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118   My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

criticisms by the young man not yet twenty-three have their value because they show go distinctly the character of the young man himself. One sees the interest which he takes in his humankind as represented by certain types of Dutch pictures, and also his love for spiritual beauty, when not belittled by insipidity. Perhaps the last sentence of this letter is most characteristic of all of his own vital spirit. He does not wish to pity the Christ; he almost insists that pity must be lost in admiration and reverence. Pity always seemed to Theodore Roosevelt an undesirable quality; tenderest sympathy he gave and craved-but never pity.

After this brief artistic sojourn he plunged with great energy, on his return, into the drudgery of political life in his own district. Many were the criticisms of his friends and acquaintances at the thought of his taking up city or state politics from a serious standpoint. At that time, even more than now, "politics" was considered as something far removed from the life of any one brought up to other spheres than that of mudslinging and corruption. All "politics" was more or less regarded as inextricably intertwined with the above. Theodore Roosevelt, however, realized from the very beginning of his life that "armchair" criticism was ineffectual, and, because ineffectual, undesirable. If one were to regard oneself in the light of a capable critic, the actual criticism immediately obligated the person indulging in it to do something about the matter. He often used to quote the old story of "Squeers" in "Nicholas Nickleby," that admirable old novel of Charles Dickens, in which "Do the Boys' Hall" was so amusingly described. Mr. Squeers, the master of the above school, would call up a pupil and ask him to spell window. He pronounced it "winder," and the pupil in turn would spell it "w-i-n-d-e-r." The spelling would not be corrected but the boy would receive the injunction to "go and wash it," and my brother always said that while he did not approve of "Squeers' " spelling-nor indeed of other methods practised by him-that the "go and wash it" was an

The Young Reformer   119

admirable method to follow in political life. The very fact that, although by no means a wealthy man, he had a sufficient competence to make it unnecessary for him to earn his own living, made him feel that he must devote his life largely to public affairs. He realized that unless the men of his type and caliber interested themselves in American government, the city, state, and country in which they lived would not have the benefit of educated minds and of incorruptible characters. He therefore set himself to work to learn the methods used in ordinary political life, and, by learning the methods, to fit himself to fight intelligently whatever he found unworthy of free American citizenship.

He has described this part of his life in his own autobiography. He has told of how he met Joseph Murray, a force in the political district, who became his devoted adherent, and how he decided himself to become one of the "governing class." This effort resulted in his nomination for the New York State Assembly, and on January r, 1882, Theodore Roosevelt became outwardly, what inwardly he had always been, a devoted public servant. That winter remains in my mind as one of intense interest in all of his activities. We were all living at my mother's home in 57th Street, and he spent part of the week in Albany, returning, as a rule, on Friday for the week-end. Many were the long talks, many the humorous accounts given us of his adventures as an assemblyman, and all the time we, his family, realized that an influence unusual in that New York State Assembly was beginning to be felt. Already, by the end of a month or so, he was known as "the Young Reformer," ardent and earnest, who pleaded for right thinking, and definite practical interpretation of right thinking. His name was on the lips of many before he had been three months an assemblyman, and already his native city was beginning to take a more than amused interest in his activities.

A certain highbrow club called "The 19th Century Club," whose president was the editor of the Evening Post (a paper

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