what you
have been, what you are. You fill us with hope of your future
virtue and usefulness.
To be good is the best thing of all; it counts for more than
anything else in the world. We are very grateful that you
have even in youth been wise enough to choose the right road.
You will find it not easy to keep upon it always, but remember
if you do get off struggle back to it. I do not know but I
think God loves the effort to do as well as the act done.
I congratulate you my dear son, on your new birthday. I wish
you health, happiness and God's loving care. May he bless you
my son forever. I enclose a trifle for your pleasure. My
love to you always, but God bless you dear Dick.
In the fall of 1885, Richard decided to leave Lehigh and go to
John Hopkins University, where he took a special course in
such studies as would best benefit him in the career which he
had now carefully planned. During this year in Baltimore
Richard's letters show that he paid considerable attention to
such important subjects as political economy and our own labor
problems, but they also show that he did not neglect football
or the lighter social diversions. In a short space of time he
had made many friends, was very busy going to dinners and dances,
and had fallen in love with an entirely new set of maids and
matrons. Richard had already begun to send contributions to the
magazines, and an occasional acceptance caused him the
satisfaction common to all beginners. It was in regard to one of
these early contributions that my mother wrote Richard the
following letter:
January 1887.
What has become of The Current? It has not come yet. If it
has suspended publication be sure and get your article back.
You must not destroy a single page you write. You will find
every idea of use to you hereafter.
Sometimes I am afraid you think I don't take interest enough
in your immediate success now with the articles you send. But
I've had thirty years experience and I know how much that sort
of success depends on the articles suiting the present needs
of the magazine, and also on the mood of the editor when he
reads it.
Besides--except for your own disappointment--I know it would
be better if you would not publish under your own name for a
little while. Dr. Holland--who had lots of literary
shrewdness both as writer and publisher--used to say for a
young man or woman to rush into print was sure ruin to their
lasting fame. They either compromised their reputations by
inferior work or they made a great hit and never played up to
it, afterwards, in public opinion.
Now my dear old man this sounds like awfully cold comfort.
But it is the wisest idea your mother has
got. I confess I have GREAT faith in you--and I try to
judge you as if you were not my son. I think you are going to
take a high place among American authors, but I do not think
you are going to do it by articles like that you sent to The
Current. The qualities which I think will bring it to you,
you don't seem to value at all. They are your dramatic eye.
I mean your quick perception of character and of the way
character shows itself in looks, tones, dress, etc., and in
your keen sympathy--with all kinds of people--Now, these are
the requisites for a novelist. Added to that your humour.
You ought to make a novelist of the first class. But you must
not expect to do it this week or next. A lasting, real
success takes time, and patient, steady work. Read Boz's
first sketches of "London Life" and compare them with "Sydney
Carton" or "David Copperfield" and you will see what time and
hard work will do to develop genius.
I suppose you will wonder why I am moved to say all this? It
is, I think, because of your saying "the article sent to St.
Nicholas was the best you would be able to do for years to
come" and I saw you were going to make it a crucial test of
your ability. That is, forgive me, nothing but nonsense.
Whatever the article may be, you may write one infinitely
superior to it next week or month. Just in proportion as you
feel more deeply, or notice more keenly, and as you acquire
the faculty of expressing your feelings or observations more
delicately and powerfully which faculty must come into
practice. It is not inspiration--it never was that--without
practice, with any writer from Shakespeare down.
me. I don't say, like Papa, stop writing. God
forbid. I would almost as soon say stop breathing,
for it is pretty much the same thing. But only to remember
that you have not yet conquered your art. You are a
journeyman not a master workman, so if you don't succeed, it
does not count. The future is what I look to, for you. I had
to stop my work to say all this, so good-bye dear old chum.
If anything worried Richard at all at this period, I think it
was his desire to get down to steady newspaper work, or indeed
any kind of work that would act as the first step of his
career and by which he could pay his own way in the world. It
was with this idea uppermost in his mind in the late spring of
1886, and without any particular regret for the ending of his
college career, that he left Baltimore and, returning to his
home in Philadelphia, determined to accept the first position
that presented itself. But instead of going to work at once,
he once more changed his plans and decided to sail for
Santiago de Cuba with his friend William W. Thurston, who as
president of the Bethlehem Steel Company, was deeply
interested in the iron mines of that region. Here and then it
was that Richard first fell in love with Cuba--a love which in
later years became almost an obsession with him. Throughout
his life whenever it was possible, and sometimes when it
seemed practically impossible, my brother would listen to the
call of his beloved tropics and, casting aside all
responsibilities, would set sail for Santiago. After all it
was quite natural that he should feel as he did about this
little Cuban coast town, for apart from its lazy life, spicy
smells, waving palms and Spanish cooking, it was here that he
found the material for his first novel and greatest monetary
success, "Soldiers of Fortune." Apart from the many purely
pleasure trips he made to Santiago, twice he returned there to
work--once as a correspondent during the Spanish-American War,
and again when he went with Augustus Thomas to assist in the
latter's film version of the play which years before Thomas
had made from the novel.
In the late summer of 1886 Richard returned from Cuba and
settled down in Philadelphia to write an article about his
experiences at Santiago and to look for regular newspaper
work. Early in September he wrote his mother:
September, 1886.
I saw the Record people to-day. They said there was not an
opening but could give me "chance" work, that is, I was to
report each day at one and get what was left over. I said I
would take it as I would have my mornings free to write the
article and what afternoons I did not have newspaper work
besides. This is satisfactory. They are either doing all
they can to oblige Dad or else giving me a trial trip before
making an opening. The article is progressing but slowly. To
paraphrase Talleyrand, what's done is but little and that
little is not good. However, since your last letter full of
such excellent "tips" I have rewritten it and think it is much
improved. I will write to Thurston concerning the artist
to-morrow. He is away from B. at present. On the whole the
article is not bad.
Your boy,
Richard's stay on The Record, however, was short-lived. His
excuse for the brevity of the experience was given in an
interview some years later. "My City Editor didn't like me
because on cold days I wore gloves.
But he was determined to make me work, and gave me about
eighteen assignments a day, and paid me $7. a week. At the
end of three months he discharged me as incompetent."
From The Record Richard went to The Press, which was much
more to his liking, and, indeed it was here that he did his
first real work and showed his first promise. For nearly
three years he did general reporting and during this time
gained a great deal more personal success than comes to most
members of that usually anonymous profession. His big chance
came with the Johnstown flood, and the news stories he wired
to his paper showed the first glimpse of his ability as a
correspondent. Later on, disguised as a crook, he joined a
gang of yeggmen, lived with them in the worst dives of the
city, and eventually gained their good opinion to the extent
of being allowed to assist in planning a burglary. But before
the actual robbery took place, Richard had obtained enough
evidence against his crook companions to turn them over to the
police and eventually land them in prison. It was during
these days that he wrote his first story for a magazine, and
the following letter shows that it was something of a
milestone in his career.
August, 1888.
The St. Nicholas people sent me a check for $50 for the
"pirate" story. It would be insupportable affectation to say
that I was not delighted. Jennings Crute and I were waiting
for breakfast when I found the letter. I opened it very
slowly, for I feared they would bluff me with some letter
about illustrations or revision, or offering me a reduced
subscription to the magazine. There was a letter inside and a
check. I read the letter before I looked at the check, which I
supposed would be for $30, as the other story was valued at $20.
The note said that a perfect gentleman named Chichester would be
pleased if I would find enclosed a check for $50. I looked at
Jenny helplessly, and said, "It's for fifty, Jenny." Crute had
an insane look in his eyes as he murmured "half a hundred
dollars, and on your day off, too." Then I sat down suddenly and
wondered what I would buy first, and Crute sat in a dazed
condition, and abstractedly took a handful of segars out of
the box dear old Dad gave me. As I didn't say anything, he
took another handful, and then sat down and gazed at the check
for five minutes in awe. After breakfast I calculated how
much I would have after I paid my debts. I still owe say $23,
and I have some shoes to pay for and my hair to cut. I had a
wild idea of going over to New York and buying some stocks,
but I guess I'll go to Bond's and Baker's instead.
I'm going down street now to see if Drexel wants to borrow any
ready money-on the way down I will make purchases and pay
bills so that my march will be a triumphal procession.
I got a story on the front page this morning about an
explosion at Columbia Avenue Station--I went out on it with
another man my senior in years and experience, whom Watrous
expected to write the story while I hustled for facts. When
we got back I had all the facts, and what little he had was
incorrect--so I said I would dispense with his services and
write the story myself. I did it very politely, but it
queered the man before the men, and Watrous grew very
sarcastic at his expense. Next time Andy will know better and
let me get my own stories alone.
Your Millionaire Son,
I'm still the "same old Dick"; not proud a bit.
This was my mother's reply:
August 1888.
Your letter has just come and we are all delighted. Well done
for old St. Nicholas! I thought they meant to wait till the
story was published. It took me back to the day when I got
$50. for "Life in the Iron Mills." I carried the letter half
a day before opening it, being so sure that it was a refusal.
I had a great mind to read the letter to Davis and Cecile who
were on the porch but was afraid you would not like it.
I did read them an extremely impertinent enclosure which was
so like the letter I sent yesterday. That I think you got it
before writing this.
. . . Well I am glad about that cheque! Have you done
anything on Gallagher? That is by far the best work you've
done--oh, by far--Send that to Gilder. In old times The
Century would not print the word "brandy." But those days
are over.
Two more days--dear boy--
In addition to his work on The Press, Richard also found
time to assist his friend, Morton McMichael, 3d, in the
editing of a weekly publication called The
Stage. In fact with the exception of the services of an
office boy, McMichael and Richard were The Stage. Between
them they wrote the editorials, criticisms, the London and
Paris special correspondence, solicited the advertisements,
and frequently assisted in the wrapping and mailing of the
copies sent to their extremely limited list of subscribers.
During this time, however, Richard was establishing himself as
a star reporter on The Press, and was already known as a
clever news-gatherer and interviewer. It was in reply to a
letter that Richard wrote to Robert Louis Stevenson enclosing
an interview he had had with Walt Whitman, that Stevenson
wrote the following letter--which my brother always regarded
as one of his greatest treasures:
Why, thank you so much for your frank, agreeable and natural
letter. It is certainly very pleasant that all you young
fellows should enjoy my work and get some good out of it and
it was very kind in you to write and tell me so. The tale of
the suicide is excellently droll, and your letter, you may be
sure, will be preserved. If you are to escape unhurt out of
your present business you must be very careful, and you must
find in your heart much constancy. The swiftly done work of
the journalist and the cheap finish and ready made methods to
which it leads, you must try to counteract in private by
writing with the most considerate slowness and on the most
ambitious models. And when I say "writing"--O, believe me, it
is rewriting that I have chiefly in mind. If you will do this
I hope to hear of you some day.
Please excuse this sermon from
Your obliged
In the spring of 1889 Richard as the correspondent of the
Philadelphia Telegraph, accompanied a team of Philadelphia
cricketers on a tour of Ireland and England, but as it was
necessary for him to spend most of his time reporting the
matches played in small university towns, he saw only enough
of London to give him a great longing to return as soon as the
chance offered. Late that summer he resumed his work on The
Press, but Richard was not at all satisfied with his
journalistic progress, and for long his eyes had been turned
toward New York. There he knew that there was not only a
broader field for such talent as he might possess, but that
the chance for adventure was much greater, and it was this
hope and love of adventure that kept Richard moving on all of
his life.
On a morning late in September, 1889, he started for New York
to look for a position as reporter on one of the metropolitan
newspapers. I do not know whether he carried with him any
letters or that he had any acquaintances in the journalistic
world on whose influence he counted, but, in any case, he visited
a number of offices without any success whatever.
Indeed, he had given up the day as wasted, and was on his way
to take the train back to Philadelphia. Tired and
discouraged, he sat down on a bench in City Hall Park, and
mentally shook his fist at the newspaper offices on Park Row
that had given him so cold a reception. At this all-important
moment along came Arthur Brisbane, whom Richard had met in
London when the former was the English correspondent of The
Sun. Brisbane had recently been appointed editor of The
Evening Sun, and had already met with a rather spectacular
success. On hearing the object of Richard's visit to New
York, he promptly offered him a position on his staff and
Richard as promptly accepted. I remember that the joyous
telegram he sent to my mother, telling of his success, and
demanding that the fatted calf be killed for dinner that night
was not received with unalloyed happiness. To my mother and
father it meant that their first-born was leaving home to seek
his fortune, and that without Richard's love and sympathy the
home could never be quite the same. But the fatted calf was
killed, every one pretended to be just as elated as Richard was
over his good fortune, and in two days he left us for his first
The following note to his mother Richard scribbled off in
pencil at the railway-station on his way to New York:
I am not surprised that you were sad if you thought I was
going away for good. I could not think of it myself. I am
only going to make a little reputation and to learn enough of
the business to enable me to live at home in the centre of the
universe with you. That is truth. God bless you.
Of the many completely happy periods of Richard's life there
were few more joyous than the first years he spent as a
reporter in New York. For the first time he was completely
his own master and paying his own way--a condition which
afforded him infinite satisfaction. He was greatly attached
to Brisbane and as devoted to the interests of The Evening
Sun as if he had been the editor and publisher. In return
Brisbane gave him a free rein and allowed him to write very
much what and as he chose. The two men were constantly
together, in and out of office hours, and planned many of the
leading features of the paper which on account of the
brilliancy of its news stories and special articles was at
that time attracting an extraordinary amount of attention.
Richard divided his working hours between reporting important
news events, writing specials (principally about theatrical
people), and the Van Bibber stories, nearly all of which were
published for the first time in The Evening Sun. These
short tales of New York life soon made a distinct hit, and,
while they appeared anonymously, it was generally known that
Richard was their author. In addition to his newspaper work
my brother was also working on short stories for the
magazines, and in 1890 scored his first real success in this
field, with "Gallegher," which appeared in Scribner's. This
was shortly followed by "The Other Woman," "Miss
Catherwaite's Understudy," "A Walk up the Avenue," "My
Disreputable Friend, Mr. Raegen," "An Unfinished Story," and
other stories that soon gave him an established reputation as
a writer of fiction. But while Richard's success was attained
in a remarkably short space of time and at an extremely early
age, it was not accomplished without an enormous amount of
hard work and considerable privation. When he first went to
New York his salary was but thirty dollars a week, and while
he remained on The Evening Sun never over fifty dollars, and
the prices he received for his first short stories were
extremely meagre. During the early days on The Evening Sun
he had a room in a little house at 108 Waverly Place, and took
his meals in the neighborhood where he happened to find
himself and where they were cheapest. He usually spent his
week-ends in Philadelphia, but his greatest pleasure was when
he could induce some member of his family to visit him in New
York. I fear I was the one who most often accepted his
hospitality, and wonderful visits they were, certainly to me,
and I think to Richard as well. The great event was our
Saturday-night dinner, when we always went to a little
restaurant on Sixth Avenue. I do not imagine the fifty-cent
table d'hote (vin compris) the genial Mr. Jauss served us
was any better than most fifty-cent table-d'hote dinners, but
the place was quaint and redolent of strange smells of cooking
as well as of a true bohemian atmosphere. Those were the days
when the Broadway Theatre was given over to the comic operas
in which Francis Wilson and De Wolfe Hopper were the stars,
and as both of the comedians were firm friends of Richard, we
invariably ended our evening at the Broadway. Sometimes we
occupied a box as the guests of the management, and at other
times we went behind the scenes and sat in the star's
dressing-room. I think I liked it best when Hopper was playing,
because during Wilson's regime the big dressing-room was a rather
solemn sort of place, but when Hopper ruled, the room was filled
with pretty girls and he treated us to fine cigars and champagne.
Halcyon nights those, and then on Sunday morning we always
breakfasted at old Martin's on University Place eggs a la
Martin and that wonderful coffee and pain de menage. And what
a wrench it was when I tore myself away from the delights of
the great city and scurried back to my desk in sleepy
Philadelphia. Had I been a prince royal Richard could not
have planned more carefully than he did for these visits, and
to meet the expense was no easy matter for him. Indeed, I
know that to pay for all our gayeties he usually had to carry
his guitar to a neighboring pawn-broker where the instrument
was always good for an eight-dollar loan. But from the time
Richard first began to make his own living one of the great
pleasures of his life was to celebrate, or as he called it, to
"have a party." Whenever he had finished a short story he had
a party, and when the story had been accepted there was
another party, and, of course, the real party was when he
received the check. And so it was throughout his life, giving
a party to some one whom a party would help, buying a picture
for which he had no use to help a struggling artist, sending a
few tons of coal to an old lady who was not quite warm enough,
always writing a letter or a check for some one of his own
craft who had been less fortunate than he--giving to every
beggar that he met, fearing that among all the thousand fakers
he might refuse one worthy case. I think this habit of giving
Richard must have inherited from his father, who gave out of all
proportion to his means, and with never too close a scrutiny to
the worthiness of the cause. Both men were too intensely human
to do that, but if this great desire on the part of my father and
brother to help others gave the recipients pleasure I'm sure
that it caused in the hearts of the givers an even greater
happiness. The following letters were chosen from a great
number which Richard wrote to his family, telling of his first
days on The Evening Sun, and of his life in New York.
YORK Evening Sun--1890
Today is as lovely and fresh as the morning, a real spring
day, and I feel good in consequence. I have just come from a
couple of raids, where we had a very lively time, and some of
them had to pull their guns. I found it necessary to punch a
few sports myself. The old sergeant from headquarters treats
me like a son and takes the greatest pride in whatever I do or
write. He regularly assigns me now to certain doors, and I
always obey orders like the little gentleman that I am.
Instead of making me unpopular, I find it helps me with the
sports, though it hurts my chances professionally, as so many
of them know me now that I am no use in some districts. For
instance, in Mott and Pell streets, or in the Bowery, I am as
safe as any precinct detective. I tell you this to keep you
from worrying. They won't touch a man whom they think is an
agent or an officer. Only it spoils my chances of doing
reportorial-detective work. For instance, the captain of the
Bowery district refused me a detective the other morning to
take the Shippens around the Chinese and the tougher quarters
because he said they were as safe with me as with any of the
other men whose faces are as well known. To-night I am going to
take a party to the headquarters of the fire department, where I
have a cinch on the captain, a very nice fellow, who is unusually
grateful for something I wrote about him and his men. They are
going to do the Still Alarm act for me.
These clippings all came out in to-day's paper. The ladies in
the Tombs were the Shippens, of course; and Mamie Blake is a
real girl, and the story is true from start to finish. I
think it is a pathetic little history.
Give my love to all. I will bring on the story I have
finished and get you to make some suggestions. It is quite
short. Since Scribner's have been so civil, I think I will
give them a chance at the great prize. I am writing a comic
guide book and a history of the Haymarket for the paper; both
are rich in opportunities. This weather makes me feel like
another person. I will be so glad to get home. With lots of
love and kisses for you and Nora.
NEW YORK--1890.
Brisbane has suggested to me that the Bradley story would lead
anyone to suppose that my evenings were spent in the boudoirs
of the horizontales of 34th Street and has scared me somewhat
in consequence. If it strikes you and Dad the same way don't
show it to Mother. Dad made one mistake by thinking I wrote a
gambling story which has made me nervous. It is hardly the
fair thing to suppose that a man must have an intimate
acquaintance with whatever he writes of intimately. A lot of
hunting people, for instance, would not believe that I had
written the "Traver's Only Ride" story because they knew I did
not hunt. Don't either you or Dad make any mistake about this.
As a matter of fact they would not let me in the room, and I
don't know whether it abounded in signed etchings or
Bougereau's nymphs.
NEW YORK--1890.
Today has been more or less feverish. In the morning's mail I
received a letter from Berlin asking permission to translate
"Gallegher" into German, and a proof of a paragraph from The
Critic on my burlesque of Rudyard Kipling, which was meant to
please but which bored me. Then the "Raegen" story came in,
making nine pages of the Scribner's, which at ten dollars a
page ought to be $90. Pretty good pay for three weeks' work,
and it is a good story. Then at twelve a young man came
bustling into the office, stuck his card down on the desk and
said, "I am S. S. McClure. I have sent my London representative
to Berlin and my New York man to London. Will you take
charge of my New York end?"
If he thought to rattle me he was very much out of it, for I
said in his same tone and manner, "Bring your New York
representative back and send me to London, and I'll consider
it. As long as I am in New York I will not leave The Evening
"Edmund Gosse is my London representative," he said; "you can
have the same work here. Come out and take lunch."
I said, "Thank you, I can't; I'll see you on Tuesday."
"All right," he said. "I'll come for you. Think of what I
say. I'll make your fortune. Bradford Merrill told me to get
you. You won't have anything to do but ask people to write
novels and edit them. I'll send you abroad later if you don't
like New York. Can you write any children's stories for me?"
"No," I said, "see you Tuesday."
This is a verbal report of all and everything that was said.
I consider it a curious interview. It will raise my salary
here or I go. What do YOU think?
NEW YORK--1890.
The more I thought of the McClure offer the less I thought of
it. So I told him last night I was satisfied where I was, and
that the $75 he offered me was no inducement. Brisbane says I
will get $50 about the first of October, which is plenty and
enough for a young man who intends to be good to his folks. I
cannot do better than stay where I am, for it is understood
between Brisbane and Laffan that in the event of the former's
going into politics I shall take his place, which will suit
very well until something better turns up. Then there is the
chance of White's coming back and my going to Lunnon, which
would please me now more for what I think I could make of it
than what I think others have made of it. If I had gone to
McClure I would have been shelved and side-tracked, and I am
still in the running, and learning every day.
Brisbane and I have had our first serious difficulty
over Mrs. R----, who is staying with Mrs. "Bill." There is at
present the most desperate rivalry, and we discuss each
other's chances with great anger. He counts on his
transcontinental knowledge, but my short stories hit very
hard, and he is not in it when I sing "Thy Face Will Lead Me
On" and "When Kerrigan Struck High C." She has a fatal
fondness for Sullivan, which is most unfortunate, as Brisbane
can and does tell her about him by the half hour. Yesterday
we both tried to impress her by riding down in front of the
porch and showing off the horses and ourselves. Brisbane came
off best, though I came off quickest, for my horse put his
foot in a hole and went down on his knees, while I went over
his head like the White Knight in "Alice." I would think
nothing of sliding off a roof now. But I made up for this
mishap by coming back in my grey suit and having it compared
with the picture in The Century. It is a very close fight,
and, while Brisbane is chasing over town for photographs of
Sullivan, I am buying books of verses of which she seems to be
fond. As soon as she gets her divorce one of us is going to
marry her. We don't know which. She is about as beautiful a
woman as I ever saw, and very witty and well-informed, but it
would cost a good deal to keep her in diamonds. She wears
some the Queen gave her, but she wants more.
NEW YORK--1890.
I am well and with lots to do. I went up to see Hopper the
other night, which was the first time in three months that I
have been back of a theater, and it was like going home.
There is a smell about the painty and gassy and dusty place that
I love as much as fresh earth and newly cut hay, and the girls
look so pretty and bold lying around on the sets, and the men so
out of focus and with such startling cheeks and lips. They were
very glad to see me and made a great fuss. Then I've been to see
Carmencita dance, which I enjoyed remarkably, and I have been
reading Rudyard Kipling's short stories, and I think it is
disgusting that a boy like that should write such stories. He
hasn't left himself anything to do when he gets old. He reminds
me of Bret Harte and not a bit of Stevenson, to whom some of them
compare him.
I am very glad you liked the lady in mid-air story so much,
but it wasn't a bit necessary to add the MORAL from a
MOTHER. I saw it coming up before I had read two lines; and
a very good moral it is, too, with which I agree heartily.
But, of course, you know it is not a new idea to me. Anything
as good and true as that moral cannot be new at this late
date. I went to the Brooklyn Handicap race yesterday. It is
one of the three biggest races of the year, and a man stood in
front of me in the paddock in a white hat. Another man asked
him what he was "playing."
"Well," he said, "I fancy Fides myself."
"Fides!" said his friend, "why, she ain't in it. She won't
see home. Raceland's the horse for your money; she's
favorite, and there isn't any second choice. But Fides! Why,
she's simply impossible. Raceland beat HER last Suburban."
"Yes, I remember," said the man in the white hat, "but I fancy
Then another chap said to him, "Fides is all good enough on a
dust track on a sunny, pleasant day, but she can't ran in the
mud. She hasn't got the staying powers. She's a pretty one to
look at, but she's just a `grandstand' ladies' choice. She ain't
in it with Raceland or Erica. The horse YOU want is not a
pretty, dainty flyer, but a stayer, that is sure and that brings
in good money, not big odds, but good money. Why, I can name you
a dozen better'n Fides."
"Still, somehow, I like Fides best," said the obstinate man in
the white hat.
"But Fides will take the bit in her mouth and run away, or
throw the jock or break into the fence. She isn't steady.
She's all right to have a little bet on, just enough for a
flyer, but she's not the horse to plunge on. If you're a
millionaire with money to throw away, why, you might put some
of it up on her, but, as it is, you want to put your money
where it will be sure of a `place,' anyway. Now, let me mark
your card for you?"
"No," said the man, "what you all say is reasonable, I see
that; but, somehow, I rather fancy Fides best."
I've forgotten now whether Fides won or not, and whether she
landed the man who just fancied her without knowing why a
winner or sent him home broke. But, in any event, that is
quite immaterial, the story simply shows how obstinate some
men are as regards horses and--other uncertain critters. I
have no doubt but that the Methodist minister's daughter would
have made Hiram happy if he had loved her, but he didn't. No
doubt Anne ----, Nan ----, Katy ---- and Maude ---- would have
made me happy if they would have consented to have me and I
had happened to love them, but I fancied Fides.
But now since I have scared you sufficiently, let me add for
your peace of mind that I've not enough
money to back any horses just at present, and before I put any
money up on any one of them for the Matrimonial stakes, I will
ask you first to look over the card and give me a few
pointers. I mayn't follow them, you know, but I'll give you a
fair warning, at any rate.
"You're my sweetheart, I'm your beau."
NEW YORK, May 29, 1890.
This is just a little good night note to say how I wish I was
with you down at that dear old place and how much I love you
and Nora who is getting lovelier and sweeter and prettier
everyday and I know a pretty girl when I see 'em, Fides, for
instance. But I won't tease you about that any more.
I finished a short silly story to night which I am in doubt
whether to send off or not. I think I will keep it until I
read it to you and learn what you think.
Mr. Gilder has asked me to stay with them at Marion, and to go
to Cambridge with Mrs. Gilder and dear Mrs. Cleveland and
Grover Cleveland, when he reads the poem before D. K. E.
I have bought a book on decorations, colored, and I am
choosing what I want, like a boy with a new pair of boots.
Good-night, my dearest Mama.
In addition to his regular work on The Evening Sun, my
brother, as I have already said, was devoting a great part, of
his leisure moments to the writing of short stories, and had
made a tentative agreement with a well-known magazine to do a
series of short sketches of New York types. Evidently fearful
that Richard was writing too much and with a view to pecuniary
gain, my mother wrote the following note of warning:
I wouldn't undertake the "types." For one thing, you will
lose prestige writing for ----'s paper. For another, I dread
beyond everything your beginning to do hack work for money.
It is the beginning of decadence both in work and reputation
for you. I know by my own and a thousand other people. Begin
to write because it "is a lot of money" and you stop doing
your best work. You make your work common and your prices
will soon go down. George Lewes managed George Eliot wisely.
He stopped her hack work. Kept her at writing novels and soon
one each year brought her $40,000. I am taking a purely
mercenary view of the thing. There is another which you
understand better than I-- Mind your Mother's advice to
you--now and all the time is "do only your best work--even if
you starve doing it." But you won't starve. You'll get your
dinner at Martin's instead of Delmonico's, which won't hurt
you in the long run. Anyhow, $1000. for 12,500 words is not a
great price.
That was a fine tea you gave. I should like to have heard the
good talk. It was like the regiment of brigadier generals
with no privates.
This is a letter written by my father after the publication of
Richard's story "A Walk up the Avenue." Richard frequently spoke
of his father as his "kindest and severest critic."
PHILADELPHIA, July 22nd, 1890.
10.30 P. M.
You can do it; you have done it; it is all right. I have read
A Walk up the Avenue. It is far and away the best thing you
have ever done--Full of fine subtle thought, of rare, manly
I am not afraid of Dick the author. He's all right. I shall
only be afraid--when I am afraid--that Dick the man will not
live up to the other fellow, that he may forget how much the
good Lord has given him, and how responsible to the good Lord
and to himself he is and will be for it. A man entrusted with
such talent should carry himself straighter than others to
whom it is denied. He has great duties to do; he owes tribute
to the giver.
Don't let the world's temptations in any of its forms come
between you and your work. Make your life worthy of your
talent, and humbly by day and by night ask God to help you to
do it.
I am very proud of this work. It is good work, with brain,
bone, nerve, muscle in it. It is human, with healthy pulse
and heartsome glow in it. Remember, hereafter, you have by it
put on the bars against yourself preventing you doing any work
less good. You have yourself made your record, you can't
lower it. You can only beat it.
In the latter part of December, 1890, Richard left The
Evening Sun to become the managing editor of
Harper's Weekly. George William Curtis was then its
editor, and at this time no periodical had a broader or
greater influence for the welfare of the country. As Richard
was then but twenty-six, his appointment to his new editorial
duties came as a distinct honor. The two years that Richard
had spent on The Evening Sun had been probably the happiest
he had ever known. He really loved New York, and at this time
Paris and London held no such place in his affections as they
did in later years. And indeed there was small reason why
these should not have been happy years for any young man. At
twenty-six Richard had already accomplished much, and his name
had become a familiar one not only to New Yorkers but
throughout the country. Youth and health he had, and many
friends, and a talent that promised to carry him far in the
profession he loved. His new position paid him a salary
considerably larger than he had received heretofore, and he
now demanded and received much higher terms for his stories.
All of which was well for Richard because as his income grew
so grew his tastes. I have known few men who cared less for
money than did my brother, and I have known few who cared more
for what it could buy for his friends and for himself. Money
to him, and, during his life he made very large sums of it, he
always chose to regard as income but never capital. A bond or
a share of stock meant to him what it would bring that day on
the Stock Exchange. The rainy day which is the bugaboo for
the most of us, never seemed to show on his horizon. For a
man whose livelihood depended on the lasting quality of his
creative faculties he had an infinite faith in the future, and
indeed his own experience seemed to show that he was
justified in this belief. It could not have been very long
after his start as a fiction writer that he received
as high a price for his work as any of his contemporaries;
and just previous to his death, more than twenty years
later, he signed a contract to write six stories
at a figure which, so far as I know, was the highest ever
offered an American author. In any case, money or the lack of
it certainly never caused Richard any worriment during the
early days of which I write. For what he made he worked
extremely hard, but the reputation and the spending of the money
that this same hard work brought him caused him infinite
happiness. He enjoyed the reputation he had won and the
friends that such a reputation helped him to make; he enjoyed
entertaining and being entertained, and he enjoyed pretty much
all of the good things of life. And all of this he enjoyed
with the naive, almost boyish enthusiasm that only one could
to whom it had all been made possible at twenty-six. Of these
happy days Booth Tarkington wrote at the time of my brother's
"To the college boy of the early nineties Richard Harding
Davis was the `beau ideal of jeunesse doree,' a
sophisticated heart of gold. He was of that college boy's own
age, but already an editor--already publishing books! His
stalwart good looks were as familiar to us as were those of
our own football captain; we knew his face as we knew the face
of the President of the United States, but we infinitely
preferred Davis's. When the Waldorf was wondrously completed,
and we cut an exam. in Cuneiform Inscriptions for an excursion
to see the world at lunch in its new magnificence, and Richard
Harding Davis came into the Palm Room--then, oh, then, our day
was radiant! That was the top of our fortune; we could never
have hoped for so much. Of all the great people of every
continent, this was the one we most desired to see."
Richard's intimate friends of these days were Charles Dana
Gibson, who illustrated a number of my brother's stories,
Robert Howard Russell, Albert La Montagne, Helen Benedict, now
Mrs. Thomas Hastings, Ethel Barrymore, Maude Adams, E. H.
Sothern, his brother, Sam, and Arthur Brisbane. None of this
little circle was married at the time, its various members
were seldom apart, and they extracted an enormous amount of
fun out of life. I had recently settled in New York, and we
had rooms at 10 East Twenty-eighth Street, where we lived very
comfortably for many years. Indeed Richard did not leave them
until his marriage in the summer of 1899. They were very
pleasant, sunny rooms, and in the sitting-room, which Richard
had made quite attractive, we gave many teas and
supper-parties. But of all the happy incidents I can recall
at the Twenty-eighth Street house, the one I remember most
distinctly took place in the hallway the night that Richard
received the first statement and check for his first book of
short stories, and before the money had begun to come in as
fast as it did afterward. We were on our way to dinner at
some modest resort when we saw and at once recognized the long
envelope on the mantel. Richard guessed it would be for one
hundred and ninety dollars, but with a rather doubting heart I
raised my guess to three hundred. And when, with trembling
fingers, Richard had finally torn open the envelope and found
a check for nine hundred and odd dollars, what a wild dance we
did about the hall-table, and what a dinner we had that night!
Not at the modest restaurant as originally intended, but at
Delmonico's! It was during these days that Seymour Hicks and his
lovely wife Ellaline Terriss first visited America, and they and
Richard formed a mutual attachment that lasted until his death.
Richard had always taken an intense interest in the drama, and
at the time he was managing editor of Harper's Weekly had
made his first efforts as a playwright. Robert Hilliard did a
one-act version of Richard's short story, "Her First
Appearance," which under the title of "The Littlest Girl" he
played in vaudeville for many years. E. H. Sothern and
Richard had many schemes for writing a play together, but the
only actual result they ever attained was a one-act version
Sothern did at the old Lyceum of my brother's story, "The
Disreputable Mr. Raegen." It was an extremely tense and
absorbing drama, and Sothern was very fine in the part of
Raegen, but for the forty-five minutes the playlet lasted
Sothern had to hold the stage continuously alone, and as it
preceded a play of the regulation length, the effort proved
too much for the actor's strength, and after a few
performances it was taken off. Although it was several years
after this that my brother's first long play was produced he
never lost interest in the craft of playwriting, and only
waited for the time and means to really devote himself to it.
BOSTON, January 22nd, 1891.
This is just to say that I am alive and sleepy, and that my
head is still its normal size, although I have at last found
one man in Boston who has read one of my stories, and that was
Barrymore from New York. The Fairchilds' dinner was a
tremendous affair, and I was conquered absolutely by Mr.
Howells, who went far, far out of his way to be as kind and
charming as an old man could be. Yesterday Mrs. Whitman gave a
tea in her studio. I thought she meant to have a half dozen
young people to drink a cup with her, and I sauntered in in the
most nonchalant manner to find that about everybody had been
asked to meet me. And everybody came, principally owing to the
"Harding Davis" part of the name for they all spoke of mother
and so very dearly that it made me pretty near weep.
Everybody came from old Dr. Holmes who never goes any place,
to Mrs. "Jack" Gardner and all the debutantes. "I was on in
that scene." In the evening I went with the Fairchilds to
Mrs. Julia Ward Howe's to meet the S----s but made a point not
to as he was talking like a cad when I heard him and Mrs.
Fairchild and I agreed to be the only people in Boston who had
not clasped his hand. There were only a few people present
and Mrs. Howe recited the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which I
thought very characteristic of the city. To-day I posed again
and Cumnock took me over Cambridge and into all of the Clubs
where I met some very nice boys and felt very old. Then we
went to a tea Cushing gave in his rooms and to night I go to
Mrs. Deland's. But the mornings with the Fairchilds are the
In the spring of 1891 my mother and sister, Nora, went abroad
for the summer, and the following note was written to Richard
just before my mother sailed:
This is just to give my dearest love to you my darling. Some
day at sea when I cannot hear you nor see you,
whenever it is that you get it--night or morning---you may be
sure that we are all loving and thinking of you.
Keep close to the Lord. Your Lord who never has refused to
hear a prayer of yours.
Just think that I have kissed you a thousand times.
June, 1891.
Your letters are a great delight to me but I think you are
going entirely too quickly. You do not feel it now but you
are simply hurrying through the courses of your long dinner so
rapidly that when dessert comes you will not be up to it. A
day or two's rest and less greed to see many things would be
much more fun I should think, and you will enjoy those days
more to look back to when you wandered around some little town
by yourselves and made discoveries than those you spent doing
what you feel you ought to do. Excuse this lecture but I know
that when I got to Paris I wanted to do nothing but sit still
and read and let "sights" go-- You will soon learn not to
duplicate and that one cathedral will answer for a dozen. And
I am disappointed in your mad desire to get to Edinboro to get
letters from home, as though you couldn't get letters from me
every day of your life and as if there were not enough of you
together to keep from getting homesick. I am ashamed of you.
But that is all the scolding I have to do for I do not know
what has given me more pleasure than your letters and Nora's
especially. They tell me the best news in the world and that
is, that you are all getting as much happiness out of it as I
have prayed you would. I may go over in September myself.
But I would only go to London. Now, then for Home news.
I have sold the "Reporter Who Made Himself King" to
McClure's for $300. to be published in the syndicate in
August. I have finished "Her First Appearance" and Gibson
is doing the illustrations, three. I got $175. for it.
I am now at work on a story about Arthur Cumnock, Harvard's
football captain who was the hero of Class Day. It will come
out this week and will match Lieut. Grant's chance. In July
I begin a story called the "Traveller's Tale" which will be
used in the November Harper. That is all _I_ am doing.
So far the notices of "Gallegher" have been very good, I mean
the English ones.
I went up to Class Day on Friday and spent the day with Miss
Fairchild and Miss Howells and with Mr. H. for chaperone. He
is getting old and says he never deserved the fuss they made
over him. We had a pretty perfect day although it threatened
rain most of the time. We wandered around from one spread to
another meeting beautifully dressed girls everywhere and
"lions" and celebrities. Then the fight for the roses around
the tree was very interesting and picturesque and arena like
and the best of all was sitting in the broad window seats of
the dormitories with a Girl or two, generally "a" girl and
listening to the glee club sing and watching the lanterns and
the crowds of people as beautiful as Redfern could make them.
Half of Seabright was burnt down last week but not my half,
although the fire destroyed all the stores and fishermen's
houses and stopped only one house away
from Pannachi's, where I will put up. I am very well and
content and look forward to much pleasure this summer at
Seabright and much work. I find I have seldom been so happy
as when working hard and fast as I have been forced to do
these last two weeks and so I will keep it up. Not in such a
way as to hurt me but just enough to keep me happy.
NEW YORK, August 1891.
From The Pall Mall Budget Gazette.
"The Americans are saying, by the way, that they have
discovered a Rudyard Kipling of their own. This is Mr.
Richard Harding Davis, a volume of whose stories has been
published this week by Mr. Osgood. Mr. Davis is only
twenty-six, was for sometime on the staff of the New York
Evening Sun. He is now the editor of Harper's Weekly."
That is me. I have also a mother and sister who once went to
London and what do you think they first went to see, in
London, mind you. They got into a four wheeler and they said
"cabby drive as fast as you can," not knowing that four
wheelers never go faster than a dead march--" to--" where do
you think? St. Paul's, the Temple, the Abbey, their lodgings,
the Houses of Parliament--the Pavilion Music Hall--the
Tower--no to none of these--"To the Post Office." That is
what my mother and sister did! After this when they hint that
they would like to go again and say "these muffins are not
English muffins" and "do you remember the little Inn at
Chester, ah, those were happy days," I will say, "And do you
remember the Post Office in Edinburgh and London. We have none
such in America." And as they only go abroad to get letters they
will hereafter go to Rittenhouse Square and I will write letters
to them from London. All this shows that a simple hurriedly
written letter from Richard Harding Davis is of more value than
all the show places of London. It makes me quite PROUD. And so
does this:
"`Gallegher' is as good as anything of Bret Harte's, although
it is in Mr. Davis's own vein, not in the borrowed vein of
Bret Harte or anybody else. `The Cynical Miss Catherwaight'
is very good, too, and `Mr. Raegen' is still better."
But on the other hand, it makes me tired, and so does this:
"`The Other Woman' is a story which offends good taste in more
than one way. It is a blunder to have written it, a greater
blunder to have published it, and a greater blunder STILL to
have republished it."
I suppose now that Dad has crossed with Prince George and Nora
has seen the Emperor, that you will be proud too. But you
will be prouder of your darling boy Charles, even though he
does get wiped out at Seabright next week and you will be even
prouder when he writes great stories for The Evening Sun.
The Players,
16 Gramercy Park.
24th, 1891.
I had a great day at the game and going there and coming back.
I met a great many old football men and almost all of them
spoke of the "Out of the Game" story. Cumnock, Camp, Poe,
Terry and lots more whose names mean nothing to you, so
ignorant are you, were there and we had long talks.
I went to see Cleveland yesterday about a thing of which I
have thought much and talked less and that was going into
politics in this country. To say he discouraged me in so
doing would be saying the rain is wet. He seemed to think
breaking stones as a means of getting fame and fortune was
quicker and more genteel. I also saw her and the BABY. She
explained why she had not written you and also incidentally
why she HAD written Childs. I do not know as what Cleveland
said made much impression upon me--although I found out what I
could expect from him--that is nothing here but apparently a
place abroad if I wanted it. But he thought Congress was
perfectly feasible but the greatest folly to go there.
For Richard these first years in New York were filled to
overflowing with many varied interests, quite enough to
satisfy most young men of twenty-seven. He had come and seen
and to a degree, so far as the limitation of his work would
permit, had conquered New York, but Richard thoroughly
realized that New York was not only a very small part of the
world but of his own country, and that to write about his own
people and his own country and other people and other lands he
must start his travels at an early age, and go on travelling
until the end. And for the twenty-five years that followed
that was what Richard did. Even when he was not on his
travels but working on a novel or a play at Marion or later on
at Mount Kisco, so far as it was possible he kept in touch
with events that were happening and the friends that he had
made all over the globe. He subscribed to most of the English
and French illustrated periodicals and to one London daily
newspaper which every day he read with the same interest that
he read half a dozen New York newspapers and the interest was
always that of the trained editor at work. Richard was not
only physically restless but his mind practically never
relaxed. When others, tired after a hard day's work or
play, would devote the evening to cards or billiards
or chatter, Richard would write letters or pore over
some strange foreign magazine, consult maps, make notes, or
read the stories of his contemporaries. He practically read
every American magazine from cover to cover--advertisements
were a delight to him, and the finding of a new writer gave
him as much pleasure as if he had been the fiction editor who
had accepted the first story by the embryo genius. The
official organs of our army and navy he found of particular
interest. Not only did he thus follow the movements of his
friends in these branches of the service but if he read of a
case wherein he thought a sailor or a soldier had been done an
injustice he would promptly take the matter up with the
authorities at Washington, and the results he obtained were
often not only extremely gratifying to the wronged party but
caused Richard no end of pleasure.
According to my brother's arrangement with the Harpers, he was
to devote a certain number of months of every year to the
editing of The Weekly, and the remainder to travel and the
writing of his experiences for Harper's Monthly. He started
on the first of these trips in January, 1892, and the result
was a series of articles which afterward appeared under the
title of "The West from a Car Window."
January, 1892.
(Some place in Texas)
I left St. Louis last night, Wednesday, and went to bed and
slept for twelve hours. To-day has been most trying and I
shall be very glad to get on dry land again. The snow has
ceased although the papers say this is the coldest snap they
have had in San Antonio in ten years. It might have waited a
month for me I think. It has been a most dreary trip from
a car window point of view. Now that the snow has gone, there
is mud and ice and pine trees and colored people, but no
cowboys as yet. They talk nothing but Chili and war and they
make such funny mistakes. We have a G. A. R. excursion on the
train, consisting of one fat and prosperous G. A. R., the rest
of the excursion having backed out on account of Garza who the
salient warriors imagine as a roaring lion seeking whom he may
devour. One old chap with white hair came on board at a
desolate station and asked for "the boys in blue" and was very
much disgusted when he found that "that grasshopper Garza" had
scared them away-- He had tramped five miles through the mud
to greet a possible comrade and was much chagrined. The
excursion shook hands with him and they took a drink together.
The excursion tells me he is a glass manufacturer, an owner of
a slate quarry and the best embalmer of bodies in the country.
He says he can keep them four years and does so "for
specimens" those that are left on his hands and others he
purchases from the morgue. He has a son who is an actor and
he fills me full of the most harrowing tales of Indian warfare
and the details of the undertaking business. He is SO funny
about the latter that I weep with laughter and he cannot see
why-- Joe Jefferson and I went to a matinee on Wednesday and
saw Robson in "She stoops to Conquer." The house was
absolutely packed and when Joe came in the box they yelled and
applauded and he nodded to them in the most fatherly, friendly
way as though to say "How are you, I don't just remember your
name but I'm glad to see you--" It was so much sweeter than if
he had got up and bowed as I would have done.
I knew more about Texas than the Texans and when they told me
I would find summer here I smiled knowingly-- That is all the
smiling I have done---Did you ever see a stage set for a
garden or wood scene by daylight or Coney Island in
March--that is what the glorious, beautiful baking city of San
Antonio is like. There is mud and mud and mud--in cans, in
the gardens of the Mexicans and snow around the palms and
palmettos-- Does the sun shine anywhere? Are people ever
warm-- It is raw, ugly and muddy, the Mexicans are merely
dirty and not picturesque. I am greatly disappointed. But I
have set my teeth hard and I will go on and see it through to
the bitter end-- But I will not write anything for publication
until I can take a more cheerful view of it. I already have
reached the stage where I admit the laugh is on me-- But there
is still London to look forward to and this may get better
when the sun comes out---I went to the fort to-day and was
most courteously received. But they told me I should go on to
Laredo, if I expected to see any campaigning-- There is no
fighting nor is any expected but they say they will give me a
horse and I can ride around the chaparral as long as I want.
I will write you from Laredo, where I go to-morrow, Saturday--
At Laredo Richard left the beaten track of the traveller, and
with Trooper Tyler, who acted as his guide, joined Captain
Hardie in his search for Garza. The famous revolutionist was
supposed to be in hiding this side of the border, and the
Mexican Government had asked the United States to find him and
return him to the officials of his own country.
In Camp, February 2nd.
We have stopped by the side of a trail for a while and I will
take the chance it gives me to tell you what I have been
doing. After Tyler and I returned to camp, we had a day of
rest before Captain Hardie arrived. He is a young,
red-moustached, pointed-bearded chap with light blue eyes,
rough with living in the West but most kind hearted and
enthusiastic. He treats me as though I were his son which is
rather absurd as he is only up to my shoulder. It is so hot I
cannot make the words go straight and you must not mind if I
wander. We are hugging a fence for all the shade there is and
the horses and men have all crawled to the dark side of it and
are sleeping or swearing at the sun. It is about two o'clock
and we have been riding since half-past seven. I have had a
first rate time but I do not see that there has been much in
it to interest any one but myself and where Harper Brothers
or the "gentle reader" comes in, I am afraid I cannot see, and
if I cannot see it I fear he will be in a bad way. It has
pleased and interested me to see how I could get along under
difficult circumstances and with so much discomfort but as I
say I was not sent out here to improve my temper or my health
or to make me more content with my good things in the East.
If we could have a fight or something that would excuse and
make a climax for all this marching and reconnoitering and
discomfort the story would have a suitable finale and a raison
d'etre. However, I may get something out of it if only to abuse
the Government for their stupidity in chasing a jack rabbit with
a brass band or by praising the men for doing their duty when
they know there is no duty to be done. This country is more
like the ocean than anything else and drives one crazy with
its monotony and desolation. And to think we went to war with
Mexico for it-- To-day is my tenth day with the troops in the
camp and in the field and I will leave them as soon as this
scout is over which will be in three days at the most. Then I
will go to Corpus Christi and from there to the ranches but I
will wait until I get baths, hair cuts and a dinner and cool
things to drink-- One thing has pleased me very much and that
is that I, with Tyler and the Mexican Scout made the second
best riding record of the troop since they have been in the
field this winter. The others rode 115 miles in 32 hours,
four of them under the first Sergeant, after revolutionists,
and we made 110 miles in 33 hours. The rest of the detachment
made 90 miles and our having the extra thirty to our credit
was an accident. On the 31st Hardie sent out the scout and
two troopers, of which Tyler was one, to get a trail and as I
had been resting and loafing for three days, I went out with
them. We left at eight after breakfast and returned at seven,
having made thirty miles. When we got in we found that a
detachment was going out on information sent in while we were
out. Tyler was in it and so we got fresh horses and put out
at nine o'clock by moonlight. That was to keep the people in
the ranch from knowing we were going out. We rode until
half-past three in the morning and then camped at the side of
the road until half--past six, when we rode on until five in
the afternoon. The men who were watching to see me give up grew
more and more interested as the miles rolled out and the First
Sergeant was very fearful for his record for which he has been
recommended for the certificate of merit. The Captain was
very much pleased and all the men came and spoke to me. It
must have been a good ride for Tyler who is a fifth year man
was so tired that he paid a man to do his sentry duty. We
slept at Captain Hunter's camp that last night and we both
came on this morning, riding thirty miles up to two o'clock
to-day. From here we go on into the brush again. I am very
proud of that riding record and of my beard which is fine. I
will finish this when we get near a post-office.
February 4th-- We rode forty miles through the brush but saw
nothing of Garza, who was supposed to be in it. But we
captured 3 revolutionists, one of whom ran away but the scout
got him. Hardie, Tyler, who is his orderly, and the scout and
I took them in because the rest of the column was lagging in
the rear and the Lieutenant got bally hooly for it. Tyler
disarmed one and I took away the other chaps things. Then we
took a fourth in and let them all go for want of evidence and
after some of the ranch men had identified them.
We ended our scout yesterday, and camped at Captain Hunter's
last night-- Mother can now rest her soul in peace as I have
done with scoutings and have replaced the free and easy belt
and revolver for the black silk suspenders and the fire badge
of civilization. I am still covered with 11 days dirt but
will get lots of good things to eat and drink and smoke
at Corpus Christi to night, where I will stay for two days. I
am writing this on the car and a ranger is shooting splinters
out of the telegraph poles from the window in front and has a
New York drummer in a state of absolute nervous prostration.
I met the Rangers last night as we came into camp and find
them quite the most interesting things yet. They are just
what I expected to find here and have not disappointed me.
Everything else is either what we know it to be and know all
about or else is disappointingly commonplace. I mean we know
certain things are picturesque and I find them so but they
have been "done" to death and new material seems so scarce. I
am sometimes very fearful of the success of the letters--
However, the Rangers I simply loved. They were gentle voiced
and did not swear as the soldiers do and some of them were as
handsome men as I ever saw and SO BIG. And such children.
They showed me all their tricks at the request of the Adjutant
General, who looks upon them as his special property. They
shot four shots into a tree with a revolver, going at full
gallop, hit a mark with both hands at once, shot with the
pistol upside down and the Captain put eight shots into a
board with a Winchester, while I was putting two into the
field around it. We got along very well indeed and they were
quite keen for me to go back and chase Garza. They are sure
they have him now. I gave the Captain permission to put four
shots into my white helmet. He only put two and the rest of
the company thinking their reputations were at stake whipped
out their guns and snatched up their rifles and blazed away
until they danced the hat all over the ranch. Then remorse
overcame them and they proposed taking up a collection to get me
a sombrero, which I stopped. So Nora's hat is gone but I am
going to get another and save myself from sunstroke again. The
last part of the ride was enlivened by the presence of three
Mexican murderers handcuffed and chained with iron bands around
the neck, that is Texas civilization isn't it--
I have had my dinner and a fine dinner it was with fresh fish
and duck and oysters and segars which I have not had for a
week. I am finishing this at Constantine's and will be here
for two days to write things and will then go on to King's
ranch and from there to San Antonio, where I will also rest a
week. I will just about get through my schedule in the ten
weeks at this rate. I had a good time in the bush and am
enjoying it very much though it is lonely now and then--
Still, it is very interesting and if the stories amount to
anything I will be pleased but I am constantly wondering how
on earth Chas stood it as he did. He is a hero to me for I
have some hope of getting back and he had not-- He is a
sport-- How I will sleep to night--a real bed and sheets and
pajamas, after the ground and the same clothes for eleven
of love.
While Richard was travelling in the West, his second volume of
short stories, "Van Bibber and Others," was published. The
volume was dedicated to my father, who wrote Richard the
following letter:
PHILADELPHIA, February 15, 1892.
I have not been the complete letter writer I should have been,
as I told you on Saturday, but I know you
will understand. Your two good letters came this evening,
one to Mamma and one to Nora. They were a good deal to us
all, most, of course, to your dear mother and sister, who have
a fond, foolish fancy or love for you--strange--isn't it?
Yes, dear boy, I liked the new story very, very much. It was
in your best book and in fine spirit, and I liked, too, the
dedication of the book--its meaning and its manner. I am glad
to be associated with my dear boy and with his work even in
that brief way. You may not yet thought about it after this
fashion, but I have thought a good deal about it. Reports
come to me of you from many sources, and they are all good,
and they all reflect honor upon me-- Upon me as I'm getting
ready to salute the world, as our French friends say. It is
very pleasant to me as I think it over to feel and to know
that my boy has honored my name, that he has done something
good and useful in the world and for the world. I have
something more than pride in you. I am grateful to you. If
this is a little prosie, dear old fellow, forgive it. It is
late at night and I am a little tired, and being tired stupid.
You saw The Atlantic notice of your work. I wish you could
have heard Nora on the author of it, who would not have been
happy in his mind if he had unhappily heard her. She went for
that Heathen Chinee like a wild cat. No disrespect to her,
but, all the same, like a wild cat. To me it was interesting.
I did not agree with it, but here and there I saw the flash of
truth even in the adverse praise. I should have had more
respect for the author's opinion if he had liked that vital
speck, Raegen. If he could not see the divine, human spark in
that--a flash from Calvary, what is the use of considering
him? My greatest pride in you, that which has added some
sweetness and joy to my life, has been the recognition that
something of the divine element was given you, and that your
voice rang out sweet and pure at a time when other voices were
sounding the fascinations of impurity. That, like Christ, you
taught humanity. Don't be afraid of being thought "fresh," fear
to be thought "knowing." Life isn't much worth at best,--it is
worth nothing at all unless some good be done in it---the more,
the better. Don't make it too serious either. Enjoy it as you
go, but after a fashion that will bring no reproach to your
manhood. Don't be afraid to preach the truth and above all the
religion of humanity. Good night, dear boy. I'm a little tired
to night.
With great love,
ANADARKO-February 26th, 1892.
I could not write you before as I have been traveling from
pillars to posts, (a joke), in a stage, night and day. I went
to Fort Reno from Oklahoma City where they drove me crazy
almost with town lots and lot sites and homestead holdings.
It was all raw and mean, and greedy for money and a man is
much better off in every way in a tenement on Second Avenue
than the "owner of his own home" in one of these mushroom
cities-- So I think. I went to Fort Reno by stage and it
seemed to me that I was really in the West for the first time--
The rest has been as much like the oil towns around Pittsburgh
as anything else. But here there are rolling prairie lands with
millions of prairie dogs and deep canons and bluffs of red clay
that stand out as clear as a razor hollowed and carved
away by the water long ago. And the grass is as high as a
stirrup and the trees very plentiful after the plains of
Texas. The men at Fort Reno were the best I have met, indeed
I am just a little tired of trying to talk of things of
interest to the Second Lieutenant's intellect. But I had to
leave there because I had missed the beef issue and had to see
it and as it was due here I pushed on. This post is very
beautiful but the men are very young and civil appointments
mainly, which means that they have not been to West Point but
had fathers and have friends with influence and they are
fresh. But the scenery around the post is delightfully wild
and big and there is an Indian camp at the foot of the hill on
which the fort is stuck. Mother, instead of going to Europe,
should come here and see her Indians. Only if she did she
would bring a dozen or more of the children back with her.
They are the brightest spot in my trip and I spend the
mornings and afternoons trying to get them to play with me.
They are very shy and pretty and beautifully barbaric and wear
the most gorgeous trappings. The women, the older ones, are
the ugliest women I ever saw. But the men are fine. I never
saw such color as they give to the landscape and one always
thinks they have dressed up just to please you. I have spent
most of my time and money in buying things from them but they
are very dear because the Indians take long to make them and
do not like to part with them. I have had rough times lately
but I think I would be content to remain in the west six
months if I could. It is the necessity of leaving places I
like and pushing on to places I don't, I dislike. Reno was
fine with a band and lots of fine fellows. This post is not
so queer but they are so young-- It makes a great bit of color
though with the yellow capes of the cavalry and the soldiers
wig--waging red and white flags at other soldiers eight miles
away on other mountains and the Indians in yellow buckskin and
blankets and their faces painted too. I went to the beef
issue to-day--it was not a pretty sight and most barbarous and
cruel. I also went to a council at which the chiefs were
protesting against the cutting down of their rations which is
Commissioner Morgan's doing and which it is expected will lead
to war-- We went in out of curiosity and without knowing it
was a Council and were very much ashamed when one of the
Chiefs rose and said he was glad to see the officers present
as they were the best friends the Indians had and the only men
they could respect in times of peace as a friend, or in times
of war as an enemy. At which we took off our hats and sat it
through. Mother's blood would rise if she could hear the
stories they tell, and they are so dignified and polite. They
have an Indian troop here, like the one described in The
Weekly, which you should read and the Captain told them I was
a great Chief from the East, whereat all the soldiers who were
of noble lineage claimed their privilege of shaking hands with
me, which had a demoralizing effect upon the formation and the
white privates were either convulsed with mirth or red with
indignation. But you cannot treat them like white men who do
not know their ancestors-- Dad's letter was the best I have
ever got from him and he had always better write when he is
tired. I will always keep it.
DENVER--March 7, 1892.
I arrived in Denver Friday night and realized that I was
in a city again where the more you order people
about the more they do for you, being civilized and so
understanding that you mean to tip them. I found my first
letter on the newsstand and was very much pleased with it, and
with the way they put it out. The proof was perfect and if
there had been more pictures I would have been entirely
satisfied, as it was I was very much pleased. My baggage had
not come, so covered with mud and dust and straw from the
stages and generally disreputable I went to see a burlesque,
and said "Front row, end seat," just as naturally as though I
was in evening dress and high hat--and then I sank into a
beautiful deep velvet chair and saw Amazon marches and ladies
in tights and heard the old old jokes and the old old songs we
know so well and sing so badly. The next morning I went for
my mail and the entire post office came out to see me get it.
It took me until seven in the evening to finish it, and I do
not know that it will ever be answered. The best of it was
that you were all pleased with my letters. That put my mind
at rest. Then there was news of deaths and marriages and
engagements and the same people doing the same things they did
when I went away. I did not intend to present any letters as
I was going away that night to Creede, but I found I could not
get any money unless some one identified me so I presented one
to a Mr. Jerome who all the bankers said they would be only
too happy to oblige. After one has been variously taken for a
drummer, photographer and has been offered so much a line to
"write up" booming towns, it is a relief to get back to a
place where people know you.--I told Mr. Jerome I had a letter
of introduction and that I was Mr. Davis and he shook hands
and then looked at the letter and said "Good Heavens are you
that Mr. Davis" and then rushed off and brought back the entire
establishment brokers, bankers and mine owners and they all sat
around and told me funny stories and planned more things for me
to do and eat than I could dispose of in a month.
I am now en route to Creede. Creede when you first see it in
print looks like creede but after you have been in Denver or
Colorado even for one day it reads like C R E E D E. All the
men on this car think they are going to make their fortunes,
and toward that end they have on new boots and flannel shirts,
and some of them seeing my beautiful clothing and careful
array came over and confided to me that they were really not
so tough as they looked and had never worn a flannel shirt
before. This car is typical of what they told me I would find
at Creede. There are rich mine owners who are pointed out by
the conductor as the fifth part owner of the "Pot Luck" mine,
and dudes in astrakan fur coats over top boots and new flannel
shirts, and hardened old timers with their bedding and tin
pans, who have prospected all over the state and women who are
smoking and drinking.
I feel awfully selfish whenever I look out of the car window.
Switzerland which I have never seen is a spot on the map
compared to this. The mountains go up with snow on one side
and black rows of trees and rocks on the other, and the clouds
seem packed down between them. The sun on the snow and the
peaks peering above the clouds is all new to me and so very
beautiful that I would like to buy a mountain and call it
after my best girl. I will finish this when I get to Creede.
