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THE PORTRAIT OF AN EDITOR
BY DON C. SEITZ
JOSEPH PULITZER was tall, — six feet chief of whom was his friend, Joseph two and a half inches in height, – Keppler. When idling together in but of a presence so commanding as to the cafés of St. Louis, Keppler would make his stature seem even greater rack his brains for an idea and, failing His hair was black and his beard a to find one, would remark: 'Well, Joey, reddish brown. A forehead that well there's only one thing left to do. I'll
espoke the intellect behind it shaded go back to the office and draw your a nose of the sort Napoleon admired; nose’ – which he invariably did to his chin was small but powerful and of the great disgust of the subject. the nutcracker variety, such as the portrait of Mr. Punch affects. To His days after his withdrawal from conceal this he always went bearded active work were monotonously reguafter he was thirty. His complexion lar: morning hours spent with his was as delicate and beautiful as that of secretaries over the papers and mail, a a tender child. His hands were those drive before luncheon, then an hour of genius, with long, slender fingers, of reading and repose, after which he full of warmth and magnetism. The rode in a carriage or on horseback, saw eyes before they became clouded were visitors from five o'clock to six, went of a grayish blue. Always weak, they to bed for a brief rest, dressed for a never lent much expression to the face, seven-thirty dinner, left the table yet his visage was animated and at- about nine, listened to a little music, tractive. Temperamentally, his was the and was read to sleep by one of his type of the poet and musician; yet, secretaries. while adoring music, he professed to Just as old King Frederick William care little for verse and rarely read it. of Prussia, father of Frederick the However, he appreciated the singers Great, was always hunting Europe in his native tongue and, I have often over for tall men to recruit his Potsdam thought, really repressed his poetic Grenadiers, Mr. Pulitzer, who reinstinct for fear it might be considered sembled his Majesty in many ways, was a weakness.
forever hunting readers and secretaries. The nose vexed him. If there had Ballard Smith, while London correbeen any way of modifying its promi- spondent, and after him Frederick A. nence, he would have greatly rejoiced. Duneka, David Graham Phillips, and But it was the delight of cartoonists, James M. Tuohy, all English representVOL. 134 - NO. 3
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atives in the order named, were on traveled road, the tale was worth perpetual assignment. The secretaries hearing. in office were frequently set to finding He was always interesting, seldom other secretaries, and George Ledlie, companionable, taking all he could his general and personal representative, from the minds of others, but rarely had a permanent commission to find giving much back, his method being to 'the right man.' Alfred Butes, a dispute and to reap the benefits of an clever young Englishman, came closest aroused defense. Thus he became a to filling all the requirements. He had great hunter for facts. Often at lunchbeen in Africa with General Francis de eon or dinner, when a free-for-all conWinton, was an accomplished stenog. versation took place, some remark rapher, wrote an excellent hand and would arouse a dispute over accuracy above all, was most discreet. He of statement. If the question could not penetrated more deeply in his employ- be settled by someone at the board, er's confidence than any of the other he would command a charge on all the young gentlemen; indeed, he was reference books at hand and there was destined to become a trustee of the no rest until the doubt was cleared up. vast estate and to receive a handsome The waiters were often prohibited from legacy, although he forfeited these serving more food until this happened. honors in 1907 to join Lord North. The facts found, he would listen incliffe in a secretarial capacity.
tently to their reading and they reThe duties of the secretaries were mained in his mind forever. The best very exacting, and the position was of dinners would be much improved irksome except to men of sympathetic for him if there had been added a temperament and to lovers of good satisfying fact-hunt. He would puff living. Most of the secretaries were his cigar, pat the pile of reference books English, although occasional Americans lovingly with his graceful hands, and served with individual success. But smile in deep content. the life palled on these lighter temperaments and they required frequent Mr. Pulitzer read omnivorously. He furloughs.
