An Adventure With A Genius
An Adventure With A Genius
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Title: An Adventure With A Genius
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, AN ADVENTURE WITH A GENIUS ***
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AN ADVENTURE WITH A GENIUS Recollections of JOSEPH PULITZER.
BY ALLEYNE IRELAND
AUTHOR OF "DEMOCRACY AND THE HUMAN EQUATION"
DEDICATED BY KIND PERMISSION AND WITH SINCERE REGARD TO MRS. JOSEPH PULITZER
In the course of my wanderings about the labyrinth of life it has been my good fortune to find awaiting me
around every corner some new adventure. If these have generally lacked that vividness of action which to the
eye of youth is the very test of adventure, they have been rich in a kind of experience which to a mature and
reflective mind has a value not to be measured in terms of dramatic incident.
My adventures, in a word, have been chiefly those of personal contact with the sort of men whose lives are the
material around which history builds its story, and from which fiction derives all that lends to it the air of
I have had friends and acquaintances in a score of countries, and in every station of society--kings and
beggars, viceroys and ward- politicians, judges and criminals, men of brain and men of brawn.
My first outstanding adventure was with a stern and formidable man, the captain of a sailing vessel, of whose
ship's company I was one in a voyage across the Pacific; one of my most recent was with a man not less stern
or formidable, with the man who is the central figure in the present narrative.
The tale has been told before in a volume entitled "Joseph Pulitzer: Reminiscences of a Secretary." The
volume has been out of print for some time, but the continued demand for it has called for its re-issue. The
change in title has been made in response to many suggestions that the character of the material is more aptly
described as "An Adventure with a Genius."
ALLEYNE IRELAND. New York, 1920.
I. In a Casting Net II. Meeting Joseph Pulitzer III. Life at Cap Martin IV. Yachting in the Mediterranean V.
Getting to Know Mr. Pulitzer VI. Weisbaden and an Atlantic Voyage VII. Bar Harbor and the Last Cruise
IN A CASTING NET
A long illness, a longer convalescence, a positive injunction from my doctor to leave friends and business
associates and to seek some spot where a comfortable bed and good food could be had in convenient
proximity to varied but mild forms of amusement--and I found myself in the autumn of the year 1910 free and
alone in the delightful city of Hamburg.
All my plans had gone down wind, and as I sat at my table in the Cafe Ziechen, whence, against the
background of the glittering blue of the Alster, I could see the busy life of the Alter Jungfernstieg and the
Alsterdamm, my thoughts turned naturally to the future.
It is not the easiest thing in the world to reconstruct at forty years of age the whole scheme of your life; but
my illness, and other happenings of a highly disagreeable character, had compelled me to abandon a career to
which I had devoted twenty years of arduous labor; and the question which pressed for an immediate answer
was: What are you going to do now?
Various alternatives presented themselves. There had been a suggestion that I should take the editorship of a
newspaper in Calcutta; an important financial house in London had offered me the direction of its interests in
Western Canada; a post in the service of the Government of India had been mentioned as a possibility by
certain persons in authority.
My own inclination, the child of a weary spirit and of the lassitude of ill health, swayed me in the direction of
a quiet retreat in Barbados, that peaceful island of an eternal summer cooled by the northeast trades, where the
rush and turmoil of modern life are unknown and where a very modest income more than suffices for all the
needs of a simple existence.
I shall never know to what issue my reflections upon these matters would have led me, for a circumstance, in
the last degree trivial, intervened to turn my thoughts into an entirely new channel, and to guide me, though I
could not know it at the time, into the service of Joseph Pulitzer.
My waiter was extremely busy serving a large party of artillery officers at an adjoining table. I glanced
through The Times and the Hamburger Nachrichten, looked out for a while upon the crowded street, and then,
resigning myself to the delay in getting my lunch, picked up The Times again and did what I had never done
before in my life--read the advertisements under the head "Professional Situations."
All except one were of the usual type, the kind in which a prospective employer flatters a prospective
employee by classing as "professional" the services of a typewriter or of a companion to an elderly gentleman
who resides within easy distance of an important provincial town.
