Bok had had a previous
Bok had had a previous experience with Mr. Blaine which had impressed
him to an unusual degree. Many years before, he had called upon him at
his hotel in New York, seeking his autograph, had been received, and as
the statesman was writing his signature he said: "Your name is a
familiar one to me. I have had correspondence with an Edward Bok who is
secretary of state for the Transvaal Republic. Are you related to him?"
Bok explained that this was his uncle, and that he was named for him.
Years afterward Bok happened to be at a public meeting where Mr. Blaine
was speaking, and the statesman, seeing him, immediately called him by
name. Bok knew of the reputed marvels of Mr. Blaine's memory, but this
proof of it amazed him.
"It is simply inconceivable, Mr. Blaine," said Bok, "that you should
remember my name after all these years."
"Not at all, my boy," returned Mr. Blaine. "Memorizing is simply
association. You associate a fact or an incident with a name and you
remember the name. It never leaves you. The moment I saw you I
remembered you told me that your uncle was secretary of state for the
Transvaal. That at once brought your name to me. You see how simple a
trick it is."
But Bok did not see, since remembering the incident was to him an even
greater feat of memory than recalling the name. It was a case of having
to remember two things instead of one.
At all events, Bok was no stranger to James G. Blaine when he called
upon him at his Lafayette Place home in Washington.
"You've gone ahead in the world some since I last saw you," was the
statesman's greeting. "It seems to go with the name."
This naturally broke the ice for the editor at once.
"Let's go to my library where we can talk quietly. What train are you
making back to Philadelphia, by the way?"
"The four, if I can," replied Bok.
"Excuse me a moment," returned Mr. Blaine, and when he came back to the
room, he said: "Now let's talk over this interesting proposition that
the President has told me about."
The two discussed the matter and completed arrangements whereby Mr.
Blaine was to undertake the work. Toward the latter end of the talk, Bok
had covertly--as he thought--looked at his watch to keep track of his
"It's all right about that train," came from Mr. Blaine, with his back
toward Bok, writing some data of the talk at his desk. "You'll make it