T. BENTLEY MOTT
FRIEND OF FRANCE
GETTING AN EDUCATION
MYRON T. HERRICK was born in Huntington, Lorain County, Ohio, October 9, 1854, in a house, part of which his grandfather, Timothy, had built with his own hands, on land which was allotted to him by the government at the close of the War of 1812. For Timothy had been a soldier, had fought at Sacketts Harbor and was taken prisoner there. It is well within the truth to say that many of the salient traits in his character were foreshadowed in the lives of his father and mother. Timothy R. Herrick was a man of unusual ability. He was a good farmer and acquired what for those days was considered a comfortable fortune. He was a speaker of more than ordinary force and clearness and was fond of discussing moot questions in gatherings of friends and neighbors. Like his son, the father possessed the saving grace of humor that successfully carried him over many a hard place. He served for some time as mayor of the village of Wellington. The ambassador's mother, Mary Hulburt Herrick, belonged to that remarkable class of women of quiet dignity and force who, through their sons, have had such a tremendous influence for good in the country.
The boyhood of the future ambassador did not differ essentially from that of the average farmer's son. The open-air life of those early days undoubtedly did much to give him a constitution capable of standing up under the strenuous activities of later years. He began his education in the district school of Huntington. When he was twelve years old his father moved from Huntington to a farm two miles east of Wellington, and the boy took up his studies in the schools of that village, remaining there long enough to complete the greater portion of the high school course but not to graduate. The opportunities of the high school fell short of satisfying his desire for scholastic training and he early determined to go to college.
This ambition, he relates, was firmly cemented in his mind after he had witnessed, one year, the commencement exercises at Oberlin. His father, however, belonged to that class of successful men who, to a large extent self-educated, are inclined to think that experience is a better teacher than a college professor, and who believe that success comes sooner and more surely by hard work in field or office than in the classroom. When, therefore, his son told him that he had made up his mind to have a college education, the father attempted to dissuade him by offering him a substantial share in the farm. But the boy's purpose was not to be shaken; and rather than risk the fulfillment of his dreams, he set out to work his way independently through college.
He never swerved from the determination to become a lawyer, but the road ahead of him was long and winding. Before he could study law he must go to college, and to do this he must earn enough money to defray his expenses. Teaching school was a favorite resource of the day for those having such a purpose in view, and at Brighton, a few miles west of Wellington, he found a vacancy open to any young: man possessed of courage to fill it. As Mr. Herrick described the situation: "It was the immortal story of the 'Hoosier Schoolmaster' all over again. Evans was the big boy and bully of the school, and he proposed to have his fun with any teacher who tried to interfere with his privileges. He had put the last one out of business and that had caused the vacancy. Evans was not long in showing me what I also had to expect.
"An early snowstorm brought on the final act, but there had been plenty of intimations of what was coming. Recess was nearly over when Evans loitered up to me with a grin and said: 'I think I'll have to wash your face to-day.' You know what that used to mean, and probably does still, in school-boy parlance. I replied: 'I guess that can wait.' 'Oh, no,' said Evans, 'I am going to do it right now.'
"I realized there was no escape and that the moment I had been secretly dreading had come. I was not at all cool; a terrific rage seized me and probably gave me more strength than usual, for before he could grab me I struck Evans under the eye such a blow that he went over sideways and hit his head on the doorstep. I caught him by the feet, dragged him across to the gutter full of slush, and rolled him in it. It was a great piece of luck for me and I had no more trouble of that kind. But don't think it is an easy job to teach school with fifty-eight boys and girls, especially if you are under twenty yourself.
"Two of the girls, very nice ones and the oldest in the school, came near upsetting my reputation for learning. They wanted to take algebra, which was not in the course, and they asked me to teach them after hours. I didn't know much about algebra but I was ashamed to refuse and I hoped by studying hard I could keep ahead of them and not show my limitations. But the girls were too good for me and I soon saw that my plan was of no avail. So I told them one day: 'Look here, you know as much about algebra as I do and I can't teach it to you, but I'll tell you what I'll do. Let's work together. I'll help you and you help me. Maybe we can get something out of it that way.' The scheme worked all right and the influence of those two girls was a great help to me in running the school.
"Then trouble came up over my teaching certificate. I didn't have any and the law required one before I could draw my salary. I waited a few months until I felt I was getting I along all right and then I went to see the school supervisor. He was Mr. Metcalfe, the father I believe of General Wilder Metcalfe of Kansas. He struck me as a very pompous gentleman and he was certainly a stickler for the regulations. I was telling him I didn't have any certificate and that I needed my salary, when he interrupted me by saying: 'You mustn't talk to me about these things. This matter has to be taken up regularly by the school board. When you pass your examination you will get your certificate. I mustn't listen to you any further.'
"I lost my temper a bit, I suppose, for I told him flatly that I couldn't pass the examination and he probably knew it. However, I knew I had earned my salary, and I wanted it. I wound up by saying: 'I've been teaching that school all winter, certificate or no certificate, while the other man you had couldn't do it. I can teach it, I've been teaching it, and I'm going to teach it. If you want to know whether I am all right or not, go and ask the people in Brighton.'"
In the long run Herrick managed to get a temporary certificate for six months which was construed to commence from its date, and through this maneuver his two winters of school-teaching were finally paid for.
Mr. Herrick relates a strange thing which happened one day in that schoolhouse: "The door suddenly opened and a wild-looking old fellow came in. Without saying a word he walked to the blackboard and wrote these words: 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' He then walked out as silently as he had come in. I, as well as my pupils, was rather taken aback, and my first impulse was to erase what he had written, but instead of doing this I told everybody in the school to copy what the visitor had written on the blackboard, remarking to them, 'If you do what he says you will probably succeed in life and you may even become famous.' I especially impressed this idea upon a boy called Dick, whose surname I forget. He was a dull boy and was somewhat the butt of his fellows. A few days afterward Dick disappeared. This created a nine-days wonder, for no one knew where he had gone. Finally he was forgotten.
"Some thirty years later, when I was governor of Ohio, a visiting card was brought to me in my office. The name on it didn't suggest anything to my mind. Then the owner of the card came in. He was a fine-looking, well-dressed, bronzed man. He opened the conversation by saying, 'You don't know me, do you?' I answered that I didn't but that his face vaguely recalled something which I could not quite remember. Then, on the instant I recognized him and exclaimed, 'Why, hello, Dick! Where did you go to when you disappeared?'
"'I want to show you something,' he said by way of answer, and he took from his wallet a soiled bit of paper. On it was written, 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.'
"I read it, and to the inquiry which he saw in my eyes he told me what had happened after he left Brighton.
"He had made his way across the continent to San Francisco. There he had boarded a coastwise steamer and finally reached Chile. After many vicissitudes he had obtained employment in the nitrate business, made his way up and accumulated a fortune.
"'The words you made us write down that day,' he said, 'I have carried with me ever since I left, and for a long time I have been looking forward to the moment when I could come in and show the slip of paper to you.'
"He told me a wonderful story of his adventures in South, America and his rise to fortune. What interested me more than anything else he told me was that, down in Chile, he had built a school of technology and over the door he had inscribed the same words which the seemingly crazy old fellow had written on the blackboard that day he walked so unceremoniously into my school."
The Sheldon Clarks must have been very interesting people, from all the things Mr. Herrick tells about them. He boarded with them those two years at Brighton and they apparently left a vivid impression on his mind. Mrs. Clark was a kind, motherly woman, exactly the sort of person a youngster like Herrick needed to confide his troubles to; she spoiled him all she could. Clark was a character. His long moustache was usually dripping with cider or tobacco juice, or both, and as he sat immovable by the fire he looked for all the world like a walrus. He liked his cider hard , and of an evening he would draw a pitcherful, heat the poker red hot and plunge it in. Then he would pull a red pepper from over the window, break it up and drop it into the steaming drink.
