The Project Gutenberg EBook of Heroes of To-Day, by Mary R. Parkman

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Title: Heroes of To-Day

Author: Mary R. Parkman

Release Date: January 16, 2015 [EBook #47988]

Language: English

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John Muir among his beloved trees

John Muir among his beloved trees



Author of “Heroines of Service,” etc.



Copyright, 1916, 1917, by
The Century Co.
Published September, 1917



Once, when I had been telling a group of children some stories of the heroes of old, one of the number who had always followed the tales with breathless interest, said:

“Tell us the story of a hero of to-day!”

“There are no heroes to-day, no real heroes, are there?” put in another. “Oh, of course I know there are great men who do important things,” he added, “but there isn’t any story to what they do, is there?—anything like the daring deeds of the knights and vikings, or of the American pioneers?”

Of course I tried to tell the children that the times in which we live bring out as true hero stuff as any time gone by. Nay, I grew quite eloquent in speaking of the many phases of our complex modern life with its many duties, its new conscience, its new feeling of individual responsibility for the welfare of all.

Then I told the stories of some of the heroes who are fighting “in the patient modern way,” not against flesh and blood with sword and spear, but against the unseen enemies of disease and pestilence; against the monster evils of ignorance, poverty and injustice. We decided that the “modern viking,” Jacob Riis, had a story that was as truly adventurous as those of the plundering vikings of long ago; that Dr. Grenfell, the strong friend of Labrador, had certainly proved that life might be a splendid adventure; and that the account of Captain Scott’s noble conquest of every danger and hardship, and at the last of disappointment and defeat itself, was indeed an “undying story.” Joyously we followed the trail of that splendid hero of the heights, John Muir, and of that gentle lover of the friendly by-paths of Nature, John Burroughs, and found that there was no spot in woods or fields, among mountains or streams, that did not have its wonder tale. The stories of those brave souls—like Edward Trudeau, the good physician of Saranac, and Samuel Pierpont Langley, the inventor of the heavier-than-air flying-machine, who struggled undaunted in the face of failure for a success that only those who should come after them might enjoy, were particularly inspiring. From them we turned to the heroic figure of the “prophet-engineer,” General Goethals, who proved that faith and perseverance can truly remove mountains; and Herbert C. Hoover, master of mines and of men, whose great talent for organization and efficient management brought bread to starving millions.

Carlyle has said that “the history of what man has accomplished in this world is at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked here.” When the real history of our day is written, will it not be seen that some of its most important and significant chapters are those which have nothing to do with great cataclysms, such as the wars of nation against nation? Will it not be seen that the victories of peace are not only “no less renowned than war,” but that they are, in truth, the most enduring? These “heroes of to-day”—doctor, naturalist, explorer, missionary, engineer, inventor, journalist, patriot—workers for humanity in many places and in many ways, are indeed

“A glorious company, the flower of men,
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.”


IThe Laird of Skyland: John Muir3
IIThe Seer of Woodchuck Lodge: John Burroughs31
IIIThe Deep-Sea Doctor: Wilfred Grenfell53
IVThe Captain of His Soul: Captain Scott81
VA Modern Viking: Jacob Riis105
VIA Pioneer of the Open: Edward L. Trudeau133
VII“The Prophet-Engineer”: George Washington Goethals163
VIIIA Shepherd of “The Great Country”: Bishop Rowe201
IXA Hero of Flight: Samuel Pierpont Langley233
XA Poet-Soldier: Rupert Brooke263
XIA Citizen of the World: Herbert C. Hoover295


John Muir Among His Beloved TreesFrontispiece
John Muir and John Burroughs in the Yosemite Valley25
Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell55
The Hospital at St. Anthony, Northern Newfoundland66
Captain Robert F. Scott87
Jacob A. Riis110
The Jacob A. Riis Settlement119
Edward L. Trudeau146
First Sanitarium Cottage Built155
Major Goethals178
The “Man of Panama” at Panama195
Bishop Peter T. Rowe213
Samuel P. Langley248
Rupert Brooke274
Herbert C. Hoover300
The Belgian Children’s Christmas Card317



Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.
Nature’s peace will flow into you
As sunshine into trees;
The winds will blow their freshness into you,
And the storms their energy;
While cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
John Muir.




A SMALL Scotch laddie was scrambling about on the storm-swept, craggy ruins of Dunbar Castle. He was not thinking of the thousand years that had passed over the grim fortress, or of the brave deeds, celebrated in legend and ballad, that its stones had witnessed. He was glorying in his own strength and daring that had won for him a foothold on the highest of the crumbling peaks, where he could watch the waves dash in spray, and where, with out-flung arms and face aglow with exultation, he felt himself a part of the scene. Sea, sky, rocks, and wild, boy heart seemed mingled together as one.

Little John Muir loved everything that was wild. The warnings and “skelpings” of his strict father could not keep him within the safe{4} confines of the home garden. The true world was beyond—the salt meadows, with nests of skylarks and field-mice, the rocky pools along the shore where one might find crabs, eels, and all sorts of interesting scaly creatures. But above all, there were the rocky heights where one might climb.

Sometimes the truant was sent to bed without his supper. But even then he made opportunities for climbing feats. In company with his little brother David, John played games of “scootchers” (dares) in which the boys crept out of their dormer-windows and found congenial mountaineering exercise on the slate roof, sometimes hanging from the eaves by one hand, or even—for an instant—by a single finger.

It was only on Saturdays and during vacations, however, that these lads could taste the delights of roving. Johnnie Muir’s school-days began when he was not quite three years old. Can you picture the sturdy infant trudging along, with the sea-wind blowing out behind him like a flag the little green bag that his mother had hung around his neck to hold his first book?{5} This infant had already learned his letters, however, from the shop signs, and it was not long before he passed the first mile-stone and spelled his way into the second book. When eight years old, John entered the grammar-school. Here he studied Latin and French, besides English, history, geography, and arithmetic. In regard to the methods employed, this doughty Scotchman used to say, with a twinkle: “We were simply driven pointblank against our books like a soldier against the enemy, and sternly ordered: ‘Up and at ’em! Commit your lessons to memory!’ If we failed in any part, however slight, we were whipped, for the grand, simple, Scotch discovery had been made that there was a close connection between the skin and the memory, and that irritating the skin excited the memory to any required degree.”

From the school playground the boys loved to watch the ships at sea and guess where they were bound. In stormy weather, that brought the salt spume from the waves over the wall, they often saw the brave vessels tossed against the rocky shore. Many of John’s school-books showed ships at full sail on the margins, particularly{6} the one that stirred his imagination most—the reader which told about the forests of America, with their wonderful birds and sugarmaple trees.

One evening, when John and David were loyally trying to forget dreams of voyages to magic lands where brave adventure awaited one at every turn, and master their lessons for the next day, their father came into the room with wonderful news.

“Bairns,” he said, “you need na learn your lessons the nicht, for we’re gaen to America the morn!”

How the words sang in their hearts! “America the morn!” Instead of grammar, a land where sugar-trees grew in ground full of gold; with forests where myriads of eagles, hawks, and pigeons circled about millions of birds’ nests; where deer hid in every thicket; and where there was never a gamekeeper to deny a lad the freedom of the woods!

Only their grandfather looked troubled, and said in a voice that trembled more than usual: “Ah, puir laddies! Ye’ll find something else ower the sea forby gold and birds’ nests and{7} freedom frae lessons. Ye’ll find plenty of hard, hard work.”

But nothing could cast a shadow on their joy. “I’m gaen to Amaraka the morn!” they shouted to their envying, doubting schoolmates.

It took six weeks and a half for the old-fashioned sailing-vessel to cross the Atlantic. The father had taken three of the children, John, David, and Sarah, to help him make a home in the wilderness for the rest of the family. The spot selected was near Kingston, Wisconsin, then settled only by a few scattered, hardy pioneers. Here, with the help of their nearest neighbors, they built in a day a cabin of rough, bur-oak logs.

This hut was in the midst of the woods which fringed a flowery meadow and a lake where pond-lilies grew. The boys had not been at home an hour before they discovered a bluejay’s nest with three green eggs, and a woodpecker’s hole, and began to make acquaintance with the darting, gliding creatures of springs and lake.

“Here,” said John Muir, “without knowing it, we were still at school; every wild lesson a{8} love lesson, not whipped but charmed into us.”

Soon farm life began in earnest. Fields were cleared and plowed; a frame house was built on the hill; and the mother with the younger children came to join these pioneers. It would seem that the long days of unceasing toil—planting, hoeing, harvesting, splitting rails, and digging wells—that retarded the growth of the active lad would have completely quenched the flickerings of his wild, eager spirit. But he managed to absorb, in the most astonishing way, the lore of woods and fields and streams, until the ways of birds, insects, fishes, and wild plant-neighbors were as an open book to him.

It was not long before his alert mind began to hunger for a real knowledge of the books which in his childish days he had studied without understanding. He read not only the small collection of religious books that his father had brought with him from Scotland, but also every stray volume that he could borrow from a neighbor.

When John was fifteen, he discovered that the poetry in the Bible, in Shakespeare, and in Milton could give something of the same keen joy{9} that a Sunday evening on a hilltop made him feel, when sunset and rising moon and the hushed voices of twilight were all mingled in one thrilling delight. All beauty was one, he found.

The noble lines echoed in his memory as he cradled the wheat and raked the hay. The precious opportunities for reading were stolen five minutes at a time when he lingered in the kitchen with book and candle after the others had gone to bed. Night after night his father would call with exasperated emphasis: “John, do you expect me to call you every night? You must go to bed when the rest do.”

One night as he descended on the boy with more than usual sternness his anger was somewhat disarmed when he noticed that the book in question was a Church history. “If you will read,” he added, “get up in the morning. You may get up as early as you like.”

That night John went to bed wondering how he was going to wake himself in order to profit by this precious permission. Though his was the sound sleep of a healthy boy who had been splitting rails in the snowy woods, he sprang out of bed as if roused by a mysterious reveille{10} long before daylight, and, holding his candle to the kitchen clock, saw that it was only one o’clock.

“Five hours to myself!” he cried exultingly. “It is like finding a day—a day for my very own!”

Realizing that his enthusiasm could not suffice to keep him warm in the zero weather, and that his father would certainly object to his making a fire, he went down cellar, and, by the light of a tallow dip, began work on the model of a self-setting sawmill that he had invented.

“I don’t think that I was any the worse for my short ration of sleep and the extra work in the cold and the uncertain light,” he said; “I was far more than happy. Like Tam o’ Shanter I was glorious—‘O’er all the ills of life victorious.”

When his sawmill was tested in a stream that he had dammed up in the meadow, he set himself to construct a clock that might have an attachment connected with his bed to get him up at a certain hour in the morning. He knew nothing of the mechanism of timepieces beyond the laws of the pendulum, but he succeeded in{11} making a clock of wood, whittling the small pieces in the moments of respite from farm-work. At length the “early-rising machine” was complete and put in operation to his satisfaction. There was now no chance that the weary flesh would betray him into passing a precious half-hour of his time of freedom in sleep.

“John,” said his father, who had but two absorbing interests, his stern religion and his thriving acres, “John, what time is it when you get up in the morning?”

“About one o’clock,” replied the boy, tremblingly.

“What time is that to be stirring about and disturbing the whole family?”

“You told me, Father—” began John.

“I know I gave you that miserable permission,” said the man with a groan, “but I never dreamed that you would get up in the middle of the night.”

The boy wisely said nothing, and the blessed time for study and experimentation was not taken away.

Even his father seemed to take pride in the{12} hickory clock that he next constructed. It was in the form of a scythe to symbolize Time, the pendulum being a bunch of arrows to suggest the flight of the minutes. A thermometer and barometer were next evolved, and automatic contrivances to light the fire and to feed the horses at a given time.

One day a friendly neighbor, who recognized that the boy was a real mechanical genius, advised him to take his whittled inventions to the State Fair at Madison. There two of his wooden clocks and the thermometer were given a place of honor in the Fine Arts Hall, where they attracted much attention. It was generally agreed that this farm-boy from the backwoods had a bright future.

A student from the university persuaded the young inventor that he might be able to work his way through college. Presenting himself to the dean in accordance with this friendly advice, young Muir told his story, explaining that except for a two-month term in the country he had not been to school since he had left Scotland in his twelfth year. He was received kindly, given a trial in the preparatory department,{13} and after a few weeks transferred to the freshman class.

During the four years of his college life John Muir made his way by teaching school a part of each winter and doing farm-work summers. He sometimes cut down the expense of board to fifty cents a week by living on potatoes and mush, which he cooked for himself at the dormitory furnace. Pat, the janitor, would do anything for this young man who could make such wonderful things. Years afterward he pointed out his room to visitors and tried to describe the wonders it had contained. It had, indeed, looked like a branch of the college museum, with its numerous botanical and geological specimens and curious mechanical contrivances.

Although he spent four years at the State University, he did not take the regular course, but devoted himself chiefly to chemistry, physics, botany, and geology, which, he thought, would be most useful to him. Then, without graduating, he started out “on a glorious botanical and geological excursion which has lasted,” he said, in concluding the story of his{14} early life, “for fifty years and is not yet completed.”

He journeyed afoot to Florida, sleeping on the ground wherever night found him. “I wish I knew where I was going,” he wrote to a friend who asked about his plans. “Only I know that I seem doomed to be ‘carried of the spirit into the wilderness.’ ”

Because he loved the whole fair earth and longed to know something of the story that its rocks and trees might tell, he wandered on and on. After going to Cuba, a siege of tropical fever, contracted by sleeping on swampy ground, caused him to give up for a time a cherished plan to make the acquaintance of the vegetation along the Amazon.

“Fate and flowers took me to California,” he said. He found there his true Florida (Land of Flowers), and he found, also, what became the passion of his life and his life work—the noble mountains, the great trees, and the marvelous Yosemite. Here he lived year after year, climbing the mountains, descending into the cañons, lovingly, patiently working to decipher the story of the rocks, and to make the wonder{15} and beauty which thrilled his soul a heritage for mankind forever.

He lived for months at a time in the Yosemite Valley, whose marvels he knew in every mood of sunshine, moonlight, dawn, sunset, storm, and winter whiteness of frost and snow. He would wander for days on the heights without gun or any provisions except bread, tea, a tin cup, pocket-knife, and short-handled ax.

Once, on reading a magazine article by an enthusiastic young mountain-climber, who dilated upon his thrilling adventures in scaling Mount Tyndall, Mr. Muir commented dryly: “He must have given himself a lot of trouble. When I climbed Tyndall, I ran up and back before breakfast.”

At a time when trails were few and hard to find, he explored the Sierra, which, he said, should be called, not the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. When night came, he selected the lee side of a log, made a fire, and went to sleep on a bed of pine-needles. If it was snowing, he made a bigger fire and lay closer to his log shelter.

“Outdoors is the natural place for man,” he{16} said. “I begin to cough and wheeze the minute I get within walls.”

Never at a loss to make his way in the wilderness, he was completely bewildered in the midst of city streets.

“What is the nearest way out of town?” he asked of a man in the business section of San Francisco soon after he landed at the Golden Gate in 1868.

“But I don’t know where you want to go!” protested the surprised pedestrian.

“To any place that is wild,” he replied.

So began the days of his wandering in pathless places among higher rocks “than the world and his ribbony wife could reach.” “Climb the mountains, climb, if you would reach beauty,” said John Muir, the wild, eager spirit of the lad who had braved scoldings and “skelpings” to climb the craggy peaks of Dunbar shining in his eyes.

When his friends remonstrated with him because of the way he apparently courted danger, he replied: “A true mountaineer is never reckless. He knows, or senses with a sure instinct, what he can do. In a moment of real{17} danger his whole body is eye, and common skill and fortitude are replaced by power beyond our call or knowledge.”

It was not entirely the passion for beauty that took this lover of the sublime aspects of nature up among the mountains and glaciers—“up where God is making the world.” It was also the passion for knowledge—the longing to know something of the tools the Divine Sculptor had used in carving the giant peaks and mighty cañons.

“The marvels of Yosemite are the end of the story,” he said. “The alphabet is to be found in the crags and valleys of the summits.”

Here he wandered about, comparing cañon with cañon, following lines of cleavage, and finding the key to every precipice and sloping wall in the blurred marks of the glaciers on the eternal rocks. Every boulder found a tongue; “in every pebble he could hear the sound of running water.” The tools that had carved the beauties of Yosemite were not, he concluded, those of the hidden fires of the earth, the rending of earthquake and volcanic eruption, but the slow, patient cleaving and breaking by mighty{18} glaciers, during the eons when the earth’s surface was given over to the powers of cold—the period known as the Ice Age.

“There are no accidents in nature,” he said. “The flowers blossom in obedience to the same law that keeps the stars in their places. Each bird-song is an echo of the universal harmony. Nature is one.”

Because he believed that Nature reveals many of her innermost secrets in times of storm, he often braved the wildest tempests on the heights. He spoke with keen delight of the times when he had been “magnificently snowbound in the Lord’s Mountain House.” He even dared to climb into the very heart of a snow-cloud as it rested on Pilot Peak, and it seemed that the experience touched the very springs of poetry in the soul of this nature-lover. He found that he had won in a moment “a harvest of crystal flowers, and wind-songs gathered from spiry firs and long, fringy arms of pines.”

Once in a terrible gale he climbed to the top of a swaying pine in order to feel the power of the wind as a tree feels it. His love for the{19} trees was second only to his love for the mountains. His indignation at the heedless destruction of the majestic Sequoias knew no bounds. “Through thousands and thousands of years God has cared for these trees,” he said: “He has saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining and leveling tempests and floods, but He cannot save them from foolish men.”

It was due mainly to his untiring efforts that the “big trees” of California, as well as the wonderful Yosemite Valley, were taken under the protection of the Nation to be preserved for all the people for all time.

He discovered the petrified forests of Arizona, and went to Chile to see trees of the same species which are no longer to be found anywhere in North America. He traveled to Australia to see the eucalyptus groves, to Siberia for its pines, and to India to see the banyan-trees. When asked why he had not stopped at Hong Kong when almost next door to that interesting city, he replied, “There are no trees in Hong Kong.”

In order to make a livelihood that would permit{20} him to continue his studies of nature in the mountains, Mr. Muir built a sawmill where he prepared for the use of man those trees “that the Lord had felled.” Here during the week he jotted down his observations or sketched, while he watched out of the tail of his eye to see when the great logs were nearing the end of their course. Then he would pause in his writing or sketching just long enough to start a new log on its way.

Sometimes he undertook the work of a shepherd, and, while his “mutton family of 1800 ranged over ten square miles,” he found time for reading and botanizing.

A very little money sufficed for his simple needs. Indeed, Mr. Muir once declared that he could live on fifty dollars a year.

“Eat bread in the mountains,” he said, “with love and adoration in your soul, and you can get a nourishment that food experts have no conception of.”

He spoke with pitying scorn of the money-clinking crowd who were too “time-poor” to enjoy the keenest delights that earth can offer.

“You millionaires carry too heavy blankets{21} to get any comfort out of the march through life,” he said; “you don’t know what it is you are losing by the way.”

When there was a home and “bairnies” to provide for, he managed a fruit-ranch; but he was often absent in his beloved mountains weeks at a time, living on bread, tea, and the huckleberries of cool, glacial bogs, which were more to his taste than the cherries or grapes that he had to return in time to harvest.

Mr. S. Hall Young, in his interesting narrative “Alaska Days with John Muir,” gives a graphic account of the way John o’ Mountains climbed:

Then Muir began to slide up that mountain. I had been with mountain-climbers before, but never one like him. A deer-lope over the smoother slopes, a sure instinct for the easiest way into a rocky fortress, an instant and unerring attack, a serpent glide up the steep; eye, hand, and foot all connected dynamically; with no appearance of weight to his body—as though he had Stockton’s negative-gravity machine strapped on his back.

In all his mountain-climbing in the Sierras, the Andes, and the high Himalayas, he never knew what it was to be dizzy, even when standing on the sheerest precipice, or crossing a{22} crevasse on a sliver of ice above an abyss of four thousand feet. He said that his simple laws of health gave him his endurance and his steady nerves; but when we think of the wee laddie in Scotland, hanging from the roof by one finger, or balancing himself on a particularly sharp crag of the black headland at Dunbar, we believe that he was born to climb.

“I love the heights,” he said, “where the air is sweet enough for the breath of angels, and where I can feel miles and miles of beauty flowing into me.”

He never ceased to marvel at the people who remained untouched in the presence of Nature’s rarest loveliness. “They have eyes and see not,” he mourned, as he saw some sleek, comfortable tourists pausing a moment in their concern about baggage to point casually with their canes to the Upper Yosemite Falls, coming with its glorious company of shimmering comets out of a rainbow cloud along the top of the cliff, and passing into another cloud of glory below.

All of Mr. Muir’s books—“The Mountains of California,” “Our National Parks,” “My First Summer in the Sierra,” and “The Yosemite”—{23}are splendid invitations to “climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” “Climb, if you would see beauty!” every page cries out. “If I can give you a longing that will take you out of your rocking-chairs and make you willing to forego a few of your so-called comforts for something infinitely more worth while, I shall have fulfilled my mission.”

Read his story of his ride on the avalanche from a ridge three thousand feet high, where he had climbed to see the valley in its garment of newly-fallen snow. The ascent took him nearly all day, the descent about a minute. When he felt himself going, he instinctively threw himself on his back, spread out his arms to keep from sinking, and found his “flight in the milky way of snow-stars the most spiritual and exhilarating of all modes of motion.”

In “The Yosemite,” also, we learn how a true nature-lover can meet the terrors of an earthquake. He was awakened at about two o’clock one moonlit morning by a “strange, thrilling motion,” and exalted by the certainty that he was going to find the old planet off guard and learn something of her true nature, he rushed{24} out while the ground was rocking so that he had to balance himself as one does on shipboard during a heavy sea. He saw Eagle Rock fall in a thousand boulder-fragments, while all the thunder he had ever heard was condensed in the roar of that moment when it seemed that “the whole earth was, like a living creature, calling to its sister planets.”

“Come, cheer up!” he cried to a panic-stricken man who felt that the ground was about to swallow him up; “smile and clap your hands now that kind Mother Earth is trotting us on her knee to amuse us and make us good.”

He studied the earthquake as he studied the glaciers, the scarred cliffs, and the flowers, and this is the lesson that it taught him:

All Nature’s wildness tells the same story: the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring waves, and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort—each and all, are the orderly, beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.

Read about his adventure in a storm on the Alaska glacier with the little dog, Stickeen. You will note that he had eyes not only for the ice-cliffs towering above the dark forest and{25}

Photo by F. P. Clatworthy

John Muir and John Burroughs in the Yosemite Valley

Photo by F. P. Clatworthy
John Muir and John Burroughs in the Yosemite Valley



for the mighty glacier with its rushing white fountains, but also for the poor “beastie” who was leaving blood-prints on the ice when the man stopped to make him moccasins out of his handkerchief. As you read you will not wonder that this man who could write about Nature’s loftiest moods could also write that most beautiful and truly sympathetic of all stories of dog life.

The last years of John Muir’s long career were, like the rest, part of “the glorious botanical and geological excursion,” on which he set out when he left college. The names that he won—“John o’ Mountains,” “The Psalmist of the Sierra,” “The Father of the Yosemite”—all speak of his work. Remembering that he found his fullest joy in climbing to the topmost peaks, we have called him “The Laird of Skyland.” Going to the mountains was going home, he said.

The Muir Woods of “big trees” near San Francisco and Muir Glacier in Alaska are fitting monuments to his name and fame. But the real man needs no memorial. For when we visit the glorious Yosemite, which his untiring efforts won for us and which his boundless enthusiasm{28} taught us rightly to appreciate, we somehow feel that the spirit of John Muir is still there, in the beauty that he loved, bidding us welcome and giving us joy in the freedom of the heights.{29}


In every man’s life we may read some lesson. What may be read in mine? If I see myself correctly, it is this: that the essential things are always at hand; that one’s own door opens upon the wealth of heaven and earth; and that all things are ready to serve and cheer one. Life is a struggle, but not a warfare; it is a day’s labor, but labor on God’s earth, under the sun and stars with other laborers, where we may think and sing and rejoice as we work.

John Burroughs.


SOME farm-boys were having a happy Sunday in the woods gathering black birch and wintergreens. As they lay on the cool moss, lazily tasting the spicy morsels they had found and gazing up at the patches of blue sky through the beeches, one of the boys caught sight of a small, bluish bird, with an odd white spot on its wing, as it flashed through the trembling leaves. In a moment it was gone, but the boy was on his feet, looking after it with eyes that had opened on a new world.

So “Deacon Woods,” the old familiar playground that he thought he knew so well, where blue-jays, woodpeckers, and yellow-birds were every-day companions, contained wonders of which he had never dreamed. The older brothers knew nothing and cared nothing about the unknown bird. What difference did it make, anyway? But the little lad of seven who followed its flight with startled, wondering eyes{32} seemed to have been born again. His eyes were opened to many things that had not existed for him before.

Do you remember the story of the monk of long ago who, while copying in his cell a page from the Holy Book, chanced to ponder on the words that tell us that a thousand years in God’s sight are but as a day? As the monk wondered and doubted how such a thing might be, he heard through his window the song of a strange, beautiful bird, and followed it through the garden into the woods beyond. Wandering on and listening, with every sense alive to the delights about him, it seemed that he had spent the happiest hour he had ever known. But when he returned to his monastery, he found himself a stranger in a place that had long forgotten him. He had been wandering for a hundred years in the magic wood, listening to the song of the wonderful bird.

In somewhat the same way John Burroughs followed where the gleam of the little bluish warbler led him through woods and fields for more than seventy years. That is why Time missed him out of the great reckoning. One{33} who listens to the song of life knows nothing of age or change. So it is that the boy John never slipped away from Burroughs, the man. So it is that the Seer of Woodchuck Lodge is eighty years young.

Do you know what it means to be a seer? A seer is one who has seeing eyes which clearly note and comprehend what most people pass a hundred times nor care to see. He looks, too, through the outer shell or appearance of things, and learns to read something of their hidden meaning. He has sight, then, and also insight. He looks with his physical eyes and also with the eyes of the mind and spirit.

We always think of a seer as an old man, but little John Burroughs—John o’ Birds, as some one has called him—began to be “an eye among the blind” that Sunday in the woods when he was a lad of seven. He led a new, charmed life as he weeded the garden and later plowed the fields. He saw and heard life thrilling about him on every side, and all that he saw became part of his own life. He drank in the joy of the bobolink and the song-sparrow with the air he breathed, as the warm sunshine and good, earth{34} smell of the freshly turned furrow entered at every pore.

Another day almost as memorable as that which brought the flash of the strange bird was the one which gave him a glimpse into the unexplored realm of ideas. A lady visiting at the farm-house noticed a boyish drawing of his, and said, “What taste that boy has!” Taste, then, might belong to something besides the food that one took into one’s mouth. It seemed that there were new worlds of words—and thoughts—of which his farmer folk little dreamed.

Again, one day when watching some roadmakers down by the school-house turn up some flat stones, he heard a man standing by exclaim, “Ah, here we have, perhaps, some antiquities!” Antiquities! How the word rang in his fancy for days! Oh, the magic lure of the world of words!

It seemed that school and books might give him the freedom of that world. He went to the district school at Roxbury, New York, summers until he was ten, when his help was needed on the farm. After that, he was permitted to go only during the winters. In many ways he was{35} the odd one of the family, and his unaccountable interest in things that could never profit a farmer often tried the patience of his hard-working father.

One day the boy asked for money to buy an algebra. What was an algebra, anyway, and why should this queer lad be demanding things that his father and brothers had never had? John got the algebra, and other precious books beside, but he earned the money himself by selling maple sugar. He knew when April had stirred the sap in the sugar-bush a week or more before any one else came to tap the trees, and his early harvest always found a good market.

