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Letters to His Children
by Theodore Roosevelt
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LETTERS TO HIS CHILDREN

By Theodore Roosevelt

First published 1919.



Edited by Joseph Bucklin Bishop



INTRODUCTION

Most of the letters in this volume were written by Theodore Roosevelt to his children during a period of more than twenty years. A few others are included that he wrote to friends or relatives about the children. He began to write to them in their early childhood, and continued to do so regularly till they reached maturity. Whenever he was separated from them, in the Spanish War, or on a hunting trip, or because they were at school, he sent them these messages of constant thought and love, for they were never for a moment out of his mind and heart. Long before they were able to read he sent them what they called "picture letters," with crude drawings of his own in illustration of the written text, drawings precisely adapted to the childish imagination and intelligence. That the little recipients cherished these delightful missives is shown by the tender care with which they preserved them from destruction. They are in good condition after many years of loving usage. A few of them are reproduced in these pages—written at different periods as each new child appeared in the household.

These early letters are marked by the same quality that distinguishes all his letters to his children. From the youngest to the eldest, he wrote to them always as his equals. As they advanced in life the mental level of intercourse was raised as they grew in intelligence and knowledge, but it was always as equals that he addressed them. He was always their playmate and boon companion, whether they were toddling infants taking their first faltering steps, or growing schoolboys, or youths standing at the threshold of life. Their games were his games, their joys those of his own heart. He was ready to romp with them in the old barn at Sagamore Hill, play "tickley" at bedtime, join in their pillow fights, or play hide-and-seek with them, either at Sagamore Hill or in the White House. He was the same chosen and joyous companion always and everywhere. Occasionally he was disturbed for a moment about possible injury to his Presidential dignity. Describing a romp in the old barn at Sagamore Hill in the summer of 1903, he said in one of his letters that under the insistence of the children he had joined in it because: "I had not the heart to refuse, but really it seems, to put it mildly, rather odd for a stout, elderly President to be bouncing over hayricks in a wild effort to get to goal before an active midget of a competitor, aged nine years. However, it was really great fun."

It was because he at heart regarded it as "great fun" and was in complete accord with the children that they delighted in him as a playmate. In the same spirit, in January, 1905, he took a squad of nine boys, including three of his own, on what they called a "scramble" through Rock Creek Park, in Washington, which meant traversing the most difficult places in it. The boys had permission to make the trip alone, but they insisted upon his company. "I am really touched," he wrote afterward to the parents of two of the visiting boys, "at the way in which your children as well as my own treat me as a friend and playmate. It has its comic side. They were all bent upon having me take them; they obviously felt that my presence was needed to give zest to the entertainment. I do not think that one of them saw anything incongruous in the President's getting as bedaubed with mud as they got, or in my wiggling and clambering around jutting rocks, through cracks, and up what were really small cliff faces, just like the rest of them; and whenever any one of them beat me at any point, he felt and expressed simple and whole-hearted delight, exactly as if it had been a triumph over a rival of his own age."

When the time came that he was no longer the children's chosen playmate, he recognized the fact with a twinge of sadness. Writing in January, 1905, to his daughter Ethel, who was at Sagamore Hill at the time, he said of a party of boys that Quentin had at the White House: "They played hard, and it made me realize how old I had grown and how very busy I had been the last few years to find that they had grown so that I was not needed in the play. Do you recollect how we all of us used to play hide and go seek in the White House, and have obstacle races down the hall when you brought in your friends?"

Deep and abiding love of children, of family and home, that was the dominating passion of his life. With that went love for friends and fellow men, and for all living things, birds, animals, trees, flowers, and nature in all its moods and aspects. But love of children and family and home was above all. The children always had an old-fashioned Christmas in the White House. In several letters in these pages, descriptions of these festivals will be found. In closing one of them the eternal child's heart in the man cries out: "I wonder whether there ever can come in life a thrill of greater exaltation and rapture than that which comes to one between the ages of say six and fourteen, when the library door is thrown open and you walk in to see all the gifts, like a materialized fairy land, arrayed on your special table?"

His love for the home he had built and in which his beloved children had been born, was not even dimmed by his life in the White House. "After all," he wrote to Ethel in June, 1906, "fond as I am of the White House and much though I have appreciated these years in it, there isn't any place in the world like home—like Sagamore Hill where things are our own, with their own associations, and where it is real country."

Through all his letters runs his inexhaustible vein of delicious humor. All the quaint sayings of Quentin, that quaintest of small boys; all the antics of the household cats and dogs; all the comic aspects of the guinea-pigs and others of the large menagerie of pets that the children were always collecting; all the tricks and feats of the saddle-horses—these, together with every item of household news that would amuse and cheer and keep alive the love of home in the heart of the absent boys, was set forth in letters which in gayety of spirit and charm of manner have few equals in literature and no superiors. No matter how great the pressure of public duties, or how severe the strain that the trials and burdens of office placed upon the nerves and spirits of the President of a great nation, this devoted father and whole-hearted companion found time to send every week a long letter of this delightful character to each of his absent children.

As the boys advanced toward manhood the letters, still on the basis of equality, contain much wise suggestion and occasional admonition, the latter always administered in a loving spirit accompanied by apology for writing in a "preaching" vein. The playmate of childhood became the sympathetic and keenly interested companion in all athletic contests, in the reading of books and the consideration of authors, and in the discussion of politics and public affairs. Many of these letters, notably those on the relative merits of civil and military careers, and the proper proportions of sport and study, are valuable guides for youth in all ranks of life. The strong, vigorous, exalted character of the writer stands revealed in these as in all the other letters, as well as the cheerful soul of the man which remained throughout his life as pure and gentle as the soul of a child. Only a short time before he died, he said to me, as we were going over the letters and planning this volume, which is arranged as he wished it to be: "I would rather have this book published than anything that has ever been written about me."



THE LETTERS



IN THE SPANISH WAR

At the outbreak of the war with Spain in the spring of 1898 Theodore Roosevelt, who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in association with Leonard Wood, organized the Regiment of Rough Riders and went into camp with them at Tampa, Florida. Later he went with his regiment to Cuba.

Camp at Tampa, May 6th, '98.

BLESSED BUNNIES,

It has been a real holiday to have darling mother here. Yesterday I brought her out to the camp, and she saw it all—the men drilling, the tents in long company streets, the horses being taken to water, my little horse Texas, the colonel and the majors, and finally the mountain lion and the jolly little dog Cuba, who had several fights while she looked on. The mountain lion is not much more than a kitten as yet, but it is very cross and treacherous.

I was very much interested in Kermit's and Ethel's letters to-day.

We were all, horses and men, four days and four nights on the cars coming here from San Antonio, and were very tired and very dirty when we arrived. I was up almost all of each night, for it happened always to be at night when we took the horses out of the cars to feed and water them.

Mother stays at a big hotel about a mile from camp. There are nearly thirty thousand troops here now, besides the sailors from the war-ships in the bay. At night the corridors and piazzas are thronged with officers of the army and navy; the older ones fought in the great Civil War, a third of a century ago, and now they are all going to Cuba to war against the Spaniards. Most of them are in blue, but our rough-riders are in brown. Our camp is on a great flat, on sandy soil without a tree, though round about are pines and palmettos. It is very hot, indeed, but there are no mosquitoes. Marshall is very well, and he takes care of my things and of the two horses. A general was out to inspect us when we were drilling to-day.

Off Santiago, 1898.

DARLING ETHEL:

We are near shore now and everything is in a bustle, for we may have to disembark to-night, and I do not know when I shall have another chance to write to my three blessed children, whose little notes please me so. This is only a line to tell you all how much father loves you. The Pawnee Indian drew you the picture of the little dog, which runs everywhere round the ship, and now and then howls a little when the band plays.

Near Santiago, May 20, 1898.

DARLING ETHEL:

I loved your little letter. Here there are lots of funny little lizards that run about in the dusty roads very fast, and then stand still with their heads up. Beautiful red cardinal birds and tanagers flit about in the woods, and the flowers are lovely. But you never saw such dust. Sometimes I lie on the ground outside and sometimes in the tent. I have a mosquito net because there are so many mosquitoes.

Camp near Santiago, July 15, 1898.

DARLING ETHEL:

When it rains here—and it's very apt to rain here every day—it comes down just as if it was a torrent of water. The other night I hung up my hammock in my tent and in the middle of the night there was a terrific storm, and my tent and hammock came down with a run. The water was running over the ground in a sheet, and the mud was knee-deep; so I was a drenched and muddy object when I got to a neighboring tent, where I was given a blanket, in which I rolled up and went to sleep.