Commercially speaking, Clark was not aggressive, that is, he had just enough enterprise to get started, and then he stopped at the wrong place. His farm was composed to a considerable extent of orchards and he had bought a cider press. He pressed his neighbors' apples as well as his own, taking his pay in cider. In this way he had accumulated a stock which he had never had the energy to sell, and at the time young Herrick came to Brighton he had a large supply on hand.
The possibilities offered by that cider gave the school teacher much thought. Here was good money going to waste for lack of enterprise and capital, and Herrick considered he had a little of both (his back salary had been paid). The second winter, while he and Clark sat during the long evenings over the fire, they discussed every conceivable plan for marketing the cider. Finally they reached a decision. Vacation time was coming and as soon as school closed they would ship the cider to the "frontier," where there weren't any apples. Herrick would go with it and sell it. He agreed to advance the money to pay the freight and they would divide the profits.
The part of the "frontier" selected for this enterprise was St. Louis, and the cider was shipped there. But on arriving in St. Louis Herrick discovered that the "frontier," which the newspapers and novels talked about so much in those days, was considerably west of that town, and the demand there for cider was not so great or the supply so small as to make quick sales and heavy profits possible.
"I was soon right up against it," said the ambassador. "I had no money left with which to pay cartage and freight to a more auspicious market and funds were running low. I moved from the hotel to a furnished room, and I made my first acquaintance with the free-lunch institution that had lately been started in the bars of Western cities. I finally took a desperate resolution, sold the cider for a song, and sent a properly made out draft to Clark for the sum agreed upon. I wrote him that I liked St. Louis, business opportunities were fine and I rather expected to settle down there. For nothing in the world would I have let those people in Brighton think I had made a failure of our venture. But ten dollars was all I had left in the world.
"That same day, while walking around the railroad yards, I saw a sight which nearly turned my stomach. A Negro teamster was beating a mule with a long hickory slat in a way I had never seen before. I was angry enough to beat him in return, but I had sense enough not to try. So, as I had nothing to do, I went to my room and wrote an article on cruelty to helpless mules and took it to the St. Louis Republic.(#1) I also wrote a description of the new bridge over the Mississippi River, which was just being completed, and which seemed to me the most wonderful structure that the mind of man could imagine. The paper accepted my stories and paid me two dollars for them. What was more, they agreed to let me go over to the stockyards and write up conditions there, about which complaints had been appearing in print. The Republic cut out much of my spectacular descriptions and violent adjectives, but they paid me five dollars for it. This encouraged me to ask to see McCullough, the editor. I proposed to him to stake me for a pony and a tent and let me go through the cattle camps in Kansas and get news for the paper. The growing cattle business centering in St. Louis was then occupying more and more attention, and news from the front, so to speak, was valuable.
"McCullough did not know anything about this stranger who was asking for $100 down and expenses. 'What guarantee have I got?' he asked me. 'None,' I replied, 'except that if I wanted to steal I wouldn't be likely to try to do it this way or on such a small scale. I want to get a start and make some money. I haven't got any or I wouldn't ask you for it.' McCullough finally agreed, and I started for Wichita, Kansas, with $100 for outfit and the right to draw on the paper for one dollar a day expenses."
There was hardly any experience of his life which Mr. Herrick was more delighted to talk about than these weeks spent on the Kansas prairies. The independence, the freedom from all care, nothing to bother about, except getting enough grass for his pony and a dry place on which to pitch his tent, the pleasure of mixing with the cattle men---a new life, new hopes, and confidence awakening after all the disappointment and soreness of the cider episode. He was frankly and joyously happy and he never forgot it.
In 1926. after Monsieur Poincaré had formed his famous cabinet of National Union, which saved France from bankruptcy and probably from revolution, Mr. Herrick, on returning to Paris from a visit home, went to see the premier, as he always did. They talked politics, of course, and discussed the difficult tasks which lay before the new government. The men composing it were so completely at variance in every political conception that all France was wondering how soon it would be before the combination would break up. As he was about to leave, Mr. Herrick told the premier the following story:
"When I was a young man riding through the West reporting on the cattle business, I made my camp one evening after a long day's ride in a pouring rain. I passed a cheerless, uncomfortable night, and finally woke up feeling something move along my leg inside my blankets. I knew what it must be, and in a second tent, blankets, and everything were in a heap and I was rolling away as far and as fast as I could from the rattlesnake which had come in to share my warmth. However, a gorgeous sun was shining on the vast prairie around me, my pony was standing where I had tethered him, and after giving him a small feed I got a fire going and sat down to coffee, bacon, and hardtack, happy as a king and wanting to sing for pure enjoyment of everything around me.
"While saddling up, I noticed a little way off a sight often seen on the prairies. Sitting on the mound that covered a prairie dog's hole was a little prairie owl, all wizened and moth-eaten; close by was the prairie dog that owned the hole, and not far off was the rattlesnake that had spent the night in my blanket. Knowing what they most likely would do and wanting to see them do it, I pulled out my revolver and fired in the air. They all jumped for the hole; first the prairie dog went in, then the owl, then the snake. They always seem to follow that marching order.... It's funny, Mr. President," concluded the ambassador, "how all those animals get along so well together in the same nest, and I was thinking about that experience of my boyhood when I saw in the papers the list of the members of your new Cabinet."
Monsieur Poincaré is not celebrated for his humor, though he has a wit in debate that can cut like a knife. He made that sort of Rooseveltian movement with his teeth which with him takes the place of a smile and inquired: "Mr. Ambassador, what did you say the name of the rattlesnake was?
But to get back to the Kansas prairies: This happy and eventful summer was now drawing to a close. College and the law ever loomed in the distance, beckoning Herrick back to his Ohio home. This reporter business was only an incident, the real tasks lay ahead. So he rode to the nearest railway station, sold his pony, and bought a ticket for St. Louis. He had never received a line from his employers and he was in the dark as to what they might be going to pay him. Arriving at the Republic's offices he turned in his expense account and asked to see Mr. McCullough. The editor finally received him, told him he was extremely busy but added that he had directed the cashier to pay him $700
"I think there must be some mistake," said Herrick.
"Well , we will talk about that later," replied McCullough and hurried him out of his office.
Herrick got his $700 from the cashier, went straight to a restaurant where he ate a meal which he remembered the rest of his life, and then to the station to buy a ticket for Cleveland.
Was there a mistake and in which direction? What did McCullough mean? What would he have told him if he had gone back? The answer to these questions never came till twenty years afterward. The Republican national convention of 1896 met in St. Louis and Mr. Herrick was one of the delegates from Ohio. He went to see McCullough, remembering how that $700 had enabled him to go to college and make his start. As soon as the old publisher saw him he recognized him and burst out with: "Why didn't you come back?" It then cropped out that McCullough had been so well pleased with his new reporter that he intended to offer him another job. He had even advertised for him in the Republic, but Herrick had never seen a copy of that paper after he left McCullough's office. With his $700 in his pocket he was off to finish his schooling and try for a lawyer's diploma.
After all, the summer had been a profitable one in spite of the failure in cider; moreover, he had laid up a stock of new experiences he was never to forget. And he knew now where the "frontier" was located.
