Page images
PDF
EPUB

ما

VII

THE CLASH OF WAR

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

VII

THE CLASH OF WAR

I'

T sounded like old times, to us who had

stayed behind in Mulberry Street, when,

within a few months after his departure for Washington, the wail came from down there that Roosevelt was playing at war with the ships, that he was spoiling for a row, and did not care what it cost. It seems he had been asking a million dollars or so for target practice, and, when he got that, demanding more-another half million. I say it sounded like old times, for that was the everlasting refrain of the grievance while he ran the police: there was never to be any rest or peace where he was. No, there was not. In Mulberry Street it was his business to make war on the scoundrels who had wrecked the force and brought disgrace upon our city. To Washington he

war

had gone to sharpen the tools of war. War he knew must come. They all knew it; it was his business to prepare for it, since the first and hardest blows must be struck on the sea.

Here let me stop a moment to analyze his attitude toward this war that was looming on the horizon even before he left Mulberry Street. It was perfectly simple, as simple as anything he ever did or said, to any one who had ever taken the trouble to “ think him out." I had followed him to Washington to watch events for my paper, and there joined the “ party,” as President McKinley called Roosevelt and Leonard Wood, poking fun at them in his quiet way. There was not a trace of selfseeking or of jingoism in Roosevelt's attitude, unless you identify jingoism with the stalwart Americanism that made him write these words the year before:

“Every true patriot, every man of statesmanlike habit, should look forward to the time when not a single European power shall hold a foot of American soil." Not, he added, that it was necessary to question the title of foreign powers to present holdings; but “it certainly will become necessary if the timid and selfish

peace-at-any-price men have their way, and if the United States fails to check, at the outset, European aggrandizement on this continent."

That was one end of it, the political one, if you please; the Monroe Doctrine in its briefest and simplest form. Spain had by outrageous mismanagement of its West Indian colonies proved herself unfit, and had forfeited the right to remain. The mismanagement had become a scandal upon our own shores. Every year the yellow fever that was brewed in Cuban filth crossed over and desolated a thousand homes in our Southern States. If proof were wanted that it was mismanagement that did it, events have more than supplied it since, and justified the war of humanity.

Plain humanity was the other end of it, and the biggest. I know, for I saw how it worked

his mind. I was in Washington when a German cigar-manufacturer, whose business took him once or twice a year to Cuba, came to the capital seeking an interview with Senator Lodge, his home senator, since he was from Boston. I can see him now sitting in the committee-room and telling how on his last

upon

« PreviousContinue »