Harry Thaw Trial, April 1907
"If your honor please, and you, gentlemen of the jury, we have no more right, if the real facts were known, to be here trying this prisoner at the bar than if it was prohibited by statute.
"Had you heard these worlds from any irresponsible persons, instead of having heard them from an official charged with a public duty; had you heard them from a man given to irresponsible talk, instead of in this court of justice and solemnity; had the occasion on which they were uttered been some trivial discussion about an insignificant topic, instead of where the discussion is one of life or death—these words might not have filled you with amazement, but this was a statement made by the district attorney....
"To show the falsity of that, it will 'be necessary to call upon all the energy in my power to reach a conclusion. And to reverse, at least in a general way, the same points of the evidence which you have heard for so many days I shall make no attempt to inflame your passion, no appeal to make your feelings warp your judgment.
"I shall rely on no such unstable thing as the supposed unwritten law. I will base the fate of this defendant on the law of this state—the law of the books, the written law.
"In the performance of my task it will become my duty to speak of the dead. I shall not be mindful of the injunctions of the departed. Only that which is good should be spoken, but I cannot forget the circumstances under which the protection of the living demand that the truth shall be told, no matter how it blights the memory of the dead or how painful to the survivors.
"Under that law we find ample protection for his rights and life and to that law I shall resort as to the horns of the altar, for his safety. In the performance of my task it will be my imperative—unshunable duty—to speak of the dead.
"I shall not be unmindful of him and shall speak in no other terms—if possible—than those of praise, I shall not forget that for the protection of the living the truth must be told, no matter how painful to the dead or those who survive him.
"Of those survivors I can speak in no other terms than those of the most profound sympathy. For the widow who mourns and the son who survives I have no words than those of sympathy. Gladly would I remove from them, were it in my power, the cloud which must henceforth accompany their life, and gladly would I remove from the young man the sentence that the sins of the father must be visited upon their children to the second and third generations.
"Gentlemen, the story you have listened to is the story of two young persons whom fate, by inscrutable decree, had destined to link together, that they could walk through life together. It is a story—the saddest, most mournful and tragic which the tongue of man has ever uttered or the ear of man has ever heard in a court of justice.
"Let me begin briefly with the story—one filled with incidents with which a volume might overflow and a tragedy might be filled, as though it were written by the hand of a Shakespeare.
"She was born on Christmas, 1884, in the state of Pennsylvania, in the city of Pittsburg. The first years of her childhood saw her lose her father and natural protector and left her in charge of a mother who early manifested a character of frivolity and extravagance which was later to be attended with such fatal consequences.
"At ten years of age the family began to feel the pangs of want, the sufferings of poverty and the gnawing of hunger. At twelve she began to be the family drudge, assisting her mother in such acts as she could perform. And thus the family continued moving from place to place without any fixed habitation on the face of the earth.
"But nature having endowed her with beauty which showed in early youth, we find her looking to it for the support of the family. At fourteen we find her in Philadelphia, already embarked upon the perilous seas of an artist's model's life. But New York was the market in which such gifts were most eagerly sought and would be dearly paid for. And to New York the family came, and by the efforts of the mother the employment begun in Philadelphia was continued here and the beautiful child went from studio to studio and at the end of the week paid into the hands of the mother the scant few dollars she had earned to support the mother, the brother and the child.
"But the large metropolis afforded broader avenues of gain than the mere studios of artists—the stage, with all its tinsel and glare of dazzling lights lay before them and the tempter came.
"The theatrical manager found the girl at fifteen and employed her at $15 a week, where she slaved at night as she did by day—posing for artists—but at night she appeared on the boards of the stage.
"It could not be long, for the beauty with which she was gifted attracted attention, and the tempter came. He saw, he desired to have, with the consummate cunning of a man whose head had already grown gray. He had a wife and an accomplished son. He fixed his eyes upon the fated child and determined to make her his.
"To win her he had none of the graces which a man of her own age might present. He was already married and had a family of his own and any such thought of love—legitimate love—between him and this child was out of the question. He introduced himself into the family in the guise of a protector.
"His tender solicitude manifested his intentions to ameliorate their condition. He won his way into the confidence of the mother; established himself in the position of a protecting attitude toward the family. When his purpose was secured he persuaded the mother to absent herself from the city, assuring her the child would be safe in his hands in her absence, telling the family that they should rejoice that they had such a careful eye to watch over the beautiful child. She went. The child was left alone.
"I wish, gentlemen, it were in my power to pass over the scene which followed. I wish it did not have to be embodied in the argument I have to make to you.
“To one of those dens fitted with all the splendor and dazzling beauty with which this man of genius endowed his places, this child was one evening lured, under the pretense that there were to be others there to share the supper that had been prepared, and when she arrived she found herself alone with the man who had promised to be her protector.
"Need I recount to you how the child was led from one step to another until plied with wine and plied with drugs she became unconscious and this man, who had promised to protect the child, accomplished her ruin and downfall?: Need I recall to you the terrible scenes which you heard told from the lips of this tortured victim?
Oh, better for Stanford White had he never been born, better that his ears had never been opened that he could not have heard the words of anguish of the victim.
“For what had he—a man whose hair was already gray—what had he done? He had perpetrated the most horrible crime that can deface the human heart. He had lured the poor, innocent flower that was struggling forth to life. He had committed a crime which is a felony—which the President of this republic in his last message to Congress said should be punished by death.
“He who had erected altars and sanctuaries and churches crowned with the emblem of the Redemption—had he forgotten the words:
"Who so receiveth such a little child in my name receiveth me, but whosoever offendeth such a little one, it were better that a millstone were tied around his neck and he were cast into the sea.
