A Thumb-Nail Sketch [excerpt]
Soon after the assassination of Governor Goebel of
Kentucky—which seemed to me a particularly perilous “precedent”
if unpunished—I wrote for one of Mr. Hearst’s New York newspapers
the following prophetic lines:
The bullet that pierced Goebel’s breast
Can not be found in all the West.
Good reason: it is speeding here
To stretch McKinley on the bier.
The lines took no attention,
naturally, but twenty months afterward the President was shot by
Czolgosz. Every one remembers what happened then to Mr. Hearst and
his newspapers. His political enemies and business competitors were
alert to their opportunity. The verses, variously garbled but mostly
made into an editorial, or a news dis- 
patch with a Washington date-line but usually no date, were published
all over the country as evidence of Mr. Hearst’s complicity in the
crime. As such they adorned the editorial columns of the New York
Sun and blazed upon a bill-board in front of Tammany Hall.
So fierce was the popular flame to which they were the main fuel
that thousands of copies of the Hearst papers were torn from the
hands of newsboys and burned in the streets. Much of their advertising
was withdrawn from them. Emissaries of the Sun overran the
entire country persuading clubs, libraries and other patriotic bodies
to exclude them from the files. There was even an attempt made to
induce Czolgosz to testify that he had been incited to his crime
by reading them—ten thousand dollars for his family to be his reward;
but this cheerful scheme was blocked by the trial judge, who had
been informed of it. During all this carnival of sin I lay ill in
Washington, unaware of it; and my name, although appended to all
that I wrote, including the verses, was not, I am told, once mentioned.
As to Mr. Hearst, I dare say he first saw the lines when all this
hullabaloo directed his attention to them.