Page images

fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln, and bore sword or rifle in the army of Grant!"

“If we are to be a really great people, we must strive in good faith to play a great part in the world. We cannot avoid meeting great issues.'

The timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man,

who has lost the great, fighting, masterful virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling the mighty lift that thrills stern men with empires in their brainsall these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties.''

“Let us shrink from no strife, moral or physical, within or without the nation, provided we are certain that the strife is justified, for it is only through strife, through hard and dangerous endeavor, that we shall ultimately win the goal of true national greatness.'

Few men have written more intimately, more poetically or more lovingly of nature in her varying moods than Mr. Roosevelt. There is a quality of sympathetic expression in the following description of the heat of a day observed from

the veranda of a Western ranch house that is scarcely paralleled in the language: “In the hot, noon-tide hours of midsummer, the broad ranch veranda, always in the shade, is almost the only place where a man can be comfortable; but here he can sit for hours at a time, leaning back in his rocking-chair, as he reads or smokes, or with half-closed, dreamy eyes gazes across the shallow, nearly dry, river bed to the wooded bottoms opposite, and to the plateaus lying back of them. Against the sheer white faces of the cliffs, that come down without a break, the dark green tree-tops stand out in bold relief. In the hot, lifeless air all objects that are not near by seem to sway and waver. There are few sounds to break the stillness. From the upper branches of the cottonwood trees overhead, whose shimmering, tremulous leaves are hardly ever quiet, but, if the wind stirs at all, rustle and quiver and sigh all day long, comes every now and then the soft, melancholy cooing of the mourning-dove, whose voice always seems far away and expresses more than any other sound in nature the sadness of gentle, hopeless, never-ending grief. The other birds are still and very few animals move about. Now and then the black shadow of a wheeling vulture falls on the sun-scorched ground. The cattle, that have strung down in long files from the hills, lie quietly on the sand-bars, except that some of the bulls keep traveling up and down, bellowing and routing and giving vent to long, surly grumblings as they paw the sand and toss it up with their horns. At times the horses, too, will come down to drink, and to splash and roll in the water. The prairie-dogs alone are not daunted by the heat, but sit at the mouths of their burrows with their usual pert curiosity.” Mr. Roosevelt published the “Naval History of 1812” in 1882; “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman” in 1885; “Life of Thomas Benton” in 1886; “Life of Gouverneur Morris” in 1887, both in the American Statesmen series; “Essays on Practical Politics” and “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail” in 1888. The first two volumes of his important work, “The Winning of the West,” were issued in 1889. In 1890 he wrote a “History of New York City” for the Historic Town series; in 1893 “The Wilderness Hunter,” and the next year published the third volume of “The Winning of the West.” In 1897 he collected a volume of his essays entitled “American Ideals,” which he followed with “The Rough Riders” in 1899, and “Oliver Cromwell” and a volume of addresses entitled “The Strenuous Life” in 1890. He is also the author with Henry Cabot Lodge of “Hero Tales from American History,” and he was one of the assistants of William Laird Cowles in the preparation of “The Royal Navy.” All of Mr. Roosevelt’s writings are forceful and to the purpose. His ideals are as high in the jungle as in the halls of justice. He discovers the virtues even of the beasts he hunts and the dogs that trail them. He is a naturalist that will take no man’s word for truth until he has investigated the subject for himself. He is a historian who does not hesitate to contradict the statement of the best established authority once he has convinced himself that there is an error in the premise. He is an essayist who voices his own convictions irrespective of the effect the utterance will have on his own personal ambitions. He is a writer who would be dangerous were he less honest, and offensive were he not certain of his facts before he ventures to express an opinion. Mr. Roosevelt has never neglected to chronicle his experiences whenever those experiences have been of sufficient value to be of interest or use in the world. He has lived a life of wonderful activity and the world has the benefit of all he has learned—all he has enjoyed. His sufferings he has kept to himself.

« PreviousContinue »