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THE OMAHA SUNDAY BEE: DECEMBER 13. 1003.
By Edwin Wildman.
WILLIAM XKLSON CKOMWEL!. I n mod
est New York lawyer with a perulinr genius
for statistics, or, to lie more accurate, figure.
A set of complicated accounta are as choice
an intellect'unl relish to V- Cromwell ai a
tewspaper puszie is to a bright eyed boy.
Mr. Cromwell la also a diplomatist in other words,
a peacemaker. He believes In compromise, and of
uch a convincing personality la he that the drawn
word la sheathed under his suave and magnetic per
onality and foes become at least Indulgent of each
In the business world he seems an anachronism. If
lie were to stroll down the Rlalto the lesser twlnkleta
of the great white way might mistake him for Kyrle
Bellew; If be were to step upon the stage and emit a
Mark Twain drawl the Impersonation would need no
make-up; If by magic Chief Justice Fuller's robea
were to be placed on his shoulders It would be a pusale
to distinguish him from the great Jurist.
Why all this about Mr. Cromwell? Because he is
Interesting he Is more than Interesting, he Is one of
the most absorbing types of successful Americans
who have battled up that ragged road to achievement
Mr. Cromwell as a study In sheer brain force and eon
Istency of purpose Is worth observing at close range.
. Bo shy and sensitive a man la this Panamanian
strategist that the paragraphed have found him an
elusive personality. lie sidesteps publicity. He
etodgea the white light because he ltkea silence and
qntet be revels In the companionship of his books
and his art finds. Ills office Is a study and his
houses are palaces. I use the word palaces in a dec
orative sense, for they are art palaces, exquisite
examples of poetic taste and an artist's dream of
This man, who has got "more money than he knows
what to do with," did not begin life at the plough, nor
the practice of law on a barrel and cracker box. He
had some good things to start on. One was an educa-i
tlon and the other was a man to give him a chance.
A clerkship on a hall bedroom salary Is not a very In
spiring acquisition, but that was all Mr. Cromwell
. bad thirty years ago. He didn't take a vacation for
t'en years, and his trip to and from the office was as
regular as the town clock. At the end of that appren
' tlceshlp he made good. The head of the firm woke
tip one morning and found that the young man was
.indispensable. So he did the logical thing and, took
him Into partnership.
That partnership still exists, and William Nelson
Cromwell's name Is second on the door, though his
partner has been dead these many years. That part
ner's portrait Is the first thing you see In the office, and
his spirit Is a living, vital thing that every one of the
thirty clerks thereabouts Is made to realize. It has
lodged In the heart of Mr. Cromwell, and his dearest
desire is to emulate the precepts that governed the of
fice when the partner placed him on the box seat.
That makes Mr. Cromwell a sentimentalist, you say.
Apropos of the thought, I heard a story. It was
told about the time that the isthmian canal project
was the bone of contention at Washington. A cer-
tain Senator who was deeply concerned In that fight
came over to New York to see the man who held in
his palm the disposition of the Panama route prop
erty, valued at 140,000,000. The Senator's business
was nrgent He called up Mr. Cromwell's house on
the telephone and requested an Immediate interview.
He was told that It be would wait an hour he might
come. He protested and stormed In vain. Thea he
sat down in the corridors of the Waldorf and twirled
bis fingers. After a time he arose and hurried up the
avenue. . The hour had not expired when he was
ringing the bell at Mr. Cromwell's residence. The
last strains of a melody greeted him as the door
opened. Mr. Cromwell shoved In the stops and slid
down from the bench and greeted his guest
The hour was Mr. Cromwell's daily recreation at
So perhaps he Is a poet; at any rate he is a ma
gician, and they are first cousins.
But poets are usually dreamers. Well, Mr. Crom
well Is a dreamer, but his dreams are not Idle dreams,
nis dreums take him Into literature, and he lives for
a month In the days of the Roman Empire, or, If his
fancy dictates, In Merrle England with Thackeray,
or be becomes absorbed In the Raid of the Tartars
and the overthrow of ancleut Russia. Books are his
dreamland, ana his library has a plenty. Mr. Crom
well loves his domicile. It Is a home, a playhouse and
a workshop, for work Is his metier.