In less than a year from the time he reached St. Louis he had returned to Ohio and was a student at Oberlin Academy, where he remained for a year and a half. He was then obliged to give up his studies temporarily because his savings were exhausted. Once again he had to depend upon his own resourcefulness for earning the money needed to complete his education. Mr. Herrick always enjoyed telling of these days when he was working his way at Oberlin and at Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware., and how one little success led to another.
One of his schoolmates at the former place had made some money during vacation time selling farm dinner bells cast at the Fredericktown plant of the J. B. Foote Foundry Co., which is still selling dinner bells to the farmers of that region. As he had finished school and was leaving that part of the country, this lad proposed to his chum Myron that he succeed him in the bell business. Herrick did so and began at once to make improvements in sales methods. Instead of loading a wagon and going about from farm to farm he conceived the idea of shipping bells by railroad to various local stations and then radiating from these centers by means of a horse and buggy hired on the spot. This broadening of territory was so successful that the second year he bought his bells outright instead of selling on a commission. Then he enlarged his summer occupations by taking an agency for selling foot-pumped reed organs, and as his prospective clients for these instruments also were farmers, he was able to drum up sales for both lines of merchandise at the same time. However, in the matter of selling organs young Herrick suffered a serious handicap due to the fact that he could not play a note and never could learn.
One of the incidents of his organ-selling days I shall try to relate as nearly as possible in the ambassador's words, although I realize that I cannot reproduce the homely flavor of his story.
"Country people in those times liked music just as much as they do now," he said, "but phonographs and radio did not exist, pianos were expensive and hard to play, so reed organs grew more and more popular. The grange movement was in full swing at this time and grange meetings offered a fine chance for selling such things as organs. One of these meetings was going to be held in a big barnyard near Painesville, Ohio. It was a pretentious affair with a picnic and all the rest of the popular trimmings. I loaded my organ on to the wagon which I had bought the previous summer and drove to Painesville. I wasn't the only salesman on the grounds, as can be imagined, and my competitors had me at a serious disadvantage, for they could play their instruments while I couldn't. They drew little crowds around their organs with all sorts of tunes and all I could do was to strike a few chords and hold them. I began to wonder what I could do to attract attention. I felt rather out of it.
"Sitting on a saw-log near by, talking to other farmers and whittling all the time, was a granger who looked at me every once in a while and then went on with his whittling. Finally he called out:
"'I say, don't you come from Lorain?'
"'Used to live in Oberlin?'
"'I went to school there.'
"'I thought so. Don't you remember that night when you took me to find the doctor?'
"'Yes, now that you speak of it, I remember very well. I didn't recognize you at first. It was very dark that night.'
"After some more talk and questions about what I was doing at Painesville, the granger finally got up, stretched himself, brushed the whittlings off his clothes and remarked: 'I guess it's about time I got to work.' He did. He was quite a big figure among the farmers and he stirred around and got me a contract to furnish the grange people with seven organs.
"The granger's name was Randall, a big, lanky, rawboned fellow. The night he spoke of I had been at a euchre party. We were not allowed to play euchre or any other game of cards at Oberlin and we were supposed to be home by ten o'clock; so I was hurrying back at a run through the pouring rain when I was hailed by a man in a buggy who stopped me and asked if I could tell him where Dr. Bunts lived. A child was sick and they had to have a doctor right away. I told him I would take him to Dr. Bunts's house, so I got into the buggy. But the doctor was not there; he was visiting a patient. I found out who it was and off we started again. We finally found Dr. Bunts and the man in the buggy wouldn't even let him go home, but drove him straight off to his farm. It seems he got there just in time to save the baby's life. It was Randall's baby, as he told me that morning at Painesville, and Randall was not the sort of fellow who forgot anybody that ever did him a service. He paid me back that day many times over for the little I had done for him, and the money he enabled me to obtain came at a moment when I needed it almost as badly as his child had needed a doctor."
Herrick had saved enough money to enter Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware, and when he left there he had put in sufficient work to rank as a junior; but he made up his mind that school-days were over and that he would now begin the study of law without a college diploma.
For a time he attempted to make a start in the village of Wellington, but opportunities there being limited, he soon decided to seek a larger field. Accordingly, in 1875 he moved to Cleveland and entered the law firm of J. F. and G. E. Herrick as a student. The time for his bar examinations was approaching in 1878 when he took two months off from the law office with the intention of devoting them to hard study in Wellington. Here great events for him took place.
1. This Paper was afterward sold to the owners of the Globe Democrat.
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
MRS. HERRICK'S people, the Melville Parmelys, had left their farm near Sullivan, Ohio, and moved first to Ashland and then to Dayton. But the homestead near Wellington remained in the family and was generally opened in the summer for the enjoyment of the children. It was here that the law student fell in love with the girl he afterward married.
He had first met Miss Carolyn Parmely when he was a student at Oberlin and she was taking a course in music in the Conservatory there. She had a charming voice, and the ambassador would often tell you with enthusiasm of her singing. However little he cared about music, when Mrs. Herrick sat down to the piano she had no more appreciative listener than her husband.
He did not see her again until this summer at Wellington. The Parmely place was then full of young people bent on having a jolly time, the drive to Wellington was nothing to them, and it was inevitable that young Herrick and Miss Parmely should once more meet and that he be invited out to the farm. He went frequently and in style. For he was keeping the books of the livery stable as well as studying law, and whenever he wanted it he had a buggy of the latest fashion at his disposal, and he was not at all oblivious of the effect he produced when he dashed up in it to the Parmely doorstep.
"This was my début in society," the ambassador would say. "Up to that time I had been knocking around teaching school, working my way through college, collecting rents for my law firm in the daytime, and studying at night, and I never had any time for girls."
There can be no doubt that grim necessity rather than any distaste for picnics, frolics, and young ladies was the cause of this self-denial; for Mr. Herrick always took keen pleasure in women's society, and to the day of his death his charm for the opposite sex was proverbial. As a clever lady once said to me: "It is not so much that the ambassador is irresistible as that no one wants to resist him."
It seems hardly likely, therefore, that when the handsome youngster of twenty-one for the first and last time in his life fell in love the girl whose instinct told her what was passing could have remained indifferent. Without anything having been spoken much had undoubtedly been felt, when suddenly, upon the idle dreaming of these happy summer days, there fell an awakening gong. A comrade in the Cleveland office wrote to say that the examinations for the bar would take place in three weeks and he hoped Myron was ready.
"I sat down in my room with that letter," said Mr. Herrick, "and took stock of the situation. Here I was, wasting my whole summer having a good time and my admission to the bar probably being delayed a year or so. But that was not all. I knew I was in love and I knew I was a fool; for nothing could come of it, and I cursed my weakness and stupidity. I finally made up my mind what to do. I wrote a good-bye letter to her, intending to drive out early the next morning before she was up, leave it, then go to the station and back to Cleveland. There I would work for my examinations.
"When I got out to the farm, I slipped into the house without anyone seeing me, but just then I heard her singing. They were going to have a picnic that day and she was getting things ready for it. I laid my letter on the table and had got back to the buggy when she came running across the yard.
"'What on earth are you doing here at this hour? Where are you starting off to like that?' I told her I had left a letter in the parlor which would tell her why I was going. I had to go. I had to go right away. I was off to Cleveland.
"I suppose she must have guessed what was the matter ---women generally do---and I was terribly upset at the sight of her. Probably I showed it. As I sat holding the reins, she laid her hand on my arm and said, 'I don't want you to go.'
"I took one good look in her eyes, reached down and caught her, lifted her up beside me in the buggy, and started off. Then I told her everything. I said I was a fool, a jackass, an impostor. Yes, an impostor. I hadn't a penny in the world, I hadn't the right to ask her to marry me, I hadn't the right to make love to her, I knew she was going to marry C------ anyhow, and I was going away."
