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And Mr. Roosevelt has not yet departed from the traditions or the church of his fathers. The relation begun when he sat in the high-backed pews of the old church on the “East Side” continues unbroken to the present; and wherever he has an opportunity to attend the services of that denomination, he faithfully observes his obligation.
It was a matter of regret to his parents that Theodore was of delicate physique. He had the sturdy spirit of all the vigorous ancestors who had gone before, and with it presented a more volatile quality than is usually found in the phlegmatic Hollander. It was as if he had caught up the strain of his race back in the centuries when Van Diemen sailed, and when William of Orange battled and won. But he lacked the physical force to support his purposes. Throughout boyhood he suffered in comparison with his fellows, so far as muscular powers went.
As Theodore passed from boyhood into youth he seemed more and more resolved to overcome that handicap of a delicate frame; and his effort turned to developing the strength which he so much desired, and which it seemed nature had intended to deny him.
Possibly the courses of his development were aided by nature in that period of his life when he advanced toward maturity. In any event, he was successful. The sickly youth became stronger. He suffered unnumbered defeats, but never for once was his resolution chilled or his purpose altered. He would be strong. And as he attained the age of preparation for college, he was fully the physical equal of young men of his years.
In study he was from the first almost a model scholar. Walter Scott was a dullard at school; and General Grant graduated pretty nearly at the foot of a class of forty-four. Neither could study; and it seemed neither could learn. They developed great talents later—though in vastly different lines; but this lad, destined for a splendid intellectual activity in his manhood, found books to his liking, and progress in his studies both easy and delightful.
One of the events in his boy-life was the acquaintance with Edith Carow, a girl of nearly his own age, and a companion in school as well as in the social intercourse that came with his added years. They were great friends, with a charming romance that continued from the time they were children until he left his New York home to enter upon life at Harvard College. They had been together while at school; and in those days which seem so far away now they had taken their games to the greensward of Union Park, and had played there day after day together. Her home, indeed, was in Fourteenth street, and but a step from the square. That was a part of the fashionable quarter at the time, and the myriad business houses had not begun their intrusion. There was plenty of reason for the intimacy. They met at the same children's parties, and studied in the same schools—until little Miss Edith was packed off to a fashionable boarding school presided over by a Miss Comstock, who will be remembered by many of the older New Yorkers to-day. Edith's father was a merchant, as his father had been before him; and her mother was by birth Miss Gertrude Tyler, daughter of General Tyler, of Connecticut. Her family in all its connections had been rich and prominent through many generations. The same was true of Theodore, whose father was a lawyer and a judge, and had been successively an alderman, a member of the assembly at Albany and a congressman at Washington. Edith Kermit Carow has said, in the happy, established days since her marriage, that she had “liked.” Teddy Roosevelt in those distant times because he could do so much more than she could. And yet he was a child of puny strength, while she reveled in all the vigor of a healthy girlhood. It is probable the strong-willed lad impressed her with more power than he possessed. He certainly suffered in comparison with many other lads of her acquaintance, of his age. But it is his brother’s testimony that he never permitted himself to be thrust out of the way, nor his little friend to be imposed upon. And his ready championing of her at all times may have won him a place in her eyes for which he was indebted rather to the promise of his spirit than the fulfilment of the flesh. Later in life Mr. Roosevelt found more than a childhood friend in the girl companion of his leisure hours. He found one who understood him, who had faith in him and encouraged him— and who came in maturer years, after sorrow had visited him, to share his home, to increase his fortune, and to make sacred his success. When young Theodore Roosevelt had advanced to the age of college study, and had gone up to Harvard for the final four years of student life, he was singularly well-equipped for the labors that awaited him. So far as natural
preference was concerned, he had taken the
greatest delight in history, and in civil govern
ment. But so thoroughly had he made himself
master of his tendencies and desires that he
passed exceedingly well in mathematics—that
bane of the imaginative scholar. That must have
meant adherence to a course of self-discipline;
for arithmetic was naturally distasteful to him.
He loved to revel in books of adventure, and
knew the story of his own land and those of
modern western Europe, from repeated reading.
But he had resolutely devoted himself to the
less attractive studies—being aided, no doubt,
by the rigid methods of his teachers. And the
mental training so secured must be in large part chargeable with the close-knit intellectual fiber which his manhood has revealed. It was the substantial structure upon which his later fancy could build, just as his acquired physical strength formed a magazine from which his tireless energy might draw without fear of exhausting it. In the campaign of 1900 it was sometimes