Here I wish to relate another story that shows that unless you happen to be acquainted with the inmost thoughts of a fellowman, you are apt to misjudge or censure him unjustly.
One day a gentleman walked up behind me, tapping me on the shoulder, saying – “Matthews, I owe you an apology. It may be you have noticed for the last two years I treated you coldly. I was told that while I was in Europe, you were the cause of my being let out of the presidency of the Third National Bank. Since then I find you were made a scapegoat. I was led to believe that you had repeatedly poisoned the minds of the directors against me, and that it was on this account I was not re-elected. I now find that you are entirely innocent of the charge. Therefore, I feel a keen sense of injustice in my mind toward you and I heartily apologize for it.” This was Mr. John R. Lionberger.
On another occasion, my attorney, J. G. Chandler, told me he had occasion to collect the last installment due the John R. Lionberger creditors of the Broadway Savings Bank, of which Mr. Lionberger was assignee. When he had paid that several amounts due, he asked Mr. Chandler to surrender the claims. This he refused to do, stating there might be other sums due, and he proposed to keep them. Whereupon Mr. Lionberger, who was a high strung man, picked up a chair, and came near striking Chandler. I told him I felt sure by the time he got back to his office he would find a note from Mr. Lionberger asking him to call. He did. Mr. Lionberger told him he acted hastily, and apologized for it. Few have the nobility of character to act in this way.
And just here I wish to relate an incident of my early life. One morning when I was eight, or ten years old, I visited a boy acquaintance. While at breakfast, under a tray, I found a $2.00 bill. I took it – Why, I cannot say! I would have given my hat and boots, two minutes after, if I could have returned it without detection; but I was afraid to do it. Going away I spent the money foolishly as is usually done in such cases. If the temptation had not been there, I certainly should not have erred. It was an unaccountable impulse, but I took the $2.00! Even now I feel a twinge of conscience, though I excuse myself in my own mind by saying it was not from any “innate badness.” This affair has ever since shaped my course in judging my fellows in crime. I can recall three cases in which that $2.00 affair of my boyhood worked mercifully in behalf of evil doers. Of the three men referred to, one is now dead, but represented by a widow, and a respected family, and two others are now living in this city, with the highest connections and honored families. One tried to induce a boy in my employ to conceal opium, morphine, and other valuables in his dinner pail and divide the spoils. I went to Chief of Police McDonough, told him I would like to have the clerk arrested privately. If he confessed, he was to be let off, with an admonition. This was done. When I was in the banking business, the Postmaster, Sam Hays, stepped into office, and told me someone was defacing our stamped envelopes and then exchanging them for stamps. The suspected clerk went through the same process with the then Chief of Police. The third case was that of a boy friend, who stayed all night with your brother Claude. Claude was saving money to buy a bicycle and showed the friend where he kept it. The next morning boy and money were both missing. I went through the same process, with the same result. All three of these mentioned, in all probability, if they had been publicly arrested, tried, sentenced to the penitentiary, and served their terms, would have become criminals and would be “spotted” by the police forever.