And so the surging flood of youth's first passionate emotion swept over this boy and carried him out upon the deep waters of an ocean whose storms and calms he would never again, through many adventurous years, be called upon to meet alone. The fierce determination not to tell her a word of what he felt, the wild outpouring of it upon the first occasion---what an old, old story to us all!
There are men whose hearts never grow old, and Mr. Herrick was one of them. He was seventy when he told me these details of his only love affair, and had he been an undergraduate confiding to a pal he could not have been more shy. It is impossible to convey the timid fragrance of his words; but where is the man whose life has been so barren that he cannot find their echo in some happy memory of his youth and paint the scene with the tender colors of his own experience?
She listened to it all, entranced perhaps with every sentence, for they told her things infinitely precious. Then she spoke. She was not going to marry C------. She had teased each one with seeming to prefer the other; but now that she knew that Myron wanted her, she wanted him, too, and nothing else mattered. She didn't care whether he had any money or not, she could wait till he made some.
Then grave decisions were taken. He would go to Cleveland and study for his examinations. When they were over and she was back in Dayton he would come and talk to her father. If he consented, so much the better; if not she would marry him anyhow.
He returned to the law office, concentrated upon his examinations and, not without misgiving and difficulty, passed. Mr. Herrick always believed that his getting through this trial was due to Mr. Homer De Wolfe. He was head of the examining committee, he came from Lorain County, and had always known young Herrick and his family. It is possible that his conviction as to the stuff that was in this youngster's character overcame such doubts as he may have felt regarding his present legal attainments. Be that as it may, Herrick was one of the few candidates who received their diplomas that year.
The question of money to enable him to get an education was now succeeded by the struggle for an income while waiting for a case, and over all hung the bigger problem of supporting a wife. He suspected that her family were bent upon a match with a young fellow just out of Cornell, a classmate of her brother's, and if this situation disturbed him, it was only because it showed the need of straining every nerve to make some money. No danger of Miss Parmely's weakening entered his head. The future Mrs. Herrick was not the sort that ever quits, and she proved it on many a subsequent occasion.
"As soon as possible after passing my examinations," he said, "I arranged with my fiancée to carry out the plan we had made. I went to Dayton on a Saturday night, stopped at the Bucknell House, and next morning went to church. Miss Parmely sang in the choir quartet and I expected to take her home after church and meet her father and mother. For I had never seen them. Her brother Dick was the only other member of the family I knew and it was Dick who suspected my intentions and, I believed, objected to them.
"I said nothing about 'business' when I met Mr. Parmely, but on leaving the house I asked if I could come over the next day and see him in his office. That afternoon during another walk on the 'Levee' Miss Parmely and I agreed upon all that was to be said at this momentous interview.
"I told Mr. Parmely how it had all come about by a sort of accident and I was sorry I had not had a chance to consult him before things had gone so far. I said I realized he had a right to want to know all about me and I gave him the names of my law firm, of judge Homer De Wolfe, and others in Cleveland and asked him to find out what they had to say about me. I was getting along very well with Mr. Parmely and he was quite nice about it all, when Dick came in. He had the air of rather running the whole place and his presence upset me. I tried to ignore him and addressed myself entirely to his father; but there was no way of cutting him out of the conversation, which got somewhat animated. Finally I told them with a good deal of energy that while I hadn't any money I expected soon to make some and I never intended to accept anything from them as long as I lived. 'Miss Kitty isn't willing to give it up and if she can go on here till I am in a position to support her, all right; if not we will get married to-morrow.' Mr. Parmely was rather taken off his feet at this explosion, but finally we all cooled down and the matter was left where we wanted it. I don't suppose I was very diplomatic, but I was young and I was most of all afraid they would think I wanted them to help me.
YOUNG LAW STUDENT AND THE GIRL HE MARRIED
"It was over two years before we were married. I wanted to get enough to buy a house and start out properly, but my wife decided she was perfectly willing to board, so after our marriage we first went to live with Mrs. John Carey who had a big house on Euclid Avenue. Her husband had sunk all his money in the Brush Electrical Co. and he had left her nothing but his interest in the Brush patents. These later became very valuable and she died a rich woman. Her daughter afterward married Von Luttwitz who as governor of Brussels during the war created so much talk in the world.
"By this time I had made many friends amongst the best people in Cleveland and we were able to receive them in Mrs. Carey's house in a way we could hardly have done in our own. But I was bent on having a home, and with the first thousand dollars I had clear I bought a corner lot and paid the rest by degrees. We lived there till I made my first successful deal in city property. The Case estate was being contested and I knew that part of it, composed of an outlying sandy tract, was going to be sold. I put up all I had, got Henry C. Ranney and some others to go in, borrowed the rest from the bank on ninety-day notes, and bought the property. Degnon, who afterward became such an important contractor in New York, cut the streets, we sold the lots, paid the banks, and I found myself with $70,000 profit and a piece of land to boot. It was my marriage that had stimulated me to these efforts and risks, I think. I felt I had to succeed if only to prove to my wife and her family that I didn't need anybody's help to make a proper living.
"We had never had a wedding journey and I suggested to my wife that it was time to take one. We went to New York, stopped at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, had a sitting room, and drove about in cabs. Hiring a carriage, except for weddings and funerals, was the highest mark of extravagance a visitor to New York could display at that period. My wife loved to buy things, and at first I went about with her to the shops. She would have everything in the place shown to her and then leave without making a purchase. I remonstrated over what I thought wasn't quite fair to the clerk. She told me she knew more about shopping than I would ever learn and she made me go about my business while she attended to hers. I knew she was right, and after a while the packages that piled up in our sitting room were proof that she was not neglecting any line of it.
"This was a joyous experience and it made me think with sly satisfaction of the time just after our marriage when Mrs. Herrick began to occupy herself with my wardrobe. She asked one day where I kept my cravats. I said, 'Oh, there must be another one around here somewhere.' When I came back that evening I saw half a dozen neckties spread out on the bed. I looked them over, picked out a blue polka-dot and said, 'Suppose we take this one.' 'But I bought them all for you,' she cried.
"I didn't say anything but I decided I was done for.
"One day in New York I took the directory and wrote down the addresses of some of the important New York people we used to read about in the Cleveland papers---the financial and social lions of the day. We drove around that afternoon to take a look at their houses. I never watch a sight-seeing omnibus pass the embassy that I don't think of that drive.
"What really gave me the courage to get married was the formation of the Cleveland Hardware Company. At this time a fellow named Brown was living in my boarding house. He had come from Niles, down in the Mahoning Valley. He had a partner, Collins, who had invented a number of devices for improving wagon hardware, such as brakes, hubs, etc., and they had set up a factory for turning these out in quantity and selling them to the wagon makers; but bad times came on, the affair went bankrupt, and they were going to be sold out.
"Brown had a delightful little five-year-old daughter and we became great friends. Perhaps it was this fact which led him to tell me all about his troubles. In my law studies I was then right in the midst of the chapters dealing with patents, and I volunteered the information to Brown that the receivers could sell his, Brown's, plant but they couldn't sell Collins's patents. He did not have to assign them. They were his and they remained his. Brown couldn't believe any such good news, so he consulted his lawyer, who told him that what I said was all rubbish. When he informed me of this, though I felt pretty sure of what the books stated, I wanted to clinch the matter.
