© Copyright 1997 Thomas Morley
In my college days, both at Tufts and Harvard, I had a perfect obsession of speed. It was my railroad instinct in another form. I prided myself upon doing everything quicker than anyone else, and in not wasting an instant. There were no unused minutes in my day. I knew exactly how long it took me to walk at top speed from Ma Kirk's boarding-house to the car-line, for I had done it repeatedly, watch in hand; I knew just when the cars ran, and I aimed to catch one exactly. In winter, even in bitter weather, I never wore an overcoat to classes, for I covered the half-mile so rapidly that I kept warm. If I had an engagement in Auburndale or some other distant spot, I allowed just the necessary time to make the various changes, and if my calculations miscarried, I was late inexcusably. My prize stunt was the night connection I made from Salem or Lynn, where I often went calling, to Tufts. The last train for Tufts out of the North Station left at 11:25. The Lynn train arrived at 11:28. To the reader, it may sound impossible to come in on the latter and go out on the former, but I executed the connection repeatedly in fact, regularly, unless the in train was late. How? By jumping off my car outside the train-shed, running across the tracks, and hopping the Tufts train as it pulled slowly out. I knew its track and spotted its number on the headlight.
My bicycling was equally immoderate. I timed every trip I made, and strove to better my time if possible. In riding from B'ville to Newton I allowed 3 hours for the first lap, 35 miles, from B'ville to Northboro, and 2 hours for the 28 miles of the second, where the roads were better. Distances and times I noted with care in my diary, and if I did not equal my best, I set down the reason for delay. In riding from Newton to Cambridge I caught the pace of a street-car and swung around the Watertown curve at 30 miles an hour.
I was always the first out of an examination room. I reviewed for a final, but did my daily lessons with regularity, and never in my life stayed up after midnight to study, or set an alarm to wake early in the morning for that purpose. Much of my studying was done at odd moments only so could I have compassed my activities and at Harvard, when eating at Randall Hall, often did one lesson during lunch, and another at supper.
It was a hot pace, and one not to be recommended, but so far as I know I never suffered from insomnia, or shaved a nervous breakdown. Only in my last year of the chase for the PH. D. did I really work to the limit, but by means of tennis weekends at Newton, and a spring vacation in Washington, I kept my nerves down and landed in good shape.
April, 1895. Monday.
It was the spring vacation. I was at B'ville, so were H. and R. come down from Goddard. I was lying under the big pines in a hammock, when the news came. Ma called to me from the house, to come at once. I grouched at being disturbed, but the accent of her second call showed me the thing was serious. As usual under real stress, she was firm, cool and efficient. A telegram had brought the message that Mort had been found dead in his room at college. The cause was unknown. Pa had left for Tufts on the first train. The funeral was held Wed. at Tufts. Ma stayed in B'ville, seeing no one. When wounded, she always retired into a stoic silence, like V. gny's Wolf. We boys went to Newton and from there Mike drove us all over to the function. We sat in the front row. It was the usual thing, and I scarcely remember it. , but in the carriage coming back, Pa sobbed and that was enough to remember.
To us boys, in after years, the death was a frequent subject of discussion. The official version was that Mort had brought cyanide to his room from the chem. lab for some unknown purpose, and had taken it by mistake. Suicide was then is it still? regarded as a disgrace to a family. But we threshing the matter out among ourselves had little doubt Mort had been subject to attacks of depression. Once he had sent for Pa to come and stay with him until it wore off. What maladjusting was the cause? Perhaps none was needed. If one wishes to get rid of a burden any excuse will do. We heard or invented several to explain why this brilliant scholar, editor of the college literary journal, popular in society, should have removed himself from the living without letting a soul know the motive. His college intimates, questioned, shed no light. Did they tell all they knew?
The day after the telegram, a letter came from Mort. It was gruesome to see his handwriting on an envelope, and wondering what might be inside, what secret that last communication might reveal. It revealed nothing. It was the usual weekly letter, telling his customary small activities, and contained not a hint that mind or body was not in perfect health. H. and R. returned to Goddard at the end of that week. I asked Harold to come and keep me company for a few days; it was the time to use a friend. Here is a diary entry for April 4: "Went with H.D., Rock, and covered buggy on road from Sweeneyville to bone-orchard road. Broke buggy-top. Brought buggy-top from barn." That was one of the least travelable of the "bum" roads I liked to explore. I remembered how restful it was to drive at old Rock's slowest gait along the brush-grown ruts, talking about trivial things saying nothing of what was most vivid in our minds; the "bone-orchard" was a field of scanty apple-trees among which lay piles of animal bones. The road led thru it to a rickety bridge across the Otter River. It was a land of sparse, 3rd growth timber, and the frequent clearings were meshed with blueberries and sumac. In later years, when Sumner drove me, we could not get even to the bridge, for the growth of saplings.
I returned to college as usual when the week's vacation ended. My feelings, which I can not recall clearly, must have been mixed. No one can avoid shock at the death of one who has shared the same room with him for five years even with constant friction. After that time we had been somewhat strange to each other.
Mort's fraternity did me the honor to invite me to join it, after his death; but, aside from the fact that I did not like fraternities, I felt that I was not wanted for my own sake. I declined.
Mort had been engaged to Corinne Robbins, our governess. She was older than he by 7 years. Thrown together constantly during the summers, it was natural that an attachment should arise. No engagement had ever been announced. I used to tease the pair, without the slightest notion that my shafts struck near the truth. One day I let fall some remark at the table and Pa, without waiting for the end of the meal, took me out and gave me one of his rare severe scoldings "Don't you see," he said "that you will make it impossible for Miss Robbins to stay in the house if you keep on talking that way?" I stopped. I still had no suspicion of the truth. She did not attend the funeral. We the other children were not informed of the facts till long after, but my parents thought to do a good deed and satisfy an obligation by adopting her legally as their daughter. My mother, you must remember, held the romantic belief that two souls, somewhere in the world, are born to be each other's mates; such an emotional contract is binding and sacred. For them, then, there was no choice; Corinne was Mort's mate to all eternity. They were "made for each other."
Would she have done better to break loose from us, marry another man, and raise a family? I do not know how she would answer that question. In the long run she is perhaps better off now. She forewent the pleasures of physical love and maternity, but she cherished an ideal unshattered.
She proved an admirable helpmeet in the family. Much more domestic and practical than Ma, she replaced her in our camping parties and to some extent in the home. She became a skilled cook and a famous housekeeper. She possessed excellent natural taste for decoration. She had a snappy temper, but at heart she was simple and loving and unspoiled. My father was indeed fortunate in the adoption: C. was his inseparable companion at theaters, concerts,Dickens Clubs, camp. They grew together more truly than my mother and he ever did and in his declining years she was invaluable.
Another result of Mort's death was the Morley scholarship at Tufts. My parents undertook to present the college with a $2000 bond, the interest of which was to be given annually to a senior (junior?) with an outstanding record in a "course of study broadly and wisely chosen." In practice, they gave, instead of a bond, $100 a year. My father kept this up till 1930, when poverty caused him to default. After his death, Pres. Cousens approached us 3 children with reference to continuing the payments. I was inclined to assent, but H. and R. were strongly opposed, and it was dropped.
