THE DIARY OF HARRY B. CLEVELAND

JANUARY 1900

MONDAY, JANUARY 1, 1900 - New years and not one good resolution made. This sin of omission possesses at least one virtue. I shall be saved the mortification of breaking any. The discussion as to this being the first year of the twentieth century waxes furious, and to no purpose as far as I can see. What matter it? It would add nothing to the sum of human happiness were all to finally become of one mind:- And then there are so many matters of graver import to grovel about. The weather is fairly typical of the day, cold and blustery, lacking nothing but several inches of snow to make it wholly so. Spent the forenoon at the office and the afternoon at home reading. Much taken with Stevenson's Letters. They are delightfully facinating, tinctured with just enough sad somberness to balance the authors opulent optimism. His good spirits seem nothing short of wonderful in the light of his intense suffering. His letters certainly speak of a Noble Soul. Passed the evening playing pedro. A quiet end to a quiet day.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2, 1900 - Cold and bright. Work very light at the office and I am left wholly unemployed much of the time. Such a condition of affairs brings me no good; for I am altogether too introspective. My mind needs and should have active exercise on extraneous subjects; otherwise it becomes a veritable cesspool of morbidness. I wonder if the present year will bring to me no mental, physical, or material improvement or advancement. I am glad I cannot see through the mist. Perhaps a life is saved, that of hope. I feel like a strong man drugged, and conscious that he is bound by naught but cob-web strands; still he cannot move. Perhaps the drug in my case is only a feeble will.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 1900 - Still cold and blustery; with a light covering of snow which came last night as fluffy as down. Idling and dreaming in a wretchedly unhealthy manner. I believe I should have made a resolution on the first of the year to begin some task the completion of which should consume the year. Perhaps it is not too late now. It should be a hard one - one that would tax my energies to the utmost. I shall decide upon something right away. Stop dreaming may be. That would be just short of the impossible, and require a mighty effort. Passed the evening at Theodore K-'s and a very pleasant one too. Took along some music, and sang it all; but not well. Your hearers (or auditors should I say?) always indulge in effusive adjectives and you feel very silly and a bit out of temper; particularly when you are perfectly conscious you have sung far from well or your best.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 1900 - The weather shows a tendency to moderate. Eight weeks from today will be March first. Hurrah! I hear the song- sparrow and scent the Trailing Artubus in the first laden breeze even now. So much for a good, robust, far-reaching imagination. To feel the warm kiss of summer while winters icy arms still unfold you is the result of something much stronger than hot-house philosophy. I watch the sun's dip below the horizon every night and note with a huge inward satisfaction that it is more loth to leave each day. And yet I do not wholly dislike the winter,

" For Spring would be but gloomy weather,
   If we had nothing else but Spring. "

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 1900 - This has been a dull, grey, threatening day, and my feelings have been in consonance therewith. - except the "threatening", for I am too inocuously inert for that. From the house to the office is 1 1/5; miles according to the cyclometer attached to my bicycle. That distance I walk four times daily, except Sunday and an occasional ride on the train from Southport Station. Such a routine furnishes a fellow but little material for a diary and he is perforce compelled to draw upon his imagination, or make it almost entirely subjective. Otherwise the book would remain empty for all time. An aged woman was taken from the train at noon today tears streaming down her furrowed cheeks and keeping up a continued wail "Don't take me away! Don't take me away!" Two rather pretty girls accompanied her and were very tender of her. Her hair was snow white and she was perhaps 65 or 70 years of age undoubtedly demented. Her face, voice, and tears were pitiful and I have thoughts of her ever since.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6, 1900 - Considerably warmer, and the ice in the river com- mences to show the ravages of a temperature above 32 F. Nevertheless the skaters are there in abundance and a jolly crew they are too. One more warm day will make the ice but a muckey slush.
Mary went to Williamsport this AM. I did not expect her to go until afternoon and thus missed bidding her good-by.
The British forces met with another reverse yesterday, and our Hibernian friends on this side are elated. Poor old John Bull! He has struck out upon a thorney path, and this trouble will unearth enemies enough in his own household to bid him pause and sue for peace. The war from this distance seems to have been ill advised and can at the best be but nominally successful to (the) British army. England cannot afford another serious reverse and there are indications abroad that she realizes it. Witness her caution in making any further advance. The other powers remind one of a pack of wolves ready to pounce if there is any chance of a carcass. Where is the "Peace Congress"? Echo answering "Where?"