There is a funny little lizard that comes into my tent and is quite tame now; he jumps about like a little frog and puffs his throat out. There are ground-doves no bigger than big sparrows, and cuckoos almost as large as crows.



YOUTHFUL BIBLE COMMENTATORS

(To Miss Emily T. Carow)

Oyster Bay, Dec. 8, 1900.

The other day I listened to a most amusing dialogue at the Bible lesson between Kermit and Ethel. The subject was Joseph, and just before reading it they had been reading Quentin's book containing the adventures of the Gollywogs. Joseph's conduct in repeating his dream to his brothers, whom it was certain to irritate, had struck both of the children unfavorably, as conflicting both with the laws of common-sense and with the advice given them by their parents as to the proper method of dealing with their own brothers and sisters. Kermit said: "Well, I think that was very foolish of Joseph." Ethel chimed in with "So do I, very foolish, and I do not understand how he could have done it." Then, after a pause, Kermit added thoughtfully by way of explanation: "Well, I guess he was simple, like Jane in the Gollywogs": and Ethel nodded gravely in confirmation.

It is very cunning to see Kermit and Archie go to the Cove school together. They also come down and chop with me, Archie being armed with a hatchet blunt enough to be suitable for his six years. He is a most industrious small chopper, and the other day gnawed down, or as the children call it, "beavered" down, a misshapen tulip tree, which was about fifty feet high.



FINE NAMES FOR GUINEA PIGS

(To E. S. Martin)

Oyster Bay, Nov. 22, 1900.

Mrs. Roosevelt and I were more touched than I can well say at your sending us your book with its characteristic insertion and above all with the little extract from your boy's note about Ted. In what Form is your boy? As you have laid yourself open, I shall tell you that Ted sings in the choir and is captain of his dormitory football team. He was awfully homesick at first, but now he has won his place in his own little world and he is all right. In his last letter to his mother in response to a question about his clothes he answered that they were in good condition, excepting "that one pair of pants was split up the middle and one jacket had lost a sleeve in a scuffle, and in another pair of pants he had sat down in a jam pie at a cellar spread." We have both missed him greatly in spite of the fact that we have five remaining. Did I ever tell you about my second small boy's names for his Guinea pigs? They included Bishop Doane; Dr. Johnson, my Dutch Reformed pastor; Father G. Grady, the local priest with whom the children had scraped a speaking acquaintance; Fighting Bob Evans, and Admiral Dewey. Some of my Republican supporters in West Virginia have just sent me a small bear which the children of their own accord christened Jonathan Edwards, partly out of compliment to their mother's ancestor, and partly because they thought they detected Calvinistic traits in the bear's character.



A COUGAR AND LYNX HUNT

Keystone Ranch, Colo., Jan. 14th, 1901.

BLESSED TED,

From the railroad we drove fifty miles to the little frontier town of Meeker. There we were met by the hunter Goff, a fine, quiet, hardy fellow, who knows his business thoroughly. Next morning we started on horseback, while our luggage went by wagon to Goff's ranch. We started soon after sunrise, and made our way, hunting as we went, across the high, exceedingly rugged hills, until sunset. We were hunting cougar and lynx or, as they are called out here, "lion" and "cat." The first cat we put up gave the dogs a two hours' chase, and got away among some high cliffs. In the afternoon we put up another, and had a very good hour's run, the dogs baying until the glens rang again to the echoes, as they worked hither and thither through the ravines. We walked our ponies up and down steep, rock-strewn, and tree-clad slopes, where it did not seem possible a horse could climb, and on the level places we got one or two smart gallops. At last the lynx went up a tree. Then I saw a really funny sight. Seven hounds had been doing the trailing, while a large brindled bloodhound and two half-breeds between collie and bull stayed behind Goff, running so close to his horse's heels that they continually bumped into them, which he accepted with philosophic composure. Then the dogs proceeded literally to climb the tree, which was a many-forked pinon; one of the half-breeds, named Tony, got up certainly sixteen feet, until the lynx, which looked like a huge and exceedingly malevolent pussy-cat, made vicious dabs at him. I shot the lynx low, so as not to hurt his skin.

Yesterday we were in the saddle for ten hours. The dogs ran one lynx down and killed it among the rocks after a vigorous scuffle. It was in a hole and only two of them could get at it.

This morning, soon after starting out, we struck the cold trail of a mountain lion. The hounds puzzled about for nearly two hours, going up and down the great gorges, until we sometimes absolutely lost even the sound of the baying. Then they struck the fresh trail, where the cougar had killed a deer over night. In half an hour a clamorous yelling told us they had overtaken the quarry; for we had been riding up the slopes and along the crests, wherever it was possible for the horses to get footing. As we plunged and scrambled down towards the noise, one of my companions, Phil Stewart, stopped us while he took a kodak of a rabbit which sat unconcernedly right beside our path. Soon we saw the lion in a treetop, with two of the dogs so high up among the branches that he was striking at them. He was more afraid of us than of the dogs, and as soon as he saw us he took a great flying leap and was off, the pack close behind. In a few hundred yards they had him up another tree. Here I could have shot him (Tony climbed almost up to him, and then fell twenty feet out of the tree), but waited for Stewart to get a photo; and he jumped again. This time, after a couple of hundred yards, the dogs caught him, and a great fight followed. They could have killed him by themselves, but he bit or clawed four of them, and for fear he might kill one I ran in and stabbed him behind the shoulder, thrusting the knife you loaned me right into his heart. I have always wished to kill a cougar as I did this one, with dogs and the knife.



DOGS THAT CLIMB TREES

Keystone Ranch, Jan. 18, 1901.

DARLING LITTLE ETHEL:

I have had great fun. Most of the trip neither you nor Mother nor Sister would enjoy; but you would all of you be immensely amused with the dogs. There are eleven all told, but really only eight do very much hunting. These eight are all scarred with the wounds they have received this very week in battling with the cougars and lynxes, and they are always threatening to fight one another; but they are as affectionate toward men (and especially toward me, as I pet them) as our own home dogs. At this moment a large hound and a small half-breed bull-dog, both of whom were quite badly wounded this morning by a cougar, are shoving their noses into my lap to be petted, and humming defiance to one another. They are on excellent terms with the ranch cat and kittens. The three chief fighting dogs, who do not follow the trail, are the most affectionate of all, and, moreover, they climb trees! Yesterday we got a big lynx in the top of a pinon tree—a low, spreading kind of pine—about thirty feet tall. Turk, the bloodhound, followed him up, and after much sprawling actually got to the very top, within a couple of feet of him. Then, when the lynx was shot out of the tree, Turk, after a short scramble, took a header down through the branches, landing with a bounce on his back. Tony, one of the half-breed bull-dogs, takes such headers on an average at least once for every animal we put up a tree. We have nice little horses which climb the most extraordinary places you can imagine. Get Mother to show you some of Gustave Dore's trees; the trees on these mountains look just like them.



THE PIG NAMED MAUDE

Keystone Ranch, Jan. 29, 1901

DARLING LITTLE ETHEL:

You would be much amused with the animals round the ranch. The most thoroughly independent and self-possessed of them is a large white pig which we have christened Maude. She goes everywhere at her own will; she picks up scraps from the dogs, who bay dismally at her, but know they have no right to kill her; and then she eats the green alfalfa hay from the two milch cows who live in the big corral with the horses. One of the dogs has just had a litter of puppies; you would love them, with their little wrinkled noses and squeaky voices.



ADVICE AND NEWS

Oyster Bay, May 7th, 1901

BLESSED TED:

It was the greatest fun seeing you, and I really had a satisfactory time with you, and came away feeling that you were doing well. I am entirely satisfied with your standing, both in your studies and in athletics. I want you to do well in your sports, and I want even more to have you do well with your books; but I do not expect you to stand first in either, if so to stand could cause you overwork and hurt your health. I always believe in going hard at everything, whether it is Latin or mathematics, boxing or football, but at the same time I want to keep the sense of proportion. It is never worth while to absolutely exhaust one's self or to take big chances unless for an adequate object. I want you to keep in training the faculties which would make you, if the need arose, able to put your last ounce of pluck and strength into a contest. But I do not want you to squander these qualities. To have you play football as well as you do, and make a good name in boxing and wrestling, and be cox of your second crew, and stand second or third in your class in the studies, is all right. I should be rather sorry to see you drop too near the middle of your class, because, as you cannot enter college until you are nineteen, and will therefore be a year later in entering life, I want you to be prepared in the best possible way, so as to make up for the delay. But I know that all you can do you will do to keep substantially the position in the class that you have so far kept, and I have entire trust in you, for you have always deserved it.

The weather has been lovely here. The cherry trees are in full bloom, the peach trees just opening, while the apples will not be out for ten days. The May flowers and bloodroot have gone, the anemonies and bellwort have come and the violets are coming. All the birds are here, pretty much, and the warblers troop through the woods.

