Mr. Pulitzer had had these things described to him a score of times. He knew which block of seats in the Greek theater at Neapolis bore the inscription of Nereis, daughter-in-law of King Heiro the Second; he knew up what stairs and through what rooms and passages you had to go to see the marble bath in Napoleon’s villa near Portoferraio; he knew from precisely what part of the Acropolis the yacht was visible when it was at anchor at the Piraeus; he knew the actual place of the more important pictures on the walls of each room of the Naples Museum—such a one to the right, such a one to the left as you entered—he knew practically everything, but specially he knew the thing you had forgotten.
My exhibitions of memory always ended, as they were no doubt intended to end, in a confession of ignorance. If I described five pictures, Mr. Pulitzer said: “Go on”; when I had described ten, he said: “Go on”; when I had described fifteen he said: “Go on”; and this was kept up until I could go on no more. At this point Mr. Pulitzer had discovered just what he wanted to know—how much I could see in a given time, and how much of it I could remember with a fair degree of accuracy. It was simply the game of the jewels which Lurgan Sahib played with Kim, against a different background but with much the same object.
In the foregoing description of Mr. Pulitzer’s daily life it has been made abundantly clear that his secretaries were worked to the limit of their endurance. It remains to add that Mr. Pulitzer never made a demand upon us which was greater than the demand he made upon himself.
He was a tremendous worker; and in receiving our reports no vital fact ever escaped him. If we missed one he immediately “sensed” it, and his untiring cross-examination clung to the trail until he unearthed it.
We had youth, health and numbers on our side, yet this man, aged by suffering, tormented by ill-health, loaded with responsibility, kept pace with our united labors, and in the final analysis gave more than he received.
We brought a thousand offerings to his judgment; many of them he rejected with an impatient cry of “Next! Next! For God’s sake!” But if any subject, whether from its intrinsic importance or from its style, reached the standard of his discrimination he took it up, enlarged upon it, illuminated it, until what had come to him as crude material for conversation assumed a new form, everything unessential rejected, everything essential disclosed in the clear and vigorous English which was the vehicle of his lucid thought.
When I recall the capaciousness of his understanding, the breadth of his experience, the range of his information, and set them side by side with the cruel limitations imposed upon him by his blindness and by his shattered constitution, I forget the severity of his discipline, I marvel only that his self-control should have served him so well in the tedious business of breaking a new man to his service.