Later at one of Dr. Runge’s entertainments at the Insane Asylum, I met Dr. Dean, who told me he was a patient. This man was one of our most noted surgeons, and bacteriologists. He said he had aphasia. I told him I had it too, and of many others I knew who had it. I frequently forgot words, or misused them. “Yes,” he said, “but my case is very different from what you describe. For instance, if I want to say ‘milk’ I may say ‘cow,’ and such errors indicate softening of the brain.” He had evidently diagnosed his own case correctly, as he died in a few weeks after this from paresis.
My work with the Charity Commission led incidentally to some very pleasant things and I may remark in passing that the complexity of modern life is such that almost every activity of a busy man comes soon or late into some relation with things apparently very remote and irrelevant. For example, while I was with Matthews & Whitaker, Messrs. Lombard and Facio, Bankers at Geneva, Switzerland, came to our house with letters of introduction from Blake, Boissevain & Company of London. In particular, they wished to see the St. Louis charity institutions. I had the entrée to all, as Charity Commissioner; so our guests visited all, and had special attention. While at dinner at our house, one of them mentioned that he had a nephew, Mr. Emil Odier, then traveling in the Orient. I suggested that he write advising him to visit the U. S. Frigate “Brooklyn,” if they should run across that ship, and introduce himself to Captain E. O. Matthews, in command, and to my son William N. Matthews, the guest of the Captain. I wrote to my brothers of the probable visit. It so happened that while Captain Matthews was reading my letter, the orderly came to the Captain’s cabin door with Mr. Odier’s card. Well! for years after we received from him all kinds of social notices of weddings, funerals, and various social functions abroad. A few years ago, on my letter of introduction, your mother, Saunders Norvell and his daughter Lucy and Lucy Matthews were royally entertained by Mr. Lombard at his country place near Geneva. Observance of the little social amenities pays very good dividends.