"At that time judge Rufus P. Ranney was the great lawyer in Cleveland, indeed in all Ohio. What he said was gospel. One of my pals, James Parmelee, was just starting the great career he is still following and he was reading law in the judge's office. In that way I had the run of it. So I went in and asked judge Ranney if I was right about patents. He told me I was. That night after supper I made this proposition to Brown: 'You go and consult Judge Ranney. If he says they can't take away your patents, you pay him his fee. If he says they can, I'll pay it.' He agreed.
"The next day I went with him to see the judge, who told him what he had told me. Brown was so excited about the thing that he offered then and there to take me to handle the case. Judge Ranney had charged him a fairly stiff fee and the next time I saw the judge he handed me this money, saying he could not let Brown consult him for nothing, but the fee really belonged to me and he hadn't any intention of keeping it.
"When the day came to sell the little factory in compliance with the court's order and the auctioneer was about to start, I got up and told the crowd of bidders that it was all right as far as the plant and stock were concerned. Anybody could buy them and they were his, but the purchaser could not turn a wheel in that factory except by agreement with us and on our terms. If they didn't believe me, I told them to go and ask Judge Ranney.
"As a result we bought in the plant for one fourth its value. Mrs. Brown's brother-in-law, J. H. McBride, an important dry-goods merchant, put up this money and I managed to form a little company with enough paid-in capital to start up the shop, and the Cleveland Hardware Company came into existence. It is still going and the stock I received in payment for my services I still hold.
"Soon after this I got married. In fact, this transaction gave me the necessary confidence if not the needed capital. I was an attorney, a manufacturer, a director of a company ---why not?
"The affairs of the Cleveland Hardware Company afterward brought about one of the important connections of my business life. I was a married man, the law business was getting along tolerably well, and the hardware company had begun to really thrive, when the news came from customers that Lewis, Oliver Bros. & Philips were offering them wagon hardware at prices which our Cleveland concern could never meet and live. What was to be done? As good luck would have it, Mrs. Herrick had received an invitation from a girl friend who had married Mr. Sutton, a Pittsburgh lawyer, for us to make them a visit. We had declined at first but after much thought we decided to go. It seemed possible that a chance might occur to do something with Mr. Oliver who lived at East Liberty, near the Suttons, and was a friend of theirs.
"The Olivers were asked over one evening by the Suttons. Mrs. Herrick sang for us, the party was gay and cordial, others followed, and a real intimacy sprang up. Before leaving Pittsburgh I went to call on Mr. Oliver at his office, determined to tell him all about the Cleveland Hardware Company, and thinking of course that he was aware of the little war declared upon it by his firm. Mr. Oliver had never heard of this insignificant rival in the hardware field, where Lewis, Oliver Bros. & Philips were monarchs. He listened to all I had to say, and when he learned that if things were left where they stood the Cleveland Company would have to go out of business, he exclaimed, 'But that does not seem necessary at all. Let us try to find some arrangement profitable to both of us,' and he called in a subordinate acquainted with all the details. The upshot was the draft of a selling arrangement clearly beneficial to the smaller concern as well as to the big one and involving no hardship to the consumer. It continued in force many years.
"The Cleveland Hardware Company was one of the first factories in that town to look after the welfare of its employees in the way now so generally adopted. We put in baths, organized a lunch counter, and did what was a great deal for those days in the matter of material comfort for our workmen."
HIS AMBITION TO BECOME A PAINTER
IN LOOKING through the souvenir albums which so many people keep, one may be surprised to happen upon a menu card having on its back the well-done caricature of some person prominent in the official or social life of Paris and signed "M. T. H." He then would be looking at the last expiring evidence of a passion which, had it been persisted in, might have robbed the United States government of one of its most useful servants. For Mr. Herrick in his early days wanted to become an artist almost as much as he aspired to be a lawyer. However, there was not room in his life, or rather in his pocket, for both tenants, and in the battle between business and painting which took place shortly after he was admitted to the bar, art came out the loser.
"I had no other thought than the law as a profession," said Mr. Herrick, "and I expected to make my living out of it; but I believed I could also keep up my interest in art. I did not see why business and painting should conflict. I loved to draw, I had joined the Cleveland Sketch Club, and I used to go there quite often. Its president was Mr. Eckman, and its headquarters were in the City Hall, for Eckman was city clerk. He was profoundly sincere in his feelings about art and he was a capable president. One of my colleagues in the club, I remember, was Otto Backer, who afterward made a first-rate reputation as an etcher. I have one of his earliest pictures. It was given me by his father, in recognition of my services in defending him in a lawsuit. I refused any fee, but knowing how much I loved such things he sent me this drawing done by his son.
"While I was studying law and after I began to practise, I would occasionally go over to Eckman's where my artist friends and I would talk about our work and our ambitions. I had a vague notion that some day I might do a little real painting. However, as much as I enjoyed all this, I had sense enough to know that it wouldn't be any help to my law practice if I made my humble connection with art too prominent.
"At this time I used to go quite often to the home of the Otis family, and, as was the custom in those days, I frequently sat in their family pew at the Second Presbyterian Church and walked home with the girls when the congregation was dismissed. This meant, of course, staying to Sunday dinner. In that way I got to know their father, Charles A. Otis, quite well. I liked him and I think he liked me. He was a big, bluff, kindly fellow, ever ready to help, as you will see. The Otis girls, being friends of mine, naturally thought that I was fully competent to be the attorney for what was the biggest steel firm in Cleveland at that time, and they expected their father to get me started in this direction, even if he did not offer me the post immediately. And so it was due to them that one day Mr. Otis came to my little office, bringing with him a friend, a man named Barrett, who was a leading Lake Superior ore shipper. Mr. Barrett wanted to libel a vessel then in port and Mr. Otis suggested that he give me the job. I was not in my office at the time. I had told the stripling who performed the functions of office boy in the building to say to any callers that Mr. Herrick was in court. But the terrible little fool told Mr. Otis that I was over at the Sketch Club, which was true. Barrett, as I learned, merely said 'Oh, hell!', and they left. He gave his case to another man and the profits that came to him through it would have been quite a fortune to me at that time.
last expiring evidence of a passion which, had it been persisted
have robbed the United States government of one of its most useful servants."
"The following Sunday I walked home from church with the Misses Otis and after dinner their father took me into the den where he smoked. He gave me a cigar, and, looking at me in his large, kindly way, said: 'Look here, Myron, you've got to choose once for all between running around with those long-haired fellows and attending to business.' Then he told me about Barrett.
"He did not guess how upset I was. When I left him I went back to my boarding house and took a look around my room. The walls were more or less covered with cheap reproductions from well-known pictures, cuts from the illustrated magazines, and original sketches, chiefly my own. I stared at them hard, but I wasn't thinking about them; I was thinking about Barrett and that vessel he had wanted me to libel. Then all of a sudden, in a sort of rage, I jumped up and pulled them all down, tore them into pieces, and stamped them over the floor. I had made my choice forever between business and 'those long-haired fellows.'"
Strangely enough, during his later years, even in the atmosphere of Paris and with every opportunity to indulge his early tastes, Mr. Herrick never again showed any great interest in pictures. Times had changed, the intolerance toward art of the Cleveland business men of the early '70's had died and been buried, doubtless, in the splendid Cleveland Museum, or its Chamber of Commerce, where Mr. Herrick's portrait now holds an honored place. But that first dramatic decision of his had turned him forever from any keen interest in art, and he never went back to it.
One of the best caricatures which Mr. Herrick used to make from memory was that of John D. Rockefeller; another was of the Crown Prince of Germany. He could catch a likeness very quickly and in a few bold strokes delineate the people around him. At a big dinner when the going was a bit heavy, you would often see the ambassador get out his fountain pen and reach for the menu card---the inevitable sign that somebody at the table was about to have his caricature sketched. Mr. Herrick's neighbor was pretty sure of taking home this souvenir.