"Oh, ye who have erected temples to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, have ye forgotten the words of Jehovah, when upon the return from Egypt, He said:
"'Ye shall not afflict a fatherless child. I will surely heal that cry, and I will kill you with the sword and your wives shall be widows and, your children fatherless.'
"Oh, Stanford White, in the entirety of your hardened heart, you imagined that the cry of the fatherless child which that night was heard in the darkness of the great city, where good citizens were at rest, the child without a father, the child deserted by her mother, the child left alone in this city of millions, would not be heard.
Did your hardened heart imagine that God would not hear that cry? Did you imagine that He had forgotten the promise He made—that anyone who afflicted a fatherless child would surely die?
"Did you believe that the retribution would be omitted?
"Better had it been for him had he died before that day, for then he might have died in glory-he might have died when public mourning would have attended his obsequies; he might have died before his name had become a byword; before his genius had become an aggravation.
"But fate had decreed it otherwise. The poor child, returning to her senses, not realizing what had been done, was taken back to her home, there to sit in lonely vigil until he went back the next day to complete the pollution he had but partially begun the night before. It remained for him to destroy the last vestige of womanly honor in her mind, and he performed that task after daylight that day.
“He went there—he, the strong man, kissed the hem of her garment; told her to dry her tears, and to stifle her moans; told her that what she did was not wrong, that it was but what all women did; that the only sin was to be found out, and that if she would but keep the dread secret pent up in her breast and not tell her mother all would be well; that all women were wicked; that the only distinction was that some succeeded in concealing their vices, while others were found out.
"And so he left her. And so he lured her again and again, plying her with wine in the same dens for a couple of months.
"Is this story true, gentlemen, or, rather, is the story I have related to you the story Evelyn Nesbit told Harry Thaw in June, 1903, in Paris-that, gentlemen, is one of the main questions which you have to decide in this case and in the elucidation of which I may be permitted to occupy a little of your attention.
'The prosecution says this story is a clever lie—the result of the imagination of this defendant's wife. Your first inquiry must be into the veracity of Evelyn Nesbit. If she never told Thaw this thing, then she has been an untruthful witness before you.
"She gave this testimony: 'And those things you told Mr. Thaw of the outrages at the hands of White were true?" Her answer was, 'Those things were true.' "In collaboration of the statement that these things did take place, I beg to refer to the evidence and to the things that have occurred before your eyes. You have seen Evelyn on the stand for four days. You are men of the world—men accustomed to looking through the souls of men and analyzing their conversations—you are asked to judge if she were a clever actress as she sat in that chair and related the horrors of that night.
"You saw when she came to the final occurrence of that night-you saw her countenance—how the shadow of horror overspread it. Although the story was to save the life of the one person whom she loved, you saw how she shrank from telling it. You saw the drawn face, you saw the brave little girl struggling that she might save her husband, that she might overcome the objectionable features of the story.
"For days and days you have seen her undergoing torture of an examination unparalleled in the jurisprudence of this or any other country.
"Did the District Attorney of your city, to whom I gave the greatest acknowledgment of talent, confuse her? You saw him using all the arts, resorting to all the strategies of a practiced master to entrap a girl who had never testified before. Was she caught in a single falsehood, or contradiction?
"You have seen learned men on the stand—tell me, if you have ever seen a witness who has stood the excruciating tests of cross-examination as well as this child?
"Gentlemen, in that cross-examination the merciless District Attorney—I say merciless without offense, because his office is not one of mercy—you saw him extort from her truthful but unwilling lips the confession "at the misdeeds of Stanford White did not stop with the first wrecking of her life, but continued until God asserted himself in her and she would no longer be the plaything and toy of this man.
"I ask you, on your oaths, if this girl had fabricated this story, would not she or the others who prompted the story have for the sake of sympathy, said that the first drugging was the only occurrence and that she had shrunk from further dealings with such a man.
“Upon any other theory than that the story is true I ask yon the question, why did Stanford White just at that moment see fit to remove the mother-the only protector left this child—from her post as sentinel? Why was the mother sent to Pittsburg with money furnished by Stanford White? Why was the brother sent to school?
"Gentlemen, I desire to call your attention to this point. During this time Stanford White made a contract to pay Evelyn the sum of $25 a week during the time she should be unable to obtain her own living on the stage. And during that one year we have discovered—by strange fatality which ever seems to assist the cause of justice and to disconcert the cause of injustice—there appears certain checks on which the name of the mother was indorsed.
“And, according to a computation made by some gentleman in court, the mother, for the year following the ruin of the child, received $2,500, in round numbers, $200 a month. And yet the District Attorney tells you that at the same time Stanford White was in embarrassed circumstances.
“One circumstance I desire to call to your attention. It relates to the assistance which the prosecution draws in its attempt to deprive Evelyn of her husband. You will recall that when the name of the mother was spoken I disclaimed having said anything that would cast upon the mother any shame that would cast reproach upon her.
“Gentlemen, at the time I made that declaration, I wish you to bear in mind that three things had not been developed:
“First. That the mother had been in receipt of $200 a month from White.
“It had not been developed at that time that the mother was assisting the prosecution in the work of this case.
“It had not been developed at that time that the mother had given a written statement to the District Attorney by which he might torture the soul of her daughter, a daughter who had been left alone in the world except for a most unnatural mother.
"And when I saw the District Attorney with that paper in his hand, when I heard him read from it on the cross-examination of this girl, when I learned that every shaft which he aimed at her heart came from a quiver furnished by her mother, when I learned that every sore in her poor soul had been pointed out to the District Attorney, that it was a mother who was pointing out those sores, and when I learned that the poor little girl had been sent away to school so that she might get the money she desired from Stanford White—I now retract what I then said.
