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Was She a Financial Genius of
Surpassing Shrewdness and Foresight Whose Life Furnishes an Example of Honesty, Thrifty Industry and Modest bu Really Intelligent Charity That Every Young Man or Woman Would Do Well to Emulate? By Leonard Keene Hirshberg, A. B? M. A., M. D. (Johns Hopkins). 1>f the career of the late Hetty Green, who died re cently, leaving an estate estimated to be worth considerably more than Jloo,0f'0.000, psychology has a most curious and Interesting problem. Was Mrs. Green, as her friends and admirers flrmlj Insist, a financial genius of surpassing shrewdness and foresight, whose life furnis-hes an example of honesty that every young man or woman would do well emulate? Or was she. as many who have studied her life and character believe, a pitiable monomaniac with a mind so wrecked by insane greed that she dodged her taxes, Ignored her duty to her fellow men. and sacrificed even her own happiness, in the most miserly way for money's sake? No man or woman of .?hom history makes record *ver displayed both in private life and in contact wtih the rest of the world a more bewildering complexity of contradictory eccentricities than Hetty Green. To solve the' puazle which she presents to science?to separate her good qualities from her bad ones and form a just estimate of her character?this can be done only by dissecting the mental processes which made her what she was and comparing them with the processes which are found in normal men and women, as well as with those which are known to produce the curious types we call ruisers. Like other brain-twisted people. Hetty Green scoffed at the idea that she was a miser and suc ceeded in convincing many of her friends that it was an injustice to call her one. Rut consider how Fhe lived?only for money's sake. She gave little to charity and had only a small circle of friends. Her life for many years was given up almost exclusively to dodging tax collectors and beggars and to fighting all sorts of legal proceedings. She never used her wealth for the development of gre-it industries as Rockefeller, Carnegie. James .1. Hill and other wealthy men have done. Whatever enjoyment she got out of life seems to have been through the accumulation of money and the anticipation that her soi might .some day be the richest man in the world. I-Jv*n death would not relieve her sordid career with a touch of human kind ness?her will reveals not. a single bequest to charity. Not only that, but she drew it in such a way as to leave it doubtful whether the State will be able to collect its just dues in the shape of inheritance taxes. hi reply to a Chicago minister who wrote her that, she would be lost to Heaven if she insisted on her money from a $50,000 mortgage on his church, she #ald: "You xiad better pray for my soul then, because I am going to foreclose within thirty days." and she did. At various tiniQS she is charged with having tried to fave doctors' bills by applying to free clinics and charitable hospitals for treatment for her-eif and family. The loss of her son's leg is said to have been due to such penuriousnens. In little matters the mine spirit was shown. Once, it is said, she quarrelled with her washerwoman because she would not reduce the amount of her bill. As a compromise .Mrs. Green ordered that in the future when the woman washed the petticoats s?ho wash only the lower half of them. This would reduce the labor and would enable her to reduce the bill' All these things are to psychology convincing proof of the existence in Mrs. (Jreen of the perverted type of mentality which we call the miser. One of the first misers of whom we have any knowledge was Dichaeus Dichaenus. a descendant of the Byzantine monarch?, but without any of their ex travagances. He carried his miserliness to such an extent that he had not the slightest regard for any human being who did not live and think in terms of avarice. Mrs. Green showed precisely the same symptoms when she repeatedly expressed her admira tion for the late Russell Sage, a man of almost if not quite as parsimonious habits as herself. "The true miser." savs Dr. Charles W. Ilurr. pro fessor of mental diseases at the University of Penn sylvania, "gets pleasure from sensations which give the normal person pain." How well Mrs. Green fitted this description is apparent from even a casual study of her life and habits. For many years her annual income was more than $5,000,000, and yet she rarely spent more than $3,0o0 or $4,000 a year to live. For a long time she occupied a three-dollar a week mm in a tenement house in Hoboken, and at. oil' .imes she occupied a modest fiat in the same < osting not more than $2f> a month. She scrimped and saved on her living expenses not. because she had any idea that Hy living on a more liberal scale she would imperil her fortune, but he cause like all misers her aesthetic sense was so per verted that she derived a peculiar pleasure not only from the saving of money, hut from doing all sorts of things which would be revolting to a normal person. Science has discovered that soon after a miser's brain becomes permanently warped signs of Ibis men tal