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Murder of the Century | Primary Source

Evelyn Remembers

Evelyn Nesbit described the events surrounding her lover Stanford White's 1906 murder in two memoirs: The Story of My Life, published in 1914, and twenty years later, Prodigal Days. Read excerpts and compare passages from both autobiographies.

Artists's Model in New York

1914
We had secured a room on Twenty-second Street -- a little back-room on the second floor. Here we lived, and again felt the pinch of poverty. There were days when my sole meal consisted of a biscuit and a cup of coffee.

Try as she would, my mother did not succeed in securing even a minor position with a firm of dress designers. Everywhere the same answer was returned, the same questions asked: "Had she been to Paris recently? Had she similar experiences with other firms?"

It was in desperation that mother remembered the letter of introduction to Mr. Carroll Beckwith. In Philadelphia my artist friends had sent me to a photographer's to secure a number of studies of my head. Armed with one of these, mother called upon Mr. Beckwith. This was in December, 1900.

The artist was pleased with the picture. He told her that she could bring me up to the studio, because he felt pretty sure that he would be able to give me work. A personal inspection satisfied him, and he offered me posing for two mornings every week.

"You are not the sort of girl," he said kindly, "that should go knocking at studio doors. I will give you some letters of introduction to representative artists in New York."

This he did. I remember one was Mr. F. S. Church, and Mr. Church gave me letters to Herbert Morgan, and Mr. and Mrs. Hyneman, and Carl Blenner. For all the artists I posed.

The work was fairly light. The poses were not particularly difficult. In the main they wanted me for my head. I never posed for the figure in the sense that I had posed for the nude. Sometimes I would be painted as a little Eastern girl in a costume of a Turkish woman, all vivid coloring, with ropes and bangles of jade about my neck and arms.

In a sense it was my work as an artist's model that first brought me into the public eye. I do not know that to be brought into the public eye is the happiest of experiences. Wilde has said that a woman, like a country, is happiest when she has no history.

I remember in New York a reporter came down to the house to see me. It was a novel experience, and one which considerably flustered me; it was the first of I do not know how many interviews which were to be my lot. Mother showed him a photograph which had been taken in Philadelphia. It is a curious fact that I have not a single one of these pictures left, though it is not such a long time since they were taken. A photograph of a pose I had made was printed in an evening paper in New York, with a complimentary caption underneath, and from thence onward I saw many reporters, all of whom were anxious to get a photograph for their papers.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
New York! The glittering city lights made it look like a hive of fireflies the evening we crossed the Hudson on the ferry. And how my heart hammered in awe as we rode on the fearsome, roaring elevated train up to Twenty-third Street. We had the address of a modest rooming house at 249 West Twenty-second Street run by a French family named Bourget, who claimed to be distant relatives of the immortal Paul.

Again my mother tried desperately but futilely to obtain work as a designer. Weeks went by in this fashion. I was itching to use the letters of introduction I had from the Philadelphia artists for whom I posed, but first I had to overcome Mamma's objections. I finally prevailed upon her to call on one of the artists to whom I had letters.

When Carroll Beckwith saw me he engaged me on the spot; I settled down to posing for him two afternoons a week. For Frederick S. Church, whose staunchest patron was John Jacob Astor, I posed on Saturdays. These associations assured me entrée into New York's studio world, and soon I had more work than I could handle. Among those for whom I posed were J. Wells Campney, Carl Blenner, Herbert Morgan, George Grey Barnard, the sculptor, who used me for his famous study, "Innocence," now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Charles Dana Gibson, whose chef-d'oeuvre, "The Eternal Question," was a lifelike pen and ink sketch of me, which I own today.

Posing for photographs proved far more lucrative. In those days the Sunday World and the Sunday American had just started to publish fashion pages picturing the latest hats, gowns, shoes, stockings, sports frocks, as worn by living models. These photographs were made by a man named Joel Feder at a photographic studio on West Twenty-third Street. He paid five dollars and sometimes ten for a sitting; five dollars for a morning or an afternoon, and twice that for a whole day's posing. This work became steady, bringing in enough money to support us all -- even my brother who had come back to us.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

Meeting Stanford White

1914
I met Stanford White at a supper party. He had a friend in the chorus, who invited me to meet him. It was no novel thing to meet new people - - it was, as I have made clear, a very usual circumstance, and I attached no importance to the outing, save that I was going to meet one of whom I had heard, and who, by all accounts, was a very clever man. And let me say here that cleverness in a man or a woman has always been the supreme attraction.