When I graduated from Tufts, aged 20, my course was definitely set toward scholarship and in the Romance Languages. Continuance of my studies was clearly indicated, and Harvard with its reputation and proximity, the obvious and appropriate spot. But a language student must go to Europe. Theo Lewis recommended a splendid French tutor, M. Steullet. My parents, instead of sending me alone, organized a party. I do not know their thoughts, but I suspect they reasoned somewhat after this fashion: Griswold wants to go to France, Miss Kelly wants to go to Europe, Corinne would like to go to Europe, Herbert can go to Europe to keep Griswold company. It was not the best plan to compel me to learn the most French, but it promised a good time for all. Herbert had begun French, and would gain experience.
We sailed June 18 from Boston on the 5000 ton str. Furnessia of the Anchor Line to Glasgow via Londonderry. We were all sick as dogs; the first-class staterooms were in the stern, and resembled a perpetual-motion elevator. C. was the sickest, and did not recover till we alighted the green shores of Ireland. We sailed up the Clyde, did the Trossachs, and Carlisle and Edinboro, passed thru London without stopping, and crossed the channel from New Haven to Dieppe.
According to plan, H. and I spent the month of July in Épernay, Champagne, where M. Steullet taught in a lycée. The two ladies traveled in France and Italy. In August we all met in Paris and M. Steullet came there to continue the lessons. The month in Épernay gave H. and me many novel experiences. We rented bicycles and explored the countryside as far as Rouen. M. Steullet short, stout, conscientious, gave me a two hour lesson each day, and taught me a lot of French idioms out of Chardenal; I passed what I could on to Herbert, who was not a natural linguist. We played chess in the café, we watched the daily hand of manille, in which we were never invited to join, we visited the Molt et Chandon cellars. We learned a little about French customs, but not much. We were too innocent. M. Steullet and a friend of his were living with two very decent café chantant girls (years later, St. married his), and he took care to protect us from all damage. Well he knew his roles. Two incidents stand out in that month. On July 14, we all went to Mourmelon-le-grand to witness a review of troops and H. and I had occasion to extend some trivial courtesy to the two ladies helped them wheel their bikes, I think, as we would have done at home. How quickly we were warned we had done the wrong thing! We made a worse break at a dinner party, when a champagne toast was pledged to someone. H. and I, firm in our prohib. principles, raised our glasses, but declined to drink. M. St. understood, but no one else did. We came near being mobbed, but he explained as best he could the unexplainable, and we were regarded merely as mild lunatics, not criminals.
Paris gave me more than Épernay, for we did galleries and buildings thoroughly. I attended courses at the Alliance Française and continued with M. Steullet's excellent instruction. We roomed in the old and modest Hotel d'Isly, on the left bank, rue Bonaparte if I mistake not. It was not overly clean, and one morning Miss Kelly, having with horror discovered a bed-bug climbing the wall-paper, summoned the garçon, and pointed at the ocular proof of negligence. Far from exhibiting surprise, he squashed the bête against the wall with his thumb, exclaimed "Finie", and retreated. As to fleas, H. and I vied with one another to see who should collect the most and the biggest, and tried out various treatments for the bites. The most effective, we discovered, was to lance them with a knife and apply iodine. In after years the itch was never so severe as during that summer in France; one acquires a certain immunity.
On Sept. 1 we took train for Antwerp, and on Sept. 3 sailed thence to N.Y. on the 5000 ton Kensington of the Red Star Line. It was a one-class boat, and afforded us a comfortable trip.
I entered Harvard under a new name "Sylvanus Griswold Morley." My father had asked legislative authority, as is required in Massachusetts, to change the family name. It was his own idea, and shows his initiative and will. The motive was purely and simply to relieve his sons of the name Small, a theme for many cheap puns from which he had suffered all his life. Small is a fine old Maine family name, and the race of Smalls bears high repute. I do not know that the change was justified; we boys were wholly neutral in the matter at the time. The change occasioned innumerable explanations and some embarrassment, and has been a sort of skeleton in the family closet ever since the only skeleton.
However, the person with the most right to complain was my cousin Sylvanus Griswold Morley, the celebrated archaeologist. The move made us homonyms, and gave rise to endless confusion. Look in a Who's Who in America and you will learn the facts. Look in a library catalog, and you will be lucky to learn anything but errors. Sylvanus, a most good-natured soul, never protested. He was an undergraduate at Harvard while I was in the Grad. School. I sometimes received his Univ. bills, and less often, billets doux from his lights of love. I think he has none of mine.
Harvard showed me something very different from Tufts. For the first time I met men who themselves discovered facts. They did not care what the books said. This remark is critical of Tufts, for it reveals her as preserving the attitude of a high school. Nevertheless, that was the impression I received; but her best professors were in the sciences, where I did not browse.
The Harvard Romance Dept. was then at its strongest. Grandgent, Sheldon, were in their prime . Ford was the brilliant new-comer, just promoted to a full-professorship at an early age. Kittredge illuminated the English dept., but he had a finger in any and every language.
I came rather ill-prepared. My French was solid, tho I still pronounced it badly, since no teacher had ever troubled to correct my elementary sounds. Of Italian I had but one year, under "Lard" Fay, who knew it only out of books. My German came from the same source in two years, and was better. Spanish, as I have said, I knew only from the Quijote and a dictionary, and I could not write the simplest sentence correctly. With this equipment I laid out this course: Rom Phil. 3 (Old French)(Sheldon), Italian 2 (Renaissance, Fletcher), Spanish 2 (Golden Age, Marcou), German 5 (History of Lit, conducted in German, Francke), and History of Music (J.K. Paine). It kept me relatively busy, and my bike mileage fell off. However, the first year went well enough. Harvard then tried to enforce a ruling that no graduate student transferring from another college with an A.B. degree could obtain the A.M. in less than 2 years. I did not see the justice of the rule, based on a superiority complex (I confess that in the case of Tufts, it may have been justified). So I badgered the committee in charge till I made it concede that, should I obtain an A in every course I should be the A.M. At the end of the year I had my straight A's, Incidentally, I did not bother to put the customary post cards in my final exams, but went off to the mountains and waited for the routine notification. I never received any final grade but A while at Harvard.
I still took studies lightly and was drifting along merrily till one day Gg. suggested that if I wished to get a Ph.D. I might well set about it. My thesis was entitled "Spanish Influence on Molière"; and has never been published. The final year, during which I mainly wrote it, was the first in which I worked to the limit of my capacity. Yet every weekend I spent at Newton, laying aside all thought of study. The change was my salvation. I wrote the thesis out by hand (it was then allowed), and by the spring vacation my nerves were nearly shot, and I had writer's cramp. I spent that vacation in Washington with Harold, and hired typists. So that, as delivered, the thesis was partly in long hand, and partly in typescript. I passed my oral exam for the doctorate on the afternoon of June 12, 1902, having calmed my nerves by 3 sets of tennis that morning. Of the exam I recall little except my flustered impertinence to Kittredge, who was famous for ragging candidates. This is what occurred:
K: "Are you chiefly interested in linguistics or in literature?"
K: "In literature, how studied?"
I paused, completely rattled, and at last to say something, replied,
I: "Out of books."
K: "That is foolish."
It was, but at the moment I could think of nothing else. Kitty's leniency toward me during the exam was not heightened by my reply. The next day, meeting me in Sever Hall, he remarked that he hoped I bore no ill feeling. I did not. He liked to test a candidate's mettle, and some of his questions (not this one) were intentionally unfair.
