Source: The Print of My Remembrance
Source type: book
Document type: book chapter
Document title: “Gambols and Travels” [chapter 20]
Author(s): Thomas, Augustus
Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Place of publication: New York, New York
Year of publication: 1922
Pagination: 362-77 (excerpt below includes only pages 375-76)
|Thomas, Augustus. “Gambols and Travels” [chapter 20]. The Print of My Remembrance. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922: pp. 362-77.|
|excerpt of chapter|
|William McKinley (death: personal response); William McKinley (death: public response: Providence, RI).|
|William Disston; James A. Garfield; Eddie Garvey; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley.|
From title page: Illustrated with Photographs and Numerous Drawings by the Author.
From title page: By Augustus Thomas, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Gambols and Travels [excerpt]
Garvey remembers the night in question, although he doesn’t remember
the exact date. He and Disston left the theatre together. Disston was a convivial
person, and the company being that week in Providence, Rhode Island, Disston
and Garvey went to the rooms of the Musicians’ Union, where there were some
beer and songs and music until a late hour. They then started to go home, but
in order to do so were obliged to pass the office of the Providence Journal.
In front of this building about a  thousand
men were gathered, watching the bulletins in the windows. As the last one appeared
Disston took his cornet from its case.
My own relation to that occasion was this: I was in bed in the stately old Narragansett Hotel. The night was warm. Two windows of the room were open. At about three o’clock in the morning I was wakened by the sound of the cornet. It came over the night air, carrying the strains of that impressive old hymn, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” It took a moment to recognize this, and then the expertness of the playing convinced me that the player was Disston. I got out of bed and leaned on the window-sill. As the cornet began a repetition of the hymn it was joined by a male chorus of some thousand voices, and there plainly came the words: “E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.” I knew then that President William McKinley, who had lain wounded for a week in Buffalo, was dead. I was surprised as I listened to the finish of the hymn to find that my cheeks were wet with tears. “Nearer, My God, to Thee” had been a favorite hymn with my grandmother. My mind went back to her and the death of President Lincoln—to the tears, the solemnity of that tragic time—and, in the middle distance, Garfield.