To my delight, yesterday Kermit, when I tried him on Diamond, did excellently. He has evidently turned the corner in his riding, and was just as much at home as possible, although he was on my saddle with his feet thrust in the leathers above the stirrup. Poor mother has had a hard time with Yagenka, for she rubbed her back, and as she sadly needs exercise and I could not have a saddle put upon her, I took her out bareback yesterday. Her gaits are so easy that it is really more comfortable to ride her without a saddle than to ride Texas with one, and I gave her three miles sharp cantering and trotting.

Dewey Jr. is a very cunning white guinea pig. I wish you could see Kermit taking out Dewey Sr. and Bob Evans to spend the day on the grass. Archie is the sweetest little fellow imaginable. He is always thinking of you. He has now struck up a great friendship with Nicholas, rather to Mame's (the nurse's) regret, as Mame would like to keep him purely for Quentin. The last-named small boisterous person was in fearful disgrace this morning, having flung a block at his mother's head. It was done in sheer playfulness, but of course could not be passed over lightly, and after the enormity of the crime had been brought fully home to him, he fled with howls of anguish to me and lay in an abandon of yellow-headed grief in my arms. Ethel is earning money for the purchase of the Art Magazine by industriously hoeing up the weeds in the walk. Alice is going to ride Yagenka bareback this afternoon, while I try to teach Ethel on Diamond, after Kermit has had his ride.

Yesterday at dinner we were talking of how badly poor Mrs. Blank looked, and Kermit suddenly observed in an aside to Ethel, entirely unconscious that we were listening: "Oh, Effel, I'll tell you what Mrs. Blank looks like: Like Davis' hen dat died—you know, de one dat couldn't hop up on de perch." Naturally, this is purely a private anecdote.



ARCHIE AND QUENTIN

Oyster Bay, May 7, 1901.

BLESSED TED:

Recently I have gone in to play with Archie and Quentin after they have gone to bed, and they have grown to expect me, jumping up, very soft and warm in their tommies, expecting me to roll them over on the bed and tickle and "grabble" in them. However, it has proved rather too exciting, and an edict has gone forth that hereafter I must play bear with them before supper, and give up the play when they have gone to bed. To-day was Archie's birthday, and Quentin resented Archie's having presents while he (Quentin) had none. With the appalling frankness of three years old, he remarked with great sincerity that "it made him miserable," and when taken to task for his lack of altruistic spirit he expressed an obviously perfunctory repentance and said: "Well, boys must lend boys things, at any rate!"



INCIDENTS OF HOME-COMING

Oyster Bay, May 31st, 1901.

BLESSED TED:

I enclose some Filipino Revolutionary postage stamps. Maybe some of the boys would like them.

Have you made up your mind whether you would like to try shooting the third week in August or the last week in July, or would you rather wait until you come back when I can find out something more definite from Mr. Post?

We very much wished for you while we were at the (Buffalo) Exposition. By night it was especially beautiful. Alice and I also wished that you could have been with us when we were out riding at Geneseo. Major Wadsworth put me on a splendid big horse called Triton, and sister on a thoroughbred mare. They would jump anything. It was sister's first experience, but she did splendidly and rode at any fence at which I would first put Triton. I did not try anything very high, but still some of the posts and rails were about four feet high, and it was enough to test sister's seat. Of course, all we had to do was to stick on as the horses jumped perfectly and enjoyed it quite as much as we did. The first four or five fences that I went over I should be ashamed to say how far I bounced out of the saddle, but after a while I began to get into my seat again. It has been a good many years since I have jumped a fence.

Mother stopped off at Albany while sister went on to Boston, and I came on here alone Tuesday afternoon. St. Gaudens, the sculptor, and Dunne (Mr. Dooley) were on the train and took lunch with us. It was great fun meeting them and I liked them both. Kermit met me in high feather, although I did not reach the house until ten o'clock, and he sat by me and we exchanged anecdotes while I took my supper. Ethel had put an alarm clock under her head so as to be sure and wake up, but although it went off she continued to slumber profoundly, as did Quentin. Archie waked up sufficiently to tell me that he had found another turtle just as small as the already existing treasure of the same kind. This morning Quentin and Black Jack have neither of them been willing to leave me for any length of time. Black Jack simply lies curled up in a chair, but as Quentin is most conversational, he has added an element of harassing difficulty to my effort to answer my accumulated correspondence.

Archie announced that he had seen "the Baltimore orioles catching fish!" This seemed to warrant investigation; but it turned out he meant barn swallows skimming the water.



The President not only sent "picture letters" to his own children, but an especial one to Miss Sarah Schuyler Butler, daughter of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, who had written to him a little note of congratulation on his first birthday in the White House.

White House, Nov. 3d, 1901.

DEAR LITTLE MISS SARAH,

I liked your birthday note very much; and my children say I should draw you two pictures in return.

We have a large blue macaw—Quentin calls him a polly-parrot—who lives in the greenhouse, and is very friendly, but makes queer noises. He eats bread, potatoes, and coffee grains.

The children have a very cunning pony. He is a little pet, like a dog, but he plays tricks on them when they ride him.

He bucked Ethel over his head the other day.

Your father will tell you that these are pictures of the UNPOLISHED STONE PERIOD.

Give my love to your mother.

Your father's friend,

THEODORE ROOSEVELT.



UNCLE REMUS AND WHITE HOUSE PETS

(To Joel Chandler Harris)

White House, June 9, 1902.

MY DEAR MR. HARRIS:

Your letter was a great relief to Kermit, who always becomes personally interested in his favorite author, and who has been much worried by your sickness. He would be more than delighted with a copy of "Daddy Jake." Alice has it already, but Kermit eagerly wishes it.

Last night Mrs. Roosevelt and I were sitting out on the porch at the back of the White House, and were talking of you and wishing you could be sitting there with us. It is delightful at all times, but I think especially so after dark. The monument stands up distinct but not quite earthly in the night, and at this season the air is sweet with the jasmine and honeysuckle.

All of the younger children are at present absorbed in various pets, perhaps the foremost of which is a puppy of the most orthodox puppy type. Then there is Jack, the terrier, and Sailor Boy, the Chesapeake Bay dog; and Eli, the most gorgeous macaw, with a bill that I think could bite through boiler plate, who crawls all over Ted, and whom I view with dark suspicion; and Jonathan, the piebald rat, of most friendly and affectionate nature, who also crawls all over everybody; and the flying squirrel, and two kangaroo rats; not to speak of Archie's pony, Algonquin, who is the most absolute pet of them all.

Mrs. Roosevelt and I have, I think, read all your stories to the children, and some of them over and over again.



THE DOG "GEM"

White House, Oct. 13, 1902.

BLESSED KERMIT:

I am delighted at all the accounts I receive of how you are doing at Groton. You seem to be enjoying yourself and are getting on well. I need not tell you to do your best to cultivate ability for concentrating your thought on whatever work you are given to do—you will need it in Latin especially. Who plays opposite you at end? Do you find you can get down well under the ball to tackle the full-back? How are you tackling?

Mother is going to present Gem to Uncle Will. She told him she did not think he was a good dog for the city; and therefore she gives him to Uncle Will to keep in the city. Uncle Will's emotion at such self-denying generosity almost overcame him. Gem is really a very nice small bow-wow, but Mother found that in this case possession was less attractive than pursuit. When she takes him out walking he carries her along as if she was a Roman chariot. She thinks that Uncle Will or Eda can anchor him. Yesterday she and Ethel held him and got burrs out of his hair. It was a lively time for all three.



PRESIDENTIAL NURSE FOR GUINEA PIGS

(To Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward)

White House, Oct. 20, 1902.

At this moment, my small daughter being out, I am acting as nurse to two wee guinea pigs, which she feels would not be safe save in the room with me—and if I can prevent it I do not intend to have wanton suffering inflicted on any creature.



THANKSGIVING IN THE WHITE HOUSE

White House, Nov. 28, 1902.

DARLING KERMIT:

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we all went out riding, looking as we started a good deal like the Cumberbach family. Archie on his beloved pony, and Ethel on Yagenka went off with Mr. Proctor to the hunt. Mother rode Jocko Root, Ted a first-class cavalry horse, I rode Renown, and with us went Senator Lodge, Uncle Douglas, Cousin John Elliott, Mr. Bob Fergie, and General Wood. We had a three hours' scamper which was really great fun.

Yesterday I met Bozie for the first time since he came to Washington, and he almost wiggled himself into a fit, he was so overjoyed at renewing acquaintance. To see Jack and Tom Quartz play together is as amusing as it can be. We have never had a more cunning kitten than Tom Quartz. I have just had to descend with severity upon Quentin because he put the unfortunate Tom into the bathtub and then turned on the water. He didn't really mean harm.