"Oh, most unnatural mother, you, who left the girl a victim of the lust of this gray-haired man! You who received the wages of her downfall, funds with which you bedecked yourself with diamonds and finery, now in the hour of her supreme agony this mother assists the prosecutor of her husband!
“Why, a beast that wants reason protects her young! I have seen a poor little bird no larger than your fist while I was out hunting. A number of young ones were playing in the dust around her and I have seen a pointer come running upon them and I have seen the little bird ruffle its feathers until it looked as big and old as an eagle, making the dog pause and return abashed.
“I have now laid before you in outline what was given you in evidence. I propose to prove by evidence that will demonstrate the truth, which will leave no hook upon which to hang a doubt, that Evelyn Nesbit told the story she swears she did in Paris in 1903.
"In the first place, you have the undoubted, undisputed fact that Mr. Thaw in September of that year, when Evelyn's mother returned to New York—that Mr. Thaw narrated that story in a letter to his counsel, Mr. Longfellow. In the first letter he says:
“ ‘Mistress Nesbit sails tomorrow for New York. Her daughter can't be with her, because Miss. N. was beguiled by a blackguard when she was but fifteen years of age. The child was drugged.
“And in a later letter to Mr. Longfellow he says: ‘Her position could not, be worse. She was poisoned at fifteen and three-quarters. Also since.'
"Now, gentlemen, bear in mind that these two letters were written by Mr. Thaw in Paris to his counsel, Mr. Longfellow, in New York. I ask you who is the blackguard referred to in these letters if not Stanford White? What is the superhuman negligence of the mother, if not her trip to Pittsburg, leaving her daughter alone in New York?
“How was the child beguiled, if not by Stanford White's paternal kindness and show of parental goodness?
“I leave it to you as to what these two letters can refer to if not to the story Evelyn Nesbit says she told Harry in Paris in June, 1903.
"She told how she had learned this young woman's name. He said he desired to shield her from the awful consequences of the deed. What was it the child that had come from Pittsburg, that had first posed as an artist's model, and had then gone on the stage—what was it she had told Harry Thaw and what had he told his mother?
"The learned prosecutor says that he invented it all. After inventing did he go home and tell his mother—the mother who had given him birth, who had nourished him at her breast, who had watched him in his sleepless bed at night as he was giving evidence of the troubles which were to have such a bearing on this case?
"When he broke down in church and tears fell from his eyes and a groan broke from his lips was he telling, was he acting a lie?
Harry Thaw loved Evelyn. He had loved her ever since he saw her in 1901. He had loved and wooed her honorably, and honorably sought to make her his wife.
"I make these assertions just before seeking to make any deductions from them, It is meet and proper that I establish them as facts, As early as 1901, when he found her on the stage, he realized that was not a :fit place for a young girl like her. He was contemplating sending her to school—that is to say for three years. Then she might come out and take her station in the world as his wife.
“And if not, even though she did not become his wife, he would be amply repaid by the nobility of the act he had performed. Evelyn Nesbit says he met her in 1901 and called upon her frequently, but was not always at that time a welcome visitor. It seems her mind had been poisoned by the same persons who afterward poisoned her mind against him again. He says of her: 'When I first knew her she was the most active, laughing, strong and fail child I ever saw.'
"That was the time when she was the support of the family, going about in the daytime from studio to studio and appearing on the stage at night and pouring into the lap of her mother her scant wages.
"And what was the nature of the foul wrong done to this child?
"What was the fatal deed which he said he would gladly have purchased with his life if it could be undone?
“I say to you, these letters refer to no other transaction than the story she related on the witness stand—the story she told you she told him in June, 1903. The letters were private. They were to be locked up in Mr. Longfellow’s breast. Then ask yourself whether it is possible that Thaw was telling his lawyer in September a falsehood or an invention of his own brain?
"That is not all. You remember Thaw returned to New York in November and shortly thereafter went to his home in Pittsburg and told his mother the selfsame story he told his lawyer then in these two letters.
"I desire to give you the mother's testimony and ask you whether I am not telling you exactly what occurred.
"Not only that but I invite interruptions if you desire to set me right if I omit or tell anything that was not part of the testimony.
"Now, the mother whom you have seen on the stand and of whose veracity I believe not even the prosecution has any doubt, this mother says that after he arrived home she found him awake at night, and when she went to his room he said it was because of a wicked man—perhaps the most wicked man in New York.
"She learned before Thanksgiving that this was said about a young girl, but did not at that time learn her name. Her son told her he was interested in that girl. This she learned one night when the mother found him in his room at dawn.
He had not been able to get sleep surcease from his tortured brain.
"She said, the son said, that this girl had the most beautiful mind he had ever known, that she had been neglected, that if she had a chance and anyone looking after her she would be all right. And then you remember, gentlemen, Thanksgiving came. And the mother and the son went to church together, and there, while the solemn anthem was peeling, she heard tears dropping upon the paper which he was holding in his hand, a stifled sob.
“In 1903 he intended to marry her. Writing to Longfellow, he says:
" 'Miss N. and I may be married after Lady Yarmouth comes. We could have been married without a row. If I die, all my property goes to my wife.' And, writing to her, he says: 'Mr. and Mrs. George Carnegie should be your loving ‘brother and sister-in-law.' Gentlemen, no man of his years, of his temperament, ever wooed a woan in a manner more respectable than Harry Thaw did Evelyn Nesbit.
"There is nothing to show that everything and every bit of testimony does not confirm the statement of Evelyn that in .June, 1903, he proposed honorably to make her his wife.