HIS START IN POLITICS
"I RESIDED in the Sixth Ward in Cleveland, located in what was called the residence district. The ward boss was Billy King, popularly known as 'The King of the Kids.' He was a dominating figure in the politics of the ward and also, to a considerable extent, in those of the city. He was in the insurance business, and that gave him his big opportunity, since practically all the City Hall insurance contracts went through his hands and he distributed the profits. That a man like Billy King should have been so long councilman for the Sixth Ward is an indication of the small interest which 'the best people' in those days took in local politics; for the voters of that district had plenty of high-class men to choose from and there was no reason for letting a fellow of that stripe be elected. The only candidate they really bothered about was their representative on the public school board, and the highest class of citizen---for instance, Colonel John Hay at one time---was always chosen for that place in our ward.
"When the city elections were approaching in the spring of 1885 somebody started a movement looking to a change. The idea was to put up two first-rate men, one for councilman and the other for the school board, and I with some others of the younger element got active in the cause. We selected a man who would have made a good candidate for the board, and who was quite willing to run. We also picked out a popular fellow for councilman who felt flattered at the idea, and we approached them both. Billy King got wind of it, as of course he would, that being his business, and he decided the combination might be dangerous to him; he therefore proceeded to break up the ticket. He let our candidate for the school board understand that if he ran, his insurance business would be damaged---he represented the New York Life in Cleveland---and he reached our other man in some way or other, so that he, too, got cold feet. It looked as though once more the amateurs would have no chance against professionals.
"I was coming out of the court house one day when I ran into Billy, standing with some of his pals in front of Joe Richards' saloon. Of course he knew that I was a member of the 'reform gang,' as he called us, and he proceeded to have a little fun at my expense for the benefit of his friends.
"'Your cocks don't seem inclined to fight,' he said; 'why don't you run yourself?'
"'That's a good suggestion,' I replied; 'I'll think it over!'
"As a matter of fact this put an idea in my head which I didn't have before, and I turned it over on my way home. That evening I went to see Frank McMillan and told him about my meeting with Billy.
"'Frank, why shouldn't we do it?' I asked. 'You run for the school board and I'll run for councilman. I believe if we organize our campaign properly we can win.'
"McMillan agreed and we got to work. We had a lot of circulars printed urging the people of the Sixth Ward to come to the primary and we had them distributed at offices and homes by hand. We made our friends work as we were doing, and when the election came off Billy King was defeated and I found myself a member of the City Council ---something which I certainly bad no thought of a few months before.
"I believe the best work I ever did in politics was done there, and I had a mighty good time. It happened to be exactly the moment when the turning point in our municipal politics had been reached. Educated and well-to-do people, not only in Cleveland but in a great many towns everywhere, had begun to realize that they had some civic duty besides making a contribution to the campaign funds and paying their taxes. They saw that they had to take some personal interest and do some work, if all the affairs of their town were not to be turned over to grafting politicians. I and my friends were really riding on a 'bull market' and this made it a lot easier when we began to fight the old grafters in the Council.
"Theodore Burton, who has since made for himself such a place in national politics, was another man elected on this little wave of awakened conscience. We and a few others were looked upon as foolish young reformers and the old stagers proceeded to poke fun at us on every possible occasion. They put us on absurd committees which had never met and were never expected to meet, keeping the important or profitable things for themselves; they enjoyed seeing us struggle against the weight of the old machine. For instance, I was put on the pound-keepers' committee, in fact I was made chairman of it; and when I began to look into these new duties I found that some thirty or forty pound-keepers were doing business in Cleveland on quite comfortable salaries. One man had impounded a small flock of geese for which his expenses were shown in the books at $39 a head. I had a good deal of fun out of this committee, for I called it together and insisted upon their investigating all the past operations. That bill for impounding geese was a godsend, as I gave it to the newspaper men, who were delighted and wrote it up with all suitable exaggeration. The City Council got to be referred to as the 'Honorable Company of Goose Catchers.'
"The committee on examination and publications, to which I was also appointed, proved to be a real weapon for exposing graft. I found it had authority to go into any city department and make them produce their books. I started in on the cemetery board and discovered they were $30,000 short in their accounts; then I took up the fire department and exposed a leakage of $4,000. I demanded that the trustees make up these deficits. There was a terrible squeal, but as they had appointed me chairman of the committee, the law was plain, and with the newspapers ready to publish the reports of my examinations, there was nothing they could do about it.
"Tom Axworthy was city treasurer and a very popular fellow. For twenty years he had received funds and deposited them to his credit in the banks, and as the law did not specify as to the matter of interest on these deposits, he had been in the habit of putting it in his own pocket. I went to see him about it. He slapped me on the back, called me 'boy,' and tried to jolly me along and put me off; but I got the council to pass a bill making city deposits open to bids, and when it was passed, Axwortby went to Canada. It was later reported that his accounts were found to be several hundred thousand dollars short.
"Another piece of graft was the price paid the newspapers after elections for their advertising services. As the rates were prescribed but never followed, I took all the bills to the auditor and he disallowed them. The amount was astonishingly big. One newspaper never forgave me for this action and only one; that was the Cleveland Leader.
"I got Billy King by means of a bill passed in the legislature prohibiting the city from carrying any insurance. This put Billy King out of business. Fortunately, too, no fires happened around that period.
"The result of all this was that, while having the time of life, I suddenly found myself quite a figure in city politics. But I made up my mind then that I would not accept any public office that required me to give most of my day to it until I was financially independent. I arrived at this decision by looking at the question from two different angles. On the one hand I had seen a good many men using their positions to make money in business or steal it from the city, and sometimes you couldn't tell which from which. Then again, there was the example of men like Burton who had enough to live on and could go ahead untrammeled in the pursuit of their ambitions, give their whole time to politics, and succeed without either suffering too great a personal sacrifice or running any risk of being accused of making money out of politics. Burton was starting in seriously on his public career at this time and I rather envied him, for I liked politics then and I have ever since. But Burton was well off and I was not.
"This resolution, however, did not prevent me from accepting or seeking places such as delegate to conventions, and the work I had done as city councilman and the little newspaper publicity I had gotten out of it led to my selection as delegate to the Republican presidential convention of 1888.
"Mark Hanna at that time was the old war-horse of our congressional district and he had always dominated the district primaries. That year he had selected Jesse Everett to go with him, but my friends wanted me to have the nomination, and in the convention they beat Everett. They not only did that but they elected me as first delegate, which meant that Hanna would be second. I got up and insisted that the ticket should be Hanna and Herrick, not Herrick and Hanna, and this was agreed to.
"Hanna had not even taken the trouble to go to the meeting, and when it was over I ran into him in the wash room of the club. He did not know what had happened at the convention and greeted me in his blunt way with: 'What in hell are you youngsters trying to do?' I told him we were trying for the right to stay on the face of the earth. Later on he learned all the details of what had happened at the meeting, and, as he was always square and straight with everybody, he did not bear any grudge against me for having beaten the man he had selected to go to the national convention with him.
"Of course we both voted for John Sherman of Ohio as long as there was any hope of nominating him, and we were sincerely disappointed when Benjamin Harrison of Indiana won out. I had known Hanna fairly well, just as everybody in Cleveland did or thought they did or wanted to say they did; but until this time we had not been thrown together in a political way at all closely. He naturally regarded me as a youngster, and, in his big, kind, domineering way, he bossed me around; but our work together at this convention was the start in a political association which lasted till he died. He was a big man in every sense of the word, and as a friend, truer than steel.