I expect to make my fortune there.
CREEDE, March 7.
A young man in a sweater and top boots met me at the depot and
said that I was Mr. Davis and that he was a young man whose
life I had written in "There was 90 and 9." He was from
Buffalo and was editing a paper in Creede. He said I was to
stop with him-- Creede is built of new pine boards and lies
between two immense mountains covered with pines and snow.
The town is built in the gulley and when the spring freshets
come will be a second Johnstown. Faber, the young man, took
me to the Grub State Cabin where I found two most amusing
dudes and thoroughbred sports from Boston, Harvard men living
in a cabin ten by eight with four bunks and a stove, two
banjos and H O P E. They own numerous silver mines, lots, and
shares, but I do not believe they have five dollars in cash
amongst them. They have a large picture of myself for one of
the ORNAMENTS and are great good fellows. We sat up in our
bunks until two this morning talking and are planning to go to
Africa and Mexico and Asia Minor together.--Lots of love.
Very happy indeed to be back in his beloved town, Richard
returned to New York late in March, 1892, and resumed his
editorial duties. But on this occasion his stay was of
particularly short duration, and in May, he started for his
long-wished-for visit to London. The season there was not yet
in full swing, and after spending a few days in town,
journeyed to Oxford, where he settled down to amuse himself
and collect material for his first articles on English life as
he found it. In writing of this visit to Oxford, H. J.
Whigham, one of Richard's oldest friends, and who afterward
served with him in several campaigns, said:
"When we first met Richard Harding Davis he was living, to all
practical purposes, the life of an undergraduate at Balliol
College, Oxford. Anyone at all conversant with the customs of
universities, especially with the idiosyncrasies of Oxford,
knows that for a person who is not an undergraduate to share
the life of undergraduates on equal terms, to take part in
their adventures, to be admitted to their confidence is more
difficult than it is for the camel to pass through the eye of
a needle or for the rich man to enter heaven. It was
characteristic of Davis that although he was a few years older
than the average university "man" and came from a strange
country and, moreover, had no official reason for being at
Oxford at all, he was accepted as one of themselves by the
Balliol undergraduates, in fact, lived in Balliol for at least
a college term, and happening to fall in with a somewhat
enterprising generation of Balliol men he took the lead in
several escapades which have been written into Oxford history.
There is in the makeup of the best type of college
undergraduate a wonderful spirit of adventure, an unprejudiced
view of life, an almost Quixotic feeling for romance, a
disdain of sordid or materialistic motives, which together
make the years spent at a great university the most golden of
the average man's career. These characteristics Davis was
fortunate enough to retain through all the years of his life.
The same spirit that took him out with a band of Oxford youths
to break down an iron barrier set by an insolent landowner
across the navigable waters of Shakespeare's Avon carried him,
in after years, to the battlefields where Greece fought
against the yoke of Turkey, to the insurrecto camps of Cuba,
to the dark horrors of the Congo, to Manchuria, where gallant
Japan beat back the overwhelming power of Russia, to Belgium,
where he saw the legions of Germany trampling over the
prostrate bodies of a small people. Romance was never dead
while Davis was alive."
That Richard lost no time in making friends at Oxford as,
indeed, he never failed to do wherever he went, the following
letters to his mother would seem to show:
OXFORD--May, 1892.
I came down here on Saturday morning with the Peels, who gave
an enormous boating party and luncheon on a tiny little
island. The day was beautiful with a warm brilliant sun, and
the river was just as narrow and pretty as the head of the
Squan river, and with old walls and college buildings added.
We had the prettiest Mrs. Peel in our boat and Mrs. Joseph
Chamberlain, who was Miss Endicott and who is very sweet and
pretty. We raced the other punts and rowboats and soon, after
much splashing and exertion, reached the head of the river.
Then we went to, tea in New College and to see the sights of
the different colleges now on the Thames. The barges of the
colleges, painted different colors and gilded like circus
band-wagons and decorated with coats of arms and flying great
flags, lined the one shore for a quarter of a mile and were
covered by girls in pretty frocks and under-grads in blazers.
Then the boats came into sight one after another with the men
running alongside on the towpath. This was one of the most
remarkable sights of the country so far. There were over six
hundred men coming six abreast, falling and stumbling and
pushing, shouting and firing pistols. It sounded like a
cavalry charge and the line seemed endless. The whole thing
was most theatrical and effective. Then we went to the annual
dinner of the Palmerston Club, where I made a speech which was,
as there is no one else to tell you, well received, "being
frequently interrupted with applause," from both the diners and
the ladies in the gallery. It was about Free Trade and the way
America was misrepresented in the English papers, and composed
of funny stories which had nothing to do with the speech. I
did not know I was going to speak until I got there, and
considering the fact, as Wilson says, that your uncle was playing
on a strange table with a crooked cue he did very well. The
next morning we breakfasted with the Bursar of Trinity and had
luncheon with the Viscount St. Cyres to meet Lord and Lady
Coleridge. St. Cyres is very shy and well-bred, and we would
have had a good time had not the M. P.'s present been filled
with awe of the Lord Chief Justice and failed to draw him out.
As it was he told some very funny stories; then we went to tea
with Hubert Howard, in whose rooms I live and am now writing,
and met some stupid English women and shy girls. Then we
dined with the dons at New College, so--called because it is
eight hundred years old. We sat at a high table in a big hall
hung with pictures and lit by candles. The under-grads sat
beneath in gowns and rattled pewter mugs. We all wore evening
dress and those that had them red and white fur collars.
After dinner we left the room according to some process of
selection, carrying our napkins with us. We entered a room
called the Commons, where we drank wines and ate nuts and
raisins. It was all very solemn and dull and very dignified.
Outside it was quite light although nine o'clock. Then we
marched to another room where there were cigars and brandy
and soda, but Arthur Pollen and I had to go and take coffee
with the Master of Balliol, the only individual of whom Pollen
stands in the least awe. He was a dear old man who said, "O
yes, you're from India," and on my saying "No, from America";
he said, "O yes, it's the other one." I found the other one
was an Indian princess in a cashmere cloak and diamonds, who
looked so proud and lovely and beautiful that I wanted to take
her out to one of the seats in the quadrangle and let her weep
on my shoulder. How she lives among these cold people I
cannot understand. We were all to go to a concert in the
chapel, and half of the party started off, but the Master's
wife said, "Oh, I am sure the Master expects them to wait for
him in the hall. It is always done." At which all the women
made fluttering remarks of sympathy and the men raced off to
bring the others back. Only the Indian girl and I remained
undisturbed and puzzled. The party came back, but the Master
saw them and said, "Well, it does not matter, but it is
generally done." At which we all felt guilty. When we got to
the chapel everybody stood up until the Master's party sat
down, but as it was broken in the middle of the procession,
they sat down, and then, seeing we had not all passed, got up
again, so that I felt like saying, "As you were, men," as they
do out West in the barracks. Then Lord Coleridge in taking
off his overcoat took off his undercoat, too, and stood
unconscious of the fact before the whole of Oxford. The faces
of the audience which packed the place were something
wonderful to see; their desire to laugh at a tall, red-faced
man who looks like a bucolic Bill Nye struggling into his
coat, and then horror at seeing the Chief Justice in his
shirt-sleeves, was a terrible effort--and no one would help him,
on the principle, I suppose, that the Queen of Spain has no legs.
He would have been struggling yet if I had not, after watching
him and Lady Coleridge struggling with him, for a full minute,
taken his coat and firmly pulled the old gentleman into it, at
which he turned his head and winked.
I will go back to town by the first to see the Derby and will
get into lodgings there. I AM HAVING A VERY GOOD TIME AND AM
VERY WELL. The place is as beautiful as one expects and yet
all the time startling one with its beauty.
When the season at Oxford was over Richard returned to London
and took a big sunny suite of rooms in the Albany. Here he
settled down to learn all he could of London, its ways and its
people. In New York he had already met a number of English
men and women distinguished in various walks of life, and with
these as a nucleus he soon extended his circle of friends
until it became as large as it was varied. In his youth, and
indeed throughout his life, Richard had the greatest affection
for England and the English. No truer American ever lived,
but he thought the United States and Great Britain were bound
by ties that must endure always. He admired British habits,
their cosmopolitanism and the very simplicity of their mode of
living. He loved their country life, and the swirl of London
never failed to thrill him. During the last half of his life
Richard had perhaps as many intimate friends in London as in
New York. His fresh point of view, his very eagerness to
understand theirs, made them welcome him more as one of their
own people than as a stranger.
LONDON, June 3, 1892.
I went out to the Derby on Wednesday and think it is the most
interesting thing I ever saw over here. It is SO like these
people never to have seen it. It seems to be chiefly composed
of costermongers and Americans. I got a box-seat on a public
coach and went out at ten. We rode for three hours in a
procession of donkey shays, omnibuses, coaches, carriages,
vans, advertising wagons; every sort of conveyance stretching
for sixteen miles, and with people lining the sides to look
on. I spent my time when I got there wandering around over
the grounds, which were like Barnum's circus multiplied by
thousands. It was a beautiful day and quite the most
remarkable sight of my life. Much more wonderful than
Johnstown, so you see it must have impressed me. We were five
hours getting back, the people singing all the way and pelting
one another and saying funny impudent things.
My rooms are something gorgeous. They are on the first floor,
looking into Piccadilly from a court, and they are filled with
Hogarth's prints, old silver, blue and white china, Zulu
weapons and fur rugs, and easy chairs of India silk. You
never saw such rooms! And a very good servant, who cooks and
valets me and runs errands and takes such good care of me that
last night Cust and Balfour called at one to get some supper
and he would not let them in. Think of having the Leader of
the House of Commons come to ask you for food and having him
sent away. Burdett-Coutts heard of my being here in the
papers and wrote me to dine with him tonight. I lunched with
the Tennants today; no relation to Mrs. Stanley, and it was
informal and funny rather. The Earl of Spender was there and
Lord Pembroke and a lot of women. They got up and walked about
and changed places and seemed to know one another better than we
do at home. I think I will go down to Oxford for Whitsuntide,
which is a heathen institution here which sends everyone away
just as I want to meet them.
I haven't written anything yet. I find it hard to do so. I
think I would rather wait until I get home for the most of it.
Chas. will be here in less than a week now and we will have a
good time. I have planned it out for days. He must go to
Oxford and meet those boys, and then, if he wishes, on to
Eastnor, which I learn since my return is one of the show
places of England. I am enjoying myself, it is needless to
say, very much, and am well and happy.
During these first days in England Richard spent much of his
time at Eastnor, Lady Brownlow's place in Lincolnshire, and
one of the most beautiful estates in England. Harry Cust, to
whom my brother frequently refers in his letters, was the
nephew of Lady Brownlow, and a great friend of Richard's. At
that time Cust was the Conservative nominee for Parliament
from Lincolnshire, and Richard took a most active part in the
campaign. Happily, we were both at Lady Brownlow's during its
last few tense days, as well as on the day the votes were
counted, and Cust was elected by a narrow margin. Of our
thrilling adventures Richard afterward wrote at great length
in "Our English Cousins."
LONDON, July 6, 1892.
On the Fourth of July, Lady Brownlow sent into town and
had a big American flag brought out and placed over
the house, which was a great compliment, as it was seen
and commented on for miles around. Cushing of Boston, a
very nice chap and awfully handsome, is there, too. The same
morning I went out to photograph the soldiers, and Lord
William Frederick, who is their colonel, charged them after me
whenever I appeared. It seems he has a sense of humor and
liked the idea of making an American run on the Fourth of July
from Red-coats. I doubt if the five hundred men who were not
on horseback thought it as funny. They chased me till I
thought I would die. The Conservative member for the county
got in last night and we rejoiced greatly, as the moral effect
will help Harry Cust greatly. His election takes place next
Monday. The men went in to hear the vote declared after
dinner, and so did two of the girls, who got Lady Brownlow's
consent at dinner, and then dashed off to change their gowns
before she could change her mind. As we were intent on seeing
the fun and didn't want them, we took them just where we would
have gone anyway, which was where the fighting was. And they
showed real sporting blood and saw the other real sort. There
were three of us to each girl, and it was most exciting, with
stones flying and windows crashing and cheers and groans. A
political meeting or election at home is an afternoon tea to
the English ones. When we came back the soldiers were leaving
the Park to stop the row, and as we flew past, the tenants ran
to the gate and cheered for the Tory victory in "good old
lopes." When we got to the house the servants ran cheering
all over the shop and rang the alarm bell and built fires, and
we had a supper at one-fifteen. What they will do on the
night of Cust's election, I cannot imagine--
burn the house down probably. Cushing and I enjoy it
immensely. We know them well enough now to be as funny as we
like without having them stare. They are nice when you know
them, but you've GOT to know them first. I had a great
dinner at Farrar's. All the ecclesiastical lights of England
in knee-breeches were there, and the American Minister and
Phillips Brooks. It was quite novel and fun. Lots of love.
I have all the money I want.
With Cust properly elected, Richard and I returned to the
Albany and settled down to enjoy London from many angles.
Although my brother had been there but a few weeks, his
acquaintances among the statesmen, artists, social
celebrities, and the prominent actors of the day was quite as
extraordinary as his geographical and historical knowledge of
the city. We gave many jolly parties, and on account of
Richard's quickly acquired popularity were constantly being
invited to dinners, dances, and less formal but most amusing
Bohemian supper-parties. During these days there was little
opportunity for my brother to do much writing, but he was very
busy making mental notes not only for his coming book on the
English people, but for a number of short stories which he
wrote afterward in less strenuous times. We returned to New
York in August, and Richard went to Marion to rest from his
social activities, and to work on his English articles.
It was, I think, the year previous to this that my mother and
father had deserted Point Pleasant as a place to spend their
summer vacations in favor of Marion, on Cape Cod, and Richard
and I, as a matter of course, followed them there. At that
time Marion was a simple little fishing village where a few
very charming people came every summer and where the fishing
was of the best. In all ways the life was most primitive, and
happily continued so for many years. In, these early days
Grover Cleveland and his bride had a cottage there, and he and
Joseph Jefferson, who lived at Buzzard's Bay, and my father
went on daily fishing excursions. Richard Watson Gilder was
one of the earliest settlers of the summer colony, and many
distinguished members of the literary and kindred professions
came there to visit him. It was a rather drowsy life for
those who didn't fish--a great deal of sitting about on one's
neighbor's porch and discussion of the latest novel or the
newest art, or of one's soul, and speculating as to what would
probably become of it. From the first Richard formed a great
affection for the place, and after his marriage adopted it as
his winter as well as his summer home. As a workshop he had
two rooms in one of the natives' cottages, and two more
charming rooms it would be hard to imagine. The little
shingled cottage was literally covered with honeysuckle,
and inside there were the old wall-papers, the open
hearths, the mahogany furniture, and the many charming
things that had been there for generations, and all
of which helped to contribute to the quaint peaceful
atmosphere of the place. Dana Gibson had a cottage just
across the road, and around the corner Gouverneur Morris lived
with his family. At this time neither of these friends of
Richard, nor Richard himself, allied themselves very closely
to the literary colony and its high thoughts, but devoted most
of their time to sailing about Sippican Harbor, playing tennis
and contributing an occasional short story or an illustration
to a popular magazine. But after the colony had taken flight,
Richard often remained long into the fall, doing really
serious work and a great deal of it. At such times he had to
depend on a few friends who came to visit him, but principally
on the natives to many of whom he was greatly attached. It
was during these days that he first met his future wife, Cecil
Clark, whose father, John M. Clark of Chicago, was one of the
earliest of the summer colonists to build his own home at
Marion. A most charming and hospitable home it was, and it
was in this same house where we had all spent so many happy
hours that Richard was married and spent his honeymoon, and
for several years made his permanent home. Of the life of
Marion during this later period, he became an integral part,
and performed his duties as one of its leading citizens with
much credit to the town and its people. For Marion Richard
always retained a great affection, for there he had played and
worked many of his best years. He had learned to love
everything of which the quaint old town was possessed, animate
and inanimate, and had I needed any further proof of how
deeply the good people of Marion loved Richard, the letters I
received from many of them at the time of his death would show.
In the early fall of 1892 Richard returned to his editorial
work on Harper's Weekly, and one of the first assignments he
gave was to despatch himself to Chicago to report the
Dedication Exercises of the World's Fair. That the trip at
least started out little to my brother's liking the following
seems to show. However, Richard's moods frequently changed
with the hour, and it is more than possible that before the
letter was sent he was enjoying himself hugely and regarding
Chicago with his usual kindly eyes.
Chicago Club,
DEAR FAMILY: October 2, 1892.
Though lost to sight I am still thinking of you sadly. It
seems that I took a coupe after leaving you and after living
in it for a few years I grew tired and got out on the prairie
and walked along drinking in the pure air from the lakes and
reading Liebig's and Cooper's advs. After a brisk ten mile
walk I reentered my coupe and we in time drew up before a
large hotel inhabited by a clerk and a regular boarder. I am
on the seventh floor without a bathroom or electric button--I
merely made remarks and then returned to town in a railroad
train which runs conveniently near. After gaining
civilization I made my way through several parades or it may
have been the same one to the reviewing stand. My progress
was marked by mocking remarks by the police who asked of each
other to get on to my coat and on several occasions I was
mistaken by a crowd of some thousand people for the P----e of
W----s, and tumultuously cheered. At last I found an inspector
of police on horseback, who agreed to get me to the stand if it
took a leg. He accordingly charged about 300 women and clubbed
eight men--I counted them--and finally got me in. He was very
drunk but he was very good to me.
Once back from Chicago Richard divided his time between his
desk at Franklin Square, his rooms on Twenty-eighth Street,
and in quickly picking up the friendships and the social
activities his trip to England had temporarily broken off.
Much as he now loved London, he was still an enthusiastic New
Yorker, and the amount of work and play he accomplished was
quite extraordinary. Indeed it is difficult to understand
where he found the time to do so much. In addition to his
work on Harper's he wrote many short stories and special
articles, not only because he loved the mere writing of them,
but because he had come to so greatly enjoy the things he
could buy with the money his labors now brought him. His
pleasures had increased as steadily as the prices he could now
command for his stories, and in looking back on those days it
is rather remarkable when one considers his age, the
temptations that surrounded him, and his extraordinary
capacity for enjoyment, that he never seems to have forgotten
the balance between work and play, and stuck to both with an
unswerving and unceasing enthusiasm. However, after four
months of New York, he decided it was high time for him to be
off again, and he arranged with the Harpers to spend the late
winter and the spring in collecting material for the two sets
of articles which afterward appeared in book form under the
titles of "The Rulers of the Mediterranean" and "About Paris."
He set sail for Gibraltar the early part of February, 1893, and
the following letters describe his leisurely progress about the
Mediterranean ports.
NEW YORK, February 3, 1893.
This is a little present for you and a goodby. Your
packing-case is what I need and what I shall want, and I love
it because you made it. But as YOU say, we understand and
do not have to write love letters; you have given me all that
is worth while in me, and I love you so that I look forward
already over miles and miles and days and months, and just see
us sitting together at Marion and telling each other how good
it is to be together again and holding each other's hands. I
don't believe you really know how HAPPY I am in loving you,
dear, and in having you say nice things about me. God bless
you, dearest, and may I never do anything to make you feel
less proud of your wicked son.
Off Gibraltar,
DEAR MOTHER: February 12, 1893.
Today is Sunday. We arrive at Gibraltar at five tomorrow
morning and the boat lies there until nine o'clock. Unless
war and pestilence have broken out in other places, I shall go
over to Tangiers in a day or two, and from there continue on
my journey as mapped out when I left. I have had a most
delightful trip and the most enjoyable I have ever taken by
sea. These small boats are as different from the big
twin-screw steamers as a flat from a Broadway hotel.
Everyone gets to know everything about everyone else, and it
has been more like a yacht than a passenger steamer. When I
first came on board I thought I would not find in any new old
country I was about to visit anything more foreign than the
people, and I was right, but they are most amusing and I have
learned a great deal. They are different from any people I
know, and are the Americans we were talking about. The ones
of whom I used to read in The Atlantic and Blackwood's, as
traveling always and sinking out of sight whenever they
reached home. They, with the exception of a Boston couple,
know none of my friends or my haunts, and I have learned a
great deal in meeting them. It has been most BROADENING and
the change has been SUCH a rest. I had no idea of how tired
I was of talking about the theater of Arts and Letters and
Miss Whitney's debut and my Soul. These people are simple and
unimaginative and bourgeois to a degree and as kind-hearted
and apparent as animal alphabets. I do not think I have had
such a complete change or rest in years, and I am sure I have
not laughed so much for as long. Of course, the idea of a six
months' holiday is enough to make anyone laugh at anything,
but I find that besides that I was a good deal harassed and
run down, and I am glad to cut off from everything and start
fresh. I feel miserably selfish about it all the time.
These Germans run everything as though you were the owner of
the line. The discipline is like that of the German Army or
of a man-of-war, everything moves by the stroke of a bell, and
they have had dances and speeches and concerts and religious
services and lectures every other minute. Into all of these I
have gone with much enthusiasm. We have at the
captain's table Dr. Field, the editor of The Evangelist,
John Russell, a Boston Democrat, who was in Congress and who
has been in public life for over forty years. A Tammany
sachem, who looks like and worships Tweed, and who says what I
never heard an American off the stage say: "That's me.
That's what I do," he says. "When I have insomnia, I don't
believe in your sleeping draughts. I get up and go round to
Jake Stewart's on Fourteenth Street and eat a fry or a
porterhouse steak and then I sleep good---that's me." There
is also a lively lady from Albany next to me and her husband,
who tells anecdotes of the war just as though it had happened
yesterday. Indeed, they are all so much older than I that all
their talk is about things I never understood the truth about,
and it is most interesting. I really do not know when I have
enjoyed my meal time so much. The food is very good, although
queer and German, and we generally take two hours to each
sitting. Dr. Field is my especial prey and he makes me laugh
until I cry. He is just like James Lewis in "A Night Off,"
and is always rubbing his hands and smacking his lips over his
own daring exploits. I twist everything he says into meaning
something dreadful, and he is instantly explaining he did not
really see a bullfight, but that he walked around the outside
of the building. I have promised to show him life with a
capital L, and he is afraid as death of me. But he got back
at me grandly last night when he presented a testimonial to
the captain, and referred to the captain's wife and boy whom
he is going to see after a two years' absence, at which the
captain wept and everybody else wept. And Field, seeing he
had made a point, waved his arms and cried, "I have never
known a man who amounted to anything who had not a good wife
to care for--except YOU--" he shouted, pointing at me, "and
no woman will ever save YOU." At which the passengers, who
fully appreciated how I had been worrying him, applauded
loudly, and the Doctor in his delight at having scored on me
forgot to give the captain his testimonial.
There are two nice girls on board from Chicago and a queer
Southern girl who paints pictures and sings and writes poetry,
and who is traveling with an odd married woman who is an
invalid and who like everyone else on board has apparently
spent all her life away from home. I have spent my odd time
in writing the story I told Dad the night before I sailed and
I think it in some ways the best, quite the best, I have
written. I read it to the queer girl and her queer chaperon
and they weep whenever they speak of it, which they do every
half hour. All the passengers apparently laid in a stock of
"Gallegher" and "The West" before starting, and young women in
yachting caps are constantly holding me up for autographs and
favorite quotations. Yesterday we passed the Azores near
enough to see the windows in the houses, and we have seen
other islands at different times, which is quite refreshing.
Tomorrow I shall post this and the trip will be over. It has
been a most happy start. I am not going to write letters
often, but am going head over ears into this new life and let
the old one wait awhile. You cannot handle Africa and keep up
your fences in New York at the same time. I am now going out
to talk to the Boston couple, or to propose a lion hunt to Dr.
Since I wrote that last I have seen Portugal. It made me
seem suddenly very far away from New York. Portugal is a high
hill with a white watch tower on it flying signal flags. It is
apparently inhabited by one man who lives in a long row of yellow
houses with red roofs, and populated by sheep who do grand acts
of balancing on the side of the hill. There is also a Navy of a
brown boat with a leg-of-mutton sail and a crew of three men in
the boat--not to speak of the dog. It is a great thing to have a
traveled son. None of you ever saw Portugal, yah!
I am now in Gibraltar. It is a large place and there does not
seem to be room in this letter, in which to express my
feelings about Moors in bare legs and six thousand Red-coats
and to hear Englishmen speak again. When I woke up Gibraltar
was a black silhouette against the sky, but toward the south
there was a low line of mountains with a red sky behind them,
dim and mysterious and old, and that was Africa. Then Spain
turned up all amethyst and green, and the Mediterranean as
blue as they tell you it is. They wouldn't let me take my gun
into Gibraltar.
They know my reputation for war.
February 14th, 1893.
The luck of the British Army which I am modestly fond of
comparing with my own took a vacation yesterday as soon as I
had set foot on land. In the first place Egypt had settled
down to her sluggish Nile like calm and cholera had
quarantined the ship I wanted to take to Algiers, shutting off
Algiers and what was more important Tunis. The Governor was
ill shutting off things I wanted and his adjutant was boorish
and proud and haughty. Then I determined to go to Spain but
found I had arrived just one day too late for the last of the
three days of the Mardi Gras and too early for bull fights. Had
I taken Saavedra's letters I should have gone to Madrid and met
the Queen and other proud folks. So on the whole I was blue.
But I have now determined to take a boat for Tangier at once
where I have letters to the Duke de Tnas who is the Master of the
Hounds there and a great sport and they say it is very amusing
and exciting. In a fortnight I shall go to Malta. I called on
Harry Cust's brother and told him who I was and he took me in and
put me at the head of the table of young subalterns in grand
uniforms and we had marmalade and cold beef and beer and I was
happy to the verge of tears to hear English as she is spoke.
Then we went to a picnic and took tea in a smuggler's cave and
all the foxterriers ran over the table cloth and the Captain
spilt hot water over his white flannels and jumped around on one
leg. After which we played a handkerchief game sitting in a row
and pelting the girls with a knotted handkerchief and then
fighting for it-- During one of these scrimmages Mulvaney, two
others and Learoyd came by and with eyes front and hands at
their caps marched on with stolid countenances, but their
officers were embarrassed. It is hard to return a salute with
your face in the sand and a stout American sitting on your
neck and pulling your first lieutenant's leg. I am now deeply
engaged for dinners and dances and teas and rides and am
feeling very cheerful again. I am also very well thank
you and have no illnesses of any sort. You told me to be sure
and put that in-- As you see, I have cut out half of my trip
to avoid the cholera, so you need not worry about THAT.
To-day I am going over the ramparts as much as they will allow
and to-morrow I go to Tangier where I expect to have some boar
hunting. I would suggest your getting The Evangelist in a week
or two as Dr. Field's letters cover all I have seen. I do not
tell you anything about the place because you will read that in
the paper to the H. W. but I can assure you the girls are very
pretty and being garrison girls are not as shy as those at
home in England. I am the first American they ever met they
assure me every hour and we get on very well notwithstanding.
You can imagine what it is like when Spaniards, Moors and
English Soldiers are all crowded into one long street with
donkeys and geese and priests and smugglers and men in polo
clothes and soldiers in football suits and sailors from the
man-of-war. Of course, the Rock is the best story of it all.
It is a fair green smiling hill not a fortress at all. No
more a fortress to look at than Fairmont Park water works, but
the joke of it is that under every bush there is a gun and
every gun is painted green and covered with hanging curtains
of moss and every promenade is undermined and the bleakest
face of the rock is tunnelled with rooms and halls. Every
night we are locked in and the soldiers carry the big iron
keys clanking through the streets. It is going to make
interesting reading.
DEAR MOTHER: February 23rd, 1893.
AEneas who "ran the round of so many chances" in this
neighborhood was a stationary stay at home to what I have to
do. If I ever get away from the Rock I shall be a traveller
of the greatest possible experience.
I came here intending to stay a week and to write my letter on
Gib. and on Tangier quietly and peacefully like a gentleman
and then to go on to Malta. I love this place and there is
something to do and see every minute of the time but what
happened was this: All the boats that ever left here stopped
running, broke shafts, or went into quarantine or just sailed
by, and unless I want to spend two weeks on the sea in order
to have one at Malta, which is only a military station like
this, I must go off to-morrow with my articles unwritten, my
photos undeveloped and my dinner calls unpaid. I am now
waiting to hear if I can get to Algiers by changing twice from
one steamer to another along the coast of Spain. It will be a
great nuisance but I shall be able to see Algiers and Tunis
and Malta in the three weeks which would have otherwise been
given to Malta alone. And Tunis I am particularly keen to
see. While waiting for a telegram from Spain about the boats,
I shall tell you what I have been doing. Everybody was glad
to see me after my return from Tangier. I dined with the
Governor on Monday, in a fine large room lined with portraits
of all the old commanders and their coats-of-arms like a
little forest of flags and the Governor's daughter danced a
Spanish dance for us after it was over. Miss Buckle, Cust's
fiancee, dances almost as well as Carmencita, all the girls
here learn it as other girls do the piano. On Tuesday Cust
and Miss B. and another girl and I went over into Spain to see
the meet and we had a short run after a fox who went to earth,
much to my relief, in about three minutes and before I had
been thrown off. There are no fences but the ground is one
mass of rocks and cactus and ravines down which these English
go with an ease that makes me tremble with admiration. We had
not come out to follow, so we, being quite soaked through and
very hungry, went to an inn and it was such an inn as Don Quixote
used to stop at, with the dining-room over the stable and a lot
of drunken muleteers in the court and beautiful young women to
wait on us. It is a beautiful country Spain, with every sort of
green you ever dreamed of. We had omelettes and native wine and
black bread and got warm again and then trotted home in the
rain and got wet again, so we stopped at the guard house on
the outside of the rock and took tea with the officer in
charge and we all got down on our knees around his fire and he
hobbled around dropping his eyeglasses in his hot water and
very much honored and exceedingly embarrassed. I amused
myself by putting on all the uniforms he did not happen to
have on and the young ladies drank tea and thawed. This is
the most various place I ever came across. You have mountains
and seashore and allamandas like Monte Carlo in their tropical
beauty and soldiers day and night marching and drilling and
banging brass bands and tennis and guns firing so as to rattle
all the windows, and picnics and teas. I am engaged way ahead
now but I must get off tomorrow. On Washington's birthday I
gave a luncheon because it struck me as the most inappropriate
place in which one could celebrate the good man's memory and
the Governor would not think of coming at first, but I told
him I was not a British subject and that if I could go to his
dinner he could come to my lunch, so that, or the fact that
the beautiful Miss Buckle was coming decided him to waive
etiquette and he came with his A. D. C. and his daughter and
officers and girls came and I had American flags and English
flags and a portrait of Washington and of the Queen and I
ransacked the markets for violets and banked them all up in the
middle. It was fine. I turned the hotel upside down and all the
servants wore their best livery and everybody stood up in a row
and saluted His Excellency and I made a speech and so did his
Excellency and the chef did himself proud. I got it up in one
morning. Helen Benedict could not have done it better.
I had a funny adventure the morning I left Tangier-- There was
a good deal of talk about Field (confound him) and my getting
into the prison and The Herald and Times correspondents
were rather blue about it and some of the English residents
said that I had not been shown the whole of the prison, that
the worst had been kept from us. Field who only got into the
prison because I had worked at it two days, said there was an
additional ward I had not seen. I went back into this while
he and the guard were getting the door open to go out and saw
nothing, but to make sure that the prison was as I believed an
absolute square, I went back on the morning of my departure
and climbed a wall and crawled over a house top and
photographed the top of the prison. Then a horrible doubt
came to me that this house upon which I was standing and which
adjoined the prison might be the addition of which the English
residents hinted. There was an old woman in the garden below
jumping up and down and to whom I had been shying money to
keep her quiet. I sent the guide around to ask her what was
the nature of the building upon which I had trespassed and
which seemed to worry her so much-- He came back to tell me
that I was on the top of a harem and the old woman thought I
was getting up a flirtation with the gentleman's wives. So I
dropped back again.
It will be a couple of months at least before my first story
comes out in The Weekly. I cannot judge of them but I think
they are up to the average of the Western stories, the
material is much richer I know, but I am so much beset by the
new sights that I have not the patience or the leisure I had
in the West-- Then there were days in which writing was a
relief, now there is so much to see that it seems almost a
shame to waste it.
By the grace of Providence I cannot leave here until the 28th,
much to my joy and I have found out that I can do better by
going direct to Malta and then to Tunis, leaving Algiers which
I did not want to see out of it-Hurrah. I shall now return to
the calm continuation of my story and to writing notes which
Chas will enjoy.
GIBRALTAR-February 1893.
Morocco as it is is a very fine place spoiled by civilization.
Not nice civilization but the dregs of it, the broken down
noblemen of Spain and cashiered captains of England and the
R---- L----'s of America. They hunt and play cricket and
gamble and do nothing to maintain what is best in the place or
to help what is worst. I love the Moors and the way they hate
the Christian and the scorn and pride they show. They seem to
carry all the mystery and dignity of Africa and of foreign
conquests about them, and they are wonderfully well made and
fine looking and self-respecting. The color is very
beautiful, but the foreign element spoils it at every turn.
One should really go inland but I shall not because I mean to
do that when I reach Cairo. Everybody goes inland from here
and Bonsal has covered it already. He is a great man here among
all classes.
I have bought two long guns and three pistols three feet long
and a Moorish costume for afternoon teas. I shall look fine.
My guide's idea of pleasing me is to kick everybody out of the
way which always brings down curses on me so I have to go back
and give them money and am so gradually becoming popular and
much sought after by blind beggars. You can get three pounds
of copper for a franc and it lasts all day throwing it right
and left all the time. I made a great tear in Bonsal's record
today by refusing to pay a snake charmer all he wanted and
then when he protested I took one of the snakes out of his
hands and swung it around my head to the delight of the
people. I wanted to show him he was a fakir to want me to pay
for what I would do myself. It was a large snake about four
feet long. Then my horse and another horse got fighting in
the principal street in the city standing up on their hind
legs and boxing like men and biting and squealing. It was
awful and I got mine out of the way and was trod on and had my
arm nearly pulled off and the crowd applauded and asked my
guide whether I was American or English. They do not like the
English. So with the lower classes I may say that I am having
a social success.
Off Malta--March 1, 1893.
I have been having a delightful voyage with moonlight all
night and sunlight all day. Africa kept in sight most of the
time and before that we saw beautiful mountains in Spain
covered with snow and red in the sunset. There were a lot of
nice English people going out to India to meet their husbands and
we have "tiffin" and "choota" and "curry," so it really seemed
oriental. The third night out we saw Algiers sparkling like
Coney Island. I play games with myself and pretend I am at my
rooms reading a story which is very hard to pretend as I never
read in my rooms and then I look up and exclaim "Hello, I'm not
in New York, that's Algiers." The thing that has impressed me
most is how absolutely small the world is and how childishly easy
it is to go around it. You and Nora MUST take this trip; as for
me I think Willie Chanler is the most sensible individual I have
yet met.
All the fascination of King Solomon's Mines seems to be behind
those great mountains and this I may add is a bit of advance
work for mother, an entering wedge to my disappearing from
sight for years and years in the Congo. Which, seriously, I
will not do; only it is disappointing to find the earth so
small and so easily encompassed that you want to go on where
it is older, and new. The worst of it is that it is hard
leaving all the nice people you meet and then must say
good-bye to. The young ladies and Capt. Buckle and Cust came
down to see me off and Buckle brought me a photo four feet
long of Gib, an official one which I had to smuggle out with a
great show of secrecy and now I shall be sorry to leave these
people. Just as I wrote that one of the officers going out to
join his regiment came to the door and blushing said the
passengers were getting up a round robin asking me to stop on
and go to Cairo.
Since writing the above lots of things have happened. I bid
farewell to everyone at Malta and yet in four hours I was back
again bag and baggage and am now on my way to Cairo. Tunis and
the Bey are impossible. As soon as I landed at Malta I found
that though I could go to Tunis I could not go away without being
quarantined for ten days and if I remained in Malta I must stay a
week. On balancing a week of Egypt against a week of Malta I
could not do it so I put back to this steamer again and here I
am. Tomorrow we reach Brindisi and we have already passed Sicily
and had a glimpse of the toe of Italy and it is the coldest sunny
Italy that I ever imagined. I am bitterly disappointed about
Tunis. I have no letters to big people in Cairo only subalterns
but I shall probably get along. I always manage somehow with my
"artful little Ikey ways." It was most gratifying to mark my
return to this boat. One young woman danced a Kangaroo dance
and the Captain wept and all the stewards stood in a line and
grinned. I sing Chevalier's songs and they all sit in the
dining room below and forget to lay out the plates and last
night some of the Royal Berkshire with whom I dined at Malta
came on board and after hearing the Old Kent Road were on the
point of Mutiny and refused to return to barracks. Great is
the Power of Chevalier and great is his power for taking you
back to London with three opening bars. Malta was the
queerest place I ever got into. It was like a city, country
and island made of cheese, mouldy cheese, and fresh limburger
cheese with holes in it. You sailed right up to the front
door as it were and people were hanging out of the windows
smoking pipes and looking down on the deck as complacently as
though having an ocean steamer in the yard was as much a
matter of course as a perambulator. There were also women with
black hoods which they wear as a penance because long ago the
ladies of Malta got themselves talked about. I was on shore
about five hours and saw some interesting things and with that
and Brindisi and the voyage I can make a third letter but
Tunis is writ on my heart like Calais.
Today Cleveland is inaugurated and I took all the passengers
down at the proper time and explained to them that at that
moment a great man was being made president and gave them each
an American cocktail to remember it by and in which to toast
him I am getting to be a great speech maker and if there are
any more anniversaries in America I shall be a second Depew.
It is late but it is still the season here and it will be gay,
but what I want to do now is to go off on a little trip inland
although Cairo is the worst of all for it is surrounded by
deserts and nothing to shoot but antelope and foxes and those
I SCORN. I want Zulus and lions. I shall be greatly
disappointed if I do not have something to do outside of Cairo
for I have had no adventures at all. It is just as civilized
as Camden only more exciting and beautiful although Camden is
exciting when you have to get there and back in time for the
last edition. From what I have already seen I am ready to
spend a month in Cairo and then confess to knowing nothing of
it. But we shall see. There may be a W A R or a lion hunt or
something yet if there is not I shall come back here again. I
must fire that Winchester off at least once just for all the
trouble it has given me at custom houses. Something exciting
must happen or I shall lose faith in the luck of the British
army which marches shoulder to shoulder with mine. If I don't
have any adventures I shall write essays on art after this like
Mrs. Van. Love and lots of it.
CAIRO, March 11, 1893.
In a famous book this line occurs, "He determined to go to
that hotel in Cairo where they were to have spent their
honeymoon," or words like that. He is now at that hotel and
you can buy the famous book across the street. It is called
"Gallegher." So--in this way everything comes to him who
waits and he comes to it. "Gallegher" is not the only thing
you buy in Egypt. You ride to the Pyramids on a brake with a
man in a white felt hat blowing a horn, and the bugler of the
Army of Occupation is as much in evidence as the priest who
calls them to prayer from the minaret. I left the people I
liked on the Sultey last Thursday in the Suez Canal and came
on here in a special train. It is very cold here, and it is
not a place where the cold is in keeping with the surroundings.
You see people in white helmets and astrakan overcoats.
It is an immense city and intensely interesting, especially
the bazaars, but you feel so ignorant about it all that it
rather angers you. I wish I was not such a very bad hand at
languages. That is ONE THING I cannot do, that and ride. I
need it very much, traveling so much, and I shall study very
hard while I am in Paris. Our consul-general here is a very
young man, and he showed me a Kansas paper when I called on
him, which said that I was in the East and would probably call
on "Ed" L. He is very civil to me and gives me his carriages
and outriders with gold clothes and swords whenever I will
take them.
It is so beastly cold here that it spoils a lot of things, and
there are a lot of Americans who say, "I had no idea you were
so young a man," and that, after being five years old for a
month and playing children's games with English people who
didn't know or care anything about you except that you made
them laugh, is rather trying. I am disappointed so far in the
trip because it has developed nothing new beyond the fact that
going around the world is of no more importance than going to
breakfast, and I am selfish in my sightseeing and want to see
things others do not. And if you even do see more than those
who are not so fortunate and who have to remain at home, still
you are so ignorant in comparison with those who have lived
here for years and to whom the whole of Africa is a
speculation in land or railroads, it makes you feel like such
a faker and as if it were better to turn correspondent for the
N. Y. Herald, Paris edition, and send back the names of
those who are staying at the hotels. That is really all you
can speak with authority about. When you have Gordon and
Stanley dishes on the bill-of-fare, you feel ashamed to say
you've been in Egypt. Anyway, I am a faker and I don't care,
and I proved it today by being photographed on a camel in
front of the Pyramids, and if that wasn't impertinence I do
not know its name. I accordingly went and bought a lot of
gold dresses for Nora as a penance.
As a matter of fact, unless I get into the interior for a
month and see something new, I shall consider the trip a
failure, except as a most amusing holiday for one, and that
was not exactly what I wanted or all I wanted. After this I
shall go to big cities only and stay there. Everybody travels
and everybody sees as much as you do and says nothing of it,
certainly does not presume to write a book about it. Anyway, it
has been great fun, so I shall put it down to that and do some
serious work to make up for it. I'd rather have written a good
story about the Inauguration than about Cairo.
I am well, as usual, and having a fine loaf, only I don't
think much of what I have written--that's all.
CAIRO, March 19th, 1893.
I went up the Pyramids yesterday and I am very sore today. It
sounds easy because so many people do it, but they do it
because they don't know. I have been putting it off, and
putting it off, until I felt ashamed to such a degree that I
had to go. Little had never been either, so we went out
together and met Stanford White and the Emmetts there, and we
all went up. I would rather go into Central Africa than do it
again. I am getting fat and that's about it--and I had to
half pull a much fatter man than myself who pretended to help
me. I finally told them I'd go alone unless the fat man went
away, so the other two drove him off. Going down is worse.
It's like looking over a precipice all the time. I was so
glad when I got down that I sang with glee. I hate work like
that, and to make it worse I took everybody's picture on top
of the Pyramid, and forgot to have one of them take me, so
there is no way to prove I ever went up. Little and I hired
two donkeys and called them "Gallegher" and "Van Bibber" and
raced them. My donkey was so little that they couldn't see
him--only his ears. Gallegher won. The donkey-boys called it
Von Bebey, so I don't think it will help the sale of the book.
Today we went to call on the Khedive. It was very informal
and too democratic to suit my tastes. We went through a line
of his bodyguard in the hall, and the master of ceremonies
took us up several low but wide stairways to a hall. In the
hall was a little fat young man in a frock coat and a fez, and
he shook hands with us, and walked into another room and we
all sat down on chairs covered with white muslin. I talked
and Little talked about me and the Khedive pretended to be
very much honored, and said the American who had come over
after our rebellion had done more for the officers in his army
than had anyone else, meaning the English. He did not say
that because we were Americans, but because he hates the
English. He struck me as being stubborn, which is one side of
stupidness and yet not stupid, and I occasionally woke him to
bursts of enthusiasm over the Soudanese. His bursts were
chiefly "Ali." Little seemed to amuse him very much, and
Little treated him exactly like a little boy who needed to be
cheered up. I think in one way it was the most curious
contrast I ever saw. "Ed" Little of Abilene, Kansas, telling
the ruler of Egypt not to worry, that he had plenty of years
in which to live and that he would get ahead of them all yet.
Those were not his words, but that was the tone, he was
perfectly friendly and sincere about it.
This place appeals to me as about the best place with which to
get mixed up with that I know, and I've gone over a great many
maps since I left home and know just how small the world is. So,
I sent the Khedive my books after having asked his permission,
and received the most abject thanks. And as Cromer called on
me, I am going to drop around on him with a few of them. Some
day there will be fine things going on here, and there is only
one God, and Lord Cromer is his Prophet in this country. They
think that Mohammed is but they are wrong. He is a very big
man. The day he sent his ultimatum to the Khedive telling him
to dismiss Facta Pasha and put back Riaz Pasha, he went out in
full view of the Gezerik drive and played lawn tennis. Any
man who can cable for three thousand more troops to Malta and
stop a transport full of two thousand more at Aden with one
hand, and bang tennis balls about with the other, is going in
the long run to get ahead of a stout little boy in a red fez.
It is getting awfully hot here, almost hot enough for me, and
I can lay aside my overcoat by ten o'clock in the morning.
Everyone else has been in flannels and pith helmets, but as
they had to wear overcoats at night I could not see the
advantage of the costume.
I open this to say that ALL of your letters have just come,
so I have intoxicated myself with them for the last hour and
can go over them again tomorrow. I cannot tell you, dearest,
what a delight your letters are and how I enjoy the clippings.
I think of you all the time and how you would love this Bible
land and seeing the places where Pharaoh's daughter found
Moses, and hearing people talk of St. Paul and the plagues of
Egypt and Joseph and Mary just as though they had lived
yesterday. I have seen two St. Johns already, with long hair
and melancholy wild eyes and bare breasts and legs, with
sheepskin covering, eating figs and preaching their gospel.
Yesterday two men came running into town and told one of the
priests that they had seen the new moon in a certain well, and
the priest proclaimed a month of fasting, and the men who pulled
us up the Pyramid had to rest because they had not eaten or drunk
all day. At six a sheik called from the village and all the
donkey--boys and guides around the Sphinx ran to get water and
coffee and food. Think of that--of two men running through the
street to say that they had seen the new moon in a well, when
every shop sells Waterbury watches and the people who passed them
were driving dogcarts with English coachmen in top-boots behind.
Is there any other place as incongruous as this, as old and as
ATHENS, March 30, 1893.
I am now in Athens, how I got here is immaterial. Suffice it
to say that never in all my life was I so ill as I was in the
two days crossing from Alexandria to Piraeus, which I did with
two other men in the same cabin more ill than I and praying
and swearing and groaning all the time. "It was awful."
"I have crossed in many ships upon the seas
And some of them were good and some were not;
In German, P & O's and Genoese,
But the Khedive's was the worst one of the lot.
We never got a moment's peace in her
For everybody'd howl or pray or bellow;
She threw us on our heads or on our knees,
And turned us all an unbecoming yellow."
Athens is a small town but fine. It is chiefly yellow houses
with red roofs, and mountains around it, which
remind you of pictures you have seen when a youth. Also olive
trees and straight black pines and the Acropolis. There is
not much of it left as far as I can see from the city, but
what there is is enough to make you wish you had brushed up
your Greek history. I have now reached the place where Pan
has a cave, where the man voted against Aristides because he
was humanly tired of hearing him called the Just and where the
Minotaur ate young women.
What was in the Isle of Crete but the rock from which the
father of Theseus threw himself--is still here! Also the hill
upon which Paul stood and told the Athenians they were too
superstitious. You can imagine my feelings at finding all of
these things are true. After this I am going to the North
Pole to find Santa Claus and so renew my youth.
I regret to say that it is raining very hard and Athens is not
set for a rainstorm. It is also cold but as I have not been
warm since I crossed the North River with Chas. amid cakes of
ice that is of no consequence. When I come here again I come
in the summer. The good old rule that it is cold in winter
and warm in summer is a good enough rule to follow. You have
only to travel to find out how universally cold winter is.
last night I was in Cairo, I got in a carriage and drove
out alone to the Pyramids. It was beautiful moonlight. I got
a donkey and rode up around them and then walked over to the
Sphinx. I had never understood or seen it before. It was the
creepiest and most impressive thing I ever had happen to me, I
do believe. There was no one except the two donkey-boys and
myself and the Sphinx. All about was the desert and above it
the purple sky and the white stars and the great negro's head
in front of you with its paws stretched out, and the moonlight
turning it into shadows and white lines. I think I stood there
so long that I got sort of dizzy. It was just as if I had been
the first man to stumble across it, and I felt that I was way
back thousands of years and that the ghosts of Caesar and
Napoleon and Cleopatra and the rest were in the air. That was
worth the entire trip to me. This place promises to be most
exciting, the New York artists are all here, they are the most
jauntily dull people I ever met. Do you know what I mean? They
are very nice but so stupid. I don't let them bother me. Who
was the chap who wrote about the bottle of Malvoisie? because I
got a bottle of it for BREAKFAST and it is NO GOOD. It is
like sweet port. But on account of the poem and its being
vin du pays I got it.
Dear Mother, I wish you were here now and enjoying all these
beautiful things. I got you a present in Cairo that will
amuse you. Had I stayed on in Cairo I should have had much
and many marks of distinction from the English. Lady
Gower-Browne, who found out from them that I had called and
that they had done nothing except to be rude, raised a great
hue and cry and everything changed. What she said of me I
don't know but it made a most amusing difference. General
Walker galloped a half mile across the desert to give me his
own copy of the directions for the sham battle, and I was to
have met Cromer at dinner tete-a-tete, and General Kitchener
sent apologies by two other generals and all the subalterns
called on me in a body. That was the day before I left. I
don't know what Lady Gower-Browne said, but it made a change
which I am sorry I could not avail myself of as I want
politics as well as memories.
The next time I come I shall go to even fewer places and see
more people.
If the Harpers don't look out our interests will clash. I
look at it like this. I can always see the old historical
things and take my children up the Nile, but I want now to
make friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness and the men of
the hour. I may want to occupy an hour or two myself some day
and they can help me. If America starts in annexing islands
she will need people to tell her how it is generally done and
it is generally done, I find, by the English. I may give up
literature and start annexing things like Alexander and Caesar
and Napoleon. They say there will be another crisis in Cairo
in a month or so. If that be true I am all right and solid
with both parties. But it has got to be worth while of course
or I won't go back. There is a king living in a fine palace
across the square from my window, one of his officers is now
changing the guard in the rain. I hope to call on the king
because I like his guard. They wear petticoats and toes
turned up in front. Don't you mind what I say about liking
politics and don't think I am not enjoying the show things. I
have a capacity for both that is so far unsatisfied, and I am
now going out in the rain to try and find the post-office.
Lots of love.
I am well and have been well (except sea sick) since February
P. S.--A funeral is just passing the window with the corpse
exposed to view as is the quaint custom here, to add to its
horror they rouge the face of the corpse and everybody kisses
it. In the Greek church they burn candles for people and the
number of candles I have burnt for you would light St. Paul's,
and you ought to be good with so much war being expended all over
Athens for you. You buy candles instead of tipping the verger or
putting it in the poor box, or because you are superstitious and
think it will do some good, as I do.
Orient Express. Somewhere in Bulgaria on the way to London.
April 14th, 1893.
Tuesday I wrote you a letter in the club at Constantinople
telling you how glad I would be to get out of that City on
April 17th on the Orient Express which only leaves twice a
week on Thursdays and Mondays. So any one who travels by the
Orient is looked upon first as a millionaire and second, if he
does not break the journey at Vienna, as a greater traveller
than Col. Burnaby on his way to Khiva. Imagine a Kansas City
man breaking the journey to New York. After I wrote you that
letter I went in the next room and read of the Nile Expedition
in search of Gordon--this went through three volumes of The
Graphic and took some time, so that when I had reached the
picture which announced the death of Gordon it was half past
five and I had nothing more to do for four days-- It was
raining and cold and muddy and so I just made up my mind I
would get up and get out and I jumped about for one hour like
a kangaroo and by seven I was on the Orient with two Cook men
to help me and had shaken my fist at the last minaret light of
that awful city. So, now it is all over and it is done-- I
have learned a great deal in an imperfect way of the
juxtaposition of certain countries and of the ease with which one
can travel without speaking any known languages and of the
absolute necessity for speaking one, French. I am still
disappointed about the articles but selfishly I have made a lot
out of the trip. You have no idea how hard it is not to tell
about strange things and yet you know people do not care half as
much for them as things they know all about-- No matter, it is
done and with the exception of the last week it was F I N E.
"I'm going back to London, to `tea' and long frock coats
I'm done with Cook and seeing sights
I'm done with table d'hotes
So clear the track you signal man
From Sofia to Pless, I'm going straight for London
On the Orient Express.
I'm going straight for London
O'er Bulgaria's heavy sands
To Rotten Row and muffins, soles,
Chevalier and Brass Bands
Ho' get away you bullock man
You've heard the whistle blowed
a locomotive coming down the Grand Trunk Road."
This is a great country and I want to ask all the natives if
they know "Stenie" Bonsal. They are all his friends and so
are the "Balkans," and all the little Balkans. Nobody wears
European clothes here. They are all as foreign and native and
picturesque as they can be, the women with big silver plates
over their stomachs and the men in sheepskin and tights and
the soldiers are grand. We have been passing all day between
snow covered mountains and between herds of cattle and red
roofed, mud villages and long lakes of ice and snow-- It is a
beautiful day and I am very happy. (Second day out) 15th---We are
now in Hungary and just outside of Buda Pesth "the wickedest city
in the world," still in spite of that fact I am going on. I am
very glad I came this way-- The peasants and soldiers are most
amusing and like German picture-papers with black letter
type-- I shall stop a day in Paris now that I have four extra
In sight of Paris--April 16--1893.
has been the most beautiful day since February 4th.
It is the first day in which I have been warm. All through I
have had a varnish of warmth every now and again but no real
actual internal warmth--I am now in sight of Paris and it is
the 16th of April, in the eleven weeks which have elapsed
since the 4th of February I have been in Spain, France, Italy,
Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece,
Egypt and Morocco. I have sat on the Rock of Gibraltar,
sailed on the Nile and the Suez Canal and crossed through the
Dardanelles, over the Balkans, the steppes of Hungary and the
Danube and Rhine. I have seen the sphinx by moonlight, the
Parthenon and the Eiffel Tower and in two days more I shall
have seen St. Paul's. What do you think I should like to see
best now? YOU. I have been worrying of late as to whether
or not I should not come home now and leave Paris for another
time because it seems so rough on you to leave you without
either of your younger sons for so long. But I have thought
it over a great deal and I think it better that I should do
Paris now and leave myself clear for the rest of the year. I
promise you one thing however that I shall not undertake to
stay away so long again; it is too long and one grows out of
things. But nothing I feel, will be so easy or so amusing as
Paris and I intend to get through with it soon and trot home
to you by the middle of August AT THE VERY LATEST. So,
please write me a deceitful letter and say you do not miss me
at all and that my being so near as Paris makes a great
difference and that I am better out of the way and if Chas
goes to London I shall be near him in case he forgets to put
on his overshoes or involves us in a war with G. B. Now,
mother dear, do write me a cheerful letter and say that you do
not mind waiting until the middle of August for me and when I
come back this time I shall make a long stay with you at
Marion and tell you lots of things I have not written you and
I shall not go away again for ever so long and if I do go I
shall only stay a little while. You have no idea how
interesting this rush across the continent has been. I
started in snow and through marshes covered with ice and long
horned cattle and now we are in such a beautiful clean green
land with green fields and green trees and flowering bushes
which you can smell as the train goes by. I now think that
instead of being a cafe-chantant singer I should rather be an
Austrian baron and own a castle on a hill with a red roofed
village around it. I have spent almost all of the trip
sitting on the platform and enjoying the sight of the queer
peasants and the soldiers and old villages. Tonight I shall
be in "Paris, France" as Morton used to say and I shall get
clean and put on my dress clothes but whether I shall go see
Yvette Guilbert or Rusticana again I do not know. Perhaps
I shall just paddle around the fountain in the Place de la
Concorde and make myself thoroughly at home. With a great
deal of love to Dad and Nora and Chas and all.
At the time that Richard's first travel articles appeared some
of his critics took umbrage at the fact that he was evidently
under the delusion that he had discovered London, Gibraltar,
Athens, Paris, and the other cities he had visited, and that
no one else had ever written about them. As a matter of fact
no one could have been more keenly conscious of what an
oft-told tale were the places that he had chosen to describe.
If Richard took it for granted that the reader was totally
unacquainted with the peoples of these cities and their ways,
it was because he believed that that was the best way to write
a descriptive article, always had believed it, and believed it
so long as he wrote. And whatever difference of opinion may
have existed among the critics and the public as to Richard's
fiction, I think it is safe to say that as a reporter his work
of nearly thirty years stood at least as high as that of any
of his contemporaries or perhaps as that of the reporters of
all time. As an editor, when he gave out an assignment to a
reporter to write an article on some well-worn subject and the
reporter protested, Richard's answer was the same: "You must
always remember that that story hasn't been written until
YOU write it." And when he suggested to an editor that he
would like to write an article on Broadway, or the Panama
Canal, or the ruins of Rome and the editor disapproved, Richard's
argument was: "It hasn't been done until _I_ do it." And it was
not because he believed for a moment that he could do it better
or as well as it had been done. It was simply because he knew
the old story was always a good story, that is, if it was seen
with new eyes and from a new standpoint. At twenty-eight he
had written a book about England and her people, and the book
had met with much success both in America and England. At
twenty-nine, equally unafraid, he had "covered" the ancient
cities that border the Mediterranean, and now Paris lay before
him! This thought--indeed few thoughts--troubled Richard very
much in those days of his early successes. He had youth,
friends, a marvellous spirit of adventure, and besides there
are many worse fates than being consigned to spending a few
months in Paris, having a thoroughly joyous time, taking a few
mental notes, and a little later on transferring them to paper
in the quiet of a peaceful summer home at Marion.
Chief among his friends in Paris at this time was Charles Dana
Gibson, who was living in a charming old house in the Latin
Quarter, and where the artist did some of his best work and
made himself extremely popular with both the Parisians and the
American colony. In addition to Gibson there were Kenneth
Frazier, the portrait-painter, and Tina, Newton, and James
Eustis, the daughter and sons of James B. Eustis, who at that
time was our ambassador to France, a most genial and kindly
host, who made much of Richard and his young friends.
PARIS, May 5, 1893.
It is a narrow street with apartment houses of gray stone and
iron balconies along either side of it. The sun sets at one
end of the street at different times during the day and we all
lean out on the balconies to look. On the house, one below mine,
on the other side of our street, is a square sign that says:
A great many beautiful ladies with the fashionable red shade
of hair still call there, as they used to do when the proper
color was black and it was worn in a chignon and the Second
Empire had but just begun. While they wait they stretch out
in their carriages and gaze up at the balconies until they see
me, and as I wear a gold and pink silk wrapper and not much
else, they concentrate all their attention on the wrapper and
forget to drop a sigh for the poet. There are two young
people on the sixth floor opposite, who come out on the
balcony after dinner and hold on to each other and he tells
her all about the work of the day. Below there is a woman who
sews nothing but black dresses, and who does that all day and
all night by the light of a lamp. And below the concierge
stands all day in a lace cap and black gown and blue, and
looks up the street and down the street like the woman in
front of Hockley's. BUT on the floor opposite mine there is
a beautiful lady in a pink and white wrapper with long black
hair and sleepy black eyes. She does not take any interest in
my pink wrapper, but contents herself with passing cabs and
stray dogs and women with loaves of bread and bottles in their
hands who occasionally stray into our street. At six she
appears in another gown and little slippers and a butterfly
for a hat and says "Good-by" to the old concierge and trips
off to dinner. Lots of love to all.
PARIS, May llth, 1893.
I am still somewhat tentative as regards my opinion of the
place, what it will bring me in the way of material I cannot
tell. So far, "Paris Decadent" would be a good title for
anything I should write of it. It is not that I have seen
only the worst side of it but that that seems to be so much
the most prominent. They worship the hideous Eiffel Tower and
they are a useless, flippant people who never sleep and yet do
nothing while awake. To-morrow I am going to a pretty inn
surrounded by vines and trees to see a prize fight with all
the silly young French men and their young friends in black
and white who ape the English manners and customs even to "la
box." To night at the Ambassadeurs the rejected lover of some
actress took a gang of bullies from Montmartre there and
hissed and stoned her. I turned up most innocently and
greatly bored in the midst of it but I was too far away to
pound anybody-- I collected two Englishmen and we went in
front to await her re-appearance but she had hysterics and
went off in a cab and so we were not given a second
opportunity of showing them they should play fair. It is a
typical incident of the Frenchman and has made me wrathy. The
women watching the prize fight will make a good story and so
will the arms of the red mill, "The Moulin Rouge" they keep
turning and turning and grinding out health and virtue and
I dined to night with the C-----s and P----s, the Ex-Minister
and disagreed with everybody and found them all very middle
class as to intellect. An old English lady next to me said
apropos of something "that is because you are not clever like
Mr. ---- and do not have to work with your brains." To which I
said, I did not mind not being clever as my father was a many
times millionaire," at which she became abjectly polite. Young
Rothenstein is going to do a picture of me to-morrow morning.