To return, in those Harvard years I still cherished a rebellious dilettante spirit. Philology was in the saddle, and I resented it. I thought I could write; I thought ideas superior to grubbing Germanized science. Not till much later did I discover that I was myself short of ideas, and that my future lay precisely in digging post-holes. So that while I went thru the required grind of phonology, morphology and syntax, I despised the stuff, and leaned heavily toward the literary side. I made flippant remarks about philology as an exact science (I still do not regard it as such) and they were reported to the fountain head of all philology. All my life I have been prevented from becoming a first-class scholar by this yearning to dabble in belles-lettres, when the Lord intended me for an index-maker. Such precious time as I have squandered in typing unpublishable poetry and essays! But such diversions, even when useless, have always served as a nec. relaxation, after a wearying search for pure fact.
The men whom I came to know well, therefore, and whose company I wholly enjoyed were two ripe, appreciators of the finest in literary taste, two Frenchmen, Ferdinand Bôcher and Phillipe B. Marcon. Neither has left any mark on scholarship, but I felt myself honored by their confidence. The rich 17th century collections of Bôcher, now in the Harvard Univ. library, were at my disposal. I read these by the hour, and talked with the witty and cultured old owner. He freely expressed his opinions of the modern philological school; and begged me not to sell him out. He belonged to a vanishing era, and left to incoming scholars the task of uniting exactness with fine taste and discernment. How difficult it is to find young men and women with sufficing talents for both, and how all but impossible to cultivate one side without ruining the other!
Philippe Marcou, of middle age, invited all the young instructors in French 2c, of which he had charge, to his house one evening a week, and with us he went over advance assignments. He served beer and enlivened the chore out of deep resources of experience and broad humor. Charlie Underwood and Arthur Williams and I had great fun out of these conferences. Marcou never published a line, and rumor had it that he owed his job to a connection with some lofty official. Who cares? He knew French and English equally well and weighed the shades of meaning in each with marvelous nicety. His career ended most abruptly. His negro mistress threatened to blackmail him; rather than yield, he resigned his post, let the suit be brought, and won it. Then he retired to Paris, where he passed the remainder of his days entertaining his friends, and fomenting anarchism.
Of my other professors, I respected Sheldon, a volcano of learning who could never erupt, and loved his kindly spirit. I admired Grandgent for his humanness, solidity and wit, and for his orderliness, too: we used to say that on a given hour or a given day of any year, one knew precisely what line of the Divine Comedy he would be commenting. I sat amazed at the rapidity of Ford's mind, the speed with which he assimilated new facts. [Note: Rapidity of mental reaction varies tremendously, and most great men and women accomplish what they do by their ability to cover a given amount in less time than the ordinary person. Of all minds I have personally encountered, Georges Cirot of Bordeaux is the speediest. Ford is a close second.]
My teaching in French 1e brought me in contact with Irvine Babbitt, the professor in charge. He was not then the widely discussed leader of Neo-Humanism, but his ideas were exactly the same. He was dogmatic, stimulating, enormously informed. I saw a facet of his talents unknown to the world. He was, as the organizer of French 1e, the perfect teacher of intermediate French. No care was too great to expend upon the selection of books and the systemization of the course. He himself wrote out the composition material, tho he never, like most teachers, felt impelled to publish it as a textbook. I came to feel the utmost respect for Babbitt's conscientiousness and intelligence and judgment. It is truly a pity that Sinclair Lewis chanced upon that name to represent the great-American business-man. I grant that it contains the proper consonants and vowels. But the real Babbitt was in every respect his antithesis. If only the "inner checks" for him so actual and valid, existed in like purity in all men!
I was in Babbitt's home but once, perhaps 20 years after I obtained my degree. He was then engaged in some controversy with H.L. Mencken or Arthur Lovejoy. He took himself with immense seriousness, and spoke of the young generation whom he was training in the practice of idealism. With my innate pessimism concerning the effect on humanity of individual efforts, I ventured to dissent from his opinion that he was really influencing the course of American thought. He was shocked at my impertinence, as he had a right to be. He did not easily conceive the point of view of his opponents. He was fond of quoting the saying of Boswell that when argument failed, Dr. Johnson roared his adversary down. But Babbitt never lacked cogent arguments.
In the fall of 1900 I had been given an Austin Teaching Fellowship. It called for 12 hours of teaching, 2 classes of elemen. Spanish, and 2 of 2nd year French (No person should ever be allowed to teach college French who is not competent to teach Spanish and vice versa.). I received $1000, if I mistake not, the first money I ever earned in my life. I was extremely nervous about teaching. For years I never stood before a class in a perfectly calm frame of mind. However, discipline at Harvard is easy, and a class of boys can be handled more naturally than a mixed gender. My usually youthful appearance fooled them at first, but I lived it down.
You see that the question of vocation never worried me. I drifted into teaching because it was perfectly obvious that I was good for nothing else. In fact, I wonder when I think about it at all, in what other job or profession I could possibly have earned a living. As one of Baedeker's field men, possibly.
My diversions while at Harvard continued without much change. In 1899 I cycled with H. to Goddard via Profile Notch and returned with Raymond who had just graduated, and Walter G. Whitman, a classmate of mine, then teaching at Goddard, by way of Lake Champlain, Ausable Chasm, Ticonderoga, and Lake George. It was a sort of rehearsal for our European tour of the following year. I had just bought my Columbia chainless, and wished to work it out. The trip was most pleasant, and ended with a visit to Aunt Fannie in Cheshire. We seldom saw the Dean family.
That same summer brought my first trip to Wilson Cottages at Jackson, N.H. and the beginning of my acquaintance with the Woodbury family. The summer outing of the Morley tribe was to Onset, in the Cape Cod region. This was the first attempt of ours to establish camp by the sea. We rented a cottage and swam and boated a little, but the experiment was never followed up. None of us, apparently, were drawn much toward salt water.
As for myself, my love for the mountains was instinctive. Ever since I can remember anything, I looked longingly toward Monadnock and Wachusett, and knew them for friends. The sea never exerted a pull upon me, tho I never dreaded it in the least, and never was afraid in boat, or ship in my life. But before research proved that the altitude increases red corpuscles, I felt that mountain air did me good; to me it was keen and pure and bracing; the rarity of it was better than wine to me. The hills and mountains of Vt. and N.H. have not great elevation, but the effect upon the nostrils is the same as in the Rockies or the Sierra Nevada at 6,000 feet.
I was never a mountain climber in the true sense of the word; I never even joined the Appalachian Club. My wish was rather to try the life in various resorts from which excursions could be made. This predilection differed from that of any of my brothers, and so it came about that every summer after 1895 I deserted Baldwinville or the camp on Winnipesaukee, and went alone or with Harold or other friends to one place or another in New Hampshire, summer boarding-house or hotel. There was always tennis and hiking and girls; but the chief attraction was really to test the table and the environment, to learn the walks and topography or each spot. I was seldom long content in one. Thus in 1895 I went with Harold to Brownfield, Me. in 1896 to Brownfield and the Spooner Hill House, in 1897 to Franconia Inn, Intervale and Cape Porpoise , and in 1899 to Wilson Cottages at Jackson N.H.
