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248 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

whole day. It was a very touching little ceremony, and most of all it was delightful to see you two in your lovely home, living just the kind of life that I feel is typical of what American life should be at its best. I was so glad to see all your neighbors, and to see the terms they were on with you. Moreover, the view, the grounds, the house itself, and all there was therein, were delightful beyond measure; and most delightful of all was it to see the three generations ranging from you two to the babies of dear Helen and Teddy. Ever yours, Theodore Roosevelt." As usual, he never spared an effort to do the lovely thing, and then say the satisfying thing to those for whom he had done the service.

And now the time of Theodore Roosevelt's incumbency as President was drawing to a close. There is always a glamour as well as a shadow over "last times," and my last visit to the White House, in February, i9o9, stands out very clearly. My brother, the year before, had sent the great American fleet around the world, an expedition discountenanced by many, and yet conceded later to have been one of his most brilliantly conceived strategic inspirations. "In time of peace, prepare for war," said Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt always followed that maxim. That trip around the world of the American fleet was more conducive to peace than any other action that could have been taken. The purpose was "friendly," of course, but those splendid battle-ships of ours, engineered by such able commanders, could not fail to be an object-lesson to any who felt that the United States was too isolated to care for her own defense.

But even in such a demonstration as this, he managed to include a touch of exquisite sentiment. When the great vessels neared the Hawaiian Islands, he ordered them to deflect their course to pass by and salute the tragic island of Molokai, home of the afflicted lepers, so that they too should know of the protection which America affords to its most unfortunate children.

During those days in February, i9o9, he seemed as gay as a boy let out of school. He was making all the arrangements

Home Life in the White House 249

for his great African adventure. In fact, with his usual "preparedness," he had been preparing for that event for a whole year. Everything was accurately arranged, and he and his son Kermit were to start immediately after he was to leave the White House in March. The lectures which he was to deliver a year from the following spring were all written and corrected. One afternoon in the "Blue Bedroom," which I generally occupied on my visits, I heard a knock at my door, and he came in with several rolls of paper under his arm. "It is raining," he said, "and I think I won't take my ride. I want your opinion on the lectures I am to deliver at Oxford, in Berlin, and at the Sorbonne. I should like to read them to you," and we settled down for a long delightful, quiet time "A deux." As usual, he was more than willing to listen to any remark or criticism, and once or twice accepted my slight suggestions of what I thought could improve his articles.

Some people felt that my brother was often egotistical, and mistook his conviction that this or that thing was right for an egotistical inability to look at it any other way. When he was convinced that his own attitude was correct, and that for the good of this or that scheme no other attitude should be taken, then nothing could swerve him; but when, as was often the case, it was not a question of conviction, but of advisability, he was the most open-minded of men, and gladly accepted and pondered the point of view of any one in whom he had confidence. I was always touched and gratified beyond measure at the simple and sometimes almost humble way in which he would listen to a difference of opinion upon my part. Occasionally, after thinking it seriously over, he would concede that my point of view was right. In this particular case, however, they were the slightest of slight suggestions which I made, for each of those articles seemed to me in its own way a masterpiece.

During that visit also occurred the last diplomatic dinner, always followed when he was President by the delightful, informal supper at tables set in the upper hall of the White House.

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