DIRECTOR   Philander Lovell


Fairchild's zeal for us before he became governor is not as well known as it ought to be. Our infant library found ample room in a glass-faced case, 3J-2 feet by 4, and stood in the executive chamber. When crowded out of the capitol it took refuge in the basement of the Baptist Church. It had been cooped up there eleven years when the fourth installment of this edifice was approaching completion. We ancient members were in mortal fear that no corner of it would be vouchsafed for our treasures. At that time it was my luck to fall in with him in the unfinished wing, and I told him my fears. His answer was : " Don't be troubled. What do you think I have come here for ? I am picking out the rooms that will be best for you, and you shall have them." I do not forget that the same quarters which he then pointed out were afterwards granted the Society by the legislature, and that before Fairchild became governor. This fact is by no means inconsistent with our owing admission within these walls largely to Fairchild, who was already secretary of state and a recognized power behind the throne — his words to me made me see his hand quietly leading on to the Society's petition and so to legislative action. A power behind the throne is talked of as something peculiar to monarchies, but it is not unknown elsewhere. Where are not some conspicuous actors mere " things of springs and wires by others played ?" During the same south wing interview Fairchild lamented that the capitol must be built by contracts under which it was impossible to secure faithful and fire-proof work. " It is not good enough for you," were his words. The feeling he then showed lived on, as I believe, to the end of his life. It roused him to promote the rearing of the new south wing, and whenever a chance of gaining something better was afforded it rendered him an advocate public and private, in season and out of season, of enshrining the historic gems in such a casket as is now preparing for them. When he was placed at the head of the nine commissioners for the construction of the library now rising on the university campus, all the people said Amen. They felt that the hour had come and the man,— that the bibliothecal pearl of price which had become the immediate jewel of their souls was sure of a setting worthy of its preciousness and of Wisconsin. Had not God willed otherwise, with what rapture would he have beheld the topstone brought forth with shouting for our noblest specimen of state architecture, and that one dedicated to noblest ends so that it finds a fit emblem in the dome over our heads radiating with equal expansion toward every quarter of the earth and directing its convergent curves to heaven. But its best emblem is the sun as Milton sets it forth : " Made porous to receive And drink the liquid light, firm to retain Her gathered beams, great palace hall of light." Fairchild's self-culture was such that he did honor to every office he was called on to fill, at home and abroad, in dealing with cabinets, presidents, and kings. He rose high but we all felt that he was worthy of something still higher. His mining and military life were both schools. So were all his offices from first to last. Men were his books. He never met a man from whom he did not learn something — a knowledge he could often turn to better account than its owner could. Hence, I often applied to him certain words of Shakespeare: " I cannot say 'tis pity He lacked instructions, for he seems a master To most that teach." His sun went down as it were at noon. Otherwise he must have become a reader in the glorified library.