And what a joyous time April was! “I think April is the best month to be born in,” said John Burroughs. “One is just in time, so to speak, to catch the first train, which is made up in this month. My April chickens are always the best.... Then are heard the voices of April—arriving birds, the elfin horn of the first honey-bee venturing abroad in the middle of the day, the clear piping of the little frogs in the marshes at sun-down, the camp-fire in the sugar-bush, the smoke seen afar rising from the trees,{36} the tinge of green that comes so suddenly on the sunny slopes. April is my natal month, and I am born again into new delight and new surprises at each return of it. Its name has an indescribable charm to me. Its two syllables are like the calls of the first birds—like that of the phœbe-bird or of the meadow-lark.”

The keen joy in the feel of the creative sunlight and springing earth—the eager tasting of every sight and sound and scent that the days brought—were not more a part of his own throbbing life than the desire to know and understand. When he was fifteen he had the promise that he might go to the academy in a neighboring town. That fall, as he plowed the lot next the sugar-bush, each furrow seemed to mark a step on the way.

When the time drew near, however, it proved as strange and unusual a desire as that for the algebra. The district school had been good enough for his brothers. So he put his disappointment behind him as he went for another winter to the Roxbury school. “Yet I am not sure but I went to Harpersfield after all,” said Mr. Burroughs; “the long, long thoughts, the{37} earnest resolve to make myself worthy, the awakening of every part and fiber of me, helped me on my way as far, perhaps, as the unattainable academy could have done.”

The next year found the youth of seventeen teaching a country school for eleven dollars a month and “board around.” How homesick he felt for the blue hills at home, for the old barn, with the nests of the swallows and phœbe-birds beneath its roof, for the sugar-bush, and the clear, laughing trout-streams. He could see his mother hurrying through her churning so that she might go berrying on the sunny slope of Old Clump, and he knew what she brought back with the strawberries—dewy dreams of daisies and buttercups, lilting echoes of bobolinks and meadow-larks.

In October the long term was over and he went home with nearly all his earnings,—over fifty dollars,—enough to pay his way at the Hedding Literary Institute for the winter term.

In the spring of 1855 he went to New York City for the first time, hoping to find a position as teacher. He was not successful in this quest, but the trip was memorable for a raid on the{38} second-hand book-stalls. He reached home some days later “with an empty pocket and an empty stomach, but with a bagful of books.”

Always attracted chiefly to essays, the works of Emerson influenced him greatly. He absorbed their spirit as naturally and completely as he had absorbed the sights and sounds of his native hill-country. His first article—an essay called “Expression,” which was printed without signature in The Atlantic Monthly—was by many attributed to Emerson. Lowell, who was at that time editor of The Atlantic, told, with much amusement, that before accepting the contribution he had looked through all of Emerson’s works expecting to find it and confound this plagiarizing Burroughs with a proof of his rascality.

While teaching school near West Point he one day found, in the library of the Military Academy, a volume of Audubon—and entered upon his kingdom. Here was a complete chart of that bird world which he had never ceased to long to explore since that memorable day when he had seen the little blue warbler. There was time, too, for long walks, time to live with{39} the birds—to revive old ties as well as to make new friends.

In speaking of his study of the birds, Mr. Burroughs once said:

“What joy the birds have brought me! How they have given me wings to escape the tedious and deadly. Studied the birds? No, I have played with them, camped with them, summered and wintered with them. My knowledge of them has come to me through the pores of my skin, through the air I have breathed, through the soles of my feet, through the twinkle of the leaves and the glint of the waters.”

At once he felt a longing to write something of the joy he was gaining through this comradeship with his feathered friends. There was nothing that spoke of Emerson or any other model in his pages now. He had found his own path. He was following the little blue bird into a world of his own.

A chance came to go to Washington to live. For several years, while working as a clerk in the Treasury, he spent all his spare moments with the birds. He knew what nests were to be found near Rock Creek and along Piney{40} Branch. It seemed that he heard the news as soon as a flock of northbound songsters stopped to rest for a day or two in the Capitol grounds.

While watching a vault where great piles of the Nation’s gold lay stored, he lived over in memory the golden days of his boyhood spent in climbing trees, tramping over hills, and through grassy hollows, or lying with half-shut eyes by the brookside to learn something of the life-story of the birds. There were leisure afternoons which brought no duty save that of sitting watchful before the iron wall of the vault. At such times he often tried to seize some of the happy bits that memory brought, a twig here, a tuft there, and now a long, trailing strand—stray scraps of observation of many sorts—which he wove together into a nest for his brooding fancy. And we, too, as we read those pages hear the “wandering voice” of the little bird of earth and sky, who wears the warm brown of one on his breast and the blue of the other on his wings; we see the dauntless robin a-tilt on the sugar-bush; we catch the golden melody of the wood-thrush—and “the time of singing birds” has come to our hearts. He has not only{41} seeing eyes, but an understanding heart, this seer and lover of the birds, and so his bits of observation have meaning and value. He called the book in which these various bird-papers were gathered together “Wake Robin,” the name of a wild-flower that makes its appearance at the time of the return of the birds.

This book was well named, not only because it suggested something of the spirit and feeling of the essays, but also because it was the herald of several other delightful volumes such as “Signs and Seasons,” “Winter Sunshine,” “Birds and Poets.”

Do you remember how Emerson says in his poem “Each and All”

I thought the sparrow’s note from Heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home in his nest at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky;
He sang to my ear, they sang to my eye.

When John Burroughs writes about the birds, he brings with their life and song the feeling of the “perfect whole”—the open fields, the winding river, the bending sky, and the cool, fragrant woods. For he always gives, with the{42} glimpses of nature that he culls, something of himself, something of his own clear-seeing, open-hearted appreciation.

The ten years spent in Washington were memorable not only for his first success as a nature writer, but also for the experiences brought through the Civil War and his friendship with the “good gray poet,” Walt Whitman. Years after, Mr. Burroughs said that his not having gone into the army was probably the greatest miss of his life. He went close enough to the firing-line on one occasion to hear “the ping of a rifle-bullet overhead, and the thud it makes when it strikes the ground.” Surely there should be enough of the spirit of his grandfather, who was one of Washington’s Valley Forge veterans, to make a soldier! How well he remembered the old Continental’s thrilling tales as they angled for trout side by side, graybeard and eager urchin of nine! How well he remembered the hair-raising stories of witches and ghosts that made many shadowy spots spook-ridden. He had learned to stand his ground in the woods at nightfall, and at the edge of the big black hole under the barn, and{43} so to put to flight the specters before and the phantoms behind. But when, that night on the battle-field, he saw a company of blue-coated men hurrying toward a line of rifle-flashes that shone luridly against the horizon, he concluded that his grandfather had “emptied the family powder-horn” in those Revolutionary days, and that there was no real soldier stuff in the grandson.

If his failure to enlist in the army was the greatest miss of his life, his friendship with Whitman was its greatest gain. They took to the open road together, the best of boon companions, and Burroughs came to know the poet as he knew the birds. His essay “The Flight of the Eagle,” is one of the most spirited and heartfelt tributes that one great man ever paid another.

One should, however, hear Mr. Burroughs talk about the poet and watch his kindling enthusiasm. He had been teaching us how to roast shad under the ashes of our camp-fire one day when a chance remark put him in a reminiscent mood. We all felt that evening as if we had come in actual touch with the poet.{44}

“You see,” our host concluded, “Whitman was himself his own best poem—a man, take him all in all. Do you remember how George Eliot said of Emerson, ‘He is the first man I have ever met’? Many people felt that way about Whitman.”

As I looked at Whitman’s friend I found myself thinking, “Surely here is a man, take him all in all—a man in whom the child’s heart, the youth’s vision, the poet’s enthusiasm, the scientist’s faithfulness, and the thinker’s insight, are all wonderfully blended.”

After the years in Washington, his work as a bank examiner made Mr. Burroughs seek a place for his home near New York City. The spot selected was a small farm on the Hudson, not far from Poughkeepsie, which he called Riverby. Here, in his eager delight over the planting of his roof-tree, he helped, so far as his time permitted, in the building, placing many of the rough-hewn stones himself. He tells with some relish a story of the Scotch mason, who, on looking back one evening as he was being ferried across to his home on the east shore of the river, saw, to his great anger another man at work on{45} his job. Returning in fury to see why he had been supplanted, he surprised the owner himself in the act of putting in place some of the stones for the chimney.

“Weel, you are a hahndy malm!” he exclaimed.

The big river never appealed to Mr. Burroughs, however, as the friendly Pepacton and the other silver-clear streams where he had caught trout as a boy. It brought too close the noise of the world, the fever of getting and spending. Besides, its rising and ebbing tides, its big steamers and busy tugs, its shad and herring, were all strange to him; his boyhood home had known nothing of these things.

He built for himself a bark-covered retreat some two miles back from the river in a bowl-shaped hollow among the thickly wooded hills. “Slabsides,” as he called this human bird’s-nest, was a two-story shack of rough-hewn timbers.

“One of the greatest pleasures of life is to build a house for one’s self,” he said; “there is a peculiar satisfaction even in planting a tree{46} from which you hope to eat the fruit or in the shade of which you hope to repose. But how much greater the pleasure in planting the roof-tree, the tree that bears the golden apples of hospitality. What is a man’s house but his nest, and why should it not be nest-like, both outside and in, snug and well-feathered and modeled by the heart within?”

Many guests climbed the steep, rocky trail and enjoyed the hospitality of this retreat, among others President Roosevelt and his wife. The naturalist, whom Colonel Roosevelt affectionately called “Oom John,” cooked the dinner himself, bringing milk and butter from his cave refrigerator, broiling the chicken, and preparing the lettuce, celery, and other vegetables which grew in the rich black mold of the hollow. As he prepared and served the meal with all the ease of a practised camper there was never a halt in the talk of these two great lovers of the outdoor world. If the poet-sage who deplored that

Things are in the saddle,
And ride mankind

could have spent a day with John Burroughs, he{47} would have found one man, at least, who never knew the tyranny of possessions, and so was never possessed by them. He is the type of the sane, happy human being who, while journeying through life, has taken time to live by the way. He knows the enchanting by-paths of existence, the friendly trails that wind over meadows and hills.

“I am in love with this world,” he says; “I have nestled lovingly in it. It has been home. I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvests, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown. While I delved, I did not lose sight of the sky overhead. While I gathered its bread and meat for my body, I did not neglect to gather its bread and meat for my soul.”

Though the whole wide out-of-doors is home to John Burroughs, there is one spot that is more than any other the abiding-place of his affections. This is the country of his childhood in the Catskills. Here he spends his summers now at Woodchuck Lodge, a cottage about half a mile from the old homestead. Here he is happy in a way that he can be nowhere else.{48} The woods and fields are flesh of his flesh, the mountains are father and mother to him.

A day with John Burroughs at Woodchuck Lodge will always seem torn from the calendar of ordinary living, a day apart, free, wholesome, and untouched by petty care. His world is indeed “so full of a number of things” that all who come within the spell of its serene content are “as happy as kings.”

As he makes whistles of young shoots of dogwood for his small grandson he tells of his school-days, when necessity taught his hand the cunning to make his own pens, slate-pencils, and ink-wells. “And they were a very good sort, too,” he adds. “Those were home-made days. I remember my homespun shirts, made of our own flax, yellow at first and as good as ever hair-shirt could have been in the way of scratching penance. All my playthings were home-made. How well I remember my trout-lines of braided horsehair, and the sawmill in the brook that actually cut up the turnips, apples, and cucumbers that I proudly fed it.”

“These, too, are home-made days of the best sort,” we think as we look about the rustic porch{49} and chairs made of silvery birch, and at the silver-haired seer, surrounded by his grandchildren and the friends who gather about him with the happy feeling of being most entirely at home.

“You like my chairs with the bark on?” he says. “It’s a sort of hobby of mine to see how the natural forks and crooks and elbows which I discover in the saplings and tree-boles can be coaxed into serving my turn about the house, and I make it a point to use them as nearly as possible as they grow.”

We sit on the porch at his feet, watching the chipmunks frisk along the fences and the woodchucks creep furtively out of their holes. We do not speak for several long minutes, because we want to taste the quiet life he loves in the heart of the blue hills. We fancy that we can hear in the twitter of the tree-tops a clearly understood mingling of familiar voices, and that we feel in our hearts an answering echo that proves us truly akin to the creatures in feathers and fur.

“Home sights and sounds are best of all,” says our friend, as he gazes across at the purple{50} shadows on Old Clump. “The sublime beauty of the Yosemite touched me with wonder and awe, but when I heard the robin’s note it touched my heart. Bright Angel Creek in the Grand Cañon found its way into the innermost recesses of my consciousness in the moment when it reminded me of the trout-stream at home.”

There is another pause, in which the silver-clear notes of the vesper-sparrow come to us with their “Peace, good will and good night.”

“I think I am something like a turtle in the way I love to poke about in narrow fields,” he adds whimsically; “but why should I rush hither and yon to see things when I can see constellations from my own door-step?”

And so it is indeed true that the Seer of Woodchuck Lodge can still find in a ramble among his own hills the land of wonder and beauty which he found as a boy when he followed the flash of the unknown bird, and in the glowing twilight of his years, with eyes that look into the heart and meaning of things, can, from his door-step, trace constellations undreamed of by day.{51}


As the bird wings and sings,
Let us cry, “All good things
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more,
Now, than flesh helps soul!”


WHEN people meet Dr. Grenfell, the good doctor who braves the storms of the most dangerous of all sea-coasts and endures the hardships of arctic winters to care for the lonely fisherfolk of Labrador, they often ask, with pitying wonder:

“How do you manage it, Doctor, day in and day out through all the long months? It seems too much for any man to sacrifice himself as you do.”

“Don’t think for a moment that I’m a martyr,” replies Dr. Grenfell, a bit impatiently, “Why, I have a jolly good time of it! There’s nothing like a really good scrimmage to make a fellow sure that he’s alive, and glad of it. I learned that in my football days, and Labrador gives even better chances to know the joy of winning out in a tingling good tussle.”

Dr. Grenfell’s face, with the warm color glowing through the tan, his clear, steady eyes, and erect, vigorous form, all testify to his keen zest{54} in the adventure of life. Ever since he could remember, he had, he told us, been in love with the thrill of strenuous action. When a small boy, he looked at the tiger-skin and other trophies of the hunt which his soldier uncles had sent from India, and dreamed of the time when he should learn the ways of the jungle at first hand.

He comes of a race of strong men. One uncle was a general who bore himself with distinguished gallantry in the Indian Mutiny at Lucknow when the little garrison of seventeen hundred men held the city for twelve weeks against a besieging force ten times as great. One of his father’s ancestors was Sir Richard Grenville, the hero of the Revenge, who, desperately struggling to save his wounded men, fought with his one ship against the whole Spanish fleet of fifty-three. Perhaps you remember Tennyson’s thrilling lines:

And the stately Spanish men to their flag-ship bore him then,
Where they laid him by the mast, old Sir Richard caught at last,
And they praised him to his face with their courtly foreign grace;



Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell

Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell


But he rose upon their decks, and he cried:
“I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true;
I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do;
With a joyful spirit I, Sir Richard Grenville, die!”

How these lines sang in his memory! Is it any wonder that the lad who heard this story as one among many thrilling tales of his own people should have felt that life was a splendid adventure?

As a boy in his home at Parkgate, near Chester, England, he was early accustomed to strenuous days in the open. He knew the stretches of sand-banks,—the famous “Sands of Dee,”—with their deep, intersecting “gutters” where many curlews, mallards, and other water-birds sought hiding. In his rocking home-made boat he explored from end to end the estuary into which the River Dee flowed, now and again hailing a fishing-smack for a tow home, if evening fell too soon, and sharing with the crew their supper of boiled shrimps. He seemed to know as by instinct the moods of the tides and storm-vexed waves, which little boats must learn to watch and circumvent. He became a lover, also, of wild nature—birds, animals, and plants—{58}and of simple, vigorous men who lived rough, wholesome lives in the open.

Though he went from the boys’ school at Parkgate to Marlborough College, and later to Oxford, he had at this time no hint of the splendid adventures that life offers in the realm of mental and spiritual activities. Rugby football, in which he did his share to uphold the credit of the university, certainly made the most vital part of this chapter of his life. It was not until he took up the study of medicine at the London Hospital that he began to appreciate the value of knowledge “because it enables one to do things.”

There was one day of this study-time in London that made a change in the young doctor’s whole life. Partly out of curiosity, he followed a crowd in the poorer part of the city, into a large tent, where a religious meeting was being held. In a moment he came to realize that his religion had been just a matter of believing as he was taught, of conducting himself as did those about him, and of going to church on Sunday. It seemed that here, however, were men to whom religion was as real and practical a thing as the rudder is to a boat. All at once he{59} saw what it would mean to have a strong guiding power in one’s life.

His mind seemed wonderfully set free. There were no longer conflicting aims, ideals, uncertainties, and misgivings. There was one purpose, one desire—to enter “the service that is perfect freedom,” the service of the King of Kings. Life was indeed a glorious adventure, whose meaning was plain and whose end sure.

How he enjoyed his class of unruly boys from the slums! Most people would have considered them hopeless “toughs.” He saw that they were just active boys, eager for life, who had been made what they were by unwholesome surroundings. “All they need is to get hold of the rudder and to feel the breath of healthy living in their faces,” he said. He fitted up one of his rooms with gymnasium material and taught the boys to box. He took them for outings into the country. When he saw the way they responded to this little chance for happy activity, he became one of the founders of the Lads’ Brigades and Lads’ Camps, which have done the same sort of good in England that the{60} Boy Scouts organization has done in this country.

When he completed his medical course, the young doctor looked about for a field that would give chance for adventure and for service where a physician was really needed.

“I feel there is something for me besides hanging out my sign in a city where there are already doctors and to spare,” he said.

“Why don’t you see what can be done with a hospital-ship among the North Sea fishermen?” said Sir Frederick Treves, who was a great surgeon and a master mariner as well.

When Dr. Grenfell heard about how sick and injured men suffered for lack of care when on their long fishing-expeditions, he decided to fall in with this suggestion. He joined the staff of the Mission to Deep-sea Fishermen, and fitted out the first hospital-ship to the North Sea fisheries, which cruised about from the Bay of Biscay to Iceland, giving medical aid where it was often desperately needed.

When this work was well established, and other volunteers offered to take it up, Dr. Grenfell sought a new world of adventure. Hearing{61} of the forlorn condition of the English-speaking settlers and natives on the remote shores of wind-swept Labrador, he resolved to fit out a hospital-ship and bring them what help he could. So began in 1892 Dr. Grenfell’s great work with his schooner Albert, in which he cruised about for three months and ministered to nine hundred patients, who, but for him, would have had no intelligent care.

Can you picture Labrador as something more than a pink patch on the cold part of the map? That strip of coast northwest of Newfoundland is a land of sheer cliffs broken by deep fiords, like much of Norway. Rocky islands and hidden reefs make the shores dangerous to ships in the terrific gales that are of frequent occurrence. But this forbidding, wreck-strewn land of wild, jutting crags has a weird beauty of its own. Picture it in winter when the deep snow has effaced all inequalities of surface and the dark spruces alone stand out against the gleaming whiteness. The fiords and streams are bound in an icy silence which holds the sea itself in thrall. Think of the colors of the moonlight on the ice, and the flaming splendor of the northern{62} lights. Then picture it when summer has unloosed the land from the frozen spell. Mosses, brilliant lichens, and bright berries cover the rocky ground, the evergreens stand in unrivaled freshness, and gleaming trout and salmon dart out of the water, where great ice-bergs go floating by like monster fragments of the crystal city of the frost giants, borne along now by the arctic current to tell the world about the victory of the sun over the powers of cold in the far North.

When Dr. Grenfell sailed about in the Albert that first summer, the people thought he was some strange, big-hearted madman, who bore a charmed life. He seemed to know nothing and care nothing about foamy reefs, unfamiliar tides and currents, and treacherous winds. When it was impossible to put out in the schooner, he went in a whale-boat, which was worn out—honorably discharged from service—after a single season. The people who guarded the lives of their water-craft with jealous care shook their heads. Truly, the man must be mad. His boat was capsized, swamped, blown on the rocks, and once driven out to sea by a gale{63} that terrified the crew of the solidly built mailboat. This time he was reported lost, but after a few days he appeared in the harbor of St. John’s, face aglow, and eyes fairly snapping with the zest of the conflict.

“Sure, the Lord must kape an eye on that man,” said an old skipper, devoutly.

It was often said of a gale on the Labrador coast, “That’s a wind that’ll bring Grenfell.” The doctor, impatient of delays, and feeling the same exhilaration in a good stiff breeze that a lover of horses feels in managing a spirited thoroughbred, never failed to make use of a wind that might help send him on his way.

What sort of people are these to whom Dr. Grenfell ministers? They are, as you might think, simple, hardy men, in whom ceaseless struggle against bleak conditions of life has developed strength of character and capacity to endure. Besides the scattered groups of Eskimos in the north, who live by hunting seal and walrus, and the Indians who roam the interior in search of furs, there are some seven or eight thousand English-speaking inhabitants widely scattered along the coast. In summer as many{64} as thirty thousand fishermen are drawn from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to share in the profit of the cod-and salmon-fisheries. All of these people were practically without medical care before Dr. Grenfell came. Can you imagine what this meant? This is the story of one fisherman in his own words:

“I had a poisoned finger. It rose up and got very bad. I did not know what to do, so I took a passage on a schooner and went to Halifax. It was nine months before I was able to get back, as there was no boat going back before the winter. It cost me seventy-five dollars, and my hand was the same as useless, as it was so long before it was treated.”

Another told of having to wait nine days after “shooting his hand” before he could reach a doctor; and he had made the necessary journey in remarkably good time at that. He did not know if he ought to thank the doctor for saving his life when it was too late to save his hand. What can a poor fisherman do without a hand?

The chief sources of danger to these people who live by the food of the sea are the uncertain{65}


The hospital at St. Anthony, Northern Newfoundland

The hospital at St. Anthony, Northern Newfoundland


winds and the treacherous ice-floes. When the ice begins to break in spring, the swift currents move great masses along with terrific force. Then woe betide the rash schooner that ventures into the path of these ice-rafts! For a moment she pushes her way among the floating “pans” or cakes of ice. All at once the terrible jam comes. The schooner is caught like a rat in a trap. The jaws of the ice monster never relax, while the timbers of the vessel crack and splinter and the solid deck-beams arch up, bow fashion, and snap like so many straws. Then, perhaps, the pressure changes. With a sudden shift of the wind a rift comes between the huge ice-masses, and the sea swallows its prey.

It is a strange thing that but few of the fishermen know how to swim. “You see, we has enough o’ the water without goin’ to bother wi’ it when we are ashore,” one old skipper told the doctor in explanation.

The only means of rescue when one finds himself in the water is a line or a pole held by friends until a boat can be brought to the scene. Many stories might be told of the bravery of these people and their instant willingness to{68} serve each other. Once a girl, who saw her brother fall through a hole in the ice, ran swiftly to the spot, while the men who were trying to reach the place with their boat shouted to her to go back. Stretching full length, however, on the gradually sinking ice, she held on to her brother till the boat forced its way to them.

Perhaps the most terrible experience that has come to the brave doctor was caused by the ice-floes. It was on Easter Sunday in 1908 when word came to the hospital that a boy was very ill in a little village sixty miles away. The doctor at once got his “komatik,” or dog-sledge, in readiness and his splendid team of eight dogs, who had often carried him through many tight places. Brin, the leader, was the one who could be trusted to keep the trail when all signs and landmarks were covered by snow and ice. There were also Doc, Spy, Jack, Sue, Jerry, Watch, and Moody—each no less beloved for his own strong points and faithful service.

It was while crossing an arm of the sea, a ten-mile run on salt-water ice, that the accident occurred. An unusually heavy sea had left great openings between enormous blocks or “pans”{69} of ice a little to seaward. It seemed, however, that the doctor could be sure of a safe passage on an ice-bridge, that though rough, was firmly packed, while the stiff sea-breeze was making it stronger moment by moment through driving the floating pans toward the shore. But all at once there came a sudden change in the wind. It began to blow from the land, and in a moment the doctor realized that his ice-bridge had broken asunder and the portion on which he found himself was separated by a widening chasm from the rest. He was adrift on an ice-pan.

It all happened so quickly that he was unable to do anything but cut the harness of the dogs to keep them from being tangled in the traces and dragged down after the sled. He found himself soaking wet, his sledge, with his extra clothing, gone, and only the remotest chance of being seen from the lonely shore and rescued. If only water had separated him from the bank, he might have tried swimming, but, for the most part, between the floating pans was “slob ice,” that is, ice broken into tiny bits by the grinding together of the huge masses.{70}

Night came, and with it such intense cold that he was obliged to sacrifice three of his dogs and clothe himself in their skins to keep from freezing, for coat, hat, and gloves had been lost in the first struggle to gain a place on the largest available “pan” of ice. Then, curled up among the remaining dogs, and so, somewhat protected from the bitter wind, he fell asleep.

When daylight came, he took off his gaily-colored shirt, which was a relic of his football days, and, with the leg bones of the slain dogs as a pole, constructed a flag of distress. The warmth of the sun brought cheer; and so, even though his reason told him that there was but the smallest chance of being seen, he stood up and waved his flag steadily until too weary to make another move. Every time he sat down for a moment of rest, “Doc” came and licked his face and then went to the edge of the ice, as if to suggest it was high time to start.

At last Dr. Grenfell thought he saw the gleam of an oar. He could hardly believe his eyes, which were, indeed, almost snow-blinded, as his dark glasses had been lost with all his other things. Then—yes—surely there was the keel{71} of a boat, and a man waving to him! In a moment came the blessed sound of a friendly voice.

Now that the struggle was over, he felt himself lifted into the boat as in a dream. In the same way he swallowed the hot tea which they had brought in a bottle. This is what one of the rescuers said, in telling about it afterward:

“When we got near un, it didn’t seem like ’t was the doctor. ’E looked so old an’ ’is face such a queer color. ’E was very solemn-like when us took un an’ the dogs in th’ boat. Th’ first thing ’e said was how wonderfu’ sorry ’e was o’ gettin’ into such a mess an’ givin’ we th’ trouble o’ comin’ out for un. Then ’e fretted about the b’y ’e was goin’ to see, it bein’ too late to reach un, and us to’ un ’is life was worth more ’n the b’y, fur ’e could save others. But ’e still fretted.”

They had an exciting time of it, reaching the shore. Sometimes they had to jump out and force the ice-pans apart; again, when the wind packed the blocks together too close, they had to drag the boat over.

When the bank was gained at last and the doctor dressed in the warm clothes that the{72} fishermen wear, they got a sledge ready to take him to the hospital, where his frozen hands and feet could be treated. There, too, the next day the sick boy was brought, and his life saved.

Afterward, in telling of his experience, the thing which moved the doctor most was the sacrifice of his dogs. In his hallway a bronze tablet was placed with this inscription:

APRIL 21ST, 1908

In his old home in England his brother put up a similar tablet, adding these words, “Not one of them is forgotten before your Father which is in heaven.”

Besides caring for the people himself, Dr. Grenfell won the interest of other workers—doctors, nurses, and teachers. Through his efforts, hospitals, schools, and orphan-asylums have been built. Of all the problems, however, with which this large-hearted, practical friend of the deep-sea fishermen has had to deal in his{73} Labrador work, perhaps the chief was that of the dire poverty of the people. It seemed idle to try to cure men of ills which were the direct result of conditions under which they lived.

When the doctor began his work in 1892 he found that the poverty-stricken people were practically at the mercy of unprincipled, scheming storekeepers who charged two or three prices for flour, salt, and other necessaries of life. The men, as a result, were always in debt, mortgaging their next summer’s catch of fish long before the winter was over. To cure this evil, Grenfell opened coöperative stores, run solely for the benefit of the fishermen, and established industries that would give a chance of employment during the cold months. A grant of timberland was obtained from the government and a lumber-mill opened. A schooner-building yard, and a cooperage for making kegs and barrels to hold the fish exported, were next installed.