One advertisement, however, stood out from the rest on account of the peculiar requirements set forth in its
terse appeal. It ran something after this fashion: "Wanted, an intelligent man of about middle age, widely read,
widely traveled, a good sailor, as companion-secretary to a gentleman. Must be prepared to live abroad. Good
salary. Apply, etc."
My curiosity was aroused; and at first sight I appeared to meet the requirements in a reasonable measure. I had
certainly traveled widely, and I was an excellent sailor--excellent to the point of offensiveness. Upon an
unfavorable construction I could claim to be middle-aged at forty; and I was prepared to live abroad in the
unlikely event of any one fixing upon a country which could be properly called "abroad" from the standpoint
of a man who had not spent twelve consecutive months in any place since he was fifteen years old.
As for intelligence, I reflected that for ninety-nine people out of a hundred intelligence in others means no
more than the discovery of a person who is in intellectual acquiescence with themselves, and that if the
necessity arose I could probably affect an acquiescence which would serve all the purposes of a fundamental
identity of convictions.
Two things, however, suggested possible difficulties, the questions of what interpretations the advertiser
placed upon the terms "widely read" and "good salary." I could not claim to be widely read in any
conventional sense, for I was not a university graduate, and the very extensive reading I had done in my
special line of study--the control and development of tropical dependencies--though it might entitle me to
some consideration as a student in that field had left me woefully ignorant of general literature. Would the
ability to discuss with intelligence the Bengal Regulation of 1818, or the British Guiana Immigration
Ordinance of 1891 be welcomed as a set-off to a complete unfamiliarity with Milton's "Comus" and
Gladstone's essay on the epithets of motion in Homer?
On the subject of what constituted a "good salary" experience had taught me to expect a very wide divergence
of view, not only along the natural line of cleavage between the person paying and the person receiving the
salary, but also between one employer and another and between one employee and another; and I recalled a
story, told me in my infancy, in which a certain British laboring man had been heard to remark that he would
not be the Czar of Russia, no, not for thirty shillings a week. But that element in the situation might, I
reflected, very well be left to take care of itself.
I finished my lunch, and then replied to the advertisement, giving my English address. My letter, a
composition bred of the conflicting influences of pride, modesty, prudence, and curiosity, brought forth in due
course a brief reply in which I was bidden to an interview in that part of London where fashion and business
prosperity seek to ape each other.
Upon presenting myself at the appointed hour I was confronted by a gentleman whose severity of manner I
learned later to recognize as the useful mask to a singularly genial and kindly nature.
Our interview was long and, to me at any rate, rather embarrassing, since it resolved itself into a searching
cross-examination by a past- master in the art. Who were my parents? When and where had I been born?
Where had I been educated? What were my means of livelihood? What positions had I filled since I went out
into the world? What countries had I visited? What books had I read? What books had I written? To what
magazines and reviews had I contributed? Who were my friends? Was I fond of music, of painting, of the
drama? Had I a sense of humor? Had I a good temper or a good control of a bad one? What languages could I
speak or read? Did I enjoy good health? Was I of a nervous disposition? Had I tact and discretion? Was I a
good horseman, a good sailor, a good talker, a good reader?
When it came to asking me whether I was a good horseman AND a good sailor, I realized that anyone who
expected to find these two qualities combined in one man was quite capable of demanding that his
companion- secretary should be able to knit woollen socks, write devotional verse, and compute the phases of
I remember chuckling to myself over this quaint conceit; I was to learn later that it came unpleasantly near the
Under this close examination I felt that I had made rather a poor showing. This was due in some measure, no
doubt, to the fact that my questioner abruptly left any topic as soon as he discovered that I knew something
about it, and began to angle around, with disturbing success, to find the things I did not know about.
At one point, however, I scored a hit. After I had been put through my paces, a process which seemed to me to
end only at the exact point where my questioner could no longer remember the name of anything in the
universe about which he could frame an interrogation, it was my turn to ask questions.
Was the person I was addressing the gentleman who needed the companion?
No, he was merely his agent. As a matter of fact the person on whose behalf he was acting was an American.
I nodded in a non-committal way.
He was also a millionaire.
I bowed the kind of bow that a Frenchman makes when he says Mais parfaitement.
Furthermore he was totally blind.
"Joseph Pulitzer," I said.
