Jervis McEntee Diaries

Friday May 4, 1888

Jervis McEntee Diary Entry, May 4, 1888, from the Jervis McEntee papers, 1850-1905, in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Friday, May 4, 1888 The weather is still cool and dark. Shortly after I came to my room Charlie Osman came in. I was glad to see him, showed him my Western Sketches and tried to make him feel easy with me. I saw however that he was a little preoccupied and finally he said if I would talk with him he would like me to. I told him I would if he wished, for I had entire respect and affection for him and feel that I could speak frankly to him, as I certainly should if we talked at all. He began by assuming a certain amount of responsibility for the letter which Laura wrote Sara, and which he told me the last time I saw him he had never seen. I at once discovered his magnanimity in thus trying to shield his wife and respected his intention while I confess I was not entirely convinced of the fact. He spoke of the grief it was to Laura and to Joe to have this state of feeling, but I reminded him it was Joes deliberate choice most persistently pressured. I went over the catalogue of what he has done and then I told him frankly that I had lost all affection and all respect I ever had for him and that I hoped I would never see him again. He insisted that he never spoke except kindly of me and that he was strongly attached to me and to us all. I replied he had a poor way of showing it, as exemplified in his demand that Charlie should cease his business connection with me. He contended that in spite of these things he was a noble character. I said nothing to this. I told him his whole course had been a persistent endeavor to annoy us and that finally he had come in with the deliberate intention of contesting my fathers will and was only dissuaded by the earnest efforts of his friend. Of this I had proof which could not be questioned. He admitted that I had given Joe the best of advice the last time I saw him and regretted he had not acted upon it, and said that Joe had told him I had helped him and lifted him out of his misery by my kind sympathy. I said there was his fatal mistake that he did not keep his faith with me, for all would have been forgotten by this time. He spoke of how difficult it was for the girls to have anything to do with us while we would not accept their father and I replied that on no other conditions could they and restated that I never wanted to see him again and it would be wisest for him to keep away from me. With regard to influencing his children against them I told him we not only disclaimed any such intention but that in the last letter I had written to Laura I expressly stated that it was her first duty to be loyal to him, I also said that if I had wished to prejudice them I knew of facts in his relation to his wife which perhaps they thought I did not know, which I could never forget and which, had I been inclined I might have used to his serious damage. He was silent for he too, I am sure knows of his cruelty to her. In speaking of the embarrassment [to?] Laura of meeting us, I frankly said I thought it best we should not meet. He said she justified her position and I told him that so long as she did that anything like a reconciliation was impossible. I told him I did not wish to seem cruel. I only wanted him to thoroughly understand my position and I thought my position was that of all the rest of us and that we all thought alike on this subject. I said if Laura goes to Rondout we will receive her as kindly as we can on conditions that she does not talk upon this subject or that we will not do, because it is worse than useless. Charlie was very thoughtful but comprehended the gravity of the situation. Well he said, Uncle Jerve, its a hopeless case is it? I told him I feared it was. I asked him always to come and see me when he came to New York, that we all feel most friendly to him and that all these differences made no ill feeling in us toward him, who had been so great a comfort to our sister and for whom she had so great esteem, and so we parted. Edgar Ward came in while he was here but soon went. Wells came in just as Charlie left and I paid him my years rent. Then I went over to the Century for lunch where I met Calvert and told him of my interview with Charlie. Came back and bought 25 lbs coffee and a dozen bottles olive oil at Park & Tilfords to be sent up home. Since then I have had a call from a couple of young Art Students, Comstock, who has been here before and his friend [blank] and so my days go without accomplishing much art work. I attended the funeral of Mrs. Withers in 18th St. this forenoon at 10 oclock. I have not seen her in a number of years. In this great city friendships grow cold and some day we learn that one we used to know lies cold and silent before us as we come to do the last sad honors to the senseless dust. I was struck afresh with the fact that one is so little missed. Few people come to the funerals of the best of us and we are not long remembered save by a few. Miss Clara Baker dined with us and Downing and I spent the evening playing En[?] with her and Marion.

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