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ROOSEVELT'S RANCH LIFE. .
The Little Missouri Ranch Was One of the President's School Houses-How He Is a
Self-Made Man-Gets Acquainted with the Great American Animals and Introduces Them-His Ranch Missouri-Literary Work Shop-His Past Experiences There Bear Stories-His Most Thrilling Moment Good and Bad Shots with Rifles.
WHEODORE ROOSEVELT'S life as an Assemblyman had been in the
highest sense educational. In college he sought growth-what could
be made out of a boy reputed to be puny, by exercise of a will that wanted to fly with stronger wings than he found were given to bear him up when he fluttered from the nest. He was wise enough to know that a father with a competency only gave a son who knew enough to know it, the better opportunity to be a self-made man. He is accounted for in the strains of his blood, his intellect, industry, intelligence, perseverance, personal hardihood, public spirit, steady courage, on occasion impetuous and of extreme daring in emergency. His indignation against evil doers in public affairs is inherited. His father was a teacher of the lessons of hard work, the blessings of health and strength, and to fill up time with toil. To him there is something infamous in idleness. He first used the phrase "the criminal rich,” and gave his district a shock. He seems to have been indebted to his mother for his wholesome
gination, and has a right to be proud of the valor of his relatives who were fighting for the lost cause, giving too much loyalty to the State and too little to the Nation. The Holland blood of the President's ancestors was about evenly divided with French, when the Southern mother added to its high quality the Georgian strain of the Scotch-Irish. The combination is rare, and the fire in it that of puritanism and patriotism. That blood has been shed in a thousand battles with honor. There is in it pure iron; and it was not only at the front with sword and rifle at Santiago, but in the fields that were stained in Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands it was freely spilled for the freedom of the races that fought against odds.
To a young man like Roosevelt, the Assembly was a capital school, and there came another educational experience, exceptionally strengthening. He was defeated as a candidate for mayor of New York. The death of his mother
and wife occurring so near in time that the two blows were blended as one misfortune, one stroke that had the heaviness and bitterness of bereavement, commanded him to make a change, not only of air and scene, but to seek another civilization. He sought the remote spaces, the appertaining adventures, the big game of our country (far surpassing in ferocity and formidableness the lions that he disrespectfully calls the “Melodramatic beasts of Africa"), incidentally acquiring the acquaintance of a class of countrymen of intense interest, and that it was a fortune making destiny to meet. More than that, his collegiate education in athletics had built him up, from scientific dealing with good material, and aided its evolution with European refreshment of air and invigoration of mountaineering. All this was supplemented by the North American plains and mountains.
The great North American wild animals are passing away. Theodore Roosevelt has won a special and distinct immortality in becoming familiar with and the leading writer of our own natural history. He introduced to young and bold America the buffalo of the prairies, the bob cats and bigger cats, and the grand old grizzlies, the stately elks and the skipping antelopes, the bounding and horned goats that live a life of gaiety among the precipices. With this comes the incidental horsemanship, the gallops that cover capers over fifty miles, the mastery of saddles and rifles, ranches and rivers, the studies in the midst of solitudes, the delight of book reading a thousand or two or ten thousand miles away from the giddy throngs; the joys of writing books with mighty and lovely Mother Nature keeping watch. Consistent with these labors come the long days and longer nights, all one's own, the splendid scope of dreams, mounting the far loping horse, easy as a rocking chair, broadening the fields under foot, and expanding glorious horizons. Out of the greater university there were new object lessons, and faculties of teachers on horseback. The imagination was taught by examination of the widened and roughened rea to correct its own fantasies, and with the elimination of the fantastic, find classified and brightened the creative faculty. Why, this was like "filling up with coal, the best to be had," the war ships carrying our flag in Asiatic seas, where the Spaniards had invited us by their incapacity in the years of our youth, to make our ultimate presence and victory a necessary experience in the Orient, that America might give to Asia the influence Asia lavished upon Europe.
The wonders of the West that took Roosevelt into their confidence, gave him an education not elsewhere the world around to be had by a young American, have never lost for him their captivating charm, and every year he found himself—if not in the summer, in the winter-galloping fierce and far with the Rough Riders, hunting with the matchless hunters, rounding up herds with the cowboys, riding with the Cougar Hounds. It was not a useless misfortune that the Rough Riders had in Cuba, when they rode not at all, but
found their legs good for any amount of field walking when there was a lack that seemed altogether woeful, of horses.
