A Backward Glance at Eighty eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 234 pages of information about A Backward Glance at Eighty.

  “As He died to make men holy,
  Let us die to make men free.”


In glancing back, I can think of no more charming man than Timothy Rearden.  He had a most attractive personality, combining rare intelligence and kindly affection with humor and a modesty that left him almost shy.  He was scholarly and brilliant, especially in literature and languages.  His essays and studies in Greek attracted world-acknowledgment, but at home he was known chiefly as a genial, self-effacing lawyer, not ambitious for a large practice and oblivious of position, but happy in his friends and in delving deep into whatever topic in the world of letters engaged his interest.

He was born in Ohio in 1839 and graduated from the Cleveland High School and from Kenyon College.  He served in the Civil War and came to California in 1866.  He was a fellow-worker with Bret Harte in the Mint, and also on the Overland Monthly, contributing “Favoring Female Conventualism” to the first number.  He was a sound lawyer, but hid with his elders until 1872, when he opened his own office.  He was not a pusher, but his associates respected and loved him, so that when in 1883 the governor was called upon to appoint a judge, and, embarrassed by the number of candidates, he called upon the Bar Association to recommend someone, they took a vote and two-thirds of them named Rearden.  He served on the bench for eight years.

He was a favorite member of the Chit-Chat Club for many years and wrote many brilliant essays, a volume of which was printed in 1893.  The first two he gave were “Francis Petrarch” and “Burning Sappho.”  Among the most charming was “Ballads and Lyrics,” which was illustrated by the equally charming singing of representative selections by Mrs. Ida Norton, the only time in its history when the club was invaded by a woman.  Its outside repetition was clamored for, and as the Judge found a good excuse in his position and its requirements, he loaned the paper and I had the pleasure of substituting for him.

When I was a candidate for the legislature he issued a card that was a departure from political methods.  It was during the time when all the names were submitted on the ballot and voters crossed off those they did not want to win.  He sent his friends a neat card, as follows: 


     If you prefer any candidate on any other ticket, scratch Murdock.

     If you require any pledge other than that he will vote according to
     his honest convictions, scratch Murdock.

His friend, Ambrose Bierce, spoke of him as the most scholarly man on the Pacific Coast.  He was surely among the most modest and affectionate.  He had remarkable poetic gifts.  In 1892 the Thomas Post of the Grand Army of the Republic held a memorial service, and he contributed a poem beginning: 

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A Backward Glance at Eighty from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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