Never once in my life have I found the slightest pleasure in the commonplace -- a pleasure which is reserved entirely for those favoured folk who get a good amount of placid joy in finding things as they expect them, and expecting very little.

My first experience of Mr. White was that he was very unprepossessing, that he was very kindly, and that he was safe. He did not treat me with any great ceremony, but he was courteous, attentive, and took an interest in my life. There was something subtly flattering to me in this attention and interest, and I found myself listening to him with a satisfaction which few people have given to me.

He exercised an almost fatherly supervision over what I ate, and was particularly solicitous as to what I drank. He was mildly reproving, gently bantering, a man who kept one smiling with his own good humour or interested in his own experience. Everybody had spoken so well of him, and he was undoubtedly a genius in his art. He had met my mother and knew something of our history, and he was keenly interested in my adventures in the artistic world.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
The sudden plunge from that dingy street entrance into these room was breathtaking. The predominating color was a wonderful red, a shade I have always called Italian red. Heavy red velvet curtains shut out all daylight. There was plenty of illumination -- yet I could find no lights anywhere. Stanford White, you see, was the first man to conceal electric bulbs so that you could get only their glow. Indirect lighting is a common thing today, but then it was a startling innovation. Fine paintings hung on the walls; an exquisite nude I particularly remember by Robert Reid. The furniture was Italian antique, beautifully carved. There was a table set for four.

I sat down on one of the chairs, timid, shy, awed by the beauty and luxury of the room, and by the tall, impressive, smiling Stanford White. Edna Goodrich seemed perfectly at home. How I wished that I could be as nonchalant as she appeared to be!

Then another man entered the room, Reginald Ronalds. He seemed disappointingly old to me; and so, for that matter, was our host. On first impression, I considered the latter not a bit handsome. Girls of sixteen, when I was sixteen, wanted their men to be Byronesque, Don Juans -- just as all girls today search for some movie star's features in their boy friends.

During luncheon I tasted champagne for the first time. I was permitted one glass, no more. But something else intoxicated me more than wine... the fact that the two men made much over me; their frank admiration made me feel grown-up.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

The Red Swing

1914
We went up another two flights of stairs, and came to the room at the top of the building. My first impression of the room was that extended in the very centre was a large velvet chair swinging on two ropes from the ceiling, and above this chair, closer to the ceiling, was hung a big open Japanese umbrella of paper.

"Let me give you a swing," said Stanford White. I got into the chair and he swung me higher and higher, till I almost touched the umbrella.

"I want to see your feet go through it," he said, swinging me more vigorously; and soon after I accomplished what he desired, for my feet went crashing through the paper cover of the umbrella. It was amusing. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I did not realise that childish fun could have any serious significance. I did not realise that this prepossessing and kindly man could have any other object in view than to amuse me.

After a while he looked at his watch.

"I should like to stay here all day," he said with a smile, "keeping you amused; but unfortunately I am a very busy man."

He glanced round at my companion.

"I want to see you for a moment," he said, and went out with her. In a little time she came back to me. She told me that she had to go to a dentist and that we should go for a little ride in an automobile round Central Park and afterwards I might go with her. It was Mr. White's suggestion that I should do this. He thought that my teeth should be seen to, and since he was a dentist with experience I welcomed the suggestion.

I told mother all about the party and the subsequent visit to the dentist; there was nothing to hide and nothing in the afternoon's experience which seemed in any way out of place, and mother apparently took the same view.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
It was a gay, happy affair, that first luncheon party; with champagne, delicious food and ideal surroundings. After lunch we ascended to the next floor and entered a marvelous studio where I saw, for the first time, the famous Red Velvet Swing!

That gorgeous swing, with its red velvet ropes around which trailed green smilax, was set in the high ceiling at one end of the studio. Imagine my delight when Stanford White proposed:

"Let's put this kid in the swing first."

What fun it was to be tossed higher and higher until my feet pierced a huge Japanese paper parasol attached to a string! Edna held the string; she pulled it every time I swung nearer the ceiling, a fresh section of the parasol coming within range of my feet and being pierced. I laughed so much my sides ached. It was fun.

The oft-mentioned Mirror Room was on this floor, too, but I did not see it that day.

