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THE MELLOWED VETERAN OF MANY POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AS HE APPEARS TO-
CHIEF CHARACTERISTIC IS SIMPLICITY OF HEART AND MIND
WILLIAM BAYARD HALE
HE relations between the Pres- it assumes to pledge the candidate to "the ident and his Secretary of principle” of a single term. There were State afford Washington and those who believed that if Mr. Bryan were the political world in general invited to join the Cabinet, he would ask
their most precious subject Mr. Wilson whether they were in agreeof gossip. Few politicians believed that ment on that plank. We may assume Mr. Bryan would be in Mr. Wilson's with entire confidence that that question Cabinet. Many doubted that he would was never asked for, of course, Mr. be asked; more believed he would Wilson could not have permitted himself decline. When they learned that he to answer it. both had been asked and had accepted, The truth is, the subject is peculiarly there was a pretty general falling back on and entirely one which can be dealt with the dark prediction that the relationship wisely, from every point of view, in just of President and Premier would endure one way — and that way is, by letting it only a few months. Two men so ambi- alone.
alone. It would be an exhibition of very tious, it was argued, could not possibly be poor taste for Mr. Wilson to refuse a secexpected to pursue a common course. ond term before any one had suggested Two temperaments so imperious could not offering him one. It would be impolitic get along together. Mutual suspicions,
Mutual suspicions, for him to do so, for it would weaken his if not mutual antagonisms, were certain influence. It would be as idle for him to to arise. The aim of one would be to do so as it was for one of his predecessors make his administration so great a suc- to refuse, four years in advance, a third cess that he would be acclaimed for a term. If, as the campaign of 1916 draws second term; the other would hardly have on, Mr. Wilson's administration has been that as an aim, especially in view of the a failure, it will not be necessary to appeal Baltimore platform declaration in favor to the Baltimore plank to prevent his of a single term.
re-nomination. If it has been the success With regard to the single term, that is his friends believe it will be, the Baltimore a matter which undeniably lies unsettled, plank will be forgotten; no pledge could undiscussed, unreferred to, between the have been invented so solemn that its recoltwo men. But that is precisely where it lection could stop his re-nomination. The ought to lie. There often arise questions single term question will settle itself. which no discussion and no announce- Now, Mr. Bryan knows this. He is not ment of intentions can settle; which so unpractised in practical politics as to must be left to settle themselves. Mr. believe that an ambiguous platform plank Bryan undoubtedly believes that the Bal- is going to have any consideration in 1916. timore plank pledges Mr. Wilson to a sin- Yet to deny that the defeated hero of gle term. Probably Mr. Wilson has no three campaigns would like to be President such idea. He has never declared his would take hardihood indeed. My conacceptance of the Baltimore platform, and clusion is that Mr. Bryan, so far as he is the single term plank is highly ambiguous- actuated by any ambitious anticipations, expects nothing else than to succeed Mr. ing within the memory of this generation Wilson in 1921. He will then be only matches the abominating horror the sixty-one years old, and he will be as shrieks of which greeted the nomination of mellowed and widely beloved a man as the "cross of gold” orator. ever sat in the chair of Washington and To hear him execrated as a fellow of Jefferson and Lincoln. Not a vestige Aaron Burr, Benedict Arnold, and Judas then will remain of the hate that villified Iscariot was common a dozen years ago. him. His career will round itself out "Mouthing demagogue,
demagogue,” “anarchist," completely, in the light which it is already “renegade, puppet in the blood-imbued assuming, as one of the most remarkable hands of Altgeld” - such were the ordiillustrations of the reversal of a people's nary epithets by which he was described. judgment.