"In corroboration of these facts told by Evelyn Nesbit, that she told this story of Stanford White, that he, Thaw, asked her to marry him, that it is not a cunningly devised tale told by Harry Thaw for his own purposes. I ask you these questions: Does a man who loves a woman, who has lavished upon her for two years all the affections of his heart, does a man who loves a woman honorably and sought to make her his wife and besought her mother's consent—does a man like that deliberately invent a story of this kind to defile the object of his adorn?
"Until you can take from this case the fact that Harry Thaw loved Evelyn Nesbit, if any man says to you that he deliberately invented this story to degrade the object of his affections—the most degrading story any man could tell—it is not in the human heart but to revolt from the allegation.
"If I mistake not, I have established to your satisfaction the great, simple fact—that this story about Stanford White is not an invention and that the statement that Evelyn Nesbit did tell the story to Thaw is true.
"As against this assertion, what evidence is there in this ease? What is there to contradict this statement of Evelyn Nesbit, the statement that she told this story to Thaw?
"Nothing except the testimony of Abe Hummel. I will not speak of that unfortunate man in any harsher term than the exigencies of this case require. But it is a melancholy sight to see a man in the declining years of his life, when soon the sun must set for him forever, and he will appear to have that account of his life that we are all called upon to give after death—I say it is melancholy sight to see a man whose pathway has been wreathed with dishonest acts, crowning his acts with perjury—resorting to perjury in order to deprive a fellow of his life.
"Gentlemen, is this censure deemed excessive? Listen.
Mr. Hummel is not lacking in intelligence—certainly is not lacking in cunning.
"Let me recall to your mind the photograph of the alleged affidavit. You remember what weight the prosecution attached to it and of what importance they considered it. Let me call your attention to all the points in Hummel's testimony regarding this.
"Thaw's lawyer then tore Hummel's evidence to bits, showing that in one place he Swore positively he sent for the photographer and in another he swore as positively that he did not.
"Which of these stories is true? They both come from the witness sitting in that chair. They both have the sanction of his oath—the oath of a man already convicted for subornation of perjury and conspiracy. Both of these stories cannot be true. Which one is true? One of these two stories is a deliberate falsehood, and which it is I care not. They probably are both false.
"Abe Hummell testifies that this thing, miscalled 'affidavit,' was dictated by him in the latter part of October, 1903, in his office, to a stenographer whose name he does not remember and even whose individuality he has forgotten.
"Listen: If Abe Hummel dictated this illegal affidavit, as he swears he did, in the latter part of October, 1903; if this is his work; if these are his words, this his dictation, then he committed deliberate perjury, gentlemen,' and the proof of this perjury was in the hands of the learned interrogator. He held the paper before him while the witness was in the chair and could not but know that at that time the witness was swearing the proof of his perjury was lying before him.
"In order that Abraham H. Hummel could testify at all—before his lips could be unsealed—it was necessary for him to swear he was not acting in an official or professional capacity for Evelyn Nesbit when he dictated this statement. Hence the absolute necessity that this wretched old man should swear that he was nut acting as her attorney.
"Hence he says, 'I was not acting for Evelyn Nesbit. There was no action contemplated by her. She did not consult me in my official capacity.' "Hence there could exist no professional relations. He said so.
"This is the famous paper by which Abraham Hummel hoped to help the District Attorney send Harry Thaw to the electric chair. Who dictated these words, which lay open before the District Attorney as he questioned Hummel?
'I received many cablegrams from Mr. Thaw, which I turned over to my counsel, Abraham Hummel.' "Who dictated these words, if the paper was dictated at all? Abraham Hummel, who came upon the stand and swore he had never acted as her attorney-Abraham Hummel.’
" 'Howe & Hummel, attorneys for plaintiff,' are the words that appear on the indorsement of this paper. And who was the plaintiff? Evelyn Nesbit.
"And the same man who tells you no action was contemplated is the man who dictated the first words of this affidavit, which read, Evelyn Nesbit, plaintiff, vs. Harry K. Thaw, defendant.'
"This is in letters as legible as I have ever looked upon. Perjured when he tells you he was not counsel for Evelyn Nesbit, when he tells you no legal action was intended, when he dictated this affidavit.
"You are called upon to convict her of perjury.
"You are called upon to do so upon the strength of Hummel. And on that testimony you are called upon to deprive a human being of his life.
"How did this paper have its birth? Miss Simonton, as I have told you, came here after hearing in Paris the story you have all heard. Arriving here, she went to Mr. White in order to get confirmation or denial of that story. His body turned icy cold when she told her story you have heard.
"He knew that what he had done would not only disgrace him, but would send him to prison.
“She was told that Harry Thaw was a married man and that she should be protected against Harry Thaw, and he took her to Hummel's office. What was White's object in taking her to Hummel's office? It was to get from her by some monstrous deception her statement of her story about herself that would neutralize their efforts should they ever attempt to bring up against him their story of his outrage, of his acts."
[End of argument for day. Court recesses.]
"The Unwritten Law"
"Let me call the' insanity' of Thaw ‘Dementia Americana.' It is the species of insanity that makes every American man believe his home to be sacred; that is the species of insanity which makes him believe the honor of his daughter is sacred; that is the species of insanity which makes him believe the honor of his wife is sacred; that is the species of insanity which makes him believe that whosoever invades his home, that whosoever stains the virtue or his threshold, has violated the highest or human laws and must appeal to the mercy or God, if mercy there be for him anywhere in the universe...."
"I will relieve the long suspense which has been occasioned by your labors by announcing that I will shortly leave the fate of this defendant in your hands. Before entering upon the remarks which I propose making it may be useful to cast a rapid glance over what I have already said, so that you may connect what I shall have to say with what I have already said.
