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240 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

"This letter from Merrifield is so nice about Monroe and Stewart that I thought I would send it to you. How well they did." Always the same generous joy in the achievements of any of the younger generation.

Again, on December 26, comes a long letter describing another "White House Christmas." He deplores the fact that the children are growing a little older, and that "Ted" says in a melancholy way that he no longer feels the wild excitement of former years and the utter inability to sleep soundly during the night before Christmas. He adds, however: "Personally I think that `Ted' also was thoroughly in the spirit of the thing when Christmas actually arrived, because by six o'clock every child of every size was running violently to and fro along the hall, in and out of all the other children's rooms, the theory being that Edith and I were still steeped in dreamless and undisturbed slumber !"

It is true that that winter was more difficult than the winter before, but he met the unusual difficulties with unabated courage, and writes in October, 1907, after giving me much family news: "Indeed times have been bad in New York, and as is always the case the atonement was largely vicarious, and innocent people suffered. I hope it does not extend through the rest of the country. If we check it, I think it will mean ultimate good, though it will also mean depression for a year at least."

In March, 1908, in the midst of harassing controversies and presidential difficulties of all kinds, he takes the time and interest to write concerning a young friend of mine into whose life had come an unfortunate trouble. The letter is so full of a certain quality-what perhaps I might call a righteous ruthlessness specially characteristic of Theodore Roosevelt-that I quote a few lines from it:

"I hate to think of her suffering; but the only thing for her to do now is to treat the past as past, the event as finished and out of her life; to dwell on it, and above all to keep talking of it with any one, would be both weak and morbid. She should

Home Life in the White House 241

try not to think of it; this she cannot wholly avoid, but she can avoid speaking of it. She should show a brave and cheerful front to the world, whatever she feels; and henceforth she should never speak one word of the matter to any one. In the long future, when the memory is too dead to throb, she may, if she wishes, speak of it once more, but if she is wise and brave, she will not speak of it now."

This note referring to a matter which did not come, except through the interests of affection, close to his own life shows with startling clearness the philosophy of his attitude toward sorrows wherein an original mistake had perhaps been the cause of sorrow. Of all the qualities in my brother, this one never failed him. It was not harshness; it was, as I said, a righteous ruthlessness. The thing that injured one's possibility for service in any way must be cut out or burnt out. When that great sorrow of his own life, the death of his splendid boy, came in July, 1918, although he never put aside the sympathy of othersindeed, he gladly welcomed it, and gladly even would talk with those in his innermost circle of the youngest he loved so wellstill, as a rule, his attitude was similar to that taken in the above letter. Morbid craving could not bring back his child; morbid craving could hurt his own potential power for good. The grief must be met with high head and squared shoulders, and the work still to do must be done.

All through the spring of 1908 the question as to his successor in the White House was constantly in his mind. After serious thought he had come to the conclusion that of the men closest to him, William Howard Taft, who had done splendid work as governor in the Philippines and had been an able lieutenant in the work of the Roosevelt administration, would most conscientiously carry out the policies he thought vital for the country. This belief did not in any way mean that he wished Mr. Taft to be an automaton or dummy, possible of manipulation, but he felt that his then secretary of war was more thoroughly in sympathy with the policies which he believed to be

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