When he graduated from the Ranch, he was needed at the National Capital to see what could be done that the servants of the Government should be chosen on their merits, rather than have imposed on them the human slavery of official servitude; needed to energize the Navy, that had had a tendency to sail in circles, and steam in easy curvatures, all centring upon one quiet point, like the pool in the whirl of a cyclone, an example of stagnation where the weather maps of out of doors cease to be of interest to those who navigate in bureaus. It was hard for the gentleman of the quiet waters to understand why the rush of eccentric winds should disturb the solemnities of spots retired from the reign of the indications of thermometers, barometers or other instruments of scientific interference, with the wise, perhaps, and masterly, that is certain inertia, that impresses itself as the “poultice" said to come “like silence, to heal the blows of sound."
Roosevelt having bestirred the Navy, performed like service for the Army, and put into Cuba the Rough Riders, taught them the one thing needed if they had not the comprehension. He furnished legs, and when the old folks were awakened to ask for more war news, lo, the news was peace. Then there was a change of climate, and Theodore Roosevelt was Governor of New York, Vice President and then President of the United States. There is no more romantic story that is true, or picturesque figure that is heroic, than he.
If we compute the time Theodore Roosevelt has occupied in holding office by working days, we find that he has reserved far the greater number of his hours for unofficial industries. He was three years a New York Assemblyman, two years Police Commissioner, six years Civil Service Commissioner, one year. Assistant Secretary of the Navy, four months in the Army, two years Governor, six months Vice-President, and never fully occupied in an office, until he became President. The Assembly did not take much time, nor did the Police Commission; but the Civil Service Commission was a labor of love and he was devoted to it largely.
His steady occupation has been Literature. He was a man for some time before he ceased to be a boy, and his boyishness was over when he was a graduate of Harvard. He was well educated in public affairs before he held commission or diploma and was an expert in political history when he walked into the Legislature, and sat in a Senatorial seat of the State of New York, in the delegation to the National Republican Convention, June 3rd, 1884. Senators Foraker and Lodge were in the Convention, and thought themselves mature in public life. So they were, if time is counted by the distinctions it brings, and yet, they are still young, and the date named is sixteen years and a
long summer and autumn and part of a winter ago. They looked upon Mr. Roosevelt as a youthful phenomenon. His head was well up and his presence not unfrequently announced by incisive utterances. Attention was called to him as a pugnacious personality, going right on with brains and bravery.
Those experienced persons who are on the lookout for new comers, and can see the lights that shine afar, had him in their minds' eyes, as well as actually visible, and said to each other, "He's comin',” but did not think he would get there so soon.
The earliest artfulness in aid of ambition of Theodore Roosevelt, was in getting so much time out of a day. There is no art equal to it for a strong man to make his way. The amount of it is in getting two days' work out of one astronomical day, and as our young President recommends the eight hour law, as he made well known when Governor of New York, he gets in two eight hour days for himself in each twenty-four hours. At this rate, he counts about forty years of labor in the twenty years of his public life. There is no other way of making room for all the various proceedings and productions for which he is correctly held responsible. Without this explanation, his production of literature can not be accounted for. Many a young man has spent more time in tobacco indulgences, thinking he was deciding what he was going to do with his life, than it has taken Roosevelt to write twenty volumes of history and essays, saying nothing of a prodigious assortment of public papers and speeches and addresses, memoranda and executive orders.
First of all, Theodore Roosevelt is to be classified as a man of letters. The average young man who graduates at college, offers up a year of devotion to himself, to discover what he believes is important, and, indeed, so it is, and pitiful, too, sometimes, if he has what the British call “a tidy lump of money," to cross-examine himself and ascertain his aptitude for profitable employment. "The years that go that way-tobacco and beer, or no narcotics—are not always misspent, but one must learn what to do, and enough to do.
One year after Roosevelt was out of college, out came a book that is the best authority on both sides of the Atlantic, "The Naval War of 1812, or the History of the United States Navy during the Late War with Great Britain," by Theodore Roosevelt. He graduated at Harvard in 1880, and his book was published in 1882. The "Nation” said, in reviewing it, “The impartiality of the author's judgment and the thoroughness with which the evidence is sifted, are remarkable and worthy of high praise." This commendation is carefully measured, for stronger language would have been justified. The word "judgment” in such a case is, however, strong, for it is a rare quality to be apparent in a history issued during the first year after college. One would expect in an author so young writing of naval warfare in which his country was engaged, that he would be flamboyant, with his lofty theme, and scatter all the colors of