There is nothing much more to tell except that a horse stood
on his fore legs in the Bois the other day and chucked me into
space. I was very sore but I went on going about as it was
the Varnishing day at the new salon and I wished to see it. I
am over my stiffness now and if "anybody wants to buy a
blooming bus" I have one for sale and five pairs of riding
breeches and two of ditto boots. No more riding for me--- The
boxing bag is in good order now and I do not need for
exercise. The lady across the street has a new wrapper in
which she is even more cold and haughty than before. "I sing
Tarrara boom deay and she keeps from liking me."
PARIS, May 14th, 1893.
Things are getting more interesting here and I shall probably
have something to write about after all, although I shall not
know the place as I did London. Will Rothenstein has drawn a
picture of me that I like very much and if mother likes it
VERY, VERY much she may have it as a loan but she may not
like it. I did not like to take it so I bought another
picture of him, one of Coquelin cadet and now I have two.
Coquelin gave him his first commission when he was nineteen,
two years ago, and then asked him to do two sketches. After
these were done Coquelin told him by letter that he would give
him half what they had agreed upon for the big picture for the
two sketches and begged the big picture as a gift. So
Rothenstein cut the head and shoulders out of the big one and
sent him the arms and legs. It is the head he cut out that I
have. When Rothenstein and I and Coquelin become famous, that
will make a good story. I have also indulged myself in the
purchase of several of Cherets works of art. They cost three
francs apiece. We have had some delightful lunches at the
Ambassadeurs with Cushing and other artists and last night I
went out into the Grande Monde to a bal masque for charity at
the palace of the Comtesse de la Ferrondeux. It was very
stupid and the men outnumbered the women 30 to 1, which are
interesting odds. To-day we went to Whistler's and sat out in
a garden with high walls about it and drank tea and laughed at
Rothenstein. The last thing he said was at the Ambassadeurs
when one of the students picking up a fork said, "These are
the same sort of forks I have." Rothenstein said "yes, I did
not know you dined here that often." Some one asked him why
he wore his hair long, "To test your manners" he answered. He
is a disciple of Whistler's and Wilde's and said "yes, I
defend them at the risk of their lives." Did I tell you of
his saying "It is much easier to love one's family than to
like them." And when some one said "Did you hear how Mrs. B.
treated Mr. C., (a man he dislikes) he said, "no, but I'm glad
she did." It was lovely at Whistler's and such a contrast to
the other American salon I went to last Sunday. It was so
quiet, and green and pretty and everybody was so unobtrusively
Rothenstein wore my rosette and made a great sensation and I
was congratulated by Whistler and Abbey and Pennell.
Rothenstein said he was going to have a doublebreasted waistcoat
made with rosettes of decorations for buttons. Tomorrow Lord
Dufferin has asked me to breakfast at the Embassy. He was at the
masked ball last night and was very nice. He reminds me exactly
of Disraeli in appearance. It is awfully hot here and a Fair for
charity has asked me to put my name in "Gallegher" to have it
raffled for. "Dear" Bonsal arrives here next Sunday, so I am in
great anticipation. I am very well, tell mother, and amused.
Lots of love.
PARIS, June 13, 1893.
There is nothing much to say except that things still go on.
I feel like one of those little India rubber balls in the jet
of a fountain being turned and twisted and not allowed to
rest. Today I have been to hear Yvette Guilbert rehearse and
thought her all Chas thinks her only her songs this season are
beneath the morals of a medical student. It is very hot and
it is getting hotter. I had an amusing time at the Grand Prix
where Tina won a lot of money on a tip I gave her which I did
not back myself. In the evening Newton took me to dinner and
to the Jardin de Paris where they had 10 franc admittance and
where every thing went that wasn't nailed. The dudes put
candles on their high hats and the girls snuffed them out with
kicks and at one time the crowd mobbed the band stand and then
the stage and played on all the instruments. The men were all
swells in evening dress and the women in beautiful ball
dresses and it was a wonderful sight. It only happens once a
year like the Yale-Princeton night at Koster and Bials except
that the women are all very fine indeed. They rode
pig-a-back races and sang all the songs. I had dinner with
John Drew last night. I occasionally sleep and if Nora
doesn't come on time I shall be a skeleton and have no money
left. As a matter of fact I am fatter than ever and can eat
all sorts of impossible things here that I could never eat at
home. I lunch every day with the Eustises and we dine out
almost every night. I consort entirely with the poorest of
art students or the noblest of princesses and so far have kept
out of mischief, but you can never tell for this is a wicked
city they say, or it strikes me as most amusing at present
only I cannot see what Harper and Bros. are going to get out
of it. I said that of London so I suppose it will all
straighten out by the time I get back.
When the season in Paris had reached its end, Richard returned
to London and later on to Marion, where he spent the late
summer and early fall, working on his Mediterranean and Paris
articles, and completing his novel "Soldiers of Fortune." In
October he returned to New York and once more assumed his
editorial duties and took his usual active interest in the
winter's gayeties.
The first of these letters refers to a dinner of welcome given
to Sir Henry Irving. The last two to books by my mother and
Richard, and which were published simultaneously.
NEW YORK, November 27, 1893.
The dinner was very fine. I was very glad I went. Whitelaw
Reid sat on one side of Sir Henry Irving and Horace Porter on
the other. Howells and Warner came next. John Russell Young
and Mark Twain, Millet, Palmer, Hutton, Gilder and a lot more
were there. There were no newspaper men, not even critics nor
actors there, which struck me as interesting. The men were
very nice to me. Especially Young, Reid, Irving and Howells.
Everybody said when I came in, "I used to know you when you
were a little boy," so that some one said finally, "What a
disagreeable little boy you MUST have been." I sat next a
chap from Brazil who told me lots of amusing things. One story
if it is good saves a whole day for me. One he told was of a
German explorer to whom Don Pedro gave an audience. The
Emperor asked him, with some touch of patronage, if he had
ever met a king before. "Yes," the German said thoughtfully;
"five, three wild and two tame."
Mark Twain told some very funny stories, and captured me
because I never thought him funny before, and Irving told some
about Stanley, and everybody talked interestingly. Irving
said he was looking forward to seeing Dad when he reached
Philadelphia. "It is nice to have seen you," he said, "but I
have still to see your father," as though I was not enough.
NEW YORK, 1893.
I cannot tell you how touched and moved I was by the three
initials in the book. It was a genuine and complete surprise
and when I came across it while I was examining the
letterpress with critical approbation and with no idea of what
was to come, it left me quite breathless-- It was so sweet of
you-- You understand me and I understand you and you know how
much that counts to me-- I think the book is awfully pretty
and in such good taste-- It is quite a delight to the eye and
I am much more keen about it than over any of my own-- I have
sent it to some of my friends but I have not read it yet
myself, as I am waiting until I get on the boat where I shall
not be disturbed-- Then I shall write you again-- It was
awfully good of you, and I am so pleased to have it to give
away. I never had anything to show people when they asked for
one of your other books and this comes in such an unquestionable
form-- With lots of love.
NEW YORK, 1893.
I got your nice letter and one from Dad. Both calling me many
adjectives pleasing to hear although they do not happen to
fit. So you are in a third edition are you? These YOUNG
writers are crowding me to the wall. I feel thrills of pride
when I see us sitting cheek by jowl on the news-stands.
Lots of love.
In February, 1894, Richard was forced by a severe attack of
sciatica to give up temporarily the gayeties of New York and
for a cure he naturally chose our home in Philadelphia, where
he remained for many weeks. Although unable to leave his bed,
he continued to do a considerable amount of work, including
the novelette "The Princess Aline," in the writing of which I
believe my brother took more pleasure than in that of any
story or novel he ever wrote. The future Empress of Russia
was the heroine of the tale, and that she eventually read the
story and was apparently delighted with it caused Richard much
human happiness.
March 5th.
I am getting rapidly better owing to regular hours and light
literature and home comforts. I am not blue as I was and my
morbidness has gone and I only get depressed at times. I am
still however feeling tired and I think I will take quite a rest
before I venture across the seas. But across them I will come no
matter if all the nerves on earth jump and pull. Still, I think
it wiser for all concerned that I get thoroughly well so that
when I do come I won't have to be cutting back home again as I
did last time. We are young yet and the world's wide and there's
a new farce comedy written every minute and I have a great many
things to do myself so I intend to get strong and then do
them. I enclose two poems. I am going to have them printed
for my particular pals later. I am writing one to all of you
folks over there.
"I have wandered up and down somewhat in many different lands
I have been to Fort Worth, Texas, and I've tramped through Jersey sands,
I have seen Pike's Peak by Moonlight, and I've visited the Fair
And to save enumeration I've been nearly everywhere.
But no matter where I rested and no matter where I'd go,
I have longed to be on Broadway
Some people love the lilies fair that hide in mossy dells
Some folks are fond of new mown hay, before the rainy spells
But give to me the orchids rare that hang in Thorley's store,
And in Fleischman's at the Hoffman, and in half a dozen more
And when I see them far from home they make my heart's blood glow
For they take me back to Broadway
Let Paris boast of boulevards where one can sit and drink
There is no such chance on Broadway, at the Brower House,
`I don't think.'
And where else are there fair soubrettes in pipe clayed tennis shoes,
And boys in silken sashes promenading by in twos
Oh you can boast of any street of which you're proud to know
But give me sleepy Broadway
Let poets sing of chiming bells and gently lowing kine
I like the clanging cable cars like fire engines in line
And I never miss the sunset and for moonlight never sigh
When `Swept by Ocean Breezes.' flashes out against the sky.
And when the Tenderloin awakes, and open theatres glow
I want to be on Broadway
"John Drew, I am your debtor
For a very pleasant letter
And a lot of cabinet photos
Of the `Butterflies' and you
And I think it very kind
That you kept me so in mind
And pitied me in exile
So I do, John Drew.
John Drew, 'twixt you and me
Precious little I can see
Of that good there is in Solitude
That poets say they view.
For _I_ hate to be in bed
With a candle at my head
Sitting vis a vis with Conscience.
So would you, John Drew.
John Drew, then promise me
That as soon as I am free
I may sit in the first entrance
As Lamb always lets me do.
And watch you fume and fret
While the innocent soubrette
Takes the centre of the stage a--
Way from you, John Drew."
R. H. D.
In the summer of 1894 Richard went to London for a purely
social visit, but while he was there President Carnot was
assassinated, and he went to Paris to write the "story" of the
funeral and of the election of the new President.
VERSAILLES, June 24, 1894.
I am out here to see the election of the new President. I
jumped on the mail coach and came off in a hurry without any
breakfast, but I had a pretty drive out, and the guard and I
talked of London. The palace is closed and no one is admitted
except by card, so I have seen only the outside of it. It is
most interesting. There is not a ribbon or a badge; not a
banner or a band. The town is as quiet as always,
and there are not 200 people gathered at the gate through
which the deputies pass. Compared to an election convention
in Chicago, it is most interesting. How lively it is inside
of the chamber where the thing is going on I cannot say. I
shall not wait to hear the result, but will return on the coach.
Nothing could be more curious than the apparent indifference
of the people of Paris to the assassination of the President.
Two days after he died there was not a single flag at half
mast among the private residences. The Government buildings,
the hotels and the stores were all that advertised their
grief. I shall have an interesting story to write of it for
the Parisian series. Dana Gibson and I will wait until after
the funeral and then go to Andorra. If he does not go, I may
go alone, but perhaps I shall go back to London at once. This
has been an interesting time here, but only because it is so
different from what one would expect. It reads like a
burlesque to note the expressions of condolence from all over
the world, and to mark the self-satisfaction of the French at
attracting so much sympathy, and their absolute indifference
to the death of Carnot. It is most curious. We have an ideal
time. Never before have I had such jolly dinners, with such
good talk and such amusing companions.
LONDON, July 15, 1894.
Mr. Irving gave a supper last night to Mme. Bernhardt and Mme.
Rejane. There were about twenty people, and we ate in the
Beefsteak Room of the Lyceum Theater, which is so called after
the old Beefsteak Club which formerly met there. I had a most
delightful time, and talked to all the French women and to
Miss Terry, who sent her love to Dad. She said, "I did not
SEE him this last visit; that is, I saw him but I did not
see him." Her daughter is a very sweet girl, and the picture
Miss Terry made on her knees looking up at Bernhardt and
Rejane when they chattered in French was wonderful. Neither
she nor Irving could speak a word of French, and whenever any
one else tried, the crowd all stood in a circle and applauded
and guyed them. After it was over, at about three in the
morning, Miss Terry offered me a lift home in her open
carriage, so she and her daughter and I rode through the empty
streets in the gray light for miles and miles, as, of course,
I did not get out of such company any sooner than I had to do.
They had taken Irving's robe of cardinal red and made it into
cloaks, and they looked very odd and eerie with their yellow
hair and red capes, and talking as fast as they could.
About January 1, 1895, Richard accompanied by his friends
Somers Somerset and Lloyd C. Griscom, afterward our minister
to Tokio and ambassador to Brazil and Italy, started out on a
leisurely trip of South and Central America. With no very
definite itinerary, they sailed from New Orleans, bent on
having a good time, and as many adventures as possible, which
Richard was to describe in a series of articles. These
appeared later on in a volume entitled "Three Gringos in
January, 1895.
On board Breakwater at anchor. You will be pleased to hear
that I am writing this in a fine state of perspiration in
spite of the fact that I have light weight flannels, no
underclothes and all the windows open. It is going to storm
and then it will be cooler. We have had a bully time so far
although the tough time is still to come, that will be going
from Puerto Cortez to Tegucigalpa. At Belize the Governor
treated us charmingly and gave us orderlies and launches and
lunches and advice and me a fine subject for a short story.
For nothing has struck me as so sad lately as did Sir Anthony
Moloney K. C. M. G. watching us go off laughing and joking in
his gilded barge to wherever we pleased and leaving him standing
alone on his lawn with some papers to sign and then a dinner
tete-a-tete with his Secretary and so on to the end of his
life. It was pathetic to hear him listen to all the gossip
from the outside world and to see how we pleased him when we
told him we were getting more bald than he was and that he
would make a fine appearance in the Row at his present weight.
He had not heard of Trilby!!
We struck a beautiful place today called Livingston where we
went ashore and photographed the army in which there was no
boy older than eighteen and most of them under ten. It was
quite like Africa, the homes were all thatched and the
children all naked and the women mostly so. We took lots of
photographs and got on most excellently with the natives who
thought we were as funny as we thought them. Almost every
place we go word has been sent ahead and agents and consuls
and custom house chaps come out to meet me and ask what they
can do. This is very good and keeps Griscom and Somerset in a
proper frame of awe. But seriously I could not ask for better
companions, they are both enormously well informed and polite
and full of fun. The night the Governor asked Somers to
dinner and did not ask us we waited up for him and then hung
him out over the side of the boat above the sharks until he
swore he would never go away from us again. Griscom is more
aggravatingly leisurely but he has a most audacious humor and
talks to the natives in a way that fills them with pleasure
but which nearly makes Somers and I expose the whole party by
laughing. Today we lie here taking in banannas and tomorrow I
will see Conrad, Conrad, Conrad!! Send this to the Consul.
Lots of love.
SAN PEDRO--SULA--February, 1895.
The afternoon of the day we were in Puerto Cortez the man of
war Atlanta steamed into the little harbor and we all
cheered and the lottery people ran up the American flag. Then
I and the others went out to her as fast as we could be rowed
and I went over the side and the surprise of the officers was
very great. They called Somers and Griscom to come up and we
spent the day there. They were a much younger and more
amusing lot of fellows than those on the Minneapolis and
treated us most kindly. It was a beautiful boat and each of
us confessed to feeling quite tempted to go back again to
civilization after one day on her. Their boat had touched at
Tangier and so they claimed that she was the one meant in the
Exiles. They told me that the guide Isaac Cohen whom I
mentioned in Harper's Weekly carries it around as an
advertisement and wanted to ship with them as cabin boy. We
left the next day on the railroad and the boys finding that
two negroes sat on the cowcatcher to throw sand on the rails
in slippery places bribed them for their places and I sat on
the sand box. I never took a more beautiful drive. We did
not go faster than an ordinary horse car but still it was
exciting and the views and vistas wonderful. Sometimes we
went for a half mile under arches of cocoanut palms and a
straight broad leafed palm called the manaca that rises in
separate leaves sixty feet from the ground. Imagine a palm
such as we put in pots at weddings and teas as high as Holy
Trinity Church and hundreds and hundreds of them. The country
is very like Cuba but more luxuriant in every way. There are
some trees with marble like trunks and great branches covered
with oriole nests and a hundred orioles flying in and out of them
or else plastered with orchids. If Billy Furness were to see in
what abundance they grew he would be quite mad. It is a great
pity he did not come with us. This little town is the terminus
of the railroad and we have been here four days while Jeffs the
American Colonel in the Hondurean Army is getting our outfit.
It has been very pleasant and we are in no hurry which is a
good thing for us. It is a most exciting country and as
despotic as all uncivilized and unstable governments must be.
But we have called on the Governor of the district with Jeffs
and he gave us a very fine letter to all civil and unmilitary
authorities in the district calling on them to aid and protect
us in every way. I am getting awfully good material for my
novel and for half a dozen stories to boot only I am surprised
to find how true my novel was to what really exists here.
About ten years ago ---- disappeared, having as I thought
drunk himself to death. He came up to me here on my arrival
with a lot of waybills in his hand and I learned that he had
been employed in this hole in the ground by a railroad for two
years. I remembered meeting him at Newport when I was still
at Lehigh, and last night he asked me to dinner and told me
what he had been doing which included everything from acting
in South America to blacking boots in Australia. His boss was
a Pittsburgh engineer who is apparently licking him into shape
and who told me to tell his father that he had stopped
drinking absolutely. His colored "missus" sat with us at the
table and played with a beetle during the three hours I stayed
there during which time he asked me about ---- who he said had
ruined him. He told me of how ---- had done and said this, and
the contrast to the thatched roof and the mud floor and the
Scotch American engineer and the mulatto girl was rather
striking. I never had more luck in any trip than I have had on
this one and the luck of R. H. D. of which I was fond of boasting
seems to hold good. That man of war, for instance, was the only
American one that had touched at Puerto Cortez in TEN years and
it came the day we did and left the day we did. We saw a big
lithograph of Eddie Sothern in a palm hut here so we went
before a notary and swore to it and had three seals put on the
paper and sent it him as a joke. We start tomorrow the 22nd
so you see we are behind our schedule and I suppose you people
are all worried to death about us. We will be much longer
than six days on our way to Tegucigalpa as we are going
shooting and also to pay our respects to Bogran the
ex-president and the man who is getting up the next
revolution. But we take care to tell everyone we are
travelling for pleasure and are great admirers of Bonilla the
present president. Somers and I are getting on famously. He
is a very fine boy with a great sense of humor and apparently
very fond of me. We had five men counting Jeffs who we call
our military attache and Charwood and four drivers and eleven
mules so it is quite an outfit. In Ecuador with one more man
it would constitute a revolution.
DEAR FAM: SANTA BARBARA--January 25, 1895.
We are not at Tegucigalpa as you observe but travelling in
this country. "As you see it on Broadway " and as you see it
here are two different things. We have had five days of it so
far and rested here today in order to pay our respects to General
Bogran the ex-president of the Republic. It is still six days to
Tegucigalpa. The trip across Central America will certainly
be one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It is
the most beautiful country I have seen and the most barbarous.
It is also the hottest and the most insect-ious and the
dirtiest. This latter seems a little view to take of it but
it means a great deal as the insects prevent your doing
anything in a natural way; as for instance sitting on the
grass or sleeping on the ground or hunting through the bushes.
It is pretty much as you imagine it is from what you have
read, that covers it, and I have discovered nothing new by
coming to see it. I only verify what others have seen. The
people are most uninteresting chiefly because they are surly
to Americans and do not make you feel welcome. I do not mean
that I did not do well to come for I am more glad that I did
than I can say only I have not, as I have been able to do
before, found something that others have not seen. I never
expect to see such a country again unless in Africa. If you
leave the path for ten yards you would never get back to it
except by accident and you could not get that far away unless
you cut yourself a trail. In some places the mail route which
we follow and over which the mail is carried on the backs of
runners is cut in the rock and we go down steps as even as
those of the City Hall and for hours we travel over rough
rocks and stones and a path so narrow that your knees catch in
the vines at the side. The mules are wonderfully sure footed
and never slip although they are very little, and I am pretty
heavy. The heat is something awful. It bakes you and will
dry your pith helmet in ten minutes after you have soaked it
in water. But the scenery is magnificent, sometimes we ride
above the clouds and look down into valleys stretching fifty
miles away and see the buzzards half a mile below us. Then we go
through forests of manaca palms that spread out on a single stem
sideways and form arches over our heads with the leaves hanging
in front of us like portiers or we cross great plains of grass
and cactus and rock. The best fun is the baths we take in the
mountain streams. They are almost as cool as one could wish and
we shoot the rapids and lie under the waterfalls and come out
with all the soreness rubbed out of us as though we had been
massaged. We went shooting for two days but as they had no
dogs we did not do much. I got the best shot of the trip and
missed it. It was a large wild cat and he turned his side full
on but I fired over him. Somers and I spent most of the time
firing chance shots at alligators, but they never gave us a
good chance as the birds warn them when they are in danger.
One old fellow fifteen feet long beat us for some time and
then Somers and I started across the river to catch him
asleep. It was like the taking of Lungtepen. We had our
money belts around our necks and our shoes in one hand and
rifles in the other. The rapids ran very fast and the last I
saw of Somerset he was sitting on the bank he had started from
counting out wet bank notes and blowing the water out of his
gun barrel. I got across all right by sticking my feet
between rocks and put on my shoes and crawled up on the old
Johnnie. He smelt of musk so strong that you could have found
him in the dark. I had, a beautiful shot at him at fifty
yards but I was too greedy and ran around some rocks to get
nearer and he heard me and dived. I shot a macaw, one of those
overgrown parrots with tail feathers three feet from tip to tip.
I got him with a rifle and as Griscom had got his with a shotgun
I came out all right as a marksman although I was very sore at
missing the wild cat. We sleep in hats and we sleep precious
little for the dogs and pigs and insects all help to keep us
awake and I cannot get used to a hammock. The native beds are
made of matting such as they put over tea chests, or bull's hide
stretched. Last night I slept in a hut with a woman and her
three daughters all over fifteen and they sat up and watched
me prepare for bed with great interest. I would not have
missed this trip for any other I know. I wanted to rough it
and we've roughed it and we will have another week of it too.
We have some remarkable photographs and the article ought to
be most interesting. Bogran proved to be a very handsome and
remarkable man and we had a very interesting talk with him.
From Tegucigalpa we will probably go directly to Venezuela
across the Isthmus of Panama and not visit another Republic.
We have all travelled too much to care to duplicate, and that
is what we would be doing by remaining longer in Central
America. A month of it will be enough of it and we will not
get away from Amapala before the first of February. We are
all well and happy and dirty and sing and laugh and tell
stories and listen to Griscom's anecdotes of the aristocracy
as we pick our way along. So goodbye and God bless you all.
February lst, 1895.
4th, 1895.
Here we are at last, the trip from Santa Barbara where I
last wrote you was made in six days. It was not so
interesting as the first part because it was very
high up and the tropical scenery gave way to immensely tall
pines and other trees that might have been in California, or
the Rockies. The Corderillas which is the name of the
mountains we crossed are a continuation, by the way, of the
Rockies, and the Andes but are not more than 4,000 feet high.
We had two very hot days of it in the plains of Comgaqua where
there was once a city of 60,000 founded by Cortez but where
there are not now more than 6,000. The heat was awful. We
peeled all over our faces and hands and dodged and ducked our
heads as though some one were biting at us. My saddle and
clothes were so hot that I could not place my hand on them.
At one village we heard that a bull fight was to be given at
the next fifteen miles away, so we rode on there and arrived
in time to take part. They had enclosed the plaza with a
barricade of logs seven feet high, bound together with vines.
They roped a big bull and lassoed him all over and then a man
got on his back with spurs on his bare feet and held on by the
ropes around the bull's body and by his toes and threw a cloak
over the bull's eyes when ever it got too near any one-- They
stuck it with spears until it was mad and then let the lassoes
slip and the bull started off to tear out the torreadors. I
thought it would be a great sporting act to kodak a bull while
it was charging you and so we all volunteered to act as
torreadors and it was most exciting and funny. It was rather
late to get good results but I got some pretty good pictures
of the bull coming at me with his head down and then I'd skip
into a hole in the wall. The best pictures I got were of
Somers and Griscom scrambling over the seven foot barriers with
the bull in hot chase. We all looked so funny in our high boots
and helmets and so much alike that the savages yelled with
delight and thought we had been engaged especially for their
pleasure. Our "mosers," or mule drivers treated us most
insolently but we could not do anything because Jeffs. had
engaged them and we did not want to interfere with his
authority but at a place the last day out one of them told
Jeffs. he lied and that we all lied. He had lost or stolen a
canteen of Griscom's and they had said we had not given it to
him. Jeffs. went at him right and left and knocked him all
over the shop. There were half a dozen drunken mule drivers
at the place and we thought they would take a hand but they
did not. That night Jeffs. thought to try us to see what we
would have done and left us bathing in a mountain stream and
rode on ahead and hid himself behind a rock in a canon and lay
in ambush for us. We were jogging along in the moonlight and
Somerset was reciting the "Walrus and the Carpenter," when
suddenly Jeffs. let out a series of yells in Spanish and
opened fire on us over our heads. Somerset was riding my mule
and I had no weapons, so I yelled at him to shoot and he fell
off his mule and ran to mine and let go at the rock behind
which Jeffs. was with the carbines. So that in about five
seconds Jeffs.' curiosity was perfectly satisfied as to what
we would do, and he shouted for mercy. We thought it was a
sentry or brigands and were greatly disappointed when it
turned out to be Jeffs. We got here last night and a dirtier
or more dismal place you never saw. We had telegraphed ahead
for rooms but nothing was in order and we were lodged much
worse than we had been several times in the interior where
there was occasionally a clean floor. This morning we wrote
direct to the President, asking for an interview
or audience and did not ask our Consul to help us because
Jeffs. had asked him in our presence to come meet us and he
said he would after he had done talking to some other men, but
he never came. Before we heard from Bonilla however, we
learned that the Vice-president who has the same name was to
be sworn in so we went to the palace along with the populace
in their bare feet. We sat out of sight but the English
Consul who was the finest looking person in the chamber--all
over gold lace--saw us and asked that we be given places in
front, which the minister of something asked us to take but we
objected on account of our clothes. Somers had on a flannel
suit that looked exactly like pajamas and lawn tennis shoes.
But as soon as the ceremony was over they insisted on our
going in to the banquet hall and in spite of our objections we
were there conveyed and presented to Bonilla who behaved very
well and after saying he had received our letters but had not
had time to read them left us and avoided us, which was what
we wanted for we looked like the devil. We met everybody else
though and took the English and Guatemalian Consuls back to
our rooms and gave them drinks and then we went to their
rooms, so the day went very pleasantly. The President sent us
a funny printed card appointing an audience at eleven
to-morrow. It is exactly what you would imagine it would be,
the soldiers are barefooted except about fifty and the
President leaned out of the window in his shirt sleeves after
the review and they have not plastered up the holes in his
palace that his cannon made in it just a year ago to-day, when
he was fighting Vasquez, and Vasquez was then on the inside
and Bonilla on the hills. I forgot to tell you
that this morning a boy about sixteen years old, with a
policeman's badge and club came to our window and talked
pleasantly with us or at us rather, while we shaved and guyed
him in English. Finally we found that he had come to arrest
Jeffs. so we told him where Jeffs. was but he preferred to
watch us shave and we finished it under his custody. Then we
went to the Commandante and found that the mosers had had
Jeffs. arrested for not paying them on their arrival at
Tegucigalpa, as we had distinctly told them we would not do
but at San Pedro from where we took them, on their return. It
was only a spite case suggested by Jeffs. thrashing their
leader. The Commandante gave them a scolding and we went out
in triumph.
February 4th--
Your cable received all right. We were very glad to hear. We
have decided to go on by mules to Manaqua, the Capital of
Nicaragua, and from there either to Corinto or to Lemon on the
Atlantic side. We had to do this or wait here ten days for
the boat going south at Amapala. It is moonlight now so that
we can avoid the heat of the day. Yesterday we went out
riding with the President, who put a gold revolver in his hip
pocket before he started and made us feel that uneasy lies the
head that rules in this country. He had two horses that had
never been ridden before, as a compliment to our powers, the
result was that the Vice-president's horse almost killed him,
which I guess the President intended it should and the horse
Griscom rode backed all over the town. He was a stallion and
had never been ridden before that day. Mine was a gentle old
gee-gee and yet I felt good when we were all on the ground again.
The British consul gave Somers a fine reception and raised the
flag for him and had the band there to play "God Save the Queen,"
which he had spent the whole morning in teaching them. Griscom
and I called on our Consul and played his guitar. We bought one
for ourselves for the rest of the trip.
I want you to do something for me: keep all the unfavorable
notices you get. I know Mother won't do it, so I shall expect
Nora to make a point of saving them from the waste-paper
basket. If there is not a lot of them when I get back, I will
raise a row.
MANAQUA-NICARAGUA-February 13, 1895.
I had a great deal to tell you, but we have just received
copies of the Panama Star and have read of the trolley riots
in Brooklyn, a crisis in France, War in the Balkans, a
revolution in Honolulu and another in Colombia. The result is
that we feel we are not in it and we are all kicking and
growling and abusing our luck. How Claiborne and Russell will
delight over us and in telling how the militia fired on the
strikers and how Troop A fought nobly. Never mind our turn
will come someday and we may see something yet. We have had
the deuce of a time since we left Tegucigalpa. Now we are in
a land where there are bull hide beds and canvas cots instead
of hammocks and ice and railroads and direct communication
with steamship lines. Hereafter all will be merely a matter
of waiting until the boat sails or the train starts and the
uncertainties of mules and cat boats are at an end. It is
hard to explain about our difficulties after we left Tegucigalpa
but they were many. We gave up our idea of riding here direct
because they assured us we could get a steam launch from Amapala
to Corinto so we rode three days to San Lorenzo on the Pacific
side and took an open boat from there to Amapala. It was rowed
by four men who walked up a notched log and then fell back
dragging the sweeps back, with the weight of their bodies.
It was a moonlight night and they looked very picturesque
rising and sinking back and outlined against the sky. They
were naked to the waist and rowed all night and I had a good
chance to see them as I had to lie on the bottom of the boat
on three mahogany logs. By ten the next day we were too
cramped to stand it, so we put ashore on a deserted island and
played Robinson Crusoe. We had two biscuits and a box of
sardines among five of us but we found oysters on the rocks
and knocked a lot off with clubs and stones and the butts of
our guns. They were very good. We also had a bath until a
fish ran into me about three feet long and cut two gashes in
my leg. We reached Amapala about four in the afternoon. It
was an awful place; dirt and filth and no room to move about,
so we chartered an open boat to sail or row to Corinto sixty
miles distant. You see, we could not go back to Tegucigalpa
until the steamer arrived which is to take us South of Panama
and we could not go to Manaqua either and for the same reason
that we had sent back our mule train and we would not wait in
Amapala partly because of fever which had been there and
partly because we wanted to get to Corinto where they have ice
and to see Manaqua. The boat was about as long as the
Vagabond and twice as deep and a foot or two more across her
beam. There were four of us, five of the crew and two natives
who wanted to make the trip and who we took with us. It was
pretty awful. The old tub rocked like a milk shake and I was
never so ill in my life, we all lay packed together on the ribs
of the boat and could not move and the waves splashed over us but
we were too ill to care. The next day the sun beat in on us and
roasted us like an open furnace. The boat was a pit of heat
and outside the swell of the Pacific rose and fell and
reflected the sun like copper. We reached Corinto in about
twenty four hours and I was never so glad to get any place
before. The town turned out to greet us and some Englishmen
ran to ask from what boat we had been ship wrecked. They
would not believe we had taken the trip for any other reason.
They helped us very kindly and would not let us drink all the
iced water we wanted and sent us in to bathe in a place
surrounded by piles to keep out the sharks and by a roof to
shelter one from the sun. Corinto proved to be all that
Amapala was not; clean, cool with very excellent food and
broad beds of matting. I liked it better than any place at
which we have been, we came on here the next day to see the
President and found the city hot, dusty and of no interest.
There is an excellent hotel however and we had a talk with the
President who was a much better chap than Bonilla being older
and more civilized. Of course there is absolutely no reason
or excuse for us if we do not get control of this canal. If
only that it would allow our ships of war to pass from Ocean
to Ocean instead of going around the horn. The women are
really beautiful but that has nothing to do with the canal.
Tomorrow morning we return to Corinto as Somers and
I like it best. Griscom would like to go on across by the
route of the canal which would be a good thing were we certain
of meeting a steamer at Simon or Greytown, but the Minister
who went last month that way had to wait there sixteen days.
So, we will probably leave Corinto on the 17th or 20th, there
are two steamers, one that stops at ports and one that does
not. They both arrive together. I do not know which we will
take but--this letter will go with me. Up to date I think the
trip will make a good story but it will have to be a personal
one about the three of us for the country as it stands is
uninteresting to the general reader for the reason that it
DUPLICATES itself in everything. But with our photographs
and a humorous story, it ought to be worth reading and I have
picked enough curious things to make it of some value.
February 15,--Corinto.
We are back here now and rid of that dusty, dirty city. You
would be amused if you saw this place and tried to understand
why we prefer it to any place we have seen. There is surf
bathing at a half mile distant and a good hotel with a great
bar where a Frenchman gives us ice and the sea captains and
agents for mines and plantations in the interior gather to
play billiards. Outside there are rows of handsome women with
decollete gowns and shining black hair and colored silk scarfs
selling fruit and down the one street which faces the bay are
a double row of palms and the store where two American boys
have a phonograph. They are the only Americans I have met who
have or are taking a dollar out of this country. They play
the guitar and banjo very well. One of them was on the
Princeton glee club and their stories of how they have toured
Central America are very amusing. Lots of Love.
S. S. Barracouta--Off San Juan
February 21, 1895.
Today I believe is the 21st. We are out two days from Corinto
off San Juan on the boundary of Costa Rica and lie here some
hours. Then we go on without stopping to Panama arriving
there about the 25th. On the 28th we take the steamer to
Caracas. We will be at Caracas a week and then go straight
home. But in the meanwhile we will have got one mail at Colon
when we go there to take the boat for Caracas and glad I will
be to get it. We have had a summary of the news in the Panama
Star and a bundle of Worlds telling all about the trolley
strike and that is all except Dad's cable at Tegucigalpa that
we have heard in nearly two months. I am very sorry that the
distances have turned out so much longer than we expected and
that we had that unfortunate ten days wait for the steamer. I
know you want me home and I would like to be there but I do
not think I ought to go without seeing Caracas. It helps the
book so much too if one runs it into South America for no one
in the States thinks much of Central and does not want to read
about it. At least I know I never did. We have had a most
amusing time with the two phonograph chaps. One of them has
been an advertising agent and a deputy sheriff and chased
stage coach robbers and kept a hard-ware store and is only
twenty-five and the other has not had quite as much experience
but has been to Princeton, he is 23. The mixture of narratives
which change from tricks of the hard-ware trade to dances at
Buckingham Palace and anecdotes of Cliff House supper parties at
San Francisco are very interesting. I am going to write a book
for them and call it "Through Central America with a Phonograph"
or "Who We Did, and How We Done Them." We sing the most
beautiful medleys and contribute to the phonograph. I had to
protest against them announcing "Her Golden Hair was Hanging Down
her Back" by Richard Harding Davis and Somerset kicked at their
introducing "God Save the Queen" as sung by "His Grace the Duke
of Bedford" which they insist in thinking his real title and his
name; if he would only confess the truth. You cannot have any
idea of how glad I am that I took this trip, just this
particular trip, not for any interest it will be to the gentle
reader but for the benefit it has been to me. All the things
I was nervous about have been done and should I get nerves
again as I suppose I always will in one form or another I can
get rid of them by remembering how I got rid of them before
during this most peculiar excursion. For though I and we all
told the truth about being well, we were in a most trying
place at times and the ride we took and the sail to get away
from possible fever was very much of a strain. I do not see
how Griscom kept up as he did for he was an invalid and very
nervous when he started. But he showed great sporting blood.
It was much better having three than two and he furnished us
with much amusement at which he never complains. His
artlessness and his bad breaks which keep us filled with
terror make the most entertaining narratives and he tells them
on himself and then keeps on making new ones. One night Jeffs
came down with fever through bathing in the mountain streams, a
practice which did not hurt us but which natives of the country
cannot do in safety, and I confess I was scared. Jeffs pulled
through in a few days. It was odd that the man who had lived
here eleven years should have been the only one to give up
throughout the whole trip and he was a good sport, too.
I will have the Central American stories all done or nearly so
by the time we reach New York which is one of the comforts of
this over abundance of sea voyages. I have the lottery story
nearly written and am wondering now if Bissell will let me
publish it. Would it not be a good idea to have Dad, if he
knows him, explain about how I went South to write it and just
what it is and get his official sanction or shall I write or
get the Harper's to write when I get back. The lottery people
in joke offered $10,000 if they could write the story
themselves. And sometimes I wish they would for it is the
hardest kind of work. I do not want to advertise their old
game and yet I cannot help doing it, in a way. We put in at
Punta Arenas and I found a woman looking at us with an opera
glass and shortly after she sent out to say she knew me and
that she wanted me to come up. It seemed I met her in
Elizabeth, New Jersey with Eddie Coward where she was playing
in private theatricals. Since then as a punishment no doubt
she has lived here and her husband is Minister of the Navy
with one gun boat. This trip is very hot and I sleep on deck
and look up at the stars and the light on the jib and the
smoke spoiling the firmament. It makes you feel terribly far
away from the centre of civilization in front of the fire and
you all trying to make out where we are at. I hope you know
more about it than we do.
It is the worst country for getting about that I ever heard
of. It has revived my interest and belief in all such
beautiful things as buried treasures and hidden cities and
shooting men against stone walls and filibusters. There are
not many of these stories but every man tells them differently
so they have all the freshness of a new tale. There is no ice
on this boat or lemons or segars. It is the first time so
they say that it has happened in twelve months, but after this
it must be better. At Panama they fine the ice man $1000
every day his machine breaks and so we have hopes. I feel so
very, very selfish off down here and leaving you all alone and
it makes me lose my temper more than usual when all these
delays occur but I promise to be good hereafter and we will be
together soon now by the end of March sure and I hope you will
not miss me too much, as much as I miss all of you. Sometimes
I wish you could see some of these islands and the long
shadowy sharks and the turtles, there are thousands of turtles
as big as tubs just floating around like empty bottles, but I
have never on the whole taken a trip when I so seldom wished
that the family were around to enjoy it. It used to hurt me
during the Mediterranean trip but there is not much that would
please you in this outfit. I like it because I am satisfied
to go dirty for weeks at a time and to talk to the engineer or
the queer passengers and to pick up stories and improve my
geography but I do not think the scenery would compensate
either Nora or you or Dad for the lack of necessities and
CLEANTH. When we were crossing the continent I don't
believe I had a spot on me as big as a nickel without three
bites on it, all sorts of bites, they just swarmed over you
all sizes, colors and varieties. They came from dogs, from
the sand, from trees, from the grass, from the air.
The worst were little red bugs that lay under the leaves
called carrapati's and that came off on you in a hundred at a
time. And there were also "jiggers" that get under your nails
and leave eggs there. Some times we could not sleep at all
for the bites and you had to carry a brush to brush the carripats
off every time you passed through bushes. It's the
damnedest country I was ever in now that I have time to think
of it. The other day I was going in to bathe and the sand was
so hot that I could not get to the breakers and so I went
yelling and jumping back to the grass and the grass was just
one mass of burrs, so I gave another yell and leaped on to a
big log and the log was full of thorns. That's the sort of
country it is. And then after you do make a dash for the surf
a shark makes a dash for you and you don't know what you are
here for anyway. It had its humorous side and it was very
funny, especially as it never turned out otherwise, to see the
men scamper when the sharks came in. They never scented us
for ten minutes or so and then they would swim up and we would
give a yell and all make for the shore head over heels and
splashing and shrieking and scared and excited. There would
always be one man who was further out than the rest and he
could not hear on account of the waves and we would all line
up on the beach and yell and dance up and down and try to
attract his attention. But you would see him go on diving and
playing along in horrible loneliness until he turned to speak
to some one and found the man gone and then he would look for
the others and when he saw us all on the shore he would give
one wild whoop out of him and go falling over himself with his
hair on end and his eyes and mouth wide open. I saw one shark
ten feet long but we would have died of the heat if we had not
bathed so we thought it was worth it. That's over now because
we cannot get any more sea bathing. Just around Panama.
Finest place seen yet.
PANAMA, February 28th, 1895.
Griscom has awakened to the fact that he is a Press
correspondent and is interviewing rebels who come stealthily
by night followed by spies of the government and sit in
Griscom's room with the son of the Consul General, as
interpreter. Somerset and I refuse to be implicated and sit
in the plaza waiting for a file of soldiers to carry Griscom
off which is our cue for action. There is a man-of-war, the
Atlanta, the one we made friends with at Puerto Cortez,
lying at Colon and so we feel safe. We may now be said to be
absorbing local color. That is about all we have done since
we left Amapala. And if it were not that you are all alone up
there, I would not mind it. I would probably continue on. We
know it now as we do London or Paris. We can distinguish sea
captains, lawyers in politics, commandantes, oldest residents,
gentlemenly good for nothings, shipping agents and commission
dealers, coffee planters and men who are "on the beach" with
unerring eye. We know the story of each before he tells it,
or it is told by some one else. The Commandante shot a lot of
men by the side of a road during the last revolution, first
allowing them to dig their own graves and is here now so
that he can pay himself by stealing the custom dues,
the lawyer politician has been to Cornell and taken a medical
degree in Paris and aspires to be a deputy and only remembers
New York as the home of Lillian Russell. The commission
merchants are all Germans and the coffee planters are all
French. They point with pride to little bare-foot boys
selling sea shells and cocoanuts as their offspring, although
they cannot remember their names. The sea captains you can
tell by their ready made clothes of a material that would be
warm in Alaska and by them wearing Spanish dollars for watch
guards and by the walk which is rolling easily when sober and
pitching heavily toward the night. The oldest resident always
sits in front of the hotel and in the same seat, with a
tortoise shell cane and remembers when Vasquez or Mendoza or
Barrios, or Bonilla occupied the Cathedral and fired hot shot
into the Palace and everybody took refuge in the English
Consulate and he helped guard the bank all night with a
Springfield rifle. The men who are on the beach have just
come out of the hospital where they have had yellow fever and
they want food. This story is intended to induce you to get
rid of them hurriedly by a small token. Sometimes out of this
queer combination you will get a good story but generally they
want to show you a ruined abbey or a document as old as the
Spanish occupation or to make you acquainted with a man who
has pearls to sell, or a coffee plantation or a collection of
unused stamps which he stole while a post-office employee.
Our chief sport now is to go throw money at the prisoners who
are locked up in a row of dungeons underneath the sea wall. The
people walk and flirt and enjoy the sea breeze above them and the
convicts by holding a mirror between the bars of the dungeons can
see who is leaning over the parapet above them. Then they hold
out their hands and you drop nickels and they fail to catch
them and the sentry comes up and teases them by holding the
money a few inches beyond their reach. They climb all over
the crossbars in their anxiety to get the money and look like
great monkeys. At night it is perfectly tremendous for their
is only a light over their heads and they crawl all over the
bars beneath this, standing on each other's shoulders and
pushing and fighting and yelling half naked and wholey black
and covered with sweat. As a matter of fact they are better
content to stay in jail than out and when the British Consul
offered to send eight of them back to Jamaica they refused to
go and said they would rather serve out their sentence of
eight years. This is the way the place looks and I am going
to introduce it in a melodrama and have some one lower files
down to the prisoners.
After some not very eventful or pleasant days at Caracas,
Richard sailed for home and from the steamer wrote the
following letter:
March 26th--On board S. S. Caracas.
Off the coast of God's country. Hurrah! H---- did not come
near us until the morning of our departure when he arrived at
the Station trembling all over and in need of a shave. But in
the meanwhile the consul at Caracas picked Griscom and myself
up in the street and took us in to see Crespo who received us
with much dignity and politeness. So we met him after all and
helped the story out that much.
There is not much more to tell except that I was never so glad
to set my face home as I am now and even the roughness of this
trip cannot squelch my joy. It seems to me as if years had
passed since we left and to think we are only three days off
from Sandy Hook seems much too wonderfully good to be
possible. Some day when we have dined alone together at
Laurent's I will tell you the long story of how Somers and Gris
came to be decorated with the Order of the Bust of Bolivar the
Liberator of Venezuela of the 4th class but at present I will
only say that there is a third class of the order still coming
to me in Caracas, as there is 20 minutes still coming to Kelly
in Brooklyn. It was a matter of either my getting the third
class, which I ought to have had anyway having the third class
of another order already, and THEIR GETTING NOTHING, or our
all getting the 4th or 5th class and of course I choose that
they should get something and so they did and for my aimable
unselfishness in the matter they have frequently drunken my
health. I was delighted when Somers got his for he was
happier over it than I have ever seen him over anything and
kept me awake nights talking about it. I consider it the
handsomest order there is after the Legion of Honor and I have
become so crazy about Bolivar who was a second Washington and
Napoleon that I am very glad to have it, although I still sigh
for the third class with its star and collar.
The boys are especially glad because we have organized a
Traveller's Club of New York of which we expect great things
and they consider that it starts off well in having three of
the members possessors of a foreign order. We formed the club
while crossing Honduras in sight of the Pacific Ocean and its
object is to give each other dinners and to present a club
medal to people who have been nice to and who have
helped members of the club while they were in foreign parts.
It is my idea and I think a good one as there are lots of
things one wants to do for people who help you and this will
be as good as any. Members of the club are the only persons
not eligible to any medal bestowed by the club and the
eligibility for membership is determined by certain distances
which a man must have travelled. Although the idea really is
to keep it right down to our own crowd and make each man
justify the smallness of the club's membership by doing
something worth while. I am President. Bonsal is vice
president. Russell treasurer and Griscom Secretary. Somerset
is the solitary member. You and Sam and Helen and Elizabeth
Bisland are at present the only honorary members. We are also
giving gold medals to the two chaps who crossed Asia on
bicycles, to Willie Chanler and James Creelman, but that does
not make them members. It only shows we as a club think they
have done a sporting act. I hope you like the idea. We have
gone over it for a month and considered it in every way and I
think we are all well enough known to make anybody pleased to
have us recognize what they did whether it was for any of us
personally or for the public as explorers. On this trip for
instance we would probably send the club medals in silver to
Admiral Meade, to Kelly, to Royas the Venezuelan Minister for
the orders to the Governor of Belize, to the consul at La
Guayra and to one of the phonograph chaps. In the same way if
you would want to send a medal to any man or woman prince or
doctor who had been kind, courteous, hospitable or of official
service to you you would just send in a request to the
committee. Write me soon and with lots of love
In April, 1895, Richard was back in New York, at work on his
South and Central American articles, and according to the
following letters, having a good time with his old friends.
NEW YORK, April 27, 1895.
I read in the paper the other morning that John Drew was in
Harlem, so I sent him a telegram saying that I was organizing
a relief expedition, and would bring him out of the wilderness
in safety. At twelve I sent another reading, "Natives from
interior of Harlem report having seen Davis Relief
Expeditionary Force crossing Central Park, all well. Robert
Howard Russell." At two I got hold of Russell, and we
telegraphed "Relief reached Eighty-fifth street; natives
peacefully inclined, awaiting rear column, led by Griscom;
save your ammunition and provisions." Just before the curtain
fell we sent another, reading: "If you can hold the audience
at bay for another hour, we guarantee to rescue yourself and
company and bring you all back to the coast in safety. Do not
become disheartened." Then we started for Harlem in a cab
with George and another colored man dressed as African
warriors, with assegai daggers and robes of gold and high
turbans and sashes stuck full of swords. I wore my sombrero
and riding breeches, gauntlets and riding boots, with
cartridge belts full of bum cartridges over my shoulder and
around the waist. Russell had my pith helmet and a suit of
khaki and leggins. Griscom was in one of my coats of many
pockets, a helmet and boots. We all carried revolvers,
canteens and rifles. We sent George in with a note saying we
were outside the zareba and could not rescue him because the
man on watch objected to our guns. As soon as they saw George
they rushed out and brought us all in. Drew was on the stage,
so we tramped into the first entrance, followed by all the
grips, stage hands and members of the company. The old man
heard his cue just as I embraced him, and was so rattled that
when he got on the stage he could not say anything, and the
curtain went down without any one knowing what the plot was
about. When John came off, I walked up to him, followed by
the other four and the entire company, and said: "Mr. Drew, I
presume," and he said: "Mr. Davis, I believe. I am saved!"
Helen Benedict happened to be in Maude Adams' dressing-room,
and went off into a fit, and the company was delighted as John
would have been had he been quite sure we were not going on
the stage or into a box. We left them after we had had a
drink, although the company besought us to stay and protect
them, and got a supper ready in Russell's rooms, at which
Helen, Ethel Barrymore, John and Mrs. Drew, Maude Adams and
Griscom were present.
NEW YORK, November, 1895.
The china cups have arrived all right and are a beautiful
addition to my collection and to my room, in which Daphne
still holds first place.
What do you think Sir Henry sent me? The medal and his little
black pipe in a green velvet box about as big as two bricks
laid side by side with a heavy glass top with bevelled edges
and the medal and pipe lying on a white satin bed, bound down
with silver--and a large gold plate with the inscription "To
Richard Harding Davis with the warmest greetings from Gregory
Brewster--1895"-- You have no idea how pretty it is,
Bailey, Banks and Biddle made it-- It is just like him to do
anything so sweet and thoughtful and it has attracted so many
people that I have had it locked up-- No Burden jewel robbers
here-- My friend, the Russian O---- lady still pursues me and
as she has no sense of humor and takes everything seriously,
she frightens me-- I am afraid she will move in at any
moment-- She has asked me to spend the summer with her at
Paris and Monte Carlo, and at her country place in Norfolk and
bombards me with invitations to suppers and things in the
meantime. She has just sent me a picture of herself two feet
by three, with writing all over it and at any moment, I expect
her to ring the bell and order her trunks taken up stairs-- I
am too attractive-- Last night I dined with Helen and Maude
Adams, who is staying with her. I want them to board me too.
Maude sang for us after dinner and then went off to see Yvette
Guilbert at a "sacred concert" to study her methods. I went
to N----'s box to hear Melba and we chatted to the
accompaniment of Melba, Nordica and Plancon in a trio--the
Ogre, wore fur, pearls, white satin and violets. It was a
pink silk box. Then I went down to a reception at Mrs. De
Koven's and found it was a play. Everybody was seated already
so I squatted down on the floor in front of Mrs. De Koven and
a tall woman in a brocade gown cut like a Japanese woman's--
It was very dark where the audience was, so I could not see
her face but when the pantomime was over I looked up and saw
it was Yvette Guilbert. So I grabbed Mrs. De Koven and told
her to present me and Guilbert said in English-- "It is not
comfortable on the floor is it?" and I said, "I have been at
your feet for three years now, so I am quite used to it"--for
which I was much applauded-- Afterwards I told some one to tell
her in French that I had written a book about Paris and about her
and that I was going to mark it and send it and before the woman
could translate, Guilbert said, "No, send me the Van Bippere
book"-- So we asked her what she meant and she said, " M. Bourget
told me to meet you and to read your Van Bippere Book, you are
Mr. Davis, are you not?"-- So after that I owned the place and
refused to meet Mrs. Vanderbilt.
Yvette has offered to teach me French, so I guess I won't go
to Somerset's wedding, unless O---- scares me out of the
country. I got my $2,000 check and have paid all my debts.
They were not a third as much as I thought they were, so
that's all right.
Do come over mother, as soon as you can and we will meet at
Jersey City, and have a nice lunch and a good talk. Give my
bestest love to Dad and Nora. How would she like Yvette for a
sister-in-law? John Hare has sent me seats for to night-- He
is very nice-- I have begun the story of the "Servants' Ball"
and got well into it.
and lots of love.
The following letter was written to me at Florence. The novel
referred to was "Soldiers of Fortune," which eventually proved
the most successful book, commercially, my brother ever wrote.
Mrs. Hicks, to whom Richard frequently refers, is the
well-known English actress Ellaline Terriss, the wife of
Seymour Hicks. Somerset is Somers Somerset, the son of Lady
Henry Somerset, and the Frohman referred to is Daniel Frohman,
who was the manager of the old Lyceum Theatre.
Early in November, William R. Hearst asked my brother to write
a description of the Yale-Princeton football game for The
Journal. Richard did not want to write the "story" and by
way of a polite refusal said he could not undertake it for
less than $500.00. Greatly to his surprise Hearst promptly
accepted the offer. At the time, I imagine this was by far
the largest sum ever paid a writer for reporting a single
December 31st, 1895.
New York.
The Players.
New Year's Eve.
I am not much of a letter writer these days, but I have
finished the novel and that must make up for it. It goes to
the Scribners for $5,000 which is not as much as I think I
should have got for it. I am now lying around here until the
first of February, when I expect to sail to Somerset's
wedding, reaching you in little old Firenzi in March. We will
then paint it. After that I do not know what I shall do.
The Journal is after me to do almost anything I want at my
own figure, as a correspondent. They have made Ralph London
correspondent and their paper is the only one now to stick to.
They are trying to get all the well known men at big prices.
I have had such a good time helping Mrs. Hicks in Seymour's
absence. She had about everything happen to her that is
possible and she is just the sort of little person you love to
do things for. She finally sailed and I am now able to attend
to my own family.
The Central American and Venezuelan book comes out on February
lst. Several of the papers here jokingly alluded to the fact
that my article on the Venezuelan boundary had inspired the
President's message. Of course you get garbled ideas of things
over there and exaggerated ones, as for instance, on the Coxey
army. But you never saw anything like the country after that war
message. It was like living with a British fleet off Sandy Hook.
Everybody talked of it and of nothing else. I went to a
dinner of 300 men all of different callings and I do not
believe one of them spoke of anything else. Cabmen, car
conductors, barkeepers, beggars and policemen. All talked war
and Venezuela and the Doctrine of Mr. Monroe. In three days
the country lost one thousand of millions of dollars in
values, which gives you an idea how expensive war is. It is
worse than running a newspaper. Now, almost everyone is for
peace, peace at any price. I do not know of but one jingo
paper, The Sun, and war talk is greeted with jeers. It was
as if the people had suddenly had their eyes opened to what it
really meant and having seen were wiser and wanted no more of
it. Your brother, personally, looks at it like this.
Salisbury was to blame in the first place for being rude and
not offering to arbitrate as he had been asked to do. When he
said to Cleveland, "It's none of your business" the only
answer was "Well, I'll make it my business" but instead of
stopping there, Cleveland uttered a cast iron ultimatum
instead of leaving a loophole for diplomacy and a chance for
either or both to back out. That's where I blame him as does
every one else.
Sam Sothern is in Chicago and we all wrote him guying letters
about the war. Helen said she was going to engage "The Heart
of Maryland" company to protect her front yard, while Russell
and I have engaged "The Girl I Left Behind Me" company with
Blanch Walsh and the original cast.
We sent Somerset a picture of himself riddled with bullets.
And Mrs. Hicks made herself famous by asking if it was that
odious Dunraven they were going to war about.
My article was a very lucky thing and is greatly quoted and in
social gatherings I am appealed to as a final authority.
The football story, by the way, did me a heap of good with the
newspapers and the price was quoted as the highest ever paid
for a piece of reporting. People sent for it so that the
edition was exhausted. The Journal people were greatly pleased.
Yvette Guilbert is at Hammerstein's and crowds the new music
hall nightly, at two dollars a seat. Irving and Miss Terry
have been most friendly to me and to the family. Frohman is
going to put "Zenda" on in New York because he has played a
failure, which will of course kill it for next year for Eddie,
when he comes out as a star. I have never seen such general
indignation over a private affair. Barrymore called it a case
of Ollaga Zenda. They even went to Brooklyn when Eddie was
playing there and asked him to stage the play for them and how
he made his changes and put on his whiskers. Poor Eddie, he
lacks a business head and a business manager--and Sam talks
and shakes his head but is little better. Lots of love and
best wishes for the New Year.
The years 1896--1897 were probably the most active of
Richard's very active life. In the space of twelve months he
reported the Coronation at Moscow, the Millennial Celebration
at Budapest, the Spanish-Cuban War, the McKinley Inauguration,
the Greek-Turkish War and the Queen's Jubilee. Although this
required a great deal of time spent in travelling, Richard
still found opportunity to do considerable work on his novel
"Captain Macklin," to which he refers in one of his letters
from London.
As correspondent of the New York American, then The
Journal, Richard went from Florence, where he was visiting
me, to Moscow. He was accompanied by Augustus Trowbridge, an
old friend of my brother's and a rarely good linguist. The
latter qualification proved of the greatest possible
assistance to Richard in his efforts to witness the actual
coronation ceremony. To have finally been admitted to the
Kremlin my brother always regarded as one of his greatest
successes as a correspondent.
En route--May 1896.
The night is passed and with the day comes "a hope" but during
the blackness I had "a suffer"-- I read until two--five
hours--and then slept until five when the middle man who had
slept on my shoulder all night left the train and the second one
to whom Bernardi was so polite left me alone and had the porter
fit me up a bed so that I slept until seven again-- Then the
Guardian Angel returned for his traps and I bade him a sleepy
adieu and was startled to see two soldiers standing shading their
eyes in salute in the doorway and two gentlemen bowing to my kind
protector with the obsequiousness of servants-- He sort of
smiled back at me and walked away with the soldiers and 13
porters carrying his traps. So I rung up the conductor and he
said it was the King's Minister with his eyes sticking out of his
head--the conductor's eyes--not the Minister's. I don't know
what a King's Minister is but he liked your whiskey-- I am now
passing through the Austrian Tyrol which pleases me so much
that I am chortling with joy-- None of the places for which my
ticket call are on any map--but don't you care, I don't care--
I wish I could adequately describe last night with nothing but
tunnels hours in length so that you had to have all the
windows down and the room looked like a safe and full of
tobacco smoke and damp spongey smoke from the engine, and bad
air. That first compartment I went in was filled later with
German women who took off their skirts and the men took off
their shoes. Everybody in the rear of the car is filthy dirty
but I had a wash at the Custom house and now I am almost clean
and quite happy. The day is beautiful and the compartment is
all my own-- I am absolutely enchanted with the Tyrol-- I have
never seen such quaint picture book houses and mills with
wheels like that in the Good for Nothing and crucifixes
wonderfully carved and snow mountains and dark green forests--
The sky is perfect and the air is filled with the sun and the
train moves so smoothly that I can see little blue flowers, baby
blue, Bavarian blue flowers, in the Spring grass. Such dear
old castles like birds nests and such homelike old mills and
red-faced millers with feathers in their caps you never saw
out of a comic opera-- The man in here with me now is a
Russian, of course, and saw the last Coronation and knows that
my suite is on the principal Street and attends to my changing
money and getting an omelette-- I can survive another night
now having had an omelette not so good as Madam Masi's but
still an omelette-- I have now left Munich and the Russian and
a conductor whom I mistook for a hereditary prince of Bavaria,
with tassels down his back, has assured me he is going to
Berlin, and that I am going to Berlin and much else to which I
smile knowingly and say mucho gracia, wee wee, ya ya, ich
ich limmer and other long speeches ending with "an er--"
May 15th, 1896. Moscow.
