There was no re-lighting. The gas had failed, prophetic of the going out of that brilliant career, and its slow ending in the glimmer of a single candle.
FINANCE AND DESERTION.
The Pittsburg Saturday Visiter began life with two subscribers, and in the second year reached six thousand, but was always a heavy drain on my income. My domestic duties made it impossible I could give any attention to the business department, and I was glad, at the close of the first year, to transfer a half interest to Mr. Riddle, who became equal partner and co-editor. At the end of the second year he proposed to buy my interest, unite the Visiter with his weekly, and pay me a salary for editing a page.
Had the proposal been made directly to me, I should have accepted at once, but it was made through my brother-in-law, William Swisshelm, who had been clerk and business manager of the Visiter for eighteen months. He advised me not to accept; said the paper was netting fifteen hundred a year, and that if I would retain my interest he would purchase Mr. Riddle’s, get type, have all the work done in a separate establishment, and make it a decided success.
I was afraid of this arrangement, but was anxious to keep up the paper as a separate publication, and agreed on condition that he would assume the entire financial responsibility, keep my interest at Mr. Riddle’s valuation, and leave me no further risk than my services. If there were profits, we would share them; if none, I got no pay, as usual, but sunk no money. To make the changes he desired, I loaned him money until I had most of my small estate invested, and supposed the paper was prospering until suddenly informed that the sheriff was about to sell it. We transferred it to Mr. Riddle, with my services two years in advance, to pay the debts, and I wrote for the New York Tribune, at five dollars a column, to meet my personal expenses, as my income from my property was gone.
I forget at what time the Visiter was united to the weekly Journal; but very soon after the presidential campaign of ’52, I learned that my late partner had endorsed several notes which were not likely to be paid by the persons who gave them, and that one of these was already entered as a lien against his interest in the family estate. We had had no settlement, so I went to my lawyer, William M. Shinn, who said that the entire interest of my debtor in his father’s will was worth less than my claim since his death, without heirs, before his mother transferred his share to the other heirs. He advised me, if possible, to get a deed of that share as the only security for which I could hope. I directed him to prepare it, went immediately to the office, saw my late partner, and told him that if he did not execute that deed, I would sue him for a settlement before I left the city. He did, and I took it home early in the afternoon. In March ’57, I resigned my place on the Family Journal and Visiter, feeling that my public work was over, and that no life save one of absolute solitude was possible for me.