« PreviousContinue »
part in current affairs, get the same news at the same time, or so nearly that there is no appreciable difference; and we have heard from all the inhabitants of our planet regarding this assault upon civilization committed in our midst by a barbarian, a savage malignant.
There appeared two typical Americans in McKinley and Roosevelt. The assassin had nothing in common with our countrymen but his location. He scoffed at all that is held honorable and holy. He was the product of foreign conditions, and got his idea of vengeance visited upon rulers in an air other than that of this hemisphere. He was indoctrinated by demagogues, male and female, whose voices are as the hissing of venomous reptiles. He was a creature rank with poisons.
The world will be the better for the life and death of William McKinley; and it will be stronger, more truthful, brave and ambitious in good works, for a character of such courage of conviction, candor of speech, and capability in action as Theodore Roosevelt. The story of McKinley is one of the few that is for all time. No man has been born for a thousand years whose genius of endeavor in the elevation of humanity, exceeds his, and whose immortality is more certain and radiant than his. America is enriched by his fame.
The nations beyond our borders, weighted with their dynasties, burdened by their standing armies, whose greater industry is that of lifting up the sword, have been impressed by the absence of all shadow of doubt upon the constitutionality and popular assent and acclaim of the succession when the Chief Magistrate was removed. The wisdom of our Fathers is seen in what is well called the "automatic" succession of the Vice-President to the Presidency. This is all the more influential because the original framers of the Constitution, as accepted by the States, did not frame the provision that is admired for its simplicity, that makes definite, certain, and peaceable every step. The Electoral College is a conservative contrivance; but the arrangement first tried, yielding the Vice-Presidency to the candidate for President second in the count of electoral votes, came near causing shipwreck; and the change that has saved us more than once in the gravest dangers, resulted from the people, who, undaunted and enlightened, profited by the perils of experience.
It is exceedingly satisfactory to be able to say that the judgment of all Abroad, whose favorable opinion is desirable, of the character of the new President, is that we were fortunate to have him for Vice-President. His bearing during the trying scenes at Buffalo, was regarded in the capitals of Europe, and the South American Nations, and in the cities of Mexico and Canada, with constant respect, that rapidly grew to confidence and admiration. The people of general information in all lands regarded, with an interest unusually keen and an intelligence uncommonly acute, the Presidential Electors of 1900, and formed the opinion that it was wisdom in our people to come
to the conclusion recorded by the popular electoral votes; and they still think so.
The arrival of Roosevelt at Buffalo, summoned when the fatal shot was fired, to retire when there was the highest authority that the President was out of danger, and return when optimism was at an end and the inevitable at hand; and the perfect form with which he took up his task, were gratefully recognized, and with becoming gravity and quiet, commended.
The English people are our most intimate acquaintances beyond our boundaries, and the British press our most pronounced friends and critical foes. They quickly knew that Roosevelt was a man of strength and decorum, accustomed to assert for himself, and approve in others, individuality; a "rough rider," as the phrase goes, but never a ruffian; not given to posing as one composed, but always self-respecting in attitudes, and respectful in addressing honest men, and a leader of men when the drums beat the charge.
Several of the English monthlies are out with articles of considerable interest. There is a notable one in "The Nineteenth Century and After," for October, by Mr. W. Laird Clowes, who is at once highly eulogistic of the public character of the President, indulgent with his personal recollections, revealing in extracts and with statements direct, that he has been in correspondence with President Roosevelt.
The October number of the Contemporary Review printed an article by Poultney Bigelow, who writes with a zest and interest that exceeds the modest claims of accuracy. Mr. Bigelow has been esteemed often to be a man whose coloring matter sometimes exceeded the value of his solid material of fact. This gentleman might approve the story Mark Twain tells as the truth of himself as a writer, and no doubt it is true, but has occasional lapses into exaggeration. The great and good humorist said, when asked why he did not dictate to a stenographer or a phonograph: "I can't do that. I can't talk writing. In fact, I do not write at all. It is my pen that does the writing. I stick it in the ink and put it to the paper, and it goes right at it, and does its work. When it stops, I quit, of course." The pen of Mr. Bigelow plays tricks on him, does the writing, and behaves like a bucking broncho, rises up and paws and kicks, especially kicks. His article in the Contemporary did not seem to be quite the thing wanted on either side of the Atlantic, and another gentleman was called to supplement in the November Contemporary the one about Roosevelt, prepared by the Bigelow prancing pen.