In his Torty-nlnth street residence are two offices,
. a music room and a library. A passerby at two or
three o'clock In the morning might hear the click of
a 'typewriter Issuing from a basement window. He
would hardly suspect NHjat within was a man who
kept the late vigil from sheer love of the pursuit of
v At the time of the reorganisation of the Northern
raclflc, of which Mr. Cromwell was counsel, he
Worked literally day and night over a period of years.
A trusted secretary accompanied him to his house
night after night and worked at his elbow. Once,
after a three days and two nights' session, Mr. Crom
well said: "To-night you may sleep." It was then
twelve o'clock of the third day. The weary secretary
raised his eyes gratefully. "But," the legal giant
added, "I will call you at seven o'clock." And at
even he did.
It Is a bablt of his to take bis real brain work
borne with bliu.
Amoug his pictures, his statuary and bis books he
finds the quiet and inspiration necessary to untangle
' the complicated affairs of some great corporation
whose interest require the calmest consideration.
But Mr. Cromwell Is not a drudge who bends over the
1 ' midnight oil and sticks to, his lathe all day. Much as
be loves his work, he loves the beautiful, and his en-
f vrronuients reflect his taste.
"x Id bis home are the softest velour carpets of old
rose and cream. There Is a vestibule of marble, the
walls of which are bung with choice canvases of the
old masters, of Bouguereau. Vlbert. and others; while
the hall is filled with beautiful statuary and bronzes.
A music hall opens into a dining room, rich with deep
reds, Gobelin blues, and massive with carved ouk. In
thU blue and gold ball Mr. Cromwell finds his diver
ton, his bobby and bis delight, for the organ seat Is
hU favorite place, and bis Imagination takes flight as
his strong Angers fly over the keys.
WILLIAM NELSON CROMWELL
The M an Behind the Panama Canal
hmi pymm,r nmtmtm i mm r 1
.V... .. . .u ' t 1..J)
Tor a nnmler of years I was the most hntcd man
in the I'rlteil Stiites." s:iid t.hi lawyer sinlllnsly, ''lit
then the American ieolt hrtil nvor beard of tlie Van-
ma route, and those who bud ouly looked upon It as
a huge failure.
"It was my task to convince them otlirrwlse. soil
the caual, secure tlie money and deliver the goods."
This he did after a battle royal that r.ui tliroin:li
the courts of America and Friince and underwent the
fire of a Congressional investigation and a factional
"My only ho;e Is," said Mr. Cromwell, In this con
nection. "tUHt I shall be Instrumental in re-establishing
a treaty between Colombia and rumumi. and tlmt
Is about to tike place. A protocol has already been
His feat In selling and delivering the old Panama
Canal Company and Its property to the I'nitod States
was a coup that reversed the policy of the government
and made an Isthmian canal feasible. Ills nctivltles
as fiscal agent of the government of Panama have
contributed to mnke hlni a man to be reckoned with
In the politlco-tlnaiieln! world, and have thrown him
Into close relation with President Roosevelt and Sec
retary Taft, the result of which Iims been his selection
as the "legal adviser" of the Republican National
Committee, a relation Involving the scrutiny of the
-source of all "dough" that flows Into the coffers of
the campaign strong Ikx.
But Mr. Cromwell has a genius for work and wel
comes any responsibility tlmt presages big results.
There has been hardly a financial tingle In the lust
tweutv years In which be has not been tlie court of
last appeal. He has been the power behind the ttiror.o
of many business concerns that have fallen Into the
Jungle of bnd management.
The public began to first hear of Mr. Cromwell
about eighteen years ago. when New York went
through a money panic ngt dissimilar to that recently
experienced, tine of the best known Wall street
firms failed for $10,000.(MK. Mr. Cromwell was at
that time a Junior partner of Mr. Sullivan, and not
long out of the Columbia Law School. In six weeks
he straightened out the tangled affairs of this firm
Docker. Howell & Co. and put them on their feet.