We left Berlin Monday night at eleven and slept well in a
wagon-lit. That was the only night out of the five that I
spent in the cars that I had my clothes off, although I was
able to stretch out on the seats, so I am cramped and tired
now. At seven Monday morning the guard woke us and told us to
get ready for the Custom House and I looked out and saw a
melancholy country of green hills and black pines and with no
sign of human life. It was raining and dreary looking and
then I saw as we passed them a line of posts painted in black
and white stripes a half mile apart on each side of the train
and I knew we had crossed the boundary and that the line of
posts stretched from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea and from
the Pacific to the Caucasus Mountains and the Pamirs. It gave me
a great thrill but I have had so many to-day, that I had almost
forgotten that one. For two days we jogged along through a level
country with meanthatched huts and black crows flying continually
and peasants in sheepskin coats, full in the skirt and tight at
the waist, with boots or thongs of leather around their feet.
The women wore boots too and all the men who were not soldiers
had their hair cropped short like mops. We could not find any
one who understood any language, so as we never knew when we
would stop for food, we ate at every station and I am of the
opinion that for months I have been living on hot tea and caviar
and hash sandwiches. The snow fell an inch deep on Wednesday and
dried up again in an hour and the sun shone through it all.
So on the whole it was a good trip and most interesting. But
here we are now in a perfect pandemonium and the Czar has not
yet come nor one-fifth even of the notables. It is a great
city, immense and overpowering in its extent. The houses are
ugly low storied and in hideous colors except the churches
which are like mosques and painted every color. I confess I
feel beaten to night by the noise and rush and roar and by so
many strange figures and marvellous costumes. Our rooms are
perfect that is one thing and the situation is the very best.
If the main street were Fifth Avenue and Madison Square the
Governor's Square, his palace would be Delmonico's and our
rooms would be the corner rooms of the Brunswick, so you can
see how well we are placed. We can sit in our windows and
look down and up the main street and see every one who leaves
or calls upon the Governor. We are now going out for a dinner
and to one of many cafe-chantants and I will tell you the rest
to-morrow, when I get sleep, for after five nights of it I
feel done up, but I feel equally sure it is going to be a
great experience and I cannot tell you how glad 1 am that I
came. Love to you all and to dear Florence in which
Trowbridge, who is a brick, joins me.
Moscow--May 1896.
There was a great deal to tell when I shut down last night,
but I thought I would have had things settled by this time and
waited, but it looks now as though there was to be no rest for
the weary until the Czar has put his crown on his head. The
situation is this: there are ninety correspondents, and twelve
are to get into the coronation, two of these will be
Americans. There are five trying for it.
Count Daschoff, the Minister of the Court, has the say as to
who gets in of those five. T. and I called on him with my
credentials just as he was going out. Never have I seen such
a swell. He made us feel like dudes from Paterson, New
Jersey. He had three diamond eagles in an astrakan cap, a
white cloak, a gray uniform, top boots and three rows of
medals. He spoke English perfectly, with the most politely
insolent manner that I have ever had to listen to; and eight
servants, each of whom we had, in turn, mistaken for a prince
royal, bowed at him all the brief time he talked over our
heads. He sent us to the bureau for correspondents, where
they gave me a badge and a pocketbook, with my photo in it.
They are good for nothing, except to get through the police
lines. No one at the bureau gave us the least encouragement as
to my getting in at the coronation. We were frantic, and I went
back to Breckenridge, our Minister, and wrote him a long
letter explaining what had happened, and that what I wrote
would "live," that I was advertised and had been advertised to
write this story for months. I dropped The Journal
altogether, and begged him to represent me as a literary light
of the finest color. This he did in a very strong letter to
Daschoff, and I presented it this morning, but the Minister,
like Edison, said he would let me know when he could see me.
Then I wrote Breck a letter of thanks so elegant and
complimentary that he answered with another, saying if his
first failed he would try again. That means he is for me, and
at the bureau they say whichever one he insists on will get
in, but they also say he is so good-natured that he helps
every one who comes. I told him this, and he has promised to
continue in my behalf as soon as we hear from Daschoff.
The second thing of importance is the getting the story, IF
WE GET IT, on the wire. That, I am happy to say, we are as
assured of as I could hope to be. I own the head of the
Telegraph Bureau soul, body and mind. He loves the ground T.
and I spurn, and he sent out my first cable today, one of
interrogation merely, ahead of twelve others; he has also
given us the entree to a private door to his office, all the
other correspondents having to go to the press-rooms and
undergo a sort of press censorship, which entails on each man
the cutting up of his story into three parts, so as to give
all a chance. I gave T. three dictums to guide him; the first
was that we did not want a fair chance--we wanted an unfair
advantage over every one else. Second, to never accept a "No"
or a "Yes" from a subordinate, but to take everything from
head-quarters. Third, to use every mouse, and not to trust to
the lions. He had practise on the train. When he told me we
would be in Moscow in ten hours, I would say, "Who told you
that," and back he would go to the Herr Station Director in a
red gown, and return to say that we would get there in twenty
hours. By this time I will match him against any newspaper
correspondent on earth. He flatters, lies, threatens and
bribes with a skill and assurance that is simply beautiful,
and his languages and his manners pull me out of holes from
which I could never have risen. With it all he is as modest
as can be, and says I am the greatest diplomat out of office,
which I really think he believes, but I am only using old
reporters' ways and applying the things other men did first.
My best stroke was to add to my cable to The Journal,
"Recommend ample recognition of special facilities afforded by
telegraph official"--and then get him to read it himself under
the pretext of wishing to learn if my writing was legible. He
grinned all over himself, and said it was. After my first
story is gone I will give him 200 roubles for himself in an
envelope and say Journal wired me to do it. That will fix
him for the coronation story, as it amounts to six months'
wages about. But, my dear brother, in your sweet and lovely
home, where the sun shines on the Cascine and the workmen
sleep on the bridges, and dear old ladies knit in the streets,
that is only one of the thousand things we have had to do. It
would take years to give you an account of what we have done
and why we do it. It is like a game of whist and poker
combined and we bluff on two flimsy fours, and crawl the next
minute to a man that holds a measly two-spot. There is not a
wire we have not pulled, or a leg, either, and
we go dashing about all day in a bath-chair, with a driver in
a bell hat and a blue nightgown, leaving cards and writing
notes and giving drinks and having secretaries to lunch and
buying flowers for wives and cigar boxes for husbands, and
threatening the Minister with Cleveland's name.
John A. Logan, Jr., is coming dressed in a Russian Uniform,
and he wore it on the steamer, and says he is the special
guest of the Czar and the Secretary of the visiting mission.
Mrs. P. P. is paying $10,000 for a hotel for one week. That
is all the gossip there is. We lunched with the McCooks today
and enjoyed hearing American spoken, and they were apparently
very glad to have us, and made much of T. and of me. We only
hope they can help us; and I am telling the General the only
man to meet is Daschoff, and when he does I will tell him to
tell Daschoff I am the only man to be allowed in the
coronation. I wish I could tell you about the city, but we
see it only out of the corner of our eyes as we dash to bureau
after bureau and "excellency" and "royal highness" people, and
then dash off to strengthen other bridges and make new
friends. It is great fun, and I am very happy and T. is
having the time of his life. He told me he would rather be
with me on this trip than travel with the German Emperor, and
you will enjoy to hear that he wrote Sarah I was the most
"good-natured" man he ever met. God bless you all, and dear,
dear Florence. Lots of love.
Moscow--May, 1896.
I have just sent off my coronation story, and the strain of this
thing, which has really been on me for six months, is off. You
can imagine what a relief it is, or, rather, you cannot, for no
one who has not been with us these last ten days can know what we
have had to do. The story I sent is not a good one. It was
impossible to tell it by cable, and the first one on the entry
was a much better one. I do not care much, though; of course, I
do care, as I ought to have made a great hit with it, but there
was no time, and there was so much detail and minutia that I
could not treat it right. However, after the awful possibility,
or rather certainty, that we have had to face of not getting any
story at all, I am only too thankful. I would not do it again
for ten thousand dollars. Edwin Arnold, who did it for The
Telegraph, had $25,000, and if I told you of the way Hearst
acted and Ralph interfered with impertinent cables, you would
wonder I am sane. They never sent me a cent for the cables
until it was so late that I could not get it out of the bank,
and we have spent and borrowed every penny we have. Imagine
having to write a story and to fight to be allowed a chance to
write it, and at the same time to be pressed for money for
expenses and tolls so that you were worn out by that alone.
The brightest side of the whole thing was the way everybody in
this town was fighting for me. The entire town took sides,
and even men who disliked me, and who I certainly dislike,
like C. W. and R---- of the Paris Embassy, turned in and
fought for my getting in like relations. And the women--I had
grand dukes and ambassadors and princes, whom I do not know by
sight, moving every lever, and as Stanhope of The Herald,
testified "every man, woman and child in the visiting and
resident legation is crazy on the subject of getting Davis
into the coronation." They made it a personal matter, and
when I got my little blue badge, the women kissed me and each
other, and cheered, and the men came to congratulate me, and
acted exactly as though they had got it themselves.
It was a beautiful sight; the Czarina much more beautiful and
more sad-looking than ever before. But it was not solemn
enough, and the priests groaned and wailed and chanted and
sang, and every one stood still and listened. All that the
Czar and Czarina did was over ten minutes after they entered
the chapel, and then for three hours the priests took the
center of the stage and groaned. I was there from seven until
one. Six solid hours standing and writing on my hat. It was
a fine hat, for we were in court costume, I being a
distinguished visitor, as well as a correspondent. That was
another thing that annoyed me, because Breckinridge, who has
acted like a brick, did not think he could put me on both
lists, so I chose the correspondents' list, of course, in
hopes of seeing the ceremony, but knowing all the time that
that meant no balls or functions, so that had I lost the
ceremony I would have had nothing; but he arranged it so that
I am on both lists. Not that I care now. For I am tired to
death; and Trowbridge did not get on either list, thanks to
the damned Journal and to his using all his friends to help
me, so that I guess I will get out and go to Buda Pest and
meet you in Paris. Do not consider this too seriously, for I
am writing it just after finishing my cable and having spent
the morning on my toes in the chapel. I will feel better
tomorrow. Anyway, it is done and I am glad, as it was the
sight of the century, and I was in it, and now I can spend my
good time and money in gay Paree. Love to all.
From Moscow Richard went direct to Buda Pest, where he wrote
an article on the Hungarian Millennial.
CHAS: May 8th, 1896.
I have just returned from the procession of the Hungarian
Nobles. It was even more beautiful and more interesting than
the Czar's entry than which I would not have believed anything
could have been more impressive-- But the first was military,
except for the carriages, which were like something out of
fairyland--to-day, the costumes were all different and
mediaeval, some nine hundred years old and none nearer than
the 15th Century. The mis en scene was also much better.
Buda is a clean, old burgh, with yellow houses rising on a
steep green hill, red roofs and towers and domes, showing out
of the trees-- It is very high but very steep and the
procession wound in and out like a fairy picture-- I sat on
the top of the hill, looking down it to the Danube, which
separates Buda from Pest-- The Emperor sat across the square
about 75 yards from our tribune in the balcony of his palace.
We sat in the Palace yard and the procession passed and turned
in front of us-- There were about 1,500 nobles, each dressed
to suit himself, in costumes that had descended for
generations--of brocade, silk, fur, and gold and silver
cloth-- Each costume averaged, with the trappings of the
horse, 5,000 dollars. Some cost $1,000, some $15,000. Some
wore complete suits of chain armor, with bearskins and great
black eagle feathers on their spears just as they were when
they invaded Rome-- Others wore gold chain armor and
leopard or wolf skins and their horses were studded with
turquoises and trappings of gold and silver and smothered
in silver coins-- It would have been ridiculous if they had
not been the real thing in every detail and if you had not
known how terribly in earnest the men were. There is no other
country in the world where men change from the most blase and
correct of beings, to fairy princes in tights and feathers and
jewelled belts and satin coats-- They were an hour in passing
and each one seemed more beautiful than the others-- I am very
glad I came although I was disappointed at missing the
accident at Moscow. It must have been more terrible than
Johnstown. I found the ----s quite converted into the most
awful snobs but the people they worship are as simple and well
bred as all gentle people are and I have had the most
delightful time with them. It is so small and quiet after
Moscow, and instead of being lost in an avalanche of embassies
and suites and missions, I have a distinct personality, as
"the American," which I share with "the" Frenchman and four
Englishmen. We are the only six strangers and they give us
the run of all that is going on-- At night we dine at the most
remarkable club in the world, on the border of the Park, where
the best of all the Gypsey musicians plays for us-- The music
is alone worth having come to hear, and the dear souls who
play it, having been told that I like it follow me all around
the terrace and sit down three feet away and fix their eyes on
you, and then proceed to pull your nerves and heart out of you
for an hour at a time-- One night a man here dipped a ten
thousand franc note in his champagne and pasted it on the
leader's violin and bowed his thanks, and the leader bowed in
return and the next morning sent him the note back in an
envelope, saying that the compliment was worth more
than the money-- The leader's name is Berchey and the
Hungarians have never allowed him to leave the country for
fear he would not be allowed to come back-- He is a fat, half
drunken looking man, with his eyes full of tears half the time
he plays. He looks just like a setter dog and he is so
terribly in earnest that when he fixes me with his eyes and
plays at me, the court ladies all get up and move their chairs
out of his way just as though he were a somnambulist--
I leave here Wednesday and reach Paris Friday MORNING the
eleventh-- You must try to meet me at the Cafe de la Paix at
half past nine-- Wait in the corner room if you don't wish to
sit outside and as soon as I get washed I will join you for
coffee. It will be fine to see you again and to be done with
jumping about from hotel to hotel and to be able to read the
signs and to know how to ask for food. Russian, German and
Hungarian have made French seem like my mother tongue--
In December, 1896, Richard and Frederic Remington, the artist,
were commissioned by the New York Journal to visit Cuba
which was then at war with Spain. It was their intention to
go from Key West in the Vamoose, a very fast but frail
steam-launch, and to make a landing at some uninhabited point
on the Cuban coast. After this their plans seem to have been
to trust to luck and the kindliness of the revolutionists.
After waiting for some time at Key West for favorable weather,
they at last started out on a dark night to make the crossing.
A few hours after the Vamoose had left Key West a heavy
storm arose--apparently much too violent for the slightly
built launch. The crew struck and the captain finally refused
to go on to Cuba and put back to Key West. Shortly after this
Remington and my brother reached Havana by a more simple and
ostentatious route. This was my brother's first effort as a
war correspondent, and I presume it was this fact and the very
indefiniteness of the original plan that caused his mother and
father so much uneasiness. And, indeed, it did prove
eventually a hazardous exploit.
way to Key West.
December 19, 1896.
I hope you won't be cross with me for going off and not
letting you know, but I thought it was better
to do it that way as there was such delay in our getting
started. I am going to Cuba by way of Key West with Frederic
Remington and Michaelson, a correspondent who has been there
for six months. We are to be taken by the Vamoose the
fastest steam yacht made to Santa Clara province where the
Cubans will meet us and take us to Gomez. We will stay a
month with him, the yacht calling for copy and sketches once a
week, and finally for us in a month. I get all my expenses
and The Journal pays me $3,000 for the month's work. The
Harper's Magazine also takes a story at six hundred dollars
and Russell will reprint Remington's sketches and my story in
book form, so I shall probably clear $4,000 in the next month
or six weeks. I was a week in getting information on the
subject so I know all about it from the men who have just been
there and I want you to pay attention to what I tell you they
told me and not to listen to any stray visitor who comes in
for tea and talks without any tact or knowledge. There is no
danger in the trip except the problem of getting there and
getting away again, and that is now removed by The Journal's
yacht. I would have gone earlier had any of the periodicals
that asked me to go shown me any way to get there-- THERE IS
NO FEVER THIS TIME OF YEAR and as you know fever never
touches me. It got all the others in Central America and
never worried me at all. There is no danger of getting shot,
as the province into which we go, the Santa Clara province, is
owned and populated and patrolled by the Cubans. It is no
more Spanish than New Jersey and the Spaniards cannot get in
there. We have the strongest possible letters from the Junta,
and I have from Lamont, Bayard and Olney and credentials in
every language. We will sit around the Gomez camp and send
messengers back to the coast. It is a three days trip and as
Gomez may be moving from place to place you may not hear from us
for a month and we may not hear from you but remember it was a
much longer time than that before you heard from me when I went
to Honduras. Also keep in mind that I am going as a
correspondent only and must keep out of the way of fighting
and that I mean to do so, as Chamberlain says we want
descriptive stories not brave deeds-- Major Flint who has
arranged the trip for us was down there with Maceo as a
correspondent. He saw six fights and never shot off his gun
once because as he said it was not his business to kill people
and he has persuaded me that he is right, so I won't do
anything but look on-- I have bought at The Journal's
expense a fifty dollar field glass which is a new invention
and the best made. I have marked it so that you can see a man
five miles off and as soon as I see him I mean to begin to
ride or run the other way--no one loves himself more than I do
so you leave me to take care of myself. I wish I could give
you any idea of the contempt the four returned correspondents
who talked to me, have for the Spaniards. They have seen them
shoot 2,500 rounds without hitting men at 200 yards and they
run away if the enemy begins on them first. However, you
trust to Richard-- We have a fine escort arranged for us and
Michaelson speaks Spanish perfectly and has been six months
scouting over the country.
KEY West, December 26, 1896.
I got your letters late last night and they made me pretty
solemn. It is an awfully solemn thing to
have people care for you like that and to care for them as I
do. I can't tell you how much I love you. You don't know how
much the pain of worrying you for a month has meant to me, but
I have talked it all out with myself, and left it to God and I
am sure I am doing right. As Mrs. Crown said, "There's a
whole churchful up here praying for you," and I guess that
will pull me through. Of course, dear, dear Mother thought
she was cross with me. She could not be cross with me, and
her letter told me how much she cared, that was all, and made
me be extra careful. But I need not promise you to be
careful. You have an idea I am a wild, filibustering,
hot-headed young man. I am not. I gave the guides to
understand their duty was to keep us out of danger if we had
to walk miles to avoid it. We are men of peace, going in, as
real estate agents and coffee-planters and drummers are going
in on every steamer, to attend to our especial work and get
out again quick. I have just as strong a prejudice against
killing a man as I have against his killing me.
Lots and lots of love. Don't get scared if you don't hear for
a month, although we will try to get our stories back once a
week, but you know we are at the convenience of the Cubans who
will pocket our despatches and money and not take the long
trip back. Thank dear Dad for his letter full of good advice.
It was excellent. Remington and Michelson are good men and I
like them immensely. Already we are firm friends.
KEY WEST--January 1, 1897.
As you will know by my telegram we are either off on a safe
sea going boat or waiting for one. There is no turning back
from here and the only reason I thought of doing so was the
knowledge of the way you would suffer and worry. I argued it out
that it was selfish in me to weigh my getting laughed at and
paragraphed as the war correspondent that always Turned Back
against a month of uneasiness for you, but later I saw I could
not do it much as I love you for the element of danger to me is
non-existent; it is merely an exciting adventure and you will
have to believe me and not worry but be a Spartan mother. I
would not count being laughed at and the loss of my own self
respect if I really thought there was great danger, but I do not.
You will not lose me and if I go now I can sit still next time
and say "I have done better things than that." If I had not gone
it would have meant that I would have had to have done just that
much harder a stunt next time to make people forget that I had
failed in this one. Now do cheer up and believe in the luck
of Richard Harding Davis and the British Army. We have carte
blanche from The Journal to buy or lease any boat on the
coast and I rocked them for $1000 in advance payment because
of the delay over the Vamoose.
I am so happy at thinking I am going, I could not have faced
anyone had I not, although we had nothing to do with the
failure, we tried to cross fairly in the damn tub and it was
her captain who put back. I lay out on the deck and cried
when he refused to go ahead, we had waited so long. The
Cubans and Remington and Michelson had put on all their riding
things but fortunately I had not and so was spared that
humiliation. What I don't know about the Fine Art of
Filibustering now is unnecessary. I find many friends of my
Captain Boynton or "Capt. Burke." Tonight the officers of the
Raleigh give me a grand dinner at which I wear a dress suit and
make speeches--they are the best chaps I ever met in the Navy.
Lots of love and best wishes to Dad and to Nora for a happy,
happy New Year. You know me and you know my conscience but it
would not let me go back in order to save you anxiety so you
won't think me selfish. God bless you.
KEY WEST, January 2nd, 1897.
I have learned here that the first quality needed to make a
great filibuster is Patience, it is not courage, or resources
or a knowledge of the Cuban Coast line, it is patience.
Anybody can run a boat into a dark bayou and dump rifles on
the beach and scurry away to sea again but only heroes can sit
for a month on a hotel porch or at the end of a wharf, and
wait. That is all we do and that is my life at Key West. I
get up and half dress and take a plunge in the bay and then
dress fully and have a greasy breakfast and then light a huge
Key West cigar, price three cents and sit on the hotel porch
with my feet on a rail-- Nothing happens after that except
getting one's boots polished as the two industries of this
place are blacking boots and driving cabs. I have two boys to
black mine at the same time every morning and pay the one who
does his the better of the two-- It generally ends in a fight
so that affords diversion-- Then a man comes along, any man,
and says, "Remmington's looking for you" and I get up and look
for Remington. There is only a triangle of streets where one
can find him and I call at "Josh" Curry's first and then at
Pendleton's News Store and read all the back numbers of
the Police Gazette for the hundredth time and then
call here at the Custom House and then look in at the Cable
office, where Michaelson lives sending telegrams about
anything or nothing and that brings me back to the hotel porch
again, where I have my boots shined once more and then go into
mid-day dinner. In the meanwhile Remington is looking for me
a hundred yards in the rear. He generally gets to "Josh's" as
I leave the Custom House-- In the afternoon I study Spanish
out of a text book and at three take a bicycle ride, at five I
call at the garrison to take tea with the doctor and his wife,
who is sweeter than angel's ever get to be with a miniature
angel of a baby called Martha. I wait until retreat is
sounded and the gun is fired at sunset and having commented
unfavorably on the way the soldiers let the flag drop on the
grass instead of catching it on the arms as a bluejacket does,
I ride off to the bay for another bath-- Then I take the
launch to the Raleigh and dine with the officers and rejoice
in the clean fresh paint and brass and decks and the lights
and black places of a great ship of war, than which nothing is
more splendid. We sit on the quarter-deck and smoke and play
the guitar and I go home again, in time for bed. I vary this
programme occasionally by spending the morning on the end of a
wharf watching another man fish and reading old novels and the
"Lives of Captain Walker" and "Captain Fry of the Virginius,"
two great books from each of which I am going to write a short
story like the one of the Alamo or of the Jameson Raid-- The
life of Walker I found on the Raleigh and the life of
Captain Fry with all the old wood cuts and the newspaper
comments of the time at a book store here. I don't know when
we shall get away but it is no use kicking about it, Michaelson
is doing all he can and the new tug will be along in a week
anyway. I shall be so glad to get to Cuba that I will dance with
MATANZAS, January 15th, 1897.
I sent you a note by Remington which he will mail in the
States-- From here I go to Sagua La Grande. It is on the
northern coast. I think from there I shall cross over to
Cienfuegos on the Southern coast and then if I can catch a
steamer go to Santiago to see my old friends, at the Juraqua
mines and MacWilliams' ore road and "the Palms"-- Everywhere I
am treated well on account of Weyler's order and I am learning
a great deal and talking very little, my Spanish being bad.
There is war here and no mistake and all the people in the
fields have been ordered in to the fortified towns where they
are starving and dying of disease. Yesterday I saw the houses
of these people burning on both sides of the track-- They gave
shelter to the insurgents and so very soon they found their
houses gone. I am so relieved at getting old Remington to go
as though I had won $5000. He was a splendid fellow but a
perfect kid and had to be humored and petted all the time. I
shall if I have luck be through with this in a few weeks but
it has had such a set back at the start that I am afraid it
can never make a book and I doubt if I can write a decent
article even. I am so anxious not to keep you worrying any
longer than is necessary and so I am hurrying along taking
only a car window view of things. Address me care of Consul
General Lee, Havana and confine your remarks to what is going
on at home. I know what is going on here. I don't believe half
I hear but I am being slowly converted. Remington is more
excitable than I am, so don't misunderstand if he starts in
violently. I am getting details and verifying things. He is
right on a big scale but every one has lied so about this island
that I do not want to say anything I do not believe is true.
This is a beautiful little city and after Jaruco, where we slept
two days ago, it is Paris. There we slept off the barnyard and
cows and chickens walked all over the floor and fleas all over
us. It was like Honduras only filthier. Speaking of Paris, tell
the Kid I expect to go over to him soon after I return to New
of love.
CARDENAS--North Coast of Cuba.
January 16th, 1897.
It is very funny not knowing what sort of a place you are to
sleep in next and taking things out of a grab bag, as it
were-- In Europe you can always guess what the well known
towns will give you for you have a guide book, but here it is
all luck. Matanzas was a pretty city but the people were
awful, the hotel was Spanish and the proprietor insolent,
though I was spending more of Willie Hearst's money than all
of the officers spend in a week, the Consul could not talk
English or Spanish, he said he hadn't come there "to go to
school to no Spaniard" and he gloried in the fact he had been
there three years without knowing a word of the language. His
vice-Consul was worse and everything went wrong generally.
Every one I met was an Alarmist and that is polite for liar.
They asked Remington if he was the man who manufactured the
rifles and gave us the Iowa Democrat to read. To night I reached
here after a six hours ride through blazing fields of sugar cane
and stopped on my way to the hotel to ask the Consul when the
next boat went to Saqua la Grande-- I had no letter of
introduction to him as I had to the Matanzas consul, but as soon
as he saw my card he got out of his chair and shook hands again
and was as hearty and well bred and delightful as Charley himself
and unlike Chas he did not ask me 14 francs for looking on him.
He is out now chasing around to get me a train for to-morrow.
But I won't go to-morrow. My hotel looks on the plaza and the
proprietor and the whole suite of attendants are my slaves. It
is just as different as can be. My interpreter does it, he calls
himself MY VALET, although I point out to him that two
shirts and twelve collars do not constitute a wardrobe even
with a rubber coat thrown in. But he likes to play at my
being a distinguished stranger and I can't say I object. Only
when you remember the way I was invited to see Cuba and
expected to see it, and now the way I am seeing it from car
windows with A VALET. What would the new school of yellow
kid journalists say if they knew that. For the first time on
this trip I have wished you were both with me, that was to
night. I never see anything really beautiful but that it
instantly makes me feel selfish and wish you could see it too.
It has happened again and again and to night I wish you could
be here with me on this balcony. The town runs down a slope
to the bay and in the middle of it is the Plaza with me on the
balcony which lets out of my sleeping room-- "the room" so the
proprietor tells me, "reserved only for the Capitain General."
It is just like the description in that remarkable novel of
mine where Clay and Alice sit on the balcony of the restaurant.
I have the moonlight and the Cathedral with the open doors and
the bronze statue in the middle and the royal palms moving in the
breeze straight from the sea and the people walking around the
plaza below. If it was in any way as beautiful as this Clay and
Alice would have ended the novel that night.
I got a grand lot of letters to-day which Otto, my interpreter
brought back from Havana after having conducted Remington
there in safety. I must say you are writing very cheerfully
now, but I don't wonder you worried at first but now that I am
a commercial traveller with an order from Weyler which does
everything when I find it necessary, you really must not worry
any more but just let me continue on my uneventful journey and
then come home. I shall have been gone so long and my
friends, judging from Russell and Dana and Irene's letters,
will be so glad to see me, that they will have forgotten I
went out to do other things than coast around in trains. As a
matter of fact this is a terribly big problem and most
difficult to get the truth of, I find myself growing to be the
opposite of the alarmist, whatever that is, although you would
think the picturesque and dramatic and exciting thing would be
the one I would rather believe because I want to believe it,
but I find that that is not so, I see a great deal on both
sides and I do not believe half I am told. As we used to say
at college, "it is against history," and it is against history
for men to act as I am told they are acting here-- They show
me the pueblo huddled together around the fortified towns,
living in palm huts but I know that they have always lived in
palm huts, the yellow kid reporters don't know that or
consider it, but send off word that the condition of the people
is terrible, that they have only leaves to cover them, and it
sounds very badly. That is an instance of what I mean. In a big
way there is no doubt that the process going on here is one of
extermination and ruin. Two years ago the amount of sugar
shipped from the port of Matanzas to the U. S. was valued at 11
millions a year. This last year just over shows that sugar to
the amount of $800,000 was sent out. In '94, 154 vessels
touched at Matanzas on their way to America. In '95 there were
80 and in '96 there are 16. I always imagined that houses were
destroyed during a war because they got in the way of cannon
balls or they were burned because they might offer shelter to
the enemy, but here they are destroyed, with the purpose of
making the war horrible and hurrying up the end. The
insurgents began first by destroying the sugar mills, some of
which were worth millions of dollars in machinery, and now the
Spaniards are burning the homes of the people and herding them
in around the towns to starve out the insurgents and to leave
them without shelter or places to go for food or to hide the
wounded. So all day long where ever you look you see great
heavy columns of smoke rising into this beautiful sky above
the magnificent palms the most noble of all palms, almost of
all trees-- It is the most beautiful country I have ever
visited. I had no recollection of how beautiful it was or
else I had not the knowledge of other places with which to
compare it. Nothing out of the imagination can approach it in
its great waterfalls and mossy rocks and grand plains and
forests of white pillars with plumes waving above them. Only
man is vile here and it is cruel to see the walls of the
houses with blind eyes, with roofs gone and gardens burned, every
church but one that I have seen was a fortress with hammocks
swung from the altars and rude barricades thrown up around the
doorways-- If this is war I am of the opinion that it is a
senseless wicked institution made for soldiers, lovers and
correspondents for different reasons, and for no one else in the
world and it is too expensive for the others to keep it going to
entertain these few gentlemen-- I have seen very little of it yet
and I probably won't see much more, but I have seen all I want.
Remington had his mind satisfied even sooner--but then he is an
alarmist and exaggerates things-- The men who wear the red badge
of courage, I don't feel sorry for, they have their reward in
their bloody bandages and the little cross on their tunic but
those you meet coming back sick and dying with fever are the
ones that make fighting contemptible--poor little farmers,
poor little children with no interest in Cuba or Spain's right
to hold it, who have been sent out to die like ants before
they have learned to hold a mauser, and who are going back
again with the beards that have grown in the field hospitals
on their cheeks and their eyes hollow, and too weak to move or
speak. Six of them died while I was in Jaroco, a town as big
as Marion and that had been the average for two months, think
of that, six people dying in Marion every day through July and
August-- I didn't stay in that town any longer than the train
did-- Well I have been writing editorials here instead of
cheering you up but I guess I'm about right and when I see a
little more I'll tell it over again to The Journal-- It is
not as exciting reading as deeds of daring by our special
correspondent and I haven't changed my name or shaved my
eyebrows or done anything the other men have done but I believe I
am getting near the truth. They have shut off provisions going
or coming from the towns, they have huddled hundreds of people
who do not know what a bath means around these towns, and this is
going to happen-- As soon as the rains begin the yellow fever and
smallpox will set in and all vessels leaving Cuban ports will be
quarantined and the island will be one great plague spot. The
insurgents who are in the open fields will live and the soldiers
will die for their officers know nothing of sanitation or care
nothing. The little Consul has just been here to see me and we
have had a long talk and I got back at him. He told me he had
seen the Franco-German war as a correspondent of The Tribune and
Iasked him if he had ever met another correspondent of The
Tribune at that time a German student named Hans who cabled
the story of the battle of Gravellote and who Archibald Forbes
says was the first correspondent to use the cable. The Consul
who looks like William D. Howells wriggled around in his chair
and said "I guess you mean me but I was not a German student,
I was born and raised in Philadelphia and Forbes got my name
wrong, it is Hance." So then I got up and shook hands with
him in my turn and told him I had always wanted to meet that
correspondent and did not expect to do so in Cardenas, on the
coast of Cuba.
Thank you all for your letters. I am glad you liked the
Jameson book. I thought you knew I was a F. R. G. S. It was
George Curzon proposed me and as he is a gold medallist of the
Society it was easy getting in. Lots of love.
Richard returned to New York from Cuba in February, 1897, but
the following month started for Florence to pay me a
long-promised visit. On his way he stopped for a few days in
London and Paris.
59 Rue Galilee,
Paris, April 1st, 1897.
I got over here to-day after the heaviest weather I ever
tackled on this channel. Stephen Crane came with me. I gave
him a lunchon Wednesday. Anthony Hope, McCarthy, Harold
Frederic and Barrie came. Sir Evelyn Wood instead of coming
was detained at the war office and sent instead a lance
Sergeant on horseback with a huge envelope marked "On Her
Majesty's Service," which was to be delivered into my hands--
The entire Savoy was upset and it was generally supposed that
war had been declared and that I was being ordered to the
front-- The whole hotel hung over us until I had receipted for
the package and the soldier had saluted and clanked away. I
gave Crane the letter as a souvenir. I also saw Seymour
Hicks' first night and recognized 15 American songs in it.
The London Times offered me the position of correspondent on
the Greek frontier. Every one in London thought it an
enormous compliment and Harold Frederic, Ralph, Ballard Smith
and the rest were very envious. I told them I could not go,
but I was glad to have had the compliment paid me. Barrie has
made out a scenario of the "Soldiers" for dramatic purposes
and has asked the Haymarket management to consider it. So,
that I guess that it must be good--
So, I also guess I had better finish it-- I leave for Florence
to night. I am having a fine, fine time and I am so glad you
are all well.
Lots of love,
Of the many happy days we have spent together, I do not
believe there were any much more happy than the three weeks
Richard remained with me. It was his first long visit to
Italy and from the day of his arrival he loved the old town
and its people who gave him a most friendly welcome. He had
come at a time when Florence was at its best, its narrow
quaint streets filled with sunshine and thronged with idling
natives and the scurrying tourists that always came with the
first days of spring. The Cascine and the pink-walled roads
of the environs were ablaze with wild roses and here, after
his rather strenuous experience in Cuba, Richard gave himself
up to long days of happy idleness. Together we took voyages
of discovery to many of the little walled and forgotten towns
where the tourists seldom set foot. Once we even wandered so
far as Monte Carlo, where my brother tried very hard to break
the bank and did not succeed. But the Richard Harding Davis
luck did not fail him completely and I remember I greatly
envied him the huge pile of gold and notes that represented
his winnings and which we did our very best to spend before we
left the land of the Prince of Monaco. However, having had
his first taste of war, Richard felt that he must leave the
peace and content of Florence to see how the Greeks, with whom
he had much sympathy, were faring with their enemies the
Turks. As it happened, this expedition proved but a short
interruption, and in less than a month he was once more back with
his new-found friends in Florence.
April 28, 1897
On the Way to Patras on a Steamer.
It has been a week since I wrote you last, when I sent you the
Inauguration article. Since then I have been having the best
time I ever had any place ALONE. I have had more fun with a
crowd, but never have been so happy by myself. What I would
have been had I taken some other chap with me I cannot
imagine. But the people of this part of Greece have been so
kind that I cannot say I have been alone. I never met with
strangers anywhere who were so hospitable, so confiding and
polite. After that slaughter-yard and pest place of Cuba,
which is much more terrible to me now than it was when I was
there, or before I had seen that war can be conducted like any
other evil of civilization, this opera bouffe warfare is like
a duel between two gentlemen in the Bois. Cuba is like a
slave-holder beating a slave's head in with a whip. I am a
war correspondent only by a great stretch of the imagination;
I am a peace correspondent really, and all the fighting I have
seen was by cannon at long range. (I was at long range, not
the cannon.) I am doing this campaign in a personally
conducted sense with no regard to the Powers or to the London
Times. I did send them an article called "The Piping Times
of War." If they do not use it I shall illustrate it with the
photos I have taken and sell it, for five times the sum they
would give, to the Harpers who are ever with us. As I once
said in a noted work, "Greece, Mrs. Morris, restores all your
lost illusions." For the last week I have been back in the days
of Conrad, the Corsair, and "Oh, Maid of Athens, ere We Part." I
have been riding over wind-swept hills and mountains topped with
snow, and with sheep and goats and wild flowers of every color
spreading for acres, and in a land where every man dresses by
choice like a grand opera brigand, and not only for
photographic purposes. I have been on the move all the time,
chasing in the rear of armies that turn back as soon as I
approach and apologize for disappointing me of a battle, or
riding to the scene of a battle that never comes off, or
hastening to a bombardment that turns out to be an attack on
an empty fort.
I live on brown bread and cheese and goat's milk and sleep
like a log in shepherds' huts. It is so beautiful that I
almost grudge the night. Nora and Mother could take this trip
as safely as a regiment and would see things out of fairyland.
And such adventures! Late in life I am at last having
adventures and honors heaped upon me. I was elected a captain
of a band of brigands who had been watching a mountain pass
for a month, and as it showed no signs of running away had
taken to dancing on the green. I caught them at this innocent
pastime and they allowed me to photograph them and give them
wine at eight cents a quart which we drank out of a tin
stovepipe. They drank about four feet of stovepipe or
thirty-six cents' worth, then they danced and sang for me in a
circle, old men and boys, then drilled with their carbines,
and I showed them my revolver and field-glasses and themselves
in the finder of the camera; and when I had to go they took me
on their shoulders and marched me around waving their rifles.
Then the old men kissed me on the cheek and we all embraced and
they wept, and I felt as badly as though I were parting from
fifty friends. They told my guide that if I would come back they
would get fifty more "as brave as they" and I could be captain.
I could not begin to tell you all the amusing things that have
happened in this one week. I did not want to come at all,
only a stern sense of duty made me. For I wanted to write the
play in Charley's gilded halls and get to Paris and London.
But I can never cease rejoicing that I took this trip. And it
will make the book, "A Year from a Reporter's Diary," as
complete as it can be. That was why I came. Now I have the
Coronation of the Czar, the Millennial at Hungary, the
Inauguration at Washington, the Queen's Jubilee, the War in
Cuba, and the Greco-Turkish War. That is a good year's work
and I mean to loaf after it. You will laugh and say that that
is what I always say, but if you knew how I had to kick myself
out of Florence and the Cascine to come here you would believe
me. I want a rest and I am cutting this very short.
Don't fail to cut anything Dad and Mother don't like out of
the Inauguration article. You will have me with you this
winter on my little bicycle and going to dances and not paying
board to anyone. Remember how I used to threaten to go to
Greece when the coffee was not good. It seems too funny now,
for I never was in a better place, or had more fun or saw less
of war or the signs of war.
May 7, 1897.
10 East Twenty-Eighth Street-NIT
This is one of the places out of Phroso, but as you never
read Phroso I will cut all that-- I hate to say it so
soon again but this is the most beautiful country to
travel over I have seen-- It is a fairy theatrical grand opera
country where everybody dresses in petticoats and gold braided
vests and carry carbines to tend sheep with-- I rode from
Santa Maura (see map) to a spot opposite Prevesa where they
said there was going to be bombarding-- There was not of
course but I had I think the most beautiful ride of my life.
I was absolutely happy--little lambs bleated and kids butted
each other and peasants in fur cloaks without sleeves and in
tights like princes sat on rocks and played pipes and the sky
was blue, the mountains covered with snow and the fields and
hills full of purple bushes and yellow and blue flowers and
sheep-- There was a cable station of yellow adobe. It was the
only building and it looked across at Prevesa but nobody
bombarded. The general gave me cognac and the cable operator
played a guitar for me and the preyor sang a fine bass, the
corporal not to be out done gave me chocolate and the army
stood around in the sun and joined in the conversation
correcting the general and each other and taking off their
hats to all the noble sentiments we toasted. It was just like
a comic opera. After a while when I had finished a fine hunck
of cheese and hard eggs and brown bread I took a photograph of
the General and the cable operator and the officer with the
bass voice and half of the army-- The other half was then sent
to escort me to this place. It walked and I rode and there
were many halts for drinks and cigarettes. They all ran after
a stray colt and were lost for some time but we re-mobilized
and advanced with great effect into this town. I was here
taken in charge by at least fifty sailors and as many soldiers
and comic opera brigands in drawers and white petticoats,
who conducted me to a house on the hill where the
innkeeper brought me a live chicken to approve of for dinner.
Then the mayor of the town turned up in gold clothes and
Barrison Sister skirts and said the General had telegraphed
about me and that I was his-- The innkeeper wept and said he
had seen me first and the chorus of soldiers, sailors and
brigands all joined in. I kept out of it but I knew the Mayor
would win and he did. Then we went out to a man-of-war the
size of the Vagabond and were solemnly assured there would
be bombarding of Prevesa to-morrow-- I go to sleep in that
hope. We leave here at seven crossing the river and ride
after the Greeks who are approaching Prevesa from the land
side while the men-of-war bombard it from the river. At least
that is what they say. I think it is the mildest war on both
sides I ever heard of and I certainly mean to be a Times
correspondent next time I play at going to war-- After being
insulted and frightened to death all over Cuba, this is the
pleasantest picnic I was ever on-- They seriously apologized
for not bombarding while I was there and I said not to mention
it-- With lots of love, old man, and to the family
May 16, 1897.
Here I am safe and sound again in the old rooms in Florence.
I was gone twenty-three days and was traveling nineteen of
them, walking, riding; in sailboats, in the cars, and on
steamers. I have had more experiences and adventures than I
ever had before in three months and quite enough to last me
for years.
After my happy ride through Turkey and the retreat of the
Greek army in Arta, of which I wrote you last, I have been in
Thessaly where I saw the two days' battle of Velestinos from
the beginning up to the end. It was the one real battle of
the war and the Greeks fought well from the first to the last.
I left Athens on the 29th of April with John Bass, a Harvard
graduate, and a most charming and attractive youth who is, or
was, in charge of the Journal men; Stephen Crane being among
the number. He seems a genius with no responsibilities of any
sort to anyone, and I and Bass left him at Velestinos after
traveling with him for four days. Crane went to Volo, as did
every other correspondent, leaving Bass and myself in
Velestinos. As the villagers had run away, we burglarized the
house of the mayor and made it our habitation while the
courier hunted for food. It was like "The Swiss Family
Robinson," and we rejoiced over the discovery of soap and
tablecloths and stray knives and forks, just as though we had
been cast on a desert island. Bass did the cooking and I laid
the table and washed up and made the beds, which were full of
fleas. But we had been sleeping on chairs and on the floor
for a week so we did not mind much.
The second day we were awakened by cannon and you can imagine
our joy and excitement. We had it all to ourselves for eight
hours, as it took the other correspondents that long to
arrive. It was an artillery and infantry battle and about
20,000 men were engaged on both sides. The Greeks fought from
little trenches on the hills back of the town and the Turks
advanced across a great green prairie. It was very long
range and only twice did they get to within a quarter of
a mile of our trenches. Bass and I went all over the
Greek lines, for you were just as safe in one place as in
another, which means that it wasn't safe anywhere, so we gave
up considering that and followed the fight as best we could
from the first trench, which was the only one that gave an
uninterrupted view of the Turkish forces. It was a
brilliantly clear day but opened with a hail storm, which
enabled the Turks to crawl up half a mile in the sudden
darkness. It also gave me the worst attack of sciatica I ever
had. Fortunately, it did not come on badly until I reached
Volo, when it suddenly took hold of me so that I could not
walk. The trenches were wet with the rain and we had no
clothes to change to, and two more showers kept us more or
less wet all day. We had a fine view of everything and I
learned a lot.
We were under a heavy fire for thirteen hours and certainly
had some very close escapes. At times the firing was so
fierce that if you had raised your arm above your head, the
hand would have been instantly torn off. We had to lie on our
stomachs with our chins in the dirt and not so much as budge.
This was when the Turkish fire happened to be directed on our
trench. At such times all the other trenches would fire so as
to draw the attack away, and we would have to wait until it
was over. The shells sounded like the jarring sound of
telegraph wires when one hits the pole they hang from with a
stone; and when the shells were close they sounded like the
noise made by two trains passing in opposite directions when
the wind is driven between the cars. The bullets were much
worse than the shells as you could always hear them coming,
and the bullets slipped up and passed you in a sneaking way
with a noise like rustling silk, or if some one had torn a
silk handkerchief with a sharp pull. One shell struck
three feet from me and knocked me over with the dirt
and stones and filled my nose and mouth with pebbles. I went
back and dug it out of the ground while it was still hot and
have it as a souvenir. I swore terribly at the bullets and
Bass used to grin in a sickly way. It made your hair creep
when they came very close. One man next me got a shot through
the breast while he was ramming his cleaner down the barrel,
and there were three killed within the limits of our fifty
yards. We could not get back because there was a cross fire
that swept a place we had to pass through, just about the way
the wind comes around the City Hall in the times of a
blizzard. We called it Dead Man's Curve, after that at
Fourteenth Street and Union Square, because it was sprinkled
with dead ammunition, mules and soldiers. We came through it
the first time without knowing what we were getting into and
we had no desire to go back again. So we waited until the sun
set. I took some of the finest photographs and probably the
only ones ever taken of a battle at such close range.
Whenever the men fired, I would shoot off the camera and I
expect I have some pretty great pictures. Bass took some of
me so if there is any question as to whether I was at the
Coronation, there will be none as to whether I was at Velestinos.
Our house was hit with two shells and bullets fell like the
gentle rain from heaven all over the courtyard, so we would
have been no safer there than behind the trenches. We sent
off the first account of the battle written by anybody by
midday, and stayed on until the next day at four when the
place was evacuated in good order because, as usual, the
Crown Prince was running away--from Pharsalia this time.
They say in Greece "Lewes, the peasant, won the race from
Marathon, but Constantine the prince, won the race from
I was all right until I got to Volo when my right leg refused
absolutely to do its act and I had to be carried on a donkey.
A Greek thought I looked funny sitting groaning on the little
donkey; which I did--I looked ridiculous. So he laughed, and
Bass and a French journalist batted him over the face and left
me clinging to the donkey's neck and howling to them to come
back and hold me up. But they preferred to fight, and a
policeman came along and arrested the unhappy Greek and beat
him over the head, just for luck, and marched him off to jail,
just for laughing.
They took me to the hospital ship which was starting, and I
came to Athens that way with one hundred and sixteen wounded;
the man on my right had his ankles gone and the man on the
left had a bullet in his side. They groaned all night and so
did I. Then when the sun rose they sang, which was worse. I
never saw anything more beautiful than the red-cross nurses,
and I guess that is the most beautiful picture I shall ever
see--those sweet-faced girls in blue and white bending over
the dirty frightened little peasant boys and taking care of
their wounds. I made love to all of them and asked three to
marry me. I was in bed for two days after I got to Athens but
had a fine time, as all the officers from the San Francisco,
from the admiral down, came to see me, and the minister,
consul and the rest did all that could have been done. I am
now all right and was bicycling in the dear old Cascine this
morning. On the whole it was a most successful trip.
Sylvester Scovel and Phillips of The World arrived just as
it was all over, and so Bass and I are about the only two
Americans who were in it.
The train from Brindisi stopped at Rome on the way back and I
went to see the Pages. They took me out and showed me Rome by
moonlight in one hour. It was like a cinematograph. They are
here now and coming to dinner tonight. Last night the consul
had all our friends to dinner to welcome me back, and maybe I
was not glad. I had been living on cheese and brown bread and
cold lamb for two weeks, with no tobacco, and sleeping five
hours a night on floors and sofas. Sometimes the officers and
men fought for food, and we never got anything warm to eat
except occasionally tinned things which we cooked in my kit.
It was the most satisfactory trip all round I ever had. I
have been twenty years trying to be in a battle and it will be
twenty years more before I will want to be in another.
On the eighteenth I start for London, stopping one day in
Paris to see the Clarks and Eustises. It is going to be
bigger than the Coronation for crowds, and Mother need not
worry, I shall keep out of it. The Minister to Russia sent me
word that the Czar's prime minister has given him my article
and that the Czar said thank him very much. So that is all
right. Also Hay is to present me to the Prince at the levee
on the 3tst of May, and I shall send him a copy, too. I am
looking forward to London with such joy. Tell Mother to send
me the Bookbuyer with her article in it. I have only read
the reviews of it, and they are so enthusiastic that I must
have the whole thing quick. It was such a fine thing to do
about Poe, and to give those other two fetishes the coup de
grace. It reads splendidly and I want it all. What did Dad
think of the Inauguration article? I send you all my dearest
love and will have lots to tell you when I get back this time.
God bless you all.
Richard left Florence the latter part of May, and went to
London where he had made arrangements to report the Queen's
Jubilee. He began his round of gayeties by being presented at
Court. The Miss Groves and Miss Wather to whom he refers in
the following letter were the clerks at Cox's hotel.
LONDON, June 2nd, 1897.
I was a beautiful sight at the Levee. I wore a velvet suit
made especially for me but no dearer for that and steel
buttons and a beautiful steel sword and a court hat with
silver on the side and silk stockings that I wore at Moscow
and pumps with great buckles. I was too magnificent for words
and so you would have said. I waited a long time in a long
hall crowded with generals and sea captains and highlanders
and volunteers and cavalry men and judges and finally was
admitted past a rope and then past another rope and then
rushed along into the throne room where I saw beefeaters and
life guardsmen and chamberlains with white wands and I gave
one my card and he read out "R. H. D. of the United States by
the American Ambassador" and then I bowed to the Prince and
Duke of York, Connaught and Edinburgh and to the American
Ambassador and then Henry White and Spencer Eddy, the two
Secretaries and the naval attache all shook hands with me and
I went around in a hansom in the bright sunshine in hopes of
finding some one who would know me. But no one did so I went to
Cox's Hotel and showed myself to Miss Groves and Miss Wather. I
went on the Terrace yesterday with the Leiters and at O'Connor's
invitation brought them to tea. Labouchere was there and
Dillon just out of jail and it was most interesting. I am
very, very busy doing nothing and having a fine time--
LONDON, June 21, 1897.
Words cannot tell at least not unless I am well paid for it
what London is like to-day. In the first place it is so
jammed that no one can move and it is hung with decorations so
that no one can see. Royal carriages get stuck just as do the
humble drayman or Pickford's Van and royalties are lodging in
cheap hotels with nothing but a couple of Grenadier's in
sentry boxes to show they are any better blooded than the rest
of the lodgers. I also added to the confusion by giving a
lunch to the Ambassador and Miss Hay in return for the
presentation. Lady Henry and Mrs. Asquith sat on either side
of him and Mrs. Clark had Asquith and Lord Basil Blackwood to
talk to-- There was also Anthony Hope, the beautiful Julia
Neilson and her husband Fred Terry and Lady Edward Cecil and
Lord Lester-- It went off fine and the Savoy people sent in an
American Eagle of ice, decorated with American flags and
dripping icy tears from its beak. It cost me five shillings a
head and looked as though it cost that in pounds-- To night I
dine with the Goulds and then go to a musical where Melba
sings, Padewreski plays and then walk the streets if I can
until daybreak as I think of making the night before
the procession the greater part of the story. I send you a
plan showing my seat which cost me twenty-five dollars, the
advertised price being $125. but there has been a terrible
slump in seats. Love to dear Dad and Nora.
89 Jermyn Street,
June 25th, 1897.
The Jubilee turned out to be the easiest spectacle to get at
and to get away from that I ever witnessed. Experience in
choosing a place and police regulations made it so simple that
we went straight to our seats and got away again without as
much trouble as it would have taken to have gone to a matinee.
The stage management of the thing almost impressed me more
than anything else. For grandeur and show it about equalled
the procession of the Czar and in many ways it was more
interesting because it was concerned with our own people and
with our own part of the world. Next to the Queen, Lord
Roberts got all of the applause. He rode a little white pony
that had been with him in six campaigns and had carried him on
his march to Candahar. It had all the campaign medals
presented to it by the War Department and wore them in a line
on its forehead, and walked just as though he knew what a
great occasion it was. After Roberts came in popularity a
Col. Maurice Clifford with the Rhodesian Horse in sombrero's
and cartridge belts and khaki suits. He had lost his arm and
was easily recognized. Wilfred Laurier the French Premier of
Canada and the Lord Mayor were the other favourites. The scene
in front of St. Paul's was ab solutely magnificent with the sooty
pillars behind the groups of diplomats, bishops and choir boys in
white, University men in pink silk gowns, and soldiers, beef
eaters, gentlemen at arms and the two Archbishops. The best
moment was when the collected troops; negroes, Chinamen, East
Indians, West Indians, African troopers, Canadian Mounted Police,
Australians, Borneo police and English Grenadiers all sang the
doxology together in the beautiful sunshine and under the
shadow of that great facade of black and white marble. Also
when the Archbishop of Canterbury without any warning suddenly
after kissing the Queen's hand threw up his arm and cried out
so that you could have heard him a hundred yards off "Three
Cheers for Her Majesty" and the diplomats, and foreign rajahs
and bishops and Salvation Army captains waved their hats and
mortar boards and the soldiers ran their bearskins and helmets
on their bayonets and spun them around in the air. The
weather was absolutely perfect and there were no accidents.
Last night the carriages were allowed to parade the streets
and for hours the route was blocked with omnibuses hired by
private parties, coster carts, private carriages, court
carriages and the hansoms. The procession formed by these was
two hours in going one mile. They passed my windows in Jermyn
Street for three hours and a party of us sat inside and guyed
the life out of them until one in the morning. We got very
clever at it finally and very impudent and as the people were
only two yards from us my windows being on a level with the
tops of the buses and as we had a flaring illumination that
lit up the street completely we had lots of fun with them
especially with the busses, as we pretended to believe that
the advertisements referred to the people on the top, and we
would ask anxiously which lady was "Lottie Collins" and which
gentleman had been brought up on " Mellin's Food"-- We had even
more fun with the swells coming home from the Gala night at the
opera and hemmed in between costers and Pickford's vans loaded
down with women and children.
They called on us for speeches and matches and segars and we
kept the procession supplied with food and drink. Nobody got
mad and they answered back but we were prepared with numerous
repartees and they were apparently so surprised by finding a
party of ladies and gentlemen engaged in chaffing court
officials that they would forget to reply until they had moved
on. One bus driver said "Oh, you can larff, cause your at
'ome. We are 'unting for Jensen on a North Pole Expedition.
We won't be home for three years yet--" Charley seems very
happy and he got a most hearty welcome. I shall follow him
over. I do not think I shall go when he does as that would
mean seeing people and getting settled and I must get the
Greek war done by the 12th of July and the Jubilee by the 15th
of August. I know you will not mind, but I have been terribly
interrupted by the Jubilee and by so many visitors. They are
running in all the time, so I shall try to get the Greek war
article done before I sail and also have a little peaceful
view of London. I have seen nothing of it really yet. It has
been like living in a circus, and moving about on an election
night. I am well as can be except for occasional twinges of
sciatica but I have not had to go to bed with it and some
times it disappears for a week. A little less rain and more
sun will stop it. I hope you do not mind my not returning but
we will all be together for many months this Fall and I really
feel that I have not had a quiet moment here for pleasure and
work. It has been such a rush. I do wish to see dear Dad. I am
so very sorry about his being ill, and I hope he is having lots
of fishing. Love to all at Marion--and God bless you.
July 13, 1897.
Today Barrie gave a copyright performance of "The Little
Minister" which Maude Adams is to play in the States. It was
advertised by a single bill in front of the Haymarket Theater
and the price of admission was five guineas. We took in
fifteen guineas, the audience being Charley Frohman, Lady
Craig and a man. Cyril Maude played the hero and Brandon
Thomas and Barrie the two low comedy parts--two Scotchmen of
Thrums. I started to play one of them, but as I insisted on
making it an aged negro with songs, Barrie and Frohman got
discouraged and let me play the villain, Lord Rintoul, in
which character I was great. Maude played his part in five
different ways and dialects so as to see which he liked best,
he said. It was a bit confusing. Then one of the actors went
up in the gallery and pretended to be a journalist critic who
had sneaked in, and he abused the play and the actors with the
exception of the man who played Whamond (himself) whom he said
he thought showed great promise. Maude pretended not to know
who he was and it fooled everybody. Mrs. Barrie played the
gipsy and danced most of the time, which she said was her
conception of the part as it was in the book. Her husband
explained that this was a play, not a book, but she did not care
and danced on and off. She played my daughter, and I had a great
scene in which I cursed her, which got rounds of applause. Lady
Lewis's daughters in beautiful Paquin dresses played Scotch
lassies, and giggled in all the sad parts, and one actress who
had made a great success as one of the "Two Vagabonds" made
everybody weep by really trying to act. At one time there were
five men on the stage all talking Scotch dialect and imitating
Irving at the same time. It was a truly remarkable performance.
Ethel Barrymore goes back on Saturday with Drew to play a
French maid in "A Marriage of Convenience." She is announced
to be engaged to Hope, I see by the papers. They are not
engaged, of course, but the papers love to make matches. Look
for me as sailing either on the 31st on the St. Louis or a
week later. With lots and lots of love.
In the late summer Richard returned to Marion and from there
went to New York. However, at this time, the lure of England
was very strong with my brother, and early December found him
back in London.
LONDON, December 29th, 1897.
I had a most exciting Christmas, most of which I spent in
Whitechapel in the London Hospital. I lunched with the
Spenders and then went down with them carrying large packages
for distribution to the sick. I expected to be terribly
bored, but thought I would feel so virtuous that I would the
better enjoy my dinner which I had promised to take with the
McCarthys-- On the contrary, I had the most amusing time and
much more fun than I had later. The patients seemed only to
be playing sick, and some of them were very humorous and
others very pathetic and I played tin soldiers with some, and
distributed rich gifts, other people had paid for, with a
lavish hand. I also sat on a little girl's cot and played
dolls for an hour. She had something wrong with her spine and
I wept most of the time, chiefly because she smiled all the
time. She went asleep holding on to my middle finger like the
baby in "The Luck of Roaring Camp." There were eighty babies
in red flannel nightgowns buttoned up the back who had pillow
fights in honor of the day and took turns in playing on a
barrel organ, those that were strong and tall enough. In the
next ward another baby in white was dying-- Its mother was a
coster girl, seventeen years old, with a big hat and plumes
like those the flower girls wear at Piccadilly Circus. The
baby was yellow like old ivory and its teeth and gums were
blue and it died while we were watching it. The mother girl
was drinking tea and crying into it out of red swollen eyes,
and twenty feet off one of the red nightgowned kids was
playing "Louisiana Lou" on the barrel organ. The nurse put
the baby's arms under the sheets and then pulled one up over
its face and took the teacup away from the mother who didn't
see what had happened and I came away while three young nurses
were comforting the girl. Most of the nurses were very
beautiful, and I neglected my duties as Santa Claus to talk to
them. They would stop talking to get down on their knees and
dust up the floor, which was most embarrassing, you couldn't
very well ask to be let to help. There was one coster who had
his broken leg in a cage which moved with the leg no matter how
much he tossed. He was like the man "who sat in jail without his
boots, admiring how the world was made," he spent all his waking
hours in wrapt admiration of the cage-- He said to me "I've been
here a fortnight now, come Monday, and I can't break my leg no
how. Yer can't do it, that's all-- Yer can twist, and kick, and
toss, and it don't do no good. Yer jest can't do it-- Now you
take notice." Then he would kick violently and the cage would
run around on trolleys and keep the broken limb straight.
"See!" he would exclaim, "Wot did I tell you-- Its no use of
trying, yer just can't do it. 'ere I've been ten days a
trying and it can't be done."
We had a very fine Christmas dinner just Ethel, the McCarthy's
and I. Fanny, tell Charles, brought in the plum pudding with
a sprig of holly in it and blazing, and after dinner I read
them the Jackall-- About eleven I started to take Ethel to
Miss Terry's, who lives miles beyond Kensington. There was a
light fog. I said that all sorts of things ought to happen in
a fog but that no one ever did have adventures nowadays. At
that we rode straight into a bank of fog that makes those on
the fishing banks look like Spring sunshine. You could not
see the houses, nor the street, nor the horse, not even his
tail. All you could see were gas jets, but not the iron that
supported them. The cabman discovered the fact that he was
lost and turned around in circles and the horse slipped on the
asphalt which was thick with frost, and then we backed into
lamp-posts and curbs until Ethel got so scared she bit her
under lip until it bled. You could not tell whether you were
going into a house or over a precipice or into a sea. The
horse finally backed up a flight of steps, and rubbed the cabby
against a front door, and jabbed the wheels into an area railing
and fell down. That, I thought, was our cue to get out, so we
slipped into a well of yellow mist and felt around for each
'other until a square block of light suddenly opened in mid air
and four terrified women appeared in the doorway of the house
through which the cabman was endeavoring to butt himself.
