Publication information

Source type: magazine
Document type: article
Document title: “William R. Hearst: A Critical Study”
Author(s): Bonnet, Theodore
Date of publication: March 1916
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 12
Pagination: 365-80 (excerpt below includes only pages 376-77)

Bonnet, Theodore. “William R. Hearst: A Critical Study.” Lantern Mar. 1916 v1n12: pp. 365-80.
Ambrose Bierce; William Randolph Hearst; Hearst newspapers (role in the assassination).
Named persons
Ambrose Bierce; Leon Czolgosz; William Goebel; Hamlet; William Randolph Hearst; William McKinley.

William R. Hearst: A Critical Study

     According to Ambrose Bierce, our hero is a man of “strange and complex character.” I do not so regard him. He is singular, not complex. Hamlet realizes my conception of complexity of character. There is nothing of complexity in the character of a man who pursues his ends with the narrow pertinacity of the indefatigable ant. Hearst struck Bierce as complex by once exhibiting what the great satirist believed to be “a human side.” This was when Hearst suffered abuse on account of the assassination of President McKinley. To Hearst was attributed the inspiration of the murderer Czolgosz because of the following prophetic lines written by Bierce: [376][377]

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 his bier.

     Bierce says the lines were written soon after the assassination of Governor Goebel of Kentucky, which seemed to him “a particularly perilous precedent if unpunished.” Twenty months after the lines were published President McKinley was shot, and at once Hearst found himself a storm-centre. Wherever a Hearst newspaper was published there were thunders of popular indignation. An attempt was made to induce Czolgosz to testify that he had been incited to the crime by reading the lines inspired by the assassination of Goebel. Hearst uttered no word of defense or repudiation, though, as Bierce says, in all probability he never heard of the verses till after they were published. “I have never mentioned the matter to him,” says Bierce, “and he never mentioned it to me.” Bierce adds: “I fancy there must be a human side to a man like that, even if he is a mischievous demagogue.”