About four o'clock the party broke up. At the last moment Stanford White asked me to visit his dentist; Edna, he said, would take me. He had noticed that a front tooth of mine needed professional attention. "My dentist will fix the tooth. It's your only defect... it spoils your smile," he said.

Another hansom cab awaited us and we took our departure. Edna ordered the driver to go through the park and thence to the office of the dentist. For a while the dentist worked on Edna's teeth, but she said nothing regarding mine. She spoke little, on the whole, and seemed in a bad humor.

It was dark when I got home. Naturally, my mother, anxious to know where I had lunched, whom I had met and all about the party, made me tell her the whole story. She was puzzled about many things, especially the scene of the party. She did not understand -- neither did I, for that matter -- why Edna's "society friend" should have such a gorgeous establishment in the heart of the business district. We were far too unsophisticated to find answers to our own questions. To us, essentially small towners, New York was full of surprises, of new experiences. When I told Mamma how Stanford White had suggested my going to his dentist, she thought his interest in me very queer. We were both completely puzzled.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

Confessions to Thaw

1914
"I want you to marry me," he said.

He was as dogged and as persistent as ever. There was no fending him off with excuses, with reasons or with explanation as to why marriage was not desirable. I knew in an instant that now he must know the truth, must take his answer for good or evil.

"I cannot marry you," I said.

"Why not?"

"Because--"

"Do you not love me?"

I nodded.

"Then why--?" he repeated.

"Because--" I said slowly.

He walked towards me and laid his hand on my shoulder, looking straight into my eyes.

"Is it because of Stanford White?" he asked; and I nodded again.

I hesitated a moment.

"Sit down over there and I will tell you everything."

It was a story that was difficult to tell. But it had to be done. Very slowly, very deliberately, making no excuse for myself, giving no place to prejudice against White, I told him all that had happened from the very beginning.

He sat in silence for a while, his hands shaking, his face ghastly; then he rose and walked up and down the room, his shaking hands gesticulating as he muttered.

Then when I reached the climax of the story he sat down suddenly, burying his face in his hands, and burst into tears.

You saw all that was best in Harry Thaw then, all the finer side of him, all the womanliness in him, all the Quixote that was in his composition.

He sat there sobbing, "Poor child! Poor child!"

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
For three nights this torment continued until my head ached to the point of bursting. Beside myself with physical exhaustion and lack of sleep, I trembled at the thought of giving away my secret; Mamma might find out about it — and she adored Stanford, worshipped the ground he walked on. Could I expose her to such shocking disillusionment? Never!

"Now listen, Harry," I made a dying effort to hold him off. "I've been on the stage and I like the work. I can earn enough to support my family. You seem to think I am in danger of becoming a kept girl or something. That's silly. I won't. On the other hand, I don't intend to marry — ever. So please stop this questioning."

"That's filthy! Indecent!" he cried, furiously. "I'll call your mother and tell her."

"Oh, don't! Don't do that! You promised you wouldn't."

A cruel, demonical grin distorted his face.

"All right, if you will tell me what I must know. I love you. I've got to have you. Tell me, is it because of some other man you won't marry me?"

Then and there I made the greatest, the most terrible, the costliest mistake of my life. To my dying day I will suffer because of it. In a last desperate effort to control the Fate that had hitherto always controlled me, I answered him:

"Yes."

Very quietly, he asked:

"Was it Stanford White?"

"Yes."

As briefly as possible I told him all. Instead of flying into a rage he wept like a child. Never before and never since have I seen a man shed such tears. So genuine and abysmal was his anguish that I pitied him. And how accurate is the saying that "Pity is akin to love." ...A great pity for Harry Thaw came over me then and has never completely left me. I still pity him.

Walking the floor, he kept wringing his hands and sobbing:

"The beast! The filthy beast! A sixteen-year-old girl! Damn him, damn him, damn him to hell!" And then his mood changed to one of triumph. "But I knew I! I knew it all the time! I know more about it than you imagine. I had you followed. Yes! I know about those long hours you spent with that blackguard in the Tower and other places!"

So incredible was this revelation that I failed to realize that he had had detectives trailing me night and day.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

The Murder

1914
We went to the Cafe Martin, Mr. Truxton Beale and Mr. McCaleb with us. It was an ordinary dinner-party, rather quiet, if anything. We sat on the Twenty-sixth side of the dining-room, arriving about eight o'clock in an open motor-car from Sherry's.

