Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

So the procession comes, pauses, and is always delightful and satisfactory in passes. You wonder what possible im- that the visitor has the fullest opportunpression its members can hope to make ity to tell his story and make his request upon the wearied retina, the tired tym- or his argument, assured of an attentive panum, of the man in the oval room. hearing. All visitors agree that Mr.

The case is not what one would expect. Wilson has a peculiar faculty of putting The President's mind and nerves have them at their best; not a few timid, unready much the quality of youth. They are talkers have told me wonderingly that in singularly fresh and tenacious; they func- his company they found their tongues tion like a boy's both in receiving and unloosed and their ideas flowing rapidly recording impressions. He hears and sees into appropriate words. Appraised as and does not easily forget. Let us go into austere by the public which does not know the oval room.

him, Mr. Wilson is in fact a man of ready It is a cabinet, perhaps 25 by 35 feet, and profound sympathy. All feel that done in light olive green burlap with white instantly on coming into contact with wainscoting and doors. At one end is a him. He has no tricks of manner; he is fireplace with a white marble mantel, on innocent of any design to appear cordial; it a French clock under a glass dome; but the genuine simplicity of his look and opposite, a deep bay window. Glazed of his words is inevitably winning. He is book-cases are set into the wainscoting a shy man himself, if the truth were known, between the doors; the floor is covered and perhaps it is the most timid of men who with a plain green rug of domestic manu- are the best understood by him. facture. A solitary picture still hangs - Mr. Wilson is the best listener that has or did hang, the other day-as if forgotten, been in the White House for many a year. on one wall: a small photograph of Theo- Mr. Roosevelt never listened to anybody dore Roosevelt. The President sits at his in his life, of course; Mr. Taft could listen desk in the bay of the window; another well, when interested, but people often chair is placed at one end of the desk. suspected that Mr. Taft's mind was aAt one side of this main chamber there is wandering, even while his face was ata smaller room in dark brown, furnished tentive. You never have that feeling with with a couch and easy chairs, and a tiny Mr. Wilson. It is apparent from the first desk 'set into the wall; to this room on word that he is closely following you; as rare occasions the President may retire a rule he is silent until you have concluded; with a particularly favored visitor. Be- sometimes, however, his face will light up yond this is the Cabinet room, a rectangu- and he will nod or let a soft “yes” pass lar chamber none too large for its big table his lips. You have the feeling that his with ten chairs somewhat crowded around mind is ahead of you, as in fact it is, and it; there is no place provided for the seat of you pass rapidly from point to point, the Secretary of Labor, and he sits doubled well satisfied with your own swift eloquence. up with the Secretary of Commerce at the Then, instantly, you get your reply, and lower end. The Cabinet room is done in it is perfectly clear that Mr. Wilson has light brown; maps and law books line the taken you all in all you have said, some walls, and a globe stands in the middle of things you have left unsaid. His mind the floor. The only picture is a Lincoln leaps to respond. over the mantel. For a change of scene All Washington agrees that it is a simple the President sometimes leads his visitors delight to have converse with the new into the Cabinet room.

President. I have seen his swiftness of An interview with Mr. Wilson is always apprehension and his clean-cut clearness of a delightful and satisfactory affair. Not mind displayed on hundreds of occasions always, of course, in its results, for the in Princeton and Trenton, and it was no United States now has a President who can surprise to me to hear visitors emerge say "no" as easily as "yes," though he from interviews at the White House with knows how to take the sting out of a re- their faces glowing with the pleasure of fusal, if he wants to. But an interview having transacted their business so satisfactorily; no surprise to hear Secretaries very precise entries

very precise entries — are likely to become praise, as if it were something unheard of famous engines of destruction, as the counand impossible in political life, the direct- try learns about the conversations that ness, swiftness, accuracy, and precision of take place in the ivory and white room. the operations of the mind under whose pres- His capacity for sustained gravity, too, idency they sit around the Cabinet table. is a magnificent weapon.