This made it possible to gather together the people, who were formerly widely scattered because dependent on food gained through hunting and trapping. This made it possible, too,{74} to carry out plans for general improvement—schools for the children and some social life. Two small jails, no longer needed in this capacity, were converted into clubs, with libraries and games. Realizing the general need for healthful recreation, the doctor introduced rubber footballs, which might be used in the snow. The supply of imported articles could not keep pace with the demand, however. All along the coast, young and old joined in the game. Even the Eskimo women, with wee babies in their hoods, played with their brown-faced boys and girls, using sealskin balls stuffed with dry grass.

Knowing that Labrador can never hope to do much in agriculture, as even the cabbages and potatoes frequently suffer through summer frosts, the doctor tried to add to the resources of the country by introducing a herd of reindeer from Lapland, together with three families of Lapps to teach the people how to care for them. Reindeer milk is rich and makes good cheese. Moreover, the supply of meat and leather they provide is helping to make up for the falling-off in the number of seals, due to unrestricted hunting. The transportation afforded{75} by the reindeer is also important in a land where rapid transit consists of dog-sledges.

Dr. Grenfell has himself financed his various schemes, using, in addition to gifts from those whom he can interest, the entire income gained from his books and lectures. He keeps nothing for himself but the small salary as mission doctor to pay actual living expenses. All of the industrial enterprises—coöperative stores, sawmills, reindeer, fox-farms, are deeded to the Deep-Sea Mission, and become its property as soon as they begin to be profitable.

Would you like to spend a day with Dr. Grenfell in summer, when he cruises about in his hospital-ship three or four thousand miles back and forth, from St. John’s all along the Labrador coast? You would see what a wonderful pilot the doctor is as he faces the perils of hidden reefs, icebergs, fogs, and storms. You would see that he can doctor his ship, should it leak or the propeller go lame, as well as the numbers of people who come to him with every sort of ill from aching teeth to broken bones.

Perhaps, though, you might prefer a fine,{76} crisp day in winter. Then you could drive forty or fifty miles in the komatik, getting off to run when you feel a bit stiff with the cold, especially if it happens to be uphill. You might be tempted to coast down the hills, but you find that dogs can’t stand that any more than horses could, so you let down the “drug” (a piece of iron chain) to block the runners. There is no sound except the lone twitter of a venturesome tomtit who decided to risk the winter in a particularly thick spruce-tree. Sometimes you go bumpity-bump over fallen trees, with pitfalls between lightly covered with snow. Sometimes the dogs bound ahead eagerly over smooth ground where the only signs of the times are the occasional tracks of a rabbit, partridge, fox, or caribou. Then how you will enjoy the dinner of hot toasted pork cakes before the open fire, after the excitement of feeding the ravenous dogs with huge pieces of frozen seal-meat and seeing them burrow down under the snow for their night’s sleep. If there is no pressing need of his services next morning, the doctor may take you skeeing, or show you how to catch trout through a hole in the ice.{77}

Winter or summer, perhaps you might come to agree with Dr. Grenfell that one may have “a jolly good time” while doing a man’s work in rough, out-of-the-way Labrador. You would, at any rate, have a chance to discover that life may be a splendid adventure.




One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.


WE know of many heroes—heroes of long ago, whose shining deeds make the past bright; and heroes of to-day, whose courage in the face of danger and hardship and whose faithful service for others make the times in which we live truly the best times of all. But should you ask me who of all this mighty company of the brave was the bravest, I should answer, Captain Scott. Some one has called his story, “The Undying Story of Captain Scott.” Would you like to hear it, and know for yourself why it is that as long as true men live this is a story that cannot die?

Most people who work know what they are working for; most men who are fighting for a cause know where they give their strength and their lives. The explorer alone has to go forward in the dark. He does not know what he will find. Only he hears within his heart the still whisper: “Something hidden. Go and find it.” And he believes that there is no far{82} place of the earth that does not hold some truth, something that will help us learn the secrets of life and explain much that puzzles us in the world to-day.

When the explorer has once begun to think and wonder about the great unseen, unknown countries, where man has never journeyed, the whisper comes again and again: “Something hidden. Go and find it.”

People sometimes say to the explorer, “There is no sense of going to those strange lands where you cannot live. No good nor gold ever yet came from No-Man’s Land.”

But the men who went into the jungles of darkest Africa said, “As long as there is something hidden we must go to find it.” And the men who went into the still, white, frozen lands of the North said: “There is no truth that can stay untouched. When we know the secrets of the North and the South, we shall the better understand the East and the West.”

The whisper, “Something hidden,” came to Robert Falcon Scott when he was a little boy in Devonshire, England. Con, as he was called, never tired of hearing the tales of Sir Walter{83} Raleigh, and of Sir Francis Drake, who sailed the seas and found a new world for England and sent his drum back to Devon where it was hung on the old sea-wall to show that the great days of the past would surely live again.

“You must take my drum” (Drake said),
“To the old sea-wall at home,
And if ever you strike that drum,” he said,
“Why, strike me blind, I’ll come!
“If England needs me, dead
Or living, I’ll rise that day!
I’ll rise from the darkness under the sea
Ten thousand miles away!”

The Devonshire men were sure that the brave spirit of Drake would come back in some true English heart whenever the time of need came. They even whispered when they told how Nelson won his great victory at Trafalgar,

“It was the spirit of Sir Francis Drake.”

When Con heard these tales, and the stories of his own father and uncles who were captains in England’s navy, he knew it was true that the spirit of a brave man does not die.

Sometimes when he was thinking of these things and wondering about the “something hidden” that the future had in store for him,{84} his father would have to call him three or four times before he could wake him from his dream. “Old Mooney,” his father called him then, and he shook his head.

“Remember, son,” he would say, “an hour of doing is better than a life of dreaming. You must wake up and stir about in this world, and prove that you have it in you to be a man.”

How do you think that the delicate boy, with the narrow chest and the dreamy blue eyes, whom his father called “Old Mooney,” grew into the wide-awake, practical lad who became, a few years later, captain of the naval cadets on the training ship Britannia?

“I must learn to command this idle, dreamy ‘Old Mooney’ before I can ever command a ship,” he said to himself. So he gave himself orders in earnest.

When he wanted to lie in bed an extra half hour, it was, “Up, sir! ‘Up and doing,’ is the word!” And out he would jump with a laugh and a cheer for the new day.

When he felt like hugging the fire with a book on his knees he would say, “Out, sir! Get out in the open air and show what you’re made{85} of!” Then he would race for an hour or two with his dog, a big Dane, over the downs, to come back in a glow ready for anything. And so the man who was to command others became master of himself. There came a time when a strong, brave man was needed to take command of the ship Discovery, that was to sail over unexplored seas to the South Pole. And Robert Falcon Scott, then a lieutenant in the royal navy, who had long dreamed of going forth where ships and men had never been and find the “something hidden” in strange far-off lands, found his dream had come true. He was put in command of that ship.

Three years were spent in that terrible land where

The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around;
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled—

in the fierce winds that swept over those great death-white wastes.

After this time of hardship and plucky endurance it was hard to have to return without having reached the South Pole. But he came back with so much of deepest interest and value{86} to report about the unknown country, that those who had given their money to provide for the expedition said: “The voyage has really been a success. Captain Scott must go again under better conditions with the best help and equipment possible.”

It was some time, however, before Captain Scott could be spared to go on that second and last voyage to the South Pole. This man who knew all about commanding ships and men was needed to help with the great battleships of the navy. Five years had passed before plans were ready for the greatest voyage of all.

When it was known that Captain Scott was to set out on another expedition, eight thousand men volunteered to go as members of the party. It was splendid to think how much real interest there was in the work and to know how much true bravery and fine spirit of adventure there is in the men of our every-day world, but it was hard to choose wisely out of so many the sixty men to make up the party.

They needed, of course, officers of the navy, besides Captain Scott, to help plan and direct, a crew of able seamen, firemen, and stokers to{87}

Photo by Brown Bros.

Captain Robert F. Scott

Photo by Brown Bros.
Captain Robert F. Scott



run the ship, and doctors and stewards to take care of the men. Besides these, they wanted men of science who would be able to investigate in the right way the plants, animals, rocks, ice, ocean currents, and winds of that strange part of the earth; and an artist able to draw and to take the best kind of photographs and moving pictures.

The ship chosen for this voyage was the Terra Nova, the largest and strongest whaler that could be found. Whalers are ships used in whale-fishing, which are built expressly to make their way through the floating ice of Arctic seas.

The Terra Nova was a stout steamer carrying full sail, so that the winds might help in sending her on her way, thus saving coal whenever possible. The great difficulty was, of course, the carrying of sufficient supplies for a long time and for many needs.

With great care each smallest detail was worked out. There were three motor sledges, nineteen ponies, and thirty-three dogs to transport supplies. There was material for putting up huts and tents. There were sacks of{90} coal, great cans of oil and petrol (gasoline); and tons of boxes of provisions, such as pemmican, biscuit, butter, sugar, chocolate—things that would not spoil and which would best keep men strong and warm while working hard in a cold country. There were fur coats, fur sleeping bags, snow shoes, tools of all sorts, precious instruments, books, and many other things, each of which was carefully considered for they were going where no further supplies of any sort were to be had.

On June 15, 1910, the Terra Nova sailed from Wales, and on November 26 left New Zealand for the great adventure.

If the men had been superstitious they would have been sure that a troublous time was ahead, for almost immediately a terrible storm broke. Great waves swept over the decks, the men had to work with buckets and pumps to bale out the engine room, while boxes and cases went bumping about on the tossing ship, endangering the lives of men and animals, and adding to the noise and terror of the blinding, roaring tempest.

But through it all the men never lost their spirits. Scott led in the singing of chanties, as{91} they worked hour after hour to save the ship and its precious cargo.

At last they came out on a calm sea where the sun shone on blue waves dotted here and there with giant ice-bergs, like great floating palaces, agleam with magic light and color, beautiful outposts of the icy world they were about to enter.

You know that the seasons in the South Arctic regions are exactly opposite to ours. Christmas comes in the middle of their summer—the time of the long day when the sun never drops below the horizon. Their winter, when they get no sunlight for months, comes during the time we are having spring and summer.

It was Scott’s plan to sail as far as the ship could go during the time of light, build a comfortable hut for winter quarters, then go ahead with sledges and carry loads of provisions, leaving them in depots along the path of their journey south, which was to begin with the coming of the next long day.

Patient watchfulness, not only by the man in the crow’s nest, but on the part of all hands, was needed to guide the ship through the great{92} masses of ice that pressed closer and closer about, as if they longed to seize and keep it forever in their freezing hold.

At last in January they came within sight of Mt. Terror, a volcano on Ross Island, which marked the place where they must land. It was strange and terrible, but most beautiful, to see the fire rise from that snowy mountain in the great white world they had come to explore. The ship could go no farther south because there stretched away from the shore of the island the great Ice Barrier, an enormous ice cap rising above the sea fifty or sixty feet and extending for 150,000 square miles.

Scott came, you remember, knowing well what lay before him. To reach the South Pole he must travel from his winter camp on Ross Island, 424 miles over the barrier, climb 125 miles over a monster glacier, and then push his way over 353 more miles of rough ice on a lofty, wind-swept plain. The whole journey southward and back to the winter hut covered about 1,850 miles.

As they could not count at most on more than 150 days in the year when marching would be{93} possible, this meant that they must make over ten miles a day during the time of daylight. Scott knew how hard this must be in that land of fierce winds and sudden blizzards, when the blinding, drifting snow made all marching out of the question. But there was nothing of the dreamer about him now; he carefully worked out his plans and prepared for every emergency.

After finding a good place to land and build the hut for the winter camp where it would be sheltered from the worst winds, they spent eight days unloading the ship, which then sailed away along the edge of the barrier with a part of the men, to find out how things were to the east of them.

Captain Scott and his men had an exciting time, I can tell you, carrying their heavy boxes and packing cases across the ice to the beach. Great killer whales, twenty feet long, came booming along under them, striking the ice with their backs, making it rock dizzily and split into wide cracks, over which the men had to jump to save their lives and their precious stores.

While part of the company was building the{94} hut and making it comfortable for the long dark winter, Captain Scott and a group of picked men began the work of going ahead and planting stores at depots along the way south. They would place fuel and boxes of food under canvas cover, well planted to secure it against the wind, and mark the spot by a high cairn, or mound, made of blocks of ice. This mound was topped with upright skis or dark packing boxes, which could be seen as black specks miles away in that white world. At intervals along the trail they would erect other cairns to mark the way over the desert of snow. Then back they went to the hut and the winter of waiting before the march.

How do you suppose they spent the long weeks of darkness? Why, they had a wonderful time! Each man was studying with all his might about the many strange things he had found in that land.

Wilson, who was Scott’s best friend, gave illustrated lectures about the water birds he had found near there, the clumsy penguins who came tottering up right in the face of his camera as if they were anxious to have their pictures taken. He had pictures, too, of their{95} nests and their funny, floundering babies. There were also pictures of seals peeping up at him out of their breathing-holes in the ice, where he had gone fishing and had caught all sorts of curious sea creatures.

Other men were examining pieces of rock and telling the story which they told of the history of the earth ages and ages ago when the land of that Polar world was joined with the continents of Africa and South America. Evans gave lectures on surveying, and Scott told about the experiences of his earlier voyage and explained the use of his delicate instruments.

Of course they took short exploring trips about, and sometimes when the moon was up, or, perhaps, in the scant twilight of midday, they played a game of football in the snow.

At last the sun returned, and the time came for the great journey about the first of November, just a year after they had left New Zealand.

They had not gone far when it was proved that the motor sledges were useless, as the engines were not fitted for working in such intense cold. So, sorrowfully they had to leave{96} them behind, and make ponies and dogs do all the work of hauling.

Then began a time of storms when blizzard followed blizzard. It seemed that they had met the wild spirit of all tempests in his snowy fastness, and as if he were striving to prove that the will of the strongest man must give way before the savage force of wind and weather. But there was something in the soul of these men that could not be conquered by any hardship—something that would never give up.

“The soul of a true man is stronger than anything that can happen to him,” said Captain Scott.

It seemed as if this journey was made to prove that. And it did prove it.

Misfortune followed misfortune. The sturdy ponies could not stand the dangers. Some of them slipped and fell into deep chasms in the ice; others suffered so that the only kind thing was to put them out of their pain. The men went along then up the fearful climb across the glacier, with just the help of the dogs who pulled the sledges carrying provisions. One of the men became very ill, which delayed them{97} further. And ever the dreadful wind raged about them.

They reached a point about 170 miles from the Pole on New Year’s day. Here Scott decided to send two members of his party back with the sick man and the dog sledge. They were, of course, disappointed, but realized it was for the best.

After leaving part of their provisions in a new depot to feed them on the way back, Captain Scott and four men, Wilson, Oates, Bowers, and Evans, went on the last march to the Pole with lighter loads which they dragged on a hand sledge. This is what Scott wrote in the letter sent back by his men:

“A last note from a hopeful position. I think it’s going to be all right. We have a fine party going forward and all arrangements are going well.”

How did the way seem to the men who still went on and on, now in the awful glare of the sun on the glistening ice, now in the teeth of a terrific gale? Here are some lines written by Wilson which may tell you something of what they felt:{98}

The silence was deep with a breath like sleep
As our sledge runners slid on the snow,
And the fateful fall of our fur-clad feet
Struck mute like a silent blow.
And this was the thought the silence wrought,
As it scorched and froze us through,
For the secrets hidden are all forbidden
Till God means man to know.
We might be the men God meant should know
The heart of the Barrier snow,
In the heat of the sun, and the glow,
And the glare from the glistening floe,
As it scorched and froze us through and through
With the bite of the drifting snow.

But still they pushed on and on, carrying supplies and their precious instruments, together with the records of their observations and experiences, until at last the goal was reached.

The South Pole at last! But here after all they had dared and endured another great trial awaited them just at the moment of seeming success. There at the goal toward which they had struggled with such high hopes was a tent and a mound over which floated the flag of Norway. The Norse explorer, Amundsen, had reached the Pole first. A letter was left telling of his work of discovery. He had happened on a route shielded from the terrific winds against{99} which Scott had fought his way mile by mile, and had arrived at the Pole a month earlier.

Now, indeed, Scott showed that “the soul of a brave man is stronger than anything that can happen to him.” Cheerfully he built a cairn near the spot to hold up their Union Jack, which flapped sadly in the freezing air as if to reproach them with not having set it as the first flag at the Farthest South of the earth. Then before they started back with the news of Amundsen’s success, Scott wrote these lines in his diary:

“Well, we have turned our back now on the goal of our ambition and must face 800 miles of solid dragging—and good-by to most of the day dreams.”

But it was for Scott to show the world that defeat might be turned into the greatest victory of all. When you hear any one say that a man is too weak or fearful to bear hardship and ill-success to the end, think of Captain Scott and say, “The brave soul is stronger than anything that can happen.”

On he struggled, on and on, though delayed again and again by blizzards that raged about{100} in the most terrible fury as if determined to make this little party give up the fight. At last they came, weak and nearly frozen (for the supplies of food and fuel had run short), almost within sight of a provision camp where comfort and plenty awaited them. At this moment came the most terrible storm of all, that lasted for more than a week.

One morning Lieutenant Oates, who was ill and feared that his friends might lose their last chance of reaching safety by staying to care for him, walked out into the blizzard with these words:

“I am just going outside and may be some time.”

Scott wrote that they “realized he was walking to his death and tried to dissuade him, but knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman. We all hope to meet the end with a similar spirit,” he added.

A little later Scott wrote in his diary:

“Every day we have been ready to start for our depot eleven miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better{101} things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.”


Eight months after when a rescue party succeeded in reaching the tent, they found the bodies of Wilson and Bowers lying with their sleeping bags closed over their heads. Near them was Captain Scott, with the flaps of his sleeping bag thrown back. Under his shoulder were his note-books and letters to those at home, which he had written up to the very last when the pencil slipped from his fingers. His thought in dying was not for himself but for those that would be left to grieve.

On the spot where they died, their friends left the bodies of these brave men covered with the canvas of their tent, and over them they piled up a great cairn of ice in which was placed a wooden cross made of snow-shoes. On the cross were carved these words of a great poet, which no one better than Captain Scott had made living words:

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Now we can see why this tale of Captain Scott{102} is truly an undying story. As long as true hearts beat those words will find an echo, and also those other words which he so nobly proved by his life and death:

“The soul of a brave man is stronger than anything that can happen to him.”{103}


I doubt no doubts: I strive, and shrive my clay;
And fight my fight in the patient modern way.
Sidney Lanier.


WOULD you like to hear about a viking of our own time? Listen to the story of this Northman, and see if you will not say that the North Sea country can still send forth as staunch and fearless men as those who sailed in their dragon ships the “whale roads” of the uncharted seas, found a new world and forgot about it long before Columbus dreamed his dream.

Near the Danish coast where the sea and the low-lying fields grapple hand to hand in every storm, and where the waves at flood tide thunder against the barrows beneath which the old vikings were buried, is the quaint little town of Ribe. This is the sea’s own country. It seems as if the people here, who never fear to go down to the sea in ships, have scorned to pile up dikes between them and their greatest friend, who can, in a moment of anger, prove their greatest enemy. It is as if they said, “We are{106} of the sea; if it chooses to rise up against us, who are we to say, ‘Thus far and no farther!’ ”

There was a boy born in this town whose name was Jacob Riis. The call of the sea-birds was the first sound he knew; the breath of the sea was like the breath of life to him. On bright, blue-and-gold days when the waves danced in rainbow hues and scattered in snowy foam, his heart “outdid the sparkling waves in glee.” At evening, when the sea-fogs settled down over the shore and land and water seemed one, something of the thoughtful strength and patience of that brave little country came into his face.

Many changes had come to the coast since the sea-rovers of old pulled their pirate galleys on the beach, took down their square, gaily striped sails, and gave themselves over to feasting in the great mead-hall, where the smoking boar’s-flesh was taken from the leaping flames and seized by the flushed, triumphant warriors, while skalds chanted loud the joys of battle and plunder. The quaint little town where Jacob Riis lived sixty-odd years ago had nothing but the broom-covered barrows and the changeless ocean that belonged to those wild{107} times, and yet it was quite as far removed from the customs and interests of to-day.

I wish that I could make you see the narrow cobblestone streets over which whale-oil lanterns swung on creaking iron chains, and the quaint houses with their tiled roofs where the red-legged storks came in April to build their nests. The stillness was unbroken by the snort of the locomotive and the shrill clamor of steam-boat and steam factory whistles. The people still journeyed by stagecoach, carried tinder-boxes in place of matches, and penknives to mend their quill pens. The telegraph was regarded with suspicion, as was the strange oil from Pennsylvania that was taken out of the earth. Such things could not be safe, and prudent people would do well to have none of them.

In this town, where mill-wheels clattered comfortably in the little stream along which roses nodded over old garden walls and where night-watchmen went about the streets chanting the hours, all the people were neighbors. There were no very rich and few very poor. How Jacob hated the one ramshackle old house by the dry moat which had surrounded the great{108} castle of the mighty Valdemar barons in feudal days! This place seemed given over to dirt, rats, disease, and dirty, rat-like children. Jacob’s friends called it Rag Hall, and said it was a shame that such an ugly, ill-smelling pile should spoil the neighborhood of Castle Hill, where they loved to play among the tall grass and swaying reeds of the moat.

Rag Hall came to fill a large place in Jacob’s thoughts. It was the grim shadow of his bright young world. Surely the world as God had made it was a place of open sky, fresh life-giving breezes, and rolling meadows of dewy, fragrant greenness. How did it happen that people could get so far away from all that made life sweet and wholesome? How had they lost their birthright?

As Jacob looked at the gray, dirty children of Rag Hall it seemed to him that they had never had a chance to be anything better. “What should I have been if I had always lived in such a place?” he said to himself.

One Christmas, Jacob’s father gave him a mark,—a silver coin like our quarter,—which was more money than the boy had ever had



Brown Bros.

Jacob A. Riis

Brown Bros.
Jacob A. Riis


before. Now it seemed to him that he might be able to do something to help make things better in Rag Hall. He ran to the tenement—to the room of the most miserable family who lived there.

“Here,” he said to a man who took the money as if he were stunned, “I’ll divide my Christmas mark with you, if you’ll just try to clean things up a bit, especially the children, and give them a chance to live like folks.”

The twelve-year-old boy little thought that the great adventure of his life really began that day at Rag Hall. But years after when he went about among the tenements of New York, trying to make things better for the children of Mulberry Bend and Cherry Street, he remembered where the long journey had begun.

It was no wonder that Christmas stirred the heart of this young viking, and made him long for real deeds. Christmas in Ribe was a time of joy and good-will to all. A lighted candle was put in the window of every farm-house to cheer the wayfarer with the message that nobody is a stranger at Christmas. Even the troublesome sparrows were not forgotten. A{112} sheaf of rye was set up in the snow to make them the Christmas-tree they would like best. The merry Christmas elf, the “Jule-nissen,” who lived in the attic, had a special bowl of rice and milk put out for him. Years afterward, when this Danish lad was talking to a crowd of New York boys and girls, he said, with a twinkle in his eyes:

“I know if no one else ever really saw the Nissen that our black cat had made his acquaintance. She looked very wise and purred most knowingly next morning.”

If Christmas brought the happiest times, the northwest storms in autumn brought the most thrilling experiences of Jacob’s boyhood. Then, above the moaning of the wind, the muttered anger of the waves, and the crash of falling tiles, came the weird singing of the big bell in the tower of the Domkirke—the cathedral, you know.

After such a night the morning would dawn on a strange world where storm-lashed waves covered the meadows and streets for miles about, and on the causeway, high above the flood-level, cattle, sheep, rabbits, grouse, and{113} other frightened creatures of the fields huddled together in pitiful groups.

One night, when the flood had risen before the mail-coach came in and the men of the town feared for the lives of the passengers, Jacob went out with the rescue-party to the road where the coach must pass. Scarcely able to stand against the wind, he struggled along on the causeway where, in pitchy blackness, with water to his waist and pelting spray lashing his face like the sting of a whip, he groped along, helping to lead the frightened horses to the lights of the town a hundred yards away. It was hard that night to get warmed through; but the boy’s heart glowed, for had not the brusk old Amtmand, the chief official of the country, seized him by the arm and said, while rapping him smartly on the shoulders with his cane, as if, in other days, he would have knighted him, “Strong boy, be a man yet!”

Jacob’s father, who was master of the town school, was keenly disappointed when this alert, promising son declared his wish to give up the ways of book-learning and master the carpenter’s trade. The boy felt that building houses{114} for people to live in would be far better than juggling with words and all the unreal problems with which school and school-books seemed to deal. Thinking that it would be useless to try to force his son into a life distasteful to him, the father swallowed his disappointment and sent him to serve his apprenticeship with a great builder in Copenhagen. The boy should, he determined, have the best start in his chosen calling that it was in his power to give him.

Soon after his arrival in the capital, Jacob went to meet his student brother at the palace of Charlottenborg, where an art exhibition was being held. Seeing that he was a stranger and ill at ease, a tall, handsome gentleman paused on his way up the grand staircase and offered to act as guide. As they went on together, the gentleman asked the boy about himself and listened with ready sympathy to his eager story of his life in the old town, and what he hoped to do in the new life of the city. When they parted Jacob said heartily:

“People are just the same friendly neighbors in Copenhagen that they are in little Ribe—jolly good Danes everywhere, just like you, sir!”{115}

The stranger smiled and patted him on the shoulder in a way more friendly still. Just at that moment they came to a door where a red-liveried lackey stood at attention. He bowed low as they entered and Jacob, bowing back, turned to his new friend with a delighted smile:

“There is another example of what I mean, sir,” he said. “Would you believe it, now, that I have never seen that man before?”

The gentleman laughed, and, pointing to a door, told Jacob he would find his brother there. While the boy happily recounted his adventures, particularly the story of his kindly guide, the handsome gentleman passed through the room and nodded to him with his twinkling smile.

“There is my jolly gentleman,” said Jacob, as he nodded back.

His brother jumped to his feet and bowed low.

“Good gracious!” he said, when the stranger had passed out. “You don’t mean to say he was your guide? Why, boy, that was the King!”

So Jacob learned that in Denmark even a king, whom he had always thought of as wearing a jeweled crown and a trailing robe of velvet{116} and ermine held by dainty silken pages, could go about in a plain blue overcoat like any other man, and be just as simple and neighborly.

In Copenhagen the king of his fairy-book world was a neighbor, too. Hans Christian Andersen was a familiar figure on the streets at that time. Jacob and his companions often met him walking under the lindens along the old earthen walls that surrounded the city.

“Isn’t he an ugly duck, though!” said Jacob one evening, as the awkward old man, with his long, ungainly neck and limbs and enormous hands and feet, came in sight. Then the merry young fellows strung themselves along in Indian file, each in turn bowing low as he passed, and saying with mock reverence, “Good evening, Herr Professor!”

But when the gentle old man, with the child’s heart, seized their hands in his great grasp and thanked them delightedly, they slunk by shamefacedly, and, while they chuckled a little, avoided meeting each other’s eyes. For in their hearts they loved the old man whose stories had charmed their childhood, and they knew that the{117} spirit within the lank, awkward body was altogether lovely.

All the time that Jacob was working with hammer and saw, he was, like that first Jacob of whom we read, serving for his Rachel. From the time he was a clumsy lad of twelve he knew that his playmate Elizabeth, with the golden curls and the fair, gentle looks, was the princess of his own fairy-tale. Like all good fairy-tales, it simply had to turn out happily.

When his apprenticeship was over and he had learned all about building houses for people to live in, he hurried at once to Ribe to build his own house. It seemed, however, that nobody realized that he was the hero who was to marry the princess. Why, Elizabeth’s father owned the one factory in town, and they lived in a big house, which some people called a “castle.” Small chance that he would let his pretty daughter marry a carpenter!

Since working faithfully for long, busy years had not brought him to his goal, Jacob threw aside his tools and decided to seek his fortune in a new country. In America, surely, a true{118} man might come into his own. The days of high adventure were not dead. He would win fame and fortune, and then return in triumph to the old town—and to Elizabeth.