We were an hour at dinner, and it was there that I saw Stanford White. He came in from the Fifth Avenue entrance, and went out on the balcony. He came back again from the balcony and went out by the door through which he had entered. He was about an hour. All this impressed itself upon me. He was an unexpected vision. Perhaps, too, something of Harry's fear for his safety had been imbued in me, and I took a distorted view of things. At any rate I borrowed a pencil and wrote on a slip of paper, "That blackguard is here again," and pushed it across to Harry. He read it and looked across at me.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes," I said. No other word passed.

We had taken tickets for the Madison-square Roof Garden, and we left the Cafe Martin about nine o'clock and arrived at the theatre a little after. The show was a rather trifling kind of production called "Mlle. Champagne," and we stayed just long enough to be bored. Harry and I sat together, and we talked of nothing in particular save the merits of the play, and when I had expressed a wish to leave the theatre he was at one with me and we rose and went.

I have been asked so often to describe my feelings on that particular night, and my impression of the tragedy which followed after our leaving the theatre, and I reply invariably that I have no particular remembrance of what I was speaking of or what I was talking about. I know it was something very commonplace. If you were sitting in a restaurant with a man, and suddenly saw him rise, raise his hand and shoot dead at a man at the next table, without any warning, without any preliminary exhibition of temper, you would sit aghast and dumbfounded, and exactly what occurred and of what you were thinking before the outrage would be a matter rather for your imagination than for your memory.

We did not go immediately, but when we did McCaleb and I went ahead and Harry and Mr. Beale followed. We had almost reached the elevator, and I was talking to Mr. McCaleb and I went ahead and Harry and Mr. Beale followed. We had almost reached the elevator, and I was talking to Mr. McCaleb and turned round to get some confirmation of what I had said from Harry, when I found to my surprise he was not there. I walked round to where he had gone. The next thing I remember was seeing Stanford White at a table about thirty feet away. For a moment I could not see Harry... then I saw.

He was standing about five feet from Mr. White directly in front of him. He had his hand outstretched perfectly still. Then I heard three shots. I could not have prevented it even if I had been at his side. I could only raise my hand to my lips. "My God!" I said, "He's shot him!"

Harry turned and walked towards me.

I said, "Harry what have you done? What have you done?"

He leaned over and kissed me.

"It's all right," he said smilingly. "I have probably saved your life."

Mr. McCaleb at my side was white and shaking. "My God!" he said, "You're crazy!"

I saw a man come up and grasp Harry, then they led me away to the elevator. I drove straight to the house of a friend, and that night, while the police were searching for me, I sat thinking, thinking, reconstructing the scene again in my mind, trying to grasp its meaning, trying to realise where it all led.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
We had seats for the premier of "Mlle. Champagne," a light musical production at the theater on the Madison Square Garden Roof. I could scarcely believe that Thaw had so reconciled himself to things that he would even set foot in the Garden, with which Stanford White's name and my seduction were so immutably linked. Incredible! And yet, I reflected, we were now married and had been living quietly for over a year, and he had probably resolved to forget the past. This was just another first night; why shouldn't we attend it even if we would sit in the very shadow of the Tower? ...How could I even dream of what was in his mind when, with that incredible, fantastic cunning of the insane, he guarded his purposes so well?

It was a lovely June night as we set out, Thomas McCaleb, Truxton Beale, Harry Thaw and myself, to dine at Martin's. I wore a white summer dinner dress covered with English eyelet hand embroidery, and a black picture hat -- currently in vogue.

We occupied a table in the main dining room of the restaurant. My chair was so placed that the dining room and the Fifth Avenue balcony were within the range of my eyes. Thaw, opposite me, had his back to them. Beale at my right and McCaleb at my left, faced each other.

Idly scanning the tables on the balcony, I suddenly went cold with fear. Stanford White sat there! I dared not make one false move, dared not cease smiling and exchanging repartee with my three companions. Against my will, my eyes wavered toward the balcony once or twice. I thought my nerves would crack from the tension when I saw White enter the room and walk through it, weaving his way between the tables. After he was gone a wave of relief broke over me. With luck, I would see no more of Stanford White this night. Determined to play fair with Harry, I asked for a piece of paper and pencil -- since I couldn't speak of it before McCaleb and Beale -- and wrote:

"The B. was here but has left" -- or words to that effect.

Harry read the note, pocketed it, nodded, and smiled at me.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

"Yes."