They begged us to come in, and we did-- Being Christmas and
because the McCarthy's always call me "King" I had put on all
my decorations and the tin star and I also wore my beautiful
fur coat, to which I have treated myself, and a grand good
thing it is, too-- I took this off because the room was very
hot, forgetting about the decorations and remarked in the same
time to Ethel that it would be folly to try and get to
Barkston Gardens, and that we must go back to the "Duchess's"
for the night. At this Ethel answered calmly "yes, Duke," and
I became conscious of the fact that the eyes of the four women
were riveted on my fur coat and decorations. At the word
"Duke" delivered by a very pretty girl in an evening frock and
with nothing on her hair the four women disappeared and
brought back the children, the servants, and the men, who were
so overcome with awe and excitement and Christmas cheer that
they all but got down on their knees in a circle. So, we fled
out into the night followed by minute directions as to where
"Your Grace" and "Your Ladyship" should turn. For years, no
doubt, on a Christmas Day the story will be told in that
house, wherever it may be in the millions of other houses of
London, how a beautiful Countess and a wicked Duke were
pitched into their front door out of a hansom cab, and after
having partaken of their Christmas supper, disappeared again into
a sea of fog. The only direction Ethel and I could remember was
that we were to go to the right when we came to a Church, so when
by feeling our way by the walls we finally reached a church we
continued going on around it until we had encircled it five times
or it had encircled us, we were not sure which. After the fifth
lap we gave up and sat down on the steps. Ethel had on low
slippers and was shivering and coughing but intensely amused
and only scared for fear she would lose her voice for the
first night of "Peter"-- We could hear voices sometimes, like
people talking in a dream, and sometimes the sound of dance
music, and a man's voice calling "Perlice" in a discouraged
way as if he didn't much care whether the police came or not,
but regularly like a fog siren-- I don't know how long we sat
there or how long we might have sat there had not a man with a
bicycle lamp loomed up out of the mist and rescued us. He had
his mother with him and she said with great pride that her boy
could find his way anywhere. So, we clung to her boy and
followed. A cabman passed leading his horse with one of his
lamps in his other hand and I turned for an instant to speak
to him and Ethel and her friends disappeared exactly as though
the earth had opened. So, I yelled after them, and Ethel said
"Here, I am," at my elbow. It was like the chesire cat that
kept appearing and disappearing until he made Alice dizzy. We
finally found a link-boy and he finally found the McCarthy's
house, and I left them giving Ethel quinine and whiskey. They
wanted me to stay, but I could not face dressing, in the
morning. So I felt my way home and only got lost twice. The
Arch on Constitution Hill gave me much trouble. I thought it
was the Marble Arch, and hence-- In Jermyn Street I saw two
lamps burning dimly and a voice said, hearing my
footsteps "where am I? I don't know where I am no more than
nothing--" I told him he was in Jermyn Street with his horse's
head about twenty feet from St. James-- There was a long
dramatic silence and then the voice said-- "Well, I be blowed
I thought I was in Pimlico!!!"
This has been such a long letter that I shall have to skip any
more. I have NO sciatica chiefly because of the fur coat, I
think, and I got two Christmas presents, one from Margaret
Fraser and one from the Duchess of Sutherland-- Boxing Day I
took Margaret to the matinee of the Pantomine and it lasted
five hours, until six twenty, then I dressed and dined with
the Hay's and went with them to the Barnum circus which began
at eight and lasted until twelve. It was a busy day.
Lots of love. DICK.
LONDON, March 20, 1898.
The Nellie Farren benefit was the finest thing I have seen
this year past. It was more remarkable than the Coronation,
or the Jubilee. It began at twelve o'clock on Thursday, but
at ten o'clock Wednesday night, the crowd began to gather
around Drury Lane, and spent the night on the sidewalk playing
cards and reading and sleeping. Ten hours later they were
admitted, or a few of them were, as many as the galleries
would hold. Arthur Collins, the manager of the Drury Lane and
the man who organized the benefit, could not get a stall for
his mother the day before the benefit. They were then not to
be had, the last having sold for twelve guineas. I got TWO
the morning of the benefit for three pounds each, and now
people believe that I did get into the Coronation! The people
who had stalls got there at ten o'clock, and the streets were
blocked for "blocks" up to Covent Garden with hansoms and
royal carriages and holders of tickets at fifty dollars
apiece. It lasted six hours and brought in thirty thousand
dollars. Kate Vaughan came back and danced after an absence
from the stage of twelve years. Irving recited The Dream of
Eugene Aram, Terry played Ophelia, Chevalier sang Mrs.
Hawkins, Dan Leno gave Hamlet, Marie Tempest sang The Jewel of
Asia and Hayden Coffin sang Tommy Atkins, the audience of
three thousand people joining in the chorus, and for an encore
singing "Oh, Nellie, Nellie Farren, may your love be ever
faithful, may your pals be ever true, so God bless you Nellie
Farren, here's the best of luck to you." In Trial by Jury,
Gilbert played an associate judge; the barristers were all
playwrights, the jury the principal comedians, the chorus
girls were real chorus girls from the Gaiety mixed in with
leading ladies like Miss Jeffries and Miss Hanbury, who could
not keep in step. But the best part of it was the pantomime.
Ellaline came up a trap with a diamond dress and her hair down
her back and electric lights all over her, and said, "I am the
Fairy Queen," and waved her wand, at which the "First Boy" in
the pantomime said, "Go long, now, do, we know your tricks,
you're Ellaline Terriss"; and the clown said, "You're wrong,
she's not, she's Mrs. Seymour Hicks." Then Letty Lind came on
as Columbine in black tulle, and Arthur Roberts as the
policeman, and Eddy Payne as the clown and Storey as Pantaloon.
The rest of it brought on everybody. Sam Sothern played a
"swell" and stole a fish. Louis Freear, a housemaid, and all
the leading men appeared as policemen. No one had more than a
line to speak which just gave the audience time to recognize him
or her. The composers and orchestra leaders came on as a German
band, each playing an instrument, and they got half through the
Washington Post before the policemen beat them off. Then Marie
Lloyd and all the Music Hall stars appeared as street girls and
danced to the music of a hand-organ. Hayden Coffin, Plunkett
Greene and Ben Davies sang as street musicians and the clown beat
them with stuffed bricks. After that there was a revue of all
the burlesques and comic operas, then the curtain was raised from
the middle of the stage, and Nellie Farren was discovered
seated at a table on a high stage with all the "legitimates"
in frock-coats and walking dresses rising on benches around her.
The set was a beautiful wood scene well lighted. Wyndham
stood on one side of her, and he said the yell that went up
when the curtain rose was worse than the rebel yell he had
heard in battles. In front of her, below the stage, were all
the people who had taken part in the revue, forming a most
interesting picture. There was no one in the group who had
not been known for a year by posters or photographs: Letty
Lind as the Geisha, Arthur Roberts as Dandy Dan. The French
Girl and all the officers from The Geisha, the ballet girls
from the pantomime, the bareback-riders from The Circus Girl;
the Empire costumes and the monks from La Poupee, and all the
Chinese and Japanese costumes from The Geisha. Everybody on
the stage cried and all the old rounders in the boxes cried.
It was really a wonderfully dramatic spectacle to see the
clown and officers and Geisha girls weeping down their grease
paint. Nellie Farren's great song was one about a street Arab
with the words: "Let me hold your, nag, sir, carry your little
bag, sir, anything you please to give--thank'ee, sir!" She used
to close her hand, then open it and look at the palm, then touch
her cap with a very wonderful smile, and laugh when she said,
"Thank'ee, sir!" This song was reproduced for weeks before the
benefit, and played all over London, and when the curtain rose on
her, the orchestra struck into it and the people shouted as
though it was the national anthem. Wyndham made a very good
address and so did Terry, then Wyndham said he would try to get
her to speak. She has lost the use of her hands and legs and can
only walk with crutches, so he put his arm around her and her
son lifted her from the other side and then brought her to her
feet, both crying like children. You could hear the people
sobbing, it was so still. She said, "Ladies and Gentleman,"
looking at the stalls and boxes, then she turned her head to
the people on the stage below her and said, "Brothers and
Sisters," then she stood looking for a long time at the
gallery gods who had been waiting there twenty hours. You
could hear a long "Ah" from the gallery when she looked up
there, and then a "hush" from all over it and there was
absolute silence. Then she smiled and raised her finger to
her bonnet and said, "Thank'ee, sir," and sank back in her
chair. It was the most dramatic thing I ever saw on a stage.
The orchestra struck up "Auld Lang Syne" and they gave three
cheers on the stage and in the house. The papers got out
special editions, and said it was the greatest theatrical
event there had ever been in London.
When the news reached Richard that the Spanish-American War
seemed inevitable he returned at once to New York. Here he
spent a few days in arranging to act as correspondent for the
New York Herald, the London Times, and Scribner's
Magazine, and then started for Key West.
Off Key West--April 24th, 1898.
On Board Smith, Herald Yacht.
I wrote you such a cross gloomy letter that I must drop you
another to make up for it. Since I wrote that an hour ago we
have received word that war is declared and I am now on board
the Smith. She is a really fine vessel as big as Benedict's
yacht with plenty of deck room and big bunks. I have
everything I want on board and The Herald men are two old
Press men so we are good friends. If I had had another hour I
believe I could have got a berth on the flag ship for
Roosevelt telegraphed me the longest and strongest letter on
the subject a man could write instructing the Admiral to take
me on as I was writing history. Chadwick seemed willing but
then the signal to set sail came and we had to stampede. All
the ships have their sailing pennants up. It is as calm as a
mirror thank goodness but as hot as hell. We expect to be off
Havana tomorrow at sunset. Then what we do
no one knows. The crew is on strike above and the mate is
wrestling with them but as it seems to be only a question of a
few dollars it will come out all right. We expect to be back
here on Sunday but may stay out later. Don't worry if you
don't hear. It is grand to see the line of battleships five
miles out like dogs in a leash puffing and straining. Thank
God they'll let them slip any minute now. I don't know where
"Stenie" is. I am now going to take a nap while the smooth
water lasts.
--Flagship New York--
Off Havana,
April 26, 1898.
I left Key West on the morning of the 24th in the Dolphin
with the idea of trying to get on board the flagship on the
strength of Roosevelt's letter. Stenie Bonsal got on just
before she sailed, not as a correspondent, but as a
magazine-writer for McClure's, who have given him a
commission, and because he could act as interpreter. I left
the flagship the morning of the day I arrived. The captain of
the Dolphin apologized to his officers while we were at
anchor in the harbor of Key West, because his was a "cabin"
and not a "gun" ship, and because he had to deliver the mails
at once on board the flagship and not turn out of his course
for anything, no matter how tempting a prize it might appear
to be. He then proceeded to chase every sail and column of
smoke on the horizon, so that the course was like a cat's
cradle. We first headed for a big steamer and sounded
"general quarters." It was fine to see the faces of the
apprentices as they ran to get their cutlasses and revolvers,
their eyes open and their hair on end, with the hope that they
were to board a Spanish battleship. But at the first gun she
ran up an American flag, and on getting nearer we saw she was
a Mallory steamer. An hour later we chased another steamer,
but she was already a prize, with a prize crew on board. Then
we had a chase for three hours at night; after what we
believed was the Panama, but she ran away from us. We fired
three shells after her, and she still ran and got away. The
next morning I went on board the New York with Zogbaum, the
artist. Admiral Sampson is a fine man; he impressed me very
much. He was very much bothered at the order forbidding
correspondents on the ship, but I talked like a father to him,
and he finally gave in, and was very nice about the way he did
it. Since then I have had the most interesting time and the
most novel experience of my life. We have been lying from
three to ten miles off shore. We can see Morro Castle and
houses and palms plainly without a glass, and with one we can
distinguish men and women in the villages. It is, or was,
frightfully hot, and you had to keep moving all the time to
get out of the sun. I mess with the officers, but the other
correspondents, the Associated Press and Ralph Paine of The
World and Press of Philadelphia, with the middies. Paine
got on because Scovel of The World has done so much secret
service work for the admiral, running in at night and taking
soundings, and by day making photographs of the coast, also
carrying messages to the insurgents.
It is a wonderful ship, like a village, and as big as the
Paris. We drift around in the sun or the moonlight, and
when we see a light, chase after it. There is a band on board
that plays twice a day. It is like a luxurious yacht, with none
of the ennui of a yacht. The other night, when we were heading
off a steamer and firing six-pounders across her bows, the band
was playing the "star" song from the Meistersinger. Wagner and
War struck me as the most fin de siecle idea of war that I had
ever heard of. The nights have been perfectly beautiful, full of
moonlight, when we sit on deck and smoke. It is like looking
down from the roof of a high building. Yesterday they brought a
Spanish officer on board, he had been picked up in a schooner
with his orderly. I was in Captain Chadwick's cabin when he was
brought in, and Scovel interpreted for the captain, who was
more courteous than any Spanish Don that breathes. The
officer said he had been on his way to see his wife and newly
born baby at Matanzas, and had no knowledge that war had been
declared. I must say it did me good to see him. I remembered
the way the Spanish officers used to insult me in a language
which I, fortunately for me, could not understand, and how I
hated the sight of them, and I enjoyed seeing his red and
yellow cockade on the table before me, while I sat in a big
armchair and smoked and was in hearing of the marines drilling
on the upper deck. He was invited to go to breakfast with the
officers, and I sat next to him, and as it happened to be my
turn to treat, I had the satisfaction of pouring drinks down
his throat. I told stories about Spanish officers all the
time to the rest of the mess, pretending I was telling them
something else by making drawings on the tablecloth, so that
the unhappy officer on his other side, who was talking Spanish
to him, had a hard time not to laugh. I told Zogbaum he ought
to draw a picture of him at the mess to show how we treated
prisoners, and a companion one of the captain of the Compeliton,
who came over with us on the Dolphin, and who showed us the marks
of the ropes on his wrists and arms the Spaniards had bound him
with when he was in Cabanas for nine months. The orderly messed
with the bluejackets, who treated him in the most hospitable
manner. He was a poor little peasant boy, half starved and
hollow-eyed, and so scared that he could hardly stand, but
they took great pride in the fact that they had made him eat
three times of everything. They are, without prejudice, the
finest body of men and boys you would care to see, and as
humorous and polite and keen as any class of men I ever met.
The war could be ended in a month so far as the island of Cuba
is concerned, if the troops were ready and brought over here.
The coast to Havana for ten miles is broad enough for them to
march along it, and the heights above could be covered the
entire time by the fleet, so that it would be absolutely
impossible for any force to withstand the awful hailstorm they
would play on it. Transports carrying the provisions would be
protected by the ships on the gulf side, and the guns at Morro
could be shut up in twenty-four hours. This is not a dream,
but the most obvious and feasible plan, and it is a disgrace
if the Washington politicians delay. As to health, this is
the healthiest part of the coast. The trade winds blow every
day of the year, and the fever talk is all nonsense. The army
certainly has delayed most scandalously in mobilizing. This
talk of waiting a month is suicide. It is a terrible expense.
It keeps the people on a strain, destroys business, and the
health of the troops at Tampa is, to my mind, in much greater
danger than it would be on the hills around Havana, where, as
Scovel says, there is as much yellow fever as there is snow.
Tell Dad to urge them to act promptly. In the meanwhile I am
having a magnificent time. I am burned and hungry and losing
about a ton of fat a day, and I sleep finely. The other night
the Porter held us up, but it was a story that never got
into the papers. I haven't missed a trick so far except not
getting on the flagship from the first, but that does not
count now since I am on board.
I haven't written anything yet, but I am going to begin soon.
I expect to make myself rich on this campaign. I get ten
cents a word from Scribner's for everything I send them, if
it is only a thousand words, and I get four hundred dollars a
week salary from The Times, and all my expenses. I haven't
had any yet, but when I go back and join the army, I am going
to travel en suite with an assistant and the best and gentlest
ponies; a courier and a servant, a tent and a secretary and a
typewriter, so that Miles will look like a second lieutenant.
When I came out here on the Dolphin I said I was going to
Tampa, lying just on the principle that it is no other
newspaper-man's business where you are going. So, The
Herald man at Key West, hearing this, and not knowing I WAS
GOING TO THE FLAGSHIP, called Long, making a strong kick
about the correspondents, Bonsal, Remington and Paine, who
are, or were, with the squadron. Stenie left two days ago,
hoping to get a commission on the staff of General Lee. So
yesterday Scovel told me Long had cabled in answer to The
Herald's protests to the admiral as follows: "Complaints
have been received that correspondents Paine, Remington and
Bonsal are with the squadron. Send them ashore at once.
There must be no favoritism."
Scovel got the admiral at once to cable Long on his behalf
because of his services as a spy, but as Roosevelt had done so
much for me, I would not appeal over him, and this morning I
sent in word to the admiral that I was leaving the ship and
would like to pay my respects. Sampson is a thin man with a
gray beard. He looks like a college professor and has very
fine, gentle eyes. He asked me why I meant to leave the ship,
and I said I had heard one of the torpedo boats was going to
Key West, and I thought I would go with her if he would allow
it. He asked if I had seen the cable from Long, and I said I
had heard of it, and that I was really going so as not to
embarrass him with my presence. He said, "I have received
three different orders from the Secretary, one of them telling
me I could have such correspondents on board as were agreeable
to me. He now tells me that they must all go. You can do as
you wish. You are perfectly welcome to remain until the
conflict of orders is cleared up." I saw he was mad and that
he wanted me to stay, or at least not to go of my own wish, so
that he could have a grievance out of it--if he had to send me
away after having been told he could have those with him who
were agreeable to him. Captain Chadwick was in the cabin, and
said, "Perhaps Mr. Davis had better remain another twenty-four
hours." The admiral added, "Ships are going to Key West
daily." Then Chadwick repeated that he thought I had better
stay another day, and made a motion to me to do so. So I said
I would, and now I am waiting to see what is going to happen.
Outside, Chadwick told me that something in the way of an
experience would probably come off, so I have hopes. By this
time, of course, you know all about it. I shall finish this
We began bombarding Matanzas twenty minutes after I wrote the
above. It was great. I guess I got a beat, as The Herald
tug is the only one in sight.
Flagship-Off Havana
April 30th, 1898.
You must not mind if I don't write often, but I feel that you
see The Herald every day and that tells you of what I am
seeing and doing, and I am writing so much, and what with
keeping notes and all, I haven't much time-- What you probably
want to know is that I am well and that my sciatica is not
troubling me at all--Mother always wants to know that. On the
other hand I am on the best ship from which to see things and
on the safest, as she can move quicker and is more heavily
armored than any save the battleships-- The fact that the
admiral is on board and that she is the flagship is also a
guarantee that she will not be allowed to expose herself. I
was very badly scared when I first came to Key West for fear I
should be left especially when I didn't make the flagship--
But I have not missed a single trick so far-- Bonsal missed
the bombardment and so did Stephen Crane-- All the press boats
were away except The Herald's. I had to write the story in
fifteen minutes, so it was no good except that we had it
I am sending a short story of the first shot fired to the
Scribner's and am arranging with them to bring out a book on
the Campaign. I have asked them to announce it as it will
help me immensely here for it is as an historian and not as a
correspondent that I get on over those men who are correspondents
for papers only. I have made I think my position here very
strong and the admiral is very much my friend as are also his
staff. Crane on the other hand took the place of Paine who was
exceedingly popular with every one and it has made it hard for
Crane to get into things-- I am having a really royal time, it
is so beautiful by both night and day and there is always
color and movement and the most rigid discipline with the most
hearty good feeling-- I get on very well with the crew too,
one of them got shot by a revolver's going off and I asked the
surgeon if I might not help at the operation so that I might
learn to be useful, and to get accustomed to the sight of
wounds and surgery-- It was a wonderful thing to see, and I
was confused as to whether I admired the human body more or
the way the surgeon's understood and mastered it-- The sailor
would not give way to the ether and I had to hold him for an
hour while they took out his whole insides and laid them on
the table and felt around inside of him as though he were a
hollow watermelon. Then they put his stomach back and sewed
it in and then sewed up his skin and he was just as good as
new. We carried him over to a cot and he came to, and looked
up at us. We were all bare-armed and covered with his blood,
and then over at the operating table, which was also covered
with his blood. He was gray under his tan and his lips were
purple and his eyes were still drunk with the ether-- But he
looked at our sanguinary hands and shook his head sideways on
the pillow and smiled-- "You'se can't kill me," he said, "I'm
a New Yorker, by God--you'se can't kill me." The Herald
cabled for a story as to how the crew of the New York
behaved in action. I think I shall send them that although
there are a few things the people had better take for
granted-- Of course, we haven't been "in action" yet
but the first bombardment made me nervous until it got
well started. I think every one was rather nervous and it
was chiefly to show them there was nothing to worry about that
we fired off the U. S. guns. They talk like veterans now-- It
was much less of a strain than I had expected, there was no
standing on your toes nor keeping your mouth open or putting
wadding in your ears. I took photographs most of the time,
and they ought to be excellent--what happened was that you
were thrown up off the deck just as you are when an elevator
starts with a sharp jerk and there was an awful noise like the
worst clap of thunder you ever heard close to your ears, then
the smoke covered everything and you could hear the shot going
through the air like a giant rocket-- The shots they fired at
us did not cut any ice except a shrapnel that broke just over
the main mast and which reminded me of Greece-- The other
shots fell short-- The best thing was to see the Captains of
the Puritan and Cincinnati frantically signalling to be
allowed to fire too-- A little fort had opened on us from the
left so they plugged at that, it was a wonderful sight, the
Monitor was swept with waves and the guns seemed to come out
of the water. The Cincinnati did the best of all. Her guns
were as fast as the reports of a revolver, a self-cocking
revolver, when one holds the trigger for the whole six. We
got some copies of The Lucha on the Panama and their
accounts of what was going on in Havana were the best reading
I ever saw-- They probably reported the Matanzas bombardment
as a Spanish victory-- The firing yesterday was very tame. We
all sat about on deck and the band played all the time-- We
didn't even send the men to quarters-- I do not believe the army
intends to move for two weeks yet, so I shall stay here. They
seem to want me to do so, and I certainly want to-- But that
army is too slow for words, and we love the "Notes from the
Front" in The Tribune, telling about the troops at
Chickamauga-- I believe what will happen is that a chance shot
will kill some of our men, and the Admiral won't do a thing
but knock hell out of whatever fort does it and land a party
of marines and bluejackets-- Even if they only occupy the
place for 24 hours, it will beat that army out and that's what
I want. They'll get second money in the Campaign if they get
any, unless they brace up and come over-- I have the very luck
of the British Army, I walked into an open hatch today and
didn't stop until I caught by my arms and the back of my neck.
It was very dark and they had opened it while I was in a
cabin. The Jackie whose business it was to watch it was worse
scared than I was, and I looked up at him while still hanging
to the edges with my neck and arms and said "why didn't you
tell me?" He shook his head and said, "that's so, Sir, I
certainly should have told you, I certainly should"-- They're
exactly like children and the reason is, I think, because they
are so shut off from the contamination of the world. One of
these ships is like living in a monastery, and they are as
disciplined and gentle as monks, and as reckless as cowboys.
When I go forward and speak to one of them they all gather
round and sit on the deck in circles and we talk and they
listen and make the most interesting comments-- The middy who
fired the first gun at Matanzas is a modest alert boy about 18
years old and crazy about his work-- So, the Captain selected
him for the honor and also because there is such jealousy between
the bow and stern guns that he decided not to risk feelings being
hurt by giving it to either-- So, Boone who was at Annapolis a
month ago was told to fire the shot-- We all took his name and he
has grown about three inches. We told him all of the United
States and England would be ringing with his name-- When I was
alone he came and sat down on a gull beside me and told me he
was very glad they had let him fire that first gun because his
mother was an invalid and he had gone into the navy against
her wish and he hoped now that she would be satisfied when she
saw his name in the papers. He was too sweet and boyish about
it for words and I am going to take a snapshot at him and put
his picture in Scribner's--"he only stands about so high--"
I enclose a souvenir of the bombardment. Please keep it
carefully for me-- It was the first shot "in anger" in thirty
TAMPA, May 3rd, 1898.
We are still here and probably will be. It is a merry war, if
there were only some girls here the place would be perfect. I
don't know what's the matter with the American girl--here am
I--and Stenie and Willie Chanler and Frederick Remington and
all the boy officers of the army and not one solitary, ugly,
plain, pretty, or beautiful girl. I bought a fine pony
to-day, her name was Ellaline but I thought that was too much
glory for Ellaline so I diffused it over the whole company by
re-christening her Gaiety Girl, because she is so quiet, all
the Gaiety Girls I know are quiet.
She never does what I tell her anyway, so it doesn't matter
what I call her. But when this cruel war is over ($6 a day
with bath room adjoining) I am going to have an oil painting
of her labelled "Gaiety Girl the Kentucky Mare that carried
the news of the fall of Havana to Matanzas, fifty miles under
fire and Richard Harding Davis." To-morrow I am going to buy
a saddle and a servant. War is a cruel thing especially to
army officers. They have to wear uniforms and are not allowed
to take off their trousers to keep cool-- They take off
everything else except their hats and sit in the dining room
without their coats or collars-- That's because it is war
time. They are terrible brave--you can see it by the way they
wear bouquets on their tunics and cigarette badges and Cuban
flags and by not saluting their officers. One General counted
today and forty enlisted men passed him without saluting. The
army will have to do a lot of fighting to make itself solid
with me. They are mounted police. We have a sentry here, he
sits in a rocking chair. Imagine one of Sampson's or Dewey's
bluejackets sitting down even on a gun carriage. Wait till I
write my book. I wouldn't say a word now but when I write
that book I'll give them large space rates. I am writing it
now, the first batch comes out in Scribner's in July.
to you all.
During the early days of the war, Richard received the
appointment of a captaincy, but on the advice of his friends
that his services were more valuable as a correspondent, he
refused the commission. The following letter shows that at
least at the time my brother regretted the decision, but as
events turned out he succeeded in rendering splendid service not
only as a correspondent but in the field.
TAMPA--May 14, 1898.
On reflection I am greatly troubled that I declined the
captaincy. It is unfortunate that I had not time to consider
it. We shall not have another war and I can always be a war
correspondent in other countries but never again have a chance
to serve in my own. The people here think it was the right
thing to do but the outside people won't. Not that I care
about that, but I think I was weak not to chance it. I don't
know exactly what I ought to do. When I see all these kid
militia men enlisted it makes me feel like the devil. I've no
doubt many of them look upon it as a sort of a holiday and an
outing and like it for the excitement, but it would bore me to
death. The whole thing would bore me if I thought I had to
keep at it for a year or more. That is the fault of my having
had too much excitement and freedom. It spoils me to make
sacrifices that other men can make. Whichever way it comes
out I shall be sorry and feel I did not do the right thing.
Lying around this hotel is enough to demoralize anybody. We
are much more out of it than you are, and one gets cynical and
loses interest. On the other hand I would be miserable to go
back and have done nothing. It is a question of character
entirely and I don't feel I've played the part at all. It's
all very well to say you are doing more by writing, but are
you? It's an easy game to look on and pat the other chaps on
the back with a few paragraphs, that is cheap patriotism.
They're taking chances and you're not and when the war's over
they'll be happy and I won't. The man that enlists or volunteers
even if he doesn't get further than Chickamauga or Gretna Green
and the man who doesn't enlist at all but minds his own business
is much better off than I will be writing about what other men
do and not doing it myself, especially as I had a chance of a
life time, and declined it. I'll always feel I lost in
character by not sticking to it whether I had to go to Arizona
or Governor's Island. I was unfortunate in having Lee and
Remington to advise me. We talked for two hours in Fred's
bedroom and they were both dead against it and Lee composed my
telegram to the president. Now, I feel sure I did wrong.
Shafter did not care and the other officers were delighted and
said it was very honorable and manly giving me credit for
motives I didn't have. I just didn't think it was good enough
although I wanted it too and I missed something I can never
get again. I am very sad about it. I know all the arguments
for not taking it but as a matter of fact I should have done
so. I would have made a good aide, and had I got a chance I
certainly would have won out and been promoted. That there
are fools appointed with me is no answer. I wouldn't have
stayed in their class long.
TAMPA, May 29, 1898.
The cigars came; they are O. K. and a great treat after Tampa
products. Captain Lee and I went out to the volunteer camps
today: Florida, Alabama, Ohio and Michigan, General Lee's
push, and it has depressed me very much. I have been so right
about so many things these last five years, and was laughed at
for making much of them. Now all I urged is proved to be
correct; nothing our men wear is right. The shoes, the hats, the
coats, all are dangerous to health and comfort; one-third of
the men cannot wear the regulation shoe because it cuts the
instep, and buy their own, and the volunteers are like the
Cuban army in appearance. The Greek army, at which I made
such sport, is a fine organization in comparison as far as
outfit goes; of course, there is no comparison in the spirit
of the men. One colonel of the Florida regiment told us that
one-third of his men had never fired a gun. They live on the
ground; there are no rain trenches around the tents, or
gutters along the company streets; the latrines are dug to
windward of the camp, and all the refuse is burned to
Half of the men have no uniforms nor shoes. I pointed out
some of the unnecessary discomforts the men were undergoing
through ignorance, and one colonel, a Michigan politician,
said, "Oh, well, they'll learn. It will be a good lesson for
them." Instead of telling them, or telling their captains, he
thinks it best that they should find things out by suffering.
I cannot decide whether to write anything about it or not. I
cannot see where it could do any good, for it is the system
that is wrong--the whole volunteer system, I mean. Captain
Lee happened to be in Washington when the first Manila outfit
was starting from San Francisco, and it was on his
representations that they gave the men hammocks, and took a
store of Mexican dollars. They did not know that Mexican
dollars are the only currency of the East, and were expecting
to pay the men in drafts on New York.
Isn't that a pitiable situation when a captain of an English
company happens to stray into the war office, and happens to
have a good heart and busies himself to see that our own men
are supplied with hammocks and spending money. None of our
officers had ever seen khaki until they saw Lee's, nor a cork
helmet until they saw mine and his; now, naturally, they won't
have anything else, and there is not another one in the
country. The helmets our troops wear would be smashed in one
tropical storm, and they are so light that the sun beats
through them. They are also a glaring white, and are cheap
and nasty and made of pasteboard. The felt hats are just as
bad; the brim is not broad enough to protect them from the sun
or to keep the rain off their necks, and they are made of such
cheap cotton stuff that they grow hard when they are wet and
heavy, instead of shedding the rain as good felt would do.
They have always urged that our uniforms, though not smart nor
"for show," were for use. The truth is, as they all admit,
that for the tropics they are worse than useless, and that in
any climate they are cheap and poor.
I could go on for pages, but it has to be written later; now
they would only think it was an attack on the army. But it is
sickening to see men being sacrificed as these men will be.
This is the worst season of all in the Philippines. The
season of typhoons and rainstorms and hurricanes, and they
would have sent the men off without anything to sleep on but
the wet ground and a wet blanket. It has been a great lesson
for me, and I have rubber tents, rubber blankets, rubber coats
and hammocks enough for an army corps. I have written nothing
for the paper, because, if I started to tell the truth at all, it
would do no good, and it would open up a hell of an outcry from
all the families of the boys who have volunteered. Of course,
the only answer is a standing army of a hundred thousand, and no
more calling on the patriotism of men unfitted and untrained.
It is the sacrifice of the innocents. The incompetence and,
unreadiness of the French in 1870 was no worse than our own is
now. It is a terrible and pathetic spectacle, and the
readiness of the volunteers to be sacrificed is all the more
pathetic. It seems almost providential that we had this
false-alarm call with Spain to show the people how utterly
helpless they are.
TAMPA, June 9th, 1898.
Well, here we are again. Talk of the "Retreat from Ottawa"
I've retreated more in this war than the Greeks did. If they
don't brace up soon, I'll go North and refuse to "recognize"
the war. I feel I deserve a pension and a medal as it is. We
had everything on board and our cabins assigned us and our
"war kits" in which we set forth taken off, and were in
yachting flannels ready for the five days cruise. I had the
devil of a time getting out to the flagship, as they call the
headquarters boat. I went out early in the morning of the
night when I last wrote you. I stayed up all that night
watching troops arrive and lending a helping hand and a word
of cheer to dispirited mules and men, also segars and cool
drinks, none of them had had food for twenty-four hours and
the yellow Florida people having robbed them all day had shut
up and wouldn't open their miserable shops. They even put
sentries over the drinking water of the express company which is
only making about a million a day out of the soldiers. So their
soldiers slept along the platform and trucks rolled by them all
night, shaking the boards on which they lay by an inch or two.
About four we heard that Shafter was coming and an officer
arrived to have his luggage placed on the Seguranca. I left them
all on the pier carrying their own baggage and sweating and
dripping and no one having slept. Their special train had been
three hours in coming nine miles. I hired a small boat and went
off to the flagship alone but the small boat began to leak and I
bailed and the colored boy pulled and the men on the
transports cheered us on. Just at the sinking point I hailed
a catboat and we transferred the Admiral's flag to her and
also my luggage. The rest of the day we spent on the
transport. We left it this morning. Some are still on it but
as they are unloading all the horses and mules from the other
transports fifteen having died from the heat below deck and as
they cannot put them on again under a day, I am up here to get
cool and to stretch my legs. The transport is all right if it
were not so awfully crowded. I am glad I held out to go with
the Headquarter staff. I would have died on the regular press
boat, as it is the men are interesting on our boat. We have
all the military attaches and Lee, Remington, Whitney and
Bonsal. The reason we did not go was because last night the
Eagle and Resolute saw two Spanish cruisers and two
torpedo boats laying for us outside, only five miles away.
What they need with fourteen ships of war to guard a bottled
up fleet and by leaving twenty-six transports some of them
with 1,400 men on them without any protection but a small
cruiser and one gun boat is beyond me. The whole thing is
beyond me. It is the most awful picnic that
ever happened, you wouldn't credit the mistakes that are made.
It is worse than the French at Sedan a million times. We are
just amateurs at war and about like the Indians Columbus
discovered. I am exceedingly pleased with myself at taking it
so good naturedly. I would have thought I would have gone mad
or gone home long ago. Bonsal and Remington threaten to go
every minute. Miles tells me we shall have to wait until
those cruisers are located or bottled up. I'm tired of
bottling up fleets. I like the way Dewey bottles them. What
a story that would have made. Twenty-six transports with as
many thousand men sunk five miles out and two-thirds of them
drowned. Remember the Maine indeed! they'd better remember
the Main and brace up. If we wait until they catch those
boats I may be here for another month as we cannot dare go
away for long or far. If we decide to go with a convoy which
is what we ought to do, we may start in a day or two. Nothing
you read in the papers is correct. Did I tell you that Miles
sent Dorst after me the other night and made me a long speech,
saying he thought I had done so well in refusing the
commission. I was glad he felt that way about it. Well, lots
of love. I'm now going to take a bath. God bless you, this
is a "merry war."
In sight of Santiago--
June 26th, 1898.
We have come to a halt here in a camp along the trail to
Santiago. You can see it by climbing a hill. Instead of
which I am now sitting by a fine stream on a cool rock. I
have discovered that you really enjoy things more when you are
not getting many comforts than you do when you have all you
want. That sounds dull but it is most consoling. I had a bath
this morning in these rocks that I would not have given up for
all the good dinners I ever had at the Waldorf, or the Savoy. It
just went up and down my spine and sent thrills all over me. It
is most interesting now and all the troubles of the dull days of
waiting at Tampa and that awful time on the troopship are
over. The army is stretched out along the trail from the
coast for six miles. Santiago lies about five miles ahead of
us. I am very happy and content and the book for Scribners
ought to be an interesting one. It is really very hard that
my despatches are limited to 100 words for there are lots of
chances. The fault lies with the army people at Washington,
who give credentials to any one who asks. To The
Independent and other periodicals--in no sense newspapers,
and they give seven to one paper, consequently we as a class
are a pest to the officers and to each other. Fortunately,
the survival of the fittest is the test and only the best men
in every sense get to the front. There are fifty others at
the base who keep the wire loaded with rumors, so when after
great difficulty we get the correct news back to Daiquire a
Siboney there is no room for it. Some of the "war
correspondents" have absolutely nothing but the clothes they
stand in, and the others had to take up subscriptions for
them. They gambled all the time on the transports and are
ensconced now at the base with cards and counters and nothing
else. Whitney has turned out great at the work and I am glad
he is not on a daily paper or he would share everything with
me. John Fox, Whitney and I are living on Wood's rough
riders. We are very welcome and Roosevelt has us at
Headquarters but, of course, we see the men we know all the time.
You get more news with the other regiments but the
officers, even the Generals, are such narrow minded
slipshod men that we only visit them to pick up information.
Whitney and I were the only correspondents that saw the fight
at Guasimas. He was with the regulars but I had the luck to
be with Roosevelt. He is sore but still he saw more than any
one else and is proportionally happy. Still he naturally
would have liked to have been with our push. We were within
thirty yards of the Spaniards and his crowd were not nearer
than a quarter of a mile which was near enough as they had
nearly as many killed. Gen. Chaffee told me to-day that it
was Wood's charge that won the day, without it the tenth could
not have driven the Spaniards back-- Wood is a great young
man, he has only one idea or rather all his ideas run in one
direction, his regiment, he eats and talks nothing else. He
never sleeps more than four hours and all the rest of the time
he is moving about among the tents-- Between you and me and
the policeman, it was a very hot time-- Maybe if I drew you a
map you would understand why.
Wood and Gen. Young, by agreement the night before and without
orders from anybody decided to advance at daybreak and
dislodge the Spaniards from Las Guasimas. They went by two
narrow trails single file, the two trails were along the
crests of a line of hills with a valley between. The dotted
line is the trail we should have taken had the Cubans told us
it existed, if we had done so we would have had the Spaniards
in the frontband rear as General Young would have caught them
where they expected him to come, and we would have caught them
where they were not looking for us. Of course, the Cubans who
are worthless in every way never told us of this trail until
we had had the meeting. No one knew we were near Spaniards
until both columns were on the place where the two trails
meet. Then our scouts came back and reported them and the
companies were scattered out as you see them in the little
dots. The Spaniards were absolutely hidden not over 25 per
cent of the men saw one of them for two hours-- I ran out with
the company on the right of the dotted line, marked "our
position." I thought it was a false alarm and none of us
believed there were any Spaniards this side of Santiago. The
ground was covered with high grass and cactus and vines so
that you could not see twenty feet ahead, the men had to beat
the vines with their carbines to get through them. We had not
run fifty yards through the jungle before they opened on us
with a quick firing gun at a hundred yards. I saw the enemy
on the hill across the valley and got six sharp shooters and
began on them, then the fire got so hot that we had to lie on
our faces and crawl back to the rear. I had a wounded man to
carry and was in a very bad way because I had sciatica,
Two of his men took him off while I stopped to help a worse
wounded trooper, but I found he was dead. When I had come
back for him in an hour, the vultures had eaten out his eyes
and lips. In the meanwhile a trooper stood up on the crest
with a guidon and waved it at the opposite trail to find out
if the firing there was from Spaniards or Len Young's negroes.
He was hit in three places but established the fact that Young
was up on the trail on our right across the valley for they
cheered. He was a man who had run on the Gold Ticket for
Congress in Arizona, and consequently, as some one said,
naturally should have led a forlorn hope. A blackguard had
just run past telling them that Wood was killed and that he
had been ordered to Siboney for reinforcements. That was how
the report spread that we were cut to pieces-- A reporter who
ran away from Young's column was responsible for the story
that I was killed. He meant Marshall who was on the left of
the line and who was shot through the spine-- There was a lot
of wounded at the base and the fighting in front was fearful
to hear. It was as fast as a hard football match and you must
remember it lasted two full hours; during that time the men
were on their feet all the time or crawling on their hands--
Not one of them, with the exception of ----, and a Sergeant
who threw away his gun and ran, went a step back. It was like
playing blindman's buff and you were it. I got separated once
and was scared until I saw the line again, as my leg was very
bad and I could not get about over the rough ground. I went
down the trail and I found Capron dying and the whole place
littered with discarded blankets and haversacks. I also found
Fish and pulled him under cover--he was quite dead-- Then I
borrowed a carbine and joined Capron's troop, a second
lieutenant and his Sergeant were in command. The man next me
in line got a bullet through his sleeve and one through his
shirt and you could see where it went in and came out without
touching the skin. The firing was very high and we were in no
danger so I told the lieutenant to let us charge across an
open place and take a tin shack which was held by the
Spaniards' rear guard, for they were open in retreat.
Roosevelt ordered his men to do the same thing and we ran
forward cheering across the open and then dropped in the grass
and fired. I guess I fired about twenty rounds and then
formed into a strategy board and went off down the trail to
scout. I got lonely and was coming back when I met another
trooper who sat down and said he was too hot to run in any
direction Spaniard or no Spaniard. So we sat down and panted.
At last he asked me if I was R. H. D. and I said I was and he
said "I'm Dean, I met you in Harvard in the racquet court."
Then we embraced--the tenth came up then and it was all over.
My leg, thank goodness, is all right again and has been so for
three days. It was only the running about that caused it. I
won't have to run again as I have a horse now and there will
be no more ambushes and moreover we have 12,000 men around
us-- Being together that way in a tight place has made us all
friends and I guess I'll stick to the regiment. Send this to
dear Mother and tell her I was not born to be killed. I ought
to tell you more of the charming side of the life--we are all
dirty and hungry and sleep on the ground and have grand talks
on every subject around the headquarters tent. I was never
more happy and content and never so well. It is hot but at
night it is quite cool and there has been no rain only a few
showers. `No one is ill and there have been no cases of fever. I
have not heard from you or any one since the 14th, which is not
really long but so much goes on that it seems so. Lots of
love to you all.
After reading this over I ought perhaps to say that the
position of the real correspondents is absolutely the very
best. No one confounds us with the men at the base, and
nothing they have they deny us. We are treated immeasurably
better than the poor attaches who are still on the ship and
who if they were spies could not be treated worse. But for
Whitney, Remington and myself nothing is too good. Generals
fight to have us on their staffs and all that sort of thing,
so I really cannot complain, except about the fact that our
real news is crowded out by the faker in the rear.
Cavalry Division, U. S. Army.
Headqrs. Wood's Rough Riders.
June 29th, 1898.
I suppose you are back from Marion now and I have missed you.
I can't tell you how sorry I am. I wanted to see you coming
up the street this summer in your knickerbockers and with no
fish, but still happy. Never mind, we shall do the theatres
this Fall, and have good walks downtown. I hope Mother will
come up and visit me this September, at Marion and sit on
Allen's and on the Clarks' porch and we can have Chas. too. I
suppose he will have had his holiday but he can come up for a
Sunday. We expect to move up on Santiago the day after
to-morrow, and it's about time, for the trail will not be
passable much longer. It rains every day at three o'clock for an
hour and such rain you never guessed. It is three inches high
for an hour. Then we all go out naked and dig trenches to get it
out of the way. It is very rough living. I have to confess that
I never knew how well off I was until I got to smoking Durham
tobacco and I've only half a bag of that left. The enlisted men
are smoking dried horse droppings, grass, roots and tea. Some of
them can't sleep they are so nervous for the want of it, but
to-day a lot came up and all will be well for them. I've had a
steady ration of coffee, bacon and hard tack for a week and
one mango, to night we had beans. Of course, what they ought
to serve is rice and beans as fried bacon is impossible in
this heat. Still, every one is well. This is the best crowd
to be with--they are so well educated and so interesting. The
regular army men are very dull and narrow and would bore one
to death. We have Wood, Roosevelt, Lee, the British Attache,
Whitney and a Doctor Church, a friend of mine from Princeton,
who is quite the most cheerful soul and the funniest I ever
met. He carried four men from the firing line the other day
back half a mile to the hospital tent. He spends most of his
time coming around headquarters in an undershirt of mine and a
gold bracelet fighting tarantulas. I woke up the other
morning with one seven inches long and as hairy as your head
reposing on my pillow. My sciatica bothers me but has not
prevented me seeing everything and I can dig rain gutters and
cut wood with any of them. It is very funny to see Larned, the
tennis champion, whose every movement at Newport was applauded by
hundreds of young women, marching up and down in the wet
grass. Whitney and I guy him. To-day a sentry on post was
reading "As You Like It" and whenever I go down the line half
the men want to know who won the boat race-- To-day Wood sent
me out with a detail on a pretense of scouting but really to
give them a chance to see the country. They were all college
boys, with Willie Tiffany as sergeant and we had a fine time
and could see the Spanish sentries quite plainly without a
glass. I hope you will not worry over this long separation.
I don't know of any experience I have had which has done me so
much good, and being with such a fine lot of fellows is a
great pleasure. The scenery is very beautiful when it is not
raining. I have a cot raised off the ground in the Colonel's
tent and am very well off. If Chaffee or Lawton, who are the
finest type of officers I ever saw, were in command, we would
have been fighting every day and would probably have been in
by this time. This weather shows that Havana must be put off
after Porto Rico. They cannot campaign in this mud.
SANTIAGO, July 1898.
This is just to reassure you that I am all right. I and
Marshall were the only correspondents with Roosevelt. We were
caught in a clear case of ambush. Every precaution had been
taken, but the natives knew the ground and our men did not.
It was the hottest, nastiest fight I ever imagined. We never
saw the enemy except glimpses. Our men fell all over the
place, shouting to the others not to mind them, but
to go on. I got excited and took a carbine and charged the
sugar house, which was what is called the key to the position.
If the men had been regulars I would have sat in the rear as
B---- did, but I knew every other one of them, had played
football, and all that sort of thing, with them, so I thought
as an American I ought to help. The officers were falling all
over the shop, and after it was all over Roosevelt made me a
long speech before some of the men, and offered me a captaincy
in the regiment any time I wanted it. He told the Associated
Press man that there was no officer in his regiment who had
"been of more help or shown more courage" than your humble
servant, so that's all right. After this I keep quiet. I
promise I keep quiet. Love to you all.
From Cuba Richard sailed with our forces to Porto Rico, where
his experiences in the Spanish-American war came to an end,
and he returned to Marion. He spent the fall in New York, and
early in 1899 went to London.
One of the most interesting, certainly the most widely talked
of, "sporting events" for which Richard was responsible was
the sending of an English district-messenger boy from London
to Chicago. The idea was inspired by my brother's general
admiration of the London messenger service and his particular
belief in one William Thomas Jaggers, a fourteen-year-old lad
whom Richard had frequently employed to carry notes and run
errands. One day, during a casual luncheon conversation at
the Savoy with his friend Somers Somerset, Richard said that he
believed that if Jaggers were asked to carry a message to New
York that he could not only do it but would express no surprise
at the commission. This conversation resulted in the bet
described in the following letters. The boy slipped quietly
away from London, but a few days later the bet became public
and the newspapers were filled with speculation as to whether
Jaggers could beat the mails. The messenger carried three
letters, one to my sister, one to Miss Cecil Clark of Chicago,
whom Richard married a few months later, and one to myself.
As a matter of fact, Jaggers delivered his notes several hours
before letters travelling by the same boat reached the same
destinations. The newspapers not only printed long accounts
of Jaggers's triumphal progress from New York to Chicago and
back again, but used the success of his undertaking as a text
for many editorials against the dilatory methods of our
foreign-mail service. Jaggers left London on March 11, 1899,
and was back again on the 29th, having travelled nearly
eighty-four hundred miles in eighteen days. On his return he
was received literally by a crowd of thousands, and his feat
was given official recognition by a gold medal pinned on his
youthful chest by the Duchess of Rutland. Also, later on, at
a garden fete he was presented to the Queen, and incidentally,
still later, returned to the United States as "buttons" to my
brother's household.
Bachelors' Club,
Piccadilly, W.
March 15th, 1899.
I hope you are not annoyed about Jaggers. When he started no
one knew of it but three people and I had no idea anyone else
would, but the company sent it to The Mail without my name
but describing me as "an American gentleman"-- Instantly the
foreign correspondents went to them to find out who I was and to
whom I was sending the letter-- I told the company it was none of
their damned business--that I employed the boy by the week and
that I could send him where-ever I chose. Then the boy's father
got proud and wrote to The Mail about his age and so they got the
boy's name. Mine, however, is still out of it, but in America
they are sure to know as the people on the steamer are crazy
about him and Kinsey the Purser knows he is sent by me. After
he gets back from Chicago and Philadelphia, you can do with
him as you like until the steamer sails. If the thing is
taken up as it is here and the fat is in the fire, then you
can do as you please-- I mean you can tell the papers about it
or not-- Somerset holds one end of the bets and I the other.
There are two bets: one that he will beat the mail to Chicago,
Somerset agreeing to consider the letter you give him to
Bruce, as equivalent to one coming from here. The other bet
is that he will deliver and get receipts from you, Nora and
Bruce, and return here by the 5th of April-- You and Bobby
ought to be able to do well by him if it becomes, as I say, so
far public that there is no possibility of further
concealment-- You have my permission to do what you please--
He is coming into my employ as soon as he gets back and as
soon as the company give him a medal.
Over here there is the greatest possible interest in the
matter-- At the Clubs I go to, the waiters all wait on me in
order to have the latest developments and when it was cabled
over here that the Customs' people intended stopping him,
indignation raged at the Foreign office.
of love,
89 Jermyn Street, S. W.
This is to be handed to you by my special messenger, who is to
assure you that I am in the best of health and spirits-- Keep
him for a few hours and then send him on to Chicago-- As he is
doing this on a bet, do not give him any written instructions
only verbal ones. I am very well and happy and send you all
my love-- Jaggers has been running errands for me ever since I
came here, and a most loyal servitor when I was ill-- On his
return I want to keep him on as a buttons. See that he gets
plenty to eat-- If he comes back alive he will have broken the
messenger boy service record by three thousand miles.
Personally, it does not cost me anything to speak of. The
dramatization of the Soldiers continues briskly, and Maude is
sending Grundy back the Jackal, to have a second go at it.
Maude insists on its being done--so I stand to win a lot.
Beefsteak Club, 9, Green Street,
Leicester Square, W. C. Tuesday.
The faithful Jaggers should have arrived to-day, or will do so
this evening-- I am sure you will make the poor little chap
comfortable-- I do regret having sent him on such a journey
especially since the papers here made such an infernal row
over it-- However, neither of us will lose by it in the end--
I dined with Lady Clarke last night and met Lord Castleton
there and he invited me up to Dublin for the Punchtown Races--
I have a great mind to go and write a story on them-- Castleton
is a great sport and very popular at home and in England and it
would be a pleasant experience. Kuhne Beveridge is doing a bust
of me in khaki outfit for the Academy and also for a private
exhibition of her own works, which includes the Prince of Wales,
and the Little Queen of Holland.
Hays Hammond has invited me down to South Africa again, with a
promise of making my fortune, but I am not going as it takes
too long.
On May 4, 1899, at Marion, Massachusetts, Richard was married
to Cecil Clark, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John M. Clark of
Chicago. After the marriage Richard and his wife spent a few
weeks in Marion and the remainder of the summer in London and
MARION, May 28th, 1899.
You sent me such a good letter about the visit of the three
selected chorus girls. But what was best, was about your
wishing to see me. Of course, you know that I feel that too.
I would have it so that we all lived here, so that Dad could
fish, and Nora and Cecil could discuss life, and you and I
could just take walks and chat. But because that cannot be,
we are no further away than we ever were and when the pain to
see you comes, I don't let it hurt and I don't kill it either
for it is the sweetest pain I can feel. If sons will go off
and marry, or be war-correspondents, or managers, it does not
mean that Home is any the less Home. You can't wipe out
history by changing the name of a boulevard, as somebody said
of the French, and if I were able to be in two places at once,
I know in which two places I would be here with Cecil at
Marion, and at Home in the Library with you and Dad and The
Evening Telegraph, and Nora and Van Bibber. You will never
know how much I love you all and you must never give up trying to
comprehend it. God bless you and keep you, and my love to you
every minute and always.
Late in January, 1900, Richard and his wife started on their
first great adventure together to the Boer War. Arriving at
Cape Town, Richard left his wife there and, acting as
correspondent with the British forces for the New York
Herald and London Mail, saw the relief of Ladysmith.
After this he returned to Cape Town, with the intention of
joining Lord Roberts in his advance on Pretoria. But on
arriving at Cape Town he learned that Lord Roberts did not
intend to move for three weeks, and so decided to say farewell
to the British army and to return to London in a leisurely and
sightseeing fashion along the east coast. It was after they
were well started on this return voyage that Richard conceived
the idea of leaving the ship at Durban, going to Pretoria,
and, as he expressed it, "watch the Boers fighting the same
men I had just seen fighting them."
R. M. S. Scot
February 4th, 1900.
A great change has come since I wrote you from Madeira. We
are now on Summer seas and have regulated the days so that
they pass very pleasantly--not that we do not want to be on
land-- I never so much wanted it-- Somers is with us and is
such a comfort. He is even younger than he used to be and so
quick and courteous and good tempered. He is like a boy off
on a holiday-- I think he is very much in love
with his wife, but in spite of himself he is glad to get a
holiday, and like all of us he will be so much more glad when
he is homeward bound. They threatened to shut us out of our
only chance of putting foot on land at Madeira-- In the first
place, we were so delayed by the storm that we arrived at
eight o'clock at night, so that we missed seeing it in its
beauty of flowers and palms. And then it was so rough that
they said it was most unsafe for us to attempt to go ashore.
It was a great disappointment but I urged that every one loved
his own life, and if the natives were willing to risk theirs
to sell us photographs and wicker baskets it was probably
safer than it looked-- So we agreed to die together, and with
Somers got our rain coats, and the three of us leaped into a
row boat pulled by two Portugese pirates and started off
toward a row of lamps on a quay that seemed much lower than
the waves. The remainder on the ship watched us disappear
with ominus warnings-- We really had a most adventurous
passage--towards shore the waves tossed us about like a
lobster pot and we just missed being run down by a coal barge
and escaped an upset over the bow anchor chain of a ship. It
was so close that both Somers and I had our coats off and I
told Cecil to grab the chain-- But we weathered it and landed
at a high gangway cut in the solid rock the first three steps
of which were swamped by the waves. A rope and chain hung
from the top of the wharf and a man swung his weight on this
and yanked us out to the steps as the boat was on the wave.
The rain beat and the wind roared and beautiful palms lashed
the air with their fronds-- It was grand to get on shore once
again-- At the end of the wharf we were hustled into a sled on
steel runners, like a hearse with curtains around it and drawn by
bullocks-- The streets were all of mosaic, thousands of little
stones being packed together like corn on a cob. Over this the
heavy sledge was drawn by the bullocks while a small boy ran
ahead through the narrow streets to clear the way-- He had a
feather duster made of horse's tail as a badge of authority and
he yelled some strange cry at the empty streets and closed
houses. Another little boy in a striped jersey ran beside and
assured us he was a guide. It was like a page out of a fairy
story. The strange cart sliding and slipping over the stones
which were as smooth as ice, and the colored house fronts and the
palms and strange plants. The darkness made it all the more
unreal-- There was a governor's palace buttressed and guarded
by sentinels in a strange uniform and queer little cafe's
under vines--and terraces of cannon, and at last a funny,
pathetic little casino. It was such a queer imitation of Aix
and Monte Carlo-- There were chasseurs and footmen in
magnificent livery and stucco white walls ornamented with silk
SHAWLS. Also a very good band and a new roulette table--
Coming in out of the night and the rain it was like a theatre
after the "dark scene" has just passed-- There were some most
dignified croupiers and three English women and a few sad
English men and some very wicked looking natives in diamonds
and white waistcoats. We had only fifteen minutes to spare so
we began playing briskly with two shilling pieces Cecil with
indifferent fortune and Somers losing-- But I won every time
and the croupiers gave me strange notes of the Bonco de
Portugal which I put back on the board only to get more of a
larger number-- I felt greatly embarrassed as I was not a real
member of the club and I hated to blow in out of a hurricane
and take their money and sail away again-- So I appealed to
one of the sad eyed Englishmen and he assured me it was all
right, that they welcomed the people from the passing steamers
who generally left a few pounds each with the bank. But the
more I spread the money the more I won until finally the whole
room gathered around. Then I sent out and ordered champagne
for everybody and spare gold to all the waiters and still
cashed in seventy-five dollars in English money. It was
pretty good for fifteen minutes and we went out leaving the
people open-eyed, and hitting the champagne bottles-- It was
all a part of the fun especially as with all our gold we could
get nothing for supper but "huevos frite" which was all the
Spanish I could remember and which meant fried eggs-- But we
were very wet and hungry and we got the eggs and some fruit
and real Madeira wine and then rowed out again rejoicing. The
pirates demanded their pay half way to the boat while we were
on the high seas but they had struck the very wrong men, and I
never saw a mutiny quelled so abruptly-- Somers and I told
them we'd throw them overboard and row ourselves and they
understood remarkably well-- The next day we were the admired
and envied of those who had not had the nerve "to dare to
attempt." It was one of the best experiences altogether we
ever had and I shall certainly put Madeira on my silver cup.
After their arrival at Cape Town, where Richard arranged for
his wife to stay during his absence at the British front, he
started for Ladysmith, sailing on the same vessel on which he
had left England.
February 18th, 1900
board Scot.
I got off yesterday and am hoping to get to Buller before
Ladysmith is relieved. I could not get to go with Roberts
because Ralph has been here four months and has borne the heat
and burden of the day, so although I only came in order to be
with Roberts and Kitchener I could not ask to have Ralph
recalled-- They wanted me with Roberts and I wanted it but
none of us could make up our minds to turn down Ralph. So I
am going up on this side track on the chance of seeing
Ladysmith relieved and of joining Roberts with Buller later.
I shall be satisfied if I see Ladysmith fall. Fortunately I
am to do a great deal of cabling for The Mail every day and
that counts much more with the reading public than letters--
Cape Town is a dusty, wind ridden western town with a mountain
back of it which one man said was a badly painted back drop--
The only attractive thing about the town is this mountain and
a hotel situated at its base in perfectly beautiful gardens.
Here Cecil is settled. I got her a sitting room and a big
bedroom and The Mail agent or Pryor pays her $150 a week and
will take good care of her. It really is a beautiful and
comfortable hotel and grounds and she has made many friends,
and also I forced a pitch battle with a woman who was rude to
her when we visited the hospital-- So, as the hospital people
were very keen to have me see and praise their hospital they
have taken up arms against the unfortunate little bounder and
championed Cecil and me. Cecil had really nothing to do with
it as you can imagine-- She only laughed but I gave the lady
lots to remember.
On the other hand every one is as kind and interested in Cecil
as can be. Mrs. Waldron whose son is Secretary to Milner and
his secretary were more than polite to each of us. Milner
spent the whole evening we were there talking to Cecil and not
to the lady we had had the row with, which was a pleasing
triumph. He sent me unsolicited a most flattering personal
letter to the Governor of Natal, saying that I had come to him
with my strong letters but that he had so enjoyed meeting me
that he wished to pass me on on his own account. Cecil asked
me what it was I had talked so much to him about and I asked
her if it were possible she couldn't guess that of course I
would be telling him how to run the colony. My advice was to
bombard Cape Town and make martial law, for the Cape Towners
are the most rotten, cowardly lot of rebels I ever imagined as
being possible. He seemed so glad to find any one who
appreciated that it was a queen's colony in name only and
said, "Mr. Davis, it is as bad as this--I can take a stroll
with you from these gardens (we were at the back of the
Government House) and at the end of our stroll we will be in
hostile territory."
We spent the last day after I had got my orders to join Buller
(who seemed very pleased to have me) calling on the officials
for passes together and they were in a great state falling
into their coats and dressing guard for her and were all so
friendly and hearty. The Censor seems to think I am a sort of
Matthew Arnold and should be wrapped in cotton, so does Pryor
The Mail agent who apologizes for asking me to cable, which
is just what I want to do. They are very generous and are
spending money like fresh air. I am to cable letters to Cape
Town, only to save three days. So, now all that is needed is for
something to happen. Everything else is arranged. All I want is
to see three or four good fights and a big story like the relief
of Ladysmith and I am ready and anxious to get home. I shall
observe them from behind an ant hill--I don't say this to please
you but because I mean it. This is not my war and all I want is
to earn the very generous sums I have been offered and get home.
We are just off Port Elizabeth. I will go on shore and post
this there. With all love.
Deal's Central Hotel, East London.
February 20th, 1900.