“There was not an irrelevant word,” A committee of suffragists visited him said one visitor, coming away; "he lis- the other day, and the ladies were not tened like a judge, and answered instantly, unimpressed with the seriousness of their speaking precisely to the subject I had mission. When they came out, the chairraised, and not to some other subject.” man said:

More than one visitor has noticed, “It was the most solemn meeting | however, that after he has ventured warily ever attended. The President was cordial, to approach the question of patronage the but grave. We took in a copy of Mr. President's responsiveness has suddenly Wilson's book, ‘The New Freedom,' and flagged and, without any direct refusal to told him that by substituting 'women' listen to a statement of the claims of the for ‘men'in some paragraphs it would candidate, the change that has fallen over make the best argument for woman's the spirit of the meeting has effectually suffrage ever written. At that a fleeting prevented its utterance.

smile stole over the Presidential visage. "I simply cannot understand,” Mr. Then we all relapsed into solemnity. We Wilson has said in my hearing, “the passion said our pieces and we were as solemn as that goes into this struggle for office; I owls. But an owl would seem as merry cannot understand the deep personal feel- as a lark by the side of the President. ing with which the advocates of this man Where we made a mistake was in not or that argue in season and out of season bringing in a coffin and turning it into a for their candidate, or the resentment with funeral.” which they hear a rival mentioned.

President Wilson enjoyed that interview “Of course, if I were to allow myself as much as the ladies did. to listen to all this turmoil of importunate The majority of the President's callers candidacies I could do nothing else. already come to discuss policies. As soon There would be nothing but the ragged as the first stream of purely congratulatory shreds of a mind to give to the real business calls had ceased, Mr. Wilson began the of the Nation, with which I am charged.” discussion with visitors of the great public

Yet Mr. Wilson is a man whose sym- problems of the Nation. There was a pathies are so readily engaged that it is day or two when his callers seemed to think likely many a case will get past his guard, that, like his predecessors, he must be to worry and encumber him. Some of occupying himself at the beginning of his the candidates and friends of candidates term with appointments. They found it who presume on that sympathy, though, was not so, as I have said; that already the will be wiser when they have made their question of patronage had been relegated attempt. Mr. Wilson is a gentleman and to a place in the back of his mind; that he a scholar, but he is — 1 speak whereof was eager to advance to serious discussions I do know and testify what I have seen — of principles. Already, before he had been capable of giving the thickest-skinned in the White House a week, he was deep politician a colorful quarter of an hour. in the question of the attitude to be taken

In subtler ways, too, he is disconcerting, toward Mexico and Central America; of when he wants to be. The deliberation the proper relations of the Government with which he adjusts his nose-glasses and to the Chinese Republic and to the policy studies a visitor is sometimes suggestive, of the "dollar diplomacy"; of the tariff, and the long gold pencil and the neat little and the extremely practical problems memorandum book with and in which of the preparation of a bill that would having carefully produced them, some- pass both Houses of Congress; of the times he maliciously sets about making currency, the establishment of a great fiscal system of a new breadth and stability. for information from the visitor. But Already, also, President Wilson was taking with the utmost simplicity, there is also up details of the Government, and some of always an absolute and almost innocent its specific problems. Within two weeks faith in the power of a pure heart and a of his inauguration, he had announced the single eye. position of his Administration with regard The President's mornings (his mornings to the two chief concerns of our foreign last until half past one) are too fully policy: our attitude toward Latin-America occupied by appointments to allow of his and toward China. The atmosphere holding the public receptions in which his about the White House from the start predecessors used to indulge at the noon filled every visitor with the feeling that hour. The custom has arisen, as I have not a moment was to be lost; four years said, of giving visitors without appointwas not a day too long in which to do the ments cards admitting them to the East great things for which the people have Room of the White House at half past commissioned this Administration.

