The world had had a hard time for six thousand years, and, as the new year of 1884 approached, there were indications that our planet was getting restless. There were earthquakes, great storms, great drought. It may last until some of my descendants shall head their letters with January 1, 15,000, A.D.; but I doubt it.
I reached the fiftieth year of my life in December, 1883. In my long residence in Brooklyn I had found it to be the healthiest city in the world. It had always been a good place to live in—plenty of fresh air blowing up from the sea—plenty of water rolling down through our reservoirs—the Sabbaths too quiet to attract ruffianism.
Of all the men I have seen and heard and known, there were but a few deep friendships that I depended upon. In February, 1884, I lost one of these by the decease of Thomas Kinsella, a Brooklyn man of public affairs, of singular patriotism and local pride.
Years ago, when I was roughly set upon by ecclesiastical assailants, he gave one wide swing of his editorial scimitar, which helped much in their ultimate annihilation. My acquaintance with him was slight at the time, and I did not ask him to help me. I can more easily forget a wrong done to me than I can forget a kindness. He was charitable to many who never knew of it. By reason of my profession, there came to me many stories of distress and want, and it was always Mr. Kinsella’s hand that was open to befriend the suffering. Bitter in his editorial antagonisms, he was wide in his charities. One did not have to knock at many iron gates to reach his sympathies.
Mr. Kinsella died of overwork, from the toil of years that taxed his strength. None but those who have been behind the scenes can appreciate the energies that are required in making up a great daily newspaper. Its demands for “copy” come with such regularity. Newspaper writers must produce just so much, whether they feel like it or not. There is no newspaper vacation. So the commanders-in-chief of the great dailies often die of overwork. Henry J. Raymond died that way, Samuel Bowles, Horace Greeley. Once in a while there are surviving veterans like Thurlow Weed, or Erastus Brooks, or James Watson Webb—but they shifted the most of the burden on others as they grew old. Success in any calling means drudgery, sacrifice, push, and tug, but especially so in the ranks of the newspaper armies.
A great many of us, however, about this time, survived a worse fate, though how we did it is still a mystery of the period. We discovered, in the spring of 1884, that we had been eating and drinking things not to be mentioned. Honest old-fashioned butter had melted and run out of the world. Instead of it we had trichinosis in all styles served up morning and evening—all the evils of the food creation set before us in raw shape, or done up in puddings,