Thursday, September 20, 2012

I would like Chauncey Depew's desk

This black-and-white photograph serves as the frontispiece of the 1918 hardcover "Speeches and Literary Contributions at Fourscore and Four" by Chauncey M. Depew.

Get a load of that beautiful desk! Real wood! Smooth curves! Full of pigeonholes for stuffing ephemera into!!!

(Composes self.)

Indeed. It is a very nice desk.

And it belonged to Depew (1834-1928), who had a long, successful lifetime that took him through Peekskill Military Academy1, Yale University (where he was in Skull and Bones), law offices, railroad companies and the U.S. Senate.

So you can imagine that he generated a lot of paper.

He also generated a lot of speeches, as this somewhat narcissistic book suggests.

The speeches and papers included in the 256-page volume include:
  • My views of life
  • Speech at the Twenty-fifth Annual Dinner of the Montauk Club of Brooklyn, in Celebration of Mr. Depew's Eighty-second Birthday, April 29, 1916
  • Speech telephoned from New York City to Seattle, Wash., May 31, 1916. Distance: 3,184 Miles2
  • Speech at the National Fertilizer Banquet, Hot Springs, Va., July 12, 1916
  • Speech at the Luncheon given by the Executive Committee of the Pilgrims Society to Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree3, Bankers Club, New York, May 7, 1917
  • Changes with the next Seventy-five Years.4 Written for the "Brooklyn Eagle" on Its Seventy-fifth Anniversary, October 26, 1916
  • Letter to the Rippey Bible Class, First Presbyterian Church, Geneva, N.Y., April 19, 1918

And how many of the ideas and drafts for those speeches ended up tucked somewhere into his desk? I wonder what happened to it. (Dreamy sigh.)

1. Another 19th century alumnus of Peekskill Military Academy was Mr. Lyman Frank Baum.
2. Here's an excerpt from his short telephone speech:
"The Metropolis of the Western Hemisphere sends greetings to the Metropolis of the Pacific Coast. ... We to-night by this marvelous invention for peace are brothers in mingled voices across three thousand miles of country, inhabited by a people with one mind, one love, one aspiration, and that is for the United States."
3. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (an actor and theater manager) joins Electra Papadopoulos and Ruel Funkhouser in the annals of great names that have been featured on Papergreat.
4. Here are some of Depew's 1916 predictions for the years 1917 to 1991:
  • "The greatest change will be in Russia and in the transfer of the arbitrary power of the bureaucracy to the liberal working people of the legislative coming from and representing the people."
  • "With her provinces restored and the perpetual menace from the Rhine removed, France can devote her superb energies, vitality and temperament to progress and development, mental and industrial. French art and French literature will become dominant factors in the intellectual life of the world."
  • "Labor will increase its political power and dominance over executives and legislatures. The conservative strength of the [United States] will be farmers. Though the country will make marvelous progress in arts and industries, yet agriculture will make our chief reliance."
  • "The farmers is a capitalist and thinks on property lines. His land is his, the citadel of his family and the hope of his children. To protect it and its interests, he will work, vote and fight. The politician of the future must satisfy the farmer as well as labor."
  • "To avoid a masterful and popular President becoming dictator, there will be an amendment to the Constitution limiting the office to one term, but extending it beyond the present four years."