two in the afternoon. Things pass very rapidly in the oval The East Room, running the depth of the room. A “yes," a memorandum on a mansion, with windows on three sides, with pad, a touch of the bell summoning a clerk, its four great fireplaces, three crystal a dozen times an hour starts the making chandeliers, its mirrors, its ornate decoraof a bit of history. Occasionally, a secre- tions of white and gold, is very different tary or a confidential stenographer comes from the rather shabby, business-like in softly and lays before the President a quarters in which the work of the morning paper to which a red tag is clipped — an is done. Under the direction of door"important and urgent” signal. All keepers, visitors are lined up around the through the rest of the building the air walls — for several hundred callers seek is palpitant with excitement. The news- to greet the President at these levees. paper men at the door scrutinize eagerly Promptly at 2.30 the great door swings every entrance and departure, slip in and open and, preceded by a smart aide in out of Mr. Tumulty's office to "get a line military uniform, the President steps on” one or another of a dozen mysterious rapidly out and takes a position in the rumors always current; the official staff, centre of the floor. The President has long habituated to rapid and important donned a black frock coat now, and the events, is keyed to the highest pitch in scene is more formal. its effort to regard and execute the deci- The procession past him begins. Each sions of the man at the centre of all this person, introduced by the aide, shakes the activity. But there is no excitement there, President's hand and presents his greetings no haste. If ever a man was born to or performs his errand. At the head of govern, Mr. Wilson was; to govern confi- the line one day is Colonel Eustis, chairman dently, though graciously. Here he is, this of the Inauguration Committee, supported student of thirty cloistered years who had by a few of his colleagues, who have come never been inside the White House until to present Mr. Wilson with the medal cast the day of his inauguration, to whom the to commemorate the inauguration. Three City of Washington was still practically Commissioners of the District of Columbia unknown - here he is, sitting in the very present their compliments. Next in line centre of the Nation's business and setting is a character who calls himself the "King about the administration of its government of the Newsboys.” The “King” says a with the grave but easy confidence, the formal little speech and gets a word of poise and equanimity, of one born to the good-will for the juvenile disseminators of heritage of the chief chair of State, trained diurnal literature. Mr. Samuel Untermyer from his childhood in its expected duties, is in line; as is the retiring Solicitor-General and experienced for years in their execu- - Mr. Bullitt has a good deal of manner tion. There is no assumption of knowing and makes his little speech of good-bye as everything; very often indeed there is a happily as if it were one of gratitude. naive confession of ignorance and a request A little further down the line is some one bearing a large photograph which he begs are made. They show no great originality the President to accept. Others have in their way of expressing their feelings; photographs which they beg to have auto- commonly they utter one of the commongraphed. Here is a Congressman intro- place salutations of ordinary life; they wish ducing a mother of an army officer who has him “luck” in one phrase or another. But fallen into difficulty. Here is a Senator whether it be that for the average citizen with two of his important constituents his presentation to the President is a rare who have a request to prefer. · Next comes moment, or whether it be that Woodrow a lady, an old acquaintance, who brings Wilson has already gained an unusual her little daughter for the grace of a greet- place in the affections of the people, it is ing from the President.

impossible not to see that the good wishes Perhaps one third of those in line have have an intensity of feeling behind them. some particular word to say or request to I was surprised and impressed to remark make; the majority, however, have come how many different sorts of people – merely to wish the President luck. And it prosperous looking men, benevolent is very evident in most cases that the wish looking old ladies, brisk young chaps — is sincere and even profound. It is a very said: "God bless you!” So spoke scores. instructive and touching thing to watch I think the President must have been for a few days this procession at the after- touched by this exercise of the priestly noon receptions, and to observe the function of a people by the spontaneous attitude toward their President of the lips of its representatives. I fancy he representatives of the mass of the people must find no little inspiration in this daily with nothing to ask. They come from benediction. “Up from the common soil, all parts of the country: “Tennessee," up from the quiet heart of the people, rise "Indiana," "Kansas," "Rhode Island,” the streams of hope and eulogy," he has succeeding one another as the introductions said again and again.

MY WORK FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN

HOW, THOUGH LAME, AND WITHOUT MONEY OR FRIENDS, I BUILT UP A HOSPITALSCHOOL IN DETROIT IN WHICH HELPLESS BOYS AND GIRLS ARE

