(See Chapter cc and earlier)
April 25, 1902. I owe more to Henry Rogers than to any other man whom I have known. He was born in Fairhaven, Connecticut, in 1839, and is my junior by four years. He was graduated from the high school there in 1853, when he was fourteen years old, and from that time forward he earned his own living, beginning at first as the bottom subordinate in the village store with hard-work privileges and a low salary. When he was twenty-four he went out to the newly discovered petroleum fields in Pennsylvania and got work; then returned home, with enough money to pay passage, married a schoolmate, and took her to the oil regions. He prospered, and by and by established the Standard Oil Trust with Mr. Rockefeller and others, and is still one of its managers and directors.
In 1893 we fell together by accident one evening in the Murray Hill Hotel, and our friendship began on the spot and at once. Ever since then he has added my business affairs to his own and carried them through, and I have had no further trouble with them. Obstructions and perplexities which would have driven me mad were simplicities to his master mind and furnished him no difficulties. He released me from my entanglements with Paige and stopped that expensive outgo; when Charles L. Webster & Company failed he saved my copyrights for Mrs. Clemens when she would have sacrificed them to the creditors although they were in no way entitled to them; he offered to lend me money wherewith to save the life of that worthless firm; when I started lecturing around the world to make the money to pay off the Webster debts he spent more than a year trying to reconcile the differences between Harper & Brothers and the American Publishing Company and patch up a working-contract between them and succeeded where any other man would have failed; as fast as I earned money and sent it to him he banked it at interest and held onto it, refusing to pay any creditor until he could pay all of the 96 alike; when I had earned enough to pay dollar for dollar he swept off the indebtedness and sent me the whole batch of complimentary letters which the creditors wrote in return; when I had earned $28,500 more, $18,500 of which was in his hands, I wrote him from Vienna to put the latter into Federal Steel and leave it there; he obeyed to the extent of $17,500, but sold it in two months at $25,000 profit, and said it would go ten points higher, but that it was his custom to “give the other man a chance” (and that was a true word — there was never a truer one spoken). That was at the end of ’99 and beginning of 1900; and from that day to this he has continued to break up my bad schemes and put better ones in their place, to my great advantage. I do things which ought to try man’s patience, but they never seem to try his; he always finds a colorable excuse for what I have done. His soul was born superhumanly sweet, and I do not think anything can sour it. I have not known his equal among men for lovable qualities. But for his cool head and wise guidance I should never have come out of the Webster difficulties on top; it was his good steering that enabled me to work out my salvation and pay a hundred cents on the dollar — the most valuable service any man ever did me.
His character is full of fine graces, but the finest is this: that he can load you down with crushing obligations and then so conduct himself that you never feel their weight. If he would only require something in return — but that is not in his nature; it would not occur to him. With the Harpers and the American Company at war those copyrights were worth but little; he engineered a peace and made them valuable. He invests $100,000 for me here, and in a few months returns a profit of $31,000. I invest (in London and here) $66,000 and must wait considerably for results (in case there shall be any). I tell him about it and he finds no fault, utters not a sarcasm. He was born serene, patient, all-enduring, where a friend is concerned, and nothing can extinguish that great quality in him. Such a man is entitled to the high gift of humor: he has it at its very best. He is not only the best friend I have ever had, but is the best man I have known.
S. L. CLEMENS.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55