Give my warmest regards to the Captain. You have ripened into a fine beauty and a great usefulness, and I hope that you will find serenity of mind and soul, which is all that the great have ever searched for. With much love,
TO GEORGE W. LANE
My dear George,—Things are going well notwithstanding the President’s illness. No one is satisfied that we know the truth, and every dinner table is filled with speculation. Some say paralysis, and some say insanity. Grayson tells me it is nervous breakdown, whatever that means. He is however getting better, and meantime the Cabinet is running things. ...
Ned is here and having a good time with all his old girls, some of whom have married and are already divorced, so he feels an old man. Nancy is lovely and merry and quite a belle. She took with the Prince of Belgium, and was quite as happy as you would be with having caught a six-pound trout—just the same feeling, I guess.
Politically things do not look interesting. There are no big men in the line except Hoover. The country wants some manly, two-fisted administrator and it doesn’t care where he comes from.
I hope your eye is better, dear old man. My love to Frances.
F. K. L.
The Dan O’Neill to whom the next letter was written, was a friend of early days. Lane always liked to recall this episode. O’Neill, a big elderly Irishman, was in the City employ, while Lane was City and County Attorney, and had formed for his “Chief”—as he lustily called him—a most disinterested affection. After Lane’s defeat for Mayor of San Francisco, O’Neill came one day and asked for an interview. When greetings were over he stood hesitating and twirling his hat, until Lane said, “Well, Dan, what can I do for you?”
“You see, Chief,” he answered, “The wife and I were talking it over last night. We know how these damned campaigns of yours have been taking the money. You see, we have two lots of land—out there,” with a jerk of the hat toward the great outside, “and a little house—and we’re well and strong, and all the children doing fine at school—and we can, easy as not, put a mortgage on the house, for two or three thousand. We’d like it fine if you’d take it, until you get going again.”
Lane did not have to mortgage his friend’s house, but it was these “sweet uses of adversity,” more than anything else, that tempered, for him, the pain of defeat. This friendship lasted to the end of his life. In 1915, when going back from California on a hurried trip, Lane wrote to O’Neill, “I did not see much of you and I am sorry I didn’t. It was my fault, I know. Your dear old Irish face is a joy to me every time I see it, and whenever I go out you must not fail to turn up, else I shall be brokenhearted.”
When Lane was very ill in 1921, O’Neill came to pay his respects to the wife of his Chief. As she went out into the hallway of her friend’s house, in San Francisco, the whole place seemed filled by O’Neills, for he stood there and all his three great sons—one a fire captain, and stalwart men all. It was a sad meeting and parting.