weakness begin to show in his physical appearance, Hetty Green showed all these signs. Perhaps the most striking of the marks which miser liness sets upon a person's body arc to be found in the eyes. Nobody who saw Mrs. Green even once will ever forget those deep-set, narrow eyes of hers. When not furtively roaming from side to side they would fix themselves in a steady gaze that seemed perfectly well able to pierce flesh and hone or a building's walls. In Mrs. Green's face long before sho reached old age there appeared the peculiar seams and wrinkles which indicate the atrophy of the thyroid, adrenal and other ductless glands. In misers these glands shrink (c) A\MffllCAN PfcfSS A5SM, The Kusly Hfack Dress and Old-lashioncd Hon net Which Hetty (ireen Wore Even When She Had an Income of $5,000,000 a Year Arc, Psychology Declares, Con vincing Proof of the Perversion of Her Aesthetic Sense. This Is One of the Symp toms of the Mental Disease Which Pro duces Misers. and bccome atrophied in an early s.'age of tlio mentnl disease, and as a result the miner becomes incapable of normal love, joy, sympathy and other kindred feel ings. Although miserliness i? n rather infrequent mental disease, it belongs to a great class of diseases which are very common. Idtu and women who are able to solve the most difficult, arithmetical problems with lightning-like speed, but are imbecile or half-witted in other respects, belong to the same genoraldass as misers. But strong as the evidence is that Mrs. Green's brain was warped by disease, the case is not proved until wo have discovered what caused the. malady. As Professor Freud, the great Austrian scientist, and other scholars have shown, misers are made, not born. The mental weakness which they develop is either the re sult of some unfulfilled longing or some hidden pent-up memory. Hetty Green's obsession and delusion which burnt away all normal human feeling and put in its place the most sordid kind of miserliness can undoubtedly be ascribed to the strife following her father's death. It. was the long series of lawsuits which nearly robbed her of her heritage that embittered her aonl and warped and twisted her brain out of all normal shape. Psychology does not attempt to deny that Hetty Green possessed extraordinary ability and that her in tentions were undoubtedly of the best. What it does insist on is that wealth has become a monomania with her, and that as this mental disease progressed it made her view herself and her relations to the world in an abnormal light. Her great talents were wasted in the futile effort to make actualities of life conform to her insane viewpoint. Copyright, l#ir>, b Exterior of the $3-a-Wcek Room in Hoboken Where Mrs. Green Lived for Several Years. Psychology Says It Is Characteristic of Misers to Enjoy Living Under Conditions Which Would Be Hardships for Normal Persons Why Psychology BeHeves Hetty Green Was a Miser IS' her face she showed the same features found in the faces of all the misers of whom science has any record. Ilcr dress and all her habits of life displayed the perver sion of the aesthetic sense which is an important symptom of the mental disease that produces misers. Sufficient cause for the disease known as miserliness is found in the bitter legal battles which followed Mrs. Green's father's death and-which nearly robbed her of her heritage. She declared Russell Sage, a man almost as parsimonious as herself, an ideal type of citizen and business man. Long before she reached old age her faco revealed the pe culiar seams and wrinkles which indicate the atrophy of the thy roid, adrenal and other ductless glands. This condition of these glands is a symptom which shows itself in an early stage of the misers' mental disease and makes them incapable of normal love, joy, sympathy and other kindred feelings. She derived pleasure not only from the saving of money, but from dressing, living and behaving in a way that would give normal persons extreme pain. y the Star Company. Great Britain Rights Reserved. Or Was She a Pitiable Monomaniac So Dominated by Greed That She Dodged Her Taxes, Ignored Her Duty to Her Fellow Men and Even Sacrificed Her Own Happiness for Money's Sake? CONVINCING as the evidence that the late Mrs. Hetty Green waS a "brain-warped miser" may be to psychologists, it will have no weight to those who knew her intimately either in business or socially or through her numerous charities. To them she will ever remain one of die world's super-women, a brilliant financial genius of whom America may well be proud, and one whose life furnishes an inspiring example to future generations. In business efficiency, Mrs. Green's friends say, there are few caotains of industrv to be compared with her. Until almost the day letty Green in Her Comely Youth, Before Her Marriage and Before the Disease from Which Psychology Says SUe Suffered Had Begun Its Inroads on Her Brain. And Above, Character istic Features of a Miser?