Very pleasant memories cluster about the old Wilson Cottages in Jackson. A cousin of my mother's, Mrs. Parker induced me first to go there and the company was so delightful that I returned year after year. It is useless for me to attempt to reproduce the atmosphere in that rambling white New England dwelling. It is tinged with youth and that should be sufficing. The guests were not over 20, and many were perennial. Besides Mrs. Parker there and her two daughters, Marion and Eleanor, there came the Woodbury family, who charmed me at once. Mr. Ezra Woodbury, asst county clerks of Salem, Mass, for many years, did not often himself reach the mountains, but he sent his wife, 3 daughters, and son Ezra Ernest, for a month each year. To say that the girls were pretty, nice and ranging from just above my age to somewhat below it is saying very little. It was the wholesome kindly spirit of the entire family which charmed me. Mrs. W. was of a finer temper than any of her daughters, and not one of them would feel offended to hear me say so. She was one of those gentle, sweet little gray-haired women who radiate a halo of charity about them. No one could possibly offend her or be harsh to her, any more than you could throw ink on a lily. In such human beings there is never any question of manners, for mind and body are one, and action arises not from forethought, but is the natural outward expression of the spirit.
Mr. Woodbury, more bluff in manner, was equally true and kindly at heart, and wholly devoted to his wife. Unquestioning church-goers, of course; do such characters exist among unbelievers? The spirit of this family carried me away, I suppose because I felt that it exceeded in homogeneity and mutual love my own. The intentions of my parents were as admirable and their talents perhaps greater, but they lacked the coordination and the judgment which connect good intentions into tact and discretion. To me the Woodbury family represented an ideal of peace and harmony the which I should have liked to attain to; I recognized in it qualities I could never possess myself. Many times I was a guest in their home in Salem, and I never entered it without feeling myself lifted, bettered. Unfortunate I that the spirit I absorbed evaporated so soon after I passed out the gate!
Had I been an ordinary young man I should have married one of the girls if I could have obtained her consent. I never went far enough to discover. I was not at the marrying age yet. May, the eldest, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke, and a H.S. teacher of mathematics, was cultured and handsome, and the first to attract me. If I am not mistaken, she at first rebuffed my advances and later regretted that she had. What irrelevant acts affect our emotions! Her kid brother Ernest had a set stunt with May which he was fond of performing in company. He possessed some slight hypnotic power over her to the extent that when he pointed a finger at her, and said, "Now, May, squeal," she was compelled to obey and tho protesting "Don't Ernest!," she would, each time, open her mouth and emit a little squeak. The act caused a physical repugnance in me, and it was directed toward May, not Ernest. Why? Who shall say? Perhaps I felt disrespect for a woman who would so yield to the volition of another. Neither ever knew of my feeling.
Annette, the second daughter, was a short, vivacious blonde, a trained pianist. I had fine times playing duets with her, but only as a pal. Later she married and has no children. Alice, the youngest was a mere girl when I first knew her. She grew to be a handsome, modest young woman, the most like her mother of them all. She, like May, remained single, the companion of her father in his old age, for little Mrs. Woodbury faded away long before her husband. So Ernest, now in St. Louis, alone carries on the family spirit. I used to feel strongly that the parents were finer than any of their children. But time can refine, as it can also debase and coarsen. Today perhaps May, and Annette, and Alice have mellowed, too, into the same gentle spirit of N.E. hospitality and selflessness.
During the Xmas vacation I had the first of many experiences with hospitals and operations. This time it was hemorrhoids, bought on by the bicycle ride and constipation. In anticipation of the summer of 1900 it was necessary to get rid of them, and Dr. John Munroe did the job at the Mass. General. According to the lights of those times it was a most painful performance, and the 10 days spent there were not pleasant. However, more interesting is the fact that I not only dreaded the operation, but was so hypersensitive on the subject that no one except my parents and brothers even knew where I was. I had a time answering questions to others. I created a mystery where none existed.
One result of this experience was that I acquired a sympathy for inmates of hospitals. I had always been a faithful entertainer of Alice Hale, the village shut-in at B'ville (largely at Ma's urging, without doubt.) Now I called assiduously on a chronic rheumatic in one of the Boston hospitals. The impulse lasted until I had seen so much of hospitals that I regarded myself more as an inmate than a visitor.
The International Exposition at Paris and the Passion play at Oberammergau were the magnets which drew into someone's head the idea of a bicycle tour for four. Three selected themselves: H., R., and myself. We felt that 4 made a more manageable company than 3, and in addition my parents always took pleasure in doing a favor to some other young man. We urged Pa to go with us, but he declined, probably with wisdom. In the backs of our heads we were glad, only because we felt we could not express ourselves about girls so freely as we should like if he were present. The fourth place was then offered to Harold, who could not leave his work; to Malcolm Anderson, who declined from a sense of independence, and when it was too late, wished he had accepted; and finally to the actual companion Walter Whitman, known as Whit. He was not one of my closest chums in the class of 98, but his teaching at Goddard had given him contacts with us. He was more of a man of the world than we, and had not that queer mixture of Puritanism and sensitiveness which marked our clan. Jolly, strong, liked by all, he made an excellent comrade and a fortunate choice. He is now head of the Science dept. in Salem Normal School.
We had our own bikes and all but Whit's were well tried in advance. He bought a new one with coaster brakes, then a novelty, and it caused him some trouble. We joined the Touring Club de France and thus obtained privileges and maps. Dunnage was carried in knapsacks on the handle bars, and a trunk was shipped from point to point, so that we met it in Paris and Munich.
We sailed on La Champagne, N.Y. to Havre and returned on the Kensington, Antwerp to N.Y. Our itinerary led through Rouen to Paris, thence to Switzerland, Lake Constance, Oberammergau, Munich, Heidelberg, The Rhine, Cologne, Antwerp. Not all of this distance was covered in the saddle. We intended to span some of the larger distances by rail, reserving the most interesting for intensive riding. The plans worked out, except that H. broke down in Munich, and he and I made the trip to Antwerp by rail from there.
This is what we actually did: from Havre to Paris by bike; a week in Paris, doing the Exposition and the city; bike to Fontainebleaux, where I was taken with a stomach upset, so that we went by train to Lausanne with night stops at Sens and Dijon, bike to Chillon, Martigny, Chamonix, where Whit was ill and sent by train to Geneva, where we met him; boat to Lausanne, bike to Bern, Interlaken and over the Brünig to Lucerne; sunrise on the Rigi; bike from Fluslen north through Zug and Schaffhausen to Lake Constance; boat to Linden; bike past Hohen-schwangan and Neuschwanstein to Oberammergau, where we saw the Passion play on July 29; bike to Munich. On the last day's ride (July 31) H. fell ill, and took the train in.
From Munich on our plans were altered. Dr. Hummel found H. suffering from jaundice and dilated heart. Rest was imperative for him. We were comfortably established in the Pension Turner, 41 Schellingstrasse. We debated what had best be done, and the result was that I stayed with him, while R. and Whit cycled ahead to Nuremberg, Heidelberg, and down the Rhine to Antwerp. Their knowledge of German was not so good as mine, which was feeble, and they were glad to chance it by themselves. So on Aug. 5 they left, and I settled down to enjoy myself in Munich for 3 weeks.