"How in the world did you guess that?" asked my companion.
"That wasn't a guess," I replied. "You advertised for an intelligent man; and this is simply where my
intelligence commences to show itself. An intelligent man couldn't live as long as I have in the United States
without hearing a good deal about Joseph Pulitzer; and, after all, the country isn't absolutely overrun with
At the close of the interview I was told that I would be reported upon. In the meantime would I kindly send in
a written account of the interview, in the fullest possible detail, as a test of my memory, sense of accuracy,
and literary style.
Nor was this all. As I prepared to take my departure I was handed the address of another gentleman who
would also examine me and make a report. Before I got out of the room my inquisitor said, "It may interest
you to know that we have had more than six hundred applications for the post, and that it may, therefore, take
some time before the matter is definitely settled."
I was appalled. Evidently I had been wasting my time, for I could have no doubt that the gallant six hundred
would include a sample of every kind of pundit, stationary or vagrant, encompassed within the seven seas; and
against such competition I felt my chances to be just precisely nothing.
My companion observed my discomfiture. and as he shook hands he said, "Oh, that doesn't really mean very
much. As a matter of fact we were able to throw out more than five hundred and fifty applications merely for
self-evident reasons. A number of school teachers and bank clerks applied, and in general these gentlemen
said that although they had not traveled they would have no objection to living abroad, and that they might
venture to hope that if they DID go to sea they would prove to be good sailors.
"Most of them appeared to think that the circumstance of being middle- aged would off-set their deficiencies
in other directions. There are really only a few gentlemen whom we can consider as being likely to meet Mr.
Pulitzer's requirements, and the selection will be made finally by Mr. Pulitzer himself. It is very probable that
you will be asked to go to Mentone to spend a fortnight or so on Mr. Pulitzer's yacht or at his villa at Cap
Martin, as he never engages anybody until he has had the candidate with him for a short visit.
"And, by the way, would you mind writing a short narrative of your life, not more than two thousand words?
It would interest Mr. Pulitzer and would help him to reach a decision in your case. You might also send me
copies of some of your writings."
Thus ended my interview with Mr. James M. Tuohy, the London correspondent of the New York World.
My next step was to call upon the second inquisitor, Mr. George Ledlie. I found him comfortably installed at
an hotel in the West End. He was an American, very courteous and pleasant, but evidently prepared to use a
probe without any consideration for the feelings of the victim.
As my business was to reveal myself, I wasted no time, and for about an hour I rambled along on the subject
of my American experiences. I do not know to this day what sort of an impression I created upon this
gentleman, but I felt at the time that it ought to have been a favorable one.
We had many friends in common; I had recently been offered a lectureship in the university from which he
had graduated; some of my books had been published in America by firms in whose standing he had
confidence; I paraded a slight acquaintance with three Presidents of the United States, and produced from my
pocketbook letters from two of them; we found that we were both respectful admirers of a charming lady who
had recently undergone a surgical operation; he had been a guest at my club in Boston, I had been a guest at
his club in New York. When I left him I thought poorly of the chances of the remnant of the six hundred.
Some weeks passed and I heard nothing more of the matter. During this time I had leisure to think over what I
had heard from time to time about Joseph Pulitzer, and to speculate, with the aid of some imaginative friends,
upon the probable advantages and disadvantages of the position for which I was a candidate.
Gathered together, my second-hand impressions of Joseph Pulitzer made little more than a hazy outline. I had
heard or read that he had landed in New York in the early sixties, a penniless youth unable to speak a word of
English; that after a remarkable series of adventures he had become a newspaper proprietor and, later, a
millionaire; that he had been stricken blind at the height of his career; that his friends and his enemies agreed
in describing him as a man of extraordinary ability and of remarkable character; that he had been victorious in
a bitter controversy with President Roosevelt; that one of the Rothschilds had remarked that if Joseph Pulitzer
had not lost his eyesight and his health he, Pulitzer, would have collected into his hands all the money there
was; that he was the subject of one of the noblest portraits created by the genius of John Sargent; and that he
spent most of his time on board a magnificent yacht, surrounded by a staff of six secretaries.