(A) High, Sloping Forehead; (B) Deep Set, Piercing Eyes; (C) Long Nose with Narrow Nos trils; (D)?Lips Firmly Com pressed. s of her death Bhe personally di rected the multifarious details of business enterprises which ex tended into every part of the coun try and yielded an annual profit in excess of $5,000,000. And she did it all in a little office not more than ten feet square, and with the assistance of only a clerk, a type writer girl and an office boy. Her ability as a manipulator of large investments is proverbial in the world's financial centres, where for years she operated with phe nomenal success. Her first appear ance in Wall Street was made soon i after her husband had lost a mill ion dollars there. It took her only a few months to convince the men who had ruined him that she was more than a match for them at their own game. Just how much Hetty Green's influence often had to do with keeping the country's financial in terests on a souud basis and pre venting their embarking on wild cat schemes will never be fully known. But it is a matter of his tory in Wall Street that on more^ than one occasion her insistence bii honest, conservative methods pre vented serious disaster. Once when she had $1,600,000 on deposits in one of Collis P. Hunt ington's banks, she became con vinced that he was using the bank's money in some investments that she regarded as ticklish. She pro tested to Mr. Huntington in vain. Then she went to the cashier of the bank and demanded every cent she had on deposit right away?and not in checks, but In cash. The news of Mrs. Green's ?with drawal from the Huntington bu.uk started the rumor that it was go ing to smash. As a matter of fact, it did have a narrow escape. After that Mr. Huntington and others like him were more ready to heed Mrs. Green's advice, and they found it of the soundest. Hetty Green lfad such a quiet, unostentatious way of accomplish ing her financial coups that she won the name of the "gum-shoe financier." She delighted in throw ing a veil of secrecy around every thing she did, both in business and' private life. This applied particu larly to her charities. If there was anything she de spised more than lawyers it was the wealthy man or woman who gave not for the mere joy of doing good, but for the sake of the pub licity they would get. Consequent ly she got the reputation of being close-tisted and uncharitable, when as a matter of fact she gave away during her lifetime many millions of dollars. i iik v,ounress Ueary was Mrs. Green's close friend, and througn her she made many liberal bene factions of which the world never Tieard. From the start of her business career Hetty Green showed an almost supernatural ability to keep track of the personal affairs of those who owed her money. Many a struggling householder or busi ness man whose mortgage she held will testify that when he was hard pressed to raise the interest Mrs. Green granted hiui a liberal ex tension of time or lowered the rate of payment. But this was never done except in the case of men who could convince her of their hon esty and willingness to work hard. She had no patience with the mail who lived beyond his means or the one who was always hunting for "easy money." In the same way she kept close watch of the personal affairs of the hundreds of tenants of the buildings whe owned. When ill health overtook 1 hem and they wero having difficulty in raising the money for their rent aud other expenses they would often be pleasantly sur prised to llnd pushed under their door some morning a receipted bill for ttye month's rent, or, perhaps, a good-sized check. All these littlo acts of charity were done, as Mrs. Green herself expressed it, "with out any fuss or feathers. The recipients often never mot face to face the grlin-visaged nut kind-hearted old woman to whom they owed tb?ir financial salvation. The economies which Hetty Green practised in her daily life were as badly misunderstood by the public as her charities. She scrimped nnd saved not for the mere joy of piling up more millions, but because she. tlrmly believed that by so doing she way setting the world a good example. Much of tho "wrong impression which Hetty Green gave to the world was due to the unshakable strength of her convictions. Once her keen analytical mind had formed an opinion on any subject nothing on earth could turn her from It. It was her firm conviction that the Government was making grent wealth pay more than its just share of tho State's expenses that caused her to be denounced as an unpa triotic and unscrupulous tax dodger. "The Bible," said Mrs. Green, a few years before her death, "has been my guide all my life. I lived by it. and tried to square my lifo by the Golden Rule. I dealt squarely and honestly by everybody. Dorothy Dix, the well-known newspaper writer, who knew Mrs. Green well, was one of iho many who believed that when she spoke those words s-he told the truth. "Hetty Green," says Dorothy Dix. "was a woman who often gave herself instead of giving money, whose stinginess was an eccentricity, a woman who never gave a beggar a penny, but who during a panic built long rows' of houses to give men work. She was a woman of such indomitable strength of mind and body that it sbemed Impossible that she could die, yet now she has gone where the richest are. tho poorest. And from my intimate knowledge of her I know she deserves to fare well on that far journey."