‘Rhoades,’ said he, ’I wish ye’d put these men out. They holler ’n yell, so I can’t hear myself think.
Then there was a general laugh.
I learned to my surprise, when they had gone, that
the tall man was
William H. Seward, the other John A. Dix.
Then one of those fevered days came the Prince of
Wales — a
Godsend, to allay passion with curiosity.
It was my duty to handle some of ’the latest news by magnetic telegraph’, and help to get the plans and progress of the campaign at headquarters. The Printer, as they called Mr Greeley, was at his desk when I came in at noon, never leaving the office but for dinner, until past midnight, those days. And he made the Tribune a mighty power in the state. His faith in its efficacy was sublime, and every line went under his eye before it went to his readers. I remember a night when he called me to his office about twelve o clock. He was up to his knees in the rubbish of the day-newspapers that he had read and thrown upon the floor; his desk was littered with proofs.
‘Go an’ see the Prince o’ Wales,’ he said. (That interesting young man had arrived on the Harriet Lane that morning and ridden up Broadway between cheering hosts.) ’I’ve got a sketch of him here an’ it’s all twaddle. Tell us something new about him. If he’s got a hole in his sock we ought to know it.’
Mr Dana came in to see him while I was there.
‘Look here, Dana,’ said the Printer, in a rasping humour. ’By the gods of war! here’s two columns about that performance at the Academy and only two sticks of the speech of Seward at St Paul. I’ll have to get someone if go an’ burn that theatre an’ send the bill to me.
In the morning Mayor Wood introduced me to the Duke of Newcastle, who in turn presented me to the Prince of Wales — then a slim, blue-eyed youngster of nineteen, as gentle mannered as any I have ever met. It was my unpleasant duty to keep as near as possible to the royal party in all the festivities of that week.
The ball, in the Prince’s honour, at the Academy of Music, was one of the great social events of the century. No fair of vanity in the western hemisphere ever quite equalled it. The fashions of the French Court had taken the city, as had the Prince, by unconditional surrender. Not in the palace of Versailles could one have seen a more generous exposure of the charms of fair women. None were admitted without a low-cut bodice, and many came that had not the proper accessories. But it was the most brilliant company New York had ever seen.
Too many tickets had been distributed and soon ’there was an elbow on every rib and a heel on every toe’, as Mr Greeley put it. Every miss and her mamma tiptoed for a view of the Prince and his party, who came in at ten, taking their seats on a dais at one side of the crowded floor. The Prince sat with his hands folded before him, like one in a reverie. Beside him were the Duke of Newcastle, a big, stern