The fee the court awarded him for his work
$400,000 was perhaps the largest ever awarded to
any lawyer up to that time, nltliongh Mr. Cromwell
declined it and was paid the sum of $;i.0OU. which
he asked. Even this amount was so largo and the
act of the young lawyer so unusual that his fame
spread throughout tlie country.
The next financial battle that he won was In un
ravelling and adjusting tho complex affairs of that
Napoleon of finance, Henry I. Ives, who came to
grief in one of the worst failures in the history of
Wall street. Mr. Cromwell salvaged tlie Ives wreck
and whipped it into tangible hape so that badness
was resumed by the tirm. The receivership of a
$13,00d,000 failure was his next achievement, and
with the ease of a woman doing fancy work he un
wound the tangled affairs of Price, MeCormlck c Co.
It was Mr. Cromwell who was counsel for the Re
organization Committee of tho Northern Securities
Company, and over a period of years he literally
worked day and uight in placing that bulky combina
tion of affiliated railroad interests on its feet and
eventually saving It from disaster.
For n long time Mr. Cromwell was the sole con
trolling and dominating Influence In Northern Pacltlc
affairs. He reorganized and put on its feet he Prod
uce Exchange Trust Company; he settled the affairs
of the Metropolitan Eire Engine Company, and suc
ceeded In untangling the terrible niuddlo of- the
American Ship Building Company and made a Her
culean effort to reconcile the Hyde and Alexander
factions in the Equitable Life Assimunv Society.
"Every one of these transactions was n battle,"
said Mr. Cromwell, reflectively, In contemplating
some of the engagements of the past. "A battle,
sometimes, that seemed as if we would never be able
to bring to a successful issue; a battle In which
there was never a moment to be lost, and during the
fighting of which I never permitted anything to inter
fere for a moment"
"Work" Is the golden text of Mr. Cromwell's ser
mon of life. But work Is a game with him a game
to win, quickly, effectively and absolutely. He is a
diplomat, a mediator, who tights bin battles behind
the scenes and counsels adjustment where differ
ences seem Irrevocable. He Is seldom heard o" in
court, never associated with sensational trials, nnd
yet be has quietly settled some of the most colossal
financial tangles, that even "shocked" Wall street.
This Is the man, as I saw hint, who has been per
sona grata at the White House for two administra
tions, nnd who. If Mr. Taft is elected, will bo close In
the counsels, of a third; the man who Is perhaps the
most powerful figure In the meeting places of Ameri
can politico-finance and the most skilled arbitrator
of men nnd affairs in the legal world, where hundreds
of millions are on the table.
WILLIAM NELSON CROMWELL,
There are two "offices" In this miniature palace,
one on the ground floor, a room that might be the
cabinet of a French Minister, and one on the second
floor, a library of solid mahogany, a cool, beautiful,
restful room, hung with fine paintings and set with
choice pieces of statuary.
In these two rooms are books and papers Innu
merable. At the side of each desk is a typewriter.
These state offices are but In keeping with the great
library-ilke suite at No. 49 Wall street, where the
offices of Sullivan & Cromwell occupy the better part
of a floor. Then again at Seabrlght on the Shrews
bury, where Mr. Cromwell baa a sumptuous summer
homo, beautiful gardens and spacious grounds, is still
another "office," into which he plunges when his din
ner and his diversion at tho organ are over, for at
Seabrlght there is a duplicate of tho Forty-ninth
street music room.
The little giant of Wall street was not born with a
liver spoon in bis mouth, nor bad he "that enviable
opportunity of having the experience of being abso
lutely dependent upon myself." He was born la New
Jersey and weut westward with his father and
mother to l"eorla, 111. His father, Colonel John N.