We are stopping at every port now, as though the Scot were a
ferry boat. We came over the side to get here in baskets with
a neat door in the side and were bumped to the deck of the
tender in all untenderness. This is more like Africa than any
place I have seen. The cactus and palms abound and the
Kaffirs wear brass anklets and bracelets. A man at lunch at
this hotel asked me if I was R. H. D. and said he was an
American who had got a commission in Brabants horse-- He gave
me the grandest sort of a segar and apparently on his
representation the hotel brought me two books to sign, marked
"Autographs of Celebrities of the Boer War." It seemed in my
case at least to be premature and hopeful.
Good luck and God bless you. This will be the last letter you
will get for ten days or two weeks, as I am now going directly
away from steamers. This one reaches you by a spy gentleman
who is to give it to Rene Bull of The Graphic and who will
post it in Cape Town-- He and all the other correspondents are
abandoning Buller for Roberts. Let 'em all go. The fewer the
better, I say. My luck will keep I hope.
Imperial Hotel,
Maritzburg, Natal.
Feb. 23rd, 1900.
I reached Durban yesterday. They paraded the band in my
honour and played Yankee Doodle indefinitely-- I had corrupted
them by giving them drinks to play the "Belle of New York"
nightly. The English officers thought Yankee Doodle was our
national anthem and stood with their hats off in a hurricane
balancing on the deck of the tender on one foot-- The city of
Durban is the best I have seen. It was as picturesque as the
Midway at the Fair-- There were Persians, Malay, Hindoo,
Babu's Kaffirs, Zulu's and soldiers and sailors. I went on
board the Maine to see the American doctors--one of them
said he had met me on Walnut Street, when he had nearly run me
down with his ambulance from the Penna Hospital. Lady
Randolph took me over the ship and was very much puzzled when
all the hospital stewards called me by name and made
complimentary remarks. It impressed her so much apparently
that she and the American nurses I hadn't met on board came to
see me off at the station, which was very friendly. I have
had a horrible day here and got up against the British officer
in uniform and on duty bent-- The chief trouble was that none
of them knew what authority he had to do anything--and I had
to sit down and tell them. I wonder with intelligence like
theirs that their Intelligence Department did not tell them the
Boers fought with war clubs and spears. I bought a ripping pony
and my plan is to cut away from all my magnificent equipment and
try to overtake Buller before he reaches Ladysmith and send
back for the heavy things later. It is just a question of
minutes really and it seems hard to have come 1500 miles and
then to miss it by an hour-- I arrive at Chievely tomorrow at
five--that is only ten miles from where Buller is to night, so
were it not for their d----d regulations I could ride across
country and join them by midday but I bet they won't let me
and I also bet I'll get there in time. Of course you'll, know
before you see this. Marelsburg is the capital and its chief
industry is rickshaw's pulled by wild Kaffi's, with beads and
snake skins around them and holes in their ears into which
they stick segars and horn spoons for dipping snuff. The
women wear less than the men and have their hair done up in
red fungus.
Well, love to you all, to Nora and Dad and Chas,
and God bless you.
I am here at last and counting the days when I shall get away.
War does not soothe my savage breast. I find I want Cecil,
and Jaggers, and Macklin to write, and plays to rehearse.
Without Cecil bored to death at Cape Town, I would not mind it
at all. I know how to be comfortable and on my second day I
beat all these men who have been here three months in getting
my news on the wire. For I am a news man now, and have to
collect horrid facts and hosts of casualties and to find out
whether it was the Dubblins
or the Durbans that did it and what it was they did. I was in
terrible fear that I would be too late to see the relief of
Ladysmith but I was well in time and saw a fight the first few
hours I arrived. It is terribly big and overwhelming like
eighty of Barnum circuses all going at once in eighty rings
and very hard to understand the geography. The Tugela is like
a snake and crosses itself every three feet so that you never
know whether you have crossed it yourself or not. Every one
is most kind and I am as comfortable as can be. Indeed I like
my tent so much that I am going to take it to Marion. It has
windows in it and the most amusing trap doors and pockets in
the walls and clothes lines and hooks and ventilators-- It is
colored a lovely green-- I have also two chairs that fold up
and a table that does nothing else and a bed and two lanterns,
3 ponies, one a Boer pony I bought for $12. from a Tommy who
had stolen it. I had to pay $125 each for the other two and
one had a sore back and the other gets lost in my saddle. But
war as these people do it bores one to destruction. They are
terribly dull souls. They cannot give an order intelligently.
The real test of a soldier is the way he gives an order. I
heard a Colonel with eight ribbons for eight campaigns scold a
private for five minutes because he could not see a signal
flag, and no one else could. It is not becoming that a
Colonel should scold for five minutes. Friday they charged a
hill with one of their "frontal" attacks and lost three
Colonels and 500 men. In the morning--it was a night
attack--when the roll was called only five officers answered.
The proper number is 24. A Captain now commands the regiment.
It is sheer straight waste of life through dogged stupidity.
I haven't seen a Boer yet except some poor devils of prisoners
but you can see every English who is on a hill. They walk along
the skyline like ships on the horizon. It must be said for them
that it is the most awful country to attack in the world. It is
impossible to give any idea of its difficulties. However I can
tell you that when I get back to the center of civilization. Do
you know I haven't heard from you since I left New York on the
St. Louis. All your letters to London went astray. What
lots you will have to tell me but don't let Charley worry. I
won't talk about the war this time. I never want to hear of
it again.
LADYSMITH. March 1st, 1899.
This is just a line to say I got in here with the first after
a gallop of twelve miles. Keep this for me and the envelope.
With my love and best wishes--
LADYSMITH, March 3, 1900.
The column came into town today, 2200 men, guns, cavalry,
ambulances, lancers, navy guns and oxen. It was a most cruel
assault upon one's feelings. The garrison lined the streets
as a saluting guard of honor but only one regiment could stand
it and the others all sat down on the curb only rising to
cheer the head of each new regiment. They are yellow with
fever, their teeth protruding and the skin drawn tight over
their skeletons. The incoming army had had fourteen days hard
fighting at the end of three months campaigning but were
robust and tanned ragged and caked with mud. As they came in
they cheered and the garrison tried to cheer back but it was like
a whisper.
Winston Churchill and I stood in front of Gen. White and cried
for an hour. For the time you forgot Boers and the cause, or
the lack of cause of it all, and saw only the side of it that
was before you, the starving garrison relieved by men who had
lost almost one out of every three in trying to help them. I
was rather too previous in getting in and like every-one else
who came from outside gave away everything I had so that now
I'm as badly off as the rest of them. Yesterday my rations
for the day were four biscuits and an ounce of coffee and of
tea, with corn which they call mealies which I could not eat
but which saved my horse's life. He is a Boer pony I bought
from a Tommy for two pounds ten and he's worth both of the
other two for which I paid $125 a piece. Tomorrow the wagon
carrying my supplies will be in and I can get millions of
things. It almost apalls me to think how many. Especially
clean clothes. I've slept in these for four days. I got off
some stories which I hope will read well. I can't complain
now that I saw the raising of this siege. But I hope we don't
stay still. I want to see a lot quickly and get out. This is
very safe warfare. You sit on a hill and the army does the
rest. My sciatica is not troubling me at all. Love to you
all and God bless you.
LADYSMITH, March 4th, 1900.
Today I got the first letter I have had from you since we left
home. It was such happiness to see your dear sweet handwriting
again. It was just like seeing you for a glimpse, or hearing you
speak. I am so hungry for news of Nora and Chas and you all. I
know you've written, but the letters have missed somehow. I sent
yours right back to Cecil who is very lonely at present.
Somerset has gone to the front and Jim--home--Blessed word! A
little middy rode up to me today and began by saying "I'm going
home. I'm ORDERED there. Home-- To England!" He seemed to
think I would not understand. He prattled on like a child saying
what luck he had had, that he had been besieged in Ladysmith and
seen lots of fighting and would get a medal and all the while he
was "just a middy." "But isn't it awful to think of our chaps
that were left on the ship" he said quite miserably. It is a
beastly dull war. The whole thing is so "class" and full of
"form" and tradition and worrying over "putties" and etiquette
and rank. It is the most wonderful organization I ever
imagined but it is like a beautiful locomotive without an
The Boers outplay them in intelligence every day. The whole
army is officered by one class and that the dull one. It is
like the House of Peers. You would not believe the mistakes
they make, the awful way in which they sacrifice the lives of
officers and men. And they let the Boers escape. I watched
the Boers for four hours the other day escaping after the
battle of Pieters and I asked, not because I wanted them
captured but just as a military proposition "Why don't you
send out your cavalry and light artillery and take those
wagons?" The staff officer giggled and said "They might kill
us." I don't know what he meant; neither did he. However,
I'm sick of it but there's nothing else to talk of. I hate
all the people about me and this dirty town and I wish I was
back. And I'm going too. I'll have started by the time you get
I mean to cut out of this soon but don't imagine I'm in any
danger. I'm taking d---d good care to keep out of danger. No
one is more determined on that than I am. Dear Mother, this
is such a dull letter but you must forgive me. I was never so
homesick and bored in my life. It will be better when I go
out tomorrow in my green tent and leave this beastly hole. I
like the tent life, and the horses and being clean. I've
really starved here for four days and haven't had a clean
thing on me. God bless you all and dear Nora God bless her
and Chas and the Lone Fisherman.
Outside Ladysmith.
5th March, 1900.
I was a brute to write as I did last night. But I was so blue
in that miserable town!!! It was so foul and dirty. The town
smelt as bad as Johnstown. My room in the so called hotel
stunk, the dirt was all over the floor and the servants had to
be paid to do everything even to bring you a towel--and then I
had no place to write or be alone, and nothing to eat-- The
poor souls at my table who had been in the siege, when they
got a little bit of sugar or a can of condensed milk would
carry it off from the table as though it were a diamond
diadem-- I did the same thing myself for I couldn't eat what
they gave me and so I corrupted the canteen dealer and bought
tin things-- I've really never wanted tobacco so much
and food as I have here--to give away I mean, for it was
something wonderful to see what it meant to them. Three
troopers came into the dining room yesterday and asked if they
could buy some tea and were turned out so rudely that it
seemed to hurt them much more than the fact that they were
hungry: I followed them out and begged them to come back to
my verandah and have tea with me but they at first would not
because they knew I had witnessed what had happened in the
hotel. They belonged to a very good regiment and they had
been starved for four months. But in spite of their
independence I got them to my porch. I had just purchased at
awful prices a few delicacies like sugar and tobacco,
marmalade and a bottle of whiskey. So I gave them to them and
I never enjoyed anything so much-- The poor yellow faced
skeletons ate in absolute silence still fighting with their
pride until I told them I was an American and was a canteen
contractor's friend-- Then I gave them segars and it was too
pitiful-- In our column, if you give a man something extra he
says a lot and swears it's the best drink or the best segar or
that you're the best chap he ever met-- Just as I say it to
them when they give me things. But these starved bodies tried
to be very polite and conversational on every subject except
food--when I offered them the segars which could only be got
then at a dollar twenty-five a piece (they had not cost me
that as I had bought them in Cape Town for two cents apiece!)
What has Dad to say to that for economy? They accepted them
quite as though it was in Havana--and then leaned back and
went off into opium dreams-- Imagine the first segar after
three months. I am out here now on a bluff, with two trees in
front and great hills with names historical of the
siege of Ladysmith--names which I refuse to learn or
remember--I am perfectly comfortable and were it not
for Cecil perfectly content-- If she were only here it would
be perfectly magnificent-- I have a retinue that would do
credit to the Warringtons in the Virginians-- Three Kaffir
boys who refuse to yield to my sense of the picturesque and go
naked like their less effete brothers, two oxen and three
ponies, a little puppy I found starved in Ladysmith and fed on
compressed beef tablets. I call her Ladysmith and she sleeps
beside my cot and in my lap when I am reading--I have also a
beautiful tent with tape window panes, ventilators, pockets
inside, doors that loop up and red knobs; also, it is green so
that the ants won't eat it. Also two tables, two chairs, a
bath tub, two lanterns, and a cape cart--and a folding bed--
In Cuba I had two saddle bags and was just as clean and just
as happy. One boy does nothing but polish my boots and
gaiters and harness, so that I look as well as the officers
who are not much good at anything but that. I must tell you
what I think is the saddest story of the siege-- They could
not feed the horses, so they kept part of them for scouting,
part to eat and drove 3,000 of them towards the Boers. Being,
well trained cavalry horses, they did not know how to eat
grass, so at bugle call the whole 3,000 came trotting back
again and sentries were placed at every street to stampede
them back into the veldt-- One horse from one battery met out
in the prairie another horse that had been its gun mate in an
artillery regiment five years before in India and the two poor
things came galloping back side by side and passed the
sentries and into the lines and drew up beside their battery.
Another horse found its rider acting as sentry and
when the man tried to drive it away it thought he was playing
with it and kept coming back and finally the man brought it in
to the colonel and cried and asked if it might have half of
his rations of corn. Good night and God bless you all with
all my love.
March 15th, 1900.
I am on my way back to Cape Town. This seemed better than
staying with Buller who will not move for two or three weeks.
I shall either go straight up to Roberts, or we will return to
London. I have seen the relief of Ladysmith and got a very
good idea of it all, and I do not know but what I shall quit
now. I started in too late to do much with it and as it is I
have seen a great deal. It is neither an interesting country
nor an interesting war. But I don't have to stay here to
oblige anybody. If I do go up to Roberts it will only be to
stay for three weeks at the most and only then if there is
fighting. I won't go if he is resting as Buller is. So this
will explain why we start home so soon. I am very glad I
came. I would have been very sorry always if I had not, but
my heart is not in it as, of course, it was in our war.
Sometimes they fight all day using seven or eight regiments
and kill a terrible lot of fine soldiers and capture forty
Boer farmers and two women. It is not the kind of war I care
to report. "Nor mean to!" I cannot make a book out of what
little I've seen but I will come out about even. It has been
very rough on Cecil. Today I went to the Maine and asked
Lady Randolph to give me a lift down to Cape Town as
the ship gets there two days ahead of the Castle Steamer.
So, they were apparently very glad to have me and I
am going on Saturday. I like it on the ship where I have been
spending the day as it is fun taking care of the wounded and
listening to their stories. I am to write an article for her
next Anglo Saxon magazine on the Passing of the War
Correspondent. The idea is that he must either disappear
altogether like the Vivandiere or be allowed to do his work.
As it is now the Government forces him upon the Generals
against their will and so they get back by taking it out of
him. Either they should persuade the Government that their
objections to him are weighty and suppress him altogether, or
recognize him as a part of the outfit. I don't much care
which as I certainly would never again go with an English
army. I am sorry the letters home have been so dull but I
have had rather hard luck straight through, and the distances
are so very great and the time spent in covering them seems
very wasteful. I shall be glad I saw it because it is the
biggest thing as to scale that I ever saw of the sort, and I
could not have afforded to have missed being in it. It is the
first big modern war and all the conditions and weapons are
new. I don't think the English have learned anything by it,
because the fault lies entirely with their officers who are
all or nearly all of one class.
March 25th, 1900.
Cape Town.
This is just to explain our plans and as they take a bit of
explaining this is meant for the Houses of Clark and of Davis.
So, pass it on-- After Ladysmith was relieved Buller decided
he would not move for a month, so I came back to join Roberts. I
could not do that on first arriving because there was a Mail man
with him. I meant to do it later as a Herald man, and to let
The Mail go. But on arriving here, having spent a week in
coming and having sold all my outfit at a loss, I found that
Roberts did not intend to move for three weeks either. So I
decided I had seen enough to justify my returning. There were
other reasons, the chief one being that the English irritated
me and I had so little sympathy with them that I could not
write with any pleasure of their work. My sporting blood
refused to boil at the spectacle of such a monster Empire
getting the worst of it from an untrained band of farmers-- I
found I admired the farmers. So we decided to chuck it and go
to London. I would not have missed it for anything. I would
never have been satisfied, if we had not come. I have seen
much of the country and the people, and of the army and its
wonderful organization and discipline. I enjoyed two
battles--and the relief of Ladysmith is one of the things to
have seen, almost the best, if not the best. Every officer
and correspondent agrees that I got the pick of the fighting
and the "best story." By the way, I beat all the London
papers in getting out the news by one day. At least, so
Pryor, The Mail manager tells me. The paper was very much
pleased. We have now decided to come home by the East Coast.
It was Cecil's idea and wish and I was only too glad to do it.
She says we certainly will never come to this country again.
God help us if we do--and that it would be criminal to spend
seventeen blank days on the West coast when we could fill in
the entire trip North on the East Coast at many ports. It is
a rather complicated trip as one has to change frequently but
it will be a great thing to have seen. Cecil has really seen
nothing at Cape Town and on this trip she will be paid for all
the boredom that has gone before. I have been over part of it
and am sure. Durban alone is one of the most curious cities I
ever saw. It is like the Midway at the Fair. I want her to
have some fun out of this. She has been so unselfish and fine
all through and I hope I can make the rest of the adventure to
her liking-- It is sure to be for after Delagoa Bay it is all
real Africa not the shoddy "colonial" shopkeepers' paradise
that we have here. And we are going to stop off at Zanzibar
for some time where we have letters to everybody and where
Cecil is to draw the Sultan and I am to play him the "Typical
Tune of Zanzibar." You will see by our route that we spend
two days or a day at many places and so shall get a good idea
of the country. The Konig is a 5,000 ton ship and we have
two cabins-- From Port Said we will run up to Cairo to get a
dinner and then over to Constantinople to see Lloyd Griscom
and the city which Cecil has never visited. Then to Paris by
way of the Orient Express. Then London and back with Charley
to Aix. I feel sure that one more course there will cure my
leg for always. As it is it has not touched me once even
during the campaign when I was wet and had to climb hills, and
at Ladysmith, where I had no food for a week. Of course, if
we get tired on the way up we may go straight on from Port
Said to Marseilles and so to London. It seems funny to look
upon Port Said as being at home, but from this distance it
seems as near New York as Boston-- You will get this when we
reach Zanzibar or later and we will cable when we can.
It was said at the time that Richard left the British forces
because the censors would not permit him to send out the truth
about Buller's advance, and that the English officials
resented his going to report the war from the Boer side. The
first statement my brother flatly denied, and the fact that it
was through the direct intervention of Sir Alfred Milner,
assisted by the efforts of our consul Adelbert S. Hay at
Pretoria, that Richard was enabled to reach the Boer capital
seems to prove the latter charge equally false. Although
throughout the war my brother's sympathies were with the
Boers, and in spite of the fact that the papers he represented
wanted him to report the war from the Boer side, he persisted
in going at first with the British forces. His reasons were
that he wished to see a great army, with all modern equipment
in action, and that practically all of his English friends
were with the British army. "My only reason for leaving it",
he wrote, "was the fact that I found myself facing a month of
idleness. Had General Buller continued his advance
immediately after his relief of Ladysmith I would have gone
with his column and would probably have never seen a Boer,
except a Boer prisoner."
Royal Hotel,
Durban, Natal.
April 5th, 1900.
We arrived here to-day and got off in a special tug together.
We did the basket trick all right, although the next time it
came down a swell raised the tug and fractured every one in
the basket except Sangree and Rogers, the two New York
correspondents who were hanging on by the upper edges. Cecil
loved the place which is the Midway Plaisance of cities and we
had a good lunch and managed to get into the hotel where there
are over twenty cots in the reading room, and hall. The
Commandant objected to our going to Praetoria and seemed inclined
to refuse us passes to leave Durban for Delagoa Bay. He also was
rather fresh to Cecil, so I called him down very hard, and
told him if he couldn't make up his mind whether we would go
or not, I'd wire to some others who would help him to make up
his mind quickly. He said I was at liberty to do that, so I
went out and burned wires over all of South Africa. As he
reads all the telegrams he naturally read mine and the next
morning he was as humble and white as a head waiter. But by
ten o'clock my wires began to bear fruit and he began to catch
it. Milner wired him to send us on at once and apologized to
us by another wire so all is well and we go vouched for by the
High Commissioner.
PRETORIA, May 18th, 1900.
I have not had time to write such a long letter as this one
must be, as I have been working on my Ledger and Scribner
Cecil and I started to the "front," which was then May 4th, at
Brandfort with Captain Von Loosberg, a German baron who
married in New Orleans and became an American citizen and who
is now in command of Loosberg's Artillery in the Free State.
The night we left, the English took Brandfort, so we decided
to go only as far as Winburg. The next morning
the train despatcher informed us Winburg was taken, so we
decided to go to Smalldeel, but that went during the
afternoon, so we stopped at Kronstad. From there, after a
day's rest, we went to Ventersberg station, and rode across to
Ventersberg town, about two hours away, and put up in Jones's
Hotel. The next day we went down to the Boer laagers on the
Sand river and met President Steyn on the way. He got out of
his Cape Cart and gave Cecil a rose and Loosberg his field
glasses, which Cecil took from Loosberg in exchange for her
own Zeiss glass, and he gave me a drink and an interview. He
also gave us a letter to St. Reid, who had established an
ambulance base on Cronje's farm, telling him to give Cecil
something to sleep upon. The, Boers were very polite to Cecil
and as she rode through the different camps every man took off
his hat. We went back to Ventersberg that night and about two
o'clock Cecil came to my room and woke me up with the
intelligence that the British were only two hours away. She
had heard the commandant informing the landlady, a grand low
comedy character from Brooklyn, who had the room next to
Cecil's. I interviewed the landlady who was sitting up in bed
in curl papers, and with a Webley revolver. She was quite
hysterical so I aroused Loosberg who was too sleepy to
understand. The commandant could be heard in the distance
offering his kingdom for a horse and a Cape cart. Cecil and I
decided our horses were done up and that we were too ignorant
of the trail to know where to run. So we decided to go to
sleep. In the morning we confessed that each had been afraid
the other would want to escape, and each wanted only to be
allowed to go to sleep again. Loosberg's Cape Cart and five
mules having arrived we packed our things on it and started again
for the Sand River where we spent the night on Cronje's farm.
Mrs. Cronje had taken away all the bedding but Dr. Reid gave
Cecil his field mattress and I made one out of rugs and piano
covers. In the morning I found that the iron straps of the
mattress had marked me for life like a grilled beefsteak. There
were only Reid and his assistant surgeon in the farmhouse and
they were greatly excited at having a woman to look after.
We bade farewell to Loosberg who had found his artillery push,
and started off in his Cape Cart which he wished us to use and
take back for him for safety to Del Hay at Pretoria. Our
objective point was the railroad bridge over the sand. The
Boers were on one bank, the British about seven miles back on
the other, the trail ran along the British side of the river
which was sad of it. However, we drove on, I riding and Cecil
and Christian, the Kaffir, in the Cart. We saw no one for
several hours except some Kaffir Kraals and we almost ran into
two herds of deer. I counted twenty-six in one herd, they
were about a quarter of a mile away. We came to a cross road
and I decided to put back as we had lost track of the river
and were bearing straight into the English lines. Just as we
found the river again and had got across a drift cannon opened
on our right. We then knew we were in between the Boers and
the English but we had no other knowledge of our geographical
position. Such being the case we decided to outspan and lunch.
Out-spanning is setting the mules and horses at liberty,
in-spanning trying to catch them again. It takes five minutes to
out-span, and three hours to in-span. We had Armour's corned
beef and Libby's canned bacon. Cecil cooked the bacon on a stick
and we ate it with biscuits captured by our Boer friends at
Cronje's farm from the English Tommies. About three o'clock we
started off again, and were captured by three Boers. I was
riding behind the cart and threw up my hands "that quick," but
Cecil could not hear me yelling at her to stop on account of the
noise of the cart. I knew if I rode after her they would
shoot at me, and that if she didn't stop, as they were
shouting at her to do, they would shoot her. Under these
trying circumstances I sat still. It caused quite a coolness
on Cecil's part. However the Boers could see I was trying to
get her to halt so they only rode around and headed her off.
We were so glad to see them that they could not be suspicious.
Still, as we had come directly from the English lines they had
doubts. We told them we had lost ourselves and the more they
threatened to take us to the commandant the more satisfied we
were. I insisted on taking photos of them reading Cecil's
passport. It annoyed them that we refused to be serious, we
assured them we had never met anyone we were so glad to see.
They finally believed us, and our passports which describe
Cecil as my "frau," and artist of Harper's Weekly, an idea
of Loosberg's. We all smoked and then shook hands and they
went back to their positions. We next met Christian De Vet
one of the two big generals who is a grand character. Nothing
could match the wonderful picturesqueness of his camp spread
out over the side of a hill with the bearded fine featured old
Van Dyck and Hugonot heads under great sombreros. De Vet made
us a long speech saying it was only to be expected that the
Great Republic would send men to help the little Republics,
but he had not hoped that the women would show their sympathy
by coming too. All this with the most simple earnest courtesy.
He said "No English woman would dare do what you are doing." He
showed us a farin house on a kopje about five miles off where he
said we could get shelter and where we would be near the fighting
on the morrow. We rode in the moonlight for some time but when
we reached the house it was filthy and the people were in such
terror that we decided to camp out in the veldt. We found a
grove of trees near by and a stream of water running beside it so
we made a fire there. We had only one biscuit left but several
cans of bacon and tea. It was great fun and we sat up as late as
we could around the fire on account of the cold. We could see
the Boer fires in the moonlight on the hills and across the
Sand, the English flashlights signalling all night. We put a
rubber blanket on the grass and wrapped up in steamer rugs but
both of us died several times of cold and even sitting on the
fire failed to warm me. We were awakened out of a cold
storage sort of sleep by pom-poms going off right over our
They sounded just as disturbing I found from the rear
as when you are in front of them. They are the most effective
of all the small guns for causing your nerves to riot. We
climbed up the hill and saw the English coming in their usual
solid formation stretching out for three miles. We went back
and got the cart and drove to a nearer kopje, but just as we
reached it the Boers abandoned it. Roberts's column was now
much nearer. We then drove on still further in the direction
of the bridge. I kept telling Cecil that the firing was all
from the Boers as I did not want Christian to bolt and run
away with the cart and mules. But Cecil remembered the
pictures in Harper's Weekly showing the shrapnel smoke
making rings in the air and as she saw these floating over our
head, she knew the English were firing on us, but said nothing
for fear of scaring Christian. I had promised to get her under
fire which was her one wish so I said that she was now well under
fire for the first and the last time. To which she replied
"Pshaw!" I never saw any one show such self possession. We
halted the cart behind a deserted farm house, and saddled her
pony. The shells were now falling all over the shop, and I
was scared to distraction. But she took about five minutes to
see that her saddle was properly tightened and then we rode up
to the hill. Again the Boers were leaving and only a few
remained. They warned her to keep back but we dismounted and
walked up to the hill. It was a very hot place but Cecil was
quite unmoved. We showed her the shells striking back of her
and around her but she refused to be impressed with the
danger. She went among the Boers begging them to make a stand
very quietly and like one man to another and they took it just
in that way and said "But we are very tired. We have been
driven back for three days. We are only a thousand, they are
twenty thousand." Some of them only sat still too proud to
run, too sick to fight! When the British got within five
hundred yards of the artillery I told her she must run. At
the same moment Botha's men a mile on our right broke away in
a mad gallop, as though the lancers were after them. I
finally got her on her pony and we raced for Ventersberg with
Christian a good first. He had lost all desire to out-span.
At Ventersberg we found every one harnessing up in the street
and abandoning everything. We again felt this untimely desire
for food, and had lunch at Jones's hotel on scraps and Cecil went
off to see if she could loot the cook, as everyone but her had
left the hotel and as we needed one in Pretoria. A
despatch-rider came running to me as I was smoking in the garden
and shouted that the "Roinekes" were coming in force over the
hill. I ran out in the street and saw their shells falling all
over the edge of the village. They were only a quarter of an
hour behind us. I yelled for Cecil who was helping the looted
cook pack up her own things and anyone else's she could find in a
sheet. I gathered up a dog and a kitten Cecil wanted and left a
note for the next English officer who occupied my room with the
inscription "I'd leave my happy home for you." We then put
the cook, the kitten, the dog and Cecil in the cart and I got
on the horse and we let out for Kronstad at a gallop. We
raced the thirty miles in five hours without one halt. That
was not our cruelty to animals but Christian's who whenever I
ordered him to halt and let us rest, yelled that the Englesses
were after us and galloped on. The retreat was a terribly
pathetic spectacle; for hours we passed through group after
group of the broken and dispirited Boers. At Kronstad
President Steyn whom I went to see on arriving ordered a
special car for me, and sent us off at once. We reached here
the next morning, Christian arriving a day later having killed
one mule and one pony in his eagerness to escape. We are
going back again as soon as Roberts reaches the Vaal. There
there must be a stand. Love and best wishes to you all----
June 8th, 1900.
On board the Kausler.
We engaged our passage on this ship some weeks ago not
thinking we would have the English near Pretoria until
August. But as it happened they came so near
that we did not know whether or not to wait over and see them
enter the capital. I decided not, first, because after that
one event, there would be nothing for us to see or do. We
could not leave until the 2nd of July and a month under
British martial law was very distasteful to me. Besides I did
not care much to see them enter, or to be forced to witness
their rejoicing. As soon as we got under way and about half
the distance to the coast, it is a two days' trip. We heard
so many rumors of Roberts's communication having been cut off
and that the war was not over, that we thought perhaps we
ought to go back-- As we have no news since except that the
British are in Pretoria we still do not know what to think.
Personally I am glad I came away as I can do just as much for
the Boers at home now as there where the British censor would
have shut me off from cabling and mails are so slow. With the
local knowledge I have, I hope to keep at it until it is over.
But when I consider the magnitude of the misrepresentation
about the burghers I feel appalled at the idea of going up
against it. One is really afraid to tell all the truth about
the Boer because no one would believe you-- It is almost
better to go mildly and then you may have some chance. But
personally I know no class of men I admire as much or who
to-day preserve the best and oldest ideas of charity, fairness
and good-will to men.
June 29th, 1900.
We are now just off Crete, and our next sight of the blue land
will be Europe. It means so many things; being alone with
Cecil again, instead of on a raft touching elbows with so
many strangers, and it means a shop where
you can buy collars, and where they put starch in your linen.
Also many beautiful ladies one does not know and men in
evening dress one does not know and green tables covered with
gold and little green and red bits of ivory where one passes
among the tables and wonders what they would think if they
knew we two had found our greatest friends in the Boer
farmers, in Dutch Station Masters who gave us a corner under
the telegraph table in which to sleep, with Nelson who kept
the Transvaal Steam Laundry, Col. Lynch of the steerage who
comes to the dividing line to beg French books from Cecil, and
that we had cooked our food on sticks, drunk out of the same
cups with Kaffir servants and slept on the ground when there
was frost on it. It will be so strange to find that there are
millions of people who do not know Komali poort, who have
thought of anything else except burghers and roor-i-neks-- It
seems almost disloyal to the Boers to be glad to see
newspapers only an hour old instead of six weeks old, and to
welcome all the tyranny of collar buttons, scarf pins, watch
chains, walking sticks and gloves even. I love them both and
I can hardly believe it is true that we are to go to a real
hotel with a lift and a chasseur, where you cannot smoke in
the dining-room. As for Aix, that I cannot believe will ever
happen-- It was just a part of one's honeymoon and I refuse to
cheat myself into thinking that within a week I will be riding
through the lanes of the little villages, drinking red wine at
Burget, watching Chas spread cheese over great hunks of bread
and listening to three bands at one time. And then the joy to
follow of Home and America and all that is American. Even the
Custom House holds nothing but joy for me--and then "mine own
people!" It has been six weeks since we have heard from you
or longer, nearly two months and how I miss you and want you.
It will be a happy day when Dad meets me at the wharf and I
can see his blue and white tie again and his dear face under
the white hat--where you and Nora will be I cannot tell, but I
will seek you out. We will be happy together--so happy-- It
has been the longest separation we have known and such a lot
of things have happened. It will be such peace to see you and
hold you once again.
July 6th, 1900.
Cecil and I arrived last night tired and about worn out--we
had had a month on board ship and two days in the cars and
when we got out at Aix and found our rooms ready and Francois
waiting, we shouted and cheered. It was never so beautiful as
it looked in the moonlight and we walked all over it, through
the silent streets chortling with glee. They could not give
us our same rooms but we got the suite just above them, which
is just as good. They were so extremely friendly and glad to
see us and had flowers in all the rooms. We have not heard a
word about Chas yet, as our mail has not arrived from Paris,
but I will cable in a minute and hear. We cannot wait any
longer for news of him. I got up at seven this morning so
excited that I could not sleep and have been to the baths,
where I was received like the President of the Republic. In
fact everybody seems to have only the kindest recollections of
us and to be glad to have us back.
Such a rest as it is and so clean and bright and good--Only I
have absolutely nothing to wear except a two pound flannel
suit I bought at Lorenzo Marquez until I get some built by a
French tailor. I must wear a bath robe or a bicycle suit
until evening. We have not been to the haunts of evil yet but
we are dining there to night and all will be well. Cecil
sends her love to you all-- Goodbye and God bless you.
Richard and his wife returned to America in the early fall of
1900 and, after a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Clark at Marion,
settled for the winter in New York. They took a house in East
Fifty-eighth Street where they did much entertaining and lived
a very social existence, but I do not imagine that either of
them regarded the winter as a success. Richard was unable to
do his usual amount of work, and both he and his wife were too
fond of the country to enjoy an entire winter in town. In the
spring they went back to Marion.
We arrived here last night in a glowing sunset which was
followed by a grand moon. The house was warm and clean and
bright, with red curtains and open fires and everything was
just as we had left it, so that it seemed as though we had
just come out of a tortuous bad dream of asphalt and L. roads
and bad air. I was never so glad to get away from New York.
Outside it is brisk and fine and smells of earth and melting
snow and there is a grand breeze from the bay. We took a long
walk to-day, with the three dogs, and it was pitiful to
see how glad they were to be free of the cellar
and a back yard and at large among grass and rocks and roots
of trees. I wanted to bottle up some of the air and send it
to all of my friends in New York. It is so much better to
smell than hot-house violets. Seaton came on with us to
handle the dogs and to unpack and so to-day we are nearly
settled already with silver, pictures, clothes and easels and
writing things all in place. The gramophone is whirling madly
and all is well-- Lots and lots of love.
The following was written by Richard to his mother on her birthday:
June 27th, 1901.
In those wonderful years of yours you never thought of the
blessing you were to us, only of what good you could find in
us. All that time, you were helping us and others, and making
us better, happier, even nobler people. From the day you
struck the first blow for labor, in The Iron Mills on to the
editorials in The Tribune, The Youth's Companion and The
Independent, with all the good the novels, the stories
brought to people, you were always year after year making the
ways straighter, lifting up people, making them happier and
better. No woman ever did better for her time than you and no
shrieking suffragette will ever understand the influence you
wielded, greater than hundreds of thousands of women's votes.
We love you dear, dear mother, and we KNOW you and may your
coming years be many and as full of happiness for yourself as
they are for us.
Interrupted by frequent brief visits to New York Philadelphia,
and Boston, Richard and his wife remained in Marion from May,
1901, until the early spring of 1902. During this year
Richard accomplished a great deal of work and lived an ideal
existence. In the summer months there were golf and tennis
and an army of visitors, and during the winter many of their
friends came from New York to enjoy a most charming
hospitality and the best of duck shooting and all kinds of
winter sports.
Late in April, they sailed for Gibraltar on their way to
Madrid, where Richard was to report the coronation ceremonies,
and from Madrid they went to Paris and then to London to see
the coronation of King Edward. It was while on a visit to the
Rudyard Kiplings that they heard the news that Edward had been
suddenly stricken with a serious illness and that the ceremony
had been postponed.
11, St. James's Place,
St. James's Street, S. W.
June, 1902.
This is only to say that at the Kipling's we heard the news,
and being two newspaper men, refused to believe it and went to
the postoffice of the little village to call up Brighton on
the 'phone. It was very dramatic, the real laureate of the
British Empire asking if the King were really in such danger that
he could not be crowned, while the small boy in charge of the
grocery shop, where the postoffice was, wept with his elbows on
the counter. They sent me my ticket--unasked--for the Abbey,
early this morning, and while I was undecided whether to keep
it--or send it back, this came. So, now, I shall frame it as a
souvenir of one of the most unhappy occasions I ever witnessed.
You can form no idea of what a change it has made. It really
seems to have stunned every one--that is the usual and accepted
word, but this time it describes it perfectly.
During the summer of 1903 my mother and father occupied a
cottage at Marion, and every morning Richard started the day
by a visit to them. My brother had already bought his
Crossroads Farm at Mount Kisco, and the new house was one of
the favorite topics of their talk. The following letter was
written by my mother to Richard, after her return to Philadelphia.
September, 1903.
Here we are in the old library and breakfast over. There
seemed an awful blank in the world as I sat down just now, and
I said to Dad "Its Dick--he must come THIS morning."
You don't know how my heart used to give a thump when you and
Bob came in that old door. It has been such a good
month--everybody was so friendly--and Dad was so well and
happy--but your visits were the core of it all. And our good
drives! Well we'll have lots of drives at the Crossroads.
You'll call at our cottage every morning and I'm going to train
the peacocks to run before the trap and I'll be just like Juno.
There isn't a scrap of news. It is delightfully cool here.
During the fall and early winter of 1903 Richard and his wife
lingered on in Marion, but came to New York after the
Christmas holidays. The success of his farce "The Dictator"
had been a source of the greatest pleasure to Richard, and he
settled down to playwriting with the same intense zeal he put
into all of his work. However, for several years Robert J.
Collier and my brother had been very close friends, and
Richard had written many articles and stories for Collier's
Weekly, so that when Collier urged my brother to go to the
Japanese-Russian War as correspondent with the Japanese
forces, Richard promptly gave up his playwriting and returned
to his old love--the role of reporter. Accompanied by his
wife, Richard left New York for San Francisco in February.
February, 1904.
We are really off on the "long trail" bound for the boundless
East. We have a charming drawing-room, a sympathetic porter
and a courtly conductor descended from one of the first
Spanish conquerors of California. We arranged the being late
for lunch problem by having dinner at five and cutting the
lunch out. Bruce and Nan came over for dinner and we had a
very jolly time. They all asked after you all, and drank to
our re-union at Marion in July. Later they all tried to
come with us on the train. It looked so attractive with
electric lights in each seat, and observation car and library.
A reporter interviewed us and Mr. Clark gave us a box of
segars and a bottle of whiskey. But they will not last, as
will Dad's razors and your housewife. I've used Dad's razors
twice a day, and they still are perfect. It's snowing again,
but we don't care. They all came to the station to see us off
but no one cried this time as they did when we went to South
Africa. Somehow we cannot take this trip seriously. It is
such a holiday trip all through not grim and human like the
Boer war. Just quaint and queer. A trip of cherry blossoms
and Geisha girls. I send all my love to you.
SAN FRANCISCO, February 26th.
We got in here last night at midnight just as easily as though
we were coming into Jersey City. Before we knew it we had
seen the Golden Gate, and were snug in this hotel. Today as
soon as we learned we could not sail we started in to see
sights and we made a record and hung it up high. We went to
the Cliff House and saw the seals on the rocks below, to the
Park, the military reservation, Chinatown, and the Poodle Dog
Restaurant. We also saw the Lotta monument, the Stevenson
monument, the Spreckles band stand, the place where the
Vigilance Committee hung the unruly, and tonight I went to a
dinner the Bohemian Club gave to the War correspondents. I
made a darned good speech. Think of ME making a speech of
any sort, but I did, and I had sense enough not to talk about
the war but the "glorious climate of
California" instead and of all the wonders of Frisco. So, I
made a great hit. It certainly is one of the few cities that
lives up to it's reputation in every way. I should call it
the most interesting city, with more character back of it than
any city on this continent. There are only four deck rooms
and we each have one. The boat is small, but in spite of the
crowd that is going on her, will I think be comfortable. I
know it will be that, and it may be luxurious.
On way to Japan.
March 13th, 1904.
About four this afternoon we saw an irregular line of purple
mountains against a yellow sky, and it was Japan. In spite of
the Sunday papers, and the interminable talk on board, the
guide books and maps which had made Japan nauseous to me, I
saw the land of the Rising Sun with just as much of a shock
and thrill as I first saw the coast of Africa. We forgot
entirely we had been twenty days at sea and remembered only
that we were ten miles from Japan, only as far as New Bedford
is from Marion. We are at anchor now, waiting to go in in the
morning. Were it not for war we could go in now but we must
wait to be piloted over the sunken mines. That and the
flashlights moving from the cruisers ten miles away gave us
our first idea of war. To-morrow early we will be off for
Tokio, as it is only forty miles from Yokohama. Of course, I
may get all sorts of news before we land, but that is what we
expect to do. It will be good to feel solid earth, and to see
the kimonos and temples and geishas and cherry blossoms. I am
almost hoping the Government won't let us go to the
front and that for a week at least Cecil and I can sit in tea
houses with our shoes off while the nesans bring us tea and
the geishas rub their knees and make bows to us. I am sending
you through Harper's, a book on Hawaii and one of Japan that I
have read and like and which I think will help you to keep in
touch with the wanderers. With all my love to all.
TOKYO, March 22nd, 1904.
The "situation" here continues to remain in such doubt that I
cannot tell of it, as it changes hourly. There are three
"columns," so far existing only in imagination. That is, so
far as they concern the correspondents. The first lot have
chosen themselves, and so have the second lot. But the first
lot are no nearer starting than they were two weeks ago. I
may be kept waiting here for weeks and weeks. I do not like
to turn out Palmer, although I very much want to go with the
first bunch. On the other hand I am paid pretty well to get
to the front, and I am uncertain as to what I ought to do. If
the second column were to start immediately after the first,
we then would have two men in the field, but if it does not,
then Collier will be paying $1000. a week for stories of tea
houses and "festivals." Palmer threatens to resign if I take
his place in the first column and that would be a loss to the
paper that I do not feel I could make up. If it gets any more
complicated I'll wire Collier to decide.
Meanwhile, we are going out to dinners and festivals and we
ride. I have a good pony the paper paid for Cecil has hired
another and we find it delightful to scamper out into the
country. We have three rooms in a row. One we use for a sitting
room. They look very welland as it is still cold we keep them
cheerful with open fires. We have a table in the dining-room to
ourselves and to which we can ask our friends. The food is
extremely good. Griscom and the Secretaries have all called and
sent pots of flowers, and we are dining out every other night.
In the day we shop and ride. But all day and all night we the
correspondents plot and slave and intrigue over the places on the
columns. I got mine on the second column all right but no one
knows if it ever will move. So, naturally, I want to be on the
first. The rows are so engrossing that I have not enjoyed the
country as I expected. Still, I am everlastingly glad we came.
It is an entirely new life and aspect. It completes so much that
we have read and seen. In spite of the bother over the war
passes I learn things daily and we see beautiful and curious
things, and are educated as to the East, as no books could
have done it for us. John Bass who was my comrade in arms in
Greece and his wife are here. They are the very best. Also
we see Lloyd daily, and the hotel is full of amusing men, who
are trying to get to the front. Of course, we know less of
the war than you do. None of the news from Cheefoo, none of
the "unauthorized" news reaches us. Were it not for our own
squabbles we would not know not only that the country was at
war but not even that war existed ANYWHERE in the world. We
are here entirely en tourist and it cannot be helped. The men
who tried to go with the Russians are equally unfortunate.
Think of us as wandering around each with a copy of Murray
seeing sights. That is all we really do, All my love.
YOKOHAMA--April 2, 1904.
I just got your letter dated the 28th of February and the days
following in which you worried over me in the ice coated
trenches of Korea. I read it in a rickshaw in a warm sun on
my way to buy favors for a dinner to Griscom. We have had
three warm days and no doubt the sun will be out soon. The
loss of the sun, though, is no great one. We have lots of
pleasures and lots of troubles in spite of the Sun. Yesterday
the first batch of correspondents were sent on their way. I
doubt if they will get any further than Chemulpo but their
going cheered the atmosphere like a storm in summer. The
diplomats and Japanese were glad to get rid of them, they were
delighted to be off. Some had been here 58 days, and we all
looked at it as a good sign as it now puts us "next." But
after they had gone it was pretty blue for some of them were
as good friends as I want. I know few men I like as well as I
do John Bass. Many of them were intensely interesting. It
was, by all odds, the crowd one would have wished to go with.
As it is, I suspect we all will meet again and that the two
columns will be merged on the Yalu. None of the attaches have
been allowed to go, so it really is great luck for the
correspondents. Tell Chas I still am buying my Kit. It's
pretty nearly ready now. I began in New York and kept on in
Boston, San Francisco, and here. It always was my boast that
I had the most complete kit in the world, and in spite of
Charley's jeers at my lack of preparedness everybody here
voted it the greatest ever seen. For the last ten days all
the Jap saddlers, tent makers and tinsmiths have been copying it.
TOKIO--May 2, 1904.
Today, we walked into our new house and tomorrow we will
settle down there. We rented the furniture for the two
unfurnished rooms; knives, forks, spoons, china for the table
and extras for 35 dollars gold for two months. It took six
men to bring the things in carts. They got nothing.
Yesterday, I took two rickshaw men from half past twelve to
half past five. Out of that time they ran and pushed me for
two solid hours. Their price for the five hours was eighty
cents gold. What you would pay a cabman to drive you from the
Waldorf to Martin's. I wish you could see our menage. Such
beautiful persons in grey silk kimonos who bow, and bow and
slip and slide in spotless torn white stockings with one big
toe. They make you ashamed of yourself for walking on your
own carpet in your own shoes. Today we got the first news of
the battle on the Yalu, the battle of April 26-30th. I
suppose Palmer and Bass saw it; and I try to be glad I did
what was right by Collier's instead of for myself. But I
don't want to love another paper. I suppose there will be
other fights but that one was the first, and it must have been
wonderful. On the 4th we expect to be on our way to Kioto
with Lloyd and his wife and John Fox. By that time we expect
to be settled in the new house.
TOKIO, May 22nd, 1904.
You will be glad to hear that the correspondents at the front
are not allowed within two and a half miles of the firing line.
This I am sure you will approve. Their tales of woe have just
been received here, and they certainly are having a hard time.
The one thing they all hope for is that the Japs will order them
home. My temper is vile to-day, as I cannot enjoy the gentle
pleasures of this town any longer and with this long trip to
Port Arthur before I can turn towards home. I am as cross as
a sick bear. We were at Yokohama when your last letters came
and they were a great pleasure. I got splendid news of The
Dictator. Yesterday we all went to Yokohama. There are four
wild American boys here just out of Harvard who started the
cry of "Ping Yang" for the "Ping Yannigans" they being the
"Yannigans." They help to make things very lively and are
affectionately regarded by all classes. Yesterday, they and
Fox and Cecil and I went to the races, with five ricksha boys
each, and everybody lost his money except myself. But it was
great fun. It rained like a seive, and all the gentlemen
riders fell off, and every time we won money our thirty
ricksha men who would tell when we won by watching at which
window we had bet, would cheer us and salaam until to save our
faces we had to scatter largesses. Egan turned up in the
evening and dined with John and Cecil and me in the Grand
Hotel and told us first of all the story the correspondents
had brought back to Kobbe for which every one from the
Government down has been waiting. It would make lively
reading if any of us dared to write it. To-day he made his
protests to Fukushima as we mapped them out last night and the
second lot will I expect be treated better. But, as the first
lot were the important men representing the important
syndicates the harm, for the Japs, has been done. Of course,
much they do is through not knowing our points of view. To
them none of us is of any consequence except that he is a
nuisance, and while they are conversationally perfect in
politeness, the regulations they inflict are too insulting.
However, you don't care about that, and neither do I. I am going
to earn my money if I possibly can, and come home.
TOKIO, June 13th, 1904.
We gave a farewell dinner last night to the Ping Yannigans two
of whom left on the Navy expedition and another one to-morrow
for God's country. There were eight men and we had new
lanterns painted with the arms of Corea and the motto of the
Ping Yannigans. Also many flags. All but the Japanese flag.
One of them with a side glance at the servants said, "Gentleman
and Lady: I propose a toast, Japan for the Japanese and
the Japanese for Japan." We all knew what he meant but the
servants were greatly pleased. Jack London turned up to-day
on his way home. I liked him very much. He is very simple
and modest and gave you a tremendous impression of vitality
and power. He is very bitter against the wonderful little
people and says he carries away with him only a feeling of
irritation. But I told him that probably would soon wear off
and he would remember only the pleasant things. I did envy
him so, going home after having seen a fight and I not yet
started. Still THIS TIME we may get off. Yokoyama the
contractor takes our stuff on the 16th, and so we feel it is
encouraging to have our luggage at the front even if we are
YOKOHAMA, July 26th, 1904.
We gave in our passes to-day, and sail to-morrow at five.
They say we are not to see Port Arthur fall but are to be
taken up to Oku's army. That means we miss the "popular"
story, and may have to wait around several weeks before we see
the other big fight. They promised us Port Arthur but that is
reason enough for believing they do not intend we shall see it
at all. John and I are here at a Japanese hotel, the one Li
Hung Chang occupied when he came over to arrange the treaty
between China and Japan. It is a very beautiful house, the
best I have seen of real Japanese and the garden and view of
the harbor is magnificent. I wish Cecil could see it too, but
I know she would not care for a room which is as free to the
public view as the porch at Marion. It has 48 mats and as a
mat is 3 x 5 you can work it out. We eat, sleep and dress in
this room and it is like trying to be at home on top of a
Chickering Grand. But it is very beautiful and the moonlight
is fine and saddening. No one of us has the least interest in
the war or in what we may see or be kept from seeing. We have
been "over trained" and not even a siege of London could hold
our thoughts from home. I have just missed the mail which
would have told me you were at Marion. I should so love to
have heard from you from there. I do not think you will find
the Church house uncomfortable; and you can always run across
the road when the traffic is not too great, and chat with
Benjamin. I do hope that Dad will have got such good health
from Marion and such lashers of fish. I got a good letter
from Charles and I certainly feel guilty at putting extra work
on a man as busy as he. Had I known he was the real judge of
those prize stories I would have sent him one myself and given
him the name of it. Well, goodbye for a little time. We go on
board in a few hours, and after that everything I write you is
read by the Censor so I shall not say anything that would gratify
their curiosity. They think it is unmanly to write from the
field to one's family and the young princes forbade their
imperial spouses from writing them until the war is over.
However, not being an imperial Samaari but a home loving, family
loving American, I shall miss not hearing very much, and not
being able to tell you all how I love you.
DALNY, July 27th, 1904.
We left Shimonoseki three days ago and have had very pleasant
going on the Heijo Maru a small but well run ship of 1,500
tons. Fox and I got one of the two best rooms and I have been
very comfortable. We are at anchor now at a place of no
interest except for its sunsets.
We have just been told as the anchor is being lowered that we
can send letters back by the Island, so I can just dash this
off before leaving. We have reached Dalny and I have just
heard the first shot fired which was to send me home. All the
others came and bid John and me a farewell as soon as we were
sure it was the sound of cannon. However, as it is 20 miles
away I'll have to hang on until I get a little nearer. We
have had a very pleasant trip even though we were delayed two
days by fog and a slow convoy. Now we are here at Dalny. It
looks not at all like its pictures, which, as I remember them
were all taken in winter. It is a perfectly new, good brick
barracks-like town. I am landing now. The two servants seem very
satisfactory and I am in excellent health. Today Cecil has been
four days at Hong Kong. Please send the gist of this letter dull
as it is to Mrs. Clark. When I began it I thought I would have
plenty of time to finish it on shore. Of course, after this all
I write and this too, I suppose will be censored. So, there
will not be much liveliness. I have no taste to expose my
affections to the Japanese staff. So, goodbye.
July 31st, 1904.
We have been met here with a bitter disappointment. We are
all to be sent north, although only 18 hours away. We can
hear the guns at Port Arthur the fall of which they promised
us we would see. To night we are camping out in one of the
Russian barracks. To-morrow we go, partly by horse and partly
by train. A week must elapse before we can get near
headquarters. And then we have no guarantee that we will see
any fighting. This means for me a long delay. It is very
disappointing and the worst of the many we have suffered in
the last four months. I have written Cecil asking her to
seriously think of going home but I am afraid she will not.
Were it not for that and the disappointment one feels in
travelling a week's journey away from the sound of guns I
would be content. My horse is well and so am I. It is good
to get back to drawing water, and carrying baggage and
skirmishing about for yourself. The contractor gave us a good
meal and the servants are efficient but I like doing things
myself and skirmishing for them. We make a short ride this
morning of six miles to Kin Chow and then 30 miles by rail.
"Headquarters" is about a five days ride distant. Tell Chas my
outfit seems nearly complete. Maybe I can buy a few things I
forgot in Boston at Kin Chow. Fox and I will get out just as
soon as we see fighting but before you get this you will probably
hear by cable from me. If not, it will mean we still are waiting
for a fight. The only mistake I made was in not going home the
first time they deceived us instead of waiting for this and
worst of all.
to you all.
MANCHURIA, August 14, 1904.
We have been riding through Manchuria for eleven days. Nine
days we rode then two days we rested. By losing the trail we
managed to average about 20 miles a day. I kept well and
enjoyed it very much. As I had to leave my servant behind
with a sick horse, I had to take care of my mule and pony
myself and hunt fodder for them, so I was pretty busy. Saiki
did all he could, but he is not a servant and sooner than ask
him I did things myself. We passed through a very beautiful
country, sleeping at railway stations and saw two battle
fields of recent fights. Now we are in a Chinese City and
waiting to see what should be the biggest fight since Sedan.
The Russians are about ten miles from us, so we are not
allowed outside the gates of the city without a guide. Of
course, we have none of that freedom we have enjoyed in other
wars, but apart from that they treat us very well indeed. And
in a day or two they promise us much fighting, which we will
be allowed to witness from a hill. This is a
very queer old city but the towns and country are all very
primitive and we depend upon ourselves for our entertainment.
I expect soon to see you at home. In three more days I shall
have been out here five months and that is too long. Good
luck to you all.
R. H. D.
MANCHURIA, August 18th, 1904.
We still are inside this old Chinese town. It has rained for
five days, and this one is the first in which we could go
abroad. Unless you swim very well it is not safe to cross one
of these streets. We have found an old temple and some of us
are in it now. It is such a relief to escape from that
compound and the rain. This place is full of weeds and pine
trees, cooing doves and butterflies. The temples are closed
and no one is in charge but an aged Chinaman. We did not come
here to sit in temples, so John and I will leave in a week,
battle or no battle. The argument that having waited so long
one might as well wait a little longer does not touch us. It
was that argument that kept us in Tokio when we knew we were
being deceived weekly, and the same man who deceived us there,
is in charge here. It is impossible to believe anything he
tells his subordinates to tell us, so, we will be on our way
back when you get this. I am well, and only disappointed.
Had they not broken faith with us about Port Arthur we would
by now have seen fighting. As it is we will have wasted six
Love to Dad, and Chas and Nora and you.
In writing of his decision to leave the Japanese army,
Richard, after his return to the United States, said:
"On the receipt of Oku's answer to the Correspondents we left
the army. Other correspondents would have quit then, as most
of them did ten days later, but that their work and Kuroki, so
far from being fifty miles north toward Mukden, as Okabe said
he was, was twenty miles to the east on our right preparing
for the, closing-in movement which was just about to begin.
Three days after we had left the army, the greatest battle
since Sedan was waged for six days.
"So, our half-year of time and money, of dreary waiting, of
daily humiliations at the hands of officers with minds
diseased by suspicion, all of which would have been made up to
us by the sight of this one great spectacle, was to the end
absolutely lost to us. Perhaps we made a mistake in judgment.
As the cards fell we certainly did.
"The only proposition before us was this: There was small
chance of any immediate fighting. If there were fighting we
would not see it. Confronted with the same conditions again,
I would decide in exactly the same manner. Our misfortune lay
in the fact that our experience with other armies had led us
to believe that officers and gentlemen speak the truth, that
men with titles of nobility, and with the higher titles of
General and Major-General, do not lie. In that we were
Greatly disappointed at his failure to see really anything of
the war, much embittered at the Japanese over their treatment
of the correspondents, Richard reached Vancouver in October.
As my father was seriously ill he came to Philadelphia at once
and divided the next two months between our old home and
On December 14, 1904, my father died, and it was
the first tragedy that had come into Richard's life, as it was
in that of my sister or myself. As an editorial writer, most
of my father's work had been anonymous, but his influence had
been as far-reaching as it had been ever for all that was just
and fine. All of his life he had worked unremittingly for
good causes and, in spite of the heavy burdens which of his
own will he had taken upon his none too strong shoulders, I
have never met with a nature so calm , so simple, so
sympathetic with those who were weak--weak in body or soul.
As all newspaper men must, he had been brought in constant
contact with the worst elements of machine politics, as indeed
he had with the lowest strata of the life common to any great
city. But in his own life he was as unsophisticated; his
ideals of high living, his belief in the possibilities of good
in all men and in all women, remained as unruffled as if he
had never left his father's farm where he had spent his
childhood. When my father died Richard lost his "kindest and
severest critic" as he also lost one of his very closest
friends and companions.
During the short illness that preceded my brother's death,
although quite unconscious that the end was so near, his
thoughts constantly turned back to the days of his home in
Philadelphia, and he got out the letters which as a boy and as
a young man he had written to his family. After reading a
number of them he said: "I know now why we were such a happy
It was because we were always, all of us, of the same age."
During my brother's life there were four centres from which he
set forth on his travels and to which he returned to finish
the articles for which he had collected the material, or
perhaps to write a novel, a few short stories, or occasionally
a play, but unlike most of the followers of his craft, never
to rest. Indeed during the last twenty-five years of his life
I do not recall two consecutive days when Richard did not
devote a number of hours to literary work. The centres of
which I speak were first Philadelphia, then New York, then
Marion, and lastly Mount Kisco. Happy as Richard had been at
Marion, the quaint little village, especially in winter, was
rather inaccessible, and he realized that to be in touch with
the numerous affairs in which he was interested that his
headquarters should be in or near New York. In addition to
this he had for long wanted a home of his very own, and so
located that he could have his family and his friends
constantly about him. Some years, however, elapsed between
this dream and its realization. In 1903 he took the first
step by purchasing a farm situated in the Westchester Hills,
five miles from Mount Kisco, New York. He began by building a
lake at the foot of the hill on which the home was to stand,
then a water-tower, and finally the house itself. The plans
to the minutest detail had been laid out on the lawn at Marion
and, as the architect himself said, there was nothing left for
him to do but to design the cellar.
Richard and his wife moved into their new home in July, 1905,
and called it Crossroads Farm, keeping the original name of
the place. In later years Richard added various adjoining
parcels of land to his first purchase, and the property
eventually included nearly three hundred acres. The house
itself was very large, very comfortable, and there were many
guest-rooms which every week-end for long were filled by the
jolliest of house-parties. In his novel "The Blind Spot,"
Justus Miles Forman gives the following very charming picture
of the place:
"It was a broad terrace paved with red brick that was stained
and a little mossy, so that it looked much older than it had
any right to, and along its outer border there were bay-trees
set in big Italian terracotta jars; but the bay-trees were
placed far apart so that they should not mask the view, and
that was wise, for it was a fine view. It is rugged country
in that part of Westchester County--like a choppy sea: all
broken, twisted ridges, and abrupt little hills, and piled-up
boulders, and hollow, cup-like depressions among them. The
Grey house sat, as it were, upon the lip of a cup, and from
the southward terrace you looked across a mile or two of
hollow bottom, with a little lake at your feet, to sloping
pastures where there were cattle browsing, and to the far,
high hills beyond.
"There was no magnificence about the outlook--nothing to make
you catch your breath; but it was a good view with plenty of
elbow room and no sign of a neighbor--no huddling--only the
water of the little lake, the brown November hillsides, and
the clean blue sky above. The distant cattle looked like scenic
cattle painted on their green-bronze pasture to give an aspect
of husbandry to the scene."
Although Richard was now comfortably settled, he had of late
years acquired a great dread of cold weather. As soon as
winter set in his mind turned to the tropics, and whenever it
was possible he went to Cuba or some other land where he was
sure of plenty of heat and sunshine. The early part of 1906
found him at Havana, this time on a visit to the Hon. E. V.
Morgan, who was then our minister to Cuba. From Havana he
went to the Isle of Pines.
