It was this strong disinclination for personal reminiscence which prevented Mr. Pulitzer, despite many urgent appeals, from writing his autobiography. It is a thousand pities that he adhered to this resolution, for his career, as well in point of interest as in achievement and picturesqueness, would have stood the test of comparison with that of any man whose life-story has been preserved in literature.
WIESBADEN AND AN ATLANTIC VOYAGE
At last the time came when we had to leave the yacht and make a pilgrimage to Wiesbaden, in order that Mr. Pulitzer might submit to a cure before sailing for New York.
The first stage of our journey took us from Genoa to Milan. Here we stayed for five hours so that J. P. could have his lunch and his siesta comfortably at an hotel. Paterson had been sent ahead two or three days in advance to look over the hotels and to select the one which promised to be least noisy. On our arrival in Milan J. P. was taken to an automobile, and in ten minutes he was in his rooms.
Simple as these arrangements appear from the bald statement of what actually happened they really involved a great deal of care and forethought. It was not enough that Paterson should visit half-a-dozen hotels and make his choice from a cursory inspection. After his choice had been narrowed down by a process of elimination he had to spend several hours in each of two or three hotels, in the room intended for J. P., so that he could detect any of the hundred noises which might make the room uninhabitable to its prospective tenant.
The room might be too near the elevator, it might be too near a servants’ staircase, it might overlook a courtyard where carpets were beaten, or a street with heavy traffic, it might be within earshot of a dining-room where an orchestra played or a smoking-room with the possibility of loud talking, it might open off a passage which gave access to some much frequented reception-room.
Most of these points could be determined by merely observing the location of the room. But other things were to be considered. Did the windows rattle, did the floor creak, did the doors open and shut quietly, was the ventilation good, were there noisy guests in the adjoining rooms?
This last difficulty was, I understand, usually overcome by Mr. Pulitzer engaging, in addition to his own room, a room on either side of it, three rooms facing it, the room above it and the room beneath it.
Even the question of the drive from the station to the hotel had to be thought out. A trial trip was made in an automobile. If the route followed a car line or passed any spot likely to be noisy, such as a market place or a school playground, or if it led over a roughly paved road on which the car would jolt, another route had to be selected, which, as far as possible, dodged the unfavorable conditions.