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Franklin Knight Lane
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 419 pages of information about Letters of Franklin K. Lane.

Because he had caught, in its capricious rhythms, the subtle movements of human intercourse he trusted himself to express to other men the natural man within his breast, without fear of misconstruction.  He contrived to humanize, in parts, even his government reports.  They brought him, year by year, touching letters of gratitude from weary political writers.  The patient, logical Scot in him that said, “I am going to take this thing up bit by bit without trying to get a whole philosophy into the work,” anchored him to the heaviest tasks as if he were a true-born plodder, while the “wild Irishman” with dreams and desires lighted the way with gleams of Will-o’-the-Wisp.  The quicksilver in the veins of the patient Mercutio of railroad rates and demurrage charges lightened his work for himself and others.  Just as in the five years when he served San Francisco, as City and County Attorney, he labored to such effect that not one of his hundreds of legal opinions was reversed by the Supreme Court of the State, so he toiled on these same Annual Reports, so immersed that, as he says, “I even have to take the blamed stuff to bed with me.”  Fourteen and sixteen hours at his official desk were not his longest hours, and sometimes he snatched a dinner of shredded biscuit from beside the day’s accumulations of papers upon his heaped-up desk.  He laid upon himself the burden of labor, examining and cross-examining men for hours upon a single point of essential fact—­quick to detect fraud and intolerant of humbug,—­ but infinitely patient with those who were merely dull, evading no drudgery, and, above all, never evading the dear pains of building-up and maintaining friendship.

LOUISE HERRICK WALL

MARCH, 1922

II

POLITICS AND JOURNALISM

1884-1894

Politics—­newspaper work—­new York—­buying into Tacoma news—­
marriage—­Sale of newspaper

Franklin K. Lane’s earliest political association, in California, after reaching manhood, was with John H. Wigmore.  Wigmore had returned from Harvard, in 1883, with a plan, already matured, for Civic Reform.  The Municipal Reform League, created by Wigmore, Lane, and several other young men, was to follow the general outline of boss control, by precinct and ward organization, the difference being that the League members were to hold no offices, enjoy no spoils, and work for clean city politics.  Each member of the inner circle was to take over and make himself responsible for a definite city district, making a card index of the name of each voter, taking a real part in all caucus meetings—­in saloon parlors or wherever they were held—­and studying practical politics at first hand.  “Blind Boss Buckley” was the Democratic dictator of San Francisco, and against his regime the initial efforts of the League were directed.

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