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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, September 10, 1899, Image 22

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85066387/1899-09-10/ed-1/seq-22/

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"T X T;TiQ,\(cnl<l believe that in ruch
I (\ I a place, as tha Alameda COUn
« * nifled name for \\\t slke or th«
man whose story 1 am going
mere are lives that read like a
novel, romances that put modern fla
■ o shame.
In this most pathetic and abject
•:' , :■, is a man. who, though 11 v
. . mong the flotsam and jetsam of
humanity, is yet apart from them all —
es much above and distinct from thorn
».i a class as a lone pine is abova the
and chaparral at Its-base.
A gent'eman by birth, education and
environment; he has known and had tha
very best life has to offer. He has not
merely tasted, but drained )if;:'3 most
royal pleasures; now ho drains tha
di ■ •-. The hero and applaudod favor
•■ the hour, the curtain now rings
'• :. on this sad scene, thia pathetio
ending of his life's dreams.
It is almost inrredible; more like a
tale out of the "Arabian Nights" than
anything else, but it is as true as
truth itself, for there arc- letters and
positive vouchers for his history.
I must confess that "pitiful but ur.sn
terestlnsr? wa3 m >' verdict on f.rst
looking around the institution. Like
this generality of us, I saw things as
they seemed, not as they were, until I
followed the advice of the chief in
charge! to chat with So-and-so, or get
old Somebody else's experiences if I
wanted an interesting hour or bo.
I had only to see and speak with this
man a very few moments to believe
his story. You can always tell "da
qu liity," a3 the old Southern negroes
call it, wherever you see it — even in a
county lniirmai j .
Many a Ran Francisco society man
•who considers himself par excellence
could take a lesson from this gentle
mun'B perfect courtesy and charm of
Thia manner and bearing if his, as
well as a very remarkable likeness to
the Prince of Wales, has given him
this title among his present nssociatos,
and by this name I like best to call
him, although' hi* real name In Walter
--'■ Consrreve.
Twenty years ago there wan no social
function in New York with the crerna
do la crerne that was complete without
this man.
German after german h« has led fur
Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt and Mrs. Bel
nont and oihcrs of eeclusiv* Gotham.
The fond society mamma was in h^r
■ eventh heaven when her "sweet
child. danced with this favorite of tho
Cay. Long Branch and Newport were
lost without him.
"Your fair sex," he Bald to m* with
a charming little bow and smile that
eornehbw mad» it seem worth while to
be of the female persuasion", "paid me
the flattering compliment of admiring
me. You will pardon my egotism;^ it
in merely by way of reminlscenca."
1 didn't wonder at it in the least.
Hla fascinating manner under full
I way of power must have been—well,
I rather wished I had been a girl twen
ty odd years ago— and he must have
been handsome, for lie In duo looking
According to his own statement he
Junew Long Branch and Newport so
ciety to its cor»— was part of the core,
in fact.
"How many times we would run
€own to the Branch— it v/as a delight
foi miL Saratoga I cared little for, but
Ntwport V7cb charming— charming!
"What wu one to do?" he continued,
"with to many fair one» to admire and
k»r»— bow could one chooM? Th« rm
•alt—l am unmarried."
ii, but that ww a llttl* »orf*o«
s4t*a*Rtry, teiuMi Jar «&• tea*a&y et
this man's eventful life. I could see
behind the fiaaak and read the turmoil
of his soul.
"Boh.-nntansT Ah, yes! Bohemians,
truly, but " tha mile that ac-'
companled the pause did not make It
appear that being a Bohemian had
caused him any anguish.
Two of his companions' In Bohemia
■wore r.one other than the Jim Fisk
aisd Ned Stokea whose little affair was
the sensation of the hour and which is
p'niniy remembered to-day. The
"Prince of Wales" knowing them per
sonally rind Intimately; save me all the
little details of the affair.
"Jim Fisk had done a preat deal for
Etokes both in a commercial and social
way. They were very preat friends,
but he made his fatal mistake when he
presented Stokes to his 'chere amle" —
you understand — Josephine Mans
"Whnt a beautiful -inn F,he was.
probably the most beautiful woman of.
her day. Seeing her picture ir. the
paper the other day recalled it all tfo
"Well, Flrk became Jealous— very
much bo — and he had no muse to grow
less bo as time passed. Finally he had
his opportunity for revenge. He had
Stokes arrested suddenly one morning
when he could pet no half for some sup
posedly dishonest commercial transac
tion. Three of us, I do not give the
names, but they are leading lights in
commercial and sociaJ New York to
day, were poing Into DeJmonieo's that
morning, when we were accosted with
'Have you heard the news?' The
nephew of the preat restaurateur, by
the way was the one to ask us. 'No, 'we
said, "what is It?' 'Stokes Is in jail!'
'Pome of Flsk's doing* then,' we re
"Well, that morning w« all went
down to commiserate with poor Stokes
and when we reached there found Jo
seph Mansfield already there. She
was," ha paused and smiled, "Ah. well,
I will not say T* |T Wall, pardon
tee, Bitting on his lap.