This was enough, of course, to inspire me with a keen desire to meet Mr. Pulitzer; it was not enough to afford
me the slightest idea of what life would be like in close personal contact with such a man.
The general opinion of my friends was that life with Mr. Pulitzer would be one long succession of happy,
care-free days spent along the languorous shores of the Mediterranean--days of which perhaps two hours
would be devoted to light conversation with my interesting host, and the remainder of my waking moments to
the gaities of Monte Carlo, to rambles on the picturesque hillsides of Rapallo and Bordighera, or to the genial
companionship of my fellow-secretaries under the snowy awnings of the yacht.
We argued the matter out to our entire satisfaction. Mr. Pulitzer, in addition to being blind, was a chronic
invalid, requiring a great deal of sleep and repose. He could hardly be expected to occupy more than twelve
hours a day with his secretaries. That worked out at two hours apiece, or, if the division was made by days,
about one day a week to each secretary.
The yacht, I had been given to understand, cruised for about eight months in the year over a course bounded
by Algiers and the Piraeus, by Mentone and Alexandria, with visits to the ports of Italy, Sicily, Corsica, and
Crete. The least imaginative of mortals could make a very fair and alluring picture of what life would be like
under such circumstances. As the event turned out it was certainly not our imaginations that were at fault.
As time passed without bringing any further sign from Mr. Tuohy my hopes gradually died out, and I fixed in
my mind a date upon which I would abandon all expectations of securing the appointment. Scarcely had I
reached this determination when I received a telegram from Mr. Tuohy asking me to lunch with him the next
day at the Cafe Royal in order to meet Mr. Ralph Pulitzer, who was passing through London on his way back
to America after a visit to his father.
I leave my readers to imagine what sort of a lunch I had in the company of two gentlemen whose duty it was
to struggle with the problem of discovering the real character and attainments of a guest who knew he was
I found Mr. Ralph Pulitzer to be a slender, clean-cut, pale gentleman of an extremely quiet and self-possessed
manner. He was very agreeable, and he listened to my torrent of words with an interest which, if it were real,
reflected great credit on me, and which, if it were feigned, reflected not less credit on him.
As we parted he said, "I shall write to my father to-day and tell him of our meeting. Of course, as you know,
the decision in this matter rests entirely with him."
After this incident there was another long silence, and I again fixed upon a day beyond which I would not
allow my hopes to flourish. The day arrived, nothing happened, and the next morning I went down to the
offices of the West India Royal Mail Steam Packet Company and made inquiries about the boats for
Barbados. I spent the afternoon at my club making out a list of things to be taken out as aids to comfortable
housekeeping in a semi-tropical country--a list which swelled amazingly as I turned over the fascinating pages
of the Army and Navy Stores Catalogue.
By dinner time I had become more than reconciled to the new turn of affairs, and when I reached my flat at
midnight I found myself impatient of the necessary delay before I could settle down to a life of easy literary
activity in one of the most delightful climates in the world and in the neighborhood of a large circle of
charming friends and acquaintances.
On the table in the hall I found a telegram from Mr. Tuohy instructing me to start next morning for Mentone,
where Mr. Pulitzer would entertain me as his guest for a fortnight, either at his villa or aboard his yacht
Liberty, and informing me that I would find at my club early in the morning an envelope containing a ticket to
Mentone, with sleeper and parlor-car accommodation, and a check to cover incidental expenses.
The tickets and the check were accompanied by a letter in which I was told that I was to consider this two
weeks' visit as a trial, that during that time all my expenses would be paid, that I would receive an honorarium
of so much a day from the time I left London until I was engaged by Mr. Pulitzer or had arrived back in
London after rejection by him, and that everything depended upon the impression I made on my host.
I left London cold, damp, and foggy; and in less than twenty-four hours I was in the train between Marseilles
and Mentone, watching the surf playing among the rocks in the brilliant sunshine of the Cote d'Azur. In the
tiny harbor of Mentone I found, anchored stern-on to the quay, the steam yacht Liberty--a miracle of snowy
decks and gleaming brass-work-- tonnage 1,607, length over all 316 feet, beam 35.6 feet, crew 60, all told.
A message from Mr. Pulitzer awaited me. Would I dine at his villa at Cap Martin? An automobile would call
for me at seven o'clock.