It was a beautiful spring morning—surely a prophecy of fair beginnings—when this young viking sailed into New York Harbor. The dauntless Northmen, who pushed across the seas and discovered America, could not have thrilled more at the sight of their Vineland than did this Dane of our own day when he saw the sky-line of the great city. This must indeed be a new world of opportunity for strong men.

It took only a day of wandering about the crowded streets, however, to convince this seeker that a golden chance is as hard to find in the New York of to-day as gold was in those disillusioning days of the early explorers. The golden chance, it seemed, was to be won, if at all, as is the precious metal—only after intelligent prospecting and patient digging.

How utterly alone he felt in that crowd of hurrying strangers! Very different it all was from his cozy little country where every one was a neighbor, even the king himself.{119}

The Jacob A. Riis settlement, Henry Street, New York

The Jacob A. Riis settlement, Henry Street, New York



Out of sheer loneliness and the desire to belong to somebody he threw in his lot with a gang of men who were being gathered together to work in a mining-camp on the Allegheny River. Perhaps the West was his Promised Land, and Pennsylvania would be a start on the way.

The young carpenter was set to work building houses for the workers in the mines. He could not content himself, however, in this shut-in country. To one used to the vastness of a level land stretching as far as eye could see, it seemed as if the hills and forests hedged him in on every side—as if he could not breathe. To ease the restlessness of his homesick spirit, he determined to try his fortune at coal-mining. One day was enough of that. In his inexperience he failed to brace the roof properly, and a great piece of rock came down on him, knocking the lamp from his cap and leaving him stunned and in utter darkness. When at last he succeeded in groping his way out, it was as if he had come back from the dead. The daylight had never before seemed so precious. Nothing could have induced him to try coal-mining again.{122}

At this time, 1870, news came of the war between Germany and France. It was expected, moreover, that Denmark would come to the assistance of the French, since only a few years before, in 1864, Germany had seized some of the choicest territory of the little North Sea kingdom—Schleswig-Holstein, the section through which the important Kiel Canal has been built. Every Dane longed to avenge the wrong. Jacob Riis at once left his tools and his work. He would win glory as a soldier.

He reached New York with but a single cent in his pocket, only to find that no one was fitting out volunteer companies to send to France. Here he was longing to offer his life for the cause, and it was treated like a worthless trifle. Clothes and every cherished possession that his little trunk contained were soon pawned to pay for food and a roof over his head.

There followed months when the young man wandered about the great city, homeless, hungry, vainly seeking employment. Too proud to beg, he yet accepted night after night a plate of meat and rolls which a French cook in a large restaurant handed him from a basement{123} window. It seemed as if that was a part of the debt France owed her would-be soldier.

He was part of a weary army of discouraged men hunting for work. He knew what it meant to sleep on park benches, in doorways, in empty wagons, and even on the flat stone slabs of a graveyard. There were, in New York, friends of his family who might have helped him, but he was too proud to make himself known in his present sorry plight. He even destroyed the letters to them, lest in a moment of weakness he might be tempted to appeal to their charity.

This time of hardship, however, was destined to bear fruit. Jacob Riis came to know the shadows of the great city—all the miserable alleys and narrow courts of the East Side slums. Then and there, weak and starving though he was, the boy who had given his Christmas money to help Rag Hall vowed that he would some day work to remove those plague-spots from the city’s life. “How true it is,” he said, “that one half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives! If they only knew, things would be different.”

At last the chance for which he had been longing{124} came. Hearing that a new reporter was wanted by the News Association, he applied for the position. After looking the haggard applicant over for a moment doubtfully, the editor was moved to give him a trial. The starving man was sent to report a political banquet. When he turned in his “copy” at the office the editor said briefly:

“You will do. Take that desk and report at ten every morning, sharp.”

So began his life as a reporter.

Perhaps you know something of his success as a newspaper man. He knew how to gather news; and he knew how to find the words that make bare facts live. The days and nights of privation had been rich in experience. He was truly “a part of all that he had met.” Something of his intimate acquaintance with all sorts and conditions of existence, something of his warm, understanding sympathy for every variety of human joy and sorrow, crept into his work. Besides, the young man had boundless enthusiasm and tireless industry.

“That chap just seems to eat work,” said his fellow-reporters.{125}

One day a very special letter came from Denmark, which told him that his gentle Elizabeth was quite convinced that he was indeed the prince of her life story. So, as it turned out, he didn’t have to make a fortune before he was able to bring her to share his home in New York. With her it seemed that he brought the best of the old life into the new—

Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight,
Brought the sunshine of his people.

The only homesick times that he knew now were the days when his work as a reporter took him to the streets of the miserable tenements. All his soul cried out against these places where the poor, the weak, and the wicked, the old, the sick, and helpless babies were all herded together in damp, dingy rooms where the purifying sunlight never entered. During his years of wandering in search of work he had gained an intimate knowledge of such conditions. He knew what poverty meant and how it felt. Afterward, when he saw this hideous squalor, he shared it. These people were his neighbors.

“Over against the tenements of our cities,” he said, “ever rise in my mind the fields, the{126} woods, God’s open sky, as accusers and witnesses that his temple is being defiled and man dwarfed in body and soul.”

He knew that the one way to remove such evils and to force people to put up decent houses for the poor was to bring the facts out in the open. When he described what he had seen, the words seemed to mean little to many of the people that he wanted to reach. Then he hit upon the plan of taking pictures. These pictures served to illustrate some very direct talks he gave in the churches. Later, many of them made an important part of his book, “How the Other Half Lives.”

“These people are your neighbors,” said Jacob Riis. “It is the business of the fortunate half of those who live in our great cities to find out how the other half lives. No one can live to himself or die to himself—

‘If you will not grub for your neighbor’s weeds,
In your own green garden you’ll find the seeds.’ ”

Through his persistent campaigning, one of the very worst parts of New York, known as Mulberry Bend, a veritable network of alleys{127} which gave hiding to misery and crime untold, was bought by the city, the buildings torn down, and the spot converted into a public park.

Several years later, when Roosevelt was President, he asked Mr. Riis to investigate the conditions of streets and alleys in Washington. It developed that within three squares of the Capitol there was a system of alleys honeycombing a single block where a thousand people were crowded together under conditions that made a hotbed of misery, crime, and disease. The good citizens of the National Capital, who had read with horror about the evils of New York and Chicago, were rudely shaken out of their self-complacency. That square is now one of Washington’s parks.

Jacob Riis early learned the power of facts. His training as a reporter taught him that. He was also willing to work early and late, when the need arose, to gather them. At one time when there was a cholera scare in New York, he happened to look over the Health Department analysis of the water from the Croton River, and noticed that it was said to contain “a trace of nitrites.”{128}

“What does that mean?” he asked of the chemist.

The reply was more learned than enlightening. The reporter was not satisfied. He carried his inquiry farther and discovered that “nitrites” meant that the water had been contaminated by sewage from towns above New York. Riis then took his camera and explored not only the Croton River to its source, but also every stream that emptied into it, taking pictures that proved in the most convincing way the dangers of the city. As a result, money was appropriated to buy a strip of land along the streams, wide enough to protect the people’s water-supply.

Another great work that Jacob Riis was enabled to carry through had its beginnings in that stormy chapter of his life when he found himself a vagrant among vagrants. He learned at first hand what the police lodging-houses for the homeless were like. At that time this charity was left in the hands of the police, who had neither the ability nor the desire to handle these cases wisely and humanely and to meet the problems of helping people to help themselves.{129} Jacob Riis worked shoulder to shoulder with Theodore Roosevelt, who was then police commissioner of New York, to make the organized charity of the city an intelligent agency for relieving suffering and putting on their feet again those who were, for some reason, “down and out.” Many were brought back to wholesome living through the realization that they had “neighbors” who cared.

In the same way he worked for parks and playgrounds for the children. He saw that the city spoils much good human material.

“We talk a great deal about city toughs,” he says in his autobiography. “In nine cases out of ten they are lads of normal impulses whose possibilities have all been smothered by the slum. With better opportunities they might have been heroes.”

Many honors came to Jacob Riis. He was known as a “boss reporter”; his books gave him a nation-wide fame; the King of Denmark sent him the Crusaders’ Cross, the greatest honor his native land could bestow; President Roosevelt called him the “most useful American” of his day. But I think what meant more{130} to him than any or all of these things was the real affection of his many “neighbors,” especially the children.

Many times he gathered together boys and girls from the streets to enjoy a day with him in the country.

“This will help until we can give them trees and grass in their slum,” he would say, “and then there will be no slum.” His eyes grew very tender as he added, “No, there will be no slum; it will be a true City Beautiful—and the fairest blossoms there will be the children.”

Riis called the story of his life, “The Making of an American.” While his life was in the making he helped to make many others. He was in truth a maker of Americans.

Do you not think that he lived a life as truly adventurous as the vikings of old—this viking of our own day? They lived for deeds of daring and plunder; he lived for deeds every whit as brave—and for service.{131}


Oh, toiling hands of mortals! Oh, unwearied feet, traveling ye know not whither! Soon, soon, it seems to you, you must come forth on some conspicuous hilltop, and but a little way further, against the setting sun, descry the spires of El Dorado. Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor.

Stevenson: El Dorado.


WHEN you read in your history the stories of the men who discovered America, did you ever think that not one of them found that for which he searched when he sailed unknown seas and braved the perils of an unbroken wilderness? Columbus tried to find a sea-way to the Indies, and stumbled upon a new world. Henry Hudson, in seeking a short cut to the Pacific, found New York. De Soto, hunting in vain for gold, was little comforted by the sight of the muddy waters of the Mississippi. And so with Ponce de León, Balboa, La Salle, and all the rest. Each journeyed in search of one thing and found another.

Nor did any of these discoverers know what he had found. De Soto had no vision of great plains of golden grain, food for millions of men, along the shores of his river. Henry Hudson never dreamed of the city of New York. These men only blazed the trail. It was for{134} those who came after to understand and use what they had found.

Each year men were finding, and helping others to find, a new land. Some of these men were the pioneers who cleared the ground and planted farms; some were those who built roads and bridges; some were those who took iron, coal, and oil from the ground; some were those who taught the children of the new land in the little bare school-houses. All of these people helped to discover our America.

Did you know that the work of discovery is still going on? Ten years from now many changes will have come to pass; in a hundred years a new world will have been found.

This is the story of one of the greatest discoverers of our day—the story of a man who found a new world in the North Woods of New York. But like the other discoverers, he searched for one thing and found another, and he spent many years of patient work in trying to understand and use in the best way what he had found.

Edward Livingston Trudeau was born with a love of the woods and the life of the open.{135} In his father, Dr. James Trudeau, the call of the wild was so strong that again and again he would leave the city and his work to lose himself in the great forests of the West far from the world of men. He used to say that it was only when he could lose himself in this way that he seemed to find himself. Once he lived for two years with the Osage Indians, learning their woodcraft and their skill in riding and hunting. In 1841 he went with Frémont, the explorer, on his great expedition to the Rocky Mountains. And it was never hard for his friend Audubon, the famous naturalist, to persuade him to shut up his office and fare forth with him into the wilds. He was always restless and ill at ease within walls; only when out under the open sky did he feel fully alive.

Of course, this uncertain, wandering life ruined his chances of success in his profession. He gave up his office in New York, and, leaving his children with their grandfather, returned to his earlier home in New Orleans, thinking that perhaps it would be easier to settle down there to a more regular and ordered life. But he was{136} never able to resist for long at a time the craving for the freedom of the great outdoors.

Edward Trudeau’s childhood was spent in large cities—New York first, and then Paris; he never knew his father, and yet he shared his strong love for a wild, outdoor life. He used often to say that it was strange how the trait which in his father had wrecked his career as a physician saved the life of his son, at a time when he was so ill that he could live only in the open air, and really led to his success as a doctor by showing him that fresh air and sunshine are often a sure cure where medicines fail.

Did you know that only a very few years ago many people were afraid to open their windows? That was the time when so many were dying of tuberculosis that it was called “the great white plague.” It was as mysterious and terrible as the Black Death, which, we read, once carried off half the people of England, because this “white plague” was an enemy that never withdrew. No one knew what caused the trouble, but they thought it must be due to a chill of some kind, so they carefully shut out{137} the fresh air. Every child to-day knows that they were shutting out the one thing that could cure them. But do you know that it was Edward Trudeau who taught us that? He was really the discoverer of the importance of fresh air as a cure for many ills, and, still better, as a means of keeping well. Besides this, he lived the life of a true hero. Listen to his story and see if you will not say with me that his was as brave a fight as that of any hero of battle. And his victory was one in which the whole world has a share.

Though Edward Trudeau was born with his father’s love of the open, most of his early life, as we have said, was spent in big cities. When he was a child of three, his grandfather, Dr. Berger, a French physician who had earned renown not only in his own country but also in New York, took him and his older brother to Paris, where they lived for fifteen years. Here he was like a wood-bird in a cage, looking at a strange life and strange people through the bars.

Sometimes the bits of life he saw were very gay and fascinating, for this was the time of{138} the Second Empire, when the capital was always a-flutter over some occasion of royal pomp or brilliant celebration. Napoleon III (whom Victor Hugo wittily dubbed “Napoleon the Little” in contrast with his uncle, Napoleon the Great) tried to make the splendor and glitter of extravagant display take the place of the true glory of great deeds. One of his “big brass generals,” who was always quite dazzling in gold lace and gleaming decorations, lived on the first floor, immediately below Dr. Berger’s apartment, and Edward Trudeau felt, as he watched from the window this ideal figure of military power dash up to the porte-cochère on his spirited horse, all splendid, too, in gold trappings, that here truly was one of the great race of heroes. He trembled with delight when the great man took notice of his small, hero-worshiping self, and they became friends after a fashion. But General Bazaine was, as events proved, much more within his capabilities when sitting tall on a prancing, gold-caparisoned horse at a royal review of the troops than when leading the forces of France against the German army. When the Franco-Prussian War came in{139} 1870 it was largely through his tactical blunders, and cowardly treachery, perhaps, that Sedan was surrounded and the French army obliged to surrender to the victorious Germans. When Edward Trudeau read in the papers the news of the French defeat his heart was sad over the fall of his boyish idol, but the truth entered his soul that the real victors of real battles are not always those magnificent ones who look most unconquerable.

Another vivid memory of his childhood days in Paris brought home the same truth. One day, as he watched at the window, he was thrilled to see a gorgeous equerry from the Palais Royal ride up in state to his door and hand a parcel to the butler. This package, he learned, contained the Cross of the Legion of Honor which the emperor had sent to his grandfather. Afterward, he noticed that his grandfather always wore a little red ribbon in his buttonhole. But when the small boy questioned him in regard to the reason for his wearing the decoration, he only smiled quizzically and said, “Pour faire parler les curieux, mon enfant” (“To give the curious a chance to talk, my child”). As for himself,{140} this modest French physician preferred to let his deeds alone speak of what he had done.

The small boy who could scarcely remember the time when he did not live in France and whose relatives were all French did not forget for a moment that he was an American. The toy boats which he sailed in the fountains of the Tuileries all bore the Stars and Stripes. And his favorite playmates at the Lycée Bonaparte, where he went to school, were hardy American boys whose parents were living in Paris.

During the years at the French school the vague, inner yearning for a freer, more natural life, found vent in many pranks and covert rebellion not only against the class routine, but also, more openly, against the established order of things on the playground. Here some of the delicately aristocratic French boys were much disconcerted by the blunt and wholly effectual way in which Edward Trudeau and his chums, the Livingston lads, settled questions by argument straight from the shoulder.

When he returned to New York at eighteen, Edward could speak only broken English, but he felt so truly American that he wondered why{141} his cousins laughed when he said, “Ze English is so hard a language to prononciate.”

Then came his “wander years” in which he tried, with a deep, unsatisfied longing after he knew not what, to find his proper niche in life. Something of the memory of the stirring day when the American lads in Paris had thrilled over the news of the capture of the privateer Alabama by the United States cruiser Kearsarge off the coast of France led him to think that he wanted to enter the Navy. So he went to a preparatory school at Newport, as the United States Naval Academy had been, on account of the war, removed from Annapolis to that city, together with the historic old ship Constitution, which furnished quarters for the cadets.

At the very moment when he was prepared to enter the academy, Fate decided otherwise. His only brother, Francis, whose delicate health had always been a cause of much anxiety, became alarmingly ill. Though Edward was several years younger, he had always, as far back as he could remember, tried, at school and on the playground, to take care of this frail brother. He learned to know by the signs of the paling{142} face and blue lips when the weak heart was missing its proper beat, and he was always at hand to say: “Steady, old fellow, steady! Let’s drop out of the game and rest up a bit.”

Most of the thrashings that he had dealt out to the school bullies were given on his brother’s account. But if Frank was not able to hold his own when it came to fisticuffs, in other encounters Edward learned to rely on the strong character and high ideals of this brother, who seemed a tower of strength when it came to battles of the spirit against doubts, fears, and wild gusts of temptation.

Now these two, who were so closely united by the strong double bond of mutual dependence and protection, had come to the great parting of the ways. The white plague had Francis in its terrible grip. During the last months of the hopeless struggle Edward watched with him night and day, drinking strong green tea to keep himself awake, and, by the doctor’s orders, carefully keeping all the windows closed, since the outside air was supposed to aggravate the painful cough.

The man who was to cure many by the simple{143} means of fresh air learned his first lesson in that sick-room where he watched the one he loved best struggle for breath, and where he himself caught the seeds of the dread disease. This first great sorrow was really the first stage on his great journey of discovery—the discovery of a new world of life, restored to many who believed that they were nearing the “Valley named of the Shadow.” But how often is it true that the seeker after El Dorado searches for one thing and finds another. How often must the fortunate ones who at last arrive at the great goal travel by ways they know not.

Edward Trudeau had not yet found his lifework. He studied for a few months at the school of mines before he realized that he was not destined to be an engineer. This was but one of many false starts. Indeed, his early path was strewed with so many bits of wreckage from his spasmodic trials and failures that when one of his friends announced to a group at the Union Club that he had entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons, a fellow-member said, “I bet five hundred dollars he never graduates.” And not one of the companions{144} who knew and loved him so well was ready to take up the bet.

These merry companions of his youth, who thought they knew Edward Trudeau better than he knew himself, loved him well; for he ever had the gift of friendship with man and beast. Dogs and horses at once felt his comprehending hand and heart. And as for the human kind—were they great masters of finance like Edward H. Harriman, gay young men about town like the Livingstons, or sturdy mountain guides like Paul Smith and Fitz-Greene Halleck—all and each were not only boon companions when the opportunity served, but lifelong friends whom neither time nor circumstance could change. When Dr. Trudeau used to say with feeling, “No one ever had better friends than I have,” we always thought, as we looked into his kindly eyes, so alive with understanding sympathy and ready cheer, “How true it is that the best way to win a friend is to be one.”

The best friend of all from beginning to end, however, was Miss Charlotte Beare, who became his wife as soon as he had graduated from the medical school and had spent six months as



Photo by Wm. Distin

Edward L. Trudeau

Photo by Wm. Distin
Edward L. Trudeau


house physician in The Strangers’ Hospital. When he wrote, toward the close of his life, a record of what his experiences had meant, he gave the book this dedication:


It was through his love for her, he said, that he was able to keep steadily at work during his college days, when close application to study and the confinement of city life were telling not only upon his health but also wearing away the inner soul that ever craved, with a deeper and more poignant longing, the freedom of open spaces and the breath of the life-giving woods.

It was a very different story from those light-hearted, familiar ones where “they married and lived happily ever after.” The rain followed the sunshine very soon after the young doctor had returned from his wedding-trip and settled down to practice in New York. After{148} months of struggle against what he thought was a sort of stubborn malaria, together with the old rebellion against a shut-in life, the doctor who had worked so bravely to fit himself to cure others came face to face with the truth that he himself had a disease which no doctor could cure. The world seemed dark indeed when he thought he must soon leave his loved wife, the little Charlotte and baby Ned, and all that he had hoped to accomplish in the future.

He little realized that he had but reached the second stage in the journey that was to prepare him in a way he could not understand to be the “Beloved Physician,” one destined to save many who, like him, had met death face to face and trembled before the thought of separation from those they loved.

A faint light seemed to shine in the blackness of the night that had closed about him when the resolve came to go away from the city into the still woods—where he had felt the keenest joy in “mere living” on brief hunting-trips to the Adirondacks. His dear wife should be spared seeing the terrible, hopeless fight, and he should before the end have a bit of that free{149} life for which his tired spirit longed. And so, though it meant separation, perhaps forever, from those he loved best, he prepared to go to Paul Smith’s hunting-lodge, which was forty-two miles from the nearest railroad in the heart of a still country of mountain lakes and vast, untroubled forest.

It took three days for the sick man to make the journey. His friend Lou Livingston, who accompanied him, tried in vain to persuade him to give up going to such a rough, remote place. A mattress and pillows were arranged in the two-horse stage, in which they had to travel the forty-two miles of rough mountain road to the hunting-lodge, and the sick man was made as comfortable as possible; but when at sunset he caught sight of the house through the pines he was too weak with fever and the jolting of the long trip to stand or walk. A hearty, mountain guide picked him up as if he had been an infant, carried him up to his room, and, as he laid him on his bed, remarked comfortingly:

“That’s nothing, Doctor! You don’t weigh no more than a dried lambskin.”{150}

The invalid might well have been depressed by these words, but the magic of the country had already begun its work. He ate a hearty meal with the keenest relish he had known in weeks and fell asleep like a tired child.

“When I thought I had come to the end, it proved but the turn in the road,” said Dr. Trudeau. “I went to the mountains to die—I found there the beginning of a new life.”

As the weeks passed and left him not losing ground, but actually gaining day by day, the truth gradually dawned upon him that fresh air and rest were doing what doctors despaired of.

After proving what a few months could accomplish, and finding that even a short visit to his home meant an alarming setback, Dr. Trudeau and his wife decided that they must go to the mountain country to live. Can you imagine what spending a winter in the Adirondacks meant at that time, when the only houses were hunting-lodges and the cabins of the guides? Once, when making the journey to their winter quarters, the family was caught in a blizzard. When the sweat of their struggling{151} horses was turned to a firm casing of ice and they all had hard work to keep faces and ears from freezing, they left the cutter, put blankets on the horses, wrapped the children in buffalo-robes and buried them in the snow, while the men tramped ahead and made a track up the hill for the weary horses. At last, when it was clear that the animals could go no farther, Paul Smith set off to the hut of a guide for fresh horses. As he left the little family buried in the snow, he said with his hearty laugh which seemed to put new life in the anxious travelers:

“Doctor, don’t you know Napoleon said, ‘The dark regions of Russia is only fit for Russians to inhabit’?”

Altogether these Napoleons were three days making the journey through the snow to their winter haven at Paul Smith’s hunting-lodge.

For several years Dr. Trudeau lived with his family in this wilderness where he had found health and happiness. His skill as a physician was given mostly to caring for the lumbermen and guides for miles about and for their dogs and horses. Of course there were, too, the people of the summer camps. And the story of{152} his cure led a New York doctor to send a few patients to try the same life. The number of these people increased, and gradually the colony of health-seekers began to grow.

One day, when Dr. Trudeau was on the side of Mount Pisgah, near Saranac Lake, he fell asleep while leaning on his gun and dreamed a dream. He saw as in a vision the forest on the shore of the lake melt away, and the whole slope covered with houses, built, as it were, inside out, so that most of the life of the people could go on in the open. As he said years later, when he was making an address at the twenty-fifth anniversary of the building of the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium at Saranac Lake, “I dreamed a dream of a great sanitarium that should be the everlasting foe of tuberculosis, and lo, the dream has come true!”

But Dr. Trudeau was a man who knew that, if good dreams are to come true, one must have the faith to pray as if there were no such thing as work, and the steady resolution to work as if there were no such thing as prayer. Much faith and much hard work went into the beginnings{153} of that City of the Sick near Lake Saranac.

There was the time of small things, when the chosen spot, with its scant grass and huge boulders, looked more like a pasture for goats than a building-site. Faith, however, can not only move mountains, it can turn them into building material; faith, too, can move the hearts of men and make many work together as one for a great cause. The guides whose families the Beloved Physician had tended without price gave sixteen acres on the sheltered plateau where he had seen his dream city arise.

“We shall build not a great hospital where many are herded together, but cottages where those who seek refuge here may each have his zone of pure air and something of the rest and freedom of home,” said Dr. Trudeau. He talked to his friends, he talked to friends of his friends—to all who would pause in their busy lives to listen. His glowing faith kindled enthusiasm in other hearts. Day by day, not only through the large gifts of the few who could give much, but also through the small{154} gifts of the many who could give but little, the fund grew. The doctor’s dream became a reality.

When we hear the stories of the heroes of old—the men of might, the grand of soul—does it seem as if our little day gives no chance for great deeds? Look at the Beloved Physician of Saranac, with his frail body, his cheerful smile, his unconquerable hope. See him going about with loving care among those whom life seemed to have broken and cast aside. See him in his little laboratory struggling hour after hour, through weeks and months and years, with no apparatus save that of his own contriving, with no training in scientific method, to lure the germs of the white plague within the field of his microscope, and force them to give up the secret of their terrible power. Surely there is no heroism greater than that of such brave, patient labor against all odds, against all ills, in spite of sorrow and loss and the fear of failure.

I like to picture this hero, with his genius for taking pains, at work over his test-tubes when his famous patient, Robert Louis Stevenson, came to visit the laboratory. Dr. Trudeau held out a little tube of liquid with the words,{155}

The first of the sanitarium cottages built in 1885; known
as “The Little Red”

The first of the sanitarium cottages built in 1885; known as “The Little Red”



“Here is our enemy fairly entrapped at last. This little scum is consumption, the cause of more human suffering than anything else.”

The discoverer of “Treasure Island” turned pale with disgust and backed out of the laboratory with these words, “Yes, Doctor, I know you have a lantern at your belt, but I don’t like the smell of your oil!”

The brilliant imagination of the great writer failed to understand the steady light of the imagination that seeks patiently after scientific truth in spite of discouragements and years of fruitless work.

In the last public address which Trudeau made, in 1910, before a gathering of physicians and surgeons, he said these words which show that he had caught the gleam of Stevenson’s lantern:

Let us not quench our faith nor turn from the vision which, whether we own it or not, we carry, as Stevenson’s lantern-bearers, hidden from the outer world; and, thus inspired, many will reach the goal; and if for most of us our achievements must fall short of our ideals, if, when age and infirmity overtake us, we come not within sight of the castle of our dreams, nevertheless, all will be well with us; for, as Stevenson tells us rightly, “to travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success is to labor.”


One of Trudeau’s most cherished possessions was a fine copy in bronze of Mercié’s statue “Gloria Victis,” given him by one of his patients. The sculptor created this statue in 1871, after the crushing blow inflicted on France by the German arms, to console and inspire the French people with the hope of triumph through defeat. It shows a young gladiator who has received his death-wound while facing the foe, lifted up and borne onward by a splendid Victory with outstretched wings. He has fought the fight and still holds his sword in his lifeless hand. In losing his life he wins his victory, that of one of the “faithful failures” who marched toward the new day whose dawn is not for them but for those who come after.

Dr. Trudeau, ever in the grip of the enemy that could be held at bay, but never conquered, labored year after year to save the lives of others. Many he was able to cure through rest and the life-giving air of the place he had found and made to be the battle-ground against tuberculosis. In many more he succeeded in arresting the disease and giving years of useful life, with restrictions—days and nights in the open,{159} eternal watchfulness. And always, so conditioned himself, he worked, while often laboring for every breath he drew, to find the real cure—a something that would be able to destroy the terrible germs. He never lived to find it, but he prepared the way for others, who will go on with his work and carry it to success.

Shortly before his death, in November, 1915, Dr. Trudeau tried to explain what the statue “Gloria Victis” had meant to him:

“It typifies,” he said, “many victories I have seen won in Saranac Lake by those whom I had learned to love; the victory of the spirit over the body; the victories that demand acquiescence in worldly failure, and in the supreme sacrifice of life itself as a part of their achievement; the victory of the Nazarene, which ever speaks its great message to the ages.”