Cromwell, Joined the Forty-seventh Illinois volun
teers and served through the war. He died, how
ever, and Mr. Cromwell returned to the East with his
mother and settled In Brooklyn. As a youth be was
very delicate and for years was in the care of private
It was bis good fortune to be oue of the clerks In the
office of Algernon Sullivan, prince of lawyers and gen
tleman of the old school, and to that remarkable man,
whose statue Is In Central Park, Mr. Oromwell owes
bis rapid development, as well as his early awakening
for the love of the artistic in life and bis ambition to
achieve the best results In his profession. In ten years
be was Mr. Sullivan's Junior partner and at bis death
succeeded hini. .
This nervous little man of iron has worked on an
average of sixteen hours of the twenty-four since be
entered the law firm of Mr. Sullivan, thirty years ago.
And it was not until this very month that In all those
years he has actually taken a vacation in which work
was absolutely left behlud.
It is a record to contemplate, and one that the am
bitious young man of to-day might study with profit
I asked him one beautiful summer day, sitting In
bis library in bis Forty-ninth street home, to tell me
about himself, lie proved a most facile conversa
tionalist about everything but himself. He bubbled
over with philosophy, imagery and metaphor, and was
sociable, optimistic and glowing with Interest in life,
art and nature. He was even gentle and deferential
to my opinions.
"Life Is a wheel and opportunity comes to every
man," be Bald. "If a man has the courage and health
to grasp bis chance and the ability and hard work to
persist in bis chosen line he will succeed, and succeed
materially, for after all there is no real success that
does not bring its material reward. A young man
should choose bis trade or profession in life, make up
bis mind thoroughly that be knows what bU Inclina
tions and ambitions are, then be should work syste
matically, unremittingly, without hindrance or let up,
and be will succeed.
"He should look upon bis work as his first duty to
himself, and be should attend to his duty unflinch
ingly. His mind should be saturated with bis work
and bis ambition to succeed should be uppermost
early and late. He should find out those things that
impede his progress or weaken his energies and effi
ciencies and sacrifice them. No man ever made a
great success in life who says: 'I can leave my office
at lx o'clock and forget my work.'
"A successful man never forgets his work, ne
gets up In the morning with It, he works, all day with
it, he takes It home with him, ho lives with It. Of
course we should all have our diversions. Oue man
may bunt another fish, &c; but a diversion, what
ever it is, should be a rest and refreshment, not a
passion or a pastime to 'which work is secondary.
A diversion may be Intellectual as well as physical.
A man may find rest refreshment, exhilaration in
taking up the study of a foreign tongue or in a course
of reading that will take him into new countries and
scenes. Diversion must be according to a man's in
clinations, and to be helpful must rest and inspire the
"I do not smoke I bave never smoked a cigar In
my life. I seldom drink these thing interfere with
men's successes and sap their vitality. Vitality is the
first essential to success, and vitality is not energy,
but a spark that is the essence of perfect health and
a keen mind. No man can succeed conspicuously
without it and the only way to get and preserve vi
tality la to go to bed reasonably early and get up
early and work; work and sleep will keep any mau
in good condition if he is interested In his work and
has chosen his profession right."
Mr. Cromwell is an optimist; not the kind of un
optimist who sits down in a comfortable chair and
philosophizes cheerfully upon life. Ills Is optimism
born of success wrung out of hard effort, continuous
application, and victories won by fearful battles
against terrific obstacles.
This keen wilted, virile, ruddy man of fifty, who
baa. played such a prominent part in the affairs of
many vast business interests in the last twenty years,
has ripe views upon the verities of life. His outlook
is as fresh as a youth's and his enthusiasm amounts
to hero worship, but whether philosophically toying
with a bon mot or enjoying a vigorous draught from
Intellectual Intercourse, passing upon men of affairs,
men of yesterdays, topics that concern the last word
in current thought, or enjoying the nilnutefit details
of a Vlbert that adorns the walls of his dining room,
Mr. Cromwell is never far away mentally or cor
porally from the click of the typewriter and the rlug
of the 'phone.