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 1900 - The blue devils, thick as fleas upon a dogs back, all day. Too much wine and cake last night unsettled my digestive apparatus. Well, I have sinned and I have suffered, so the score is wipe out. I am not prepared to admit that a lunch before retiring is not a good thing, - that is when you are up beyond ten o'clock; but there must be a limit to the amount and kind consumed, on dyspepsia, a dull head and worse spirits will attend you the day after. I have resolved to cut out cigars for a few days at least. This is really self-denial; for I have almost a full box on hand. Poured through the Stevenson Letters part of the afternoon, and dozed the remainder; but my spirits refused to rise even after the nap. Spent the evening out and that too has failed to cheer me up. On my way home from the office this noon walked up Church to Walnut and across the upper bridge home to, if possible, to promote an appetite. Only partially successful.

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 1900 - A bright happy day, - just cold enough to "lay the mind" and make the blood tingle. Despite a bad night's rest after I got under way this morning felt fairly well; for which I am devoutly thankful. Put in quite a fair morning's work at the office and feel satisfied with the manner in which it was done. Wrote a short letter to Mary this A.M. nothing much in it, but it will serve to assuage in a measure her well high insatiable appetite for correspondence.
This to my diary, a propose of yesterday's ill spirits: Beg pardon my young friend for having burdened you with my ill-humour ---- upon such a short acquaintance; but you may as well become used to it, for you will have to take the bitter with the sweet.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 1900 - Very cold this morning with a heavy white frost. The weather wise construe this as an indication of rain. And there was a circle around the sun beside, sure sign of an approaching storm.
A life of Christ in McClure's by "Ian McLaron" is splendid reading. It brings the personality of Jesus so vividly to the reader, that one feels after reading it he has touched the hem of the Saviour's garmet. The illustrations in color by Corwin Knapp Lindson are exquisitely done and wonderously beautiful work. The effect of the text is unquestionably heightened by them.
Received a long and highly interesting letter from Miss W-----, in which she chats entertainingly of literature etc. Enclosed were some copies of Matthew Arnold's prose, very enjoyable for their poetic imagery.
Sailed swimmingly along through considerable of Spencer's Fairie Queen tonight.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 1900 - The threatened storm came with intermittent showers today. Somewhat cooler at night and a cold wave predicted.
The situation throughout Europe and Asia looks threatening indeed. There are wars and rumors of wars. Russia is assuming a menacing attitude and both France and Germany are growling under their breath. Where, oh where is the Peace Congress? Looks like the fulfilment of Bible prophecies. Who knows but the Appointed hour is near at hand? Now is the time for Rev. Dr. MacKnight to indulge in another sermon upon his favorite theme. Perhaps he has been nearer right than anyone has given him credit for.
Spent a short time on Latin today. Find I retain the vocabulary surprisingly. Conjugation of the verbs however, escapes me.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 1900 - Gloomy and raw. A fine rain began falling about noon, which soon turned to sleet, thence to snow and back to cutting sleet. About two inches fell, and it was of such a consistancy as to make very good sleighing.
Have nothing really to say to my diary today. My brain is barren of ideas - even of dreams.
Were it in my power, I would blot this day from the calendar and decree that it never had been. Thus, would I be saved much sorrow and much remorse, that memory serves to make hourly more poignant.
"You began it"! The voice of an accuser who has no right to accuse.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 12, 1900 - Cold and windy. Clearing at night.
In poor spirits today all day. I do not rest well nights and awaken mornings unrefreshed. I should be in bed now instead of sitting up to write this.
Trinity Choir are to give an opera next Mon 7h. - probably the "Princess Ida" by Gilbert & Sullivan. I think it is a very pretty work and should be delighted to keep swell the volume of sound in the chorus.
Commenced a little original literary work today just for my own amusement. I think I shall call it "The Girl With A Million".

