Previous Index Next


284 My Brother Theodore Roosevelt

to bring a suit for libel against him. In spite of this annoyance, however, he writes me various letters, some merry, and all dealing with subjects where he or I could be of help to others less fortunate. In one case, in connection with a certain French pastor, to whom I could not be of assistance in the way in which he had hoped, he writes: "I understand perfectly. I felt like a swine when I wrote you, but the poor, dear pastor was such a pathetic figure that from sheer mushy weakness I yielded, and strove to do something for him." And later, in connection with a penniless poet: "Can you give me any advice? I wish I knew some wealthy creature who was interested in poor struggling poets and could help them, and also help their poor wives and children after their deaths. Lord ! how hard life is!" That time I was able to help him, and raised quite a sum for the struggling individual in question, whom I thought truly deserved help.

Just then Mrs. William Astor Chanler arranged a charming play for the benefit of a war charity, a play in which there were scenes depicting Washington at Valley Forge. My little grandson took the part of his many times great-grandfather, Captain Isaac Roosevelt, and my brother, with sympathetic pleasure, came as an honored guest to the performance, and was later photographed with the small actors. He writes from Syracuse, where he had gone to take the defense for himself in the libel suit: "Was little Captain Isaac Roosevelt one of the bewildering number of small Revolutionary leaders who had their photographs taken with me? I have felt a pang that I did not particularly seek him out, but the confusion was so great that I could not identify any one of the constantly revolving small boys and girls behind the scenes; and until we were actually in place I had supposed that they were all to have their photographs taken with me." In this same letter he says, speaking of the fact that his wife had been ill when he left New York: "I have been so worried about Edith that this libel suit has bothered me very little. Of course I was rather tired by my nine

Whisperings of War   285

days on the witness stand, but I felt I made my case pretty clear. How the suit will go I have no idea, but in any event I do not feel that my friends have any cause to be ashamed of me." On May 24, at the end of the suit, in which he scored a great triumph, he writes: "Dearest Corinne and Douglas: It was fine to get your telegrams and letters. You two were among those who I knew would stand by me absolutely, win or lose; but I am awfully glad it is a case of winning and not losing. Just as soon as you get back from Virginia I must see you both and tell you everything." He did tell us everything, and many were the things that he told!

Twice in his life Theodore Roosevelt took part in libel suits. In the first case he brought the suit against a newspaper which had openly accused him of intoxication. In the second place he was the defendant, as I have already mentioned. Nothing was ever more unfounded than the strange and persistent rumor that Theodore Roosevelt indulged in intoxicating liquors. It has been my great good fortune to have been associated with men of great self-control as regards drink, but of all my intimate contemporaries, no one ever drank as little as my brother. I do not think he ever in his life tasted a cocktail, and he hated whiskey, and it rarely could be found at Sagamore Hill. He occasionally took a glass of sherry or port or champagne, but those, even, only occasionally; and how the report started that he overindulged in drink no one has ever been able to discover; but like many another sinister thing it swelled with its own volume, and after serious thought he chose an occasion when he could make a definite charge, and demanded a trial when the newspaper in question printed the heretofore only whispered untruth. I do not believe that so many distinguished men ever before travelled to a remote Western town, as travelled to give testimony about the sobriety of Theodore Roosevelt. Foreign ambassadors, famous generals, scientists, literary men, artists, all journeyed in an endless trail to give, with ardent loyalty, their personal knowledge of the impeccable habits of my brother.




Previous Index Next