Last evening, besides our own entire family party, all the Lodges, and their connections, came to dinner. We dined in the new State Dining-room and we drank the health of you and all the rest of both families that were absent. After dinner we cleared away the table and danced. Mother looked just as pretty as a picture and I had a lovely waltz with her. Mrs. Lodge and I danced the Virginia Reel.



A WHITE HOUSE CHRISTMAS

(To Master James A. Garfield, Washington)

White House, Dec. 26, 1902.

JIMMIKINS:

Among all the presents I got I don't think there was one I appreciated more than yours; for I was brought up to admire and respect your grandfather, and I have a very great fondness and esteem for your father. It always seems to me as if you children were being brought up the way that mine are. Yesterday Archie got among his presents a small rifle from me and a pair of riding-boots from his mother. He won't be able to use the rifle until next summer, but he has gone off very happy in the riding boots for a ride on the calico pony Algonquin, the one you rode the other day. Yesterday morning at a quarter of seven all the children were up and dressed and began to hammer at the door of their mother's and my room, in which their six stockings, all bulging out with queer angles and rotundities, were hanging from the fireplace. So their mother and I got up, shut the window, lit the fire, taking down the stockings, of course, put on our wrappers and prepared to admit the children. But first there was a surprise for me, also for their good mother, for Archie had a little Christmas tree of his own which he had rigged up with the help of one of the carpenters in a big closet; and we all had to look at the tree and each of us got a present off of it. There was also one present each for Jack the dog, Tom Quartz the kitten, and Algonquin the pony, whom Archie would no more think of neglecting than I would neglect his brothers and sisters. Then all the children came into our bed and there they opened their stockings. Afterwards we got dressed and took breakfast, and then all went into the library, where each child had a table set for his bigger presents. Quentin had a perfectly delightful electric railroad, which had been rigged up for him by one of his friends, the White House electrician, who has been very good to all the children. Then Ted and I, with General Wood and Mr. Bob Ferguson, who was a lieutenant in my regiment, went for a three hours' ride; and all of us, including all the children, took lunch at the house with the children's aunt, Mrs. Captain Cowles—Archie and Quentin having their lunch at a little table with their cousin Sheffield. Late in the afternoon I played at single stick with General Wood and Mr. Ferguson. I am going to get your father to come on and try it soon. We have to try to hit as light as possible, but sometimes we hit hard, and to-day I have a bump over one eye and a swollen wrist. Then all our family and kinsfolk and Senator and Mrs. Lodge's family and kinsfolk had our Christmas dinner at the White House, and afterwards danced in the East Room, closing up with the Virginia Reel.



TOM QUARTZ AND JACK

White House, Jan. 6, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

We felt very melancholy after you and Ted left and the house seemed empty and lonely. But it was the greatest possible comfort to feel that you both really have enjoyed school and are both doing well there.

Tom Quartz is certainly the cunningest kitten I have ever seen. He is always playing pranks on Jack and I get very nervous lest Jack should grow too irritated. The other evening they were both in the library—Jack sleeping before the fire—Tom Quartz scampering about, an exceedingly playful little wild creature—which is about what he is. He would race across the floor, then jump upon the curtain or play with the tassel. Suddenly he spied Jack and galloped up to him. Jack, looking exceedingly sullen and shame-faced, jumped out of the way and got upon the sofa, where Tom Quartz instantly jumped upon him again. Jack suddenly shifted to the other sofa, where Tom Quartz again went after him. Then Jack started for the door, while Tom made a rapid turn under the sofa and around the table, and just as Jack reached the door leaped on his hind-quarters. Jack bounded forward and away and the two went tandem out of the room—Jack not reappearing at all; and after about five minutes Tom Quartz stalked solemnly back.

Another evening the next Speaker of the House, Mr. Cannon, an exceedingly solemn, elderly gentleman with chin whiskers, who certainly does not look to be of playful nature, came to call upon me. He is a great friend of mine, and we sat talking over what our policies for the session should be until about eleven o'clock; and when he went away I accompanied him to the head of the stairs. He had gone about half-way down when Tom Quartz strolled by, his tail erect and very fluffy. He spied Mr. Cannon going down the stairs, jumped to the conclusion that he was a playmate escaping, and raced after him, suddenly grasping him by the leg the way he does Archie and Quentin when they play hide and seek with him; then loosening his hold he tore down-stairs ahead of Mr. Cannon, who eyed him with iron calm and not one particle of surprise.

Ethel has reluctantly gone back to boarding-school. It is just after lunch and Dulany is cutting my hair while I dictate this to Mr. Loeb. I left Mother lying on the sofa and reading aloud to Quentin, who as usual has hung himself over the back of the sofa in what I should personally regard as an exceedingly uncomfortable attitude to listen to literature. Archie we shall not see until this evening, when he will suddenly challenge me either to a race or a bear play, and if neither invitation is accepted will then propose that I tell a pig story or else read aloud from the Norse folk tales.



A FAR WESTERN TRIP

In April, 1903, President Roosevelt made a trip to the Pacific Coast, visiting Yellowstone Park and the Grand Canyon of Arizona.



TAME WILD CREATURES

Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, April 16, 1903.

DARLING ETHEL:

I wish you could be here and see how tame all the wild creatures are. As I write a dozen of deer have come down to the parade grounds, right in front of the house, to get the hay; they are all looking at the bugler, who has begun to play the "retreat."



WESTERN CUSTOMS AND SCENERY

Del Monte, Cal., May 10, 1903.

DARLING ETHEL:

I have thought it very good of you to write me so much. Of course I am feeling rather fagged, and the next four days, which will include San Francisco, will be tiresome; but I am very well. This is a beautiful hotel in which we are spending Sunday, with gardens and a long seventeen-mile drive beside the beach and the rocks and among the pines and cypresses. I went on horseback. My horse was a little beauty, spirited, swift, sure-footed and enduring. As is usually the case here they had a great deal of silver on the bridle and headstall, and much carving on the saddle. We had some splendid gallops. By the way, tell mother that everywhere out here, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, I have seen most of the girls riding astride, and most of the grown-up women. I must say I think it very much better for the horses' backs. I think by the time that you are an old lady the side-saddle will almost have vanished—I am sure I hope so. I have forgotten whether you like the side-saddle or not.

It was very interesting going through New Mexico and seeing the strange old civilization of the desert, and next day the Grand Canyon of Arizona, wonderful and beautiful beyond description. I could have sat and looked at it for days. It is a tremendous chasm, a mile deep and several miles wide, the cliffs carved into battlements, amphitheatres, towers and pinnacles, and the coloring wonderful, red and yellow and gray and green. Then we went through the desert, passed across the Sierras and came into this semi-tropical country of southern California, with palms and orange groves and olive orchards and immense quantities of flowers.



TREASURES FOR THE CHILDREN

Del Monte, Cal., May 10, 1903.

BLESSED KERMIT:

The last weeks' travel I have really enjoyed. Last Sunday and to-day (Sunday) and also on Wednesday at the Grand Canyon I had long rides, and the country has been strange and beautiful. I have collected a variety of treasures, which I shall have to try to divide up equally among you children. One treasure, by the way, is a very small badger, which I named Josiah, and he is now called Josh for short. He is very cunning and I hold him in my arms and pet him. I hope he will grow up friendly—that is if the poor little fellow lives to grow up at all. Dulany is taking excellent care of him, and we feed him on milk and potatoes.

I have enjoyed meeting an old classmate of mine at Harvard. He was heavyweight boxing champion when I was in college.

I was much interested in your seeing the wild deer. That was quite remarkable. To-day, by the way, as I rode along the beach I saw seals, cormorants, gulls and ducks, all astonishingly tame.



MORE TREASURES

Del Monte, Cal., May 10, 1903.

BLESSED ARCHIE:

I think it was very cunning for you and Quentin to write me that letter together. I wish you could have been with me to-day on Algonquin, for we had a perfectly lovely ride. Dr. Rixey and I were on two very handsome horses, with Mexican saddles and bridles; the reins of very slender leather with silver rings. The road led through pine and cypress forests and along the beach. The surf was beating on the rocks in one place and right between two of the rocks where I really did not see how anything could swim a seal appeared and stood up on his tail half out of the foaming water and flapped his flippers, and was as much at home as anything could be. Beautiful gulls flew close to us all around, and cormorants swam along the breakers or walked along the beach.