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 1900 - Grey and cold.
Absolutely nothing to do at the office and I am at my wit's end to devise means for keeping myself busy. It is a peculiar sensation, this hunger for work, for employment of the mind and body.
Loring received notice today that he had been awarded second prize - a five dollar note - on his article for the "Counter", a trade magazine. I am pleased at his success. It will serve as a stimulus to him and he needs the money. The benefit is duel. So much for making an effort. There is also another article of his in the "Counter", but no pecuniary advantage accrues. Encouraging but not practically so. It is money that talks; and what elloquence drops from its golden tongue. There is a universal language for you.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 1900 - About two inches more of snow today, and the sleighing is now perfect.
Have lolled around the house today, save for my walk to the office and back, which is a permanent feature of my Sunday life.
Nothing of an paticular interest to enter in my diary today.
Spent the evening out as usual.

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 1900 - Warm and sloppy. Sleighing disappearing very rapidly. Rain promised tonight and tomorrow.
My stomach has bothered me some today, but as the day has worn on the distress has grown less.
News of a decisive battle is expected hourly in London. It looks now as though the English would meet with no further reverses and in the course of the next month completely and for all time subjugate the Boers. Perhaps a higher civilization will benefit the Dutch Republic, but in the spirit that inspired this war, as well as ours in the Phillipines,-that of greed- reflects no credit on the conqueror.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 1900 - Damp and cold. Sleighing a thing of the past, and the ice in the river about ready to go out. So far the winter has not been an average one as to severity, and I hope it may so continue.
The cast of the "Princess Ida" to be given by Trinity Choir and others was announced last night and is as follows:

Princess Ida ---------- Mrs. Crocker
Lady Blanche -------- Miss Millham
Lady Psyche --------- Miss Hobbs
Melissa -------------- Miss Snell
Sacharissa ----------- Mrs. Root
Choloe --------------- Mrs. Russell
Ada ------------------- Miss Brown
King Hildebrant ----- Mr. H.L. Armstrong
Hilarion -------------- Mrs. Joseph Walsh
Cyril ------------------ Mrs. Wm. Frank
Florion --------------- Mr. Winner
Arne ------------------ Mr. Kimball
Groom ---------------- Mr. Herrick
Synthisos ------------- Mr. Schweppe
King Gama ----------- Mr. Jos. Logan

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 17, 1900 - Cold and threatening.
Attended rehersal of "Princess Ida" tonight. I do believe the piece will go finely. The prologue and first act were run through and revealed some very pretty music. But the old choir, alas, is gone! I feel like a wanderer in a strange land. Memories of the Mikado and Gondoliers floated through my mind, and I could not but feel a touch of sadness and a longing for the old days, - the dear old days that can never come again.

"Oh bury, bury,-let the grave close o'er the days that were, that never will be more. Oh bury, bury, love that all condemn, and let the whirlwind moan its requiem"

THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 1900 - Somewhat warmer and very sloppy. The ice in the river is gradually rotting away and everything out of doors resembles March rather than mid-winter. We shall probably have sufficient cold and snow later on to make up for it. Nature is never off in her balance.
Spent the evening, or rather the greater part of it, answering a very interesting literary correspondent of mine; after, pushed through an article on the Nineteenth Century Literature, the writer's name escapes me just now. The article appears in the January Critic.
Absolutely void of anything interesting to write about.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 19, 1900 - Damp and threatening. No cold weather in immediate prospect. Good for the poor.
The English and the Boer troops are drawing closer daily and a decisive engagement cannot be avoided much longer. Every day a small skirmish for position takes place and a general fight must be near at hand. I look for a termination of the war before thirty days have passed. Great Britian in the nature of conditions, must triumph, whether justly or not is beside the question.
Another rehersal of the Princess Ida tonight. The music went surprisingly well considering the number of rehersals.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 1900 - It has been a most miserable day. Heavy rain at intervals, and a thick blanket of fog over everything. The ice has left the river, which is now running banks full. Indications point to colder weather at night.
This was our night for a little card game, but the rain spoiled all. Stayed home all the evening and read. Finished Dio- nysius or the Weaver's Hearts Dearest, a very interesting book. Worth anyones perusal and study although it deals with a subject generally tabooed.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 21, 1900 - Clear and bright, and much colder. Took my usual stroll to the office about noon; read and napped during the afternoon; spent the evening at Sackett's.
The above comprises about all I have to record. What a kaleidescope existence I lead anyway. I sometimes grow fairly dizzy from the multiplicity of events that croud themselves into my life. I wish I enjoyed better health. I am not as well as I pretend to feel.
Did not get to bed until 11:30.