I spent the day in looking over the yacht and in trying to pick up some information as to the general lay of the
land, by observing every detail of my new surroundings.
The yacht itself claimed my first attention. Everything was new and fascinating to me, for although I had had
my share of experiences in barques, and brigs, and full-rigged ships, in mail boats and tramp steamers, only
once before had I had an opportunity to examine closely a large private yacht. Ten years before, I had spent
some time cruising along the northern coast of Borneo in the yacht of His Highness Sir Charles Brooke, Raja
of Sarawak; but with that single exception yachting was for me an unknown phase of sea life.
The Liberty--or, as the secretarial staff, for reasons which will become apparent later, called her, the Liberty,
Ha! Ha!--was designed and built on the Clyde. I have never seen a vessel of more beautiful lines. Sailors
would find, I think, but one fault in her appearance and one peculiarity. With a white-painted hull, her bridge
and the whole of her upper structure, except the masts and funnel, were also white, giving to her general
features a certain flatness which masked her fine proportions. Her bridge, instead of being well forward, was
placed so far aft that it was only a few feet from the funnel. The object of this departure from custom was to
prevent any walking over Mr. Pulitzer's head when he sat in his library, which was situated under the spot,
where the bridge would have been in most vessels.
The boat was specially designed to meet Mr. Pulitzer's peculiar requirements. She had a flush deck from the
bows to the stern, broken only, for perhaps twenty feet, by a well between the forecastle head and the fore part
of the bridge.
Running aft from the bridge to within forty feet of the stern was an unbroken line of deck houses. Immediately
afore the bridge was Mr. Pulitzer's library, a handsome room lined from floor to ceiling with books; abaft of
that was the dining saloon, which could accommodate in comfort a dozen people; continuing aft there were,
on the port side, the pantry, amidships the enclosed space over the engine room, and on the starboard side a
long passage leading to the drawing-room and writing- room used by the secretaries and by members of Mr.
Pulitzer's family when they were on the yacht.
The roof and sides of this line of deck houses were extended a few feet beyond the aftermost room, so as to
provide a sheltered nook where Mr. Pulitzer could sit when the wind was too strong for his comfort on the
Between the sides of the deck houses and the sides of the ship there ran on each side a promenade about nine
feet broad, unbroken by bolt or nut, stanchion or ventilator, smooth as a billiard table and made of the finest
quality of seasoned teak. The promenade continued across the fore part of Mr. Pulitzer's library and across the
after part of the line of deck houses, so that there was an oblong track round the greater part of the boat, a
track covered overhead with double awnings and protected inboard by the sides of the deck houses, and
outboard by adjustable canvas screens, which could be let down or rolled up in a few minutes.
About thirty feet from the stern a heavy double canvas screen ran 'thwartships from one side of the boat to the
other, shutting off a small space of deck for the use of the crew. The main deck space was allotted as follows:
under the forecastle head accommodation for two officers and two petty officers, abaft of that the well space,
of which I have spoken; under the library was Mr. Pulitzer's bedroom, occupying the whole breadth of the
ship and extending from the bulkhead at the after part of the well space as far aft as the companion way
leading down between the library and the saloon, say twenty-five feet.
A considerable proportion of the sides of this bedroom was given up to books; in one corner was a very high
wash-hand-stand, so high that Mr. Pulitzer, who was well over six feet tall, could wash his hands without
stooping. The provision of this very high wash-hand-stand illustrates the minute care with which everything
had been foreseen in the construction and fitting-up of the yacht. When a person stoops there is a slight
impediment to the free flow of blood to the head, such an impediment might react unfavorably on the
condition of Mr. Pulitzer's eyes, therefore the wash-hand-stand was high enough to be used without stooping.
In the forward bulkhead of the cabin were two silent fans, one drawing air into the room, the other drawing it
out. The most striking feature of the room was an immense four-poster bed which stood in the center of the
cabin, with a couch at the foot and one or two chairs at one side. Hanging at the head of the bed was a set of
electric push-bells, the cords being of different lengths so that Mr. Pulitzer could call at will for the
major-domo, the chief steward, the captain, the officer on watch, and so on.