I have seen men cleanse their mouths The only other tenable theory is that after having spoken the name of Bryan. Mr. Bryan hopes to wreck the Adminis- For years, half of the people of the United tration. Some light on this hypothesis States piously believed that William may be thrown by a passage of words that Jennings Bryan was a depraved, vicious took place last winter; my account may man; an enemy of law and of Society. be taken as authentic. A political friend Almost as many more, it is true, hailed was suggesting to Mr. Bryan that it would him as a Savior; thousands would have be a mistake for him to commit his for- laid down their lives for him. But the tunes to the Wilson Administration. astonishing fact is that the virulence of “Stay out of it,” he urged. "Suppose it
the hate which, on his appearance, broke is a failure. You will be involved, and out and raged like a pestilence or a mania, be discredited yourself. The nomination has disappeared. He has not changed; in 1916 wouldn't come to you, and if it he has not recanted. He has just lived. did, it wouldn't be worth while for a “What is truth?” said jesting Pilate, member of the Cabinet to run."
and would not stay for an answer. “What “ Have you reflected, my friend," was is success?” is a query on which the mediMr. Bryan's reply, “that if the Wilson tative might reflect with possible profit. Administration is a failure, it won't be To go down in battle three times; to be worth while for any Democrat to run in still denied, in 1912, what seemed almost 1916?"
within reach in 1896; after sixteen years Mr. Bryan is in the Cabinet in good of unprofitable fighting to hand over the faith. It is impossible that he should not leadership at the dawn of a new and probe conscious of the irony which, in the pitious day to a new captain unheard of hour of Democratic victory, ignoring him in the earlier battles - this would not comwho chiefly bore the burden and heat of monly be said to describe “success.” But the day, gave the reward to another. can you say that that man is a defeated Mr. Bryan is hardly a philosopher, but he man who now sees his principles prevail
believer in Providence, habituated to and the party that he fought to save from a pious submission to the inscrutable de- itself finally committed to all he stood and crees of the God whom he loyally serves. stands for and finally triumphant in the
Nation that so long rejected it? There is II
nothing so vulgar as "success." Anybody The time has come when a new estimate succeed.” It takes the great to of the character of this remarkable man is " "fail." Mr. Bryan belongs to one arismaking its way into the consciousness of tocracy the aristocracy of men who the Nation. It would be untrue to say might “succeed,” but who magnificently that no man in our political history has decline to do so; who set their hearts been so vilified, for the language in which on a great end but scorn to stipulate for Jefferson was held up by his opponents the personal rewards which in the eyes of to contempt and abhorrence has now the vulgar are the proof and perquisites passed out of the speaking and writing of triumph. vocabulary of civilized society. But noth- At the nominating convention held in
St.Louis in 1904, Mr. Bryan, declining then matter with you? Did he take your to run a third time, returned the commis- temperature?" Aunty replied: "'Deed sion, as he put it, which he had held for sir, I don't know what all he done took. eight years as leader of the party. The I ain't had time look 'round yit, but dem climax of this, one of his most affecting no 'count niggahs liable take anything." speeches, was in these words:
Mr. Bryan wasn't sure that Mr. Roosevelt “You may dispute whether I have fought had left him even his temperature. That a good fight; you may dispute whether I was a good joke in 1905. In 1913, it is a have finished my course; but you can not pure matter-of-fact statement to say that deny that I have kept the faith."
Mr. Bryan has, between Democrats and And the faith has triumphed. The Progressives, been spoiled of every idea free coinage of silver, even if you regard he ever had. it as an utterly mistaken and mischievous
III idea, was, after all, only a passing expres
There shines out in Mr. Bryan's life a sion of the doctrine that human rights are higher than property rights. On the personal quality without recognition of
which no analysis of his character is subject of the relationship of the man and the dollar, the thought of the Nation has
complete — a quality which indeed is its been completely revolutionized within the
core and key. last sixteen years — and it is that revolu
Where, outside of the story of this man's tion which has given birth to the whole
life, shall you find a candidate for Congress programme of economic reform and social
at the close of the campaign gravely and justice with its concern over the welfare of gently presenting his adversary with a
copy of Gray's "Elegy," expressing good women and children, workingmen's in
wishes for his foeman, whether the morsurance, and all the rest of it. The initiative and referendum, which might have
row's balloting gave or forbade him been a rare zoological specimen, so far as The applause of listening Senates to com
! most people knew, when Mr. Bryan began mand! to advocate it, is here. Direct nomina- Where, in the annals of hot partisan tions, campaign publicity, the responsi- strife, will you find an orator, facing the bility of the courts to the people, are popu- enmity of a frenzied national convention, lar and triumphing doctrines. The Con- throwing away a point because he had stitution has been altered to permit the caught sight of a wife in the throng of ten popular election of United States Senators thousand? and the imposition of the income tax.