MONDAY, JANUARY 22, 1900 - Warm and spring-like. I am afraid we are storing up wrath for the days to come in the weather line. Look out for February and March.
Rehersal for the Princess Ida tonight - the men only. The music is going very smoothly. Four weeks ought to be ample time to get it letter perfect. Mrs. Dixie I understand is to coach the stage business. Several more tenors are needed to balance the chorus. The basses and baritones are going to do fine work.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 1900 - Somewhat cooler, but still far from wintry. The Weather Bureau pre- dicts a cold wave tommorrow. Nothing of any note has transpired today that has any place in my diary, and I must perforce, seek for things outside to soil the remaining whiteness of this page.
There is a rather ominous silence respecting the condition of affairs in South Africa. Buller's efforts have not been decidedly successful, although he has made some progress and met with no reverses worth mentioning. A decisive battle is imminent.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24, 1900 - Considerably colder, but altogether too mild to answer the description of the promised cold wave.
Princess Ida rehersal tonight. Very bad in spots. Lots of good hard work needed. The performances but four weeks off.
Still no definite news from the Transvaal. The English appear wary about making a general engagement and are manouvering constantly endeavoring to gain the advantage in position.

"A burned child dreads the fire."

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 1900 - Damp and mild during the day, occasional heavy downpour of rain. Grew colder at night and froze up.
The English troops today took possession of Spion Kop a strategic position of considerable importance in the struggle for the relief of Lady Smith. The ease with which according to dispatches it was taken, looks strange and would seem to indicate another Boer trap. Our English cousins had best look out.
Spent the evening at S- playing hearts.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 1900 - Cold and windy. A very sudden change and one not in the least conducive to good health.
Open rehersal tonight. Very satisfactory. Sopranos need to sing up and an increase of sound volume from that quarter would not be amiss. No matter how good the other parts may be, let but your sopranos be weak and the chorus work is condemned. The climaxes must suffer, and where is your operatic work minus the climax. The Dixie's come next week.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 27, 1900 - Somewhat warmer and considerably less wind.
The English are compelled to abandon Spion Kop yesterday. The Boer shell fire being too warm for them. "Ten thousand men marched up the hill and then marched down again". This is not literally true; for I imagine they hardly stopped to march in coming down. A whole month's campaigning and the relief of Ladysmith no nearer than when it began. Query: When will our cousins end the war?
Suffered defeat at pedro tonight getting but 5 games out of 12.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 28, 1900 - Crisp and bright. An ideal winters day, if we overlook the absence of snow.
Gen. Sir Redvers Buller has been compelled to withdraw across the Tugela River. England is in a state of grave depression. The relief of Lady Smith has been abandoned, and the British forces will now be concentrated and a general advance made upon Pretoria the Boer Capital. This should have been the British plan of campaign in the first place.

MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 1900 - Cold and blustery. Thermometer hovering about zero; river gradually closing up again.
Went to Princess Ida rehersal "for men only" tonight. The music is coming finely. Mr. and Mrs. Dixie will be here Wednesday and we will then have our first rehersal of the stage business.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 1900 - Cold and windy. Light fall of snow at night.
Kentucky is in a state of ferment tonight. Senator Goebil the defeated Democratic candidate for Governor of that state, but who is still contesting his right to the office, was shot and probably mortally wounded at Frankfort the state Capital today by some fanatic undoubtedly. Only the most strenuous efforts will prevent further bloodshed. Several hundred militia guard the State House. A deplorable state of affairs.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 1900 - Very cold and blustery.
First rehersal of the stage business for Princess Ida production under Mrs. Dixie. It seems quite difficult, or else we are all very dumb. Considerable trouble with the gavotte. Mrs. Dixie can only stay a week when she goes back to Dayton, Ohio where she is coaching a minstrel performance. She will return the Thursday before our initial performance. Lots of hard work ahead.


CONTINUE

Copyright 1999 Peter Haskell