when he was in his twenties and had newly arrived to make his way socially and in literary circles. Educated in Europe and a Yale graduate, he ornamented salons both abroad and in New York. In 1876, he took over the post of literary and art editor of The New York Times until 1894. In 1880 De Kay founded the N.Y. Fencer’s Club; in 1882 he founded the Authors Club; in 1892 the Sculpture Society; and in 1899, the National Arts Club. He was appointed by President Cleveland to the Counsul General post in Berlin. He was elected a member of the Institute of Arts and Letters in 1906. He was also art editor of The New York Evening Post during 1907 and associate editor of Art World from 1915-1917. His obituary quotes an admirer, Robert Underwood Johnson, who thought De Kay was “the master of more branches of knowledge than any man I have ever met—art, science, philosophy, Oriental lore, to general literature….He was not only intellectual but
also the master of half a dozen languages and of a rare scholarly precision of statement. I doubt if he was ever caught in an error of fact” [HelenADekayGilder.org; NY Times, May 24, 1935 obituary, p. 21]. Mrs. Richard Watson Gilder was a sister of Charles De Kay.
January 16 Sunday – At the Hotel Metropole in Vienna, Austria, Sam wrote to James Whitcomb Riley in Indianapolis, thanking him for a book sent in fulfillment of a “promise made …in Washington so many years ago…” He wrote he’d direct his Hartford publisher to send him a copy of his book (likely FE). After his signature he noted, “London weather in Vienna! / —fog to smell & the electric to work by at noon-day” [MTP]. Note: Gribben catalogs two candidates fitting the “you’ve squared your promise” bill. See entry for Riley’s A Child-World (1897) [p. 579] and Rubáiyát of Doc Sifers (1897) [p. 581].
Theodor Leschetizky came to dine with the Clemens family at the Metropole Hotel. Eduard Pötzl was also invited. Sam recorded the scene in his notebook on Jan. 19:
Last Sunday night [Jan. 16], at dinner with us, he [Leschetizky] did all the talking for 3 hours, & everybody was glad to let him. He told his experiences as a revolutionist 50 years ago in the ’48; & his battle-pictures were magnificently worded. Pötzl had never met him before. He is a talker himself & a good one—but he merely sat silent & gazed across the table at this inspired man, & drank in his words, & let his eyes fill & the blood come & go in his face & never said a word [NB 40 TS 7].
Elsa Hinterleitner wrote from Vienna to Sam asking for his handwriting on a photo of him, the furnishing of which would make her “infinitely happy [,] a young and enthusiastic Viennese girl” [MTP].
January 17 Monday
January 18 Tuesday
January 19 Wednesday – Sam’s notebook:
Vienna, Jan. 19, 1898. Tonight, drove out to Letschititzky’s house (wife & Clara along) to attend one of the fortnightly meetings of his piano class. About 25 of his great multitude of pupils present. The master sat at one piano, & each of 7 pupils in turn sat at the other. It was a wonderful performance. Young Voss, a handsome American, carried off the honors, by a little. Now & then the master would let fly a rebuke, & play a passage as a pupil had played it, then play it as it ought to have been played. Beautiful as the pupil’s work had been, the superior splendor of the master’s touch was immediately recognizable.
He gave one young lady a devastating dressing down—poured out wrath, criticism, sarcasm and humor upon her in a flood for 10—no, as much as 12 minutes. He is a most capable & felicitous talker—was born for an orator, I think. What life, energy, fire, in a man past 70!—& how he does play! He is easily the greatest pianist in the world. He is just as great & just as capable today as ever he was [NB 40 TS 7].
Jan. 19/98. New barber began. Terms 8 gulden a month & 2 gulden pourboire—total 10 G (didn’t pay in advance.
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.