"Stofcirq TO&&* the whist* then thsJt
h» trails CM «v«l w*ti» in%i% ar^ *&
he said it pulled a tin box that was on
the table toward him and drew out two
derringers; Miss Mansfield making a re
mark to thu effect that she would help
him. >. V
"He watched his opportunity and it
carr.o as all opportunities will.
"Stokes preceded Fisk to the hotel
and met him at the head of the stair*
as Fisk. was coming up. Fisk saw
him and knew. 'Don't shoot,' he called.
Btokes did not act on his advice but
shot with fatal accuracy. Josephine,
though, was a very pronounced
woman — very.
• "Fisk had a magnificent establish
ment, beautiful. I had th?— well, priv
ilege of saving the life of one of his
ladies at Long Branch. She went be
yond her depth and was not a suffi
ciently expert swimmer to battle with
th;» waves. Being near at the time and
something of a swimmer myself I was
able to j;lvc hrr assistance. Fisk a3
very grateful and said— but we will let
that pass."
It is simply Impossible to give an idea
of this man's charming manner In con
versation. The refined language, the
perfectly turned little French phrases
and expressions, and his gracious and
deferential air of courtesy showing tho
polished gentleman In every word and
And such he was and is. The eon of
one of the first families of England ha
was educated at Wesley, In Sheffield,
Yorkshire, and is a fellow of that col
It was about this time that his father,
an extensive steel manufacturer, con
ferred with Bessemer for the purpose of
giving theories for a new and perfected
method of manufacturing stee.. It is
an absolute but hitherto unknown fact
that the process which made Bessemer
famous was not his own idea, but
bought from another and this other the
father of the man now among the poor
dependents of a charity hospital.
"Bessemer, my father and ' several
noted men were dining together," to
tail it as the "Prince** gar* It. "Mr
te.tb.cr turned to P«a«tmer with the r»
--ma.:-}; that ha (B«»««mer) matt •*
w»S«k±3l, thai tuutt&cv wvntlA mmm for
add something: to the perfection of the
process. Bessemer paid men In general
and inventors in particular the flatter
ing compliment of Baying that no one
could surpass his knowledge of this
subject. To which my father replied
that he v.-ould like to continue the sub
ject with him later in the evening:.
."After dinner Bessemer and he had a
quiet conference; when my father, told
Bessemer there was one great fea
ture which he (Bessemer) had over
looked and which would be the perfect-
Ing point of the process, namely: an
increase of temperature by the means
which he (my father) only knew.
" 'And that?' said Bessemer.
" 'That requires a quid pro qua,' re
plied my fe.ther.
""And what might that quid pro quo
be?' asked Bessemer.
" 'That I shall be sole representative
of the- interest in the States.'
"To this Bessemer agreed as a fore
pone conclusion— and it was then my
father revealed- the process, which has
made steel what it has been and is to
The first steel rails for the New York
Central to the amount of a ••"«! lion < and
more dollars' worth were Bold to the
Vandorbilts by this man's father, and
such men as tha Rothschilds and the
first men of EngUed were his asso
ciates and friends.
With more money than probably wzl*
best fee him the "Prince* finished his
Aoll»fv «are«r and b«gan to "■•« Ufa* m
X 4 is tfett* t&s toas*6y fc^ea— <h& oca
ter of the plot around which the story
of his life is woven. It was the usual
"woman in the case"— a woman- of
highest social standing and /wealth,
young, beautiful but— t#e wife of an
other—a man of title and limitless
wealth, but tottering with age.
Time might have righted ail things
for this woman. and her lover and the
Jatter's story been totally different from
what It is, had the "Prince" not had a
brother Jealous .of the father's love for
this younger scion of the house.
An undercurrent of scandal doubtless
stirred London society while it held its
breath., and awaited developments—
but it was the brother who made it ap
parent to the father that his-, son -had
disgraced the family, that it was due :
their sacred honor to turn him from
house and home.
Four hours were given him to leave—
three of the four were spent with his
"chere amie" and plans successfully
made for a meeting in the States— but
not successfully carried out. The usual
discovery scene and seven days' ex
citement—then it all died out and the
hero of the tale — well, life has a varied
assortment of sides and some must see
them all. .:i<,'»
"With a generous Income from the
home estate, hia reward of merit for
keeping away, and an easy as well as
highly remunerative position : with one
of th« largest houses In the city, .he.be
gan to taste View York life.
Handsome, fascinating, polished, of
tola* blood and lerje Income and a little
ejks* el hlsto^r ** »*** the vfeda m
terestlng, he hadn't the slightest trou
ble in stepping into the innermost ••
elusion of New York's extra-extra.
Bohemian, society leader, good fel
low, there was nothing New "i'ork bud
to offer that he did not enjoy.