"I have endeavored to lay before the eyes of the jury the picture of the fate of these two young people. I had tried to show the unfortunate occurrence which befell her when she narrated to him in the summer of 1903 her awful story of what had happened. I have shown, or at least have endeavored to convince you, first, that the facts which she swears she then related were true and, secondly, that it was true that she did relate them to the defendant at that time."
"Gentlemen, I shall prove to you from a number of sources, and first, without adding any words of my own, in the very language in which it was told by Evelyn when she was testifying before you.
"She says, after narrating what took place in Paris in June, 1903: 'The effect of this story on Mr. Thaw was terrible. To think of me—I was so young—and to think of this big, great yellow brute. It must have been frightful. He could not think of it. He would walk up and down the room exclaiming, "Oh, God; oh, God," and kept sobbing, not like an ordinary sob, but a terrible sob. He kept saying, " Go on, tell me the whole story." He said it was not my fault—that I was simply a poor unfortunate little girl; that he didn't think any the less of me on account of it, and he said that no matter what happened he would always be my friend. Rerenewed his proposal of marriage two months after. He said that I was not to blame—that it was not my fault.
" 'I told him that if I did marry him the friends of Stanford White would always laugh at him—that they knew about it and would be able to sneer at him after our marriage; that it would not be right for us to get married; that it would not be a good thing because of his family; it would get him in trouble in his social relations. He kept saying that he could never care for or love anybody else. He said he never could marry another woman and that he wanted to make me his honorable wife. He said I was an unfortunate person and he thought just as much of me.
" 'He kept pressing me to become his wife, but I said I could go on the stage. I said that if he ever met some one he wanted to marry he would be perfectly free to do so.
" I loved him so dearly, but during the whole period I was refusing his offers of marriage because I loved him. And I also respected him.'
" 'Sublime renunciation,' says the sneering district attorney. 'Sublime refusal on her part to accept the hand of a wealthy man when he offered her an honorable union.'
"Incredible, he would lead you to believe. " 'Impossible!' the district attorney says, and is the same breath intimates that it is a falsehood from beginning to end.
"I shall prove to you by evidence that will convince you beyond every doubt that this renunciation by Evelyn was sincere. But, thank God, the great Creator has placed in the breast of gentler woman the noble sentiment and renunciation for the consolation of the borne and of the world.
"But I shall prove to you that it is true. I shall prove to you beyond the slightest doubt that she did refuse him, and refused him for that reason alone.
"Man, it may be, has not that great power of renunciation, but in the gentler breast of woman do we find that great gift of God, and in the breast of this little girl existed this great strength that enabled her to put aside her one love when she knew it was for the good of the one she loved.
"Sublime renunciation! Ah, it indeed is. Do you remember the letters he wrote three months after this sublime renunciation? He says in a letter written in September, 1903: 'Three months ago I asked her point-blank.
She thought, but said she would not; that it would shut me out, etc.
"The genuineness of this letter is not disputed; that it was written to Mr. Longfellow is not denied; that Mr. Longfellow was the trusted friend and adviser of Harry Thaw is admitted. Three months before September, 1903, when this was written, was in the early summer of I903. Is not that true? Is it not true that she had refused him? In this letter he says she thought she did not want the man she loved to become an object of scorn.
"She looked up to the man she loved and she did not want the man she loved to be pointed at with the finger of scorn.
"In her little heart she said, 'Oh, Harry, I love you. I love you so much that I will not drag you down. I want to leave you free, and the moment you say so I shall return to my own sad way. You shall be free and happy and I will go down until I, like many others, have disappeared from the world.'
"The sneer, then, is unjustified. The sublime renunciation did take place, although we men may not rise above our sordid occupations to realize it. Do you remember how his mother saw him holding his vigil in his room; heard him sob and moan, and how he told her about the awful wrongs done to a little girl whom he loved?
"And he told her he desired to protect the child from the vile wrong that had been done her; that he had proposed marriage, and that she—I quote the very words of the mother—that she 'had refused because she would not drag him down.
"Has this gray-haired and venerable mother in Israel come here to perjure herself, or did he deceive her when he told her that he wanted to extend his protecting arm over the girl whom the other had betrayed; that she, the poor little girl who was earning her living by the talents God had given her—she refused the man, not because she did not love him, but because she thought it would not be fitting to wed the man she so dearly loved.
"Sublime, indeed, was the renunciation of this girl, unless the mother of Harry Thaw has not told the truth upon the stand. I return to her story as told in her own words. She says: 'He talked altogether too much of this thing. He did not sleep nights. He cried too much about it. It was not crying, but terrible sobbing. He would sit for hours without speaking or moving, and it was terrible, terrible. He got worse about it. He would sit for hours in a chair, just biting his nails. And then, in the midst of it, he would suddenly ask me about Stanford White. It seemed to be something that was ever present.'
"This, gentlemen, was the condition of Harry Thaw when, in 1903, he parted from Evelyn Nesbit and sent her back ahead of him to New York. You have the first faint dawn of that mental condition which manifested itself three years after. The tower in which reason held its seat did not topple over, but its foundations were already beginning to be undermined.
"The storm had not burst forth, but the dark clouds were gathering from the four quarters of the horizon, from which lightning and thunder were three years afterwards to burst forth.
"She says that he called upon her as soon as he arrived in New York—the middle of November. She had got to this city in the latter part of October. In the meantime such things had happened here that when the man whom she loved and whose hand she had refused called upon her she declined to see him alone, and she says: 'I saw him at the Navarre. I would not see him alone. He came into the room and sat beside me and said: "What is the matter with you?” and I said: "I don't care to speak to you because I have heard certain things about you." He said he did not understand, and wanted me to tell him.