What caused H.'s illness? No one can say why he alone of the 4 should have suffered a serious aliment. Jaundice can come on anyone at any time, and, with exercise, can strain the heart. We had not ridden excessively. Our distance seldom reached 50 miles a day, we were in fine training, and often took days of rest. On July 26, coasting down a long hill between Rehling and Kempten, H. had sustained a terrific fall when he tried to dodge a dog that ran out at him. He skinned his right forearm badly, and suffered from such shock that we took the train that afternoon instead of riding. He seemed all right the next day, but we always thought, though we could not prove it, that this accident had some connection with his illness.
We were all sick too much on that trip. Whit, H. and I suffered severe digestive upsets. R. alone seemed immune.
H. and I were in Munich from July 31 to Aug. 23. His forearm required careful treatment, too: the skin had been removed from a large area, and our traveling first aid had not been sufficient: The jaundice ran its course. The heart ailment was more serious. It yielded to ice-packs and rest, but I feared for a time that we might have to miss our sailing on Sept. 1. However, things worked out. H.'s time passed slowly, I am afraid. The Dr. told him to read nothing exciting, and the problem was to find a book which could hold his attention and yet not raise his heart-beat. The exact prescription turned up in "The Wide, Wide World."
As for myself, I enjoyed every minute in Munich. The pension was admirable, the motherly Fran Turner took care of H. as if he were her own son, and I had time to do the city thoroughly. I learned the two Pinakothek's and the Schack Gallerje almost by heart. I saw opera at the Residenz theater, with its revolving stage, Cosi fan Tutti, Die Entführing aus dem Serail, and other more frequently presented works. I found a tennis club, borrowed a racket, played with an American named Lowenthal and beat a German who claimed to be champion of Bavaria. Lastly, I made the acquaintance of an American girl name Edith Morse who was not averse to walks in the Nymphenburg. I had no complaint.
When we left Munich it was with Dr. Hummel's consent, but also with misgivings. We shipped bikes and trunk direct to Antwerp and took train to Nürnberg, Heidelberg, Frankfort, Rüdesheim; boat to Andernach and Cologne; train to Aix-la-Chapelle and Antwerp. All this while procuring crushed ice at every stop to keep a pack over H.'s heart. Such sights as he could see were from a carriage. But he stood the journey without damage. At Antwerp Whit and R. awaited us; they had used their extra time to dip into Holland. With relief we found ourselves on board the familiar Kensington. We landed in N.Y. on Sept. 11, and took night train to Boston.
H. went about his business as usual, but was left with a valvular weakness which has kept him from heavy exercise. Likewise, he is not eligible for insurance.
What did we four gain out of this elaborate and strenuous summer? Much experience; some memories. We covered the easy part of Switzerland, and saw a little of Germany. Probably the most valuable time for me was the 3 weeks in Munich. The Passion Play we witnessed before it was so tourist-ridden as it became later, and it impressed us all profoundly. We met Anton Lang and Josef Mayr and the sweet-faced girl who played the Virgin and looked the perfect Mother. Many small flashes of memory of the sort never collected on Cook's tours: Ynetot (?) without a King; Barentin, its old, unheard of church, and its peas cooked in their pods; interminable Swiss hills with enforced walks up and glorious coasts down I was braking with my foot, and often it became so hot that I shifted from one to the other, and in spite of all wore a slot in each shoe; the niggardly French woman who sold us carnations wired to their stems. In heavy rain, we did not ride, and when caught in showers, as we often were, took refuge under the first handy roof. Once, in Bavaria, no shelter appeared save an upper loft over a barn, and with small ceremony, asking no permission, we fled the downpour, passing our bikes up the ladder. Then we discovered with surprise that the loft was full of rabbits, and a 14 year old boy rushed from somewhere to tell us to keep out, were imperiling his Kaninchen. I summoned up my scanty German to tell him we must avoid a drenching, but he fought us off, four of us, with a courage I admire to this day. In the end we stayed, jammed into the loft with boy and rabbits, till the worst of the shower was over, and he pursued us with invective.
The Paris Exposition, like the Chicago Fair, left me nothing of value. A mass of highly colored buildings, an Eiffel Tower, a Trocadéro total, nada.
That fall (Oct. 5) I had an operation for tonsils and adenoids (Dr. Borden, N.E. Baptist Hospital). By chance or as a result, I came down almost immediately with jaundice, and so missed nearly 3 weeks of my first teaching job, after I had taught one week.
All through my college course I had suffered from severe sick headaches. They came on suddenly, with no warning, and incapacitated me for half a day. My eyes were not at fault, and constant catarrh led me to a young nose-and-throat man, a friend of Joe Saunders, Tufts 96, who landed the job of relieving me of my nasal impediments. Here is a good place to rehearse my tonsilectomies since few persons enjoy them. Borden, having contracted to remove my tonsils for $50, snipped off the end of the right one, told me the left was so shrunken he couldn't get hold of it, and collected the $50 just the same. That was before the peel-out method had been discovered, and the stump, most noxious portion of the nauseous amygdaloid, remained where it could do most harm.
In Sept, 1902, dissatisfied with the results, I had recourse to Dr. Getchell of Worcester, an older specialist of more repute. He dropped derogatory remarks concerning the knowledge and skill of young Dr. Borden, and, without any anesthetic, snipped off the end of the left tonsil, and a few more abscissa of adenoids. This he did in his office, on a Saturday, and sent me home to Newton spitting blood, telling me to return Tuesday. When I appeared on time, he remarked that he never expected me back so soon. He examined the adenoid, said it was difficult to see on account of the blood clots, but he managed to hook off more bits. I returned to Newton and played 5 sets of tennis that afternoon. Even so, having paid something for nothing as regards tonsils, I was relieved of my headaches to some extent, but fifteen years later, in San Francisco, Dr. Harrington, a specialist again, charged me another $50 to peel out the 2 remaining stumps, with novacaine. That hurt worse than the first time. But when Dr. Clark Burnham, the Berkeley general practitioner who had sent me to Dr. Harrington, examined the results, he saw that one side still retained a tag, and proceeded to dig that out himself, also with local.
Thus in four operations I was relieved of my tonsils and $150 or more of cash. The former were good riddance. Perhaps as great a blessing was a bit of wisdom that has remained with me all the years since Oct. 5, 1900. When Joe Saunders was giving me ether it used to be a perquisite of the recommender to a specialist to be allowed to administer the anesthetic, and to draw down $10 therefore as the mask came closer and closer and the ether seemed to smother me, I began to struggle and Joe said to me, "Come G., you can't have it easy all the time." Those words were the last thing I knew before I passed out, and I have never forgotten them. "You can't have it easy all the time!"
The year 1901 saw the first of my spring vacations spent in Washington, D.C. visiting Harold. He then held a position in the Congressional Library. For a number of years thereafter I continued this agreeable habit. The complete change of enviroments, the advanced season, the visit with my chum, made an ideal rest. When streets and tennis-courts were still a mass of mud in Cambridge, the fields of Maryland and Virginia were green, the peach trees were in bloom, and the spirit of spring loaded the air. Of course, I learned all the sights of the town, including Mt. Vernon and Cabin John and Rock Creek Park.