A man went down to Panama,
Where many a man had died,
To slit the sliding mountains
And lift the eternal tide:
A man stood up in Panama,
And the mountains stood aside.
Percy Mac Kaye.


WHEN a boy has a name like George Washington Goethals he must have something out of the ordinary about him to let it pass with his companions on the playground. Should he prove a weakling, should the other boys discover any flaw in the armor of his self-confidence, such a name would be a mockery and a misfortune.

Is there any one who cannot recall certain rarely uncomfortable moments of his childhood when he wished that the fates had provided him with a Christian name that the other chaps couldn’t send back and forth like a shuttlecock, with a new derisive turn at each toss? One expects to endure a certain amount of “Georgie Porgie” nonsense, which has the excuse of rime if not of reason, but when one also has a last name that nobody ever heard of before, he finds himself wishing sometimes that he had been born a Johnson or a Smith.{164}

“I don’t believe that I quite like our name,” remarked little George Goethals in the confidence of the family circle one evening. “It is a bit queer, isn’t it?”

“It’s a name to be proud of, son,” was the reply. “It’s a name to live up to. For more than a thousand years it has been borne by strong, brave men. It belongs to the history of more than one country and century, and the way it was won makes a pretty story.”

“Tell me the story!” begged the boy, breathlessly, his eyes dark with interest.

“In the days when knights were bold, a man named Honorius, whose courage was as finely tempered as his sword, went with the Duke of Burgundy from Italy into France. In a fierce battle with the Saracens he received a terrible blow on the neck which would have felled most men to the ground, but his strength and steel withstood the shock and won for him a nickname of honor—Boni Coli (good neck). Later, when he was rewarded for his valor by a grant of land in the north country which is now Holland and Belgium, this name was changed after the Dutch fashion into Goet Hals (good or stiff{165} neck), and became the family name of all that man’s descendants, who made it an honored name in Holland. When your ancestors came to America they hoped that it would become an honored name in the new country, and it must be your part to help bring that to pass.”

The boy’s eyes grew thoughtful. “For more than a thousand years it has been the name of brave men,” he repeated to himself. “But it is an American name now, isn’t it?” he added anxiously.

“Yes, son, it is just as American as it can be made,” his father returned with a laugh. “We call it Gō´thals,—there is nothing more truly American than a thing that has go, you know,—and we’ve given you the name of the first American to go with it.”

“I’ll show that an American Goethals can be as brave as any Dutch one,” George boasted.

“Strong hearts and brave deeds speak for themselves, son,” he was reminded, “and they are understood everywhere, whether the people speak Dutch, English, or Chinese.”

As the boy’s school-days went by, it seemed that he had made that truth his own. In his{166} studies he showed that common sense and thoroughness are better than mere dash and brilliancy. On the playground he let others do the talking, content to make his reply when he had his turn at the bat—or not at all. And the knightly baron of old who won the name of Good Neck could not have held up his head and faced his world with a stronger and more resolute bearing than did this American school-boy.

To those who knew him it was no surprise when he entered West Point; and it was no surprise to any one when he graduated second in his class.

“Of course, he wouldn’t be first,” one of his classmates said; “that would have been too showy for G. W. I don’t know any one to whom just the honor of a thing means less. He’s glad to have done a good job, and of course he’s glad to be one of the picked few to go into the engineer corps.”

As if unwilling to part with the young lieutenant, West Point kept him as an instructor for several months before sending him on to Willett’s Point, where he remained in the Engineering School of Application for two years.{167} He soon proved that he had the virtues of the soldier and the leader of men—loyalty and perseverance; loyalty, that makes a man able to take and give orders without becoming a machine or a tyrant; and perseverance, that makes him face each problem with the resolution to fight it out to the finish.

There were years when he was detailed to one task after another. Now it was the development of irrigation works for vast tracts of land in the West where only water was needed to make the section a garden spot of the continent. Then, when his system of ditches was fairly planned out, he was ordered off to cope with another problem, the building of dikes and dams along the Ohio River to curb the spring floods and to make the stream a dependable servant to man. Always he was “on the battle-front of engineering,” facing nature in her most obstinate moods and conquering obstacles that stood in the way of achievement.

Sometimes when he was sent to a new point on the firing-line, leaving others to carry his work to completion, he would say to himself a bit ruefully, “What would it be like, I wonder,{168} to stay by a job till the day of results?” But always his experience was the same. This year, orders took him to canal work along the Tennessee River; the next, perhaps, found him detailed to the work of coast fortifications at Newport. He was sent for a time to the Academy at West Point as instructor in civil and military engineering, and for a while he was stationed at Washington as assistant to the chief engineer of the army. Everywhere he showed a love of work for the work’s sake, a passion for a job well done. But what was rarer still, he showed a reach of understanding that was as broad as his practical grasp was firm. He always saw the relation between his own job and a greater whole.

“While he keeps his eye on the matter in hand, it doesn’t shut out a glimpse of the things of yesterday and to-morrow. That’s why he’s so reasonable and why his men will follow wherever he leads,” it was said.

When the Spanish-American war broke out he went to Porto Rico as chief engineer of the First Army Corps. There his initial task was to construct a wharf where supplies could be{169} landed, while a war vessel, which had been detailed for the purpose, stood guard over the operations. When the chief engineer looked at the heavy surf breaking on the beach his eye fell upon some flat-bottomed barges which had been captured by the warship, and a plan for quick and effective construction recommended itself on the instant.

“Fill the barges with sand, and sink them as a foundation for the wharf,” was his order.

Only one, however, had been so appropriated when the amazed admiral in command of the man-of-war sent his aide to direct the engineer to call a halt in his extraordinary proceedings.

“I am acting upon orders from my commanding officer and can take none from any one else,” replied Major Goethals, while the work with the second barge went on merrily. In a trice the aide returned with the warning that unless the orders were obeyed, the man-of-war would open fire on the rash offender.

“You’ll have to fire away, then,” was the reply, “for we shall not stop until we have completed the work we were sent here to do and landed the stores.”{170}

The admiral did not send a shot after his threat, but he did forward a complaint to the engineer’s commanding officer, who directed that lumber be employed instead of the barges.

Major Goethals sent back the reply that there was no lumber to be had, and, while the offended admiral darkly threatened a court-martial, completed the wharf.

“It was pretty uncomfortable during the time the admiral passed by without speaking, was it not?” a brother officer asked the major.

“Well—we landed the supplies,” returned the engineer, quietly, as if that was the only thing that mattered after all. As usual, he was content to let results speak for themselves.

All of the work that this master engineer had done up to this time, however, was really unconscious preparation for a mighty task that lay waiting for a man great enough to face with courage and commanding mind and will the difficulties and problems involved in the biggest engineering job in America, or, indeed, in the whole world—the digging of the Panama Canal. Ever since Columbus made his four voyages in{171} the vain hope of finding a waterway between the West and the East, ever since Balboa, “silent upon a peak in Darien,” gazed out over the limitless expanse of the Pacific, it had seemed as if man must be able to make for himself a path for his ships across the narrow barrier of land that nature had left there as a challenge to his powers. At first it seemed that it must be as simple as it was necessary to cut a canal through forty miles of earth, but time showed that the mighty labors of Hercules were but child’s play compared to this.

Before Sir Francis Drake, the daring pirate whom destiny and patriotism made into an explorer and an admiral, died in his ship off the Isthmus in 1596, a survey had been made of the trail along which the Spanish adventurers had been carrying the plunder of their conquests in South America across the narrow neck of land from the town of Panama to Porto Bello, where it could be loaded on great galleons and taken to Spain. For three centuries men of different nations—Spain, France, Colombia, and the United States—made surveys and considered various routes for a canal, but{172} when they came face to face with the project at close range, the tropical jungle and the great rocky hills put a check on their ventures before they were begun.

In 1875, however, when the Suez Canal was triumphantly completed by the French canal company it seemed as if Count de Lesseps, the hero of this enterprise, might well be the man to pierce the New World isthmus. Blinded by his brilliant success, the venerable engineer (de Lesseps was at this time seventy-five years old) undertook the leadership of a vast enterprise to dig a similar canal across Panama. A canal was a canal; an isthmus was an isthmus. Of course, the man who had made a way for ships through Suez could join the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific at Panama. No one seemed to realize that the digging of a ditch through one hundred miles of level, sandy desert was an entirely different problem from cutting a waterway through solid rock and removing mountains, to say nothing of diverting into a new channel the flow of a turbulent river and reconciling the widely different tides of two oceans.

Other engineers realized that the difficulties{173} in the way of a sea-level ditch were stupendous and that the lock canal was the type for Panama. Trusting, however, in the careless plans of Lieutenant Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse of the French Navy, who did not cover in his hasty survey more than two thirds of the territory through which the canal was to pass, Count de Lesseps estimated that the work could be completed for $120,000,000, and promised that in six years the long-sought waterway to the Pacific and the East would be open. None could doubt that the tolls paid by ships which would no longer be compelled to round Cape Horn in order to reach the western coast of the continents of North and South America, the islands of the Pacific, and the rich trading centers of the Orient, would repay tenfold the people who supplied the money for the great enterprise.

Trusting in the magic name of the engineer who had brought glory to France and wealth to those who had supported his Suez venture, thousands of thrifty people throughout France offered their savings in exchange for stock in the canal company. But the only persons who{174} ever made any money out of the enterprise were the dishonest men in high positions who took advantage alike of the unsuspecting optimism of de Lesseps and the faith of the public in his fame. They drew large salaries and lived like princes, while, for want of proper management the money expended for labor and machinery on the isthmus was for the most part thrown away. Many of the tools imported were suited to shoveling sand, not to removing rock. The matter of transportation for men and supplies seemed not to have been considered at all. And the engineers and workmen fell prey in large numbers to yellow fever and malaria, for at that time it was not known that the mosquito was responsible for the spread of these diseases. Even the splendid hospitals built by the French provided favorable breeding-places for the carriers of the fever germs.

The success of any large enterprise depends above everything else on the skilful handling of the problems of human engineering. For the quality of any work depends on the character of the workers. This means that a master of any great undertaking that involves the labor of{175} many must first of all be a master of men. The successful engineer of the Panama Canal had not only to secure the loyalty and coöperation of all the workers of many races and prejudices, but also to provide comfortable houses, wholesome food, and healthful living conditions, alike for body and mind, of his army of workers. The French did not know the country in which they worked—the difficulties and dangers it presented. They did not know the men who worked for them—their needs and how to meet them. They did not know the men they worked with—their inefficiency and graft and how to forestall them. The de Lesseps enterprise was, therefore, doomed to failure. After expending $260,000,000 (more than twice as much as the entire cost of Suez) in nine years, less than a quarter of the canal was dug and the chief problems, presented by the unruly Chagres River and the floods of the rainy season, were still untouched.

This is not the place to describe the disorderly retreat of the French forces, who hastily abandoned work and workers, tools and machines, like so much wreckage of a hopeless disaster.{176} Some of the rascals and swindlers were punished; many others escaped. The aged de Lesseps—acclaimed as a hero yesterday, denounced as a traitor to-day—died of a broken heart. Thousands of poor people lost their little savings and with them their hope of comfort in their old age. When the United States offered to pay forty million dollars for all that the French company had accomplished, and all that it possessed in the way of equipment, plans, and privileges, the stockholders were only too glad to close the bargain.

The whole story of how the United States went about this world job makes one of the most interesting chapters of our history. It is, however, “another story.” We cannot here go into the matter of how Panama became a republic independent of Colombia, and how the United States purchased for ten million dollars a strip of land ten miles wide, five miles on either side of the canal, across the isthmus. This Canal Zone is “as much the territory of the United States as the parade-ground at West Point,” the ports of Balboa and Cristobal are



Underwood & Underwood

Major Goethals, as Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission,
Washington, D. C., 1908

Underwood & Underwood
Major Goethals, as Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission, Washington, D. C., 1908


American, and the United States holds the right to enforce sanitary regulations in the cities of Panama and Colon at either end of the canal and to preserve order when the Panama authorities prove unequal to the task.

The shout went up from all over America: “Make the dirt fly! Show what the spirit of ‘get there’ and Yankee grit can do!” Of course, the temptation to produce immediate results was great. But the clear-seeing men in control said: “There must be no headlong rush this time. We will be content to make haste slowly and take steps to prevent the evils that have defeated those who have gone before. We must clean the cities, drain the swamps, make clearings in the rank growth of the jungles. We must make a place even in the tropics where health and happy human living are possible.”

But the “clean-up” slogan was not able alone to conquer the specter of disease. Yellow fever still haunted the sanitary streets and byways. Only through the heroism of brave men who loved their neighbors better than themselves{180} and who were willing to die that others might live was the secret learned. The experiments to which they gladly offered up their lives proved that the bite of a particular kind of mosquito was responsible for the spread of the disease, and that, if this insect could be destroyed, yellow fever would be destroyed with it. Colonel Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer, whose watchword was “First prevent, then curb, and, when all else fails, cure,” was the leader in the fight for healthful conditions on the isthmus.

But all this time we have been talking much about the battle-ground and little about the general who led the forces to victory.

It was clear that the time was ripe. The moment cried out for a man of power—one whose might as an engineer could command the forces of earth and ocean, and whose understanding of the even more difficult problems of human engineering would make him a true leader of men.

In 1905 Mr. Taft, who was at that time secretary of war, journeyed to Panama to see how the work was going forward and to plan for the fortifications of the canal. He took with{181} him an officer of engineers, a tall, vigorous man of forty seven, with gray hair, a strong, youthful, bronzed face, and clear, direct, blue eyes. No trumpet sounded before Major Goethals to announce the man of the hour—the one whom destiny and experience had equipped for the great work. He studied every phase of the giant enterprise, and, when he returned to Washington, prepared a report that showed not only a thorough understanding of every detail, but also a broad comprehension of the problems of the whole. His recommendation of a lock canal was submitted by the secretary of war to the President, and with it went Mr. Taft’s recommendation of Major Goethals for the position of chief engineer. Experience had proved that divided authority and changes in policy through changes in management were serious drawbacks.

“If I can find an army officer equal to the job, he will have to fight the thing out to the finish,” said President Roosevelt. “He must manage the work on the spot, not from an office in Washington. He must be given full power to act and to control; and he must be a man big{182} enough to realize that large authority means only large responsibility.”

After carefully considering Major Goethals’ record and reports and then talking with the man himself, the President became convinced that he had found the right chief for the work and the army of workers. But when it was generally known that an army officer was to command at Panama, people shook their heads. “The high-handed methods of the military will never succeed there,” they said. “Shoulder-straps cannot do the work!”

On the occasion of Major Goethals’ first appearance before his staff of engineers and other assistants it was very clear that they looked upon the departure of their late chief, Mr. Stevens, with regret that became keener as they anticipated the formality and rigors of military control. When it was the new leader’s turn to speak they faced him silently. Major Goethals stood tall and firm like a true descendant of the “Good Neck” of old, but he looked them in the eyes frankly and pleasantly.

“There will be no militarism and no salutes in Panama,” he said. “I have left my uniform in{183} moth-balls at home, and with it I have left behind military duties and fashions. We are here to fight nature shoulder to shoulder. Your cause is my cause. We have common enemies—Culebra Cut and the climate; and the completion of the canal will be our victory. I intend to be the commanding officer, but the chiefs of division will be the colonels, the foremen the captains, and no man who does his duty has aught to fear from militarism.”

Let us see how they went against the first enemy, Culebra Cut; the channel that was to be made through the formidable “peak in Darien” known as Culebra Mountain. It is only seven o’clock, but the chief engineer—Colonel Goethals, now—is at the station ready to take the early train.

“Suppose we walk through the tunnel,” he remarks. “You know the dirt-trains have right of way in Panama. We should hesitate to delay one even for the President of the United States or the Czar of all the Russias.”

At the end of the tunnel a car that looks like a limousine turned switch-engine is waiting on a siding for the “boss of the job.” Painted{184} light yellow, like the passenger-cars of the Panama Railroad, it is known among the men as the “Yellow Peril,” or the “Brain-wagon.” But if any one expects, as a matter of course, to see the colonel in the “Yellow Peril,” he is as likely as not doomed to disappointment. The chief engineer drops off, now to see men drilling holes for dynamite, now to watch the loading of the dirt-trains from the great steam-shovels.

As we see the solid rock and rocklike earth of Culebra we realize that without dynamite the canal would be impossible. Let us watch for a moment the tearing down of the “everlasting hill.” Deafening machine-drills pierce the rock or hard soil with holes from three to thirty or forty feet in depth. These holes, which have been carefully arranged so as to insure the greatest effect in an earth-quaking, rock-breaking way, are filled with dynamite and then connected with an electric wire so that the pressure of a button will set off the entire charge. A rumble and then a roar—the earth trembles—heaves—then great masses of rock, mud, and water are hurled high in the air. A fraction of {185}Culebra larger than a six-or seven-story building is frequently torn down by one of these explosions and the rock broken into pieces that can be seized by the steam-shovels and loaded on the dump-cars.

It is interesting to see how, through an ingenious arrangement of the network of tracks, the loaded cars always go on the down grade and only empty trains have to crawl up an incline. Much of the rock taken from the cut is used to build the great Gatun Dam, that keeps the troublesome Chagres River from flooding the canal. The rest goes to the construction of breakwaters at the ends of the waterway or to the filling of swamps and valleys.

The “brain-wagon” is going along without the head. He is climbing blithely over the roughest sort of ground, now dodging onrushing dirt-trains, now running to shelter with the “powder-men” at the moment of blasting. A question here, a word there, and on he goes. It seems as if even the steam-shovels know that there is a masterhand at the helm and vie with one another to see which can take up the most earth at a bite. You would think any man would be completely played out after such constant{186} jumping and climbing under the hot rays of a tropical sun, as the hours draw near to noon, but the colonel pulls up the long flight of steps that lead from the cut and remarks briskly, “Nothing like a little exercise every morning to keep your health in this climate!”

“There never was such a man for being on the job!” exclaimed one of his foremen, admiringly. “The only time the colonel isn’t working is from ten P.M. to five A.M., when he is asleep.”

No despotic monarch in his inherited kingdom ever had more absolute power than had the Man of Panama. The men from the chiefs of divisions down to the last Jamaican negro on the line realized that he was master of the business and that his orders sprang from a thorough understanding of conditions and a large grasp of the whole. He was a successful engineer, however, not only because he knew the forces of nature that they were working to conquer in Panama, but also the human nature he was working with. He knew that no chain is stronger than its weakest link, and that no matter how perfect his plans and how powerful his{187} huge machines and engines, the success he strove for would depend first of all on the character and the coöperation of the workers.

“The real engineer must above all feel the vital importance of the human side of engineering work,” he declared. “The man who would move mountains and make the flow of rivers serve human ends must first be a master of human construction.”

He knew that if there were to be able and willing workers in Panama, they must be provided with the means of comfortable and contented living. It was not enough to defeat death in the form of plague and fever; it was necessary to make life worth while. For man could not live by work alone in a land of swamps and jungles. Houses with screened porches, with gardens, and all the comforts and conveniences to be found at home were provided for the five thousand American engineers, clerks, and foremen. Ships with cold-storage equipment brought food supplies from New York or New Orleans, and every morning a long train of refrigerator-cars steamed across the isthmus carrying{188} fresh provisions to all the hotels, town commissaries, and camps.

“You needn’t pity us because we live in the Zone,” said Mrs. Smith. “We get just as good meat and green vegetables as you can in market and at wholesale prices. Our house is rent free, with furniture, linen, and silverware provided. We have electric lights and a telephone. We even have ice-cream soda and the movies!”

The Man of Panama knew that all work and no play would not only make Jack a dull boy, but also a poor workman. Recreation buildings were provided where one could enjoy basket-ball, squash, bowling, or read the latest books and magazines. There were clubs for men and for women, band concerts, and a baseball league.

“The colonel not only gave time and thought to the things that kept us contented and fit,” one of the engineers said, “but he always had time for everybody who felt he wanted a word with him. The man who was handling the biggest job in the world nevertheless seemed to think it was worth while to consider the little{189} troubles of each man who came along. Have you heard the song they sing in Panama?

“Don’t hesitate to state your case, the boss will hear you through;
It’s true he’s sometimes busy, and has other things to do,
But come on Sunday morning, and line up with the rest,—
You’ll maybe feel some better with that grievance off your chest.
See Colonel Goethals, tell Colonel Goethals,
It’s the only right and proper thing to do.
Just write a letter, or, even better,
Arrange a little Sunday interview.”

The colonel’s Sunday mornings were remarkable occasions. You might see foregathered there the most interesting variety of human types that could be found together anywhere in the world—English, Spanish, French, Italians, turbaned coolies from India, and American negroes. One man thinks that his foreman does not appreciate his good points; another comes to present a claim for an injury received on a steam-shovel. Mrs. A. declares with some feeling that she is never given as good cuts of meat as Mrs. B. enjoys every day. Another housewife doesn’t see why, if Mrs. F. can get bread from the hospital bakery, she can’t as well; because{190} she, too, can appreciate a superior article!

“Of course, many of the things are trivial and even absurd,” said the colonel; “but if somebody thinks his little affair important, of course it is—to him. And that is the point, isn’t it? He feels better when he has had it out; and if it makes the people any happier in their exile to have this court of appeal, that is not a thing to be despised. Besides, first and last. I come to understand many things that are really important from any point of view.”

“He is the squarest boss I ever worked for,” declared one of the locomotive engineers, “and I’ll tell you the grafters don’t have any show with him. He had a whole cargo of meat sent back the other day because it wasn’t above suspicion. I happen to know, too, that he turned back a load of screening on a prominent business house who thought that they could save a bit on the copper—that for a government order it would never be noticed if it was not quite rust-proof.”

The canal was finished not only in less time than had ever been thought possible, but also{191} with such honest and efficient administration of every detail that nowadays, when the statement is sometimes made that no great public enterprise can be carried through without more or less mismanagement and jobbing, the champion of Uncle Sam’s business methods retorts, “Look at Panama!”

The colonel’s quiet mastery in moments of stress was perhaps the most interesting phase of his human engineering. The representatives of a labor union threaten a strike unless he orders the release of one of their number who has been convicted of manslaughter. “When will we get our answer?” asked the spokesman.

“You have it now,” replied Colonel Goethals. “You said that if the man was not out of the penitentiary by seven this evening you would all quit. By calling up the penitentiary you will learn that he is still there. That is your answer. It is now ten minutes past seven.”

“But, Colonel, you don’t want to tie up the whole work?” protested the leader.

“I am not proposing to tie up the work—you are doing that,” was the reply.{192}

“But, Colonel, why can’t you pardon the man?”

“I will take no action in response to a mob. As for your threat to leave the service, I wish to say that every man of you who is not at his post to-morrow morning will be given his transportation to the United States, and there will be no string to it. He will go out on the first steamer and he will never come back.”

There was only one man who failed to report the following day, and he sent a doctor’s certificate stating that he was too ill to be out of bed.

Human engineering was especially called into play when the Man of Panama faced committees of inquiry and investigation from Congress. A pompous politician once demanded in a challenging tone and with a sharp eye on the colonel, “How much cracked stone do you allow for a cubic yard of concrete?”

“One cubic yard,” was the reply.

“You evidently do not understand my question,” rejoined the investigator in the manner of one who is bent on convicting another through his own words. “How much cracked stone do you allow for a cubic yard of concrete?”{193}

“One cubic yard.”

“But you don’t allow for the sand and concrete.” The implied accusation was spoken with grave emphasis.

“Those go into the spaces among the cracked stone,” was the unruffled reply. The smile that went around the room was felt rather than heard, but the pompous politician had no further questions.

This master of men, who was never known to yield his ground when he had once taken a stand, was always a man of few words. He preferred to let acts and facts do the talking.

“You know, Colonel Goethals,” said a prominent statesman on one occasion, “a great many people think we are never going to carry this job through to the finish. What would you say when diplomats of the leading powers come at you with questions and declare it will never be done?”

“I wouldn’t say anything,” was the reply.

On another occasion the boss of the job said: “Some day in September, 1913, I expect to go to Colon and take the Panama Railroad steamer and put her through the canal. If we get all{194} the way across, I’ll give it out to the newspapers—if we don’t, I’ll keep quiet about it.”

It was said of old that if one had faith enough he could move mountains. We cannot doubt that the Man of Panama carried through his great work because he had faith—not a passive faith that hoped and waited, but an active faithfulness that worked in full confidence that destiny worked with him. And this faith and loyalty was a living power that enkindled like faithfulness in those who worked with him.

The Man of Panama is General Goethals now, but when any admirer would imply that his generalship—his administration and human engineering—was the chief factor in the success of the great work, he invariably replies that he was but one man of many working shoulder to shoulder in a common cause. The simple greatness of the “prophet-engineer” and leader of men was shown in the words with which he accepted the medal of the National Geographic Society:

“The canal has been the work of many, and it has been the pride of Americans who have visited the isthmus to find the spirit which has{195}

Photo by Brown Bros.

The “Man of Panama” at Panama

Photo by Brown Bros.
The “Man of Panama” at Panama



animated the forces. Every man was doing the particular part of the work that was necessary to make it a success. No chief of any enterprise ever commanded an army that was so loyal, so faithful, that gave its strength and its blood to the successful completion of its task as did the canal forces. And so in accepting the medal and thanking those who confer it, I accept it and thank them in the name of every member of the canal army.”

Since the completion of the canal, its master-builder has been called to serve his country in more than one great crisis. At the time of the threatened railroad strike in the fall of 1916, he was made chairman of the commission of three appointed by President Wilson to investigate the working of the eight-hour law for train operators, which was the subject of dispute between the managers of the roads and the men who ran the freight-trains. In March, 1917, he was selected by Governor Edge of New Jersey to serve as advisory engineer on the construction of the new fifteen-million-dollar highway system of that State.




“Love is a bodily shape; and Christian works are no more than animate faith and love, as flowers are the animate springtide.”



HAVE you heard the story of Offero, the mighty giant of Canaan, who made a vow never to serve any master but the most powerful of all the rulers of earth?

“As my strength is great, so shall my service be great,” he said, “and my king must be one who stands in fear of no man.”

He wandered over all lands, looking in vain for the greatest monarch, for each king plainly stood in dread of some other power. At length, however, he was told by a holy hermit that the King of kings was an invisible Lord who reigned through love in the hearts of men.

“How can I serve him?” asked Offero.

“You must fast and pray,” answered the hermit.

“Nay,” cried Offero, “not so! For I should then lose my strength which is all that I have to bring to his service.”

For a moment the holy hermit prayed silently{202} to be given wisdom. Then his face shone as if from a light within.

“There is a river over which many poor people must cross,” he said, “and there is no bridge. The current is often so swift and treacherous at the ford that even the strongest are swept from their feet and lost. With your great strength you could help one and all to safety. It would be a work of love—meet service for the Lord of Love.”

And so Offero, the giant, built him a little hut by the side of the stream and dwelt there all his days, lending his strength to all who needed it in the name of the unseen King whom he served. It is said that one night in a wild storm a little child came praying to be carried across. Now, for the first time, Offero knew what weakness and faltering meant. He staggered and all but fell in the foaming current.

“Oh, little child,” he cried out as he stumbled, panting and spent, to the farther bank, “never before have I borne such a weight! I felt as if I were carrying the whole world on my shoulders!”

“And well you might, strong one,” said the{203} child, “for you have this night carried the Master whom you serve. Henceforth your name shall be not Offero but Christopher, which means one who has carried Christ.”

And the good giant was called Saint Christopher from that day. You have perhaps seen pictures of him, for more than one great artist has tried to paint the story of his faithful service of love.

We are going to hear to-day the story of a strong man of our own time, who, like Offero of old, vowed to serve with his strength the greatest Master of all—the King of kings. The tale of his life began November 20, 1856, when Peter Trimble Rowe was born in Toronto, Canada. He was a tall, sturdy lad, who early learned to laugh at cold weather and strenuous days in the open. The more wintry it was without, the more glowing the warmth within his hardy, alert body. If you had met him as he returned from a holiday afternoon spent on snow-shoes, your pulses would have throbbed in sympathy with his happy, tingling vigor. You would have felt as if you had “warmed both hands before the fire of life.”{204}

He had bright Irish eyes, a ready Irish laugh, and the merry heart that belongs with them. His heart was, moreover, as warm as it was glad. He laughed with people, not at them; and he had a quick understanding of their troubles and difficulties as well as of the fun that lay near the surface of things. This means that his heart caught the beat of other hearts, and that he early learned the lessons that love alone can teach.