" 'I told 'him that I had heard terrible stories. He said, "Poor Evelyn! They have deceived you!" I told him that Mr. White had taken me to Abraham Hummel's office and that they had showed me papers which they said were filed in a suit by a young woman against him. He said, "Poor little girl! You can believe Hem if you wish." 'The interview lasted ten minutes. I persisted I did not want to have anything to do with him. At the parting he kissed my hand and said no matter what happened he would always love me and I would be an angel to him.'
"Gentlemen, I ask you to picture yourself in the state of mind Harry Thaw was in when he received such a greeting from the woman he loved—the one he had parted from but a few weeks ago; the one he had sworn to devote his whole life to. I ask you to imagine what his condition of mind was when he returned to New York and found that she had had her mind so poisoned against him again by the man who had been the cause of all her misfortune.
"She would allow White to fill her mind with these terrors of Harry Thaw to such an extent that she refused to see Harry Thaw alone. And what must have been the condition of mind of that poor man when he exclaimed, 'Oh, poor deluded Evelyn!' and stooped and kissed her and then parted, as she believed, forever from her.
"Gentlemen, what was the condition of his mind is pictured to your eyes by documents of immeasurable worth, telling the story of this epoch in Harry Thaw's life.
"The series of letters that voiced the wail that came 'from his suffering soul is unparalled in history from the time of the Greeks to the present day.
"He wrote to her the day after he had kissed her hand and parted from her—she thought for all time—he wrote:
'Yesterday I saw you—you believed everything false people told you. Poor little Evelyn! You have fallen back into the hands of the man who poisoned your life—who poisoned your mind. I have no reproaches to heap on your head, for I know you are honest.
" 'I must fight this battle alone,' his letter went on.
'I should have bet every cent in the world three weeks ago that no hypnotism in the world could have made you turn on me.'
"If this man (Hummel) who sat upon that chair and perjured himself in your presence—had he kept away with his smooth tongue and professional tricks and devices, poor little Evelyn Thaw would not have turned away from her the man who loved her and who was ready to sacrifice his life for her.
"She would not have broken the vow which she pledged. She would have kept the purest thing from the pollution of those double-minded, lying, deceitful, treacherous persons.
" 'I am changed, but not in truth or faithfulness; Alone I cannot settle down. I am not responsible now, so I am frivolous and not at all as I was before. I can do no more than make the best of it, which was far from bad except for regrets—every loss, every illness, every opportunity missed—all these together are but as the raging sea of water to a battling ship. Everything is trivial to me now.'
"Pages neither of poetry nor oratory contain a more simple story of anguish than the one of this young man, seeing the object of his affections won from him by this man who had wrecked her life.
"All was lost to him and the world appeared to him flat. He had nothing to live for—all the ambitions of his life were gone and whatever could happen was but as a glass of water in the sea in which a ship was bottling. He left New York in November for his mother's home in Pittsburg in this condition.
"Up to that time Harry Thaw had been a man of cheerful and sanguine temperament. His mother saw a change had come over her son the moment he closed the door.
His manner was entirely different. He had an absentminded look, as if he had lost everything.
"She told how she then in the dark of night him sitting up on his bed fully dressed—how she had found questioned him. 'It's no use,' he said, I cannot sleep.' 'The mother was allowed to peep into the heart of the suffering son by the story she brought out, little by little.
"But even then he would not tell the girl's name, and then you remember the scene in the church and while the organ pealed; how the sob broke from his throat and the tears gushed from his eyes, and how when his mother asked him why he had sobbed he answered, 'But for him she might, have been with us today.'
"That was the condition of his mind; that one thing was ever in his mind.
"He could not, he would not forget—great, courageous, indomitable man, who believes he has a mission to fulfill, to make one more effort to rescue her from the hands of vice into which Stanford White had lured her. He came back to New York and met her in a drug store, where the artificial means were found to supply the beauty she possessed, and he said: 'Oh, these things are not for you.' And you remember how, afterward, they met as mere acquaintances in the street and passed the time of day.
"Here again no words of mine could supply the picture that is furnished by the words of the wife herself as they fell from her lips on the stand. She says that when they met at the Cafe Beaux Arts: 'I said I was going to a play, and Mr. Thaw said I looked badly and wished I would not go to the play. He would pay me my salary I would lose—that he would send it through a third party. He begged me merely for the sake of my health not to go to the theater.
" 'But I said that I would go; that I had no other means of livelihood.' You remember they met a couple of days afterward and he asked her to tell him of the stories that had been told about him. 'I told him then,' she said, 'all they had said about him and that he was addicted to morphine and had many other vices, and he said he could easily understand that they had made a fool of me. He urged investigation.' 'She could find nothing in the stories. 'I never lie,' Thaw told her. 'You never told me a lie in your life,' she said. And while she was investigating these stories spread by Abraham Hummel for the protection of Stanford White, he told her all these things had been disseminated by Stanford White and his friend.
"When she discovered that these awful stories—were untrue—learned that they had been disseminated by Stanford White and Abe Hummel for the purpose of separating her from the man who loved her and whom she loved, hope began once more to dawn upon him.
"The hour of reconciliation was at band. The barriers which had been set up between them were one by one falling to ruin and the two persons whom God and nature had intended to be united were drawing nearer to each other.
"That night in December, 1903—that night might have been, gentlemen, the beginning of another tragic chapter in the life of this poor child—the night when Stanford White in the lofty room in the towel' where he had spread a banquet in celebration of the birthday of his child victim—the night in which he was to lure her once again if possible, and bring her under his influence—the night in which, amid the glare of the lights and the splendor of the treasures he had planned to renew his power over the child victim.