We lingered over coffee and liqueurs until theater time. Then we strolled over to Madison Square Garden a block away. How strange it seemed to enter the Tower elevator again -- this time with Harry Thaw.

In the roof theater we were shown to our seats, about three-quarters of the way back from the stage. Seated, we watched the curtain go up, and for a while pretended an interest in the show, which was putrid. When Harry excused himself and slipped away, we three others exchanged winks: He was bored. Well, so were we. Nevertheless, we held out longer.

"This is awful," McCaleb finally complained.

Truxton Beale agreed with him in a whisper.

"Let's get out and go somewhere else. Where's Harry?"

As there was no sign of Harry, we were compelled to remain where we were and wait. How long we sat thus, I don't know. It might have been twenty minutes. Perhaps longer.

"This is awful," said McCaleb hastily when Harry returned. "I suggest we get out of here and go somewhere else."

"All right," Harry agreed without even sitting down...

We filed out into the aisle and headed for the elevator by a circuitous way round behind the seat section we had just quitted, and through an aisle bordered by tables and potted palms. Thaw walked ahead with Beale, and I followed on the arm of McCaleb. As we neared the elevator, Harry without warning swerved away from us and dashed off in the direction of the stage. Where was he going? We wondered.

Then I saw him turn and raise his right arm. There was a loud report! A second! A third! Whatever had happened, had happened in the twinkling of an eye -- before anyone had a chance to think, to act. Harry Thaw's arm, like a fatal indicator, had directed my eyes toward a table off the aisle. A macabre sight, brief yet unforgettable, met my gaze. Stanford White slumped slowly in his chair, sagged, and slid grotesquely to the floor!

A woman screamed. It was followed by several screams. Pandemonium. But whatever I saw and heard during thee ghastly moments of realization that I now lived through were to become permanent records on my consciousness only later -- as the sea's victim floats to the surface long after he has sunk in its depths. A numb, icy terror took possession of me. McCaleb was saying:

"He's shot a man! He has killed somebody! My god, what it is to be crazy!"

They say Harry raised high his arm and broke his gun right after the murder, but I didn't see that. I stood staring at that empty chair... A complete numbness of mind and body took possession of me. They tell me I moved like a person in a trance for hours afterward.

People were running about, herding in safe corners, calling for help. The ushers and waiters tried to calm them, to get them back to their seats.

Thaw walked over to me, his face a pasty white, and kissing me gently, said:

"It's all right dear. I have probably saved your life."

An officer came up and took him by the arm. "You are under arrest --"

Somehow McCaleb and Beale got me into the elevator and down to the street. A hansom cab stood at the curb. We climbed in, and drove up Fifth Avenue. No one said a word for a few blocks, each immersed in his own agitated thoughts. At length McCaleb spoke:

"Whom did he kill?"

When I told him, "Stanford White," he repeated the name in consternation, and burst out in a suddenly hoarse voice: "Oh my God! Oh, my God!"

I remember thinking: "This is a nightmare! It isn't true! It can't be true! I will wake up and find it's all a dream..."

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

The Call to Testify

1914
The moment had come, the moment which I dreaded and welcomed.

"Evelyn Nesbit Thaw," shouted an official, and I made my way slowly to the stand.

I did not under-rate the ordeal which awaited me. I knew that on my evidence would depend Harry's fate, and I knew, too, that a merciless prosecutor, the most skillful man in his profession, would leave no stone unturned to discredit me. I went into Court that morning with all the sensations of one already condemned, yet with all the firm resolve to tell everything I knew; to bare my soul to the gaze of the multitude, so that in doing so I might help my husband. It would mean torture to me - - it would mean perhaps ever-lasting effacement; it would certainly make me notorious. I was no better and no worse than any other normal being confronted with the prospect of having her most intimate secrets dragged into publicity.

I had a natural shrinking from such an experience, and my panic was accentuated by the knowledge of how much depended upon my statement.

Harry's eyes met mine as I took my place on the stand, and he smiled encouragingly. I know that the first part of the evidence would be drawn from me by a friendly counsel, but that story would be one which no woman could tell without an effort. In many ways I found this first day the worst of all, worse indeed than the cross-examination which was to follow. Nothing obscured my view of Harry, who sat about forty feet away in the centre of the court.