It was while he was still a student that he decided what his life work must be. “Man cannot live by bread alone”—these words had a very vital meaning for him. There were many in the world, he knew, who spent all their days struggling for bread, as if that alone could satisfy their longing for life. Very simply he said to himself: “I must use my strength to help where help is most needed. I must go to the far-off, frontier places where people live and die without light and without hope.”

As soon as he had graduated from Trinity College, Toronto, and was ordained a minister of the church, he went as missionary to an Indian tribe on the northern shore of Lake Huron.{205} In caring for this wild, neglected flock the young shepherd needed all his splendid, vigorous health and hardihood. He went around in summer drought and winter storm, often sleeping by a camp-fire or in an Indian wigwam, in order that he might bring the light of a new hope into the dark lives of these first Americans.

“The Indians have learned little good from the white men or from civilization,” he said ruefully. “They have acquired some of our weaknesses and diseases—that is about all.”

He longed to bring to them in exchange for the old free life in their vast forests and broad prairie country, a new freedom of the spirit that should enable them to understand and use the good things in the white man’s world. Do you think that he tried to do this through preaching? He really did not preach at all. He lived with the people and talked to them as a friend who was ready to share what he had with others on the same trail.

Do you remember Emerson’s much-quoted challenge?—“My dear sir, what you are speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you are{206} saying.” What a person is will always be heard above what he says. In the case of Mr. Rowe, the strong, self-reliant, sympathetic, kindly spirit of the man ever talked with a direct appeal to his people. He tramped and hunted, canoed and fished with them, and shared with them the fortunes of the day around the evening camp-fire. No one had a cheerier word or a heartier laugh. They were ready to hear all that he had to tell them of the things that make life happier and better, and of the Master he served, who loved his red children no less than the white.

When the work was well under way on the Indian reservation, the young man accepted the call to a new field at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Here he had again the challenge and inspiration of pioneer work. There were six members of his church when he took charge; when, ten years later, he left his flock to another pastor it numbered two hundred and fifty. He had, moreover, pushed out into the surrounding country and established missions at several different points. He was sure that his strength and endurance, his power to conquer cold, fatigue,{207} and other unfriendly conditions, should be used in the greatest cause of all—in going “to seek and save those that are lost” in the wild places of the earth.

“I love battling with wind and weather and pulling against the stream,” he used to say. “I was born tough, and it’s only common sense to put such natural toughness to some real use.”

So it was that, like Saint Christopher, he was resolved to serve his King with his strength.

In 1895, when a bishop was wanted to take charge of the great unexplored field of all Alaska—scattered white men who had gone there for fish, furs, or gold; Indian tribes in the vast, trackless interior; and Eskimos in the far North within the Arctic Circle—people said without hesitation, “Mr. Rowe is the man to go as shepherd to that country.”

A bishop, you know, is an “overseer,” one who is responsible for the welfare of the people of a certain district or diocese, as it is called. He is a sort of first shepherd, who has general charge of all the flocks (churches and missions),{208} and who tries to provide for those that are without care. The man to undertake this work in Alaska would have to be one of the hardy, patient explorer-missionaries, like Father Marquette, who in 1673 traveled in a birch canoe through the Great Lakes and along the Mississippi, ministering to the Indians and making a trail through the New World wilderness.

Alaska is an Indian word which means “the Great Country.” It is, indeed, not one but many lands. Most people think of it as a wild, snow-covered waste, whose arctic climate has been braved by white men only for the sake of its salmon, seals, and later for the gold that was found hidden away in its frost-locked soil. The country along the Pacific coast is warmed by the Japan current just as the British Isles are by the Gulf Stream, and its climate is milder in winter and cooler in summer than that of New England. It is a land of wonderful, inspiring beauty, with lordly, snow-crowned mountain peaks; forests of enchanting greenness bordering clear, deep fiords; and fields bright with poppies, bluebells, wild roses, and other flowers of the most vivid coloring. The{209} interior, through which flows the Yukon, that great highway of Alaska, is much colder, but it is only the northern portion reaching into the Polar Sea that has the frigid conditions that many people associate with “the Great Country.”

When in early April, Bishop Rowe took the steamer from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska, he found that two hundred of his fellow passengers were bound for the newly discovered gold fields. Many of them were fine, rugged fellows who loved strenuous endeavor better than easy, uneventful days. Some few of them were “rolling stones” of the sort that would make trouble anywhere.

“When I looked forward to what might be done for the lonely settlers and forlorn natives in Alaska,” said Bishop Rowe, “I did not at first realize that an important part of the work would be with the great army of gold-seekers who suddenly find themselves in the midst of hardships, disappointments, and temptations that they have never known before.”

Of course the men on board were anxious to learn everything they could about the “Great{210} Country.” Each person who had been to Alaska before was surrounded by a group of eager questioners.

“It is the richest country on God’s earth,” declared a merchant. “There are no such hauls of salmon and halibut anywhere else. Why, the fisheries alone are worth more in one year than the paltry sum of $7,200,000 that we paid Russia for Alaska. And think how the people in America made fun of Seward for urging the purchase. Said it was fit for nothing but a polar bear picnic grounds.”

“Wasn’t it hinted that the United States was paying Russia in that way for her friendship during the Civil War—by offering to take a frozen white elephant off her hands and giving her a few million dollars into the bargain?” asked another.

“Yes,” rejoined a man who was evidently a hunter, “and we’re just beginning to wake up to the bargain we have. I’ve been there before for the sport—bear, moose, caribou. You never knew such a happy hunting ground for the chap who goes in for big game. But now I’m for the gold fields. And, believe me, I’ve{211} the start of you other fellows in knowing what I’m up against. There are no Pullman sleepers where we are going, let me tell you. We’ll have to make our own trails over snow-covered mountains, across glaciers, and through cañons, but the prize is there, boys, for those who have the grit to win out.”

“You talk about knowing Alaska,” put in another, scornfully, “and you see there nothing but fish, big game, and the chance to find some of the yellow dust that drives men mad. It’s a fairer land than you have ever even dreamed of, with greener pines and nobler fiords than Norway can show, and mountains more sublime than the Alps. Do you know it’s a country that will feed a people and give them homes where the air is fresh and fragrant with snow, sunshine, and flowers? You hunters and fishers and prospectors who go to Alaska just to make money and then run away to spend it, make me tired. You look upon that magnificent country—white man’s country, if there ever was such—as nothing but so much loot.”

“You fellows remind me of the story of the blind men and the elephant,” said Bishop{212} Rowe, with his hearty laugh. “You remember how one felt a tusk and said the creature was just like a spear, while the one who touched the side said it was a wall, and the last beggar who chanced to get hold of the tail said it was like a rope. There is evidently more than one Alaska, and each one knows only the country that he has seen. We shall soon see for ourselves—what we shall see.”

Of all the men who landed at Juneau, Bishop Rowe was in a sense the only real Alaskan, for he alone intended to make his home in the country. Even the man who had called it “white man’s country” was going there in the character of tourist-reporter to take away impressions of its marvelous scenery; its inspiring contrasts of gleaming, snow-capped peaks and emerald watersides vivid with many-colored blossoms; its picturesque Indian villages with their grotesque totem poles; its gold “diggings” with their soldiers of fortune.

Everybody was busy getting together the necessary outfit for the journey on the trail across the coast range to the Yukon, along which the adventurers made their way to Circle{213}

Courtesy of Rev. C. E. Betticher

Bishop Peter T. Rowe

Courtesy of Rev. C. E. Betticher
Bishop Peter T. Rowe



City, a mining center eight hundred and fifty miles from Juneau.

On April 22, the bishop, with one companion, left the seaport for his first journey in the land of his adoption. Sometimes he was climbing steep mountains where he had to dig out with his stick a foothold for each step; sometimes he was walking through narrow cañons not more than twelve or fourteen feet in width, where overhanging rocks and snow slides threatened to crush him; sometimes he was creeping along the edge of cliffs so high and sheer that he dared not trust himself to look down; sometimes he was treading warily over the frozen crust of a stream whose waters seethed and roared ominously beneath the icy bridge.

As he pushed on, hauling his heavy sled (it weighed, with the camping outfit and provisions, four hundred and fifty pounds), you can imagine that he had an appetite for his dinner of toasted bacon and steaming beans. Sometimes his gun would bring down a wild duck to vary this hearty fare.

He knew what it was, however, to be too tired to eat or sleep. That was when he was felling{216} trees and whipsawing the logs into boards for a boat. The men who had promised to furnish him with transportation as soon as the ice was broken up had not kept their agreement, and he faced the open season with no means of continuing his journey.

“If you’ll just camp here with us fellows for a spell, comrade,” said the men in whose company he found himself at Carabou Crossing, “we’ll all pitch in and give you a day’s help when we’ve got our own lumber sawed.”

Then the good-natured miners had a shock of genuine surprise. The preacher whom they proposed to pull out of his difficulty proved that he was neither a tenderfoot nor a shirker.

“I think I’ll see what I can do for myself before I ask you men to come to the rescue,” he said.

The blows of his ax resounded merrily as he put himself to his task. Then after the logs were rolled on the saw-pit he whipped out the lumber in something less than two days. When night came his muscles ached but his pulses sang.

“What a friend a tree is!” he said, smiling{217} happily at the leaping, crackling flames. “Here it is giving us a rousing fire and boughs for our beds, as well as lumber for our boats and gum and pitch to make them watertight.”

The rude but plucky little craft was finished and mounted on runners to take it to the place of launching before those who had volunteered to help him had their own lumber sawed. The rough men were much impressed. This missionary who was not above sharing their toil and hardships must have a message that was worth hearing. They gathered about him with respectful attention when he said:

“We’re hundreds of miles from a church here, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t feel the need of one, does it? Let’s have a service together about the camp-fire before we go on our way.”

The firelight shone on softened faces and earnest eyes as the gold seekers sat gazing up at the man who spoke to them simply and fearlessly of the treasures of the spirit which he that seeks will be sure to find.

“You men have given up comfort and friends and risked life itself to find your golden treasure,”{218} he said. “Some of you may win the prize you seek; many more may be doomed to disappointment. Will you not take with you something that will make you strong to bear either the temptations of success or the trials of failure? It is yours for the asking; only reach out your hand and you will touch it.

“ ’Tis heaven alone that is given away,
 ’Tis only God may be had for the asking.”

As Bishop Rowe talked, his hearers seemed to lean on his words as naturally as one leans on a trusty staff when the way is rough and steep. And when he had gone, much that he had said lingered with them through the feverish rush forward and the long desolate winter that followed, when the cracking ice and the howling wolves alone broke the awful stillness about their remote camp.

The steadfast faith and the cheerful endurance of our pioneer missionary were tried more than once as he drew his boat, which weighed with the load of provisions some 1400 pounds, over the frozen surface of a chain of lakes where he had to exercise ceaseless vigilance to avoid bad ice. Then there were three{219} days of ice breaking after the spring thaw was well under way before he could begin to paddle with the stream.

It was now the pleasantest time of the year—the time of the long days when you can almost see the grasses and flowers shoot up as they take advantage of every moment of life-giving sunshine. The warm wind brought the smell of clover and the voice of leaping water-falls. It seemed as if one could taste the air; it was so fresh with the pure snow of the heights and so golden-sweet with sunshine and opening blossoms.

The paddler on the Yukon, however, cannot become too absorbed in the beauties by the way. There are dangerous rapids and unexpected cross currents that require a steady head and a strong hand, and the new bishop frequently had reason to be grateful for the skill in canoeing that he had won in his camping days in Canada.

If he had been out for game he would have found more than one opportunity for a good shot. There were brown bears looking at him from the brush along the banks, and bears fishing{220} for salmon in the swift water. Sometimes he caught a glimpse of an antlered moose among the trees, and now and then he saw an eagle swoop down to seize a leaping fish in its claws. Flocks of ducks with their funny, featherless broods scurried over the water, disturbed by the sudden appearance of the canoe.

The bishop visited the Indian villages along the stream, as well as the missions that had been planted at various points to minister to the natives. Imagine what his cheering presence meant to the lonely workers in the wilderness. As he went along he was planning how best he might meet the needs of the people with new missions, hospitals, and schools.

“Why is it that all you tough, rough-riding Alaskan fellows set such store by this Bishop Rowe?” a man from Fairbanks was asked.

“Well, for one thing his works have not been in words but in deeds,” was the reply. “Let me tell you how it was with us when he came over the ice from Circle City in the winter of 1903. He looked us over and saw the thing we most needed. He saw no dollars, either in sight or in the future. He saw only that a poor{221} lot of human creatures, up against a dead-hard proposition, needed a hospital. ‘You have the ground,’ said he; ‘you raise half the money and I will leave the other half for the building. Then I will take care of the nurses, medicines, and everything else you need.’ Of course he is for his church, but he and his church are always for their people—and their people are any that fare over the trail.”

It was soon said of this master missionary that he was “the best musher in Alaska,” “Mush!” or “Mush on!” is the cry that the men on the winter trails give to their dog teams. It is, perhaps, a corruption of the French word marchons, which means “Go on!” There is seldom a winter when Bishop Rowe does not travel from one to two thousand miles with his team of six huskies to visit his people.

Do you picture him sitting comfortably wrapped in fur robes on the sledge while the dogs pull him as well as the store of food for the six weeks’ journey on which he is bound? Look again! There he is walking on snow-shoes ahead of the team leader; he is “breaking trail” for the dogs who have all they can do{222} to drag the laden sled. In order to lighten their load he selects a tree at each camping-place to serve as a landmark, and hides there a store of food for the return trip.

“That is a plan that works well unless the sly wolverines manage to get on the scent of the cache,” he said. “But you must go as light as possible when you travel over a waste of snow, and are forced at times to cover forty miles a day. It is a trip that takes all the unnecessary fat off you; and you get as strong as a mule and as hungry as a bear.”

You would think that the mountain climbing, canoeing, and marching on snow-shoes which are part of his yearly round would be all that he could possibly need to take off the “unnecessary fat” and keep him in the “pink of training.” The winter trip with the dog sledge, however, brings many situations when life itself depends upon one’s physical fitness. In preparation for those journeys, the bishop goes through a regular series of exercises—long distance running, hill-climbing, and even jumping rope. The following extract from one of his diaries kept during a six weeks’ trip over{223} the Arctic waste when mountains and valleys alike were muffled in a white silence, and all the streams were voiceless, spell-bound rivers of ice, will show what making the rounds in the diocese of all Alaska means:

Our sled was loaded with robes, tent, stove, axes, clothing, and food for sixteen days for dogs and selves. Wind blew the snow like shot in our faces. I kept ahead of the dogs, leading them, finding the way. We had to cross the wide river; the great hummocks made this an ordeal; had to use the ax and break a way for the dogs and sled. In the midst of it all the dogs would stop; they could not see; their eyes were closed with the frost; so I rubbed off the frost and went on. The time came when the dogs would—could—no longer face the storm. I was forced to make a camp. It was not a spot I would choose for the purpose. The bank of the river was precipitous, high, rocky, yet there was wood. I climbed one hundred feet and picked out a spot and made a campfire. Then returned to the sled, unharnessed the dogs, got a “life line,” went up and tied it to a tree by the fire. By means of this we got up our robes and sufficient food. Here after something to eat we made a bed in the snow.... It was a night of shivers. Froze our faces.

After a sleepless night we were up before daybreak. It was still blowing a gale; had some breakfast; tried to hitch the dogs, but they would not face the storm, so I resigned myself to the situation and remained in camp. It was my birthday, too. I kept busy chopping wood for the fire.... In carrying a heavy log down the side of the mountain, I tripped, fell many feet, and injured shoulder slightly.{224}

After another cold and shivering night we found the wind somewhat abated and without breakfast hitched up the dogs, packed sled, and were traveling before it was light.... Early in the day while piloting the way I encountered bad ice, open water, broke through and got wet. After that I felt my way with ax in hand, snow-shoes on feet, until it grew dark. In the darkness I broke through the ice and escaped with some difficulty....

A worker in a lonely frontier post where there were plentiful discouragements once said: “When I am tempted to think that I am having a hard time I just think of Bishop Rowe. Then I realize that it is possible to feel that creature comforts are not matters of first importance. How splendidly he proves that a man can rise above circumstances, and still march on and laugh on no matter what may be happening about him or to him!”

We have seen how the Bishop of Alaska fares in winter when the world is a vast whiteness save only for the heaving dark of the sea; when the avalanches are booming on the mountains; when the winds are sweeping through the cañons, and all the air is filled with ice-dust. What can he accomplish through these journeys that he should forego all comfort and risk life itself?{225}

First, he brings light and cheer to the homesick miners—to the dull-eyed, discouraged men who have struggled and toiled without success, and to the excited, watchful ones who fear to lose what they have won.

“Where are all the people going?” asked a stranger in Fairbanks one Sunday.

“Bishop Rowe is here,” replied the hotel clerk smilingly. “Everybody turns out when he comes to town. You see,” he added thoughtfully, “he somehow knows what a man needs no matter where he is or what he is. There is something that goes home to each one who listens.”

But the adventurers from civilization are not the bishop’s chief care. His first thought is for the Indians and Eskimos, who, if they have gained somewhat, have suffered much through the coming of the white men to their shores.

“Our people have for the most part been consistently engaged in plundering Alaska,” he said. “We have grown rich on its salmon and furs, while the natives who formerly had plenty feel the pinch of famine and cold. We take from the country everything we can get and{226} even make the Indians pay a tax on the trees they cut down; but we do nothing for the land in the way of building roads and bridges, or for the people in the way of protecting them from the evils that the coming of the white men has brought upon them.”

In so far as it lies in his power, the bishop tries to atone for this despoiling of Alaska by working whole-heartedly for the natives—teaching them more wholesome ways of living, giving them food and medicine in times of distress, providing sawmills to give them work, introducing reindeer to supply clothing in the place of the seals that are fast disappearing, and building churches, schools, and hospitals. He has, besides, gone to Washington and described to the President and the lawmakers the pitiable state of the Alaskan Indians, and pleaded for reservations where they could first of all be taught how to maintain health under the new conditions of life that have been forced upon them, and then given suitable industrial training and the chance of earning a livelihood. The laws that have been passed to secure fair play for the original Alaskans have been won largely{227} through the persistent and effective championship of Bishop Rowe.

See him as he journeys down the Yukon in a scow loaded with lumber for a mission building. He has with him just one helper and three little Indian children whom he is taking to a school at Anvik. At night he is at the bow, watching to guard against the dangers of the stream. Sometimes the children wake up and cry when a great slide from the bank—tons on tons of rock and earth—shoots into the river with a terrific boom. Sometimes, when the hooting of an owl or the wail of a wild beast pierces the stillness they huddle together, too frightened to make a sound. Then the good bishop stoops over and pats them on the head kindly, saying a comforting word or two which reminds them that nothing can possibly harm them while he is near.

A storm of rain and wind that lasts all night and all the next day drenches them through and through. The children, who are wet and cold, creep close to their friend. “Etah, etah” (my father), they say, looking up at him pitifully. In a flash he remembers that not far off is a{228} deserted log cabin which he chanced to find on a previous journey. Making a landing, they follow him along the bank and at nightfall reach the blessed shelter. Here they build a rousing fire and dry their clothes. As they sit about the blazing logs they fancy that all the sunbeams that had shone upon the growing tree are dancing merrily in the flames. The next morning the sun comes out as if to make up for all the stormy days and nights that have ever vexed weary travelers, and they go on their way with renewed courage.

“The two qualities most needed in Alaska,” said Bishop Rowe, “are an instinct for finding one’s way, and bulldog grit.” He certainly has these two requisites, as well as “animate faith and love.” Wherever he goes—to remote Indian villages or Eskimo igloos; to deserted mining centers whose numbers have dwindled from thousands to a forlorn score; to thriving cities like Sitka, Nome, and Fairbanks, which have electric lights, telephones, and many of the luxuries as well as the comforts of civilization—he brings a message of hope. To those who hunger without knowing what they lack, he{229} brings the Bread of Life—the glad tidings of a God of love.

In 1907, it was decided to transfer Bishop Rowe from his frontier post to Colorado. “You have served faithfully where the laborers are few and the hardships are many,” it was said. “You must now guard your powers for a long life of service.”

“I appreciate with deep gratitude the kindness,” replied the missionary bishop, “but I feel that in view of present conditions I must decline the honor of the transfer and continue in Alaska, God helping me.”

So the Shepherd of “the Great Country” is faithful to his charge and his flock, asking not a lighter task but rather greater strength for the work that is his. Like the giant-saint of the legend, he serves with his might the unseen King who reigns through love in the hearts of men.




A tool is but the extension of a man’s hand, and a machine is but a complex tool. And he that invents a machine augments the power of man and the well-being of mankind.

Henry Ward Beecher.


A BOY was lying on his back in a clover-sweet pasture, looking up dreamily at the white clouds that were drifting about on the calm blue sea of the sky. The field sloped down to the beach, and the salt breath of the ocean came to him on the passing breeze. All at once his eye was caught by something that made him start up suddenly, all alert attention. It was a sea-gull rising into the air, its wings flashing white in the bright sunshine.

“How does he do it?” he said aloud. “How is it that he can float about like that without any effort? It is just when he begins to mount into the air that he flaps his wings; now he is hardly moving them at all. He seems to be held up by the air just as a kite is!”

This was not the first time that young Samuel Langley had watched the flight of the sea-gulls.{234} And the sight of a hawk circling above the tree-tops could always set him a-staring.

“There must be something about the air that makes it easy,” he pondered. “The birds know the secret, but I can’t even guess it!”

That night at dinner the boy was more than usually thoughtful.

“Father,” he said after a long silence, “don’t you think it might be possible for people to make some sort of an airship thing to sail through the air, without any gas bag to carry it up?”

“Have you heard that there is such a thing as the law of gravity, son?” quizzed the father, banteringly. “What goes up must come down, you know.”

“But, Father,” the boy persisted, “the hawks and gulls are much heavier than the air. There is nothing of the balloon sort about them.”

“But they have wings, my boy, and they know how to fly,” returned Mr. Langley, looking at the lad’s puckered brow with amused indulgence.

“Well, Father,” retorted Sam, flushing under{235} the teasing smiles that were directed at him, “I’m sure it’s not such a joke after all. Why shouldn’t people learn how to make wings and to fly?”

“Come down to earth, Samuel, and don’t get too far from the ground in your wonderings,” advised his father. “There are enough problems on the good old earth to keep you busy. Your idea has not even the merit of being new and original. The myths of Greece tell us that ‘way back in the legendary past people envied the flight of birds. But all those who have tried to do the trick have, like Icarus who went too near the sun with his marvelous wax wings, come back to earth rather too abruptly for comfort.”

As the days went by, Samuel Langley did indeed turn his attention to other questions, but the problem suggested by the bird’s flight was not forgotten. Years afterward when he had become one of the most distinguished scientists of his time he used often to say: “Knowledge begins in wonder. Set a child to wondering and you have put him on the road to understanding.”{236}

He often liked to recall the days of his boyhood when he had first set his feet on the path that led to the great interests which made his life.

“There are two incidents—little chance happenings, you might call them, if you believe in chance—” he said, “which took root and grew with the years. One was my discovery of the fascinations of my father’s telescope. I remember watching the workmen lay the stones of Bunker Hill Monument through that glass. It taught me the joy of bringing far-away things into intimate nearness. I learned that the man who knows how to use the magic glasses of science can say, ‘Far or forgot to me is near!’ ”

The great scientist smiled musingly to himself; he seemed to have slipped away from his friend and the talk of the moment. Was he back in his boyhood when he first looked at the moon’s face through his magic glass, or was he pondering over some new problem concerning sun spots which was puzzling learned astronomers the world over?

“What was the other incident you spoke of, Professor?” reminded his companion timidly,{237} for it was not easy to get Dr. Langley to speak about himself, and the spell of this rare hour might easily be broken.

“What is it?—oh, yes,” he went on, picking up the thread, “the other epoch-making time of my young life was the lazy hour when I lay stretched out in an open field watching the flight of the hawks and gulls circling overhead. I noted that their wings were motionless except when they turned them at a different angle to meet a new current of wind. I began then dimly to suspect that the invisible ocean of the air was an unknown realm of marvelous possibilities. It may be that that idle holiday afternoon had more to do with the serious work of the after years than the plodding hours devoted to Latin grammar.”

Samuel Langley had a mind of the wondering—not the wandering—sort. Everything that he saw set him to questioning, comparing, and reasoning. When he noticed the curious way in which nature has made many creatures so like the place in which they live that they can easily hide from their enemies, he said to himself: “It is strange that the insects which{238} live in trees are green, while those that live on the ground are brown. It must be that the ones who were not so luckily colored were quickly picked off, and that only those that can hide in this clever way are able to hold their own.” When he noticed that brightly colored flowers were not so fragrant as white ones, he said, “The sweet blossoms don’t need gay colors to attract their insect friends.” When he saw early spring vegetables growing in a hotbed, he said: “How does that loose covering keep them warm? There must be something that makes heat under there.” Years later he said, “I believe the questions that I kept putting to myself every time I went by a certain garden not far from our house marked the starting-point of my investigations into the work of the sun’s rays in heating the earth. The day came when the idea flashed upon me that the air surrounding our planet acts just like a hotbed, conserving enough warmth to make possible the conditions of life we require.”

Everything in Samuel Langley’s world—animals, plants, rocks, air, and water—had its wonder story and its challenge. There was always{239} some question to be puzzled over. Science was not, however, the only passion of his early years. His delight in beauty was just as keen as his thirst for knowledge. He noted with loving appreciation the changing lights and shades of Nature’s face. He had an eye for “the look of things,” which means that he had something of a gift for drawing.

After completing the course of the Boston High School, he turned his attention to civil engineering and architecture. “I did not go to college because I had to think about paying my own way through life,” he said, “and I argued that a chap who was fond of mathematics and drawing should be able to do some good work in the way of building even if he did not succeed in laying the foundation of either fame or fortune. Besides, it seemed to me that while doing work that was not uninteresting, I should be near the things that were already part of my life; there would be chance and encouragement for further scientific study.”

Going to Chicago when he was twenty-three years of age, Mr. Langley worked for seven years in his chosen profession, gaining in addition{240} to a comfortable income, practical business experience and unusual skill in drafting. All this time his interest in scientific problems was pulling him away from the beaten path of practical achievement. His intellect was of the hardy, pioneer sort that longs to press on where man has never ventured—to make new paths, not to follow in the footsteps of others.

In 1864 the young scientist of thirty years determined upon a bold move. He definitely retired from his profession, returned to New England, and for three years devoted his time to building telescopes. He knew something of the magician’s joy as he planned and developed the special features of his “magic glasses.” The boy who had thrilled over the marvels of the starry heavens which his father’s telescope had revealed was alive within him, exulting to find that he could construct instruments many times more powerful.

“I have never outgrown my love of fairy books,” he said. “To one who spends his time with the wonders that science reveals, the immortal wonder tales of childhood seem truer than any other stories. I delight in the adventures{241} of the youth who had found the cap of invisibility; then I turn to my telescope which brings the invisible into the world that the eye knows. Children and men of science belong to the same realm; no one else has the proper appreciation of true magic.”

After his close work with the telescopes, this lover of marvels spent a happy year in Europe, visiting observatories, museums, and art galleries. It was at this time that he decided that astronomy was to be the serious business of his days, and art the chief delight of his hours of recreation. He was offered the place of assistant in the Harvard Observatory by Professor Winlock, in spite of the fact that he had had no university training.

“This self-made astronomer has a seeing eye, a careful hand, and the instinct for observation,” said Joseph Winlock approvingly. “Besides he has, if I am not mistaken, the imagination to use in a large and constructive way the facts that his experiments yield. He has the making of an original scientist.”