I have a number of treasures to divide among you children when I get back. One of the treasures is Bill the Lizard. He is a little live lizard, called a horned frog, very cunning, who lives in a small box. The little badger, Josh, is very well and eats milk and potatoes. We took him out and gave him a run in the sand to-day. So far he seems as friendly as possible. When he feels hungry he squeals and the colored porters insist that he says "Du-la-ny, Du-la-ny," because Dulany is very good to him and takes care of him.



A HOMESICK PRESIDENT

Del Monte, Cal., May 10, 1903.

DEAREST QUENTY-QUEE

I loved your letter. I am very homesick for mother and for you children; but I have enjoyed this week's travel. I have been among the orange groves, where the trees have oranges growing thick upon them, and there are more flowers than you have ever seen. I have a gold top which I shall give you if mother thinks you can take care of it. Perhaps I shall give you a silver bell instead. Whenever I see a little boy being brought up by his father or mother to look at the procession as we pass by, I think of you and Archie and feel very homesick. Sometimes little boys ride in the procession on their ponies, just like Archie on Algonquin.



JOSIAH'S PASSIONATE DAY

Writing Senator Lodge on June 6, 1903, describing his return to the White House from his western trip, the President said:

"Josiah, the young badger, is hailed with the wildest enthusiasm by the children, and has passed an affectionate but passionate day with us. Fortunately his temper seems proof."



LOVES AND SPORTS OF THE CHILDREN

(To Miss Emily T. Carow)

Oyster Bay, Aug. 6, 1903.

To-day is Edith's birthday, and the children have been too cunning in celebrating it. Ethel had hemstitched a little handkerchief herself, and she had taken her gift and the gifts of all the other children into her room and neatly wrapped them up in white paper and tied with ribbons. They were for the most part taken down-stairs and put at her plate at breakfast time. Then at lunch in marched Kermit and Ethel with a cake, burning forty-two candles, and each candle with a piece of paper tied to it purporting to show the animal or inanimate object from which the candle came. All the dogs and horses—Renown, Bleistein, Yagenka, Algonquin, Sailor Boy, Brier, Hector, etc., as well as Tom Quartz, the cat, the extraordinarily named hens—such as Baron Speckle and Fierce, and finally even the boats and that pomegranate which Edith gave Kermit and which has always been known as Santiago, had each his or her or its tag on a special candle.

Edith is very well this summer and looks so young and pretty. She rides with us a great deal and loves Yagenka as much as ever. We also go out rowing together, taking our lunch and a book or two with us. The children fairly worship her, as they ought to, for a more devoted mother never was known. The children themselves are as cunning and good as possible. Ted is nearly as tall as I am and as tough and wiry as you can imagine. He is a really good rider and can hold his own in walking, running, swimming, shooting, wrestling, and boxing. Kermit is as cunning as ever and has developed greatly. He and his inseparable Philip started out for a night's camping in their best the other day. A driving storm came up and they had to put back, really showing both pluck, skill and judgment. They reached home, after having been out twelve hours, at nine in the evening. Archie continues devoted to Algonquin and to Nicholas. Ted's playmates are George and Jack, Aleck Russell, who is in Princeton, and Ensign Hamner of the Sylph. They wrestle, shoot, swim, play tennis, and go off on long expeditions in the boats. Quenty-quee has cast off the trammels of the nursery and become a most active and fearless though very good-tempered little boy. Really the children do have an ideal time out here, and it is an ideal place for them. The three sets of cousins are always together. I am rather disconcerted by the fact that they persist in regarding me as a playmate. This afternoon, for instance, was rainy, and all of them from George, Ted, Lorraine and Ethel down to Archibald, Nicholas and Quentin, with the addition of Aleck Russell and Ensign Hamner, came to get me to play with them in the old barn. They plead so hard that I finally gave in, but upon my word, I hardly knew whether it was quite right for the President to be engaged in such wild romping as the next two hours saw. The barn is filled with hay, and of course meets every requirement for the most active species of hide-and-seek and the like. Quentin enjoyed the game as much as any one, and would jump down from one hay level to another fifteen feet below with complete abandon.

I took Kermit and Archie, with Philip, Oliver and Nicholas out for a night's camping in the two rowboats last week. They enjoyed themselves heartily, as usual, each sleeping rolled up in his blanket, and all getting up at an unearthly hour. Also, as usual, they displayed a touching and firm conviction that my cooking is unequalled. It was of a simple character, consisting of frying beefsteak first and then potatoes in bacon fat, over the camp fire; but they certainly ate in a way that showed their words were not uttered in a spirit of empty compliment.



A PRESIDENT AT PLAY

(To Miss Emily T. Carow)

Oyster Bay, Aug. 16, 1903.

Archie and Nick continue inseparable. I wish you could have seen them the other day, after one of the picnics, walking solemnly up, jointly carrying a basket, and each with a captured turtle in his disengaged hand. Archie is a most warm-hearted, loving, cunning little goose. Quentin, a merry soul, has now become entirely one of the children, and joins heartily in all their plays, including the romps in the old barn. When Ethel had her birthday, the one entertainment for which she stipulated was that I should take part in and supervise a romp in the old barn, to which all the Roosevelt children, Ensign Hamner of the Sylph, Bob Ferguson and Aleck Russell were to come. Of course I had not the heart to refuse; but really it seems, to put it mildly, rather odd for a stout, elderly President to be bouncing over hayricks in a wild effort to get to goal before an active midget of a competitor, aged nine years. However, it was really great fun.

One of our recent picnics was an innovation, due to Edith. We went in carriages or on horseback to Jane's Hill, some eight miles distant. The view was lovely, and there was a delightful old farmhouse half a mile away, where we left our horses. Speck (German Ambassador, Count Speck von Sternberg) rode with Edith and me, looking more like Hans Christian Andersen's little tin soldier than ever. His papers as Ambassador had finally come, and so he had turned up at Oyster Bay, together with the Acting Secretary of State, to present them. He appeared in what was really a very striking costume, that of a hussar. As soon as the ceremony was over, I told him to put on civilized raiment, which he did, and he spent a couple of days with me. We chopped, and shot, and rode together. He was delighted with Wyoming, and, as always, was extremely nice to the children.

The other day all the children gave amusing amateur theatricals, gotten up by Lorraine and Ted. The acting was upon Laura Roosevelt's tennis court. All the children were most cunning, especially Quentin as Cupid, in the scantiest of pink muslin tights and bodice. Ted and Lorraine, who were respectively George Washington and Cleopatra, really carried off the play. At the end all the cast joined hands in a song and dance, the final verse being devoted especially to me. I love all these children and have great fun with them, and I am touched by the way in which they feel that I am their special friend, champion, and companion.

To-day all, young and old, from the three houses went with us to Service on the great battleship Kearsarge—for the fleet is here to be inspected by me to-morrow. It was an impressive sight, one which I think the children will not soon forget. Most of the boys afterward went to lunch with the wretched Secretary Moody on the Dolphin. Ted had the younger ones very much on his mind, and when he got back said they had been altogether too much like a March Hare tea-party, as Archie, Nicholas and Oliver were not alive to the dignity of the occasion.



TO TED ON A HUNTING TRIP

Oyster Bay, Aug. 25, 1903.

DEAR TED:

We have thought of you a good deal, of course. I am glad you have my rifle with you—you scamp, does it still have "those associations" which you alleged as the reason why you would value it so much when in the near future I became unable longer to use it? I do not have very much hope of your getting a great deal of sport on this trip, and anything you do get in the way of furred or feathered game and fishing I shall count as so much extra thrown in; but I feel the trip will teach you a lot in the way of handling yourself in a wild country, as well as of managing horses and camp outfits—of dealing with frontiersmen, etc. It will therefore fit you to go on a regular camping trip next time.

I have sternly refused to allow mother to ride Wyoming, on the ground that I would not have her make a martyr of herself in the shape of riding a horse with a single-foot gait, which she so openly detests. Accordingly, I have had some long and delightful rides with her, she on Yagenka and I on Bleistein, while Ethel and Kermit have begun to ride Wyoming. Kermit was with us this morning and got along beautifully till we galloped, whereupon Wyoming made up his mind that it was a race, and Kermit, for a moment or two, found him a handful.

On Sunday, after we came back from church and bathed, I rowed mother out to the end of Lloyds Neck, near your favorite camping ground. There we took lunch and spent a couple of hours with our books, reading a little and looking out over the beautiful Sound and at the headlands and white beaches of the coast. We rowed back through a strange, shimmering sunset.

I have played a little tennis since you left. Winty Chandler beat me two sets, but I beat him one. Alex. Russell beat me a long deuce set, 10 to 8. To-day the smaller children held their championship. Nick won a long deuce set from Archie, and to my surprise Oliver and Ethel beat Kermit and Philip in two straight sets. I officiated as umpire and furnished the prizes, which were penknives.



