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LL summer I have been fighting for
leeway to sit down and write about
Theodore Roosevelt, and glad am I that I have come to it at last. For there is nothing I know of that I would rather. But let us have a clear understanding about it. I am not going to write a “life” of him. I have seen it said in print that that was my intention. Well, it was. That was the shape it took in my mind at the start; but not for long. Perhaps one of the kindest things the years do for us as they pass is to show us what things we can not do. In that way they have been very kind to me. When I was twenty, there was nothing I could not do. Now I am glad that there are stronger and fitter hands than mine to do many things I had set my heart on. They must do this, then.
And, besides, it is both too early and too late for a life of Theodore Roosevelt. Too late for the mere formal details of his career; everybody knows them. Much too early to tell the whole story of what that strong, brave life will mean to the American people, his people of whom he is so proud, when the story is all told. No one can know him and believe in the people without feeling sure of that.
There remains to me to speak of him as the friend, the man. And this is what I shall do, the more gladly because so may it be my privilege to introduce him to some who know him only as the public man, the President, the
partisan perhaps-and a very energetic partisan he is—and so really do not know him at all, in the sense which I have in mind. The public man I will follow because he is square, and will do the square thing always, not merely want to do it. With the partisan I will sometimes disagree, at least I ought to, for I was before a Democrat and would be one now if the party would get some sense and bar Tammany out in the cold for its monstrous wickedness. Of the President I am proud with rea1 I am bound to say that I see no signs of it, and also that I am rather relieved, with Roosevelt to run in another year.
son, but the friend I love. And if I can make you see him so, as a friend and a man, I have given you the master-key to him as a statesman as well. You will never need to ask any questions.
For still another reason I am glad that it is to be so: I shall be speaking largely to the young whose splendid knight he is, himself yet a young man filled with the high courage and brave ideals that make youth the golden age of the great deeds forever. And I want to show them the man Roosevelt, who through many a fight in which hard blows were dealt never once proved unfaithful to them; who, going forth with a young man's resolve to try to “make things better in this world, even a little better, because he had lived in it,” i through fair days and foul, through good report and evil (and of this last there was never a lack), sounded his battle-cry,“ Better faithful than famous," and
A hundred times the mercenaries and the spoilsmen whom he fought had him down and “ruined ” in the fight. At this moment, as I write, they are rubbing their hands with glee because at last he has undone himself, by bidding organized labor halt where it was wrong. Last winter, when it was right, he “killed himself” when he made capital stop and think. They were false prophets then as they are now. Nothing can ruin Theodore Roosevelt except his proving unfaithful to his own life, and that he will never do. If I know anything of him, I know this, that he would rather be right than be President any day, and that he will never hesitate in his choice.
1 His speech to the Long Island Bible Society, June 11, 1901.
That is the man I would show to our young people just coming into their birthright, and I can think of. no better service I could render them. For the lying sneers are thick all about in a world that too often rates success as you can make.” And yet is its heart sound; for when the appeal is made to it in simple faith for the homely virtues, for the sturdy manhood, it is never made in vain. This is Theodore Roosevelt's message to his day, that honor goes before profit, that the moral is greater than the material, that men are to be trusted if you believe in the good in them; and though it is an old story, there is none greater. At least there is none we have more need of learning, since the world is ours, such as it is, to fit