The bedroom was heavily carpeted and was cut off from the rest of the ship by double bulkheads, double
doors, and double portholes, with the object of protecting Mr. Pulitzer as much as possible from all noise, to
which he was excessively sensitive. A large bathroom opened immediately off the bedroom, and a flight of
steps led down to a gymnasium on the lower deck.
Abaft of Mr. Pulitzer's bedroom there were, on the port side, the cabins of the major-domo, the captain, the
head butler, the chief engineer, an officers' mess room, the ship's galley, a steward's mess room, and the
cabins of the chief steward and one or two officers.
Corresponding with these there were, on the starboard side, the cabins of the secretaries and the doctor, "The
Cells," as we called them. They were comfortable rooms, all very much on one pattern, except that of the
business secretary, which was a good deal larger than the others. He needed the additional space for
newspaper files, documents, correspondence, and so on. Each cabin contained a bed, a wash-hand- stand, a
chest of drawers, a cupboard for clothes, a small folding table, some book shelves, an arm chair, an ordinary
chair, an electric fan, and a radiator. Each cabin had two portholes, and there were two bathrooms to the six
The center of the ship, between these cabins and the corresponding space on the port side, was occupied by
the engine room; and the entrance to the secretaries' quarters was through a companionway opening on to the
promenade deck, with a door on each side of the yacht, and leading down a flight of stairs to a long
fore-and-aft passage, out of which all the secretaries' cabins opened.
Abaft the secretaries' cabins, and occupying the whole breadth of the boat, were a number of cabins and suites
for the accommodation of Mrs. Pulitzer, other members of the family, and guests; and abaft of these, cut off
by a 'thwartships bulkhead, were the quarters of the crew.
The lower deck was given over chiefly to stores, coal bunkers, the engine room, the stoke-hold, and to a large
number of electric accumulators, which kept the electric lights going when the engines were not working.
There were, however, on this deck the gymnasium, and a large room, directly under Mr. Pulitzer's bedroom,
used to take the overflow from the library.
The engines were designed rather for smooth running than for speed, and twelve knots an hour was the utmost
that could be got out of them, the average running speed being about eight knots. The yacht had an ample
supply of boats, including two steam launches, one burning coal, the other oil.
During my inspection of the yacht I was accompanied by my cabin-steward, a young Englishman who had at
one time served aboard the German Emperor's yacht, Meteor. Nothing could have been more courteous than
his manner or more intelligent than his explanations; but the moment I tried to draw him out on the subject of
life on the yacht he relapsed into a vagueness from which I could extract no gleam of enlightenment. After
fencing for some time with my queries he suggested that I might like to have a glass of sherry and a biscuit in
the secretaries' library, and, piloting me thither, he left me.
The smoking-room was furnished with writing tables, some luxurious arm chairs, and a comfortable lounge,
and every spare nook was filled with book shelves. The contents of these shelves were extremely varied. A
cursory glance showed me Meyer's Neues Konversations-Lexicon, The Yacht Register, Whitaker's Almanack,
Who's Who, Burke's Peerage, The Almanack de Gotha, the British and the Continental Bradshaw, a number
of Baedeker's "Guides," fifty or sixty volumes of the Tauchnitz edition, a large collection of files of reviews
and magazines--The Nineteenth Century, Quarterly, Edinburgh, Fortnightly, Contemporary, National,
Atlantic, North American, Revue de Deux Mondes--and a scattering of volumes by Kipling, Shaw, Hosebery,
Pater, Ida Tarbell, Bryce, Ferrero, Macaulay, Anatole France, Maupassant, "Dooley," and a large number of
French and German plays. I was struck by the entire absence of books of travel and scientific works.
I spent part of the afternoon in the drawing-room playing a large instrument of the gramophone type. There
were several hundred records-- from grand opera, violin solos by Kreisler, and the Gilbert and Sullivan
operas, to rag-time and the latest comic songs.
Before the time came to dress for dinner I had met the captain and some of the officers of the yacht. They
were all very civil; and my own experience as a sailor enabled me to see that they were highly efficient men. I
was a good deal puzzled, however, by something peculiar but very elusive in their attitude toward me,
something which I had at once detected in the manner of my cabin-steward.