END OF SUMMER AT OYSTER BAY

Oyster Bay, Sept. 23, 1903.

BLESSED KERMIT:

The house seems very empty without you and Ted, although I cannot conscientiously say that it is quiet—Archie and Quentin attend to that. Archie, barefooted, bareheaded, and with his usual faded blue overalls, much torn and patched, has just returned from a morning with his beloved Nick. Quentin has passed the morning in sports and pastimes with the long-suffering secret service men. Allan has been associating closely with mother and me. Yesterday Ethel went off riding with Lorraine. She rode Wyoming, who is really turning out a very good family horse. This evening I expect Grant La Farge and Owen Wister, who are coming to spend the night. Mother is as busy as possible putting up the house, and Ethel and I insist that she now eyes us both with a purely professional gaze, and secretly wishes she could wrap us up in a neatly pinned sheet with camphor balls inside. Good-bye, blessed fellow!



"VALUABLEST" KIND OF RABBITS

(To his sister, Mrs. W. S. Cowles)

White House, Oct. 2, 1903.

Tell Sheffield that Quentin is now going to the public school. As yet he has preserved an attitude of dignified reserve concerning his feelings on the subject. He has just been presented with two white rabbits, which he brought in while we were at lunch yesterday, explaining that they were "the valuablest kind with pink eyes."



A PREACHING LETTER

White House, Oct. 2, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

I was very glad to get your letter. Am glad you are playing football. I should be very sorry to see either you or Ted devoting most of your attention to athletics, and I haven't got any special ambition to see you shine overmuch in athletics at college, at least (if you go there), because I think it tends to take up too much time; but I do like to feel that you are manly and able to hold your own in rough, hardy sports. I would rather have a boy of mine stand high in his studies than high in athletics, but I could a great deal rather have him show true manliness of character than show either intellectual or physical prowess; and I believe you and Ted both bid fair to develop just such character.

There! you will think this a dreadfully preaching letter! I suppose I have a natural tendency to preach just at present because I am overwhelmed with my work. I enjoy being President, and I like to do the work and have my hand on the lever. But it is very worrying and puzzling, and I have to make up my mind to accept every kind of attack and misrepresentation. It is a great comfort to me to read the life and letters of Abraham Lincoln. I am more and more impressed every day, not only with the man's wonderful power and sagacity, but with his literally endless patience, and at the same time his unflinching resolution.



PROPER PLACE FOR SPORTS

White House, Oct. 4, 1903.

DEAR TED:

In spite of the "Hurry! Hurry!" on the outside of your envelope, I did not like to act until I had consulted Mother and thought the matter over; and to be frank with you, old fellow, I am by no means sure that I am doing right now. If it were not that I feel you will be so bitterly disappointed, I would strongly advocate your acquiescing in the decision to leave you off the second squad this year. I am proud of your pluck, and I greatly admire football—though it was not a game I was ever able to play myself, my qualities resembling Kermit's rather than yours. But the very things that make it a good game make it a rough game, and there is always the chance of your being laid up. Now, I should not in the least object to your being laid up for a season if you were striving for something worth while, to get on the Groton school team, for instance, or on your class team when you entered Harvard—for of course I don't think you will have the weight to entitle you to try for the 'varsity. But I am by no means sure that it is worth your while to run the risk of being laid up for the sake of playing in the second squad when you are a fourth former, instead of when you are a fifth former. I do not know that the risk is balanced by the reward. However, I have told the Rector that as you feel so strongly about it, I think that the chance of your damaging yourself in body is outweighed by the possibility of bitterness of spirit if you could not play. Understand me, I should think mighty little of you if you permitted chagrin to make you bitter on some point where it was evidently right for you to suffer the chagrin. But in this case I am uncertain, and I shall give you the benefit of the doubt. If, however, the coaches at any time come to the conclusion that you ought not to be in the second squad, why you must come off without grumbling.

I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports. But I do not believe in them if they degenerate into the sole end of any one's existence. I don't want you to sacrifice standing well in your studies to any over-athleticism; and I need not tell you that character counts for a great deal more than either intellect or body in winning success in life. Athletic proficiency is a mighty good servant, and like so many other good servants, a mighty bad master. Did you ever read Pliny's letter to Trajan, in which he speaks of its being advisable to keep the Greeks absorbed in athletics, because it distracted their minds from all serious pursuits, including soldiering, and prevented their ever being dangerous to the Romans? I have not a doubt that the British officers in the Boer War had their efficiency partly reduced because they had sacrificed their legitimate duties to an inordinate and ridiculous love of sports. A man must develop his physical prowess up to a certain point; but after he has reached that point there are other things that count more. In my regiment nine-tenths of the men were better horsemen than I was, and probably two-thirds of them better shots than I was, while on the average they were certainly hardier and more enduring. Yet after I had had them a very short while they all knew, and I knew too, that nobody else could command them as I could. I am glad you should play football; I am glad that you should box; I am glad that you should ride and shoot and walk and row as well as you do. I should be very sorry if you did not do these things. But don't ever get into the frame of mind which regards these things as constituting the end to which all your energies must be devoted, or even the major portion of your energies.

Yes, I am going to speak at Groton on prize day. I felt that while I was President, and while you and Kermit were at Groton I wanted to come up there and see you, and the Rector wished me to speak, and so I am very glad to accept.

By the way, I am working hard to get Renown accustomed to automobiles. He is such a handful now when he meets them that I seriously mind encountering them when Mother is along. Of course I do not care if I am alone, or with another man, but I am uneasy all the time when I am out with Mother. Yesterday I tried Bleistein over the hurdles at Chevy Chase. The first one was new, high and stiff, and the old rascal never rose six inches, going slap through it. I took him at it again and he went over all right.

I am very busy now, facing the usual endless worry and discouragement, and trying to keep steadily in mind that I must not only be as resolute as Abraham Lincoln in seeking to achieve decent ends, but as patient, as uncomplaining, and as even-tempered in dealing, not only with knaves, but with the well-meaning foolish people, educated and uneducated, who by their unwisdom give the knaves their chance.



CONCERNING GETTING "SMASHED"

White House, Oct. 11, 1903.

DEAR TED:

I have received letters from the Rector, from Mr. Woods, and from Mr. Billings. They all say that you should play on the third squad, and Mr. Woods says you are now satisfied to do so. This was my first, and as I am convinced, my real judgment in the case. If you get mashed up now in a serious way it may prevent your playing later. As I think I wrote you, I do not in the least object to your getting smashed if it is for an object that is worth while, such as playing on the Groton team or playing on your class team when you get to Harvard. But I think it a little silly to run any imminent risk of a serious smash simply to play on the second squad instead of the third.

I am judging for you as I would for myself. When I was young and rode across country I was light and tough, and if I did, as actually happened, break an arm or a rib no damage ensued and no scandal was caused. Now I am stiff and heavy, and any accident to me would cause immense talk, and I do not take the chance; simply because it is not worth while. On the other hand, if I should now go to war and have a brigade as I had my regiment before Santiago, I should take any chance that was necessary; because it would be worth while. In other words, I want to make the risk to a certain accident commensurate with the object gained.



THE ART OF UNCLE REMUS

(To Joel Chandler Harris)

White House, Oct. 12, 1901.

MY DEAR HARRIS:

It is worth while being President when one's small daughter receives that kind of an autograph gift. When I was younger than she is, my Aunt Annie Bulloch, of Georgia, used to tell me some of the brer rabbit stories, especially brer rabbit and the tar baby. But fond though I am of the brer rabbit stories I think I am even fonder of your other writings. I doubt if there is a more genuinely pathetic tale in all our literature than "Free Joe." Moreover I have felt that all that you write serves to bring our people closer together. I know, of course, the ordinary talk is that an artist should be judged purely by his art; but I am rather a Philistine and like to feel that the art serves a good purpose. Your art is not only an art addition to our sum of national achievement, but it has also always been an addition to the forces that tell for decency, and above all for the blotting out of sectional antagonism.



A RIDE AND A PILLOW FIGHT

White House, Oct. 19, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

I was much pleased at your being made captain of your eleven. I would rather have you captain of the third eleven than playing on the second.

Yesterday afternoon Ethel on Wyoming, Mother on Yagenka and I on Renown had a long ride, the only incident being meeting a large red automobile, which much shook Renown's nerves, although he behaved far better than he has hitherto been doing about automobiles. In fact, he behaved so well that I leaned over and gave him a lump of sugar when he had passed the object of terror—the old boy eagerly turning his head around to get it. It was lovely out in the country, with the trees at their very best of the fall coloring. There are no red maples here, but the Virginia creepers and some of the dogwoods give the red, and the hickories, tulip trees and beeches a brilliant yellow, sometimes almost orange.

