The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, 1855-1913

By Burton J. Hendrick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
AN APPRENTICESHIP IN JOURNALISM

I

THAT fate which seemingly lies in store for all American public men -- a brief period teaching school -- came to Page in the autumn of 1878. He was spending days of apparent idleness at his father's home when a telegram came from Louisville, offering him "the chair" of English Literature and Rhetoric at the Male High School. No prospect was more discouraging to Page than the existence of a pedagogue; but here was the chance to earn $1500 a year -- a vast sum in the South at that time. "It may open the way for me to -- well, to journalism," he wrote; and, a few days afterward, he was crossing the Alleghenies on the way to his new vantage ground. The nine months spent in directing the literary appreciations and moulding the English style of three hundred young Kentuckians represented, on the whole, a delightful experience. Page liked Louisville and Louisville liked Page. He found the people charming; he loved the city's museums and libraries, its Macauley's Theatre -- where he saw Modjeska, Mary Anderson, and other important stage figures of the day; and he spent such evenings as were unengaged studying Æschylus and Shakespeare. But the business of correcting schoolboy "compositions," leading his charges through the mazes of grammar, attending "faculty meetings" and the like could hardly appease his restless spirit. One winter of this routine quite sufficed, though all his life he had the friendliest feeling for this enterprising city.

At one time, indeed, he had visions of himself perma-

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