The summer of that year took me to Jackson, again, and thence to the Weirs, on Lake Winnepsaukee. The family was trying out this new water resort, and it proved the most satisfactory of all. Pa experimented with various sites on the Lake in the course of years Meredith Neck for a time and finally came back to the spot where he first camped, 1 1/2 miles east of The Weirs. There he bought a lot and built a cabin and ran a motor-boat; and all of us had some of the finest times of our lives there. The camp Dunroven the punning name was Pa's brilliant find does not belong here, and I was present less than the other boys, owing to my summers in Europe and my later absences. When there, I had charge of the wood supply, and sawed and split for the camp stove from the early days of a sheet of iron over some rocks to the full-sized range. We never bought wood, but worked up what was handy. Later the boys developed a technique for retrieving sunken logs from the Lake bed. After these were sawed, split with wedges and left a year to dry, they made excellent fire-wood. I also, by common consent, steered the boat and studied the chart and channels.
Dunroven's site could scarcely be bettered. On a sandy cove with north exposure, sheltered from all winds except the N. W. "Meredith wind," hot weather never troubled us. Swimming was the best. Sizable pine timber stood on the lot. When first Pa bought, no other summer visitor was within half a mile of us. Now, they crowd on every side. The two closest however, Young and Rivett, are old-timers and old mutual helpers.
Oh, who could chronicle the annals of a happy camp! Truly, they do not concern nor affect the course of the world. But in family life they bulk large. Fortunate boys were H. and R,. privileged to work in harmony with their father on congenial tasks, planning, building, contriving. Without automobiles, the boat was the regular means of transportation. Without deliveries at the door, we made our daily trip to the Weirs for mail, to Lakeport for supplies. Lumber for the cabin came from the Meredith saw-mill, either balanced precariously across the boat, or towed in a raft.
Even I, absent so much, had my share of experiences. Picnics on one of the varied islands Rattlesnake, where no rattler was ever seen, Round and Welch, Long, Stonedam, Bear, and best of all Mark Island, that classic of the two bays. Steering the crooked channel of Aunt Sally's Gut. Exploring the distant ways about Lee's Mills. Studying the buoys to cross the rocky meandering short-cut from Block's Island. Forgetting a boat-hook on a distant point and going for it in the dark. Driving into a north wind, the water breaking across the boat on each wave, everyone on board drenched in spite of rubber coats. Coming back from Wolfeboro in a gale ploughing up the Broads, huge rollers tossing the stout Phoenix around, and as the bottom came down with a whack like a paddle upon each trough, Mrs. Tower's negro maid, scared white, exclaiming "Oh my God!, Oh my God!" in rythmic cadence until we reached the lee of an island. A sea-worthy boat, if not speedy, was the Phoenix, and safe in the roughest weather the Lake could bring off.
That same summer Harold took his vacation in September, and from the 3rd to the 17th we traveled roads in Nova Scotia. Boat to Yarmouth, then partly by train and partly on foot, we visited Digby, Anapolis, Wolfville, Kingsport with its amethyst mine; boat across to Parrsboro, where we tried in vain to find a coasting captain who would give us a berth to St. Johns, N.B. so perforce took train thither; boat trip up river to Fredericton and back; boat to Digby , train to Yarmouth, and then to Boston. It was a pleasant glimpse of French-English civilization. The high point of the trip was our night at the house of Lue B. Comeau. This tough, hearty, robust old French farmer overtook us on the road from Meteghan and Weymouth, and offered us a night's lodging if we would take a picture of his house. I took him up and he bedded us in an attic, fed us Canuck fare and invited us to a country dance in the evening. Again one flash of memory out of the scene: a logger had been killed the day before by the fall of a tree. Comeau, conveying us to Weymouth, met the man's daughter driving in the opposite direction. She had not heard the news. It was his duty to break it to her, and he did with the finesse one might expect of a land-breaker. The conversation as I recall it, ran in this fashion: "Bonjour, Marie. Ton pere, tu sais, il est malade." "Quoi? Qu'est-ce qu'il est arrive?" "Oui, il est mort. Un arbre l'a tué. C'est dommage." And drove on, leaving the girl in tears. To my dying day I shall not forget the abrupt change which came over the unhappy girl's features. She greeted Comeau with a laughing smile; at his first words her face changed to a look of blank astonishment; then came the further stage of heart-broken grief. It was, as we should say today, a series of studies in registering different emotions.
The winter 1901-1902 worked me hard. I pushed my nerves close to the limit of endurance. In addition, continual copying of my thesis gave me writer's cramp. The Winter vacation was doubly a relief, and while there I turned the rough draft of the thesis over to a typing school to copy. The end of the week saw me quite made over, and ready for the final lap. I took my final in the manner I have already described and obtained the Ph. D.
Let me now cast an eye back over the 4 years as a Harvard student, and pick up some omitted threads. I never quite fitted into the typical "Harvard indifference." Naturally, neither Gold Coasters, nor Boston blue bloods came my way, nor could I have mixed with them if they had. My friends were drawn from Middle Western graduate students or country New Englanders. My chief tennis partner, Harold L. Beyer, came from Grinnell, Iowa, and is now a Chicago lawyer. The students in my classes were such men as Thatcher Clark, Michell (Now at Wisconsin), and Umphrey (at U.Wn.), the Canadians; Charlie Underwood, now head of a tutoring school in Cambridge; Arthur Whitten, a Harvard Professor; Day, now at North Carolina. George Allen England, a popular story writer, was in my German class and we did exercises together.
Tennis I pursued diligently as usual. As a winter exercise, I took up boxing, and Mike O'Donnel, an ex-bruiser, gave me lessons in the Harvard gym. As he outweighed me by over 50 pounds, and had all the science on his side, there was no competitive element involved. Once he matched me with another pupil, and the other fellow failed to guard against a left counter, and contracted a bloody nose. That was the nearest to a boxing bout I was ever in. Later I took lessons from Bones Foley, nearer my size. My top weight then, as now, was 145, and my height 6 feet. Boxing is an art every boy should practise, but obviously not my best line. Bicycling fell off notably in mileage after 1900.
My social diseases remained as they had been at Tufts. The feminine element stabilized itself somewhat, with less transients. One Jeannette Hallett appeared for a time in Harold's and my annals. She was a desk clerk at the Cambridge Public Library dark, regular features, demure with long down cast lashes. She proved to be a clandestine prostitute in the nomenclature of the day; one of those who, in the recent language of Elmer Davis, have lessened the profits of houses of prostitution by their amateur competition. If we are to believe all we hear of the modern young lady, she was merely ahead of her time. At any rate, we, and other men, took her canoeing, etc; I even wasted a Symphony concert on her. She was much more interested in jeweler's windows, and used to parade me past them, admiring the diamond rings. In the end she married a young Italian, and passed out of our ken.
The Simmons family gradually faded from my horizon, and its place was taken by the Woodburys and Parkers. Trips to Salem and Glouchester, where Whit was then teaching, picnics on Dogtown Common and in the Manchester woods, visits back and forth between the two houses, made up a healthy home-like friendship.