"And the little girl, who had resisted the pleadings of rescuing her came to her and snatched her from the clutches of Stanford White—snatched her from the snares set for her—from the man whose very existence had been a menace to her and the curse of his whole life.
"He folded her in his arms; he snatched her away from the old man. And that night began another series of events. It was on that night that Stanford White, baffled, his plans disconcerted, went about that theater in Madison Square hunting for his victim, and, finding her not, pistol in hand and with impotent rage in his heart, threatened to shoot the man who had baffled his schemes. ' "And that night Harry Thaw, as he walked the streets of New York, found that his footsteps were being dogged by hired malefactors in the pay of Stanford White, and he learned in a few days of the threat of Stanford White and his hirlings. From that moment the dread of his life being taken away by this man added a grim specter to the one that already had been haunting him.
"And he from that time, as she relates to you, began to think himself persecuted by Stanford White. The scurrilous stories circulated in newspapers and elsewhere he attributed to him. He expressed apprehension of personal violence and impressed upon her mind that if he died she was to have his death investigated and to spare no pains.
"He told her he would probably be set upon in New York by some one in the employ of Stanford White. He said the Monk Eastman gang had been hired to kill him and the fear of death constantly haunted him.
"Consider in this connection, consider the strange clause in his will—if you will not take it from Evelyn—the strange clause appropriating the sum of $50,000 to be devoted to the investigation into his death, should it occur.
"In 1904, in the latter part of the year, or the beginning of I905, a second operation was performed on Evelyn.
And when she was convalescent the man who for two years had loved her, the man who had told her sad story to his mother in 1903, who had been refused by her because she thought their union would interfere with his family relations—that man, I say, such was the constancy and fervor of his love, persuaded his mother to come to the little girl whose sad story she knew and whom in her heart she could not but revere.
"And she came to New York—she, embodiment of all that a good wife and mother means—she came and saw the little girl and assured her that she would be welcome to her home; that no allusion would ever be made to her sad story.
"And the little girl, who had resisted the pleadings of the man who had loved her and because she loved him, could not resist the pleadings of the mother, and on April 4, 1905, they were united at the altar, when he in return for her love pledged to her before Almighty God that he would protect her. And these two were then made one.
"And after a trip westward they returned to the shades of Lyndhurst, the old family homestead. They were happy in each other's love, happy in each other's confidence, forgetting the past.
"But social or business exigencies would not prevent them from coming to New York, and one day while riding down one of your streets there appeared the form of the man who had been the cause of so much anguish, and he, though she was the wife of another man, stared at her, and had the audacity to call her by her first name.
"She went back to the hotel where her husband was, and told him what had happened. And he, in his anger, exclaimed: 'The dirty blackguard had no right to speak to you—no right to speak your name.' And he extracted from her the promise that no matter what happened she would tell him all.
" 'He made me,' she says, 'promise that if I ever saw Stanford White I was to come home and tell him of it.' "They next met in New York when she was going to a physician. Their hansoms crossed at Thirty-fourth street. He stared at her, pulled at his mustache, and stared and stared. She did not speak to him, but looked away and turned into Twenty-second street.
"He also turned, and as she ran up the stairs of her doctor’s he followed her. She became frightened, and ran down the steps and jumped into a hansom; and drove to the Lorraine, where she told her husband.
" 'He got excited,' she said, 'and bit his nails.' In May, 1906, not long before the hour which was to be Stanford White's last on earth, this is the story that she related to her husband. She told him that Miss Mae MacKenzie had told her that Stanford White had been to the hospital to see her. 'That she, Mae MacKenzie, had said to him, 'Isn't it nice the way Harry and Evelyn really do care for each other?' and that she said that she had found it out, and that Stanford White said: 'Pooh! I don't believe it. And Miss MacKenzie had replied: 'Oh, yes; it is true. I know it myself, and I think it is so nice,' and Stanford White had remarked: 'Well, it will not last long. I will get her back.' All this she related to her husband.
"Then, when she told her husband what Mae MacKenzie had told her, he became wild, and began to gnaw his finger nails. Did he not have cause to get wild, to lose that reason which in a civilized community one is supposed to stifle?
'I stole her once from her mother, I will steal her now from her husband,' Stanford White said. But between him and the consummation of that act there remained the strong arm of that young man to protect her from his snares.
"You remember how at Daly's Theater and his wife saw Stanford White in a box how, when he saw 'him, he became enraged.
"When he looked into those eyes, into which so many a young girl had looked before she went down to her ruin, his eyes grew wild and he just sat there and stared and stared at the object of his thoughts. She says, describing another meeting: 'At another time, when Harry and I were passing Herald Square in a hansom, we saw Stanford White on the street. Mr. Thaw grew white and his eyes glared. He talked so fast that I could not understand him. He carried on in this way for about fifteen minutes. I believe Harry had a fit then and there. He shook violently. He moaned and clenched and unclenched his hands, and that was the way he acted when he saw Stanford White.
" 'One Sunday,' said Evelyn, 'he was sitting in a chair in my room and suddenly he began to sob and cry without any warning whatever, apparently gazing upon vacancy.'
"His mind was always on this man. He cried until at last his own wife could not but believe this subject—the thought of Stanford White—had preyed so on his mind that he had become insane.
"The man who had brooded over those pictures of horror for three years—this man would have been more than human if he could have preserved a calmness of reason. Now, gentlemen, place yourselves in the position of this defendant.
"Recall the time, those of you who have wives, recall the time that you led the one you loved to the altar, and if possible do this defendant justice. You remember when the little lady tells you that her husband on this subject had lost his mind—do you remember in this connection the spontaneous exclamation of the friend who, on hearing the shots fired on the Madison Square Roof-garden, made the exclamation: 'This is the act of an insane man.'