ISLE OF PINES, March 26th, 1906.
We are just returning from the Isle of Pines. We reached
there after a day on the water at about six on Wednesday,
22nd. They dropped us at a woodshed in a mangrove swamp,
where a Mr. Mason met us with two mules. I must have said I
was going to the island because every one was expecting me.
Until the night before we had really no idea when we would go,
so, to be welcomed wherever we went, was confusing. For four
days we were cut off from the world, and in that time, five
days in all, we covered the entire island pretty thoroughly--
It was one of the most interesting trips I ever took and Cecil
enjoyed it as much as I did. The island is a curious mixture
of palm and pines, one minute it looks like Venezuela and the
next like Florida and Lakewood. It is divided into two
parties of Americans, the "moderates" and the
"revolutionists." The Cubans are very few and are all
employed by the Americans, who own nine-tenths of the Island.
Of course, they all want the U. S. to take it, they differ
only as to how to persuade the senators
to do it. I had to change all my opinions about the
situation. I thought it was owned by land speculators
who did not live there, nor wish to live there, but instead I
found every one I met had built a home and was cultivating the
land. We gave each land company a turn at me, and we had to
admire orange groves and pineapples, grapefruit and coffee
until we cried for help. With all this was the most romantic
history of the island before the "gringos" came. It was a
famous place for pirates and buried treasures and slave pens.
It was a sort of clearing house for slaves where they were
fattened. I do not believe people take much interest in or
know anything about it, but I am going to try and make an
interesting story of it for Collier. It was queer to be so
completely cut off from the world. There was a wireless but
they would not let me use it. It is not yet opened to the
public. I talked to every one I met and saw much that was
pathetic and human. It was the first pioneer settlement Cecil
had ever seen and the American making the ways straight is
very curious. He certainly does not adorn whatever he
touches. But never have I met so many enthusiastics and such
pride in locality. To-night we reach the Hotel Louvre, thank
heaven! where I can get Spanish food again, and not American
ginger bread, and, "the pie like mother used to make." We now
are on a wretched Spanish tug boat with every one, myself
included, very seasick and babies howling and roosters
crowing. But soon that will be over, and, after a short ride
of thirty miles through a beautiful part of the island, we
will be in Havana in time for a fine dinner, with ice. What
next we will do I am not sure. After living in that beautiful
palace of Morgan's, it just needed five days of the "Pinero's"
to make us enjoy life at a hotel-- If we can make connections, I
think I will go over to Santo Domingo, and study up that subject,
too. But, even if we go no where else the trip to the I. of P.
was alone well worth our long journey. I don't know when I have
seen anything as curious, and as complicated a political
existence. Love to all of you dear ones.
HAVANA--April 9, 1906.
I have just read about myself, in the April Bookman, which I
would be very ungrateful if I did not write and tell you how
much it pleased me. That sounds as though what pleased me
was, obviously, that what you said was so kind. But what I
really mean, and that for which I thank you, was your picking
out things that I myself liked, and that I would like to think
others liked. I know that the men make "breaks," and am sorry
for it, but, I forget to be sorry when you please me by
pointing out the good qualities in "Laquerre," and the bull
terrier. Nothing ever hurt me so much as the line used by
many reviewers of "Macklin" that "Mr. Davis' hero is a cad,
and Mr. Davis cannot see it." Macklin I always thought was
the best thing I ever did, and it was the one over which I
took the most time and care. Its failure was what as Maggie
Cline used to say, "drove me into this business" of play
writing. All that ever was said of it was that it was "A book
to read on railroad trains and in a hammock." That was the
verdict as delivered to me by Romeike from 300 reviewers, and
it drove me to farces. So, I was especially glad
when you liked "Royal Macklin." I tried to make a "hero" who
was vain, theatrical, boasting and selfconscious, but, still
likable. But, I did not succeed in making him of interest,
and it always has hurt me. Also, your liking the "Derelict"
and the "Fever Ship" gave me much pleasure. You see what I
mean, it was your selecting the things upon which I had
worked, and with which I had made every effort, that has both
encouraged and delighted me. Being entirely unprejudiced, I
think it is a fine article, and as soon as I stamp this, I
will read it over again. So, thank you very much, indeed, for
to say what you did seriously, over your own name, took a lot
of courage, and for that daring, and for liking the same
things I do, I thank you many times.
Sincerely yours,
In reading this over, I find all I seem to have done in it is
to complain because no one, but yourself and myself liked
"Macklin." What I wanted to say is, that I am very grateful
for the article, for the appreciation, although I don't
deserve it, and for your temerity in saying so many kind
things. Nothing that has been written about what I have
written has ever pleased me so much.
R. H. D.
In the spring of 1906 while Richard was on a visit to
Providence, R. I., Henry W. Savage produced a play by Jesse
Lynch Williams and my brother was asked to assist at
rehearsals, a pastime in which he found an enormous amount of
pleasure. The "McCloy" mentioned in the following letter was
the city editor of The Evening Sun when my brother first joined
the staff of that paper as a reporter.
NEW YORK, May 4,1906.
I left Providence Tuesday night and came on to New York
yesterday. Savage and Williams and all were very nice about
the help they said I had given them, and I had as much fun as
though it had been a success I had made myself, and I didn't
have to make a speech, either.
Yesterday I spent in the newspaper offices gathering material
from their envelopes on Winston Churchill, M. P. who is to be
one of my real Soldiers of Fortune. He will make a splendid
one, in four wars, twice made a question; before he was 21
years old, in Parliament, and a leader in BOTH parties
before he was 36. In the newspaper offices they had a lot of
fun with me. When I came into the city room of The Eve.
Sun, McCloy was at his desk in his shirt spiking copy. He
just raised his eyes and went on with his blue pencil. I said
"There's nothing in that story, sir, the man will get well,
and the woman is his wife."
"Make two sticks of it," said McCloy, "and then go back to the
Jefferson police court."
When I sat down at my old desk, and began to write the copy
boy came and stood beside me and when I had finished the first
page, snatched it. I had to explain I was only taking notes.
At The Journal, Sam Chamberlain who used to pay me $500 a
story, touched me on the shoulder as I was scribbling down
notes, and said "Hearst says to take you back at $17 a week."
I said "I'm worth $18 and I can't come for less."
So he brought up the business manager and had a long wrangle
with him as to whether I should get $18. The business
manager, a Jew gentleman, didn't know me from Adam, and
seriously tried to save the paper a dollar a week. When the
reporters and typewriter girls began to laugh, he got very
mad. It was very funny how soothing was the noise of the
presses, and the bells and typewriters and men yelling "Copy!"
and "Damn the boy!" I could write better than if I had been in
the silence of the farm. It was like being able to sleep as
soon as the screw starts.
During the winter of 1907 the world rang with the reports of
the atrocities in the Congo, and Robert J. Collier, of Collier's
Weekly, asked Richard to go to the Congo and make
an investigation. I do not believe that my brother was ever
in much sympathy with the commission, as he did not feel that
he could afford the time that a thorough investigation demanded.
However, with his wife he sailed for Liverpool on
January 5, 1907, and three weeks later started for Africa.
Regarding this trip, in addition to the letters he wrote to
his family, I also quote from a diary which he had just
started and which he conscientiously continued until his death.
From diary of January 24th, 1907.
Last day in London. Margaret Frazer offered me gun from a
Captain Jenkins of Nigeria. Instead bought Winchester
repeating, hoping, if need it, get one coast. Lunched
Savoy-Lynch, Mrs. Lynch, her sister--very beautiful girl. In
afternoon Sam Sothern and Margaret came in to say "Good bye."
Dined at Anthony Hope's--Barrie and Mrs. Barrie and Jim
Whigham. Mrs. Barrie looking very well, Barrie not so well.
As silent as ever, only talked once during dinner when he told
us about the first of his series of cricket matches between
authors and artists. Did not have eleven authors, so going
along road picked up utter strangers one a soldier in front of
embracing two girls. Said he would come if girls came
too--all put in brake. Mrs. Barrie said the Llewellen Davis'
were the originals for the Darlings and their children in Peter
Pan. They played a strange game of billiards suggested by Barrie
who won as no one else knew the rules and they claimed he
invented them to suit his case. Sat up until three writing
and packing. The dinner was best have had this trip in London.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 11th, 1907.
To-morrow, we will be in Banana, which is the first port in
the Congo. When I remember how far away the Congo seemed from
New York and London, it is impossible to believe we are less
than a day from it. I am so very glad I came. The people who
have lived here for years agree about it in no one fact, so,
it is a go-as-you-please for any one so far as accurate
information is concerned, and I am as likely to be right as
any one else. It has been a pleasant trip and for us will not
be over until some days, for at Matadi, which is up the river,
we will probably live on the steamer as the shore does not
sound attractive. Then I shall probably go on up the river
and after a month or six weeks come back again. At Boma I am
to see the Governor, one of the inspectors on board is to
introduce me, and I have an idea they will make me as
comfortable as possible, so that I may not see anything. Not
that I would be likely to see anything hidden under a year.
Yesterday was the crossing of the Equator. The night before
Neptune, one of the crew, and his wife, the ship's butcher, and a
kroo boy, as black as coal for the heir apparent came over the
side and proclaimed that those who never before had crossed
the Equator must be baptized. We had crossed but I was
perfectly willing to go through it for the fun. The Belgians
went at it as seriously as children, and worked up a grand
succession of events. First we had gymkana races among the
kroo boys. The most remarkable was their placing franc pieces
in tubs of white and red flour, for which the boys dived, they
then dug for more money into a big basket fitted with feathers
and when they came out they were the most awful sights
imaginable. You can picture their naked black bodies and
faces spotted with white and pink and stuck like chickens with
feathers. Then the next day we were all hauled before a court
and judged, and having all been found guilty were condemned to
be shaved and bathed publicly at four. Meantime the Italians,
is it not the picture of them, had organized a revolution
against the Tribunal, with the object of ducking them. They
went into this as though it were a real conspiracy and had
signs and passwords. At four o'clock, in turn they sat us on
the edge of the great tank on the well deck and splashed us
over with paste and then tilted us in. I tried to carry the
Frenchman who was acting as barber, with me but only got him
half in. But Milani, one of the Italians, swung him over his
head plumb into the water. The Frenchman is a rich elephant
hunter who is not very popular. When the revolution broke
loose we all yelled "A bas le Tribunal" "Vivela Revolution"!
and there was awful rough house. I made for the Frenchman and
went in with him and nearly drowned him, and everybody was
being thrown into the tank or held in front of a fire cross.
After dinner there was a grand ceremony, the fourth, in which
certificates were presented by an Inspecteur d'Etat who is on
board, and is a Deputy Governor of a district. Then there was
much champagne and a concert and Cecil and I sat with the
Captain, the Bishop, in his robes and berretta and the two
inspectors and they were very charming to both of us.
Compagnie Belge Maritime Du Congo.
S. S. February 13th, 1907.
We reached Banana yesterday morning, and the mouth of the
Congo, and as the soldier said when he reached the top of San
Juan Hill, "Hell! well here we are!" Banana looks like one of
the dozen little islands in the West Indies, where we would
stop to take on some "brands of bananas," instead of the port
to a country as big as Europe. We went ashore and wandered
around under the palm trees, and took photos, and watched some
men fishing in the lagoons, and we saw a strange fish that
leaps on the top of the water just as a frog jumps on land.
It is certainly hot. Milani and I went in swimming in the
ocean, and got finely cool. Then we paddled the canoe back to
the ship to show the blacks how good we were, and got very
hot, and the blacks charged us a franc for the voyage.
To-morrow we will be in Boma, the capital, which is much of a
place with shops and a lawn tennis court.
BOMA, February 15th.
Boma is more or less laid out and contains the official
residences of the Government. I walked all over it in an
hour, and here you walk very slow. There are
three or four big trading stores AND a tennis court. It is,
however, a dreary place. We called on the missionary and his
wife, but she does not speak English and their point of view
of everything was not cheerful or instructive. Cecil plans to
remain on board while at Matadi and return with this same
boat to Boma. I want her to go home in this boat or in some
other, as I believe Boma most unhealthy and I know it to be
most uncomfortable. She would have to go to a hotel which is
very hot and rough, although it is clean and well run. I am
undecided whether to go up the river for ten days, to where it
crosses the equator, or to leave the upper Congo and go up the
Kasai river. This is off the beaten track, and one may see
something of interest. I will know better what I will do in
an hour, when I get to Matadi.
MATADI--Feby. 21.
We are now at Matadi. The Captain invited us to stop on board
and it is well he did. We dine on deck where the wind blows
but the rest of the ship is being cleaned and painted for the
trip North. Four hatches are discharging cargo all at once,
from four in the morning until midnight. Officers and kroo
boys get four hours sleep out of the twenty-four, but I sleep
right through it, so does Cecil. Sometimes they take out iron
rails and then zinc roofs and steel boats, 6000 cases of gin
and 1000 tons of coal. Still, it is much better than in the
Hotel Africa on shore. Matadi is a hill of red iron and the
heat is grand. Everything in this country is grand. The
river is, in places, seven miles wide, the sunsets are like
nothing earthly, and the black people are like brooding
shadows of lost souls, that is, if souls have shadows. Most
of the blacks in this town are "prisoners" with a steel ring
around the neck, and chained in long lines. I leave on the 23d
to go up the Kasai River, because that is where the atrocities
come from and up there there are many missionaries. I don't want
you to think I say this to "calm your fears," but I say it
because it is as true of this place as of every other one in
the world, and that is, that it is as easy to get about here
as it is in Rhode Island. It is not half as dangerous as
automobiling. I have not even felt feverish, neither has
Cecil. I never felt better. Cecil stays on board and goes
back to Boma. There she stops a week and then takes another
ship back to London. She will not wait at Boma for me, at
least, I hope not and cannot imagine her doing so. In any
event, after I start, there will be no way for us to
communicate, and I will act on the understanding that she has
started North.
I have two very good boys and both speak English, and are from
Sierra Leone. I take a two-day trip of 200 miles by rail,
then four days by boat up the Kasai and then I may come back
by boat or walk. It depends on how I like it, how long I
stay, for I can hope to see very little, as under a year it
would be impossible to write with authority of this country.
But I'll see more of it than some at home, and I'll hear what
those who have lived here for years have to say. It is
awfully interesting, absolutely different and more uncivilized
than anything I ever saw. But all the time you are depressed
with how little you know and can know of it. I will be here
six weeks or two months and then should get up the coast to
London about the middle of May or sooner.
From diary of February 22nd, 1907.
Spent about the worst night of my life. No mattress, no
pillow. Not space enough for my own cot. Every insect in the
world ate me. After a bath and coffee felt better. It rained
heavily until three P. M. Read Pendennis, and loved it. The
picture of life at Clavering and Fairoaks, and Dr. Portman and
Foker are wonderful. I do not know when I have enjoyed and
admired a work so much. For some reason it is all entirely
new again. I will read them all now in turn. After rain
cleared took my slaves and went after "supplies." Met a King.
I thought he was a witch doctor, and the boys said he was a
dancing man. All his suite, wives and subjects followed,
singing a song that made your flesh creep. At Hatton and
Cookson's bought "plenty chop" for "boys" who were much
pleased. Also a sparklet bottle, some whiskey and two pints
of champagne at 7 francs the pint. Blush to own it was demi
Sec. Also bacon, jam, milk, envelopes, a pillow. Saw some
ivory State had seized and returned. 15 Kilo's. Some taken
from Gomez across street not returned until he gave up half.
No reason given Taylor agent H. & C. why returned Apparently
when called will come down on the ivory question. Cuthbert
Malet, coffee planter, came call on me. Only Englishman still
in Service State. Had much to say which did not want printed
until he out of country which will be in month or two.
Anstrossi has given me side of cabin where there is room for
my cot, so expect to sleep.
STANLEY POOL, Feb. 22nd, 1907.
When you get this, I will be on my way to London.
The rest of my stay here will be on board two boats,
touching at the banks of the Kasai river. One I now am on
takes me up and another takes me down. I will see a great
deal that is strange and it is very interesting. Yesterday,
for example, only an hour before our train reached Gongolo
Station, there were three elephants that wandered across the
track. We were very disappointed not to have seen them. At
the mission house on the way up, I brought the first ice the
mission boys had seen and when I put a piece in the hand of
one, he yelled and danced about as though it were a coal. The
higher up you go the tougher it gets. Back in the jungle, one
can only imagine what it is like. Here all the white men have
black wives, and the way the whip is used on the men is very
different from the lower congo. The boat is about as large as
a touring car, with all the machinery exposed. I am very
comfortable though, with my bed and camp chair, and, books to
read, when one gets tired of this great, dirty river. I,
expect to see hippopotamuses and many crocodiles and to learn
something of the "atrocities" by hearsay. To see for oneself,
would take months. I return from the Kasai district by a boat
like this one, burning wood and with a stern wheel, reaching
Leopoldville, this place, about the 12th of March, and sailing
on the Albertville for Southampton on the 19th of March. So
I should be in London and so very near you by the 8th of
April. Of course, if I take a later boat from here, I will be
just that much later. I am perfectly well, never better. No
fever, no "tired feeling" good appetite, in spite of awful
tough food. From this place money cannot be used and I carry
a bag of salt and rolls of cloth. For a bottle of salt you
get a fowl or a turkey, for a tablespoonful an egg, or a bunch
of fruit. When you write be sure and tell me
ALL your plans for the summer; that is, after you have been
to see us. My dearest love to you all.
From diary of February 27th, 1907.
Saw two hippos. Thought Anstrossi said they were buffalo. So
was glad when I found out what they were. I did not want to
go home without having seen only two dead ones. In a few
minutes I saw two more. Anstrossi fired at them but I did
not, as thought it not the game when one could not recover
them. Before noon saw six in a bunch--and then what I thought
was a spit of rock with a hippo lying on the end of it, turned
out to be fifteen hippos in a line! Burnham has told he had
seen eleven in the Volta in one day. Before one o'clock, I
had seen twenty-six, and, later in the day Anstrossi fired at
another, and shot a hole in the awning. That made
twenty-seven in one day. Also some monkeys.
The hippos were delightful. They seemed so aristocratic, like
gouty old gentlemen, puffing and blowing and yawning, as
though everything bored them.
From diary of February 28th, 1907.
When just going up for coffee, saw what was so big, looking at
it against horizon, thought it must be an elephant. Was a
young hippo. Captain Jensen brought boat within eighty yards
of him, and both Anstrossi and I fired, apparently knocking
him off his legs, for he rolled on his side as though his back
was broken. I missed him the second shot, which struck the
water just in front of him. The other three shots caught him
in the head, in the mouth and ear. He
lay quite still, and the boys rushed out a gang plank and
surrounded him singing and shouting and cutting his tail to
make him bleed and weaken him. They don't die for an hour but
he seemed dead enough, so I went to my cabin to re-load my gun
and my camera. In three minutes I came out, and found the
hippo still quiet. Then he began to toss his head and I shot
him again, to put him out of pain. In return for which he
rolled over into the water and got away. I was mad. Later
saw four more. Just at sunset while taking bath another was
seen on shore. We got within sixty yards of him and all of us
missed him or at least did not hurt him. He then trotted for
the river with his head up and again I must have missed,
although at one place he was but fifty yards away, when he
entered the water, a hundred. I stepped it off later in the
sand. I followed him up and hit him or some one of us hit him
and he stood up on his hind legs. But he put back to land for
the third time. Captain said wait until moon came out. But
though we hunted up to our waists saw none. One came quite
close at dinner. Seven on the day.
CONGO RIVER--March 1, 1907.
I have been up the Congo as far as the Kasai river, and up
that to a place called Dima. There I found myself in a sort
of cul de sac. I found that the rubber plantations I had come
to see, were nine days journey distant. In this land where
time and distance are so differently regarded than with us, a
man tells you to go to Dima to see rubber. He means after
getting to Dima, you must catch a steamer that leaves every
two weeks and travel for five days. But he forgets that
that fact is important to visitors. As he is under contract
to stay here three years, it does not much matter to him how
he spends a month, or so. Dima was two hundred yards square,
and then the jungle. In half an hour, I saw it all, and met
every one in it. They gave me a grand reception, but I could
not spend ten days in Dima. The only other thing I could do
was to take a canoe to the Jesuit Mission where the Fathers
promised me shooting, or, try to catch the boat back to
England that stops at interesting ports. Sooner than stop in
Boma, I urged Cecil to take that boat. So, if I catch it, we
will return together. It is a five weeks journey, and rather
long to spend alone. In any event my letters will go by a
faster boat. I have had a most wonderfully interesting visit,
at least, to me. I hope I can make it readable. But, much of
its pleasure was personal.
I have just had to stop writing this, for what when I get back
to New York will seem a perfectly good reason for interrupting
a letter to even you. A large hippopotamus has just pushed
past us with five baby hippos in front of her. She is shoving
them up stream, and the papa hippo is in the wake puffing and
blowing. They are very plenty here and on the way up stream,
I saw a great many, and every morning and evening went hunting
for them on shore. I wanted the head of a hippopotamus
awfully keenly for the farm. But of the only two I saw on
land, both got away from me. I did not shoot at any I saw in
the water, although the other idiot on board did, because if
you kill them, you cannot recover them, and it seems most
unsportsmanlike. Besides, I was so grateful to them for being
so proud and pompous, and real aristocrats dating back from
the flood. But I was terribly disappointed at losing both of
those I saw on land. One I dropped at the first shot, and the
other I missed, as he was running, to get back into the water.
The one I shot, and that everyone thought was dead, AFTER THE
"BOYS" BEGAN TO CUT HIM UP, decided he was not going to stand for
that, and to our helpless dismay suddenly rolled himself into the
water. If that is not hard luck, I don't know it. All I got was
a bad photograph of him, and I had already decided where I would
hang his head, and how much I would tip the crew for cutting
him up. It was a really wonderful journey. I loved every
minute of it and never was I in better health.
If I only could have known that you knew that I was all right,
but instead you were worrying. The nights were bright
moonlight, and the days were beautiful; full of strange people
and animals, birds and views. We three sat in the little
bridge of the tinpot boat, and smoked pipes and watched the
great muddy river rushing between wonderful banks. There was
the Danish Captain, an Italian officer and the engineer was
from Finland. The Italian spoke French and the two others
English, and I acted as interpreter!! Can you imagine it? I
am now really a daring French linguist. People who understand
me, get quick promotion. If I only could have been able to
tell you all was well and not to be worried. At Kwarmouth I
have just received a wire from Cecil saying she expects to
leave by the slow boat but will stay if I wish it. So, now we
can both go by the slow boat if I can catch it. I hope so.
must have found Boma as bad as it looked. God bless you all.
On April 13, Richard was back in London and in his diary of
that date he writes, "Never so glad to get anywhere. Went to
sleep to the music of motorcars. Nothing ever made me feel so
content and comfortable and secure as their `honk, honk.'"
From diary of April 22nd, 1907.
A blackmailer named H---- called, with photos of atrocities
and letters and films. He wanted 30 Pounds for the lot. I
gave him 3 Pounds for three photos. One letter he showed me
signed Bullinger, an Englishman, said he had put the fear of
God in their hearts by sticking up the chief's head on a pole,
and saying, "Now, make rubber, or you will look like that."
Went to lunch with Pearson but it was the wrong day, and so
missed getting a free feed. Thinking he would turn up, I
ordered a most expensive lunch. I paid for it. Evening went
Patience, which liked immensely and then Duchess of
Sutherland's party to Premiers. Saw Churchill and each
explained his share of the Real Soldiers row.
From diary of April 28th, 1907.
We went down by train to Cliveden going by Taplow to
Maidenhead where Astor had sent his car to meet us. It is a
wonderful place and the view of the Thames is a beautiful one.
They had been making alterations, bathrooms, and putting white
enamel tiles throughout the dungeons. If Dukes lived no more
comfortably than those who owned Cliveden, I am glad I was not
a Duke. What was most amusing was the servant's room which
was quite as smart as any library or study, with fine
paintings, arm chairs and writing material. Nannie and Astor
were exceedingly friendly and we walked all over the place.
It was good to get one's feet on turf again. They sent us
back by motor, so we arrived most comfortably. I gave a
dinner to the Hopes, Wyndham, Miss Mary Moore,
Ashmead-Bartlett and Margaret. Websters could not come.
Later, came on here, and had a chat, the Websters coming too.
I read Thaw trial.
Early in May Richard and his wife returned to Mount Kisco and
my brother at once started in to change his farce "The
Galloper" into a musical comedy. It was produced on August
12, at the Astor Theatre, under the title of the "Yankee
Tourist," with Raymond Hitchcock as the star. The following I
quote from Richard's diary of that date:
Monday, August 12th, 1907.
Was to have lunched with Ned Stone but he was in court. Met
Whigham in street. Impulsively asked him to lunch. Ethel and
Jack turned up at Martin's; asked them to lunch. Ethel and I
drove around town doing errands, mine being the purchase of
tickets for numerous friends. Called on Miss Trusdale to
inquire about Harden-Hickey. She wants her to go to the
country. Cecil arrived at six. We had a suite of eighty-nine
rooms. We dined at Sherry's with Ethel and Jack, Ethel being
host. Taft was there. Hottest night ever. I sat with Jack.
In spite of weather, play went well. Bonsals, Ethel, Arthur
Brisbane were in Cecil's box. Booth Tarkington in Irwin's.
Surprise of performance was "Hello, Bill" which Raymond had
learned only that morning. Helen Hale helped him greatly with
dance. People came to supper at Waldorf, and things went all
wrong. Next time I have a first Night I want no friends during
or after. Missed the executive ability of Charles Belmont
From the fall of 1907 to that of 1908 Richard divided his time
between Mount Kisco, Marion, and Cuba. In December of 1908 he
sailed for London where he took Turner the artist's old house
in Chelsea for the winter.
Cheyne Walk, Chelsea.
December 25. Christmas Day.
We are settled here in Darkest Chelsea as though we had been
born here. I am thinking of putting in my time of exile by
running for Mayor. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful place in
which to write the last chapters of "Once Upon a Time." The
house is quite wonderful. In Spring and Summer it must be
rarely beautiful. It has trees in front and a yard and a
garden and a squash court: a sort of tennis you play against
the angles of walls covered smooth with cement. Also a studio
as large as a theatre. Outside the trees beat on the windows
and birds chirp there. The river flows only forty feet away,
with great brown barges on it, and gulls whimper and cry, and
aeroplane all day. I have a fine room, and about the only one
you can keep as warm as toast SHOULD be, and in England
never is.
Cecil has engaged a teacher, and a model and he is coming
here to work. He is twenty years old, and called the
"boy Sargent." So, as soon as the British public
gets sober, we will begin life in earnest, and both
work hard. I need not tell you how glad I am to be at it. I
was with you all in heart last night and recited as much as I
could remember of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," which
always means Dad to me, as he used to read it to us. How much
he made the day mean to us. I wish I could just slip in for a
kiss, and a hug. But tonight we will all drink to you, and a
few hours later you will drink to us. God bless you all.
December 29th.
A blizzard has swept over London. The last one cost the City
Corporation $25,000!! The last man who contracted to clean
New York of snow was cleaned out by two days of it, to the
tune of $200,000. Still, in spite of our alleged superiority
in all things, one inch of snow in Chelsea can do more to
drive one to drink and suicide than a foot of it "on the
farm." At the farm we threw a ton of coal against it, and lit
log fires and oil lamps, and were warm. Here, they try to
fight it with two buckets of soft chocolate cake called Welch
coal, and the result is you freeze. Cecil's studio is like
one vast summer hotel at Portland Maine in January. You
cannot go near it except in rubber boots, fur coats and woolen
gloves. My room still is the only one that is livable. It is
four feet square, heavily panelled in oak and the coal fire
makes it as warm as a stoke hole. So, I am all right and can
work nicely. Janet Sothern came to lunch today and Cecil and
she in furs went picture gazing. Tomorrow we have Capt. Chule
to dinner. He came up the West coast with us and is accustomed
to a temperature of 120 degrees.
New Year's eve we spend with Lady Lewis where we dine and keep
it up until four in the morning. We will easily be able to
get back here but how we can get a hansom from here to the
great city, I can't imagine. I have seen none in five days.
It is fine to be surrounded by busts of Carlyle, Whistler,
Rosetti and Turner's own, but occasionally you wish for a
taxicab. Tomorrow I am going on a spree to the great city of
London. The novel goes on smoothly, and all is well. I am
still running for Mayor of Chelsea.
Love to you all.
LONDON--January 1, 1909.
I drank your health and Noll's and Charley's last night and so
we all came into the New Year together. I hope it will be as
good for me as the last. Certainly Chas. is coming on well
with another book. It is splendid. I am so very, very glad.
Some of the very best stories anybody has written will be in
his next book.
We dined at the Lewis's. There were 150 at dinner and as we
live in Chelsea now--one might as well be in Brooklyn--we were
a half hour late. Fancy feeling you were keeping 150 people
hungry. I sat at Lady Lewis's table with some interesting men
and one beautiful woman all dressed in glass over pink silk,
and pearls, and pearls and then, pearls. She said "Who am I"
and I said "You look like a girl in America, who used to stand
under a green paper lamp shade up in a farm house in New
Hampshire and play a violin." Whereat there was much applause,
because it seemed she was that girl, the daughter of a Mrs. Van
S----, who wrote short stories. Her daughter was L---- Van S----
now the wife of a baronet and worth five million dollars. The
board we paid then was eight dollars a week. Now, we are dining
with her next Monday and as I insisted on gold plate she said
"Very well, I'll get out the gold plate." But wasn't it dramatic
of me to remember her after twenty two years?
LONDON-February 23, 1909.
George Washington's health was celebrated by drinking it at
dinner. I had been asked to speak at a banquet but for some
strange reason could not see myself in the part. The great
Frohman arrived last night and we are all agitated until he
speaks. If he would only like my plays as some of the actors
do, I would be passing rich. Barrie asked himself to lunch
yesterday and was very entertaining. He told us of a letter
he received from Guy DuMaurier who wrote "An Englishman's
Home" which has made a sensation second to nothing in ten
years. He is an officer stationed at a small post in South
Africa. He wrote Barrie he was at home, very blue and
homesick, and outside it was raining. Then came Barrie's long
cable, at 75 cents a word, saying his play was the success of
the year. He did not know even it had been ACCEPTED. He
shouted to his wife, and they tried to dance but the hut was
too small, so they ran out into the compound and danced in the
rain. Then he sent the Kaffir boys to the mess to bring all
the officers and all the champagne and they did not go to bed
at all. The next day cables, still at three shillings a word
came from papers and magazines and publishers, managers,
syndicates. And, in his letter he says, still not appreciating
what a fuss it has made, "I suppose all it needs now is to be
made a question in the House," when already it has been the text
of half a dozen speeches by Cabinet Ministers, and three
companies are playing it in the provinces. What fun to have a
success come in such a way, not even to know it was being
rehearsed. Today Sargent is here to see what is wrong with
Cecil's picture of Janet. He came early and said he couldn't
tell until he saw Janet, so now he is back again, and both Janet
and Cecil are shaking with excitement. He is the most simple,
kindly genius I ever met. He says the head is very fine and I
guess Cecil suspected that, before she called him in. He says
she must send it to the Royal Academy. I am now going out to
hear more words fall from the great man, and so farewell.
Seymour and I began work yesterday on the Dictator. It went very
smooth. All my love to Noll and to you.
Read the other letter first and then, let me tell you that
when I went out to see Sargent, I found Cecil complaining that
she could not understand just how it was he wanted Janet to
pose. Whereat she handed him a piece of chalk and he made a
sketch of Janet as exquisite as the morning and rubbed his
hands of the charcoal and left it there! It's only worth a
hundred pounds! Can you imagine the nerve of Cecil. I was so
shocked I could only gasp. But, he was quite charming and
begged her to call him next time she got in a scrape, and gave
her his private telephone number.
Fancy having Sargent waiting to be called up to make sketches
for you. I left Janet and Cecil giggling with happiness.
Janet because she had been sketched by him and Cecil because
she has the sketch. It's a three fourths length three feet
high, and he did it in ten minutes. I am now going to ask her
to invite the chef of the Ritz in, to give us a sketch of
cooking a dinner.
In August, 1909, Richard and his wife left Mount Kisco for a
visit to Mr. and Mrs. Clark at Marion. While there my brother
attended and later on wrote an article on the war manoeuvres
held at Middleboro, Massachusetts.
August 16th, 1909.
We had a splendid day to day. I arranged to have Cecil meet
me at eleven at Headquarters in the woods below Middleboro,
and I spent the morning locating different regiments. Then,
after I "met up" with her, I took her in my car. Both she and
Hiller were awfully keen over it, so, we got on splendidly.
And, of course, Hiller's knowledge of the country was
wonderfully convenient. We had great luck in seeing the only
fight of the day, the first one of the war. Indeed, I think
we caused it. There was a troop of cavalry with a Captain who
was afraid to advance. I chided him into doing something, the
umpire having confided to me, he would mark him, if he did
not. But, he did it wrong. Anyway, he charged a barn with 36
troopers and lost every fourth man. In real warfare he would
have lost all his men and all his horses. Cecil and Hiller
pursued in the car at the very heels of the cavalry, and I ran
ahead with the bicycle scouts. It was most exciting. I am going
out again to-morrow. Lots of Love to you all.
August 19th, 1909.
I got in last night too late to write and I am sorry. To-day,
the war came to an end with our army, the Red one, with the
road to Boston open before it. Indeed, when the end came,
they were fighting with their backs to that City, and could
have entered it to-night. I begged both Bliss and Wood to
send in the cavalry just for the moral effect, but they were
afraid of the feeling, that was quite strong. I had much fun,
never more, and saw all that was worth seeing. I was glad to
see I am in such good shape physically, but with the tramping
I do over the farm, it is no wonder. I could take all the
stone walls at a jump, while the others were tearing them
down. I also met hundreds of men I knew and every one was
most friendly, especially the correspondents. Just as I liked
to be on a story with a "star" man when I was a reporter, they
liked having a real "war" correspondent, take it seriously.
They were always wanting to know if it were like the Real
Thing, and as I assured them it was, they were satisfied.
Some incidents were very funny. I met a troop of cavalry this
morning, riding away from the battle, down a crossroad, and
thinking it was a flanking manoeuvre, started to follow them
with the car. "Where are you going?" I asked the Captain.
"Nowhere," he said, "We are dead." An Umpire was charging in
advance of two troops of the 10th down a state road, when one
trooper of the enemy who were flying, turned back and alone
charged the two troops. "You idiot"! yelled the Umpire,
"don't you know you and your horse are shot to pieces?"
"Sure, I know it," yelled the trooper "but, this ---- horse
don't know it."
Early in the fall of 1909 Richard returned from Marion to New
York and went to Crossroads, where for the next three years he
remained a greater part of the time. They were years of great
and serious changes for him. An estrangement of long standing
between him and his wife had ended in their separation early
in 1910, to be followed later by their divorce. In September
of that year my mother died while on a visit to Crossroads.
After my father's death life to her became only a period of
waiting until the moment came when she would rejoin
him--because her faith was implicit and infinite. She could
not well set about preparing herself because all of her life
she had done that and, so, smiling and with a splendid bravery
and patience she lived on, finding her happiness in bringing
cheer and hope and happiness to all who came into the presence
of her wonderful personality. The old home in Philadelphia
was just the same as it had been through her long married
life--that is with one great difference, but on account of
this difference I knew that she was glad to spend her last
days with Richard at Crossroads. And surely nothing that
could be done for a mother by a son had been left undone by
him. Through these last long summer days she sat on the
terrace surrounded by the flowers and the sunshine that she so
loved. Little children came to play at her knee, and old
friends travelled from afar to pay her court.
In the winter of 1910-11 my brother visited Aiken, where he
spent several months. The following June he went to London at
the time of King George's coronation, but did not write about
it. Again, in November, 1911, he visited my sister in London,
but returned to New York in January, 1912, and spent a part of
the winter in Aiken and Cuba. At Aiken he found at least
peace and the devotion of loving friends that he so craved,
but in London and Cuba, which once had meant so much to him,
he seemed to have lost interest entirely. But not once during
these years did he cease working, and working hard. On almost
every page of his diary at this period I find such expressions
as "wrote 500 words for discipline." And again "Satisfaction
in work of last years when writing for existence, has been up
to any I ever wrote."
And in spite of all of the trouble of these days, he not only
wrote incessantly but did some of his very finest work.
Personally I have never seen a man make a more courageous
fight. To quote again from his diary of this time: "Early
going to my room saw red sunrise and gold moon. I seemed to
stop worrying about money. With such free pleasures I found I
could not worry. Every day God gives me greater delight in
good things, in beauty, and in every simple exercise and
Twice during these difficult days he went to visit Gouverneur
Morris and his wife at Aiken, and after Richard's death his
old friend wrote of the first of these visits:
"It was in our little house at Aiken, in South Carolina, that
he was with us most and we learned to know him best, and that
he and I became dependent upon each other in many ways.
"Events, into which I shall not go, had made his life very
difficult and complicated. And he who had given so much
friendship to so many people needed a little friendship in
return, and perhaps, too, he needed for a time to live in a
house whose master and mistress loved each other, and where
there were children. Before he came that first year our house
had no name. Now it is called `Let's Pretend.'
"Now the chimney in the living-room draws, but in those first
days of the built-over house it didn't. At least, it didn't
draw all the time, but we pretended that it did, and with much
pretense came faith. From the fireplace that smoked to the
serious things of life we extended our pretendings, until real
troubles went down before them--down and out.
"It was one of Aiken's very best winters, and the earliest
spring I ever lived anywhere. R. H. D. came shortly after
Christmas. The spiraeas were in bloom, and the monthly roses;
you could always find a sweet violet or two somewhere in the
yard; here and there splotches of deep pink against gray cabin
walls proved that precocious peach-trees were in bloom. It
never rained. At night it was cold enough for fires. In the
middle of the day it was hot. The wind never blew, and every
morning we had a four for tennis and every afternoon we rode
in the woods. And every night we sat in front of the fire
(that didn't smoke because of pretending) and talked until the
next morning.
"He was one of those rarely gifted men who find their chiefest
pleasure not in looking backward or forward, but in what is
going on at the moment. Weeks did not have to pass before it
was forced upon his knowledge that Tuesday, the fourteenth
(let us say), had been a good Tuesday. He knew it the moment
he waked at 7 A. M., and perceived the Tuesday sunshine making
patterns of bright light upon the floor. The sunshine
rejoiced him and the knowledge that even before breakfast
there was vouchsafed to him a whole hour of life. That day
began with attentions to his physical well-being. There were
exercises conducted with great vigor and rejoicing, followed
by a tub, artesian cold, and a loud and joyous singing of
"The singing over, silence reigned. But if you had listened
at his door you must have heard a pen going, swiftly and
boldly. He was hard at work, doing unto others what others
had done unto him. You were a stranger to him; some magazine
had accepted a story that you had written and published it.
R. H. D. had found something to like and admire in that story
(very little perhaps), and it was his duty and pleasure to
tell you so. If he had liked the story very much he would
send you instead of a note a telegram. Or it might be that
you had drawn a picture, or, as a cub reporter, had shown
golden promise in a half column of unsigned print, R. H. D.
would find you out, and find time to praise you and help you.
So it was that when he emerged from his room at sharp eight
o'clock, he was wide-awake and happy and hungry, and whistled
and double-shuffled with his feet, out of excessive energy,
and carried in his hands a whole sheaf of notes and letters
and telegrams.
"Breakfast with him was not the usual American breakfast, a
sullen, dyspeptic gathering of persons who only the night
before had rejoiced in each other's society. With him it was
the time when the mind is, or ought to be, at its best, the
body at its freshest and hungriest. Discussions of the latest
plays and novels, the doings and undoings of statesmen, laughter
and sentiment--to him, at breakfast, these things were as
important as sausages and thick cream.
"Breakfast over, there was no dawdling and putting off of the
day's work (else how, at eleven sharp, could tennis be played
with a free conscience?). Loving, as he did, everything
connected with a newspaper, he would now pass by those on the
hall-table with never so much as a wistful glance, and hurry
to his workroom.
"He wrote sitting down. He wrote standing up. And, almost
you may say, he wrote walking up and down. Some people,
accustomed to the delicious ease and clarity of his style,
imagine that he wrote very easily. He did and he didn't.
Letters, easy, clear, to the point, and gorgeously human,
flowed from him without let or hindrance. That masterpiece of
corresponding, the German March through Brussels, was probably
written almost as fast as he could talk (next to Phillips
Brooks, he was the fastest talker I ever heard), but when it
came to fiction he had no facility at all. Perhaps I should
say that he held in contempt any facility that he may have
had. It was owing to his incomparable energy and Joblike
patience that he ever gave us any fiction at all. Every
phrase in his fiction was, of all the myriad phrases he could
think of, the fittest in his relentless judgment to survive.
Phrases, paragraphs, pages, whole stories even, were written
over and over again. He worked upon a principle of elimination.
If he wished to describe an automobile turning in at a gate, he
made first a long and elaborate description from which there
was omitted no detail, which the most observant pair of eyes
in Christendom had ever noted with reference to just such
a turning. Thereupon he would begin a process of
omitting one by one those details which he had been at such
pains to recall; and after each omission he would ask himself,
`Does the picture remain?' If it did not, he restored the
detail which he had just omitted, and experimented with the
sacrifice of some other, and so on, and so on, until after
Herculean labor there remained for the reader one of those
swiftly flashed ice-clear pictures (complete in every detail)
with which his tales and romances are so delightfully and
continuously adorned.
"But it is quarter to eleven, and this being a time of
holiday, R. H. D. emerges from his workroom happy to think
that he has placed one hundred and seven words between himself
and the wolf who hangs about every writer's door. He isn't
satisfied with those hundred and seven words. He never was in
the least satisfied with anything that he wrote, but he has
searched his mind and his conscience and he believes that
under the circumstances they are the very best that he can do.
Anyway, they can stand in their present order until--after
"A sign of his youth was the fact that to the day of his death
he had denied himself the luxury and slothfulness of habits.
I have never seen him smoke automatically as most men do. He
had too much respect for his own powers of enjoyment and for
the sensibilities, perhaps, of the best Havana tobacco. At a
time of his own deliberate choosing, often after many hours of
hankering and renunciation, he smoked his cigar. He smoked it
with delight, with a sense of being rewarded, and he used all
the smoke there was in it.
"He dearly loved the best food, the best champagne, and the
best Scotch whiskey. But these things were
friends to him, and not enemies. He had toward food and drink
the continental attitude; namely, that quality is far more
important than quantity; and he got his exhilaration from the
fact that he was drinking champagne and not from the
champagne. Perhaps I shall do well to say that on questions
of right and wrong he had a will of iron. All his life he
moved resolutely in whichever direction his conscience
pointed; and although that ever present and never obtrusive
conscience of his made mistakes of judgment now and then, as
must all consciences, I think it can never once have tricked
him into any action that was impure or unclean. Some critics
maintain that the heroes and heroines of his books are
impossibly pure and innocent young people. R. H. D. never
called upon his characters for any trait of virtue, or
renunciation, or self-mastery of which his own life could not
furnish examples."
In June of 1912 Richard reported the Republican convention at
Chicago. Shortly after this, on July 8, he married at
Greenwich, Connecticut, Miss Elizabeth Genevieve McEvoy, known
on the stage as Bessie McCoy, with whom he had first become
acquainted in 1908 after the estrangement from his wife.
Richard and his wife made their home at Crossroads, where he
devoted most of his working hours to the writing of short
stories. In August of that year my brother, accompanied by
his wife, returned to Chicago to report the Progressive
convention. During the year 1913 he wrote and produced the
farce "Who's Who," of which William Collier was the star, and
in the fall of the same year spent a month in Cuba, with
Augustus Thomas, where they produced a film version of
"Soldiers of Fortune." In referring to this trip, Thomas wrote at
the time of Richard's death:
"In 1914 a motion-picture company arranged to make a feature
film of the play, and Dick and I went with their outfit to
Santiago de Cuba, where, twenty years earlier, he had found
the inspiration for his story and out of which city and its
environs he had fashioned his supposititious republic of
Olancho. On that trip he was the idol of the company. With
the men in the smoking-room of the steamer there were the
numberless playful stories, in the rough, of the experiences
on all five continents and seven seas that were the
backgrounds of his published tales.
"At Santiago, if an official was to be persuaded to consent to
some unprecedented seizure of the streets, or a diplomat
invoked for the assistance of the Army or the Navy, it was the
experience and good judgment of Dick Davis that controlled the
task. In the field there were his helpful suggestions of work
and make up to the actors, and on the boat and train and in
hotel and camp the lady members met in him an easy courtesy
and understanding at once fraternal and impersonal.
"The element that he could not put into the account and which
is particularly pertinent to this page, is the author of
`Soldiers of Fortune' as he revealed himself to me both with
intention and unconsciously in the presence of the familiar
"For three weeks, with the exception of one or two occasions
when some local dignitary captured the revisiting lion, he and
I spent our evenings together at a cafe table overlooking `The
Great Square,' which he sketches so deftly in its atmosphere
when Clay and the Langhams and Stuart dine there. At one end
of the plaza the President's band was playing native waltzes
that came throbbing through the trees and beating softly above
the rustling skirts and clinking spurs of the senoritas and
officers sweeping by in two opposite circles around the edges
of the tessellated pavements. Above the palms around the
square arose the dim, white facade of the Cathedral, with the
bronze statue of Anduella the liberator of Olancho, who
answered with his upraised arm and cocked hat the cheers of an
imaginary populace.
"Twenty years had gone by since Dick had received the
impression that wrote those lines, and now sometimes after
dinner half a long cigar would burn out as he mused over the
picture and the dreams that had gone between. From one long
silence he said: `I think I'll come back here this winter and
bring Mrs. Davis with me--stay a couple of months.' What a
fine compliment to a wife to have the thought of her and that
plan emerge from that deep and romantic background.
"The picture people began their film with a showing of the
`mountains which jutted out into the ocean and suggested
roughly the five knuckles of a giant's hand clenched and lying
flat upon the surface of the water.' That formation of the
sea wall is just outside of Santiago. `The waves tunnelled
their way easily enough until they ran up against those five
mountains and then they had to fall back.' How natural for one
of us to be unimpressed by such a feature of the landscape and
yet how characteristic of Dick Davis to see the elemental
fight that it recorded and get the hint for the whole of the
engineering struggle that is so much of his book.
"We went over those mountains together, where
two decades before he had planted his banner of romance. We
visited the mines and the railroads and everywhere found some
superintendent or foreman or engineer who remembered Davis.
He had guessed at nothing. Everywhere he had overlaid the
facts with adventure and with beauty, but he had been on sure
footing all the time. His prototype of MacWilliams was dead.
Together we visited the wooden cross with which the miners had
marked his grave.
Late in April, 1914, when war between the United States and
Mexico seemed inevitable Richard once more left the peace and
content of Crossroads and started for Vera Cruz, arriving
there on April 29. He had arranged to act as correspondent
for a syndicate of newspapers, and as he had for long been
opposed to the administration's policy of "watchful waiting"
was greatly disappointed on his arrival at the border to learn
of the President's plan of mediation. He wrote to his wife:
CRUZ, April 24, 1914.
We left today at 5.30. It was a splendid scene, except for
the children crying, and the wives of the officers and
enlisted men trying not to cry. I got a stateroom to myself.
With the electric fan on and the airport open, it is about as
cool as a blast furnace. But I was given a seat on the left
of General Funston, who is commanding this brigade, and the
other officers at the table are all good fellows. As long as
I was going, I certainly had luck in getting away as sharply
as I did. One day's delay would have made me miss this
transport, which will be the first to land troops.
April 25th.
A dreadnaught joined us today, the Louisiana. I wirelessed
the Admiral asking permission to send a press despatch via his
battleship, and he was polite in reply, but firm. He said "No."
There are four transports and three torpedo boats and the
battleship. We go very slowly, because we must keep up with one
of the troop ships with broken engines. At night it is very
pretty seeing the ships in line, and the torpedo boats winking
their signals at each other. I am writing all the time or
reading up things about the army I forget and getting the new
dope. Also I am brushing up my Spanish. Jack London is on
board, and three other correspondents, two of whom I have met on
other trips, and one "cub" correspondent. He was sitting beside
London and me busily turning out copy, and I asked him what he
found to write about. He said, "Well, maybe I see things you
fellows don't see." What he meant was that what was old to us
was new to him, but he got guyed unmercifully.
April 27, 1914.
The censor reads all I write, and so do some half-dozen
Mexican cable clerks and 60 (sixty) correspondents. So when I
cable "love," it MEANS devotion, adoration, and worship;
loyalty, fidelity and truth, wanting you, needing you, unhappy
for you. It means ALL that.
VERA CRUZ, April 30, 1914.
This heat--humid and moist--would sweat water out of a chilled
steel safe; so imagine what it does to me with all the awful
winter's accumulation of fat. I hate to say it, but I LIKE
these Mexicans--much better than Cubans, or Central Americans.
They are human, kindly; it is only the politicians and bandits
like Villa who give them a bad name. But, though they ought to
hate us, whenever I stop to ask my way they invite me to come in
and have "coffee" and say, "My house is yours, senor," which
certainly is kind after people have taken your town away from
you and given you another flag and knocked your head off if
you did not salute it. I now have a fine room. The Navy
moved out today and I got the room of the paymaster. It faces
the plaza and the cathedral. I burned a candle there today
for our soon meeting. The priests all had run away, so I had
to hunt up the candle, and pay the money into the box marked
for that purpose, but the Lord does not run away, and He will
see we soon meet.
May 2nd.
Yesterday I went out on the train that brings in refugees and
saw the Mexicans. They had on three thousand cartridges, much
hair, hats as high as church steeples, and lots of dirt. The
Selig Moving Picture folks took many pictures of us and
several "stills," in which the war correspondent was shown
giving cigarettes to the brigands. Also, I had a wonderful
bath in the ocean off the aviation camp. I borrowed a suit
from one of the aviators, and splashed and swam around for an
hour. My! it was good. It reminded me of my dear Bessie,
because the last time I was in the ocean was with her.
Maybe you know what is going on, but we do not. So I just
hustle around all day trying to find news as I did when I was
a reporter. It is hot enough here even for me, and I have
lost about eight pounds of that fat I laid in during our North
Pole winter!
VFRA CRUZ-May 8, 1914.
Today, when Wilson ordered Huerta not to blockade Tampico
which was an insult to Mediators and the act of a bully and a
coward, AND a declaration of war, we all got on our ponies
to "advance." Then came word Huerta would not blockade. It
is like living in a mad house. We all are hoping mediators
refuse to continue negotiations. If they have self respect
that is what they will do. Tonight if Wilson and Huerta ran
for President, Huerta would get all our votes. He may be an
uneducated Indian, but at least he is a man. However, that
makes no never mind so far as to my getting back. The reason
I cannot return is because I have "credentials." It is not
that they want ME here, but they want my credentials here.
The administration is using, as I see it, the privilege of
having a correspondent at the front as a club. It says until
war is declared it won't issue any more. So those syndicates
who have no correspondent and the papers forming them, are
afraid to attack or to criticise the administration for fear
they will be blacklisted. And those who have a correspondent
with his three thousand dollar signed and sealed pass in his
pocket aren't taking any chance on losing him. So, I see
before me an endless existence in Vera Cruz.
On May 7 Richard started for Mexico City where, if possible,
he intended to interview Huerta. At Pasco de Macho he was
arrested, but afterward was allowed to proceed to Mexico City.
Here he was again arrested, and without being allowed to
interview Huerta was sent back the day after his arrival to
Vera Cruz.
Of this Vera Cruz experience John N. Wheeler, a friend of
Richard's and the manager of the syndicate which sent him to
Mexico, wrote the following after my brother's death:
"Richard Harding Davis went to Vera Cruz for a newspaper
syndicate, and after the first sharp engagement in the Mexican
seaport there was nothing for the correspondent to do but kill
time on that barren, low lying strip of Gulf coast, hemmed in
on all sides by Mexicans and the sea, and time is hard to kill
there. Yet there was a story to be got, but it required nerve
to go after it.
"In Mexico City was Gen. Huerta, the dictator of Mexico. If a
newspaper could get an interview with him it would be a
`scoop,' but the work was inclined to be dangerous for the
interviewer, since Americans were being murdered rather
profusely in Mexico at the time in spite of the astute
assurances of Mr. Bryan, and no matter how substantial his
references the correspondent was likely to meet some
temperamental and touchy soldier with a loaded rifle who would
shoot first and afterward carry his papers to some one who
could read them.
"One of the newspapers taking the stories by Mr. Davis from
the syndicate had a staff man at Vera Cruz as well, and
thought to `scoop' the country by sending this representative
to see Huerta, in this way `beating' even the other
subscribers to the Davis service. An interview in Mexico City
was consequently arranged and the staff man was cabled and
asked to make the trip. He promptly cabled his refusal, this
young man preferring to take no such chances. It was then
suggested that Mr. Davis should attempt it. By pulling some
wires at Washington it was arranged, through the
Brazilian and English Ambassadors at the Mexican capital, for
Mr. Davis to interview President Huerta, with safe conduct
(this being about as safe as nonskid tires) to Mexico City.
Mr. Davis was asked if he would make the trip. In less than
two hours back came this laconic cable:
"`Leaving Mexico City to-morrow afternoon at 3 o'clock.'
"That was Richard Harding Davis--no hesitancy, no vacillation.
He was always willing to go, to take any chance, to endure
discomfort and all if he had a fighting opportunity to get the
news. The public now knows that Davis was arrested on this
trip, that Huerta refused to make good on the interview, and
that it was only through the good efforts of the British
Ambassador at the Mexican capital he was released. But Davis
"There was an echo of this journey to the Mexican capital
several months later after the conflict in Europe had been
raging for a few weeks. Lord Kitchener announced at one stage
of the proceedings he would permit a single correspondent,
selected and indorsed by the United States Government, to
accompany the British army to the front. Of course, all the
swarm of American correspondents in London at the time were
eager for the desirable indorsement. Mr. Davis cabled back
the conditions of his acceptance. Immediately Secretary of
State Bryan was called in Washington on the long-distance
"`Lord Kitchener has announced,' the Secretary of State was
told, `that he will accept one correspondent with the British
troops in the field, if he is indorsed by the United States
Government. Richard Harding Davis, who is in London,
represents a string of the strongest newspapers in the United
States for this syndicate, and we desire the indorsement of the
State Department so he can obtain this appointment.'
"`Mr. Davis made us some trouble when he was in Mexico,'
answered Mr. Bryan. `He proceeded to the Mexican capital
without our consent and I will have to consider the matter
very carefully before indorsing him. His Mexican escapade
caused us some diplomatic efforts and embarrassment.' (What
the Secretary of State did to bring about Mr. Davis's release
on the occasion of his Mexican arrest is still a secret of the
"Mr. Bryan did not indorse Mr. Davis finally, which was well,
since Lord Kitchener of Khartum kept the selected list of
correspondents loafing around London on one pretext or another
so long they all became disgusted and went without an official
pass from `K. of K.' As soon as Mr. Davis was told he would
not be appointed he proceeded to Belgium and returned some of
the most thrilling stories written on this conflict at great
personal risk."
May 13, 1914.
DO NOT BLAME me for this long delay in writing. God knows I
wanted every day to "talk" to you. But we were on the
"suspect" list, and to make even a note was risky. The way I
did it was to exclaim over the beauty of some flower or tree,
and then ask the Mexican nearest me to write the name of it
HIMSELF in MY notebook. Then I would say, "In English
that would be----" and I would pretend to write beside it the
English equivalent, but really would write the word that was
the key to what I wished to remember. So,
you see, a letter at that rate of progress was impossible. It
was a case of "Can't get away to cable you today; police won't
let me!" However, we are all safe at home again. As a matter
of fact, I had a most exciting time, and am dying to tell you
the "insie" story. But the one I sent the papers must serve.
I promised myself I would give the FIRST soldier, marine and
sailor I met on returning a cigar, and the first sailor was
the CHAPLAIN OF THE FLEET, Father Reany. But he took the
cigar and gave me his blessing. I am now burning candles to
St. Rita. What worried me the MOST was how worried YOU
would be; and I begged Palmer not to send the story of our
first arrest. But other people told of it, and he had to
forward it. You certainly made the wires BURN! and had the
army guessing. One officer said to me, "I'm awfully sorry to
see you back. If you'd only have stayed in jail another day
your wife would have had us all on our way to Mexico." And
the censor said, "My God! I'm glad you're safe! Your wife has
MADE OUR LIVES HELL!" And quite right, too, bless you!
None of us knows anything, but it looks to me that NOTHING
will induce Wilson to go to war. But the Mexicans think we
ARE at war, and act accordingly. They may bring on a
conflict. That is why I am making ready in case we advance
and that is why I cabled today for the rest of my kit. I have
a fine little pony, and a little messenger boy who speaks
Spanish, to look after the horse, and me.
And now, as to your LETTERS, they came to-day, five of them,
COUNT 'EM, and the pictures did make me laugh. I showed
those of the soldier commandeering the vegetables to Funston
and he laughed. And, I did love the flowers you sent no
matter HOW homesick they made me! (Oh). I do not want a camera.
I have one, and those fancy cameras I don't understand.
The letters you forwarded were wonderfully well selected. I
mean, those from other people. One of them was from Senator
Root telling me Bryan is going to reward our three heroic
officers who jumped into the ocean. I know you will be glad.
There are NO mosquitoes! Haven't met up with but three and
I send you a picture of my room from the outside. From the
inside the view is so "pretty." Across the square is the
cathedral and the trees are filled with birds that sing all
night, and statues, and pretty globes. The band plays every
night and when it plays "Hello, Winter Time," I CRY for you.
I paid the band-master $20 to play it, and it is WORTH IT.
I sit on the balcony and think of you and know just what you
are doing, for there is only an hour and a half difference.
That is, when with you it is ten o'clock with me it is
eight-thirty. So when you and Louise are at dinner you can
know I am just coming in from my horseback ride to bathe and
"nap." And when at eight-thirty you are playing the Victor, I
am drinking a cocktail to you, and shooing away the Colonels
and Admirals who interfere with my ceremony of drinking to my
dear wife.
VERA CRUZ, May 20th, 1914.
I got SUCH a bully letter yesterday from you, written long
ago from the Webster. It said you missed me, and it said you
loved me, and there were funny pictures of you reading the war
and peace news each with a different expression, and you told
me about Padrigh and how he runs down the road. It made me
very sad and homesick, but very glad to feel I was so missed.
Also you told me cheerful falsehoods about my Tribune
stories. I know they are no good, and as they are no good,
the shorter the better, but I like to be told they are good.
Anyway, I sat down at once and wrote a long screed on Vera
Cruz and the sleepy people that five here.
We all live on the sidewalk under the stone porch. Every
night a table is reserved and by my orders ALL chairs,
except mine, are removed. So no one can sit down and bore me
while I am dining. Another trick I have to be left alone is
to carry a big roll of cable blanks, and I pretend to write
out cables if anyone tries to talk. Then I beckon the
messenger (he always sits in the plaza) and say "File that!"
and he goes once around the block and reports back that it is
"filed." If the bore renews the attack I write another cable,
and the unhappy messenger makes another tour. The band plays
from seven to eight every night. There are five bands, and I
saw no reason why there should not be music every evening.
After a day in this dirty hotel or dirty city a lively band
helps. Funston agreed, but forgot, until after three nights
with no band, I wrote him a letter. It was signed by fake
names, asking if he couldn't get nineteen German musicians
into a bandstand how could he hope to get ten thousand
soldiers into Mexico City. So now we have a band each night.
That is all my day. After dinner I sit at table and the men
bring up chairs, or else I go to some other table. There are
some damn fool women here who are a nuisance, and they now
have dancing in the hotel adjoining, but I don't know them,
except to bow, and I approve of the tango parties because it
keeps them away from the sidewalk. They ire "refugees," the
sort of folks you meet at Ocean Grove, or rather DON'T meet!
All love to you, and give Patrigh a pat from his Uncle Richard
for looking after you and looking for me, and remember me to
Louise and Shu and everything at home. I love you so.
VERA CRUZ, May 28, 1914.
I want to be home to see the daisy field with you. That knee
you nearly busted tobogganing when the daisy field was an
iceberg is now recovered.