When we got home Mother went up-stairs first and was met by Archie and Quentin, each loaded with pillows and whispering not to let me know that they were in ambush; then as I marched up to the top they assailed me with shrieks and chuckles of delight and then the pillow fight raged up and down the hall. After my bath I read them from Uncle Remus. Usually Mother reads them, but now and then, when I think she really must have a holiday from it, I read them myself.



STUDY AND PLAY

White House, Oct. 24, 1903.

DEAR TED:

I am really greatly pleased at your standing so high in your form, and I am sure that this year it is better for you to be playing where you are in football. I suppose next year you will go back to your position of end, as you would hardly be heavy enough for playing back, or to play behind the centre, against teams with big fellows. I repeat that your standing in the class gave me real pleasure. I have sympathized so much with your delight in physical prowess and have been so glad at the success you have had, that sometimes I have been afraid I have failed to emphasize sufficiently the fact that of course one must not subordinate study and work to the cultivation of such prowess. By the way, I am sorry to say that I am falling behind physically. The last two or three years I have had a tendency to rheumatism, or gout, or something of the kind, which makes me very stiff.

Renown is behaving better about automobiles and the like. I think the difference is largely in the way I handle him. He is a very good-natured and gentle horse, but timid and not over-wise, and when in a panic his great strength makes him well-nigh uncontrollable. Accordingly, he is a bad horse to try to force by anything. If possible, it is much better to give him a little time, and bring him up as gently as may be to the object of terror. When he behaves well I lean forward and give him a lump of sugar, and now the old boy eagerly puts around his head when I stretch out my hand. Bleistein I have ridden very little, because I think one of his forelegs is shaky, and I want to spare him all I can. Mother and I have had the most lovely rides imaginable.



QUENTIN'S FIRST FALL

White House, Oct. 24, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

Yesterday I felt rather seedy, having a touch of Cuban fever, my only unpleasant reminiscence of the Santiago campaign. Accordingly, I spent the afternoon in the house lying on the sofa, with a bright fire burning and Mother in the rocking-chair, with her knitting, beside me. I felt so glad that I was not out somewhere in the wilderness, campaigning or hunting, where I would have to walk or ride all day in the rain and then lie out under a bush at night!

When Allan will come from the trainer's I do not know. Rather to my surprise, Ronald has won golden opinions and really is a very nice dog. Pinckney loves him, and he sits up in the express wagon just as if it was what he had been born to.

Quentin is learning to ride the pony. He had one tumble, which, he remarked philosophically, did not hurt him any more than when I whacked him with a sofa cushion in one of our pillow fights. I think he will very soon be able to manage the pony by himself.

Mother has just taken the three children to spend the afternoon at Dr. Rixey's farm. I am hard at work on my message to Congress, and accordingly shall not try to go out or see any one either this afternoon or this evening. All of this work is terribly puzzling at times, but I peg away at it, and every now and then, when the dust clears away and I look around, I feel that I really have accomplished a little, at any rate.

I think you stood well in your form, taking everything into account. I feel you deserve credit for being captain of your football eleven, and yet standing as high as you do in your class.



HOMESICK FOR SAGAMORE HILL

White House, Nov. 4, 1903.

DEAR TED:

Three cheers for Groton! It was first-class.

On election day I saw the house, and it was all so lovely that I felt fairly homesick to be back in it. The Japanese maples were still in full leaf and were turning the most beautiful shades of scarlet imaginable. The old barn, I am sorry to say, seems to be giving away at one end.

Renown now behaves very well about automobiles, and indeed about everything. He is, however, a little touched in the wind. Bleistein, in spite of being a little shaky in one foreleg, is in splendid spirits and eager for any amount of go. When you get on here for the Christmas holidays you will have to try them both, for if there is any fox hunting I am by no means sure you will find it better to take Bleistein than Renown.

Sister is very handsome and good, having had a delightful time.

That was a funny trick which the Indians played against Harvard. Harvard did well to play such a successful uphill game in the latter part of the second half as to enable them to win out; but I do not see how she stands a chance of success against Yale this year.



JOY OVER A FOOTBALL VICTORY

White House, Nov. 4, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

To-night while I was preparing to dictate a message to Congress concerning the boiling caldron on the Isthmus of Panama, which has now begun to bubble over, up came one of the ushers with a telegram from you and Ted about the football match. Instantly I bolted into the next room to read it aloud to mother and sister, and we all cheered in unison when we came to the Rah! Rah! Rah! part of it. It was a great score. I wish I could have seen the game.



VICE-MOTHER OF THE CHILDREN

White House, Nov. 15, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

Didn't I tell you about Hector, Brier and Sailor Boy (dogs) when I saw them on election day? They were in excellent health, lying around the door of Seaman's house, which they had evidently adopted as their own. Sailor Boy and Brier were exceedingly affectionate; Hector kindly, but uninterested.

Mother has gone off for nine days, and as usual I am acting as vice-mother. Archie and Quentin are really too cunning for anything. Each night I spend about three-quarters of an hour reading to them. I first of all read some book like Algonquin Indian Tales, or the poetry of Scott or Macaulay. Once I read them Jim Bludsoe, which perfectly enthralled them and made Quentin ask me at least a hundred questions, including one as to whether the colored boy did not find sitting on the safety valve hot. I have also been reading them each evening from the Bible. It has been the story of Saul, David and Jonathan. They have been so interested that several times I have had to read them more than one chapter. Then each says his prayers and repeats the hymn he is learning, Quentin usually jigging solemnly up and down while he repeats it. Each finally got one hymn perfect, whereupon in accordance with previous instructions from mother I presented each of them with a five-cent piece. Yesterday (Saturday) I took both of them and Ethel, together with the three elder Garfield boys, for a long scramble down Rock Creek. We really had great fun.



QUENTIN'S SIXTH BIRTHDAY

White House, Nov. 19, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

I was much pleased at your being chosen captain of the Seventh. I had not expected it. I rather suspect that you will be behind in your studies this month. If so, try to make up next month, and keep above the middle of the class if you can. I am interested in what you tell me about the Sir Galahads, and I shall want to talk to you about them when you come on.

Mother is back with Aunt Emily, who looks very well. It is so nice to have her. As for Mother, of course she makes the house feel like a home again, instead of like a temporary dwelling.

Leo is as cunning as ever. Pinckney went to see Allan yesterday and said he found him "as busy as a bee in a tar barrel," and evidently owning all the trainer's house. He is not yet quite fit to come back here.

To-day is Quentin's birthday. He has a cold, so he had his birthday cake, with the six candles, and his birthday ice-cream, in the nursery, with Ethel, Archie, Mother, Aunt Emily, myself, Mame and Georgette as admiring guests and onlookers.



A PRESIDENT'S POOR PROTECTION

White House, Nov. 28, 1903.

DEAR KERMIT:

It was very sad at Uncle Gracie's funeral; and yet lovely, too, in a way, for not only all his old friends had turned out, but all of the people connected with the institutions for which he had worked during so many years also came. There were a good many of the older boys and employees from the Newsboys' Lodging House and the Orthopaedic Dispensary, etc. Uncle Jimmy possessed a singularly loving and affectionate nature, and I never knew any one who in doing good was more careful to do it unostentatiously. I had no idea how much he had done. Mother with her usual thoughtfulness had kept him steadily in mind while I have been Governor and President; and I now find that he appreciated her so much, her constant remembrances in having him on to visit us on different occasions. It was a lesson to me, for I should probably never have thought of it myself; and of course when one does not do what one ought to, the excuse that one erred from thoughtlessness instead of wrong purpose is of small avail.

The police arrangements at the church were exasperating to a degree. There were fully five hundred policemen in the streets round about, just as if there was danger of an attack by a ferocious mob; and yet though they had throngs of policemen inside, too, an elderly and harmless crank actually got inside with them to present me some foolish memorial about curing the German Emperor from cancer. Inasmuch as what we needed was, not protection against a mob, but a sharp lookout for cranks, the arrangement ought by rights to have been for fifty policemen outside and two or three good detectives inside. I felt like a fool with all the policemen in solemn and purposeless lines around about; and then I felt half exasperated and half amused when I found that they were utterly helpless to prevent a crank from getting inside after all.

P. S.—I enclose two original poems by Nick and Archie. They refer to a bit of unhappy advice I gave them, because of which I fell into richly merited disgrace with Mother. Nick has been spending three days or so with Archie, and I suggested that they should explore the White House in the mirk of midnight. They did, in white sheets, and, like little jacks, barefooted. Send me back the poems.



TED'S SPRAINED ANKLE

White House, Nov. 28, 1903.