At five A. M. he Is up and ready for his bath and a
walk. At half-past six he breakfusta, and at eight he
Is ready to commence the day's work, either at his
Wall street office, at his house, or wherever he may
be. For an hour he dictates to his clerks, outlines, a
brief, and reads such of his correspondence as is put
before him. From half-past nine to four o'clock be
receives his clients and attends meetings of tlie
numerous railroad, commercial and banking boards
of which he Is a member. Evening tide finds, him at
home where work Is ever at his elbow.
It was Mr. Cromwell who struck the death knell to
the old "trust" Idea and la Its place conceived the cor
"I saw splendid business entangled in the mesb of
the law and great Inheritances despoiled because of
no legal way to band accumulated business , from
father to son or individual to Individual without great
expense and much trouble," he said, "so I sought to
formulate the Incorporated Idea for companies to bet
ter preserve them and protect their Interests."
As a matter of record Mr. Cromwell organized the
first corporate body under the New Jersey laws. It
was the American Cotton Oil Company, an Immense
organization of which be is still counsel. Next be or
ganized the $80,000,000 National Tube Company, but
though the organizer and attorney of twenty compa
nies, it was his association with the Panama Canal
that brought bis name to the fore.
PUBLIC LETTER WRITERS IN LON
DON AND NEW YORK.
PUBLIC letter writers, the scribblers who sell their
skill to the illiterate, are still in demand in Lon
don. In New York tho industry Is unknown. A
few weeks ago a member of this ancient profession
attempted to transfer his business from England to
America, uud thereby gained some interesting obser
vations in the differences of the two people, although
he failed to gain anything more substantial. The
writer, an Englishman, had developed a lucrative
business by "writing letters applying for sltn.itlons for
a nominal fee. He advertised extensively in the
papers and his clients flocked to hlui.
Ills plan was original, and, in London at least,
seemed to supply a long felt want. His clients would
bring to him lie advertisements for help gleaned
from the daily papers and have him write a formal
application stating their qualifications. There is, of'
course, a large army of people In nil great cities con
stantly following such advertisements. In London, at
least, the field seemed unlimited. His fee was a shilling
for a letter, and the business paid. In time, however,
he tired of working for so small a fee and Imagining,
as have so many before hlin, that for the same work
he would be much better paid In New York, ho closed
out his business and came to America.
The advertisements which had brought such sue
cess in Loudon were repeated In the New York papers.
An office was obtained In the busiest section of the
city and the letter writer prepared for a rush of busi
ness. It did not come. The advertisements were
repeated and enlarged, but with tho sumo result. At
the end of three weeks there hud been Just six callers
at the office in answer to tho advertisements, and
these were evidently attraetiMl by curiosity. Not a
single pmiijy was taken in The London letter writer
Is alHJUt to return to Euglaud to recover, if possible,
bis lost trade.
His experience thr ws nn unexpected light upon
some interesting phases of American and English
education and character.
"I am not sure Just how to account for it all," said
the Englishman. "My clients in loudon were not as
a rule iliterate; in many eases they were far from
being so. It was not that they lacked pen, paper and
stamps, for tney paid ir.e liberally for the letters.
And I am not prepared to admit that the same class
in America are better educated. But the facts are
startling. Thore must be a much greater difference
between the two peoples thnn is generally Imagined."
To an American, however, the solution is obvious.
Your New York man, or any American for that mat
ter, will scan the advertisements, make hi own selec
tion and write an application on his own judgment.
He resents lue offer of the letter writer without
counting the cost, and would no more borrow another
man's pen to apply for work than he would borrow
BOER SOLDIER GETS FORTUNE
Am Expatriated Patriot of taa Iaft
HepublU Rewards for 1IU
Sacking In th Unites states what ha lost
in South Africa. Charles John Robm Tay
lor of 8t. Louis has received word from his
old home that a fori una awaits hlra thi-re.
Taylor sacrificed all his poejkiuna in th
Boer war, fought tor the preservation of
the Dutch republic!, was one of the many
prisoners captured In that struggle and
served a term a.t 8t. Helena. A tew days
SO the St. Louts Kepublio received a let
ter from Herbert Morrell. a soldier' of for
tune of Philadelphia, In which ha Inquired
as to the .whereabouts ot Taylor, sutlng
that the latter had fallen heir to 15.000.
