These are original writings of Louis Clarke Irvine and therefore ALL rights are reserved to the Author
Julia Richardson Upham
June 22, 1893
To The Reader :
The following must not be construed as self-exploitation. After 84 years of life, 66 of which have been individualistic and independent, it can hardly be presumptuous to think that possible benefit might result from knowledge of the major events by the inheritors of my name even minus fame. Shortly after our bereavement, one of our sons requested that I set down many of the accounts he had heard, of my successful ventures, disasters and recoveries, as possible good medicine for their children or grandchildren who might be benefited by knowing about them. Hence, I commence this brief with episodes from the past.
As each of my numerous business tragedies, however disastrous, have proven truly a "STEPPING STONE TO BETTER THINGS", the knowledge of them might give courage to despair of some of our children's children. As my even major tragic failures each left me within one year thanking God that the disaster happened, I cannot doubt that "A DIVINITY SHAPES OUR ENDS."
All during my later school years, I was victim of depressions, blues to the nth
degree. I was always fond of poetry and began imitating classic authors. Finally I found
that such exercises relieved depression, in fact a safety valve for pent-up feelings.
Later, I found that after every collapse of my plans, the poetic exercise banished
depression. So it happened that I had a "DOUBLE LIFE" the one intensely
material, mingling active business with civic work most of the time, but secretly a
dream-life among the stars and mystic recesses of the soul. Therefore in proceeding with
my brief it occurred to me that this inner life should be included. For its possible
clarification of the dual personality, I have used these exercises as a sort of appendix.
Many of them were evoked by political
HERE FOLLOW, some lines written at 18 years of age, almost to forecast the philosophy of our normal tragedies as a self-cure of our sorrows.
May 18, 1883
The following verses resulted from a brief association with a talented girl, literary and mature in mind with whom several months of casual association in which our mutual literary efforts had been discussed, caused her to submit her "SONNET" on DEATH written a few days before she had received news of the suicide death of a close friend. The implications of that coincidence caused her to submit it to my judgment. Reading it evoked my CRITICAL response in the same form of expression. As this mere casual REPLY pictures in miniature the ALMOST MINUTE reflection of my spiritual outlook thru out all our years. "Mama" no doubt laid the text away with my first verses to her among which the yellowed script was found after our tragedy.
... Returning to Mobile with still undiminished faith in a FUTURE despite all obstacles, I settled to simply try to get rid of some of our land thin loans on homes and in that effort, I rented an office, the 2nd floor of the then Telegraph Office Building (which is still tenanted by the company). I had arranged with Mr. George Fearn, Sr., to take a room at his home and board with him and share my office with him. The effects of the approaching depression were slowing down all activities in our line and economy was of prime importance.
I mingled in local social circles modestly, visiting in the best homes casually and playing tennis and enjoying Bay Sailing and Shell Road driving diversions without any special attachments resulting but with genuine interest in the "SOUTHERN GIRL" psychology. I had particularly yielded to the wooing of the salubrious climate, drank in the intoxicating gulf-breezes, the gorgeous moonlit nights the Bay and among the encircling hills, - the majestic grandeur of the Live Oak giants, and the endless display of home-flowers, the Crepe Myrtle and Oleander and Japonica especially evoking dream like reveries long nights together. In fact my youthful courtship of the MUSE reinvigorated by these ins
pirations, often got hold of me and many a long night was devoted to attempts at expressing some measure of what I felt. (My "Veteran's DREAM" [see last poem] was born in one of these sprees, sitting out on the oak-clad Earth-works that then surrounded the City left by the war of regretful memory.) While thus apparently becalmed on my "SEA OF PROMOTION" and enjoying life in hopeful spirit, Mr. Fearns son Geo. and I boarded a street car at its terminus on Dauphin, (his home being on S. Julia from which we were going for a tennis match with the Irwin Girls over on Government St. As we passed Ann St. a young lady in mourning, carrying a music "roll" stepped on the front of the car and took her seat on the little "side" seat. Geo. and I were seated about midway on the cross seats, and hence I being on the opposite side of the car from the lady, I could see her distinctly and did so most interestedly just at the moment she turned her face toward us with a slight smile in recognition of Geo. But that smile carried a delightfully poisoned arrow (which I still feel within my heart). I could not withhold my gaze after she resumed her straight-front position. But as I watched her, she again turned toward us but "CAUGHT ME" in the act and quickly turned her face. Once more I tried a glance and CAUGHT HER eye squarely fixed on my face.
All this occurred in the short moment of a slow-mule-car ride from Ann down only to Hallett St. where Geo. and I left the car to walk across to Julia St. Geo. had taken account of my "STARING" at the girl and joshed me about it as a flirtatious effort with a girl in deep mourning, and said "Old man, you cant get away with that sort of thing". I replied with some lame alibi which brought his retort, - Oh! I see you are really HIT!" As a strange prophetic "bluff" I replied, "You need not guy me, I am just going to MARRY THAT GIRL, - THATS ALL!" He made a great joke of it and finally told me who she was and said, "If you really fell that strongly about it, Ill make a date to take you out for an introduction." Thus the program was set up and the next week he had so arranged it for a Sunday afternoon call at the grand old "PORTLAND PLACE"!