The first draft of Mr. Bryan's resoluIs this failure or success?
tion asking for the withdrawal of Mr. Ryan Indeed, so thorough has been the tri- and Mr. Belmont from the Baltimore umph of Mr. Bryan's faith that, unless convention contained a passage referring he shortly finds new articles for it, he will to the methods by which Mr. Taft had be left behind by the progressive temper of just obtained his re-nomination at Chicago. the country. It was after Mr. Roosevelt's It was the climax of the resolution. When election to the Presidency eight years ago, Mr. Bryan came down from the platform during a dinner at which they were both after the dramatic speech offering this present, that I heard Mr. Bryan humor- resolution, his friend and old-time secreously charge the Republican President tary, Mr. Robert F. Rose, pulled him by with having “stolen his clothes.” Mr. the coat and said: “What became of the Bryan told how an old darkey woman lying passage about Taft?” Mr. Bryan turned sick had finally sent for the white physi- his head and asked in reply: “Why, didn't cian in the neighborhood, the colored you see that Mrs. Taft was in the gallery?" "doctor" having failed to give her relief. Where, in all the chronicles of JefferThe new physician said: “Well, aunty, sonian simplicity, more or less spontaneyou had to send for me after all, didn't ously practised in Democratic times at you? What did that old fraud do for Washington, is a match for this? – you? Did he find out what was the Mr. Bryan now rides in a carriage furnished by the Government and driven however, taxed Mr. Bryan's strength to by an Irishman who has conducted the the limit of his endurance. Starting from Secretaries of State about Washington for Rock Island, having had no sleep at all nearly a quarter of a century. Mr. Bryan the night before on account of continimmediately became interested in his ued conferences, the candidate journeyed coachman, as he does in everybody across lowa, traveling by trolley and steam, associated with him in any capacity. A making twenty-two speeches before he day or two before the delivery of the St. reached the end of his programme. He Patrick's Day speech which, by its com- saw to it that the correspondents on the ment on the abolition of the House of train were snugly provided for in Pullmans, Lords, caused some comment in England, and then disappeared. A little later his the Secretary asked his driver if he were secretary found him stretched out on a going to the St. Patrick's Day dinner hard seat of a wretched car at the back of which the Irish societies of Washington the train. He was utterly exhausted, but were giving. No, the driver wasn't going. had not failed to see everybody else com“Well, I should like to have you go, fortably in bed before he fell down to his said Mr. Bryan, "and I'll see that you get own comfortless rest. an invitation.” Accordingly, on the night Of his public labors, everybody knows; of March 17th, the banquet at which the of the long hours at his desk, the public Secretary of State spoke was graced by knows nothing. At the close of the camthe presence of his coachman, who was paign of 1896, after the staff of corresponconspicuously placed, not only at the table, dents had departed from Lincoln, he found but on the programme; for, being a guest that there still remained unanswered of honor and bearing the name of “Barry,” 60,000 letters. Every one of these was which takes alphabetical precedence over answered, with Mrs. Bryan's help. It "Bryan" and "Belmont," for instance, the took the two of them a year and a half. coachman found that lo! his name led all An instance of Mr. Bryan's conscienthe rest!
tiousness was afforded a friend who once The conscientiousness of the man is found him working over-time signing unbelievable. Only his capacity for work several hundred photographs which had makes it possible to execute the duties been sent in for his autograph. Near by sat he lays upon himself. His labors as a his brother, Mr. Charles Bryan, idly scribcampaigner will never be matched. I bling a signature which an expert could have myself been on the train with Mr. not have told had not been written by Bryan when he made an average of fifteen “William J. Bryan.” The suggestion speeches a day for the best part of a week, that Mr. Charles Bryan's aid would and this is not an unusual record. So far greatly facilitate the writing of those autoas I know, his hardest day's work was done graphs provoked an indignant response in Missouri during the close of the cam- from Mr. Bryan. paign of 1908; starting from St. Joseph at
IV four o'clock in the morning, Mr. Bryan concluded his thirty-second speech at The word that describes Mr. Bryan half past one o'clock on the following is simplicity. He is that quality incarnate. morning. By midnight the newspaper He might be a character imagined by correspondents were to a man utterly Dickens — whose characters are traits, worn out. One or two of them heard the characteristics, qualities, personified. Mr. beginning of his last speech, which was Bryan is simpleness personified. His heart made in the open air, as most of the others is simple, and his mind is simple, almost had been, and which was expected to last obvious. His moral strength is the singlefive or ten minutes. Mr. Bryan actually ness of his conscience, the definiteness spoke an hour and a half with undiminished with which, shaking off accidents and power. A few hundred men had waited complications, it sees, laid bare, the core up for him, and he gave them his best. of the matter, the issue between right
Another day's work of that campaign, and wrong. There abides the greatness and lovableness of the man. His popu- that its magnificence is such that it inlarity lies in the corresponding simplicity spired the sacred lines: of his mind; its instinct to restrict itself
What though the spicy breezes to primitive truths-some would call them
Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle, commonplaces. His mind does not range.