The Republic found Taylor and acquainted
him with the good news, and' the former
Boer soldier now has hopes of ceasing his
life of toll and taking up a more pleasant
Taylor, although a bitter enemy of Eng
land while the war was in progress, Is
partly English himself. His father was an
Englishman and Taylor was bora in Lon
don. It was from his mother, a Hollander,
that be Inherited his Boer spirit. Taylor's
father was In the English government
service and was stationed In Egypt for
many years. It was In that country that
the Boer spent part of hts childhood. His
father died, at Cairo and the mother took
the soa to her native country HolUnd.,.
where he received 'his education. He at
tended the university at Utrecht, from
which he was graduated. Shortly after his
graduation he decided to seek his fortune
In South Africa, that country which the
sturdy Dutch had conquered from the na
tives by fores ot arms.
When the war broke out Taylor became
a lieutenant of the Hollander corps, mads
up of Pretoria men. This detachment saw
a good amount of fighting, but was finally
cut to pieces at the battle of Elandslaagte.
Taylor barely escaped with his life and
Joined the forces commanded by Ben VII
Joen, now a resident ot Texas. Under
Commandant Vlljoen he campaigned all
through Natal and participated in the bat
tles of Colenso and Sltskop, battles la
which the Boers defeated tlie English un
der General Buller. He saw the Irish bri
gade in action at Colenso. In this brigade
was Colonel J. Y. E. Bluke. a world-wide
adventurer, whose recollections have ap
peared for several weeks in the Republic's
Serving under various commanders and
taking part In the struggle as a guerilla,
Taylor saw as much fighting as the mout
enthusiastic: adventurer could wleh for. At
the battle of Paardeberg, after five days
of fighting, the Boers were surrounded by
Lord Roberts and his troops and taken
prisoners. Taylor, with his fellow captives,
was taken to Slmonstown, Cape Colony,
Where they were taken aboard a transport
lying la the harbor and then kept a, pris
oner under the hatches for two weeks. Al
together there were 1,000 prisoners below
decks, and Taylor (ays the sufferings of
the Boers were horrible. He shudders when
he recalls those two weeks in the English
At the termination of the two weeks'
durance vile Taylor and his companions
w re shipped to St. Helena, used by the
British during the Boer war as a prison.
Here on the Island, made famous as the
ocean-girded prison ot Napoleon, the Boers
were kept until the close ot the war. The
Boers while on St Helena were kept in
Deadwood Camp, located about a mile and
a half from the house occupied by Na
poleon during bis confinement on, the
When the war was over such of the Boer
prisoners as wished to return to South Af
rica were compelled to swear allegiance to
the king of England. Many ot the Boers
refused point blank to do this and came
to the United States and other countries.
Taylor, having some interests he wished to
attend to in the former republic, took the
oath and went back to Pretoria. He found
matters in such bad shaite and Boer pa
triots In such bad repute that he decided
to leave Africa and come to America.
Taylor Is a typical fighting man, broad of
shoulders and with a steady eye that be
tokens fearlessness. He says he would
gladly tackle another war, but admits that
the Boer cause la a helpless one.
"The Boers are scattered to the four
winds," says Taylor, "and of those who
lmvo left South Africa there are few who
would care to return. We made our on
big island against KnglanJ and it proved,
a Waterloo from which we will never re
cover." Kt. Louis Republic.
Un the Olbrr Foot.
On tl.e tasls of what you have told me,
maJiim," s.ild the luwy-r, "f ere, will be no
trouble whativor In your go tinij a divorce,
Jf you wish. Uo you care to sae hlin tor
"Why, of courxe," srM the fair ca!br,
Impationtly. "Aft. r I tet n y divorce hu'U
have to maintain lilnmi-.f p.ir it l.. I cer
tiili.lv thin t suppurk liiiu any loiiaer."
C'hicugo Till. line.