TAUGHT TO BE HAPPY AND USEFUL

BY
BLANCHE VAN LEUVEN BROWNE

W

V

HEN I look back on I was twenty-two when I left my home

that day seven years in Milford to go out into the gray world, ago

the day I came and keep the vow I had made seven years to Detroit with $6 in before when I lay on a cot in St. Luke's

my purse and not a Hospital in Chicago. I told the doctor friend in all the big bustling city - I won- then that if I lived to get well I would der whether it was ignorance or courage dedicate my frail powers to the rescue of that kept me from turning back and giving little crippled children, who seemed to me up the fight. I may as well tell you from the most neglected of all things that lived. the beginning that I am a cripple; that from The strange thing now seems that, my childhood I have had a hopelessly crippled as i was, grotesquely slim of twisted spine, and that only because of my purse and friendless and terror-stricken knowledge gained at first hand of the im- by my audacity, I was exaltedly happy. potent misery of most cripples, was I en- You must know what was in my mind abled to face the terrors that a city holds and heart to understand why I was spurred for one so handicapped as I am.

on by the enthusiasm of the blind devotee. I will transcribe from an interview that a useless burdens. Some of these people reporter - a sympathetic young woman sent me checks.

I treasured every penny wrote about me in her paper not long like a greedy Midas, living meagrely. after I came to Detroit:

When I had gathered a few months' rent

I took a modest little house, furnished it It's terrible when you consider how a crippled scantily with a few borrowed things, child is treated. If he happens to be born in a prosperous family he is petted and pampered

and with one little crippled tot started and coddled and wrapped in cotton wool to my work. A prominent business man, grow up unhappy, uneducated, undisciplined to whom my ideas appealed, became - an affliction to himself and to those who treasurer, and $1,000 was paid in. love him. If he is born in a poor family his He was a much harassed man of affairs, condition is pitiable beyond words - and and when he saw the little ship launched naturally most of them are poor. Is it nec- he abandoned his post. Then a board of essary that, because a man or a woman is fashionable ladies was formed. They came crippled, selling pencils or gum or shoe-strings

in fine touring cars and electric broughams. on the street corners should be the only occupation open to them?

They undoubtedly were the financial and Why shouldn't they be taught to do things?

social aristocrats of the city, and I really Many of them have nimble, skilful fingers, and

think they meant to help me. most of them have as keen, live brains as any But the children came fast and the one. Only a place in which their bodies are money came slowly, and though they were treated while their hands and brains are children who needed the most skilful trained can lift the tragedies from the lives of

treatment, unceasing care, and special crippled children. I want a hospital-school and, nourishment, and though very few of with the help of God and kind human hearts,

those brought to me were prepared to I'm going to establish one right here in Detroit.

pay a cent, I thank God that I never The reporter referred to me as the turned a cripple away. There were awful crippled crusader, told of the dollar-a- hours of anxiety, of course, but at the week room in which she found me, and critical time relief was sure to come. spoke in a most kindly and appreciative little story in one of the newspapers, for way of my theories and aims.

example, brought in hundreds of dollars To-day my dream has been partly in a few days. One of the checks for nearly realized. From my room here in the $200 came from the Board of Commerce. hospital-school I can hear the laughter The day the story was printed they were of poor little Joe, of Hazel, and Esther -- sitting around their big mahogany conall crippled, but aflame with the joy of ference table discussing civic problems living. And as I look back on the bitter when the secretary read the story aloud. days — the objections of fashionable “Pass the hat,” said some one, and they neighborhoods, the annihilating self- tossed the dollars into it, and the secretary assurance of fashionable boards of trustees, wrote a letter that made me cry for joy. the deadening apathy of people generally, But with all the encouragement and when confronted by so unimposing a help from without I know my work must person as myself - I realize that it was have died but for the coming of Laura all worth while.

O'Neill. She was young and strong, Before I came to Detroit I had written skilful and beautiful, and full of the desire a little book out of my experiences in the to serve. The ideas I was trying to work hospital, and it brought me small returns. out in the little place where now a big I took subscriptions for magazines, and family of little cripples were gathered so kept myself from being submerged. appealed strongly to her. Indeed, she And all the while, with but one thought was fired with an enthusiasm no less than in mind, I never lost a chance to tell the my own. She offered to join me in my men and women I met the story of how work, although I told her of the struggle little crippled children suffer, not only in I was having and how, much as I needed their bodies but in their hearts and souls, just such help, I had nothing to pay her because they are regarded as deadwood, with. She insisted on coming to me,

A

« PředchozíPokračovat »