"When I came back from Chicago in 1888 I realized that I was something of a factor to be reckoned with in Cleveland politics. But I still stuck to my determination not to hold office."
HOW HE BECAME A BANKER
"WHEN I first began to practise law, the management of estates was a lucrative part of a lawyer's business and was much sought after. Those were the days before trust companies had sprung up and become organized along the lines we now see everywhere. The change is a good one, for many abuses were possible under the old system. An estate's money was usually deposited in the lawyer's name, and if he were not perfectly honest or if any financial accident happened to him, the loss might fall on the estates he had charge of.
"The management of several properties, among others the Harrington estate, had come to me and I had leased a corner store, which formed part of it, to the recently organized Union National Bank. About this time some outside people had gotten up a grand scheme to build a new theater in Cleveland and they employed me as their attorney. They advertised their plans in the most up-to-date fashion and the public had become interested. They desired to make banking connections and when they asked me to introduce them to my bank I took them in to the Union National. This institution had recently rented its place of business from me, I had my office in the same building, and altogether I was proud to present what I believed was an important customer. I felt sure of the bank's appreciation.
"In this I was not deceived, but presently the theater people wanted a small loan, and when they applied to the bank for it the cashier, E. H. Bourne, asked me to come down and talk the matter over with him. Bourne said he had no doubt the theater company was all right but he was obliged to be prudent on account of his directors, etc., etc. ---what one always hears on such occasions. However, he added, as these people were my clients, if I would endorse their note he would loan them the $8,000 they wanted.
"I told Bourne I didn't have more than $8,000 in the world, including my home, but while I had no financial interest in the company, I believed it was rich and its credit quite good for that amount. Bourne agreed to what I said but was persistent in wanting my endorsement. Thinking the affair was all right and wanting to help a client who, I hoped, was going to bring me considerable business, I finally agreed to endorse the note. It was for $8,000 payable in four months. When the paper fell due the company had failed. On hearing this news I felt sick. I waited and waited, wondering what to do and delaying the ordeal of telling my wife about it. To hold an endorser under the Ohio law, of course, a note has to be duly protested by a notary, and three days are allowed for this action. The first day passed and no protest came; the second day likewise passed and still no protest; the third day dragged its wretched length along without any action, and that night I told my wife what had happened.
"She wanted me to explain the matter in all its aspects., which I did. I told her that as the third day had now gone by I was legally free and they could not hold me to any obligation as endorser.
"'That is a strange law,' she said. 'Did you owe this money yesterday?'
"'Yes,' I replied.
"'And you owed it to-day?'
"'Well, I don't see, then, why you don't owe it to-morrow. You agreed to pay the bank if the theater company didn't and I don't understand how any protest from a notary alters that fact.' There wasn't any lack of clearness here.
"The next day Bourne came up to my office, bringing with him the certificate and the duly protested note.
"'It's mighty hard on you, Myron, and I am awfully sorry,' he said. 'You can waive protest if you want to and save the expense. I suppose you had better do that, don't you think so?'
"But this note was due yesterday and you failed to protest it,' I replied. 'What has made you change your mind, why do you bring it up here now?'
"Bourne ostentatiously got up and looked at a calendar hanging on my wall. 'You must be right,' he said. 'I must have made a little slip. But I don't suppose that will make any difference, as your signature is there.'
"This rather irritated me. I thought it was evident that Bourne knew the time for protest had expired and instead of coming to me and saying so, acknowledging his mistake and asking me to accept service anyway, here he was, trying to hold me responsible after the time limit had expired. I suppose, too, that I was mad all through especially with myself, and I wanted someone to take it out on. So I took it out on Bourne. He then did the intelligent thing. He got up and said: 'Oh, well, of course the bank can take the loss; but I would not have loaned your clients this money without your endorsement.'
"'Hold on,' I replied, 'not so fast.' For disheartened though I was, my wife's words came back to me, and, consciously or unconsciously, I used them to finish my sentence. 'I suppose I am just as much obligated to pay to-day as I was yesterday,' I said, 'and I am just as willing. I have a house and lot, and that, with the rest I can scrape together, probably will amount to $8,000; but it will take time to realize on it. I will give you notes of $800 each payable every three months until the debt is wiped off; but if any one of them falls due and I can't pay, I expect you to renew it. If you will prepare the notes I will sign them.'
"Bourne was perfectly satisfied with this solution, for he knew I had him, and he probably did not expect so much after my first explosion. He immediately prepared the notes and I signed them.
"After cleaning the whole thing up, the excitement of making my resolution died out, and in the mental depression which followed I began to wonder whether, after all, most people would not consider me a fool for having signed those notes. I had gotten a start, I had a house nearly paid for, and now everything had to be begun over again. Then it flashed through my mind that there was still a matter I might attend to and I was keen to do anything rather than just sit there in a fit of despondency.
"It was about twelve o'clock when Bourne left. I knew there was always a meeting of the finance committee of the bank every day at noon. The men on it, I remember, were I H. McBride, M. A. Hanna, George Warmington, and J. F. Pankhurst. The thought came to me that at least I was entitled to the credit for what I had done, and I didn't know whether Bourne would tell his directors anything about what he called his 'little error,' and I wanted them to understand what had occurred. Cleveland was rather a small place in those days; everybody knew everybody else, and I did not want to give up all that I was sacrificing and have those men put me down as a fool to boot. So, without sending in my name or knocking at the door, I walked into the committee room. I knew Hanna slightly from seeing him sometimes at the club, and I knew the others even less. Bourne, of course, was there with the committee.
"I said abruptly: 'Mr. Bourne, did you tell these gentlemen what has taken place? Did you tell them that I signed those notes of my own free will?' He said there was merely a little slip in the protest.
"I replied: 'I was not obliged to pay and you know it. Technically, I was relieved from all responsibility, but having endorsed the paper I considered myself morally obligated and I agreed to pay up. I at least would like to get credit for what I did and not have myself appear in the eyes of this committee as an absolute simpleton.'
"I could see a glint in Hanna's eye as be looked at Bourne. I can see it to this day---a glance I never forgot. A few questions were asked, Bourne explained what had happened, the committee congratulated me in a kindly fashion on doing the right thing, and I went out.
"I don't know what was said, if anything, among those men after I left but I do know that from that day on, to my great amazement, business came to me from that bank and that group of men which was quite enough to enable me to meet the notes I had signed as each came due. The relations which were opened up with them gave me a new start in life, after the knockdown blow of having to pay that $8,000, and brought about the determining step in my financial career. The way it came about was this:
"A year or two after my set-to with Bourne, Hanna started a ship-building company. He wanted to take Luther Allen, who was secretary of the Society for Savings and a man of great ability, and put him at the head of this new company. The Society for Savings was the oldest financial institution and the biggest bank in Cleveland. S. L. Mather, the head of it, was seventy years old, and all of the directors were very conservative people. They were annoyed at the idea of losing Allen and they naturally asked Hanna: 'What are we going to do about a man to take his place?'
"Hanna's idea undoubtedly was that the Society for Savings was a slow-going affair with a lot of money to take care of and needing honesty more than any banking ability to look out for it. Anyway, if he wanted Luther Allen he had to propose some man to take his place. So, with his usual quick way of deciding things, he said to the board: 'I'll give you a man. He is young and he may not know anything about banking, but I pledge you one thing, he won't steal your money.' Then he told them what had happened at the Union bank and suggested that I be offered the place.