His feet once planted on the first round of the ladder of expert knowledge, advancement{242} was rapid. It might well seem to many passing strange that a man who had written nothing, discovered nothing, and who, moreover, had no brilliant university record behind him, should at once win recognition from the most learned specialists of the day.

“What was there about Langley that earned his rapid promotions?” it was asked.

“There was nothing that remotely hinted at influence or favoritism,” said one who knew him well. “He was impersonal and retiring to a degree. But he had in rare combination an open, alert mind and a capacity for hard work.”

After two years at the Harvard Observatory, he went to the Naval Academy at Annapolis as professor of mathematics and director of the observatory. A year later he accepted the professorship of astronomy and physics in the Western University at Pittsburg. For twenty years he filled this position and also that of director of the Allegheny Observatory, which under his leadership became the center of very important work.

When he took charge at the new observatory,{243} he found no apparatus for scientific observations beyond a telescope, and no funds available for the purchase of the absolutely necessary instruments. How was he to obtain the expensive tools which he required for his work?

“If I can show the practical importance of astronomical observations, the means will be forthcoming,” he said.

At this moment a wonderful inspiration came to the professor. In traveling about the country he had been strongly impressed with the need of some standard system of keeping time. He believed that science ought to be able to come to the rescue and bring order out of confusion.

“This is my chance,” he now said, as he looked about his empty observatory. “If I can prove to the managers of the Pennsylvania Railroad that I can furnish them with a time-keeping system that will do away with the inconvenience of changing time with every forty or fifty miles of travel and all the troublesome reckonings and adjustments which that entails, I feel assured that they will provide the equipment which I need.”{244}

It often happens that the learned masters of science are entirely removed in their interests and experience from the every-day world of business. They work in a sphere apart, and the offices of some practical middleman with an inventive turn of mind are required to make their discoveries of any immediate value. Professor Langley, on the contrary, had an appreciation of the demands of business, as well as the vital interests of science. He had lived in both worlds. Now, through his competent grasp of the needs of such a railroad center as Pittsburg, where the East and the West meet, he succeeded in working out a plan that was so sane and practical that it immediately recommended itself to the busy men in control of transportation problems. His observatory was provided with the apparatus for which he longed, and twice a day it automatically flashed out through signals, the exact time to all the stations on the Pennsylvania Railroad, a system controlling some eight thousand miles of lines. To Professor Langley, more than to any other person is due the effective regulation of standard time throughout the country.{245}

During the years of hard work at Pittsburg, Professor Langley was invited to join several important scientific expeditions. These were the holidays of his busy life. His efficient work as leader of a coast survey party to Kentucky in 1869 to observe an eclipse of the sun won for him the opportunity to join the government expedition to Spain to study the eclipse of 1870. In the summer of 1878, he took a party of scientists to Pike’s Peak, and that winter he went to Mt. Etna for some further experiments on the heights. An article called “Wintering on Mount Etna,” which appeared in the “Atlantic Monthly,” proved that he could not only do important work in original research but that he could also write about it in a way calculated to appeal to the average reader.

During these years Professor Langley devoted a great deal of time and thought to astrophysics. This science, which is sometimes called “the new astronomy,” is concerned with special heat and light problems of the heavenly bodies—more especially, of course, with investigations and measurements of the radiant energy of the sun. To carry on his experiments{246} he invented a wonderful electrical instrument called the bolometer, which is so delicately constructed for measuring heat that when one draws near to look at it the warmth of his face has a perceptible effect.

Professor Langley’s tests proved that the lantern of the fire-fly gives a cheaper form of light than is to be found anywhere else. Here Nature has demonstrated the possibility of providing illumination with no waste of energy in heat or in any other way. All the force goes into the light, while man’s devices for defeating darkness waste as much as ninety-nine per cent. of the energy consumed.

The Pittsburg years were rich in the joy of work well done, but they gave little of the inspiration and stimulus that comes from congenial companionship. For the most part, he had to content himself with the society of his book friends. The number of his solitary hours may be to a certain extent measured by the astonishing range of his reading.

“Why, Mr. Langley, I do believe you have read every book that ever was written!” said an admiring young lady on one occasion.



Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute

Samuel Pierpont Langley

Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute
Samuel Pierpont Langley


“Oh, no,” he replied dryly, with the hint of a twinkle in his eyes, “there are six that I have not read—as yet.”

In 1886, when he was offered the position of assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, he accepted without hesitation, because he felt that he would have a chance for association with his brother scientists.

The next year, when he had succeeded Professor Baird as head of the Institution, he at once inaugurated a change in the character of its publications. “If the Smithsonian is to live up to the ideal of its founder ‘in increasing knowledge among men,’ the written accounts of its work must be plain and interesting enough to appeal to people of ordinary education and intelligence,” he said.

It was largely due to his efforts that the National Zoölogical Park was created. “We must have not only live books but live specimens,” he said. “The stuffed and mounted creatures are well enough in their way, but they have monopolized too much attention.”

For a while there was a small zoo housed in cages and kennels almost under the eaves of{250} the Smithsonian offices, until sufficient interest could be aroused in Congress to secure a tract of land along Rock Creek for a national park. Here at last Professor Langley realized his dream of a pleasure-ground for the people, where there might be preserved in places like their natural haunts—on hillsides, in rocky caves, or along streams—specimens of the animal life of the world, which is in a large measure disappearing before the advance of man.

Remembering how his interest in scientific problems had begun in his childhood when he had stopped to wonder about the things that attracted his attention, Professor Langley fitted up a place in the Smithsonian especially for children. Opposite the front door, in a room bright with sunshine, singing birds, and aquariums of darting gold-fish, he put the sort of things that all boys and girls would like to see. There you may see the largest and smallest birds in the world, the largest and smallest eggs, and specimens of the birds that all children meet in their story-books, such as the raven, rook, magpie, skylark, starling, and nightingale. There, too, are all sorts of curious{251} nests; eggs of water birds that look like pebbles; insects that exactly mimic twigs or leaves, and so can hide in the most wonderful way; beautiful butterflies and humming-birds; and shells, coral, and all kinds of curious creatures from the bottom of the sea.

It is said that once a lady who sat next Professor Langley at a dinner-party and found him apparently uninterested in all her attempts at conversation, suddenly asked, “Is there anything at all, Mr. Wiseman, which you really care to talk about?”

The professor roused himself from his fit of abstraction with a start. Then he smiled and said, “Yes, two things—children and fairy-tales.”

It was the lady’s turn to look surprised and smile.

“Now I understand how you were able to make that Children’s Room so exactly what it should be,” she said. “Only some one who understood wonder and loved the wonderful could have done it!”

While Professor Langley was working in this way to make the institution of which he was{252} head a greater power for teaching and inspiration in the lives of the people, he was not relaxing any of his own efforts as a scientific investigator. An astrophysical observatory was founded and there he went on with his special studies and experiments in regard to the properties of sunlight. When people wanted to know the practical value of his minute observations he used to say:

“All truth works for man if you give it time; the application is never far to seek. The expert knowledge of to-day becomes the inventor’s tool to-morrow.”

But while he was working over the problems of sun-spots, and making drawings of the surface of the sun that bear witness to his patience no less than to his skill, he became vitally interested in the subject of mechanical flight. For at last he had made an opportunity to work on the problem that had fascinated him ever since he was a boy. “Nature has solved the problem of flight, why not, man?” he said.

He soon became convinced that the mathematical formulas given in the books concerning the increase of power with increase of velocity{253} were all wrong. “At that rate, a swallow would have to have the strength of a man!” he exclaimed. He devised a sort of whirling table with surfaces like wings to test with exactness just how much horse-power was required to hold up a surface of a certain weight while moving rapidly through the air, and by this means discovered and demonstrated the fundamental law of flight, known as Langley’s Law, which tells us that the faster a body travels through the air the less is the energy required to keep it afloat.

After proving that birds are held up like kites by pressure of the air against the under surface of their wings, he made experiments to show that their soaring flight is aided by “the internal work of the wind,” that is, by shifts in the currents of air, particularly by rising trends, which the winged creatures utilize by instinct. Watch a hawk as it circles through the air, dipping its wings now at this angle, now at that, and you will realize that the wind is his true and tried ally. He trusts himself to the sweep and swirl of the air, just as a swimmer relies on the buoyancy of the water.{254}

Having demonstrated so much through experiments with his whirling table, Dr. Langley determined to construct a real flying-machine, with wide-spreading planes to sustain it in the air while it was driven along by a steam-engine which furnished power to the propellers. This machine, which he called an “aërodrome” (air run), was put to the test on the sixth of May, 1896. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, who was present at the trial and who took pictures of the machine in mid-air, declared, “No one who witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of a steam-engine flying with wings in the air, like a great soaring bird, could doubt for one moment the practicability of mechanical flight.”

Now that he had succeeded in solving the problem from the scientific standpoint, Professor Langley wished to leave the task of developing the idea in a practical, commercial way to others. There was, however, a popular demand for him to carry on his experiments with a model large enough to carry a man, and $50,000 was appropriated for the purpose by the Government on the recommendation of President{255} McKinley and the Board of Ordnance and Fortification of the War Department.

Professor Langley constructed the giant bird-machine and selected a secluded spot near Quantico on the Potomac below Washington for the trial. The place was not remote enough, however, to escape the watchful enterprise of the newspaper reporters. A number of them flocked to the spot and actually camped out near the scene. When any one approached the great house-boat on which the aërodrome was perched ready for launching, they got into boats and gathered about to see everything that should take place.

And now there happened one of the most tragic things in all the history of scientific endeavor. After vainly waiting for a moment of comparative privacy for his tests, Dr. Langley decided that delay was no longer possible, and in the presence of a cloud of unfriendly witnesses—who had been irritated by the failure of the perverse scientists to furnish “scoops” for their papers—essayed the first flight.

A rocket shot up in the air as a signal to the{256} inventor’s assistants to stand by to give aid in case of mishap. There was a sound as of the whirring of many mighty wings when the huge launching-spring shot the aërodrome off from its resting-place on the house-boat. For a moment the enormous bird-thing was in the air; then, instead of rising and soaring, it floundered helplessly and fell into the water. There had been a defect in the launching, and the machine did not have a chance to show what it could do. This so-called trial was really no test at all.

The reporters, however, had an opportunity to show what they could do. The next day all the newspapers of the country printed long articles describing the spectacular failure of the man of learning who had left the safe and sane ways of scientific investigation to attempt the impossible. “Langley’s folly,” they called the poor aërodrome. Men read the story at their breakfast tables and said with a laugh, “ ‘Langley’s folly’ indeed! For the choicest sort of foolishness you have to go to these fellows with the three-decker brains!”

There was such a popular hue and cry that Congress refused to allow any more money to{257} be used on the flying-machine venture. In vain did the men who were really in a position to know and judge, like Professor Bell and other scientists, say that the seeming failure had meant nothing at all but an unfortunate accident at the moment of launching. The ridicule of the crowd outweighed the words of the wise. Most people felt just as Dr. Langley’s father had when his boy talked of making a machine that should sail through the air as a bird does.

Two years after the failure of his hopes, Dr. Langley died. It was said that his disappointment had helped to bring on the illness which caused his death. He never for a moment, however, lost faith in the future of his airship.

“I have done the best I could in a difficult task,” he said, “with results which, it may be hoped, will be useful to others. The world must realize that a new possibility has come to it, and that the great universal highway overhead is soon to be opened.”

While the crowd was still laughing at the absurdity of man’s attempting to fly, there were those who were seriously at work on the problem. After success had crowned their efforts{258} and their aëroplane was the marvel of the hour, the Wright brothers declared that it was the knowledge that the head of the most prominent scientific institution in America believed in the possibility of human flight which had led them to undertake their work. “He recommended to us, moreover, the books which enabled us to form sane ideas at the outset,” they said. “It was a helping hand at a critical time, and we shall always be grateful.”

So it was that the work of our hero of flight was carried on, as he had faith that it would be. Is it not strange to reflect to-day, when aëroplanes are used so generally in the Great War, that it is only a little more than a decade since people were laughing at “Langley’s folly”?

For ten years the ill-fated aërodrome hung suspended among the curiosities in the National Museum. Then in May, 1914, Mr. Glenn H. Curtiss obtained permission from the Government to make some trial flights in the first of the heavier-than-air flying craft. After making a brief skimming flight above the water of Lake Keuka, New York, he declared that with{259} a more powerful engine the pioneer aëroplane could sustain itself perfectly in the air.

Returned in triumph to the museum, it now shares honors with the models of Watt’s steam-engine, the first steam-boat, and other epoch-making inventions. “Langley’s folly” is completely vindicated, and Samuel Pierpont Langley is to-day numbered as chief among the many heroes of flight.




If I should die, think only this of me:
That there ’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
Rupert Brooke.


IT sometimes happens that a hero is remembered more for the true man he was than for any fair deeds he may have wrought. Such a man was that “very perfect gentle knight,” Sir Philip Sidney. A scholar and a poet, a courtier and a soldier, he walked with grave men without becoming dull and with kings without becoming vain. In the “spacious times of great Elizabeth,” when brave men like Grenville, Drake, and Raleigh were finding a new world overseas for England, and rare souls like those of the Mermaid Tavern—Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and “best Shakespeare,” himself—were building up a mighty kingdom of the mind and heart, Sir Philip Sidney was a bright figure in the realms of high adventure and of song.

It was not because of epic deeds or lyric verse, however, that all England mourned the{264} death of the young soldier. It is not for his sword or for his song that he lives in the deathless company of England’s heroes, but for his knightly heart. The oft-repeated tale of how, mortally wounded, he forgot his own parching thirst and held out the water they brought him to a dying comrade, with the words, “Thy need is greater than mine,” lives in memory because in it the true Sidney still lives.

This is the story of one who has been called the Sidney of our own day—a young poet to whom the gods, it seemed, had given all their best gifts, graces of body and of mind. When it was known that he had gone to “do his bit” in the great war, people said fearfully, “Death loves a shining mark!” When news came that he was dead, it seemed as if the shadow of loss could never be lightened. Yet it is not for the song of the poet or the sacrifice of the soldier that he will be remembered, but for something rare and beautiful in the man himself that won the hearts of all who knew him.

They said of Rupert Brooke, “He is the ideal youth of England—of merry England!” It seemed as if something of all that was fair and{265} brave and free in English days and English ways had passed into the bright blueness of his eyes, the warm glow under the tan of his cheeks, and the live, shining hair that waved back from his broad clear brow.

From the very beginning his country took him to herself. He first saw the light of a summer day at Rugby, under the shadow of the ivy-covered turrets where that great friend of boys, Thomas Arnold, was headmaster in the days of Tom Brown. Rupert’s father was assistant master at the school, and so the boy grew up on “The Close,” where the happy haunts of many happy boys were the charmed playground of his earliest years, and the football field the ringing plain of his first dreams of glory and achievement.

“What a wonderful world it was to be born into, that little England that was mine,” said Rupert, “and how it seemed as if the days were not half long enough for one to taste all the joys they brought. How I loved everything—sights and sounds, the feel and breath of living, stirring things! I loved not only rainbows and dewdrops sparkling in cool flowers,{266} but also footprints in the dew and washed stones gay for an hour. Wet roofs beneath the lamplight had their gleam of enchantment, and the blue bitter smoke of an autumn fire was like magic incense.”

Most people have eyes to see only that which is exceptional—the exclamation marks of nature’s round, like sunset, moonrise, mountains wrapped in purple mists, or still water under a starry sky. They do not see the beauty in the changes of the common daylight, in familiar trees, a winding path, and a few dooryard posies.

But Rupert noted with lingering tenderness the shapes and colors of all the simple daily things.

“White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;—
All these have been my loves—”

he said, when dreaming fondly and whimsically of his boyish days. And how he loved little shy, half-hidden things—elfin moss flowers, downy curled-up ferns under the dry leaves,{267} the musty smell of the dead leaves themselves and of the moist, moldy earth. But he was never one of those who must seek beauty in the haunts of nature untouched by man. The splendid copper beech, kingly and kind, in the headmaster’s garden, and Dr. Arnold’s own fern-leaved tree, whose tender gleams and flickerings gladdened every one who lingered in its shade, were dearer than any aloof forest monarchs could have been.

It seemed as if all the things that Rupert saw and loved somehow became part of himself. Something of the swift life of darting birds, of quivering winged insects, and furtive scurrying creatures in fur was in the alert swiftness of his lithe young body. One found oneself thinking of fair fields under a bright sky, of hedgerows abloom, of all the singing, golden warmth that makes an English summer sweet, in looking into the glowing beauty of the boy’s eager face.

“Rupert can’t be spoiled or he would have been long ago,” said one of the Rugby boys. “He never stops to bother about what people say of him. Of course a chap who can play{268} football and carry off school honors at the same time has something better to think about.”

It was true that young Brooke found his world full of many absorbing things. He was already entering upon the poet’s kingdom. Words, he found, could work mighty spells. All the rich pageantry of the days of knights and crusaders passed before him as a few verses sounded in his ears. Another line—and he saw

... magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

How splendid it would be to make fine, thrilling things live in words! He knew, though, that he could never live in the past or in the dream pictures that fancy painted. His life was in the real things of the present, and his song must be of the life he knew and felt. Would he ever be able to find singing words for all the singing life about him and within?

Sometimes he all but gave up the trial. How foolish to bother about writing poems when one might live them! A rush—a fine scrimmage—a chance for the goal—life in doing—that was better than any printed page. As he played on{269} the eleven for Rugby it seemed as if mind and body were one. Life was strength and swiftness, and victory after effort.

But the young athlete, who knew the joy of playing and winning for his school, swept on by the cheers of his comrades, knew too the joy in the play of the mind, urged on by the secret longing of his heart. This inner athlete “rejoiced as a strong man to run a race” when he wrote his prize poem, “The Bastille.” He laughed to himself to think of how he had gone to the traditions of an old French prison for inspiration for the finest, freest verse he had yet made. It was plain now that he must be a poet. The things he loved should find an immortal life in his song. His successes at cricket and football could not compare with this triumph. There was no power like the mastery of the mind.

Going from Rugby to Cambridge, he soon won an enviable reputation as a man of parts and a poet of much promise. His keen appreciative mind, his ready wit and personal charm, made him a favorite with the best men of the university.{270}

“I do not see why he need be a poet,” said Henry James, the American novelist and critic, who lived for many years in England. “Any one who can give such all around satisfaction as a human being should not be encouraged to specialize. Surely one who can be so much that makes life more worth while for every one who knows him, ought not to have to struggle to do things.”

Rupert had other friends of this mind, but as the months went by and the youth grew to the full stature of his manhood, the longing to win fuller power as a poet grew with him. More than ever it seemed the one gift he would have. Not as others had sung, but a new song for a new age would he sing. He could never be merely “an idle singer of an empty day.”

In the meantime he carried off the prize of a fellowship at King’s College, which gave him means to go on with his study and writing. Just as scholarship helps a student with his college expenses, so a fellowship gives a graduate an income to enable him to carry forward some special work for which he has proved particular{271} fitness, and which bids fair to be of value to the world.

The fellowship allowed Rupert Brooke to study where he would. He spent a year in Germany—in Munich and Berlin—but he learned there, above everything else, a new appreciation of his own England. In his charming, whimsical poem “Grantchester,” written in Berlin in May, 1912, he pictures his home by the river Cam in lilac time, and nothing in the perfectly regulated, efficient German world that surrounds him can compare with that place his heart knows.

... there the dews
Are soft beneath a morn of gold.
Here tulips bloom as they are told;
Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose; ...
... I will pack, and take a train,
And get me to England once again!
For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;
And of that district I prefer
The lovely hamlet Grantchester.

Once again at home in the cozy vicarage at Grantchester, when he tired of his book-littered{272} study he could walk through the shadowy green tunnel that the great chestnut trees made beside the river and dream of the poems that he would some day have power to call into being. More than anything else he loved to swim in the laving waters of “Byron’s Pool,” at night or in the magic half-light of dawn. Then it seemed as if the past and the present were one, and as if the shades of those other poets who had found refreshment and inspiration near that same fair stream came again to linger lovingly by its waters.

Still in the dawnlit waters cool
His ghostly lordship swims his pool,
And tries the strokes, essays the tricks,
Long learnt on Hellespont, or Styx.
Dan Chaucer hears his river still
Chatter beneath a phantom mill.
Tennyson notes, with studious eye,
How Cambridge waters hurry by....
And in that garden, black and white,
Creep whispers through the grass all night.

He felt himself in a very real sense “heir of all the ages” as his body cut and darted through the water; the life of the past no less than the life of the present surrounded him, buoyed him



Photo by Brown Bros.

Rupert Brooke

Photo by Brown Bros.
Rupert Brooke


up. His clean strokes gave him a sense of happy mastery.

Diving, however, was another matter. Again and again he made the trial, but always landed flat. The unfeeling surface of Lord Byron’s pool would all but slap the breath out of his defenseless body, but he ever came up gallantly to a new plunge until his muscles had learned their trick. What joy when he won his first happy high dive—“into cleanness leaping” with keen lithe grace. That morning, sky and water were one tender, rose-tinged, rippling coolness of silver gray, and the breakfast spread in the dewy garden was a feast for gods and heroes. The eggs were golden fare indeed, and the honey tasted of hawthorn and apple blossoms.

With a like persistency, he practised diving of another sort. Again and again he essayed the plunge far below the surface of every-day thoughts and fancies in the hope of bringing up the perfect pearl of his dreams—a poem in which the white light of truth should be all fair-rounded, pure-gleaming beauty. “I can feel the one thing that is worth while, and it{276} seems as if I had it in my hand,” he mourned, “but when I look there is only a wisp of seaweed, and a shell or two with echoes in their pearly coils of the eternal whisper of the waves!”

“Your life is too much an unbroken round of happy happenings,” hinted one of his friends. “If you could run away into the wilds for a time—away from your many admiring friends and the chatter of afternoon teas and tennis courts—you might find yourself more in touch with the big things you long for.”

“I think I’ll try a trip to America,” resolved the young poet. “There may be some sort of a new world still to be discovered in the States or Canada—or beyond among the islands of the South Seas.”

In his “Letters from America,” which appeared first in the “Westminster Gazette” and were afterward published with a biographical introduction by Henry James, we have some of his off-hand impressions of the New World. We get glimpses of New York Harbor at night and in the early morning, as a poet sees it. We see the crowds and electric glare of Broadway{277} with something of the detached amusement that a careless and idly curious traveler from another planet might feel. And we see a Harvard-Yale baseball game and the 1913 Commencement at Cambridge with the eyes of that elder Cambridge across the Atlantic. This is the way the one-time cricketer and football champion viewed his first “ball game.”

When I had time to observe the players, who were practising about the ground, I was shocked. They wear dust-colored shirts and dingy knickerbockers, fastened under the knee, and heavy boots. They strike the English eye as being attired for football, or a gladiatorial combat, rather than a summer game. The very close-fitting caps, with large peaks, give them picturesquely the appearance of hooligans. Baseball is a good game to watch, and in outline easy to understand, as it is merely glorified rounders. A cricketer is fascinated by their rapidity and skill in catching and throwing. There is excitement in the game, but little beauty except in the long-limbed “pitcher,” whose duty it is to hurl the ball rather farther than the length of the cricket-pitch, as bewilderingly as possible. In his efforts to combine speed, mystery, and curve, he gets into attitudes of a very novel and fantastic, but quite obvious, beauty.

One queer feature of this sport is that unoccupied members of the batting side, fielders, and even spectators, are accustomed to join in vocally. You have the spectacle of the representatives of the universities endeavoring to frustrate or unnerve their opponents, at moments of excitement, by cries of derision and mockery, or heartening their{278} own supporters and performers with exclamations of “Now, Joe!” or “He’s got them!” or “He’s the boy!” At the crises in the fortunes of the game, the spectators take a collective and important part. The Athletic Committee appoints a “cheer-leader” for the occasion. Every five or ten minutes this gentleman, a big, fine figure in white, springs out from his seat at the foot of the stands, addresses the multitude through a megaphone with a “One! Two! Three!” hurls it aside, and, with a wild flinging and swinging of his body and arms, conducts ten thousand voices in the Harvard yell.... It all seemed so wonderfully American, in its combination of entire wildness and entire regulation, with the whole just a trifle fantastic....

“The glimpses you give of the ‘States’ are brief and, for the most part, superficial,” we accused him, not unjustly. “You approach what you are pleased to call our ‘rag-time civilization’ in a rag-time mood.”

“You delightful Americans are too sensitive,” he replied with his irresistible smile. “Of course no mere Briton could do you justice in a few random, hastily-flung newspaper letters. One of these days I hope to work up these trivial jottings in some more thoughtful and not unworthy fashion.”

He describes Niagara Falls, the Canadian Rockies, and the South Seas with a poet’s appreciation, but with an irrepressible homesickness{279} for his little England. He wonders and admires, but misses the haunting echoes of humanity, the sense of a loving, lingering past, that make the English landscape dear:

It is indeed a new world. How far away seem those grassy, moonlit places in England that have been Roman camps or roads, where there is always serenity, and the spirit of a purpose at rest, and the sunlight flashes upon more than flint! Here one is perpetually a first-comer.... The flowers are less conscious than English flowers, the breezes have nothing to remember, and everything to promise. There walk, as yet, no ghosts of lovers in Canadian lanes.... There is nothing lurking in the heart of the shadows, and no human mystery in the colors, and neither the same joy nor the kind of peace in dawn and sunset that older lands know....

In the perfect lazy content of the South Pacific isles, that are, he says, “compound of all legendary heavens,” Rupert Brooke led a blissful, lotus-eating existence. Nowhere had he even imagined such serene bodily well-being as he found darting, floating, and dreaming through the irised waves, lulled by the faint thunder of the surf on the distant reef. It seemed, too, that this must be the seventh heaven of song. If swimming and poetry had been all, home and friends might have called in vain.{280} But the young poet’s love of England was proof against every beguiling lure. Do you remember how Tennyson in his “Palace of Art,” after showing pictures of every sort of loveliness—beautiful, enchanting, magical glimpses of many lands—turns at last to this scene as best of all?—

And one, an English home—gray twilight poured
On dewy pastures, dewy trees,
Softer than sleep—all things in order stored,
A haunt of ancient Peace.

Even so Rupert Brooke, from his South Sea paradise, longed for the “ancient peace” of the old vicarage by the River Cam. Never for a moment did he forget that he was England’s—flesh of her flesh, soul of her soul.

Soon after his return from his wander year, before his joy in all the dear home ways had lost any of its new zest, it seemed as if the old comfortable order of things might pass away forever. The face of his world was changed in a day. From a brand fired somehow, somewhere, in the mysterious Balkans, all Europe was suddenly ablaze. England awoke from her preoccupation with her own family{281} difficulties—the Irish Home-rule question, the disputes between capital and labor, and the militant suffragettes. She could not see Belgium and France destroyed. Englishmen who had been reading with incredulous amazement the daily reports of the threatening violence of the continental misunderstanding, and congratulating themselves on their sane and secure aloofness, awoke to find that they were at war with Germany and Austria.

Rupert Brooke was camping out that fateful August of 1914 in a place remote from newspapers with their rumors of war. Away on a sailing trip, he heard no news of any sort for the space of four days. Then on his return, as he stepped out on the beach with singing pulses and the happy tang of the salt spray on his lips, a telegram was put in his hands: “We’re at war with Germany. England has joined France and Russia,” it read.

It was as if all the winds of heaven had passed in a moment into a dreadful, breathless calm. In the stunned and sultry stillness that engulfed him, his whole being hung helpless like an empty sail. He ate and drank as one in a{282} dream, and then went out alone to the top of a hill of gorse, where he sat looking broodingly at the sea and trying to understand. Over and over he repeated the words, “England at war—war with Germany! Germany!...” Scraps of memories—pleasant, appealing, and humorous—floated by like bits of remembered tunes: the convivial glitter of a Berlin café; the restful charm of a quiet-colored summer evening at Munich; the merry masquerade and revelry of carnival time; the broad peasant women singing at their work in the fields. Could it be that all the wholesome, friendly world he knew there had changed—had become a menace, a thing to be hated?