I have passed over one of the important elements of my Harvard life the Whytes. When I first went to Cambridge I took quarters with a Mrs. Whyte, who lived by renting rooms. She was a woman of perhaps 35 years with 3 children. Her husband, she had left in Connecticut, under what circumstance I do not know. According to her he was an impossible person. Mrs. W. did not attract me, though she had regular features and a pleasant manner. Her children, however, Jim, about 10, Marion, 8, and Edna (Toots), a baby, were uncommonly handsome and charming. All possessed lovely olive complexions and big brown eyes. My pet was Marion. Our liking was mutual. Whether she satisfied unsuspected paternal instincts, or whether she represented the child sweetheart whom I did not have, we became close companions. This attachment sufficed to keep me with the Whytes all the time I was in Cambridge, though Mrs. W. moved at least once. 18 Sumner St. and 51 Oxford were the addresses. I thus became a sort of fixture in the W. family. I took them all to Newton, enlisted the sympathy of my parents. Whether the latter lent her money, I do not know, it would be like Ma if she did. Thus, W.'s attitude was entirely correct. She was in straits, trying to support 3 children, and she would not reject any proper means in sight to help her on.
Marion was slender, of a rather languid type, not robust. I took her canoeing, to shows. I read aloud to her, when sick or well. I gave her a big doll and a doll-carriage. Her pet name for me was "Gree-gree". She was 8 when I first knew her, and 15 when I left. Had I remained in Cambridge, who knows what might have happened? I did not, and she married after I had ceased to see or correspond with the Whytes.
Jim was an uncommonly handsome boy, and we had him at camp several times. Edna was snappy and energetic does that sort of character go with the name? Edna Dougherty was of similar type. Close as was my connection with the Whytes in that period, I have completely lost track of them, and could not address one of them now if I wished.
My parents had transferred their residence to Newton in 1901. One of the beauties of the Harvard days was my growing friendship with my mother. We always understood each other well despite superficial friction. We both loved to walk, and she, then approaching 60, was more active than she had been for some years. She did not like to spend a night away from home, for she loved her comforts and her own bed, but we enjoyed delightful strolls in the Newton Woodlands, or along one of the two aqueducts. She was a game sport, and pulled up her skirts to climb a fence with any of us. By another means Ma held her children in firm bonds of family affection: her weekly letters. Every child not in residence received a newsy letter written on a Sunday, keeping him in touch with our common affairs. These threads of black and white, radiating lika a web from Newton, held us tight wherever we might be, from California to Spain. After she died Corinne kept up the custom to an extent. But only Herbert has been faithful with us all.
Herbert joined me often during these years, and we all met at Newton on Sunday. But he had his own circle at Tufts. After graduating in 1902 he took an M.S. at M.I.T. in 1904. R. entered Tufts in 1900, graduating with a math major in 1904. Later he received a Ph.D. at Clark University, Worcester.
With the 1902 Ph.D my student days came to an end. I felt the change with a keenness that is rather surprising, considering that there was no break in my good times. Nor could I complain of ill luck, or of difficulty in landing a job, since Harvard offered me an instructorship without solicitation. Nevertheless, I, like many another young man as he is ejected from the college funnel, saw behind me a bright expanse of carefree days, and ahead, the responsibilities and burdens of life. I was now to look at the shield from the other side. I had been a listener, now I must be a talker. I had been free to come and go, be absent or present, as I liked. Now I must abide by rules, and be a loser if I broke them. I had entered the University mill. "Yes, but it is a good mill", said understanding old Prof. Bôcher, when I confessed some of my emotions. And he was right. For one with no taste for fighting, an intellectual pioneer but socially a lover of peace and quiet, there is no better mill than faculty life. The college is the modern monastery, as a friend, gifted with restlessness and unhappiness, was wont to tell me with some scorn. Yes, it is a cloistered life; and, like the medieval societies of monks, produces many of the permanent contributions to the world. It allows one to do the work he best loves. A traveling salesman loves his work too, and I wish him joy. May he be a good salesman, and may I be a good professor.
As I said, I drifted into teaching because it was my natural bent, because I was fitted for no other profession. There is a word to be said as to the reason why I selected the Spanish field for cultivation. It was because I thought that French literature had been much more studied, and that openings were few in it. The competition in French is much more severe. I might have added perhaps I did consciously or unconsciously that French is preëminently a lit. of ideas, and must be studied by men of abstract intellectual power. I could not qualify by that standard.
I did well to turn to Spanish Lit. It has qualities which I love, and others which I detest. I enjoy the freshness and spontaneity of its natural expression, and I cannot endure its baroque and its unpruned verbosity. I have a strong sense of form and balance, and for that I admire French lit., as well as for its full intellectual content. I have always maintained and for that my colleagues have looked askance at me that French and Ital. lits. are on the whole superior to Spanish. I cannot read with pleasure Lope, Góngora or the picaresque novels: Spanish exaggeration irritates and bores me. But the popular ballad equals the best of Europe, and the Quijote and Palacio Valdés are a never-failing source of delight.
In the summer of 1902 I visited Spain for the first time. (June 28 - Sept. 9; st. Aller to and from Gibraltar) This was likewise the first time I went to Europe alone. I did little studying, though I looked up a few references to Salas Barbadillo in Madrid. My object was to familiarize myself with the people of the country. I didn't cover so many regions as I should have, since, as usual I sought out a few untravelled ways. The North, West, and N.E. were left untouched. My itinerary included Gib, Tangiers (a few other passengers and myself chartered a steam launch to take us across the Straits, since we just missed a regular boat a wildly tossing trip), Cádiz, Seville, Cordoba, Madrid, where I knew no one there, Escorial, Zaragoza, Valencia, thence by coast boat to Málaga, Granada, Aonda, and Gib. I have several note-books filled with facts and observations made that summer, but it was not so valuable to me as later expeditions. I bought books enough however, to lay a foundation for my modest Spanish library.
In 1903 the spring vacation took me to Washington as usual. In the summer H., R., Pa, C. and I went to Lake Winnipesaukee by sea, driving our motor boat out of the Charles and up the coast to Portsmouth, up the Salmon Falls River to Dover, where we shipped it by freight to Alton Bay, on the Lake. I, at least, then voyaged for the first time across open sea in a motor boat. We narrowly missed grounding off Joppa Flats. Altogether it was an interesting and exciting experience. The boys and Pa displayed their mechanical knowledge in loading and unloading from a flat-car. I went to Jackson for 2 weeks, taking H. with me for the first time. With him that year also I took a brief walking trip from Cheshire to Chester - 25 miles perhaps the longest day's walk I ever made. His heart must have recuperated, for he also walked through Carter's Notch with me. Probably he was unwise to take these chances. He would not now. On Oct. 7, 1903 a fortune-teller at the Mechanics Fair in Boston predicted that I should be married twice.
On October 29, 1903 began for me a series of concatenated physical misfortunes which I recall with pain. They diverted the channel of my life completely. I was playing tennis-doubles on that day on the Harvard courts. By chance we drew the extreme Eastern court. A small rain gutter ran a few feet outside its playing surface. In chasing a ball to the extreme right I stepped in the gutter and sprained a tendon on the right side of my right foot. It was an insignificant sprain, and because it was, and because in those days I paid no attention to any physical ailment, I went about my affairs as usual, even played tennis several more times. After 2 1/2 weeks I consulted Dr. Darling, who cannot have been much of a surgeon, for he strapped it very badly and lightly. By mid-November the leg swelled so that I spent 2 weeks at Newton in bed, giving up my classes. In time the ankle recovered, but not before it gave rise to other damage. In my anxiety to resume work as quickly as possible, I took up my classes on crutches. These were a pair lying about the house, and unmatched, the right being too short. Since it did not reach the armpit, my weight rested too much on my wrist resting upon the crosspiece, and one day something snapped in the joint at the base of the thumb.