I was used now to the Court, to the crowd, to the staid judge on the Bench. I was familiar with all the formula of the law; to the rows of busy reporters, to the spectators, to the acoustics of the building. But as I sat in the witness chair it was all the difference between watching the sea from the beach and viewing the beach from the sea.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
Terrible, indeed, were the long hours and days spent in that small witness room waiting to be called to the stand! My nervous system has never completely recovered from the shock of the tragedy and the resultant suffering and mental agony. At last I heard the call: "Evelyn Thaw to the stand!" "Evelyn Thaw!" "Call Mrs. Thaw!"

Somehow I managed to stand up and start walking toward the courtroom. As I entered there was a dead silence; then a sudden buzzing sound. Oddly enough -- at such a moment -- my mind flashed back to childhood days...

I remember thinking: "They sound like angry hornets." Then I had to pass behind the jury box. Here, for a second, I stopped, thinking: "What will they do to me? What will Jerome ask me?" The lawyers never could help me long that line, their answer invariably being:

"Nobody can tell what line or trend Jerome's attack will take." Then, realizing I must go on, I thought: "Well, here it is at last. Even if they kill me I've got to go through with this."

Strange, the thoughts that run through one's brain at critical moments! Sometimes so irrelevant and fantastic. Once I narrowly escaped a motor crash, and what flashed through my mind? I had a glass bowl of goldfish tied in the back of the car and I thought: "Those fish will be knocked out of the water and die!"

All I remember, as I first sat down in the witness chair after the customary oath, is seeing nothing but eyes - - hundreds of staring eyes. Then Mr. Delmas asked his first question and my direct examination by the defense began.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

Aftermath

1914
At the conclusion of the second trial, with the knowledge that my name and my life had been dragged through the mire, I sat down to reason out my position. And to assist the reasoning I had collected for me the records of every great criminal trial which had been heard in the past fifty years. There was invariably "a woman in the case." That goes without saying. It was the woman who interested me -- the woman guilty or innocent; temptress or victim. She and her future were immensely interesting to me. What happened to her when the trial was ended, when all the grim figures of tragedy had gone hence and the echoes of the case had ceased to reverberate? I spent time and money to find out. And my discoveries were of a depressing nature, for every woman had gone down, down, down. Drink, drugs, the hundred and one wild diversions which eclipse sorrow and soothe heartache had been pressed to service, and the poor light had flickered out dully and miserably. And this without exception. It was a shocking fact, but I faced it. Not only were these women the merest victims of fortune's caprice, but in the vast majority of cases the innocent victims. Their innocence did not save them from ignominy.

Said I to myself, "Evelyn Thaw, you shall do better than that."

The way of life is full of sharp twists and turnings, each of which reveal vistas which go to the changing of all previous conceptions, making almost nothing of the experiences of the past and demanding clamorously the exercise of new standards and newer and keener application for the future.

The first of turnings is that which led me to the studios, the second is that which led me to the stage, the third came sharply after my meeting with Stanford White, the fourth followed the tragedy, and the fifth was the birth of Russell.

I have endeavoured to avoid, in the course of this life, being in any way sentimental. For sentimentality I have the greatest horror, but I say this -- whatever be the tag that is attached to my utterance -- that a little child is the greatest and the most wonderful gift that life holds, and because of Russell Thaw I found a larger life confronting me. He brought me to a realisation of just where I stood in the world, and he called insistently for my return to work.

Evelyn Nesbit, The Story of My Life, 1914

1934
Everything we do is known to the gods. Every act judged. We pay "to the utmost farthing" for any wrong, any evil. The moment we disturb the perfect balance in Nature -- Harmony -- we bring suffering upon ourselves. Everything in Nature has its opposite, as the great Pythagoras taught; positive-negative; male-female; vice-virtue; black-white; abstract-concrete; youth-old age... one could go on endlessly. There must always be a perfect balance between the two opposites. The moment we disturb that harmony, we cause trouble, suffering. All our suffering, pain, grief are caused by some violation of that immutable law governing the fundamental law of opposites. In this I believe...

Russell has been an ideal son always. He is quiet, hard-working and level-headed. He does not dissipate. If he has never known what it means to have too much money, it is just as well -- better so. Too much money might have spoiled, demoralized him in youth, laid waste the formative years and ruined his life. As it is, since the age of eighteen, he has earned his own living. Yes, it is better so.

We are friends as well as mother and son. I have been entirely frank with him, to avoid the mistakes my mother, in her Victorian prudishness, made with me. And having successfully raised Russell, I no longer feel that I have lived in vain.

Evelyn Nesbit, Prodigal Days, 1934

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