Where every prospect pleases It has no fancy for exploring. It rests
And only man is vile. well content in the land of everyday things.
It is the narrative of a simple-hearted So do the minds of the vast majority of
traveler, written for his neighbors at us. He has a warm imagination and a
home, unsophisticated, unpretending. tendency toward florid imagery, the most
His mind is not only democratic; his impressive stage presence Americans have
mental habit is curiously humble. He ever seen, the most wonderful voice that ever fell upon ravished ears, and an un
quotes like a school-boy. No platitude
is so undeniable but he likes to adduce erring understanding of the mind of the
for it. "Jefferson states," common man - because it is his own.
“Emerson tells us" what they tell William J. Bryan has a democratic
us is that all men are created equal or mind; he will no more allow himself to become a mental aristocrat than a social
that the dreams of one generation become
the accepted facts of another. one. Emerson, Longfellow, Mrs. Hemans,
"An eminent Swiss, Mr. Carl Hilty, Luise Mühlbach, are good enough for him.
declares that regular employment at some He has no desire, to sample outside the
work which satisfies the conscience and the staple authors who have endeared them
judgment is essential to any true enjoyselves to the common people. He is no Brahmin. He affects no knowledge of
ment of life.” Why drag in Hilty? We
should as soon take William J. Bryan's art, the drama, the opera, or advanced
word for it as Hilty's. I adduce this literature. He owes nothing to Bernard
noticeable habit as a striking evidence of Shaw, Maeterlinck, Hauptmann, Hardy,
the simplicity and humility of his mental Ibsen, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Amiel, Royce, James, Bergson, not even
to Wilson's masters, Burke, Bagehot, to
The figures which fill his historic imagi
nation are such as those of Napoleon, Wordsworth or Lamb. The exception is Tolstoi, to whom he was drawn by the
Demosthenes, Nero, David and Elijah, Russian's literal idea of the Christian life.
and, first of all, Jesus of Nazareth. He
draws his allusions from American history, His own nearest approach to the writing
the French Revolution, and a few wellof literature was his “Reply to Letters
tried and perfectly good classical subjects, from a Chinese Official." in which he
like Scylla and Charybdis. And from argues the superiority of Christian over
the Bible. Mr. Bryan's speeches and pagan civilization with a gravity which
writings are crammed with Biblical quoappears a trifle over-literal when we know that the “Chinese Official's” letters were
tations, allusions, and illustrations. He
talks about Belshazzar's Feast; about a hoax. Besides, Mr. Bryan has written a travel book. He tells the story of his
Naboth's Vineyard. “Mene, mene, tekel, journey around the world in a chronicle
upharsin!” he cries with impressive emwhich faithfully records every movement
phasis. He goes about the country deand extends due thanks for every courtesy
livering lectures, on what subjects? “The
Prince of Peace;" "Thou Shalt Not Steal;" received from consuls and fellow-travelers.
"Is the Young Man Absalom Safe?” “The The book contains much valuable statistical information and is illustrated with
Price of a Soul;” “Character;" "Faith;" photographs of the Bryans, on shipboard in volumes of his speeches, he puts under
"Missions." Including these addresses and camel-back, standing by the Pyramids,
each one the notice: in Japanese gardens, and at the entrance to Buddhist temples. It is repeatedly
(This address is not copyrighted and can be stated that the scenery is fine; at one point
republished by any one desiring to do so.) it must have been, for the author notes Mr. Bryan has been addicted to Biblical