However, FATE was against us. The day before our date, a message from old home in Oregon, (Mo.) called me to the "DEATH-BED" of my mother. A mouth of such tragic watching and nursing, by me in spite of the despair of doctors and family alike, which kept me at her side day and night with only "cat-nap" snatches of sleep, found her "out of danger" and able to be left with "Aunt Mat" who had visited us to take my place. Returning to Mobile, I spent a week in hectic efforts to catch up the lose-ends of my neglected business which the Fearn's had done much together for me. Finally George arranged the new date for my long nursed goal of "MEETING THE GIRL."
But again tragedy intervened and just before the time set, I was called back by our family doctor by the startling news of mothers relapse and hopeless condition without me. Taking the first train out, I again reached home in time to restore her to hopeful condition. That required several weeks and it was mid-April before I felt safe in leaving her after installing a trusted old friend as her constant attendant to see that my program which had restored her was not again neglected. At last returning to Mobile, I found business less promising than ever as the porteous shadow of 93 darkened the outlook and the Fearns had moved to Spring Hill to try to help expenses by operating the old INN. My time was taken up in trying out lending money for my Indiana backers but I found little encouragement in that. Just as I had about decided to try a new promotion, a trio of Chicago men who had bought the state franchise for KEELEY INSTITUTES, called on me to talk me into renting my floor to them, and moving my doubtful activities in with some firm with more room than business required. They explained how they could use it as no hospital technique was involved and that my offices would answer every need till later on when a SANITARIUM technique might be substituted. As I was dubious just how long I could EAT on my Indiana backers, I decided to offer them my lease for fifty dollars per month. ($30.00 above my lease.) Offer was accepted with permission for immediate use while I sought other location for one desk. My other furnishings going with the lease. I was certain to be able to EAT AT LEAST if my backers got weary of honoring my drafts.
I was meantime too busy with doubts and plans to get set for a third date with my "FATE". While curiously interested in the KEELEY Experiment, I helped the manager prepare his opening Advertisements, and very naturally avidly devoured all the KEELEY literature. (A personal interest intrigued me because my father was a MORPHINE ADDICT of thirty years or more indulgence, due to unfortunate circumstances, had given up any hope of relief and just lived on his dreams. (His early accumulation from law practice had saved him the dangers of disability and loss of earning power.) But I had visions of seeing my mother happy over knowledge of his cure if such were possible.
As one more SINGULAR evidence of "THAT DIVINITY THAT SHAPES OUR ENDS" - this event most striking. The KEELEY ANNOUNCEMENT, on plans of FREE TREATMENT for test cases (a plan suggested by me in warning the manager that no social, moral or business appeal to tie prejudiced SOUTHERNERS would win him patronage.) He agreed to my plan for undermining prejudice. On a Sunday morning the full page ad was to appear. Saturday morning previous a dispatch from TORONTO, the managers home, called him to the death-bed of his father. He came to me madly distracted and dumped his duties on me, to substitute for him till he could hurry back. He showed me the wire from the KEELEY PHYSICIAN authorized by KEELEY to administer under his contract. He was to arrive Sunday night. No possible patients could be expected without a few days delay anyway and lie assured me the Dr. had all the responsibility, except the accounting and advertising end of tie business. Thus I was substitute manager. To skip the details, I was too engrossed with these surprising events to think of "MY FATE" except in dreams.
Instead of a weeks absence, the managers father lingered at the brink of the grave several weeks and then recovered. When the manager got back he found the RECORD BUSINESS of the KEELEY experiment, in a cash income of $3,000.00 for the first mouth. (Of course much of this had yet to be earned out by the THREE WEEKS treatment, but the cash in advance plan showed the cash in hand.)
That settled my business fate for some time! He refused to take back tie job but insisted I stay and let him go to Birmingham or elsewhere and start a second INSTITUTE. Like a drowning man, I accepted rescue from advancing disaster and was more than busy till our project had become a sensation over the CURES it had effected. Meantime George Fearn had made the final engagement for my visit to PORTLAND PLACE.
Strangely, it was for her BIRTH-DAY (20 years old) I was ten years older. The casual meeting on that glorious front gallery shaded by the immortal Oaks, was to me more than a view of HEAVEN. Nothing startling occurred, no rememberable conversation, just "PROXIMITY OF KINDRED SOULS" seemed to fill the cup of expectancy. An engagement was made for later in the week to bring out friends and enjoy tennis. Social chit-chat, intimate little curiosities as to my strange "BUSINESS" and now and then a "buggy ride" down the famous "BAY SHELL ROAD" whiled away several months. I had warnings of dangerous pit-falls "to presumptuous suitors from "OLD TIME attachments" likely to dispel my dreams. But I moved steadily in a test program, on my own supposed "FICKLENESS" based on many and various heart cracking experiences during my ten years of bachelorhood and "sweet-hearting".
To explain my testing purpose: I had always been inordinately jealous of any attention to girls I was FAVORING with my "self-important" affection The green-eyed monster made my love-life from youth up a scorching hell. So that at this period, I had about determined never to allow myself to marry. Selfishly, I wished to avoid suffering and UNSELFISHLY, I also felt that NO WOMAN COULD BE DESERVING OF SUCH PUNISHMENT AS MY JEALOUS NATURE WOULD AFFLICT HER WITH. What a setting for this over-whelming event in my life.
Hence it was that I associated with my "FATE" all the summer and fall, hearing all about me, gossip of my coming "AWAKENING", and when the "OLD-LOVER" would claim her as society ordained and custom suggested.
"To My Christmas Gifts"
(The baby faces came to me this morn.)
October 1, 1900
The World Appalled Looked On!
(NOTE) Happily this prayer was answered in the
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