DEAR TED:

If I were you I should certainly get the best ankle support possible. You do not want to find next fall that Webb beats you for end because your ankle gives out and his does not. If I were in your place, if it were necessary, I should put the ankle in plaster for the next three weeks, or for as long as the doctor thinks it needful, rather than run any risk of this. At any rate, I would consult him and wear whatever he thinks is the right thing.

. . . . .

I wonder if you are old enough yet to care for a good history of the American Revolution. If so, I think I shall give you mine by Sir George Trevelyan; although it is by an Englishman, I really think it on the whole the best account I have read. If I give it to you you must be very careful of it, because he sent it to me himself.

P. S.—The Bond parrot for mother has turned up; it is a most meritorious parrot, very friendly, and quite a remarkable talker.



THE SUPREME CHRISTMAS JOY

(To his sister, Mrs. Douglas Robinson)

White House, Dec. 26, 1903.

. . . . .

We had a delightful Christmas yesterday—just such a Christmas thirty or forty years ago we used to have under Father's and Mother's supervision in 20th street and 57th street. At seven all the children came in to open the big, bulgy stockings in our bed; Kermit's terrier, Allan, a most friendly little dog, adding to the children's delight by occupying the middle of the bed. From Alice to Quentin, each child was absorbed in his or her stocking, and Edith certainly managed to get the most wonderful stocking toys. Bob was in looking on, and Aunt Emily, of course. Then, after breakfast, we all formed up and went into the library, where bigger toys were on separate tables for the children. I wonder whether there ever can come in life a thrill of greater exaltation and rapture than that which comes to one between the ages of say six and fourteen, when the library door is thrown open and you walk in to see all the gifts, like a materialized fairy land, arrayed on your special table?



A DAY WITH A JUGGLER

White House, Jan. 18, 1904.

DEAR KERMIT:

Thursday and Friday there was a great deal of snow on the ground, and the weather was cold, so that Mother and I had two delightful rides up Rock Creek. The horses were clipped and fresh, and we were able to let them go along at a gallop, while the country was wonderfully beautiful.

To-day, after lunch, Mother took Ethel, Archie and Quentin, each with a friend, to see some most wonderful juggling and sleight of hand tricks by Kellar. I went along and was as much interested as any of the children, though I had to come back to my work in the office before it was half through. At one period Ethel gave up her ring for one of the tricks. It was mixed up with the rings of five other little girls, and then all six rings were apparently pounded up and put into a pistol and shot into a collection of boxes, where five of them were subsequently found, each tied around a rose. Ethel's, however, had disappeared, and he made believe that it had vanished, but at the end of the next trick a remarkable bottle, out of which many different liquids had been poured, suddenly developed a delightful white guinea pig, squirming and kicking and looking exactly like Admiral Dewey, with around its neck Ethel's ring, tied by a pink ribbon. Then it was wrapped up in a paper, handed to Ethel; and when Ethel opened it, behold, there was no guinea pig, but a bunch of roses with a ring.



MERITS OF MILITARY AND CIVIL LIFE

White House, Jan. 21, 1904.

DEAR TED:

This will be a long business letter. I sent to you the examination papers for West Point and Annapolis. I have thought a great deal over the matter, and discussed it at great length with Mother. I feel on the one hand that I ought to give you my best advice, and yet on the other hand I do not wish to seem to constrain you against your wishes. If you have definitely made up your mind that you have an overmastering desire to be in the Navy or the Army, and that such a career is the one in which you will take a really heart-felt interest—far more so than any other—and that your greatest chance for happiness and usefulness will lie in doing this one work to which you feel yourself especially drawn—why, under such circumstances, I have but little to say. But I am not satisfied that this is really your feeling. It seemed to me more as if you did not feel drawn in any other direction, and wondered what you were going to do in life or what kind of work you would turn your hand to, and wondered if you could make a success or not; and that you are therefore inclined to turn to the Navy or Army chiefly because you would then have a definite and settled career in life, and could hope to go on steadily without any great risk of failure. Now, if such is your thought, I shall quote to you what Captain Mahan said of his son when asked why he did not send him to West Point or Annapolis. "I have too much confidence in him to make me feel that it is desirable for him to enter either branch of the service."

I have great confidence in you. I believe you have the ability and, above all, the energy, the perseverance, and the common sense, to win out in civil life. That you will have some hard times and some discouraging times I have no question; but this is merely another way of saying that you will share the common lot. Though you will have to work in different ways from those in which I worked, you will not have to work any harder, nor to face periods of more discouragement. I trust in your ability, and especially your character, and I am confident you will win.

In the Army and the Navy the chance for a man to show great ability and rise above his fellows does not occur on the average more than once in a generation. When I was down at Santiago it was melancholy for me to see how fossilized and lacking in ambition, and generally useless, were most of the men of my age and over, who had served their lives in the Army. The Navy for the last few years has been better, but for twenty years after the Civil War there was less chance in the Navy than in the Army to practise, and do, work of real consequence. I have actually known lieutenants in both the Army and the Navy who were grandfathers—men who had seen their children married before they themselves attained the grade of captain. Of course the chance may come at any time when the man of West Point or Annapolis who will have stayed in the Army or Navy finds a great war on, and therefore has the opportunity to rise high. Under such circumstances, I think that the man of such training who has actually left the Army or the Navy has even more chance of rising than the man who has remained in it. Moreover, often a man can do as I did in the Spanish War, even though not a West Pointer.

This last point raises the question about you going to West Point or Annapolis and leaving the Army or Navy after you have served the regulation four years (I think that is the number) after graduation from the academy. Under this plan you would have an excellent education and a grounding in discipline and, in some ways, a testing of your capacity greater than I think you can get in any ordinary college. On the other hand, except for the profession of an engineer, you would have had nothing like special training, and you would be so ordered about, and arranged for, that you would have less independence of character than you could gain from them. You would have had fewer temptations; but you would have had less chance to develop the qualities which overcome temptations and show that a man has individual initiative. Supposing you entered at seventeen, with the intention of following this course. The result would be that at twenty-five you would leave the Army or Navy without having gone through any law school or any special technical school of any kind, and would start your life work three or four years later than your schoolfellows of to-day, who go to work immediately after leaving college. Of course, under such circumstances, you might study law, for instance, during the four years after graduation; but my own feeling is that a man does good work chiefly when he is in something which he intends to make his permanent work, and in which he is deeply interested. Moreover, there will always be the chance that the number of officers in the Army or Navy will be deficient, and that you would have to stay in the service instead of getting out when you wished.

I want you to think over all these matters very seriously. It would be a great misfortune for you to start into the Army or Navy as a career, and find that you had mistaken your desires and had gone in without really weighing the matter.

You ought not to enter unless you feel genuinely drawn to the life as a life-work. If so, go in; but not otherwise.

Mr. Loeb told me to-day that at 17 he had tried for the army, but failed. The competitor who beat him in is now a captain; Mr. Loeb has passed him by, although meanwhile a war has been fought. Mr. Loeb says he wished to enter the army because he did not know what to do, could not foresee whether he would succeed or fail in life, and felt the army would give him "a living and a career." Now if this is at bottom your feeling I should advise you not to go in; I should say yes to some boys, but not to you; I believe in you too much, and have too much confidence in you.



ROOT AND TAFT

White House, Feb. 6, 1904.

DEAR TED:

I was glad to hear that you were to be confirmed.

Secretary Root left on Monday and Governor Taft took his place. I have missed, and shall miss, Root dreadfully. He has been the ablest, most generous and most disinterested friend and adviser that any President could hope to have; and immediately after leaving he rendered me a great service by a speech at the Union League Club, in which he said in most effective fashion the very things I should have liked him to say; and his words, moreover, carried weight as the words of no other man at this time addressing such an audience could have done. Taft is a splendid fellow and will be an aid and comfort in every way. But, as mother says, he is too much like me to be able to give me as good advice as Mr. Root was able to do because of the very differences of character between us.

If after fully thinking the matter over you remain firmly convinced that you want to go into the army, well and good. I shall be rather sorry for your decision, because I have great confidence in you and I believe that in civil life you could probably win in the end a greater prize than will be open to you if you go into the army—though, of course, a man can do well in the army. I know perfectly well that you will have hard times in civil life. Probably most young fellows when they have graduated from college, or from their post-graduate course, if they take any, feel pretty dismal for the first few years. In ordinary cases it at first seems as if their efforts were not leading anywhere, as if the pressure around the foot of the ladder was too great to permit of getting up to the top. But I have faith in your energy, your perseverance, your ability, and your power to force yourself to the front when you have once found out and taken your line. However, you and I and mother will talk the whole matter over when you come back here on Easter.

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