It was he who, when the real Princ*
of AVules visited this country, Intro
duced the New York society belles to
him at the preat bni: given In his honor
at the Academy of J 1 ■::ic. Or to give
it as Mr. Congreve told it In his grace
fully reminiscent way — and Mr. Con
greve lingers over his reminiscences
with an air of gentle tenderness and in
terested absorption that is very pleas
ant to watch:
"It was at this magnificent reception
and ball — for it. was truly magnificent,
the greatest beauty and wealth of New
York were there— chanced to be sur
rounded by a pay company of debu
tantes and fair ones— you will pardon
the seeming egotism — I said to them,
'Come, we will be introduced to nion
Prince.' So together we made our way
to where the Prince was standing. Pre
senting myself first to the Duke of
Newcastle, whom I knew and who was
traveling- with the Prince, really his
chaperon, the Prince being very young:
at the time— l said to him by way of
compliment, 'I wish to present to you
some of J '»e fair buds that grow on
American soil.'
. .". 'Ail.' th* . Duke said, including them
all In his admiring glance and bow,
IS'.ich honor la not for me: a greater }■
*a« ouch b*aaty asd l-r-relln««i — w will
fr«M3» tSMkai to tii* TVtao*.'
"And tuning to the Prince he said,
I£r. Congreve would prove to yo\i
wnat just Jiusa America, has to be the
moat envied of nations.'
"Ah, but they were as beautiful
women as one could find the world
over. No wonder the Prince Bald to me
us I conversed with him for a few mo
rdents later In the evening that ha had
never seen such charm and loveliness—
and I doubt if ho has seen greater
cince, -with all his breadth of travel,"
and the ghost of a smile Ultted across
Mr. Congreve'a face.
"Mack Kmmett, son of Judge Em.
m — you havo '. card of him? — and I
led a german of a hur-ired couple* at
the jcean House, Newport, when f«r
mans first came in vogue.
"Many a german I led for Mrs. Van
derbilt—but Baa \ aa a good friend—
always called me by mv Christian
name, Walter, and I cam* and went
freely at her homo.
"It was at Mrs. Vanderbilt's I first
met and admired Elizabeth Clark,
Libble Clark as she was more familiar
ly known. She was beautiful, beauti
ful! iianr and many gay times Ml*a
Clark and I had together—
balis, dinners. I became an intimate
at her home and — sweethearts. But
her mother grew ill and finally died.
Afterward I noticed her Badness, that
oecmed something more than her moth
er's death. Finally I questioned her
end asked that I might end her
troubles by »harlaf them— tha* we
should marry.
•''She threw herself into mr arms sob
—how well I remember that day—
every detail, the room, she so beautiful
and lovable— '.Walter,' she «aid, ' I
promised mother on her deathbed I
would marry Air. Bradford and I can
not break my proniae' — and she did
The ' pause that followed was un
broken—it was like standing by a grave
where words are useless, uncalled for,
for whatever Mr. CongTeve's life may
have had of wrong:, there at least tie
worshiped as at a shrine.
"Mr. Bradford? he was also a preat
friend of the family — old enough to be
her father. Bhe was unhappy, poor
girl. Either Mr. Bradford knew of her
promise to her mother and realized the
real cause of her unhappinesa, or he
comprehended nothing, for many times
after their marriage I was Libbie's es
cort to balls until once ha himself
asked me to escort his wife to a ger
znan. - * :'~.?:
--"' Bradford, 1 I said, 'I will lead the
rerman with your wife, will dance with
her, but don't you think you had better
take her yourself now?'
"He took the hint, I cared enough t«
—but that is en passant.
"Long Branch was gay, Newport de
lightful, but it was at Staten Island
that perhaps wo had the most truly
pleasant time. You have heard of Mm*.
Sonr.ta?, the famous singer — the
Countesse dl Rosi? She was a charming
friend. And sing! ah, but she could
ting! Bhe- had a cottage at Statea
Island. It was a colony of talent—
reski, the leader of grand opera, and
others had cottages there only a short
distance from Commodore Vtnderbllt a
place." m m .
The father and son often met and
were reconciled and the father 1 .- love
and advice often kept him from folly,
but &3 he himself worded it: "I needed
a mother's love— a mother's gentle in
fluence—if I had had that I might not
have been the Bohemian and wanderer
I have been."
But the end of gay New York came
b.* last.
"I was in the cricket field one day, to
gether with Lester Wallack. the actor—
you know the name,— Lord F— and oth
ers when a message came to me to
• come at once to England, my father
was dying. I bearded the first steamer
1 ami reached home Just in time. My
father was paralyzed, unable to speak,
i but he seemed struggling to say come
• thine to me— but he never did."
The father dead, the older son. In
power, the annuity cut off, California
beckoned invitingly as a. new and un
tried field— but little by little com
menced the beginning of the end. With
lons of hope, loss of ambition and self
, respect the curr*ln will ring; down scow
£a T as** till* ilttl* play be ovsr.

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