This too would have healed promptly had it not been for continued use. It cracked repeatedly, till sinusitis set in about the time I could discard the crutches. I was taking a cab back and forth to classes all the while. I learned at once to write left-handed. My 1904 diary is written almost entirely with the left hand. I wore a celluloid splint on my right forearm for a long time. The low point must have been reached on Jan. 6-7, when I was unable to undress myself. I had to shave left-handed, of course.
Pa came to stay with me when I was most helpless, Sumner took me driving. The Whytes helped all they could. The winter of 1904 was a round of doctors, and I was utterly depressed. Later on I discovered that fate did not owe me a perfectly happy existence as then I imagined.
How long it takes to learn the lesson that Nature cannot be trifled with! Have I learned it yet? I have often speculated as to what my life would have been had we not drawn the end court on Oct. 29, 1903. Perhaps I should never have come West. I might have been a Harvard prof at this day. But every life is conditioned by scores of just such coincidences and choices. On the whole I have no complaint. The West has agreed with me, and I probably have fitted better into the semi-fluid patterns of Colorado and California than into the fixed and polished ways of Cambridge.
By spring my ankle was apparently well, I went to Washington with a splint on my arm and enjoyed the change. But more trouble, as a result of my inexperience was in store. I thought I was suffering from ingrowing big toe-nails. I went to a young Dr. Bacon on my street, and he advised cutting out the offending portion on both. I had sense enough not to ruin both feet at the same time, but allowed him to do his job on the left. As a matter of fact, there was no need of any operation, a little cotton would have fixed both. But the job was done and the toe quickly grew sorer. I was to go to Italy that summer with a Bureau of University Travel group, the date of sailing drew near, and I made haste to consult an expert surgeon, Dr. Porter of Boston. He fixed up the toe as best he could, and I boarded the Canopic July 2 in Boston, to Genoa. Alfonso de Salvio had been giving me conversation lessons in Italian.
The summer in Italy would have been most pleasant had it not been for my disabilities. The tour projected was as follows: the entire party went to Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, then it split up into small parties for various purposes, the largest going to Greece on a chartered yacht. My group was to tour to "Small Towns of Italy", and I was to buy tickets and check baggage for the members. In return for this service I received a reduction of $100.
This plan was carried out, but at considerable discomfort to me. The toe grew worse, became infected, and in Rome, July 27, Dr. Signorini, an eminent surgeon, extracted the offending nail entire. He used a freezing mixture and operated skillfully. I was confined to my room for a week, and missed most of the sights of Rome. We got aboard the Greek yacht at Anzio, touched at Naples and Capri, and there our small party broke off to go North through Italy.
The leader of the group was Miss Louise Powe, an elderly art teacher of a small N.Y. state women's college. She knew her art, and especially admired primitives. Unfortunately she had little gift for transmitting her knowledge. She admired certain pictures, but she could not tell us why she did. There were but 2 other members of the party, Miss Marjorie R. Anthony, a girl of about my age, cousin of Murray Anthony Potter, a Harvard ass't prof., and Miss Flora L. Terry, a deaf Connecticut artist. We were all quite congenial, and I enjoyed reading time-tables, planning train combinations and bribing trainmen to let our bags aboard. (It happened that the official portmanteaus of the B.U.T. exceeded the official size admissible as hand-baggage on Italian railways.)
As Miss Powe detested time-tables, we got on nicely together. We took a peep at Naples, spent one day in Rome, then did Orvièto, Perugia, Assisi, Siena, Pisa, Pistoia, Bologna, Ravenna, Parma, Mantua, Padua, Castelfranco, Brescia, Bergamo, Lugano, Milan, and sailed from Genoa on the Romanie August 27 to Boston September 11.
An instructive trip, and I have always been glad that I took it. My right wrist was in a splint all the time, of course, and in Pisa I had the ill-luck to trip over a rail at the station, and strain my bad ankle, which I had thought cured for good. Again, a little rest would have mended it, but I had the contract to carry out, and by the time I reached the boat I could scarcely walk.
That winter was another round of specialists, who ought to have put me into shape, but somehow didn't. No bicycling, no tennis, no hikes, no canoeing. I worked the more, certainly. I had already begun the versification studies which stood me in such good stead during my years of exile. I read my first paper at an MLA meeting in Providence that year. The piece set the key-note for much of my later work, by the way attempts to detect personal idiosyncrasies by purely objective methods.
I did not go to Wn. that spring (1905). My former physical recreations were replaced by driving in a carriage. It was almost the only form of motion I could take since the auto was as yet not reliable enough for any cripple to monkey with. I had to have a companion, and in this capacity Sumner was invaluable. He was then 19, not steadily employed, kindly and obliging, and he shared my taste for exploring little known byways. So that he and I shared many enjoyable jaunts. The most ambitious was a 4 - day drive south of Boston, through towns that had lain entirely out of my customary routes. We spent the nights in Millis, Brockton, and Marshfield, and visited Dean Academy in Franklin, where my old Goddard principal A. W. Peirce, was in charge. Our horse was Gentry, a roan gelding we were then using, and we covered, on four days, respectively, 17, 31, 27, and 37 miles. Add a cipher to the right, and you would get a modern autoist's mileage. But we derived as much pleasure from our jogging pace, and saw the country more intensively. Sumner was the best of company on such occasions. He was not intellectual, but he had a remarkable topographic sense and was an excellent driver. We suffered no collisions, and the total daily number of dead from carriage accidents in the country cannot have exceeded 2 or 3.
Another boy whose company we greatly enjoyed at this time was Willard Robertson, son of the gardener who had replaced the Mike Fitzgerald of G.P.'s time. Solid, reliable, good natured, he was trained as a civil engineer, and has worked for the city of Akron, Ohio, for many years.
That summer I did nothing but loaf about B'ville and Newton, reading and taking drives. On Sept. 6 I came to Boston to be the best man for Harold at his wedding to Sally Viles. I had resigned or rather, taken a year's leave from my post at Harvard, hoping that a long rest would give me a chance to recover from my limb ills. As a matter of fact, I now suppose that persistent expert treatment would have cured me much sooner. Probably the inflammation in both ankle and wrist had gone, leaving only weakness. But I thought I could walk only a short distance, and I kept my wrist, which may still have suffered from arthritis, in a splint, so that it could not gain strength.
A great scheme was hatched. My mother and I were to spend a winter in Europe. Her eager intellectual curiousity made her an admirable companion. We should have gone unaccompanied, but my disabilities rendered it advisable to seek a third and able-bodied person. I do not know how many persons had the refusal of the job, which, I think, netted only expenses. The one who accepted was Irvin L. Potter, a young man without means who had attended Goddard, and later a school of elocution. His specialty was giving dramatic recitals. I did not know him well, and was neutral about him. Ma confessed later that she never liked him, but said nothing because he was a deserving young man whom she was glad to help.
Potter was thin, with a razor-blade hooked nose, and a high-pitched voice, beautifully placed. On our trip he performed his duties faithfully. It was unfortunate that neither Ma nor I came to like him better, and I fear he reciprocated. So that when we parted, in the spring, no one shed tears.