It was a giant’s task, an impossible task, for a small group of newspaper writers and college undergraduates. The short career of the Municipal Reform League ended when Wigmore went East to study law, leaving Lane determined to increase his efficiency by earning his way through college and the Hastings Law School.
The first letters of this volume follow the theme of the political interests of the two young men.
Oakland, February 27, 1888
My dear Wigmore,—I am thinking of getting back in your part of the world myself, and this is what I especially wanted to write you about. I desire to see the world, to rub off some of my provincialisms, to broaden a little before I settle down to a prosaic existence. So, as I say, I want to live in Boston awhile and my only possibility of so doing is to get a position on some Boston paper, something that will afford me a living and allow some little time for social and literary life. However I don’t care much what the billet is. I can bring letters of recommendation from all the good newspaper men in San Francisco, both as to my ability at editorial work (I have done considerable for the San Francisco news letter and examiner), and at all kinds of reportorial work. ...
I passed the law examination before the Supreme Court last month, so I am now a full-fledged—but not a flying, attorney. I have not determined definitely on going into law. ...
Politically speaking we Mugwumps out here are happy. ... California has been opposed to Cleveland on every one of his great proposals (civil service reform, silver question, tariff reform), and yet the Republicans must nominate a very strong man to get this State this year. The people admire old Grover’s strength so much, he is a positive man and an honest man, and when the people see these two exceptional virtues mixed happily in a candidate they grow to love and admire him out of the very idealism of their natures.
But I must not bother the Boston attorney any longer. Write me all you know of opportunities there and believe me always your friend,
TO JOHN B. WIGMORE
Oakland, May 9, 1888
My dear Wigmore,—Of course I would have to stand my chances in getting a position. Newspaper men, perhaps more than any other class, are rated by ability. Civil Service Reform principles rule in every good newspaper office to their fullest extent. When I wrote you, I was unsettled as to my plans for the coming year. My brother desired to spend a year or so in Boston and I thought of accompanying him. He has changed his plans and so have I. ... I am regularly on the Chronicle staff, chiefly writing sensational stories. I get a regular salary of twenty-five dollars a week besides some extras, and have as easy and pleasant a billet as there is on the paper, though editorial work would be more to my liking.