"I was in my little law office when the finance committee of the Society for Savings came in---Judge Cleveland, Samuel Andrews, and the others, all vastly important people in Cleveland. The judge said: 'We have come to ask you if you will accept the position of secretary of the Society for Savings.' I was honestly puzzled, and, as a way out, I said I was afraid there was some mistake and that they were looking for Colonel Herrick (a distant cousin of mine). 'No,' said the judge, 'you are the man we have in view.'
"Of course, I realized in a second what it would mean to me---the management of Cleveland's biggest bank, perhaps some day its president---a whole vision of future greatness rushing through my excited young head. But I kept calm enough to comply with what I considered the usual forms of such a situation. I told them I did not know what they had in mind; that they probably realized I had no experience in banking, but, I added, somewhat pompously,. I would 'take it under advisement.' (I knew that was the usual phrase on such occasions.)
"So they left; but before they reached the end of the hall, I jumped up and ran after them and asked them to come back. When they had returned to my office I said: 'I don't know why you want me but I know I am ready to accept. Perhaps if I do it now it will make it harder for you to change your minds later.' The bargain was made then and there and I became secretary and treasurer of the Society for Savings, of which later on I was made president.
"My connection with that great and, I believe, beneficent financial institution has been one of the profound satisfactions of my life, and the door by which I entered it has always seemed to me to have been opened by a sort of romance. It began with my signing those notes for $8,000, my anger at being, as I thought, taken in by Bourne, my irruption into the board meeting and the quiet amusement of Hanna at the explanations that were made. Of course there was something deeper than all that in the whole experience. It taught me in the most practical way possible that when a man isn't any better than the law makes him, it isn't enough, not enough for a real, first-rate man. The law can't make a man's code of honor, and the person to bring that home to me in all its force was my wife. Her words that night at supper, when disaster threatened us both, made a profound impression upon me and became a fixed principle of my life.
"The erecting of the building in which to lodge the bank, about 1894,, when the World's Fair was being held at Chicago, was an adventure in which I had to sink or swim. We had to have new quarters, and I looked around quietly to see what was the best sort of building to erect. At that time Chicago was beginning the first experiences in the great steel structures we now see everywhere. I became convinced that they were the business buildings of the future and I wanted our bank to put a million dollars into one for our own use and as an investment. As our capital was only eleven millions, some of our trustees believed it unmitigated rashness, and several resigned---among others a cousin of mine, who said he thought it enough to have one Herrick in such a fool enterprise. But that building turned out the best investment the bank ever made."
A few years later Mr. Herrick's fellow bankers set the seal of their approval upon his reputation for exalted probity and financial ability by electing him president of the American Bankers' Association for the term of 1901-1902.
ROCKEFELLER OFFERS HIM A POSITION
"THERE was another incident which showed my wife's courageous fashion of looking at things, and, incidentally, her confidence that I could make my own way. John D. Rockefeller was then organizing in Cleveland the business which was destined to grow to unheard-of proportions. He was already a great figure in our town, but we little thought either that his wealth could ever attain such size or that he would live to have the satisfaction during whole decades of seeing it employed for such noble purposes. In a way he was almost as picturesque at that time as he is now, but the audience was smaller. He was criticized, admired, feared, and sought after, as such men are.
"I was once approached with a proposition to enter his organization, in the legal department, and while the place was of course not an important one, I realized that any man who was taken in with him would inevitably make his fortune sooner or later. In what concerns most of those who got in at that time, it turned out to be sooner instead of later.
"I went home feeling rather enthusiastic, and my first words to my wife were, 'Well, Kitty, I think our troubles are over; we might almost say our fortune is made.' Then I told her what had been offered. She asked some questions and we went over the whole matter. Then she said, 'I wouldn't take it, if I were you. I suppose it would mean wealth in a fairly short time; everybody in that place makes money, and I am not indifferent to that side of the question. But there are other things, too, that count. You could not be your own master; you would always have to do what you were told, and I don't think it is worth that sacrifice. We can very well get along as we are for a while and you will not have to give up your independence.'
"I confess I was a little taken aback, for I had expected to be met with more enthusiasm. But I recognized the force of what she said and the outcome was that I declined.
"I have often looked back and wondered what would have happened had my wife seen this offer differently. I probably would have accepted, I might have made a fortune, but I suppose I would have been barred from doing the other things which have brought me such satisfaction. I can't be certain about it, but that is the way it looks, and I have never had any regrets."
AN ATTEMPT ON MR. HERRICK'S LIFE
JUST after William McKinley's reelection as governor of Ohio, he wrote two letters to "Colonel Herrick," as he usually called him, which bring out the affectionate relations which existed between the two men and also revive an incident in which Mr. Herrick displayed that remarkable courage which never failed him in the numerous trials of his life. The first, dated November 10, 1893, is as follows:
MY DEAR COLONEL:
I was greatly relieved to receive your telegram announcing you were not hurt. One of the newspaper offices here telephoned me of the assault and I wired you at once. You can imagine my suspense until your assuring dispatch came. How fortunate you were! I hope you will recover from the shock, . . . which must have been terrible. Take the best care of yourself, my dear friend, and let Mrs. Herrick have exclusive charge of you until you are all right again. I have intended to write you for several days but the truth was, I was "reacting" from the strain of my long campaign and haven't had the courage to take up my pen until now. I received your letter and telegram of congratulation, which I greatly appreciate, and also Mrs. Herrick's nice letter to Mrs. McKinley. I do hope your wife is strong and well and will not be alarmed at your experience to-day. God bless and keep you both. Mrs. McKinley joins me in love to both and also to Parmely.
My mail is simply awful and from everywhere. I wish you could see it---it would delight your heart. I do not feel exultant, but so grateful to my friends and the people of our Great State.
With best wishes,
Wm. McKINLEY JR.
P.S. If I can do you any good will come up.
Another letter written the next day is on the same subject.
MY DEAR FRIEND HERRICK:
First I want to congratulate you on your escape from serious injury at the hands of the murderous scoundrel who shot at you the other day. I was pained beyond expression on hearing the news of the assault, and I rejoice at hearing that you have sustained no injury beyond a nervous shock. You displayed splendid courage, and I am proud of you not only as my personal friend but as a member of my military staff.
The murderous assault which McKinley refers to is described at length in the Cleveland newspapers of November 11, 1893. It appears that while Mr. Herrick was sitting in his office at the Society for Savings, he looked up to find in front of him a shabbily dressed, unkempt man who had come in quietly and shut the door behind him.
"What can I do for you?" asked Mr. Herrick.
"I have here a loaded revolver," said the man, presenting his weapon to Herrick's face, "and in this hand I have enough dynamite to blow up both of us. I want $50,000, and I want you to take me through the bank to the vault, being careful not to arouse the suspicion of any employee when you hand me the money. If you make the slightest false move, I will blow you to pieces."
Mr. Herrick looked him over coolly, engaged him further in conversation, and then suddenly delivered a smashing blow on his face and they rolled together over the floor, upsetting the furniture. In the mix-up the robber fired his pistol, but the bullet only bored through Mr. Herrick's clothing and splintered the wainscoting. The banker then managed to get at the general-alarm button and the bandit rushed for the window, jumped out, and never was caught.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer adds:
"Asked afterwards what he thought of while he was struggling with the man on the floor, Colonel Herrick said: 'I made up my mind right there that I would not give him the money.' And he didn't. Although somewhat shaken by his experience, Colonel Herrick continued to do his accustomed routine work until persuaded by President Mather to go to his home and rest up for the remainder of the day. He was at his office the next morning as usual, none the worse for his battle of the noon before."
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