The London papers were more careful than our own, as a rule, to say that Mr. Roosevelt was not on a hunting excursion when McKinley's relapse took place, but had gone to bring his family from their summer residence in the Adirondacks to their winter home, and received the summons on Mount Marcy. He had four hundred and forty miles before him and got to Buffalo in
forty hours. He met friends at the Wilcox House, and altered plans made for him that he might go first to the Milburn House. He refused two platoons of mounted police, but finally consented to have one of them on each side of his carriage.
The taking of the oath of office is described, as in a low, dingy room, surrounded by book-shelves, forty-three persons being present, twenty of whom were of the Press. Roosevelt's face was stern as if cut in stone and tears ran down his cheeks. It was manly to weep.
Mr. W. Laird Clowes puts down his propositions with remarkable confidence in his views, as an English magazine writer on an American theme, and incidentally mentions that Mr. Roosevelt was a contributor to his "History of the Royal Navy," and recognizes him as an “absolutely fair-minded man, who would not fail to pay due attention to the various controversies which had been excited in England by certain statements contained in his boyish and immature work." This is the first that has ever appeared accusing Mr. Roosevelt of doing anything "boyish and immature," with the possible exception of essays by some of the elder politicians, who thought he was too youthful to oppose Blaine and Sherman in the Chicago convention of 1884, and at the same time support the venerable Senator Edmunds, learned in the law and partaking of its privileges.
Mr. Clowes, in his paper on President Roosevelt, seems, in his character of historian, to feel it a duty to cover all the ground of the landscape of the President's record, and even invades the territory Mr. Poultney Bigelow had pre-empted. Mr. Clowes says there is no danger of Roosevelt proving a "weakling." We are pleased to have the assurance on such authority, but nobody had been alarmed as to that. Still the illustration of Roosevelt's "imperialism" that immediately follows, is so striking that all is forgiven. The historian of the Royal Navy says our "new President" is as "energetic in initiative, as determined and devoted to what he believes to be his duty, as the German Emperor;" and adds, "probably he has a better constitution, enjoys better health, than William the Second, whose senior he is by exactly three months." There is also a resemblance of Theodore to William "in the breadth and variety of his interests, and his aptitude for quickly grasping the essential features of an unfamiliar subject, in all which he is very like the Emperor."
The American writer who has contributed an essay to the magazine literature of America and Europe regarding President Roosevelt, with warrant of knowledge and the close sympathy of friendship, is Dr. Albert Shaw, editor of the Review of Reviews; and we note this passage in his paper in the November issue of the Contemporary Review, that is suggestive, in the most retiring way of a suggestion on the highest authority, of launching aloft an arrow
to wing a fellow-man, posing on a rainbow. Here we have the first flight of darts.
"Every man of exceptional talents and successful career must naturally incite the reminiscent mood in those who have known him at some earlier stage of his life. Mr. Bigelow's article in last month's Contemporary throws some sidelights upon the manner and personality of the new President. Since, however, it left almost, or quite, untouched the more important recent years of Mr. Roosevelt's public career-not even alluding to the highest offices that he has held, or to the chief public work that he has done-I have no hesitation in accepting the editor's invitation to supplement that article. It will be my object to add something to the information of English readers concerning the new President in his relation to the particular problems he has to face, and to those immense responsibilities of a general nature that devolve in the United States upon the office of the Presidency. Upon the side of his political attitudes, his public services, and his serious views, I may hope to write with due knowledge."
Dr. Shaw does not exhaust the resources of personal conversation and private correspondence, to make clear to England the manner of man President Roosevelt is. He goes deeper, with finer touches, using instruments that are keener and wear better, but contents himself with a delicate and racy reference to "highly articulate surroundings." This superb stroke in three words deserves to be famous. Mr. W. Laird Clowes articulated some highly interesting matter as follows:
"A year after he had gone to the Navy Department, and when his country was on the brink of war with Spain, he wrote to me characteristically. And this was the writing:
'Though I feel a little blue at the outlook, it won't make the slightest difference in the way I shall work. I shall do my best to get the Navy up into proper shape; and while I won't accomplish nearly as much as I would like, still, I will accomplish something.'
"Not many days afterwards, when the war had just begun, he surprised me by telling me that he was not sure that, in such a conflict, his place was at home, and that, the President having offered him a colonelcy of a volunteer regiment, he had accepted it and was going to the front."
A "few years earlier" than the time President Roosevelt was "assisting" Secretary Long, Mr. Clowes asked him to contribute to a history of the British Navy he had in hand, and goes on to be frank about the particulars, adding interest of the highest authority to the narrative.
"I suggested that he should write for me a critical description of the naval events of the War of 1812-15, between Great Britain and the United States; and I did so, first, because I had read and admired his early book on the same