The one and all came this morning and as I expected it was all
full of love from you. I DID get happiness out of the
thought you put in it. And all done in an hour. The
underclothes made me weep. I could get none here. Not
because Mexicans are not as large as I am, but because no
Mexican of any size would wear 'em. So I've had to wash the
few that the washer-woman didn't destroy myself. And when I
saw the lot you sent! It was like a white sale! Also the
quinine which I tasted just for luck, and the soap in the
little violet wrapper made me quite homesick. Especially was
I glad to get socks and pongee suits, and shirts. I really
was getting desperate. God knows what I would have done
without them.
I want to see you so much, and I want to see you in the same
setting of other days, I want to walk with you in the daisy
field, and in the laurel blossoms, and clip roses. But to be
with you I'd be willing to walk on broken glass. Not you,
too. Just me.
VERA CRUZ--June 4, 1914.
I am awfully sorry for your sake, you could not get away. Of
course for myself I am glad that I am to see you and Dai. At
least, I hope I am. God alone knows when we will get out of
here. I am sick of it. Next time I go to war both armies must
fight for two months before I will believe they mean it, and
It is true I am getting good money, but also there is
absolutely NOTHING to write about. Bryan doesn't know that
unless he talks by code every radio on sixteen ships can read
every message he sends to these waters. And the State
Department saying it could not understand the Hyranga giving
up her cargo is a damn silly lie. No one is so foolish as to
think the Chester and Tacomah let her land those arms
under their guns unless they had been told to submit to it.
And yet today, we get papers of the 29th in which Bryan says
he has twice cabled Badger for information, when for a week
Badger has been reading Bryan's orders to consuls to let the
arms be landed. Can you beat that? This is an awful place,
and if I don't write it is because I hate to harrow your
feelings. It is a town of flies, filth and heat. John
McCutcheon is the only friend I have seen, and he sensibly
lives on a warship. I can't do that, as cables come all the
time suggesting specials, and I am not paid to loaf. John is
here on a vacation, and can do as he pleases. But I ride
around like any cub reporter. And there is no news. Since I
left home I have not talked five minutes to a woman "or mean
to!" The Mexican women are a cross between apes and squaws.
Of all I have seen here nothing has impressed me so as the
hideousness of the women, girls, children, widows,
grandmothers. And the refugees, as Collier would say it, are
"terrible!" I live a very lonely existence. I find it works
out that way best. And at the same time all the correspondents
are good friends, and I don't find that there is
one of them who does not go out of his way to SHOW he is
friendly. What I CAN'T understand is why no one at home
never guesses I might like to read some of my own stories. . . .
Of these days in Vera Cruz John T. McCutcheon wrote the
following shortly after Richard's death:
"Davis was a conspicuous figure in Vera Cruz, as he inevitably
had been in all such situations. Wherever he went, he was
pointed out. His distinction of appearance, together with a
distinction in dress, which, whether from habit or policy, was
a valuable asset in his work, made him a marked man. He
dressed and looked the `war correspondent,' such a one as he
would describe in one of his stories. He fulfilled the
popular ideal of what a member of that fascinating profession
should look like. His code of life and habits was as fixed as
that of the Briton who takes his habits and customs and games
and tea wherever he goes, no matter how benighted or remote
the spot may be.
"He was just as loyal to his code as is the Briton. He
carried his bath-tub, his immaculate linen, his evening
clothes, his war equipment--in which he had the pride of a
connoisseur--wherever he went, and, what is more, he had the
courage to use the evening clothes at times when their use was
conspicuous. He was the only man who wore a dinner coat in
Vera Cruz, and each night, at his particular table in the
crowded `Portales,' at the Hotel Diligencia, he was to be
seen, as fresh and clean as though he were in a New York or
London restaurant.
Each day he was up early to take the train out to the `gap,'
across which came arrivals from Mexico City. Sometimes a good
`story' would come down, as when the long-heralded and
long-expected arrival of Consul Silliman gave a first-page
`feature' to all the American papers.
"In the afternoon he would play water polo over at the navy
aviation camp, and always at a certain time of the day his
`striker' would bring him his horse and for an hour or more he
would ride out along the beach roads within the American lines."
. . . . . . . . .
On June 15 Richard sailed on the Utah for New York, arriving
there on the 22d. For a few weeks after his return he
remained at Mount Kisco completing his articles on the Mexican
situation but at the outbreak of the Great War he at once
started for Europe, sailing with his wife on August 4, the day
war was declared between England and Germany.
On Lusitania--August 8, 1914.
We got off in a great rush, as the Cunard people received
orders to sail so soon after the Government had told them to
cancel all passengers, that no one expected to leave by her,
and had secured passage on the Lorraine and St. Paul.
They gave me a "regal" suite which at other times costs $1,000
and it is so darned regal that I hate to leave it. I get
sleepy walking from one end of it to the other; and we have
open fires in each of the three rooms. Generally when one goes
to war it is in a transport or a troop train and the person of
the least importance is the correspondent. So, this way of going
to war I like. We now are a cruiser and are slowly being painted
grey, and as soon as they got word England was at war all
lights were put out and to find your way you light matches.
You can imagine the effect of this Ritz Carlton idea of a ship
wrapped in darkness. Gerald Morgan is on board, he is also
accredited to The Tribune, and Frederick Palmer. I do not
expect to be allowed to see anything but will try to join a
French army. I will leave Bessie near London with Louise at
some quiet place like Oxford or a village on the Thames. We
can "take" wireless, but not send it, so as no one is sending
and as we don't care to expose our position, we get no news.
We are running far North and it is bitterly cold. I think
Peary will sue us for infringing his copyrights.
I will try to get in touch with Nora. I am worried lest she
cannot get at her money. As British subjects no other thing
should upset them. Address me American Embassy, London.
I send such love to you both. God bless you.
Richard arrived in Liverpool August 13, and made arrangements
for his wife to remain in London. Unable to obtain
credentials from the English authorities, he started for
Brussels and arrived there in time to see the entry of the
German troops, which he afterward described so graphically.
Indeed this article is considered by many to be one of the
finest pieces of descriptive writing the Great War has
For several days after Brussels had come under the
control of the Germans Richard remained there and then
decided to go to Paris as the siege of the French
capital at the time seemed imminent. He and his friend
Gerald Morgan, who was acting as the correspondent of the
London Daily Telegraph, decided to drive to Hal and from
there to continue on foot until they had reached the English
or French armies where they knew they would be among friends.
At Hal they were stopped by the German officials and Morgan
wisely returned to Brussels. However, Richard having decided
to continue on his way, was promptly seized by the Germans and
held as an English spy. For a few days he had a most exciting
series of adventures with the German military authorities and
his life was frequently in danger. It was finally due to my
brother's own strategy and the prompt action of our Ambassador
to Belgium, Brand Whitlock, that he was returned to Brussels
and received his official release.
On August 27, Richard left Brussels for Paris on a train
carrying English prisoners and German wounded, and en route
saw much of the burning and destruction of Louvain.
BRUSSELS, August 17, 1914.
Write me soon and often! All is well here so long as I know
you are all right, so do not fail to tell me all, and keep me
in touch. If _I_ do not write much it is because letters do
not get through always, and are read. But you know I love
you, and you know twice each day I pray for you and wish for
you all the time. I feel as though I had been gone a month.
Gerald Morgan and I got in last night; this is a splendid new
hotel; for $2.50 I get a room and bath like yours on the
"royal suite," only bigger. This morning the minister did
everything he could for us. There are about twenty Americans who
want credentials. They say they will take no Americans, but to
our minister they said they would make exception in favor of
three, so I guess the three will be John McCutcheon, Palmer and
myself. John and I, if anyone gets a pass, are sure. With the
passes we had, Gerald and I started out in a yellow motor,
covered with flags of the Allies, and saw a great deal. How I
wished you were with me, you would so have loved it. The country
is absolutely beautiful. We were stopped every quarter mile to
show our passes and we got a working idea of how it will be.
Tonight I dined with Mr. Whitlock, the minister, and John
McCutcheon came in and Irving Cobb. John and I will get together
and go out. All you need is a motor car and you can go pretty
much everywhere, EXCEPT near where there is fighting. So what I
am to do to earn my wages I don't know. I am now going to bed
and I send my darlin' all love. Today I sent you a wire. If
it got to you let me know. Take such good care of yourself.
Remember me to Louise, and, WRITE ME. All love, DEAR, DEAR
one. My wife and my sweetheart.
Your husband,
The following is the last letter that got through.
BRUSSELS, August 21, 1914.
I cannot say much, as I doubt if this will be opened by you.
The German army came in and there was no fighting and I am
very well. I am only distressed at not being able to get
letters from you, and not being able to send them. I will write
a long one, and hold it until I am sure of some way by which it
can reach you.
Mrs. Davis had waited in London to meet Richard on his return
from the war, but a misunderstanding as to the date of his
return, coupled with her strong sense of duty to his interests
at home, gave occasion for the letter which follows:
LONDON, August 31, 1914.
Not since the Herald Square days have I had such a blow as
when I drove up to 10 Clarges, and found you gone! IT WAS
COME. I am so distressed lest it was my cable saying I could
not get back that decided you to go before the fifth. But
Ashford says it was not. He tells me the cable came at
THREE in the morning and that you had arranged to be called
at six-thirty in order to leave for Scotland. So, for sending
that cable I need not blame myself too much. I sent you so
many messages I do not know which got through. But I think it
must have been one saying I could not return in time to see
you before the fifth. THEN, no trains were running. The
very NEXT DAY the Germans started a troop train, and I took
it. The reason I could not come by automobile was because I
had a falling out with the "mad dogs" and they would not give
me a pass. So Evans, with whom I was to motor to Holland, got
through Friday afternoon and sent the cable. As soon as I
reached Holland, I cabled I was coming and kept on
telegraphing every step of the journey, which lasted three
I telegraphed last from Folkestone; even telling you what to
have for my supper. As you directed, Ashford opened the
cables, and when I drove up, he was at the door in tears. He
had made a light in your rooms and, of course, as I looked up
I thought you still were in them. When they told me I was a
day late, I cried, too. It was the bitterest disappointment I
ever knew. I had taken the very first train out of Brussels,
the one with the wounded, and for three days had been having
one hell of a time. But I kept thinking of seeing you, and
hearing your dear voice. So the trip did not matter. I was
only thinking of SEEING YOU, and thanking God I was shut of
the dirty Germans. We had nothing to eat, and we slept on the
floor of the train, the Germans kept us locked in, and, all
through even Holland, we were under arrest. But nothing
mattered, because I was so happy at thought of meeting you.
As I said neither of us was at fault. You just HAD to go,
and I could NOT COME. But, you can feel how I felt to learn
you were at sea.
I was so glad I could use your old rooms. I went to the table
where you used to write and was so glad I could at least be as
near to you as that. No other place in London could have held
me that night. Not Buckingham Palace. I found little things
you had left. I loved even the funny pictures on the wall
because we had talked of them together. It was ROTTEN,
ROTTEN luck. But only the Germans and their hellish war were
to blame. I drove straight to the cable office, and tried to
wireless you, knowing you would feel glad to know I was well,
and safe and sound. But the cable people could not send my
message. You were then out of reach of wireless, on the Irish
coast. And for nine days there was no way to tell you I had
come back as fast as trains and boats and the dirty Germans
would let me. Oh, my dear, dear one, HOW I LOVE you. If
only I could have seen you for just five minutes. As it was,
I thought for five days more we would be together. What I
shall do now, I don't know. I must go back with either the
French or the English until my contract expires, and then, I
can join you. Tomorrow I am trying to see Asquith and
Churchill to get with the army. And I will at once return
across the channel. But, do not worry! I will never again
let a German come within ONE MILE of me! After this,
between me and the Germans, there will be some hundreds of
thousands of English or French. So after this reaches you I
will soon be on my way HOME. Don't worry. Get James back
and Amelia and everyone else who can make you comfortable, and
trust in the good Lord. I have your cross and St. Rita around
my neck, and in spite of what the Kaiser says, God is looking
after other people than Germans. Certainly he has taken good
care of me. And he will guard you, and our "blessed" one.
And in a little time, dear, DEAR heart, I will be back, and
I will become a grocer. God love you and keep you, as he
does. And you will never know HOW I LOVE YOU! Good night,
dearest, sweetheart and wife! I am writing this at your
table, and, thanking God you are going to the farm, and to
peace and happiness. I SEND YOU ALL THE LOVE IN ALL THE WORLD.
LONDON, September 3rd.
It was a full moon again tonight and I think you were on deck
and saw it, because by now, you have passed the four days at sea
and should be in the St. Lawrence. So I knew you saw the moon,
too, and I sent you a kiss, via it. It was just over St. James
Palace but also it was just over you.
Today has been a day of worries. Wheeler cabled that the
papers wanted me to be "neutral" and not write against the
Germans. As I am not interested in the German vote, or in
advertising of German breweries (such a hard word to SAY) I
thought, considering the EXCLUSIVE stories I had sent them,
instead of kicking, they ought to be sending me a few
bouquets. Especially, as I got cables from Gouvey, Whigham,
Scribner's and others congratulating me on the anti-German
stories. So I cabled Wheeler to tell papers of his syndicate,
dictation from them as to what I should write was
"unexpected," that they could go to name-of-place censored and
that if he wished I would release him from his contract
tonight. Considering that without credentials I was with
French, Belgian and German armies and saw entry of Germans
into Brussels and sacking of Louvain and got arrested as a
spy, they were a bit ungrateful. I am now wondering WHAT I
would have seen HAD I HAD credentials.
I saw Anthony Hope at the club last night. He had to go back
to the country, so I dined alone on English oysters. Fancy
anyone being NEUTRAL in this war! Germany dropping bombs in
Paris and Antwerp on women and churches and scattering mines
in the channel where they blow up fishermen and burning the
cathedrals! A man who now would be neutral would be a coward.
Good night, NEAR, DEAR, DEAR one. It has been several weeks
since I had sleep, so if I rave and wander in my letters
forgive me. You know how I am thinking of you. God bless you.
God keep you for me.
Your husband who loves you SO!
LONDON, September 7th.
I just got your cable saying you were at the farm, and well!
HOW HAPPY IT MADE ME! I cabled you to Quebec, and to Mt.
Kisco, and when two days passed and I heard nothing, today I
was scared, so I cabled Gouvey to look after you, and also to
Wheeler. I went to the Brompton Oratory today, which is the
second most important church here (the cardinal lives at
Westminster) and burned the BIGGEST CANDLE they had for you
and the "blessing." A big woman all in black was kneeling in
the little chapel and when I could not get the candle to stand
up, she beckoned to one of the priests, and he ran and fixed
it. Then she went on praying. And WHO do you think she
was? Queen Amelie of Portugal, you see her pictures in the
Tattler and Sphere opening bazaars. So she must be very
good or she would not be saying her prayers all alone with the
poor people and seeing that my Bessie's candle was burning. I
have been waiting here hoping to get some sort of credentials
from Kitchener. But though Winston Churchill has urged him,
and tomorrow is going to urge him again, they give me no hope.
So I'll just go over "on my own" and I bet I'll see more than
anyone else. I have fine papers, anyhow. I am now writing
Scribner article, so THAT is off my mind. And now that
you are home, I have no "worries." I wish I had got your cable
earlier. I would have had oysters and champagne in
BATH TUBS. Give my love to all the flowers, and to Shea and
Paedrig, and Tom, and Louise, and Gouvey and the lake. And
take SUCH good care of yourself, and love me, and be happy
for I do so love you dear one. I DO SO LOVE YOU.
September 15th.
Tonight I got your cable in answer to mine asking if you were
well. All things considered twenty-four hours was not so long
for them to get the answer to me. You BET I will be
careful. I don't want to get nearer to a German than twenty
miles. At the battlefield I collected five German spiked
helmets but at the Paris gate they took ALL of them from me.
I WAS mad! I wanted to keep them in my "gym," and pound
them with Indian clubs. I wrote all day yesterday, so today I
did not work. There is nothing more here to do. And as soon
as my contract is up October 1st, I will make towards YOU!
Seeing the big battle was great luck. So far I have seen more
than anyone. I have had no credentials; and yet have been
with ALL the armies. Now I am just beating time, until I
can get home. The fighting is too far away even if I could go
to it. But I can't without being arrested. And I am fed up
on being arrested. Today all the little children came out of
doors. They have been locked up for fear of airships. It was
fine to see them playing in the Champs Elysees and making
forts out of pebbles, and rolling hoops.
God loves you, dear one, and I trust in Him. But I am awful
sick for a sight of you. What a lot we will have to tell each
other. One thing I never have to tell you, but it makes me
happy when I can. It is this: I LOVE YOU! And every minute
I think of you.
With all my love.
PARIS, September 15th, 1914.
I got this morning your letter of August 25th. In it you say
kind things about my account of the Germans entering Brussels.
Nothing so much pleases me as to get praise from you or to
know my work pleases you. Since the Germans were pushed in
every one here is breathing again. But for me it was bad as
now the armies are too far to reach by taxicab, and if you are
caught anywhere outside the city you are arrested and as a
punishment sent to Tours. Eight correspondents, among them
two Times men and John Reed and Bobby Dunn, were sent to
Tours Sunday. I had another piece of luck that day with
Gerald Morgan. I taxicabed out to Soissons and saw a wonderful
battle. So, now I can go home in peace. Had I been
forced to return without seeing any fighting I never would
have lived it down. I am in my old rooms of years ago. I got
the whole imperial suite for eight francs a day. It used to
be 49 francs a day. Of course, Paris that closes tight at
nine is hardly Paris, but the beauty of the city never so much
impressed me. There is no fool running about to take your
mind off the gardens and buildings. What MOST makes me know
I am in Paris, though, are the packages of segars lying on the
dressing table. Give my love to Dai, and tell her I hope soon
to see you. The war correspondent is dead. My only chance
was to get with the English who will take one American and
asked Bryan to choose, he passed it to the Press Association
and they chose Palmer. But I don't believe the official
correspondents will be allowed to see much. I saw the Germans
enter Brussels, the burning of Louvain and the Battle of
Soissons and had a very serious run in with the Germans and
nearly got shot. But now if you go out, every man is after
you, and even the gendarmes try to arrest you. It is
sickening. For never, of course, was there such a chance to
describe things that everyone wants to read about. Again my
love to Dai and you. I will see you soon.
In October Richard returned to the United States and settled
down to complete his first book on the war. During this
period and indeed until the hour of his death my brother
devoted the greater part of his time to the cause of the
Allies. He had always believed that the United States should
have entered the war when the Germans first outraged Belgium,
and to this effect he wrote many letters to the newspapers.
In addition to this he was most active in various of the
charities devoted to the causes of the Allies, wrote a number
of appeals, and contributed money out of all proportion to his
means. The following appeal he wrote for the Secours
"You are invited to help women, children and old people in
Paris and in France, wherever the war has brought desolation
and distress. To France you owe a debt. It is not alone the
debt you incurred when your great grandfathers fought for
liberty, and to help them, France sent soldiers, ships and two
great generals, Rochambeau and La Fayette. You owe France
for that, but since then you have incurred other debts.
"Though you may never have visited France, her art,
literature, her discoveries in Science, her sense of what is
beautiful, whether in a bonnet, a boulevard or a triumphal
arch, have visited you. For them you are the happier; and for
them also, to France you are in debt.
"If you have visited Paris, then your debt is increased a
hundred fold. For to whatever part of France you journeyed,
there you found courtesy, kindness, your visit became a
holiday, you departed with a sense of renunciation; you were
determined to return. And when after the war, you do revisit
France, if your debt is unpaid, can you without embarrassment
sink into debt still deeper? What you sought Paris gave you
freely. Was it to study art or to learn history, for the
history of France is the history of the world; was it to dine
under the trees or to rob the Rue de la Paix of a new model;
was it for weeks to motor on the white roads or at a cafe
table watch the world pass? Whatever you sought, you found.
Now, as in 1776 we fought, to-day France fights for freedom,
and in behalf of all the world, against militarism that is
`made in Germany.'
"Her men are in the trenches; her women are working in the
fields, sweeping the Paris boulevards, lighting the street
lamps. They are undaunted, independent, magnificently
capable. They ask no charity. But from those districts the
war has wrecked, there are hundreds of thousands of women and
little children without work, shelter or food. To them
throughout the war zone the Secours National gives instant
relief. In one day in Paris alone it provides 80,000
free meals. Six cents pays for one of these meals. One
dollar from you will for a week keep a woman or child alive.
"The story is that one man said, `In this war the women and
children suffer most. I'm awfully sorry for them!' and the
other man said, `Yes I'm five dollars sorry. How sorry are
"If ever you intend paying that debt you owe to France do not
wait until the war is ended. Now, while you still owe it, do
not again impose yourself upon her hospitality, her courtesy,
her friendship.
"But, pay the debt now.
"And then, when next in Paris you sit at your favorite table
and your favorite waiter hands you the menu, will you not the
more enjoy your dinner if you know that while he was fighting
on the Aisne, it was your privilege to help a little in
keeping his wife and child alive."
The winter of 1914-15 Richard and his wife spent in New York,
and on January 4, 1915, their baby, Hope, was born. No event
in my brother's life had ever brought him such infinite
happiness, and during the short fifteen months that remained
to him she was seldom, if ever, from his thoughts, and no
father ever planned more carefully for a child's future than
Richard did for his little daughter.
On April 11 my brother and his wife took Hope to Crossroads
for the first time. In his diary of this time he writes,
"Only home in the world is the one I own. Everything belongs.
It is so comfortable and the lake and the streams in the woods
where you can get your feet wet. The thrill of thinking a
stump is a trespasser! You can't do that on ten acres."
A cause in which Richard was enormously interested
at this time was that of the preparedness of his own country,
and for it he worked unremittingly. In August, 1915, he went
to Plattsburg, where he took a month of military training.
August, 1915.
This is a very real thing, and STRENUOUS. I know now why
God invented Sunday. The first two days were mighty hard, and
I had to work extra to catch up. I don't know a darned thing,
and after watching soldiers for years, find that I have picked
up nothing that they have to learn. The only things I have
learned don't count here, as they might under marching
conditions. My riding I find is quite good, and so is my
rifle shooting. As you could always beat me at that you can
see the conditions are not high. But being used to the army
saddle helps me a lot. I have a steeple chaser on one side
and a M. F. H. on the other, and they can't keep in the
saddle, and hate it with bitter oaths. The camp commander
told me that was a curious development; that the best
gentlemen jockeys and polo players on account of the saddle,
were sore, in every sense. Yesterday I rose at 5-30,
assembled for breakfast at six, took down tent to ventilate
it, when a cloud meanly appeared, and I had to put it up
again. Then in heavy marching order we drilled two hours as
skirmishers, running and hurling ourselves at the earth, like
falling on the ball, and I always seemed to fall where the
cinder path crossed the parade ground. We got back in time to
clean ourselves for dinner at noon. And then practised firing
at targets. At two we were drilled as cavalry in extended
order. We galloped to a point, advanced on foot, were driven
back by an imaginary enemy, and remounted. We galloped as a
squadron, and the sight was really remarkable when you think the
men had been together only four days. But the horses had been
doing it for years. All I had to do to mine was to keep on. He
knew what was wanted as well as did the Captain. After that
we put on our packs and paraded at retreat to the band. Then
had supper and listened to a lecture. I ache in every bone,
muscle, and joint. But the riding has not bothered me. It is
only hurling the damned rifle at myself. At nine I am sound
asleep. It certainly is a great experience, and, all the men
are helping each other and the spirit is splendid. The most
curious meetings come off and all kinds of men are at it from
college kids to several who are great grand fathers. Russell
Colt turned up and was very funny over his experiences. He
said he saluted everybody and one man he thought was a general
and stood at attention to salute was a Pullman car conductor.
The food is all you want, and very good. I've had nothing to
drink, but sarsaparilla, but with the thirst we get it is the
best drink I know. I have asked to have no letters forwarded
and if I don't write I hope you will understand as during the
day there is not a minute you are your own boss and at night I
am too stiff and sleepy to write.
All love to you.
It is now seven-thirty, and I have had twelve busy hours.
They made me pass an examination as though for Sing Sing, then
a man gave me a gun that at first weighed eight pounds and
then twenty. He made me do all sorts of things with it, such as
sentries used to do to me. Then I was given the gun to keep, and
packs, beds, blankets, and I made myself at home in a tent; then
I was moved to another tent with five other men. Then I got a
horse and they galloped us up and down a field for two hours. I
lost ten pounds. Then we were marched around to a band. I
had a sergeant on either side of me, so I did not go wrong,
OFTEN. Then, aching in every bone and with my head filled
with orders and commands, I got into the lake and escaped.
You can believe I enjoyed that bath. It certainly is a fine
thing, and I am glad I enrolled (for every one has been as
nice as could be), but I miss you and Hope terribly. It seems
years since I saw you. I am going to my cot quick. It is now
eight o'clock, and I feel like I had been beaten in a stone
crusher. Kiss Hope's foot for me.
Your loving husband,
I got such a beautiful letter from you! With pictures of
Hope playing with the Bunny. It is the best picture yet. I
carry it next to my heart because you made it, because it is
of her. And she sits up now? Well, I will miss the big
clothes-basket. I loved to see her in it. Years ago, when I
left home, she was trying to crawl out of it. What you tell
me of her--knowing what you mean when you say "Kitty" and
"Bunny"--is wonderful. How good it will be! You must come
close under my arm, and tell me every little thing. I feel so
much better now that we have broken into the last week, and
are on the home stretch. We have broken the backbone of the
long absence, and, the first thing you know, I'll be telephoning
to have you meet me at White Plains.
This is me sewing up a hole in my breeches. The socks are
drying on the line, my rubber bath is on the right. I am now
going to Canada. But I'll be back in half an hour; it's only
200 yards distant. All the folks here are French, and the
signs are in French. Last place we halted I bought
lumberman's socks to wear at night. I sleep very well, for I
buy my raincoat full of hay from the nearest farmer, and sleep
on that. Today we had another "battle." It began at 7.30
and ended at one o'clock. We were kept going all that time,
taking "cover" behind railroad embankments and stone walls and
in plowed fields, finally ending with a bayonet charge. I
killed so many I stopped counting.
Don't let Hope forget her father. Better put on a wrist-watch
and my horn spectacles, and hold her the wrong way, so she
will be reminded of her Dad.
Good-night, my dearest one. You will never know how terribly
I miss you and love you, and want you in my arms, and you
holding Hope so that I can have all my happiness in one big
armful of all that is good.
The Vitagraph people came today. They have a great film to
stir people to preparedness called "The Battle Cry of Peace."
It shows New York destroyed by Germans. They took pictures of
several of the better-known men showing "them" preparing. I
was taken cleaning my rifle, and, as the captain was passing,
I asked him to get in the picture with me and be shown
instructing me. He was delighted, but right in the middle of
the picture he "inspected" my barrel. I had not cleaned it,
and he forgot the camera, and gave me the devil. You can
imagine how the crowd roared, and the camera director man was
delighted. I wanted it retaken showing the captain patting me
on the back.
Roosevelt turned up today, and was very nice. Martin Egan
came with him and the British Naval Attache, and they have
asked me to dine at a real table at Hotel Champlain with two
other men. It will be fine to eat off china. The "hike"
begins Friday, and we sleep each night on the ground, but the
country we march through is beautiful. All that counts is
getting the days behind me and getting you in my arms. Doing
one's "bit" for one's country is right, but as the man said,
"God knows I love my country and want to fight for her, but I
hope to God I never love another country." Good-night, dear,
dear one! How wonderful it will be to see and hear you again.
Kiss Hope for her Dad.
This is writing with all the love, but with difficulties. I
am sitting on a log and the light is a candle. Today we had
our first fight. It happened the squad of eight men I am in
was sent in advance, and I was 100 yards in front, so I was
the first to come in touch with the scouts of the Red Army,
and I killed a lot. My squad was so brave that we all got
killed THREE TIMES. But as soon as the umpire rode away we
would come to life, and go on fighting. Finally, he took us
prisoners, and made us sit down and look on at the battle. As we
had been running around and each carrying a forty-pound pack, we
were glad to remain dead. But we have declared that nothing
can kill us tomorrow but asphyxiating gas. I have terrible
nightmares for fear something has happened to one of you, and
then I trust in the good Lord, and pray him to make the time
pass swiftly.
Good-night, and all the love and kisses for you both.
On October 19, 1915, Richard sailed on the Chicago for
France and his second visit to the Great War. He arrived at
Paris on October 30, and shortly afterward visited the Western
front at Amiens and Artois. He also interviewed Poincare, and
through him the French President sent a message to the
American people. At this time my brother had received
permission from the authorities to visit all of the twelve
sectors of the French front under particularly advantageous
conditions, and was naturally most anxious to do so. However,
through a misunderstanding between the syndicate he
represented and certain of the newspapers using its service,
he found it advisable, even although against his own judgment,
to go to Greece, and to postpone his visit to the sectors of
the French front he had not already seen. On November 13 he
left Paris bound for Salonica.
On Way to France, Oct. 18, 1915.
You are much more brave than I am. Anyway, you are much
better behaved. For all the time you were talking I was
crying, not with my eyes only, but with ALL of me. I am so sad.
I love you so, and I will miss you so. I want you to keep saying
to yourself all the time, "This is the most serious effort he
ever made, because the chances of seeing anything are so SMALL,
and because never had he such a chance to HELP. But, all the
time, every minute he thinks of me. He wants me. He misses my
voice, my eyes, my presence at his side when he walks or
sleeps. He never loved me so greatly, or at leaving me was so
unhappy as he is now."
Goodby, dear heart. My God-given one! Would it not be
wonderful, if tonight when I am up among the boats on the top
deck that girl in the Pierrot suit, and in her arms Hope,
came, and I took them and held them both? You will walk with
her at five, and I will walk and think of you and love you and
long for you.
God keep you, dearest of wives, and mothers.
October 24.
So many weeks have passed since I saw you that by now you are
able to read this without your mother looking over your
shoulder and helping you with the big words. I have six sets
of pictures of you. Every day I take them down and change
them. Those your dear mother put in glass frames I do not
change. Also, I have all the sweet fruits and chocolates and
red bananas. How good of you to think of just the things your
father likes. Some of them I gave to a little boy and girl.
I play with them because soon my daughter will be as big.
They have no mother like you, OF COURSE; they have no mother
like YOURS--for except my mother there never was a mother like
yours; so loving, so tender, so unselfish and thoughtful. If she
is reading this, kiss her for me. These little children have a
little father. He dresses them and bathes them himself. He
is afraid of the cold; and sits in the sun; and coughs and
shivers. His children and I play hide-and-seek, and, as you
will know some day, for that game there is no such place as a
steamer, with boats and ventilators and masts and alleyways.
Some day we will play that game hiding behind the rocks and
trees and rose bushes. Every day I watch the sun set, and
know that you and your pretty mother are watching it, too.
And all day I think of you both.
Be very good. Do not bump yourself. Do not eat matches. Do
not play with scissors or cats. Do not forget your dad.
Sleep when your mother wishes it. Love us both. Try to know
how we love you. THAT you will never learn. Good-night and
God keep you, and bless you.
PARIS, November 1.
Today is "moving" day, and I feel like ---- censored word, at
the thought of your having the moving to direct and manage by
yourself. I can picture Barney and Burke loading, and
unloading, and coal and wood being stored, and provisions and
ice, and finally Hope brought down to take her
third--no--fourth motor ride. And God will see she makes it
all safely, and that in her new house you are comfortable.
Last night I dreamed about Hope and you, a long dream, and it
made me so happy. Something happened today that you will like
to hear. When the war came the French students at the Beaux
Arts had to go to fight. The wives and children had nothing to
live on. So, the American students, about a dozen of them,
organized a relief league. The Beaux Arts is in a most wonderful
palace built by Cardinal Richelieu and decorated later by
Napoleon. In this they were gathering socks, asphyxiating masks,
warm clothes. They were hand painting postcards for fifty cents
apiece. The "masters" as they call their teachers, also were
painting them. I gave them some money which was received
politely, but, as it would not go far, without much
enthusiasm. As I was going, I said, "I'll be back tomorrow to
get some facts and I'll write a story about what you're doing."
This is the part that is embarrassing to write, but you will
understand. They gave a cheer and a yell just as though I had
said, "Peace is declared" or "I will give you Carnegie's
fortune." And they danced around, and shook hands, and
Whitney Warren, who is at the head of it, all but cried.
Later, he told me the letter I had written for his wife's fund
for orphans by the war had brought in $5000, that was why they
were so pleased. So we, you and I, will try to look at it
that way, and try to believe that from this separation, which
is cruel for us, others may get some benefit. Tomorrow, I am
to be received at the Elysee by the President, and I am going
to try to make him say something that will draw money from
America for the French hospitals. If he will only ask, I know
our people will give. In a day or two, I think I will be
allowed to see something, but, that you will know best by
reading The Times.
Your loving husband is lonely for you, and so it will be always.
November 17th.
My last letter was such a complaining one that I am ashamed.
But, not leaving me to decide what was best for the papers,
made me mad. Since I wrote, I ought to be madder, for I have
been to the trenches outside of Rheims in Champagne; and, had
they not deviled the spirit out of me with cables, I believe I
could have written such a lot of stories of France that no one
else has had the opportunity to write. Believe me no one has
yet told the story of the trench war. Anyway, in spite of all
the photographs and articles, to me it was all new. I was
allowed to go alone, and given carte blanche to see whatever
I wished. I saw everything, but it would not be possible to
write of it yet. It was wonderful. I was in the three lines,
reaching the FIRST line by moonlight. No one spoke above a
whisper. The Germans were only 300 to 400 yards distant. But
worst of all were the rats. They ran over my feet and I was a
darned sight more afraid of them than the Germans. I saw the
Cathedral, and the only hotel open (from which I sent you and
Hope a postal) was the same one in which we stopped a year
ago. I had sent the hotel my book in which I said
complimentary things, and I got a great welcome. They even
gave me a room with a fire in it, and so I was warm for the
first time since I left the Crossroads. And this morning it
SNOWED. On my way back to Paris, I stopped to tell the
General what I had seen and to thank him. He said, "Oh, that
is nothing. When you return, I will take you out myself, and
I will show you something worth while." I am going to carry a
rat-trap, and two terriers on a leash. Tonight, when I got
back, there was a letter from you, but no writing,
but there was a photo of Her, and me holding her. How is it
possible that any living thing is so beautiful as my child?
How fat, and wonderful, and dear, and lovable, and how
terribly I want to hold her as I am holding her in the
picture, and how much better as I really don't need my left
arm to hold such a mite), if I had you close to me in it. I
miss you so, and love you so! I told Wheeler before I left as
I was not going to waste time traveling I would not go to
Servia. So, as soon as I arrived, I was fretted with cables
to go. I cabled to stop giving me advice, that I had a much
better chance in France than anyone could have anywhere else.
Maybe, before I arrive, the Greeks will have joined the
Germans, in which case, I WON'T LEAVE THE SHIP. I'll come
straight back on her to the Allies.
November 20th.
This is the way Hope's cat looks, "My whiskers!" she says, "I
never knew I was to be let in for anything like this!" When I
told her about the big rats in the trenches she wanted to go
with me next time, but, today when I told her that the Crown
Prince of Servia made his servants eat live mice (he is no
longer Crown Prince), she looked just as she does in the
picture. "Then, what do _I_ eat in Servia?" she said, and I
told her both of us would live on goat's milk.
You will be glad when I tell you I have been, warm. We came
pretty far south in two days, and, the damp chill of Paris is
gone. On the train a funny thing happened. An English
officer and I got talking and he was press censor at Salonica
where I am going after Athens. I asked him to look over the
many letters I had and tell me if any of them would be likely
to get me in bad, being addressed to pro-Germans, for example.
He said, "Well, THIS chap is all right anyway. I'll vouch
for him, because this letter is addressed to me."
We leave, the Basses, the English officer and
I, in a small tub of a boat for Patras, and train to Athens.
I will try to go at once to Servia. Harjes, who are the Paris
house of J. P. Morgan, gave me a "mission" to try and organize
for the Servians the same form of relief as has been arranged
for the Belgians. He gave me permission if I saw the need for
help was imminent (and it will be) to cable him for whatever I
thought the Serbs most needed. So, it is a chance to do much.
To get out news will be impossible. However, here I am and
tomorrow I'll be good and seasick.
I have your charm around my neck, and all the pictures, and
the luck-bringing cat, and the scapular, and the love you give me
to keep me well and bring us soon together. That is the one
thing I want. God bless you both, Hope's dad and your husband.
November 26th.
I am off tonight for Salonica. I am not very cheerful for I
miss you very, very terribly, and the further I go, the worse
I feel. But now I am nearly as far as I can get, and when you
receive this I will--thank God--be turned back to Paris, and
London, and HOME! I thought so often of you this morning
when I took a holiday and climbed the Acropolis. On the top
of it I picked a dandelion for you. It was growing between
the blocks of marble that have been there since 400 years
before our Lord: before St. Paul preached to the Athenians. I
was all alone on the rock, and could see over the AEgean Sea,
Corinth, Mount Olympus, where the Gods used to sit, and the
Sphinx lay in wait for travelers with her famous riddle. It
takes two days and one night to go to Salonica, and the boats
are so awful no one undresses but sleeps in his clothes on top
of the bed.
Goodby, sweetheart, and give SUCH a kiss to my precious
daughter. How beautiful she is. Even the waiter who brought
me a card stopped to exclaim about her picture. So, of
course, being not at all proud I showed him her in my arms. I
want you both so and I love you both SO. And, I wanted you
so this morning as I always do when there is a beautiful
landscape, or flowers, or palms. I know how you love them.
The dandelion is very modest and I hope the censor won't lose
it out, for she has a long way to go and carries a burden of
love. I wish I was bringing them in the door of the Scribner
cottage at this very minute.
VOLO, November 27.
I got here today, after the darnedest voyage of two days in a
small steamer. We ran through a snow storm and there was no
way to warm the boat. So, I DIED. You know how cold
affects me--well--this was the coldest cold I ever died of. I
poured alcohol in me, and it was like drinking iced tea. Now,
I am on shore in a cafe near a stove. We continue on to
Salonica at midnight. There are 24 men and one woman, Mrs.
Bass, on board. I am much too homesick to write more than to
say I love you, and I miss you and Hope so, that I don't look
at the photos. Did you get the cable I sent
Thanksgiving--from Athens, it read: "Am giving thanks for
Hope and you." I hope the censor let that get by him. The
boat I was on was a refrigerator ship; it was also peculiar in
that the captain dealt baccarat all day with the passengers.
It was a sort of floating gambling house. This is certainly a
strange land. Snow and roses and oranges, all at once. I
must stop. I'm froze. Give the kiss I want to give to Her,
and know, oh! how I love and love and love her mother--NEVER
SALONICA November 30th, 1915.
I got here to night and found it the most picturesque spot I
ever visited. I am glad I came. It was impossible to get a
room but I found John McCutcheon and two other men occupying a
grand suite and they have had a cot put in for me. To-morrow
I hope to get a room. The place is filled with every nation
except Germans and even they are here out of uniforms. We had
a strange time coming. The trip from Athens should have taken
two nights and a day but we took four. The Captain of the
boat anchored and played baccarat whenever he thought there
were enough passengers not seasick to make it worth his while.
He played from eleven in the morning until four in the
morning. I don't know now who ran the ship. It is so cold
when you bathe, the steam runs off you. I never have suffered
so. But, it looked as though every one else was singing "Its
going to be a hard, hard winter" from the way they, dress.
Tomorrow I am going to buy fur pants. You can't believe what
a picture it is. Servians, French, Greeks, Scots in kilts,
London motor cars, Turks, wounded and bandaged Tommies and
millions of them fighting for food, for drink, for a place at
the "movies," and more "rumors" than there are words in the
directory. To-morrow, I present my letters and hope to get to
the "front." I only hope the front doesn't come to us. But,
it ought to be a place for great stories. All love to you old
man, and bless you both. How I look forward to our first
lunch in your wonderful home! And to sit in front of your
fire, and hear all the news. All love to you both.
December 6, 1915.
I have been away so could not write. They took us to the
French and English "front" and away from Greece; we were in
Bulgaria and Servia. It was at a place where the three
boundaries met. We saw remarkable mountain ranges and deep
snow, and some fine artillery. But throwing shells into that
bleak, white jumble of snow and rocks--there was fifty miles of
it--was like throwing a baseball at the Rocky Mountains. Still,
it was seeing something. Now, I have a room, and a very
wonderful one. I had to bribe everyone in the hotel to get
it; and I have something to write and, no more moving about I
hope, for at least a week. I am able to see the ships at
anchor for miles, and the landing stage for all the warships
is just under my window. As near as McCoy Rock from the
terrace. It is like a moving picture all the time. I bought
myself an oil stove and a can of Standard oil, and, instead of
trying to warm the hotel with my body, I let George do it.
But it is a very small stove, and to really get the good of
it, I have to sit with it between my legs. Still, it is such
a relief to be alone, and not to pack all the time.
McCutcheon and Bass, Hare and Shepherd are fine, but I felt
like the devil, imposing on them, and working four in a room
is no joke. We dine together each night. Except them, I see
no one, but have been writing. Also, I have been collecting
facts about Servian relief. Harjes, Morgan's representative
in Paris, gave me carte blanche to call on him for money or
supplies; but I waited until today to cable, so as to be sure
where help was most needed. It is still cold, but that
AWFUL cold spell was quite unprecedented and is not likely
to come again. I NEVER suffered so from cold, and, as you
know, I suffer considerable. All the English officers who had
hunted in cold places, said neither had they ever felt such
cold. Seven hundred Tommies were frost bitten and toes and
fingers fell off. I do not say anything about how awful it is
not to hear. But, if I had had your letters forwarded to this
dump of the Levant, I never would have got them. Now, I have to
wait for them until I get to Paris, but there I will surely get
them. Cables, of course, can reach me, but no cables mean to me
that you are all right. Nor do I want to "talk" about Christmas.
You know how I feel about that, and about missing the first one
SHE has had. But it will be the LAST one we will know apart.
Never again!
I want you in my arms and to hear you laugh and see your eyes.
I am in need of you to make a fuss over me. McCutcheon and
Co. don't care whether I have cold hands or not. You do.
Your ointment and gloves saved my fingers from falling off
like the soldiers' did. And your "housewife" I use to put on
buttons, and, your scapular and medal keep me well. But your
love is what really lifts me up and consoles me. When I think
how you and I care for each other, then, I am scared, for it
is very beautiful. And we must not ever be away from each
other again. God keep you my beloved, and both my blessings.
I cannot bear it--when I think of all I am missing of her,
and, all that she is doing. God guard you both. My darling
and dear wife and mother of Hope.
Your husband,
SALONICA, December 18th.
I am very blue tonight, and NEVER was so homesick.
Yesterday just to feel I was in touch with you I sent a cable
through the fog, it said, "Well, homesick, all love to you
both." I did not ask if you and Hope were well, because I
KNOW the good Lord will not let any harm come to you. I am
certainly caught by the heels this time. And it will be the last
time. As you know, I meant only to go to France where no time
would be wasted in travel, and I would be able to get back soon.
But the blockade held up the ship and on the other one the
captain stayed at anchor, and, then when I got here, the Allies
retreated, and I had to stay on to cover what is to come next.
What that is, or whether nothing happens, you will know by the
time this reaches you. So, here I am. For TEN days until
this morning we have never seen the sun. In sixty years
nothing like it has happened. The Salonicans said the English
transports brought the fog with them. Anyway, I got it. My
room is right on the harbor. I never thought I would LOVE
an oil stove. I always thought they were ill-smelling,
air-destroying. But this one saved my life. I wrote with it
between my knees, I dry my laundry on it, and use the tin pan
on top of it to take the dampness out of the bed. The fog
kept everything like a sponge. Coal is thirty dollars a ton.
To get wood for firewood the boatmen row miles out, and wait
below the transports to get the boxes they throw overboard. I
go around asking EVERYBODY if this place is not now a dead
duck for news. But they all give me no encouragement. They
say it is the news center of the world. I hope it chokes. I
try to comfort myself by thinking you are happy, because you
have Hope, and I have nobody, except John McCutcheon and Bass
and Jimmie Hare, and they are as blue as I am, and no one can
get any money. I cabled today to Wheeler for some via the
State Department. I went to the Servian camp for the little
orphans whose fathers have been killed, and they all knelt and
kissed my hands. It was awful. I thought of Hope, and hugged
a few and carried them around in my arms and felt much better.
Today for the first time, I quit work and went to see an American
film at the cinema to cheer me. But when I saw the streetcars,
and "ready to wear" clothes, and the policemen I got suicidal. I
went back and told the others and they all rushed off to see
"home" things, and are there now. This is a yell of a letter,
but it's the only kind I can write. My stories and cables are
rotten, too. I have seen nothing--just traveled and waited for
something to happen. Goodnight, dearest one. I love you so.
You will never know how much I love you. Kiss my darling for
me, and, think only of the good days when we will be together
again. Such good days. Goodnight again--all love.
HARBOR SALONICA, December 19th.
I am a happy man tonight! And that is the first time I have
been able to say so since I left you. The backbone of the
trip is broken! and my face is turned West--toward you and
Hope. John McCutcheon gave me a farewell dinner tonight of
which I got one half, as the police made me go on board at
nine, although we do not sail until five in the morning. So
there was time for only one toast, as I was making for the
door. Was it to your husband? It was not. It was to Hope
Davis, two weeks yet of being one year old, and being toasted
by the war correspondents in Salonica. They knew it would
please me. And I went away very choken and happy. SUCH a
boat as this is! I have a sofa in the dining-room, and at
present it is jammed with refugees and all smoking and not an
air port open. What a relief it will be to once more get
among clean people. We must help the Servians, and God knows
they need help. But, if they would help each other, or
themselves, I would like them better. I am now on deck under the
cargo light and, on the top floor of the Olympus Hotel, can see
John's dinner growing gayer and gayer. It is like the man who
went on a honeymoon alone. I am so happy tonight. You seem so
near now that I am coming West.
How terribly I have missed you, and wanted you, and longed for
your voice and LAUGH, and to have you open the door of my
writing room, and say, "A lady is coming to call on you," and
then enter the dearest wife and dearest baby in the world!
God bless you, and all my love.
Christmas Eve,
I planned to get to Paris late Christmas night. I cabled
Frazier at the Embassy, to have all my letters at the Hotel de
l'Empire. I MEANT to spend the night reading of you and
Hope. I made a record trip from Salonica. By leaving the
second steamer at Messina and taking an eighteen-hour trip
across Italy I saved ten hours. But when I got here I found
the French Consul had taken a holiday, AND WAS OUT BUYING
CHRISTMAS PRESENTS! So, I could not get permission to enter
France. With some Red Cross Americans, I raged around the
French Consulate, but it was no use. So I am here, and cannot
leave UNTIL MIDNIGHT CHRISTMAS. When I found I could not
get away, I told Cook's to give me their rapid-fire guide, and
I set out to SEE ROME. The Manager of Cook's was the same
man who, 19 years ago, sold me tickets to the Greek war in
Florence, when the American Consulate was in the same building
with Cook's, and Charley was Consul. So he gave me a great
guide. We began at ten this morning and we stopped at six.
They say it takes five years to see Rome, but when I let the
rapid-fire guide escape, he said he had to compliment me; we
climbed more stairways and hills than there are in all New
York and Westchester County; and there is just one idea in my
mind, and that is that you and I must see this sacred place
together. On all this trip I have wanted YOU, but NEVER
so as today. And I particularly inquired about the milk. It
is said to be excellent. So we will come here, and you, with
all your love of what is fine and beautiful, will be very
happy, and Hope will learn Italian, and to know what is best
in art, and statues and churches. I have seen 2900 churches,
and all of them built by Michael Angelo and decorated by Raphael;
and it was so wonderful I cried. I bought candles and
prayers, and I am afraid Christian Science had a dull day.
Tomorrow we start at nine, and go to high mass at St. Peter's,
and then into the country to the catacombs, where the early
Christians hid from the Romans. It is not what you would call
an English Christmas, but it is so beautiful and wonderful
I sent you a cable, the second one, because it is not sure
they are forwarded, and I hung up a stocking for Hope. One of
the peasant women made in Salonica. I am bringing it with me.
And the cat is on my window--still looking out on the Romans.
The green leaf I got in the forum, where Mark Antony made his
speech over Caesar's body. It is the plant that gave Pericles
the idea of the Corinthian column. You remember. It was
growing under a tile some one had laid over it--and the yellow
flower was on my table at dinner, so I send it, that we may know
on Christmas Eve we dined together.
Good-night, now, and God bless you. I am off to bed now, in a
bed with sheets. The first in six days. How I LOVE you,
and LOVE you. Such good wishes I send you, and such love to
you both. May the good Lord bless you as he has blessed
me--with the best of women, with the best of daughters. I am
a proud husband and a proud father; and soon I will be a
HAPPY husband and a HAPPY father.
Good-night, dear heart.
PARIS, December 28th, 1915.
Hurrah for the Dictator! He has been a great good friend to
me. I will know to-day about whether I can go back to the
French front. If not I will try the Belgians and then London,
and home. I spent Christmas day in Rome in the catacombs. I
could not wear my heart upon my sleeve for duchesses to peck
at. It is just as you say, Dad and Mother made the day so
dear and beautiful. I did not know how glad I would be to be
back here for while the trip East led to no news value, to me
personally it was interesting. But I am terribly tired after
the last nine days, sleeping on sofas, decks, a different deck
each night and writing all the time and such poor stuff. But,
oh! when I saw Paris I knew how glad I was! WHAT a
beautiful place, what a kind courteous people. We will all be
here some day. Tell Dai she must be my interpreter. All love
to her, and you, and good luck to the syndicate. YOUR
syndicate. I have not heard from mine for six
weeks. They have not sent me a single clipping of anything,
so I don't know whether anything got through or not, and I
have nothing to show these people here that might encourage
them to send me out again. They certainly have made it hard
hoeing. Tell Guvey his letter about the toys was a great
success here, and copied into several papers.
Goodbye, and God bless you, and good luck to you.
PARIS, December 31st, 1915.
To wish you and Dai a Happy New Year. It will mean a lot to
us when we can get together, and take it together, good and
bad. I am awfully pleased over the novel coming out by the
Harper's and, in landing so much for me out of The Dictator.
You have started the New Year for me splendidly. I expect I
will be back around the first of February. I am now trying to
"get back," but, I need more time. I can only put the trip
down to the wrong side of the ledger. Personally, I got a lot
out of it, but I am not sent over here to improve my knowledge
of Europe, but to furnish news and stories and that has not
I am constantly running against folks who knew you in
Florence, and I regret to say most of them are in business at
the Chatham bar. What a story they make; the M----'s and the
like, who know Paris only from the cocktail side. One of our
attaches told me to-day he had been lunching for the last 18
months at the grill room of the Chatham, where the "mixed
grill" was as good as in New York. He had no knowledge of any
other place to eat. The Hotel de l'Empire is a terrible
tragedy. They are so poor, that I believe it is my eight francs
a day keeps them going; nothing else is in sight. But, it is the
exception. Never did a people take a war as the French take this
worst of all wars. They really are the most splendid of people.
I only wish I could have had one of them for a grandfather or
grandmother. Bessie writes that Hope is growing wonderfully and
beautifully, and I am sick for a sight of her, and for you. Good
night and God bless you and the happiest of New Years to you both.
Your loving brother,
These postcards are "originals" painted by students of the
Beaux-Arts to keep alive, and to keep those students in the
trenches. They are for Dai.
PARIS, December 31, 1915.
The old year, the dear, old year that brought us Hope, is very
near the end. I am not going to watch him go. I have drunk
to the New Year and to my wife and daughter, and before there
is "a new step on the floor, and a new face at the door," I
will be asleep. Of all my many years, the old year, that is
so soon to pass away, has been the best, for it has brought
you to me with a closer tie, has added to the love I have for
every breath you breathe, for your laugh and your smile, and
deep concern, that comes if you think your worthless husband
is worried, or cross, or dismayed. Each year I love you more;
for I know you more, and to know more of the lovely soul you
are, is to love more. Just now we are in a hard place. I am
sure you cannot comprehend how her father, her "Dad" and your
husband can keep away. Neither do I understand.
But, for both your sakes, I want, before I own up that this
adventure has been a failure, to try and pull something out of
the wreck. If the government says I CAN, then I still may
be able to do something. If it says, "NO," then it's Home,
boys, Home, and that's where I want to be. It's home, boys,
home, in the old countree. 'Neath the ash, and the oak, and
the spreading maple tree, it's home, boys, home, to mine own
countree! This is Hope and you. So know, that in getting to
you I have not thrown away a minute. I have been a
slave-driver, to others as well as to myself. But you cannot
get favors with a whip; and, the French war office has other
matters to occupy it, that it considers of more importance
than an impatient war correspondent. So long as you
understand, it will not matter. Nothing hurts, except that
you may not understand. The moment I see you, and you see me,
you will understand. So, goodnight, and God bless you, you,
my two blessings. Here is to our own year of 1915, your year
and Hope's year, and, because I have you both, my year. I
send you all the love in all the world.
January 5, 1916.
top of my writing yesterday that I had had no sketches of
yours, and no kodaks of Hope, eight came to-night, and oh! I
am so proud, so homesick. What a wonderful nurse and mother
you are! Was ever there anything so lovable? And that she
should be ours, to hold and to love, and to make happy. These
last eight days in Paris, in and out, have made me so homesick
for those I love, that you will never know what the delays meant.
I felt just the way poor women feel who kidnap babies. In the
parks I know the nurse-maids are afraid of me. I stick my head
under the hoods of the baby carriages, and stop and stand
watching them at play. And tonight when all these beautiful
pictures came, I was the happiest father anywhere.
The delay was no one's fault, not mine anyway, nor can I blame
anyone. These people are splendid. They are willing to do
anything for one, but it takes time. When they are fighting
for their lives and have not seen their own babies in a year,
that you want to see yours is only natural and to oblige you
they can't see why they should upset the whole war. But now
it looks less as though I would have to call it a failure.
And Hope may be proud of me, and you may be proud of me, and I
will have enough ammunition to draw on for many articles and
letters, and another book.
It has been a cruel time; and when I tell you how I worked to
get it over, and to be back with you, you will understand many
things. The most important of all will be how I love you.
Only wait until I can lay eyes on you, you will just take one
look and know that it couldn't be helped, that the delay was
the work of others, that, all I wanted was my Bessie and my
How heavy she will be, if she is anything like the picture of
her on the coverlet, she is a prize baby. And if she is
anything like as beautiful as in the baby carriage she is an
angel straight from God. I want to sit in the green chair and
have you on one knee and her majesty on the other, and have
her climb over me, and pull my hair and bang my nose, and in
time to know how I love you both.
Goodnight, dear heart, I wish you had had yourself in the
picture. I have three in the summer time with you holding her
and that is the way I like to see you, that is the way I think
of you. I love you, and I love her for making you so happy,
and I love her for her sake, and because she is OURS: and
has tied us tighter and closer even than it has ever been. I
love you so that I can't write about it, and I am going to do
nothing all spring but just sit around, and be in everybody's
way, watching you together.
How jealous I am of you, and homesick for you. Of course, she
knows "mamma" is YOU; and to look at you when they ask,
"Where's mother?" Who else could be her mother BUT THE
DEAREST WOMAN IN THE WORLD, and the one who loves her so, and
in so wonderful a way. She is beautiful beyond all things
human I know. If ever a woman deserved a beautiful daughter,
YOU DO, for you are the best of mothers, and you know how
"to care greatly."
Good-night, my precious, dear one, and God keep you, as He
will, and help me to keep you both happy. What you give me
you never will know.
After a short visit to London, Richard returned to New York in
February, 1916. During his absence his wife and Hope had
occupied the Scribner cottage at Mount Kisco, about two miles
from Crossroads. Here my brother finished his second book on
the war, and wrote numerous articles and letters urging the
immediate necessity for preparedness in this country. As to
Richard's usefulness to his country at this time, I quote in
part from two appreciations written after my brother's death
by the two most prominent exponents of preparedness.
Theodore Roosevelt said:
"He was as good an American as ever lived, and his heart
flamed against cruelty and injustice. His writings form a
text-book of Americanism which all our people would do well to
read at the present time."
Major-General Leonard Wood said:
"The death of Richard Harding Davis was a real loss to the
movement for preparedness. Mr. Davis had an extensive
experience as a military observer, and thoroughly appreciated
the need of a general training system like that of Australia
or Switzerland and of thorough organization of our industrial
resources in, order to establish a condition of reasonable
preparedness in this country. A few days before his death he
came to Governors Island for the purpose of ascertaining in
what line of work he could be most useful in building up
sound public opinion in favor of such preparedness
as would give us a real peace insurance. His mind was bent on
devoting his energies and abilities to the work of public
education on this vitally important subject, and few men were
better qualified to do so, for he had served as a military
observer in many campaigns.
"Throughout the Cuban campaign he was attached to the
headquarters of my regiment in Cuba as a military observer.
He was with the advanced party at the opening of the fight at
Las Guasiinas, and was distinguished throughout the fight by
coolness and good conduct. He also participated in the battle
of San Juan and the siege of Santiago, and as an observer was
always where duty called him. He was a delightful companion,
cheerful, resourceful, and thoughtful of the interests and
wishes of others. His reports of the game were valuable and
among the best and most accurate.
"The Plattsburg movement took a very strong hold of him. He
saw in this a great instrument for building up a sound
knowledge concerning our military history and policy, also a
very practical way of training men for the duties of junior
officers. He realized fully that we should need in case of
war tens of thousands of officers with our newly raised
troops, and that it would be utterly impossible to prepare
them in the hurry and confusion of the onrush of modern war.
His heart was filled with a desire to serve his country to the
best of his ability. His recent experience in Europe pointed
out to him the absolute madness of longer disregarding the
need of doing those things which reasonable preparedness
dictates, the things which cannot be accomplished after
trouble is upon us. He had in mind at the time of his death a
series of articles to be written especially to build up interest
in universal military training through conveying to our people an
understanding of what organization as it exists to-day means, and
how vitally important it is for our people to do in time of peace
those things which modern war does not permit done once it is
under way.
"Davis was a loyal friend, a thoroughgoing American devoted to
the best interests of his country, courageous, sympathetic,
and true. His loss has been a very real one to all of us who
knew and appreciated him, and in his death the cause of
preparedness has lost an able worker and the country a devoted
and loyal citizen."
Although suffering from his strenuous experiences in France,
and more particularly from those in Greece, Richard continued
to accomplish his usual enormous amount of work, and during
these weeks wrote his last short story, "The Deserter."
The following letter was written to me while I was in the
Bahamas and was in reference to a novel which I had dedicated
to Hope:
MOUNT KISCO--February 28, 1916.
No word yet of the book, except the advts. I enclose. I will
send you the notices as soon as they begin to appear. I am so
happy over the dedication, and, very proud. So, Hope will be
when she knows. As I have not read the novel it all will come
as a splendid and pleasant surprise. I am looking forward to
sitting down to it with all the pleasure in the world.
You chose the right moment to elope. Never was weather so cold,
cruel and bitter. Hope is the only one who goes out of doors.
I start the fires in the Big House tomorrow and the plumbers
and paper hangers, painters enter the day after.
The attack on Verdun makes me sick. I was there six weeks ago
in one of the forts but of course could not then nor can I now
write of it. I don't believe the drive ever can get through.
For two reasons, and the unmilitary one is that I believe in a
just God. Give my love to Dai, and for you always
P. S. I am happy you are both so happy, but those post cards
with the palms were cruelty to animals.
On the 21st of March, 1916, Richard and his wife and daughter
moved from the Scribner cottage to Crossroads, and a few days
later he was attacked by the illness that ended in his death
on April 11. He had dined with his wife and afterward had
worked on an article on preparedness, written some letters and
telegrams concerning the same subject and, while repeating one
of the latter over the telephone, was stricken. Within a week
of his fifty-third year, just one year from the day he had
first brought his baby daughter to her real home, doing the
best and finest work of his career in the cause of the Allies
and preparedness, quite unconscious that the end was near, he
left us. In those fifty-two years he had crowded the work,
the pleasures, the kind, chivalrous deeds of many men, and he
died just as I am sure he would have wished to die, working
into the night for a great cause, and although ill and tired,
still fretful for the morning that he might again take up the fight.

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