St. Nicholas/Volume 40/Number 4/Frank Hall Scott

St. Nicholas, Volume 40, Number 4 (1913)
edited by William Fayal Clarke
In Memory of Frank Hall Scott
3974095St. Nicholas, Volume 40, Number 4 — In Memory of Frank Hall Scott


The fact that St. Nicholas, like all monthly magazines, has to be made up far in advance of the date of publication, is familiar to most of our readers; and the January number had gone to press when, on November 25, 1912, a grievous loss befell this magazine, in the sudden death, which we here sorrowfully record, of Mr. Frank H. Scott, the president of The Century Co. To his fellow-workers, it was the loss of a leader who had long been held in homage and affection. For his business career began with that of the company itself; he had enlisted in its service when it was first formed, and in his earliest manhood; with the ardent pride of youth, he took part in the issue of the very first numbers of The Century and St. Nicholas, some forty years ago. From that day onward, he was a loyal helper and wise counselor of both magazines—their stanch supporter and far-seeing business adviser, whose judgment, capacity, and devotion grew with their growth; and he rose so rapidly to great and ever greater responsibilities that, for the last twenty years, he has been the honored president of the company which publishes them, and the directing head of all its varied enterprises.

Mr. Scott was born at Terre Haute, Indiana, on the seventh of April, 1848. He was educated in the public schools of Richmond, Indiana, and at the Pennsylvania Military Academy; and while still a school-boy, he displayed keen judgment and the power of thinking for himself. Before reaching his twenty-first year, he had shown decided literary gifts, and some of the stories which he contributed to local papers at that time are still cherished by his friends as ample proof that he could have made his mark as a writer. But the claims of a publishing career had a stronger attraction for him than those of authorship. At the age of twenty-two, he came to New York and entered the business department of the newly formed firm, Scribner & Co. Under its auspices, the magazine then called “Scribner’s Monthly” (now The Century Magazine) was launched in 1870, with Roswell Smith at the head of its business department, and Mr. Scott as his lieutenant and confidential associate. In November of 1873, the first number of St. Nicholas was issued, with Mary Mapes Dodge as editor. In 1881, the name of “Scribner's Monthly” was changed to The Century Magazine; a new company was formed, called “The Century Co.,” and Mr. Scott became its treasurer. The new corporation continued to publish St. Nicholas, as well as The Century, and, within a few years, vastly enlarged its prosperity by the publication of The Century Dictionary and of miscellaneous books. In all this development of a great business, Mr. Scott took an active, responsible, and prominent part, and upon the death of Roswell Smith, in 1892, succeeded to the presidency of the company. He was soon widely known and held in high regard by other publishing houses; he became a director of the American Publishers Association, and for three years its president; a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce; a founder of the Aldine Club, and once its president; and a vestryman of the Church of the Ascension. These honors and many others came to him unsought, and were but the spontaneous recognition of his exceptional worth as a gifted, upright, high-minded business man.

Nothing short of the just solution of every problem, by lofty standards, satisfied him. “I think it is a publisher’s duty,” he often said, “to seek earnestly for the best that can be found, and to bring out the best. Good books are sound education, and the intimacy of good books is like the intimacy of strong and good friendships.”

And with such ideals, he was naturally a good citizen, who made his own progress in influence and station increasingly of service to his fellow- men. He entered with zeal and steadfastness into the struggle for good government in his city and State, responding to every call when needed; and he won notable civic victories, frequently prevailing over the opposition by his sound reasoning and remarkable persuasive powers.

His clear judgment and keen insight also added immeasurably to his delight in fine pictures and music, and his carefree days were happily filled

With beauty, art, taste, culture, books, to make His hour of leisure richer.

But of all recreations, he enjoyed most, perhaps, those that were devoted to long journeys in home or foreign lands. Fond of the world of men and affairs, he was also a born traveler, who loved to indulge his taste for strange sights and unfamiliar ways, and the bracing contact with men and types altogether alien to the routine of his life. There was scarce a corner of our country or of Europe that he had not visited; and, only two years ago, the lure of the Orient drew him across the Pacific to Japan and China, on a holiday that was a succession of golden days.

It is possible to condense into a few sentences the chief events of any life, but the things that count most are not to be enumerated in “brief biographies.” And no summary of Mr. Scott’s career can give more than the merest hint of those rare qualities of mind and heart that endeared him to his fellow-workers. With a gentleness and dignity that were seldom even ruffled, he combined a winning speech and manner that made every one he met a friend, and every intimate friend a lasting comrade. Fair-mindedness was one of his strongest traits. His love of justice insured to each and all a patient hearing and thoughtful consideration. He was always and in all circumstances the kindly, cultivated gentleman.

For his associates, and those who knew him well, his own character and all that he achieved are his best memorial. He believed, with Emerson, “that the reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” His own successes were uniformly the outcome of unassuming faithfulness and quiet mastery. But St. Nicholas owes him a debt of gratitude; and even if gratitude could be kept from flowing out upon the page, it is due alike to him and to our readers that we should here record how largely this magazine entered into his life-work and shared the benefits of his practical activities. He had a special pride in St. Nicholas—a real love for it—which made him a tireless helper in every measure for its success and betterment.

It is one of the best rewards of a life such as he lived that it leavens all other lives that are in close touch with it or fortunately brought within its influence, and lifts their thoughts to higher levels. For American boys there is abundant inspiration in the history of Mr. Scott’s progress by his own endeavor to a position of commanding influence and distinction in the publishing world. And the benignant wisdom, sweetness, and serenity of his daily life are at once a beautiful memory and a lasting inspiration to all those who worked with and under him, to whom he was always courteous, kindly, friendly, just, and by whom he was so well beloved.