With their courtesy was mingled a certain flavor of curiosity tinged with amusement, which, so far from being
offensive, was distinctly friendly, but which, nevertheless, gave me a vague sense of uneasiness. In fact the
whole atmosphere of the yacht was one of restlessness and suspense; and the effect was heightened because
each person who spoke to me appeared to be on the point of divulging some secret or delivering some advice,
which discretion checked at his lips.
I felt myself very much under observation, a feeling as though I was a new boy in a boarding school or a new
animal at the zoo--interesting to my companions not only on account of my novelty, but because my personal
peculiarities would affect the comfort of the community of which I was to become a member.
At seven o'clock my cabin-steward announced the arrival of the automobile, and after a swift run along the
plage and up the winding roads on the hillsides of Cap Martin I found myself at the door of Mr. Pulitzer's
villa. I was received by the major-domo, ushered into the drawing-room, and informed that Mr. Pulitzer would
be down in a few minutes.
MEETING JOSEPH PULITZER
Before I had time to examine my surroundings Mr. Pulitzer entered the room on the arm of the major-domo.
My first swift impression was of a very tall man with broad shoulders, the rest of the body tapering away to
thinness, with a noble head, bushy reddish beard streaked with gray, black hair, swept back from the forehead
and lightly touched here and there with silvery white. One eye was dull and half closed, the other was of a
deep, brilliant blue which, so far from suggesting blindness, created the instant effect of a searching,
eagle-like glance. The outstretched hand was large, strong, nervous, full of character, ending in well-shaped
and immaculately kept nails.
A high-pitched voice, clear, penetrating, and vibrant, gave out the strange challenge: "Well, here you see
before you the miserable wreck who is to be your host; you must make the best you can of him. Give me your
arm into dinner."
I may complete here a description of Mr. Pulitzer's appearance, founded upon months of close personal
association with him. The head was splendidly modeled, the forehead high, the brows prominent and arched;
the ears were large, the nose was long and hooked; the mouth, almost concealed by the mustache, was firm
and thin-lipped; the jaws showed square and powerful under the beard; the length of the face was much
emphasized by the flowing beard and by the way in which the hair was brushed back from the forehead. The
skin was of a clear, healthy pink, like a young girl's; but in moments of intense excitement the color would
deepen to a dark, ruddy flush, and after a succession of sleepless nights, or under the strain of continued
worry, it would turn a dull, lifeless gray.
I have never seen a face which varied so much in expression. Not only was there a marked difference at all
times between one side and the other, due partly to the contrast between the two eyes and partly to a loss of
flexibility in the muscles of the right side, but almost from moment to moment the general appearance of the
face moved between a lively, genial animation, a cruel and wolf-like scowl, and a heavy and hopeless
dejection. No face was capable of showing greater tenderness; none could assume a more forbidding
expression of anger and contempt.
The Sargent portrait, a masterpiece of vivid character-painting, is a remarkable revelation of the complex
nature of its subject. It discloses the deep affection, the keen intelligence, the wide sympathy, the tireless
energy, the delicate sensitiveness, the tearing impatience, the cold tyranny, and the flaming scorn by which his
character was so erratically dominated. It is a noble and pathetic monument to the suffering which had been
imposed for a quarter of a century upon the intense and arbitrary spirit of this extraordinary man.
The account which I am to give of Mr. Pulitzer's daily life during the months immediately preceding his death
would be unintelligible to all but the very few who knew him in recent years if it were not prefaced by a brief
Joseph Pulitzer was born in the village of Mako, near Buda Pesth in Hungary, on April 10, 1847. His father
was a Jew, his mother a Christian. At the age of sixteen he emigrated to the United States. He landed without
friends, without money, unable to speak a word of English. He enlisted immediately in the First New York
(Lincoln) Cavalry Regiment, a regiment chiefly composed of Germans and in which German was the
Within a year the Civil War ended, and Pulitzer found himself, in common with hundreds of thousands of
others, out of employment at a time when employment was most difficult to secure. At this time he was so
poor that he was turned away from French's Hotel for lack of fifty cents with which to pay for his bed. In less
than twenty years he bought French's Hotel, pulled it down, and erected in its place the Pulitzer Building, at