"Gentlemen, nothing now remains for me to do but to call your attention to the events of the night of the tragedy. With a view simply of elucidating the great point, fix your attention on this point—that is, the condition of mind of the defendant on that fateful night-you recall that Mr. Thaw, his wife and two friends were seated at dinner at the Cafe Martin, a place of public entertainment in this city. The time was summer, the evening doubtless was sultry Tables had began set upon the balcony, the veranda on the outside for the accommodation of those who desired a cooler spot.
"Now, while this party of four was seated at the table, Stanford White, by accident or design, came into the room in which they were seated. He came in through such an entrance that Harry Thaw himself could not see him. After White went out on the veranda on the Fifth avenue side and remained there a considerable time.
"The wife, seeing him, forbore at the time to call her husband's attention to him, and only when he was ~one did she call his attention on paper. She wrote upon. it, 'The B--' (meaning blackguard) 'was there, but has gone out again.'
'As denoting the condition of mind of the defendant at that time, he turned to his wife and said to her, 'Are you all right' and her answer that she was mastered every emotion he had in that public place and the incident had no further consequence. Now, you will remember that during the afternoon Thaw had procured four tickets for the performance that was to take place that night at the garden. He took with his party and on the way took along another friend to whom he gave his own seat. He went about with 'his busy, nervous activity which characterizes him until he found a seat beside the witness Smith.
"He sat by Mr. Smith for half an hour engaging in such idle conversation as so-called men of the world indulge in—men whose minds are not seriously engaged in the serious problems of life.
"When Thaw saw White he walked quietly and slowly down the aisle until he faced White and then fired three shots.
"He then slowly and deliberately turned away-and I wish to call your attention especially to this circumstance, apparently slight, but to my mind of the utmost importance, and testified to by the defense. Mr. Meyer Cohen, one of the witnesses, said that as soon as he heard the shots he looked and saw Thaw standing facing the audience with his arms spread out in the form of a cross, a circumstance which has not been dwelt upon by any of the learned experts for the State.
"Mr. Thaw stood as a priest might have stood after some ceremony of sacrificial offering, saying, 'All is over,' and dismissing the congregation. He turned his pistol barrel down to indicate to the audience that there was no danger to them.
"He then walked slowly to where his wife stood, and when she said, 'Oh, Harry, what have you done? he replied; 'It is all right, dearie, I have probably saved your life.' As he said this he stooped and kissed her. When he was disarmed he said, 'He has ruined my wife.' When the policeman came he said: 'He has ruined my wife.' "I have dwelt upon these acts and declarations of Mr. Thaw at that time to call your attention to the fact that the safety of his wife was menaced by the man who had followed her to the garden, the same man who had followed her to Dr. Delayan, the same man who had said to Mae MacKenzie he would get this young wife away from Thaw.
"What condition of mind must Harry K. Thaw have been in when walking down the aisle he turned and suddenly saw the form—the hideous form—of the man who had caused so much unhappiness.
"If you have been near death you know that at such a time the mind travels with the rapidity of lightning. The mind goes back over the past like lightning. Then Thaw, as he looked upon the hideous form of this man, saw the whole panorama of White's life. He saw him making his way into the family where poverty dwelt; saw him laying bare his plans to ingratiate himself; saw him giving the mother money to absent herself from the city that he might perpetrate the deed of shame he had planned; saw him inflaming her youthful imagination; plying her with wine; saw her mind wandering under the fatal drug; saw her losing consciousness; saw her in her shame; saw him next day kissing the hem of her dress; heard his thousand protestations of love; heard her refusing, and saw that chamber in Paris where she told him the story of her wrongs; heard again his oft proposals to her; he saw that terrible night when she had told him her story; he saw himself as he walked the floor and cried, 'Oh, God! Oh, God!' "He saw her return to New York; he saw her meet this man who had wronged her; he saw her about to fall into this villain's hands, and 'he saw himself rescue her from this man. He saw himself again at the altar marrying her.
"He saw her when her mind was poisoned against him by the same man who had ruined her; he saw her rescued from the man; he went over the happy months he had lived with her in his mother's house; he saw this monster and he heard his words, 'I will get her back,' and he knew not, he reasoned not, he struck as does the tigress to protect her lion—struck for the purity of American homes—struck for the purity of American maidens-struck for the purity of American wives. He struck, and who shall say he was not right' "He had appealed to The Pinkertons, to the district attorney, and that night he appealed to God, and God that night answered that cry—the cry of the fatherless child.
And God then redeemed the promise He had made thousands of years ago when He said He would hear the cries of the afflicted and that He would make the wives of the oppressors widows and their children orphans.
"Ah, gentlemen, what was his condition of mind at that time? Men, judge your fellow-man as ye would be judged. Place yourselves as far as in your power lies in the place he stood.
"It is for the district attorney to prove that the defendant was sane, and if he fails to do this he has not established his case. He must establish that he was sane at the time.
"And I ask you not to violate any law, and I ask you to judge by that law which bids you do unto others what you desire others to do unto you.
"Send this young man to his death for what he did when goaded into frenzy by the persecution he had suffered? He turned at last as the weakest of created things will turn—as a worm, it is said, will turn against his tormentors—send him to his death for that?
"Ah, gentlemen, recall the language of the great book in which is contained the wisdom and religion of the people of old, and I say to you, Is Jonathan to die for ridding Israel of its pollution?
"Is Jonathan to die for working this great salvation in Israel?
"God forbid! Not a hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he walked with God on that day.
"I now with all solemnity leave in your hands the fate of Harry K. Thaw."