was always buying books. One of his Mealtimes were play hours. At great griefs over the fire that destroyed the table, liberty of speech was the rule his Fifty-fifth Street mansion was the and the guests and secretaries had full total loss of his library. He was not a freedom to express themselves without “collector' in any sense, but loved his regard to the feelings of the host. volumes for what they contained. Like Sometimes the fire became pretty hot most of us who were fed educationally and Mr. Pulitzer would retreat to have on Homer in our youth, Mr. Pulitzer his dessert and coffee alone. Violent reserved the Odyssey as a treasure to disputes about music, literature, poli- be enjoyed in riper years. He had long tics, history, and art were the rule, looked forward to the celebrated with not infrequent assaults upon his episode of the wooden horse. Coming own opinion and the ways of the to the event, he found it described in World, tempered by anecdotes and seven rather dull lines. 'I was so good stories. He loved table-talk of d- d mad,' he remarked, 'that I this sort. "Tell me a good story' was could have kicked Homer! his most frequent greeting to a guest. His speeches during the Greeley It was hard to set him to ‘reminiscing'; campaign were all made in German, but when he did venture back over the his familiar tongue. When he came to stump for Tilden, he employed English. almost always managed to gratify This was not an easy task, for he even when poor. The best vintages thought in German and had to trans- came to his table, the finest moselles, late as he talked. To facilitate clear champagnes, and burgundies; yet he ness of expression he laboriously wrote drank little, rarely more than a single out his addresses in English and com- glass. He loved to be warm, to sleep mitted them to memory. When he well, to be comfortably housed, and to spoke in later years, after coming to have at his command good books. In New York, he had acquired the habit his later years he spent at least twelve of thinking in English, and when asked hours of the day in bed. His afternoon to make an address in German during nap was the trial of his valet and the the Nicoll campaign, found it very terror of fellow travelers. Rooms had difficult. In his after years of retire to be kept vacant above, below, and on ment he took up German again and either side of him at hotels, and the used it faultlessly, cultivating the White Star Line, upon whose steamers language, through skilled readers, from he usually made his European voyages, the best books in German literature. kept his good will for many years by
He loved art and music, a taste re- maintaining a huge drugget, made of flected in the great benefactions made manila rope, which was spread upon in his will to the Philharmonic Society the deck so that the footsteps of the and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. idlers on the promenade deck could When sight grew dim, as with most not jar his slumbers in the stateroom blind people, music became a solace. below. The piano appealed to him especially This desire for silence became aland he heard great players whenever most a mania. The great house, possible. Now and then Paderewski Chatwold, at Bar Harbor, had added would pay him a visit and there would to it in 1895 a huge granite pile, called be a carnival of piano playing. The by some of the humorous inmates the strings were next. His winters on the ‘Tower of Silence.' It was provided Riviera were made happy by the with specially constructed walls and splendid orchestra maintained at Monte partitions designed, unsuccessfully, to Carlo by the Prince of Monaco. He shut out all noise. The new city frequented the opera, but the social mansion, on East Seventy-third Street, noises usually drove him home early. New York, built in 1902, failed to The group of secretaries always in- provide soundproof quarters in spite cluded one excellent pianist whose of much planning by the architects, duties were by no means light and McKim, Mead & White. Indeed, his whose slightest error in technique met own rooms seemed to be haunted by with instant and fierce rebuke.
noises, among them a strange knocking Like Napoleon his omnivorousness that nearly drove him frantic. After and great curiosity gave him a tremen- experts had failed, I discovered the dous appetite. He was most insistent trouble. In building the house, a living about his meals; ate often and heavily, spring which could not be suppressed frequently awakening in the night to was found in the cellar. It was fed satisfy his hunger with an extra meal. into a sump-pit; this in turn was He was fond of luxury — always emptied by an automatic pump, opcraved and secured the best. This was erated by electricity, which started from no vainglory of extravagance, when the water reached a certain level. but was an inborn instinct, which he By a rare fatality the pump had been
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