The Life of Whitelaw Reid - Vol. 1

The Life of Whitelaw Reid - Vol. 1

The Life of Whitelaw Reid - Vol. 1

The Life of Whitelaw Reid - Vol. 1

Excerpt

In 1889, when Whitelaw Reid was living in Paris, as minister to France, John Hay asked him why he didn't do what his predecessor, Benjamin Franklin, had done at Passy--write his memoirs. Twenty years later, during his service in London as ambassador to England, Henry Adams repeatedly asked him the same question, pressing it upon him as a duty. "No one else survives of our time," he said, "who has enough skill to tell his own story." Reid admitted that there occasionally came over him the desire to make memoranda for the work persistently demanded in his private circle and regularly, for years, proposed to him by publishers. "But," he said, "it is always so much easier, in such things, to put it off to a more convenient season." I frequently brought the subject up with him, in talk and in letters, and in 1908 he wrote to me from London: "It has kept coming up constantly in conversations with all sorts of people, English and American, until the idea has become a sort of obsession. I can't do it here; and the oftener the notion is presented, the less agreeable it seems--the kind of thing one feels he ought to do, but hates to begin, and so comes to hate thinking about. But it serves to remind me that when I am relieved from my present duties I can still find something to occupy myself with, if I have energy enough." His death in 1912, while he was still busy as ambassador, put an end to the hopes of the reminiscences so long pleaded for by his friends.

Those hopes had been excited by the light which his conversation often threw upon the stores of a peculiarly rich experience. Born in 1837, his life embraced some . . .

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