Not only the Germany he knew, but the whole world, was trembling. The earth was not the stable place of solid content and cheerful achievement he had always taken for granted. A shrinking, quaking nightmare of change had seized the foundations of the universe in its trembling grip. The months ahead loomed gaunt and strange—no days for happy work; no quiet evenings for untroubled friendship and affection; no time to “loaf and invite one’s{283} soul”; no place for play, for music, for poetry, for anything that made life worth living. An age “of blood and iron” had swallowed up the golden age. England would be merry England no longer.

England! The name rang in his ears like a knell. England invaded! “I realized with a sudden tightening of the heart,” he said, “that the earth of England was like a loved face, like a friend’s honor—something holy. The full flood of what England meant to my inmost self swept me on from thought to thought. Gray, uneven little fields, and small ancient hedges rushed before me, wild flowers, elms and beeches, gentleness, sedate houses of red brick, proudly unassuming, a countryside of rambling hills and friendly copses—the England that had given me life and light!”

England! The name was now a trumpet call! What were the piping times of peace to this great moment when he could go out as England’s son to meet her foes, to keep her sacred soil safe from the invaders’ tread? Aloud he said grimly, “Well, if Armageddon’s on, I suppose one should be there.”{284}

It seemed to many as if this terrible war must indeed be the mysterious Armageddon, darkly foreshadowed in the Book of Revelation as the war of wars, when the “kings of the earth and the whole world” should gather for the battle that would usher in the great day of God. It was to be the war to end war.

Rupert Brooke, a sub-lieutenant of the Royal Naval Division, was one of that brave, futile company of Englishmen that were hastily flung across the Channel to the defense of Antwerp. Crouching in ditches, rifles in hand, they waited the approach of an unseen enemy whose big guns were shelling the outer forts from a point beyond the horizon line. There was nothing that the bravest could do but lie there amid the whistling, screaming shells, and fall back as ordered when the range of the heavy fire advanced. The battle was fought by the great cannon and the scouting aëroplane that circled high overhead and signaled the range to the distant battery.

When the forts crumbled before the bombardment—pitiful hopes of the old order before the deadly engines of the new—the city was a place{285} of terror and desolation. The hideous din of bursting shells, the crash of falling houses and shattering glass, mingled with the terrified cries of distracted fugitives. The young poet-soldier, marching in a night retreat under a black sky, lighted fitfully by the glare of burning villages, saw the pathetic multitude of helpless refugees hurrying eastward. There were two small children trying to help their mother push a wheelbarrow piled with clothing on which sat the feeble, trembling grandmother. Another family had loaded all their most cherished possessions in a little milk-cart, pulled by a panting dog, while a heavy-eyed lad of nine pushed from behind and watched to see that nothing was dropped by the way. Aged peasants with bundles on their backs tottered by, and mothers with tiny babies in their arms trudged wearily along, trying to comfort the frightened children who ran by their side or clung to their skirts. All had the dazed faces of the victims of flood or fire, who flee from the place that was home to the uncertain refuge of outer strangeness.

It seemed to Rupert Brooke that the suffering{286} he saw was his own. As in the old Rugby time, when everything that the days brought—honest work, hearty play, and happy comradeship, in a fair English land under peaceful skies—was taken up as food for his eager life and made a part of himself, so now it seemed that body and soul alike tasted every grief and distress that can come to helpless humanity. There were new depths in the brave blue eyes that had seen defeated hopes and yet never doubted that right would triumph. The face that had before expressed promise, now showed power.

All through the trying weeks that followed in his training-camp in England, he carried with him the memory of those tragic days in Belgium. “I would not forget if I could,” he said steadily. “Remembering is sharing.” And steadily, with a strength that ever cries, “We’re baffled that we may fight better!” he looked past the darkness of the present to the victory that his spirit saw.

The hard monotony of the days became glorious. All his life was alight with the fervor of his love for his native land and his longing to serve her. There was room in his heart for but{287} one thought—England! And in the singleness of his devotion he felt a wonderful peace that outer happenings could not give or take away. He was safe from the chances of the changing days—safe with “things undying.” Safe!—That word which sometimes makes men craven, sounded in his ears like a note of triumph; and the lines of a new song came to his lips:

“We have built a house that is not for Time’s throwing.
We have gained a peace unshaken by pain forever.
War knows no power. Safe shall be my going,
Secretly armed against all death’s endeavor;
Safe though all safety’s lost; safe where men fall;
And if these poor limbs die, safest of all.”

A wonderful thing had happened. The young soldier who had lost many things those first weeks of the war—carefree days and nights, the joy and bright confidence of youth—had found his man’s soul. And the maker of verses had become a true poet. In losing his life he had found it, and found, too, the one gift he had long sought in vain.

Rupert Brooke had learned to “see life steadily and see it whole.” The five “1914 sonnets” have the wise simplicity, the deep feeling, and the large vision that belong to great poetry.{288} When the poet-soldier embarked with the troops that were sent on the ill-starred Dardanelles campaign, he had the joy of knowing that whatever might befall, something of his inmost life would live forever in immortal verse to stir the hearts of living men.

He never reached Gallipoli. On April 23, 1915, the day of St. Michael and St. George, he died, not in battle, but of illness on a French hospital-ship. Early in April he had suffered a sunstroke, but had apparently recovered. Then it was known that he was the victim of blood-poisoning. “Death loves a shining mark!” and “Whom the Gods love!”—The unspoken words gripped the hearts of his comrades with chill fear, yet it seemed unbelievable that this radiant young life should be snuffed out.

The poet, himself, had a definite premonition of the end—During the days of fever, his mind found now and again a cool peace in the memories of the past. He was a Rugby boy again. Now he sat in the chapel, looking at the light as it fell, jeweled green, blue, and ruby-red, through the stained glass window of the{289} Wise Men, that Dr. Arnold had brought from an old church at Aerschot, near Louvain. Louvain—Belgium! He could not lie there quietly; his country needed him. He moved suddenly as if about to rise, and a nurse bent over him anxiously. But—once more he was at Rugby, standing before the statue of the author of “Tom Brown” and spelling out its inscription as he had when a child: “Watch ye. Stand fast in the faith. Quit ye like men. Be strong.”—Again he was on the porch leading to the quadrangle where the boys were assembled for house singing. How the “Floreat, floreat, floreat, Rugbeia” rang out!

Was it not getting very dark? He could scarcely see the white figure of the nurse. Perhaps there was going to be a storm.... He remembered a hurricane at Rugby when he was only eight years old—the “big storm,” they always called it. Many of the fine elms were laid low, among others the one survivor of Tom Brown’s “three trees.”

“Think of all the years of sun and wind that have been made into the magnificent strength of that tree,” some one had mourned. “And{290} now see it snapped like a straw before the fury of a single hour!”

“Perhaps it’s happier to go like a warrior in battle, than just to grow old and die little by little,” the boy had said. He had somehow dimly felt that the splendid spirit of the tree—the life that ever flickered golden-green in the sunlight and danced in joyous abandon in the May breeze—had fared forth on the wings of the wind, a part of the brave spirit of things that deathless goes on forever from change to change....

They buried him at night, carrying his body by torchlight to an olive grove on the isle of Scyros, a mile inland on the heights. “If you go there,” writes Mr. Stephen Graham, “you will find a little wooden cross with just his name and the date of his birth and his death (1887-1915) marked in black.” One who knew him said, “Let his just epitaph be: ‘He went to war in the cause of peace and died without hate that love might live.’ ”

Better than any inscription or memorial, however, are the words of his own poem, The Soldier, in which his love for his country still{291} lives. It echoes to-day in the hearts of many who, at their country’s call, “go to war in the cause of peace.”

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.




I am a man, and nothing that concerns a man do I deem matter of indifference to me.



THIS is the story of a young hero of to-day—of a leader who has, we may well hope, as many rich, useful years before him as those that make the tale we are about to tell.

History is not often willing to call a man happy—or a hero—while life lies ahead of him. Time can change everything. Time alone can prove everything. We must wait for the judgment of time, it is said.

We feel very sure, however, of the worth of the work of Herbert Clark Hoover, the man who gave up a business that meant the directorship of more than 125,000 workers in order that he might give his time and his powers to the task of feeding ten million helpless people in war-ravaged Belgium and northern France.

“If England could have availed herself of such talent for organization as H. C. Hoover has displayed in feeding the Belgians, we{296} should be a good year nearer the end of the war than we are to-day,” said a prominent member of the British Parliament.

“There is a man who knows how to get things done!” we are hearing said on every side. “If America should feel the pinch of war and famine, Mr. Hoover could meet the problem of putting us on rations, and there would be no food riots.”

Who is this man who knows how to do things? In what school did he learn how to meet emergencies and how to manage men?

They tell us he was a Quaker lad, born on an Iowa farm, who in his early boyhood moved to a farm in the far West. Was it because of this early transplanting—this change to new scenes, new problems, new interests—that he learned to see things in a big way and to get a grip on what really matters in Iowa, in Oregon, in the world?

“The first thing you think about Hoover,” said a man who knew him in college, “is that he is a free soul and feels himself free. Most people are more or less hedged in by their own little affairs. His interests have no walls to{297} shut him away from other people and their interests. He is a man who is in vital touch with what concerns other men.”

But we come once more to the question: how did he come by the vital touch which gives him this power over men and makes him in a very real sense a citizen of the world? You remember the exclamation of envious Cassius when he was protesting to Brutus against the growing influence of Cæsar:

Now in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat does this our Cæsar feed,
That he is grown so great?

Cassius was, of course, speaking in grudging scorn; but we often find ourselves thinking quite simply and sincerely that we would like to know what goes to the making of true power.

Sometimes we like to pretend that we can explain the making of a great man. We say, for example, of Lincoln: he early learned what it meant to meet hardship, so he was strong to endure; by hard times and hard work he learned the value of things, the things that really count; he knew what sorrow was, and the faith that is greater than grief, so he had a heart that could{298} feel with the sorrows of others and could help them to win faithfulness through suffering. Because a truly sympathetic heart beats with the joys as well as the griefs of others, he cared for the little things that go to make up the big thing we call living, and his warm human touch made him a friend of simple people, with an understanding of all. Thus it was that he knew people in a real way and life in a true way, and so was able to be the leader of a nation in a time that tried the souls of the bravest. So we say, and fancy that we have explained Lincoln. But have we? Many other boys knew toil and want and sorrow, and many learned much, perhaps, in that hard school; but there was only one Lincoln.

We can, in truth, no more explain a great man than we can explain life itself. How is it that the acorn has power to take from the earth and air and sunshine the things that make the oak-tree, the monarch of the forest? How is it that of all the oaks in the woods of the world there are no two exactly alike? How is it that among all the children in a family, in a school, in a nation, there are no two really alike?



Underwood & Underwood

Herbert C. Hoover

Underwood & Underwood
Herbert C. Hoover


A boy I knew once put the puzzle in this way: “You would think that twins would be more truly twins than they are. But when they seem most twinsy, they’re somehow different, after all!”

All that we can say is that each child is himself alone, and that as the days go by the things he sees and hears, the things he thinks about and loves, the things he dreams and the things he does, are somehow made a part of him just as the soil and sunshine are made into the tree.

What was it in the Iowa farm life that became a part of the Quaker boy, Herbert Hoover? He learned to look life in the face, simply and frankly. Hard work, resolute wrestling with the brown earth, made his muscles firm and his nerves steady. The passing of the days and the seasons, the coming of the rain, the dew, and the frost, and the sweep of the storm, awoke in his spirit a love of nature and a delight in nature’s laws. “All’s love, yet all’s law,” whispered the wind as it passed over the fields of bending grain. Since all was law, one might, by studying the ways of seed and soil and weather, win a larger harvest than{302} the steadiest toil, unaided by reason and resource, could coax from the long furrows. It was clear that thinking and planning brought a liberal increase to the yield of each acre. The might of man was not in muscle but in mind.

Then came the move to Oregon. How the Golden West opened up a whole vista of new ideas! How many kinds of interesting people there were in the world! He longed to go to college where one could get a bird’s-eye view of the whole field of what life had to offer before settling down to work in his own particular little garden-patch.

“I don’t want to go to a Quaker school, or a college founded by any other special sect,” he said. “I want to go where I will have a chance to see and judge everything fairly, without prejudice for or against any one line of thought.”

“The way of the Friends is a liberal enough way for a son of mine, or for any God-fearing person,” was his guardian’s reply. “Thee must not expect thy people to send thee to a place of worldly fashions and ideas.”

“It looks as if I should have to send myself,{303} then,” said the young man, with a smile in his clear eyes, but with his chin looking even more determined than was its usual firm habit.

When Leland Stanford Junior University opened its doors in 1891, Herbert C. Hoover was one of those applying for admission. The first student to register for the engineering course, he was the distinguished nucleus of the Department of Geology and Mining. The first problem young Hoover had to solve at college, however, was the way of meeting his living expenses.

“What chances are there for a chap to earn money here?” he asked.

“The only job that seems to be lying about loose is that of serving in the dining-rooms,” he was told. “Student waiters are always in demand.”

The young Quaker looked as if he had been offered an unripe persimmon. “I suppose it’s true that ‘they also serve who only stand and wait,’ ” he drawled whimsically, “but somehow I can’t quite see myself in the part. And anyway,” he added reflectively, “I don’t know that I need depend on a job that is ‘lying about{304} loose.’ I shouldn’t wonder if I’d have to look out for an opening that hasn’t been offered to every passer-by and become shop-worn.”

He had not been many days at the university before he discovered a need and an opportunity. There was no college laundry. “I think that the person who undertakes to organize the clean-linen business in this academic settlement will ‘also serve,’ and he won’t have to ‘wait’ for his reward!” he said to himself.

The really successful man of business is one who can at the same time create a demand and provide the means of meeting it. The college community awoke one morning to the realization that it needed above everything else efficient laundry-service. And it seemed that an alert young student of mining engineering was managing the business. Before long it was clear, not only that the college was by way of being systematically and satisfactorily served in this respect, but that, what was even more important, a man with a veritable genius for organization had appeared on the campus. It soon became natural to “let Hoover manage” the various student undertakings; and to this{305} day “the way Hoover did things” is one of the most firmly established traditions of Leland Stanford.

Graduating from the university in the pioneer class of 1895, he served his apprenticeship at the practical work of mining engineering in Nevada County, California, by sending ore-laden cars from the opening of the mine to the reducing works. He earned two dollars a day at this job, and also the opportunity to prove himself equal to greater responsibility. The foreman nodded approvingly and said, “There’s a young chap that college couldn’t spoil! He has a degree plus common sense, and so is ready to learn something from the experience that comes his way. And he’s always on the job—right to the minute. Any one can see he’s one that’s bound for the top!”

It seemed as if Fate were determined from the first that the young man should qualify as a citizen of the world as well as a master of mines. We next find him in that dreary waste of New South Wales known as Broken Hill. In a sun-smitten desert, whose buried wealth of zinc and gold is given grudgingly only to those{306} who have grit to endure weary, parched days and pitiless, lonely nights, he met the ordeal, and proved himself still a man in No Man’s Land. He looked the desert phantoms in the face, and behold! they faded like a mirage. Only the chance of doing a full-sized man’s work remained.

The Broken Hill contract completed, he found new problems as a mining expert and manager of men in China. But he did not go to this new field alone. While at college he had found in one of his fellow-workers a kindred spirit, who was interested in the real things that were meat and drink to him. Miss Lou Henry was a live California girl, with warm human charm and a hobby for the marvels of geology. It was not strange that these two found it easy to fall into step, and that after a while they decided to fare forth on the adventure of living together.

It was an adventure with something more than the thrill of novel experience and the tonic of meeting new problems that awaited them in the Celestial Empire. For a long time a very strong feeling against foreigners and the changed life they were introducing into China{307} had been smoldering among many of the people. There was a large party who believed that change was dangerous. They did not want railroads built and mines worked. The snorting locomotive, belching fire and smoke, seemed to them the herald of the hideous new order of things that the struggling peoples of the West were trying to bring into their mellow, peaceful civilization. The digging down into the ground was particularly alarming. Surely, that could not fail to disturb the dragon who slept within the earth and whose mighty length was coiled about the very foundations of the world. There would be earthquakes and other terrible signs of his anger.

The Boxer Society, whose name meant “the fist of righteous harmony,” and whose slogan was “Down with all foreigners,” became very powerful. “Let us be true to the old customs and keep China in the safe old way!” was the cry of the Boxers. The “righteous harmony” meant “China first,” and “China for the Chinese”; the “fist” meant “Death to Intruders!” There was a general uprising in 1900, and many foreigners and Chinese Christians were massacred.{308} Mr. Hoover, who was at Tientsin in charge of important mining interests, found himself at the storm-center. It was his task to help save his faithful workers, yellow men as well as white, from the infuriated mob.

There was a time when it looked as if the rising tide of rebellion would sweep away all that opposed it before reinforcements from the Western nations could arrive. And when the troops did pour into Peking and Tientsin to rescue the besieged foreigners, another lawless period succeeded. Mr. Hoover found it almost as hard to protect property and innocent Chinese from soldiers, thirsty for loot, as it had been to hold the desperate Boxers at bay. The victorious troops as well as the vanquished fanatics seemed to

have eaten on the insane root
That takes the reason prisoner.

The master of mines had a chance to prove himself now a master of men. He succeeded in safeguarding the interests of his company, and somehow he managed, too, to keep his faith in people in spite of the war madness. He never doubted that the wave of unreason and cruelty{309} would pass, like the blackness of a storm. Reason and humanity would prevail, and kindly Nature would make each battle-scarred field of struggle and bloodshed smile again with flowers.

The adventure of living led the Hoovers to Australia, to Africa, to any and all places where there were mines to be worked. As manager of some very important mining interests Mr. Hoover’s judgment was sought wherever the struggle to win the treasures of the rocks presented special problems. He had now gained wealth and influence, but he was too big a man to rest back on what he had accomplished and content himself with making money.

“I have all the money I need,” he said. “I want to do some real work; it’s only doing things that counts.”

You know, of course, the joy of doing something quite apart from anything you have to do, just because you have taken up with the idea for its own sake. Then you run to meet any amount of effort, and work becomes play. Mr. Hoover and his wife now took up a task together with all the zest that one puts into a{310} fascinating game. Can you imagine getting fun out of translating a great Latin book about mines and minerals?

“For some time I have looked forward to putting old Agricola into English,” explained Mr. Hoover; “we are having a real holiday working it up.”

“Who in the world was Agricola, and what does he matter to you?” demanded his friend, in amazement.

“Agricola, my dear fellow, was the Latinized name of a German mining engineer who lived in the early part of the sixteenth century—a time when it was not only the fashion to turn one’s name into Latin, but to write all books of any importance in that language. He matters a good deal to any one who happens to be especially interested in the science of mining. This volume we are at work on is the cornerstone of that science.”

“How, then, does it happen that it has never been translated before?” asked the friend.

“Well,” replied Mr. Hoover, with some hesitation, “you see it wasn’t a particularly easy job. Agricola’s Latin had its limitations, but{311} his knowledge of minerals and mining problems was prodigious. Only a mining expert could possibly get at what he was trying to say, and most mining experts have something more paying to do than to undertake a thing of this kind.”

“I see,” retorted his friend, with a smile; “you are doing this because you have nothing more paying to do!”

“Yes,” replied Mr. Hoover, quietly, “there is nothing that is more paying than the thing that is your work—because you particularly want to do it.”

Mr. Hoover would say without any hesitation that the work which he volunteered to do when the storm of the great war broke on Europe in August, 1914, was “paying” in the same way. This citizen of the world was at his London headquarters, from which, as consulting engineer, he was directing vast mining interests, when the panic of fear seized the crowds of American tourists who had gone abroad as to a favorite pleasure-park and had found it suddenly transformed into a battle-field. Hundreds of people were as frightened and helpless as children caught in a burning building. All{312} at once they found themselves in a strange, threatening world, without means of escape.

“Nobody seemed to know what was to be done with us, and nobody seemed to care,” explained a Vassar girl. “Their mobilizing was the only thing that mattered to them. There were no trains and steamers for us, and no money for our checks and letters of credit. Then Mr. Hoover came to the rescue. He saw that something was done, and it was done effectively. It took generalship, I can tell you, to handle that stampede—to get people from the Continent into England, to arrange for the advancement of funds to meet their needs, and to provide means of getting them back to America. They say he is a wonderful engineer, but I don’t think he ever carried through any more remarkable engineering feat than that was!”

The matter of giving temporary relief and providing transportation for some six or seven thousand anxious Americans was a simple undertaking, however, compared to Mr. Hoover’s next task.

In the autumn of 1914 the cry of a whole nation in distress startled the world. The people{313} of Belgium were starving. The terror and destruction of war had swept over a helpless little country leaving want and misery everywhere. There was need of instant and efficient aid. Of course only a neutral would be permitted to serve, and equally of course, only a man used to handling great enterprises—a captain of industry and a master of men—would be able to serve in such a crisis. It did not take a prophet or seer to see in Herbert Clark Hoover, that master of vast engineering projects who had given himself so generously to helping his fellow-Americans in distress, a man fitted to meet the needs of the time. And Mr. Walter H. Page, American Ambassador to England, appealed to Mr. Hoover, American in London, citizen of the world and lover of humanity, to act as chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium.

“Who is this Mr. Hoover, and will he be really able to man and manage the relief-ship?” was demanded on every side, in America as well as in Europe.

“If anybody can save Belgium, he can,” vouched Mr. Page. “There never was such a genius for organization. He can grasp the{314} most complex problems, wheels within wheels, and get all the cogs running in perfect harmony. Besides, he will have the courage to act promptly as well as effectively when once he has determined on the right course to pursue. He is not afraid of precedent and red tape. A man who has developed and directed large mining interests all over the world and who has been consulting engineer for over fifty mining companies, he cares more about doing a good job than making money. He’s giving himself now heart and soul to this relief work, and we may be sure, if the thing is humanly possible, that he will find a way.”

Can you picture to yourself the plight of Belgium after the cruel war-machine had mowed down all industries and trade and had swept the fields bare of crops and farm animals? Think of a country, about the size of the State of Maryland, so closely dotted with towns and villages that there were more than eight million people living there—as many people as there are in all our great western States on the Pacific side of the Rocky Mountains. This smallest country of Europe was the most{315} densely settled and the most prosperous. The Belgians were a nation of skilled workers. Many were makers of cloth and lace. The linen, woolen, and delicate cotton fabrics woven in Belgium were as famous as Brussels carpets and Brussels lace. Since it was a land particularly rich in coal, manufacturing of all sorts was very profitable. There were important metal-works; nail, wire, and brass factories; and workshops of gold and silver articles. The glass and pottery works were also important. Little Belgium was a veritable hive of busy workers, whose products were sent all over the world.

Of course, you can see that an industrial country like this would have to import much of its food. The small farms and market-gardens could not at best supply the needs of the people for more than three or four months of the year. Just as our big cities must depend on importing provisions from the country, so Belgium depended on buying food-stuffs from agricultural communities in exchange for her manufactured articles.

Now can you realize what happened when the{316} war came? There was no longer any chance for the people to make and sell their goods. All the mills and metal-works were stopped. The conquerors seized all the mines and metals. Everything that could serve Germany in any way was shipped to that country. The railroads, of course, were in the hands of the Germans, and so each town and village was cut off from communication with the rest of the world. The harvests that had escaped destruction by the trampling armies were seized to feed the troops. Even the scattered farm-houses were robbed of their little stores of grain and vegetables.

The task with which Mr. Hoover had to cope was that of buying food for ten million people (in Belgium and northern France), shipping it across seas made dangerous by mines and submarines of the warring nations, and distributing it throughout an entire country without any of the normal means of transportation. Let us see how he went to work. First he secured the help of other energetic, able young Americans who only wanted to be put to work. Chief among these volunteers were the Rhodes scholars at{317}

The Belgian children’s Christmas card, printed at the
Plantin Museum in Antwerp

The Belgian children’s Christmas card, printed at the Plantin Museum in Antwerp



Oxford, picked men who had been given special opportunities and who realized that true education means ability to serve. Without confusion or delay the relief army was organized and the campaign for the war sufferers under way.

It was a business without precedents, a sea that had never been charted, this work of the Relief Commission. At a time when England was vitally and entirely concerned with her war problems and when all railroads and steamships were supposed to be at the command of the government, Mr. Hoover quietly arranged for the transportation of supplies to meet the immediate needs of Belgium. Going on the principle that “when a thing is really necessary it is better to do it first and ask permission afterward,” Mr. Hoover saw his cargoes safely stowed and the hatches battened down before he went to secure his clearance papers.

“We must be permitted to leave at once,” he declared urgently. “If I do not get four cargoes of food to Belgium by the end of the week, thousands are going to die of starvation, and many more may be shot in food riots.”

“Out of the question!” replied the cabinet{320} minister, positively. “There is no time, in the first place, and if there were, there are no good wagons to be spared by the railways, no dock hands, and no steamers. Besides, the Channel is closed to merchant ships for a week to allow the passage of army transports.”

“I have managed to get all these things,” Hoover interposed, “and am now through with them all except the steamers. This wire tells me that these are loaded and ready to sail, and I have come to you to arrange for their clearance.”

The distinguished official looked at Hoover aghast. “There have been men sent to the Tower for less than you have done, young man!” he exclaimed. “If it was for anything but Belgium Relief,—if it was anybody but you,—I should hate to think of what might happen. As it is—I suppose I must congratulate you on a jolly clever coup. I’ll see about the clearance papers at once.”

First and last, the chief obstacles with which the Relief Commission had to deal were due to the suspicions of the two great antagonists, England and Germany, each of whom was bent{321} on preventing the other from securing the slightest advantage from the least chance or mischance. Now it was the British Foreign Office which sent a long communication, fairly swathed in red tape, suggesting changes in relief methods, which, if carried out, would have held up the food of seven million people for two days. In this stress Mr. Hoover dispensed with the services of a clerk and wrote the following letter, which served to lighten a dark day at the Foreign Office, in his own hand:

Dear Blank:

It strikes me that trying to feed the Belgians is like trying to feed a hungry little kitten by means of a forty-foot bamboo pole, said kitten confined in a barred cage occupied by two hungry lions.

Yours sincerely,     
Herbert C. Hoover.

In April, 1915, a German submarine, in its zeal to nip England, torpedoed one of the Commission’s food-ships, and somewhat later an aëroplane tried to drop bombs on another. Mr. Hoover at once paid a flying visit to Berlin. He was assured that Germany regretted the incident and that it would not happen again.

“Thanks,” said Hoover. “Perhaps your{322} Excellency has heard about the man who was bitten by a bad-tempered dog? He went to the owner to have the dog muzzled.

“ ‘But the dog won’t bite you,’ insisted the owner.

“ ‘You know he won’t bite me, and I know he won’t bite me,’ said the injured man, doubtfully, ‘but the question is, does the dog know?’ ”

“Herr Hoover,” said the high official, “pardon me if I leave you for a moment. I am going at once to ‘let the dog know.’ ”

Another incident which throws light on the character and influence of our citizen of the world was related by Mr. Lloyd-George, the first man of England, to a group of friends at the Liberal Club. Here is the story in the great Welshman’s own words:

“ ‘Mr. Hoover,’ I said, ‘I find I am quite unable to grant your request in the matter of Belgian exchange, and I have asked you to come here that I might explain why.’ Without waiting for me to go on, my boyish-looking caller began speaking. For fifteen minutes he spoke without a break—just about the clearest utterance I have ever heard on any subject. He used{323} not a word too much, nor yet a word too few. By the time he had finished I had come to realize not only the importance of his contentions, but, what was more to the point, the practicability of granting his request. So I did the only thing possible under the circumstances—told him I had never understood the question before, thanked him for helping me to understand it, and saw that things were arranged as he wanted them.”

As Mr. Lloyd-George was impressed by the quiet efficiency of his “boyish-looking caller,” so the whole world was impressed by the masterly system with which the great work was carried forward. Wheat was bought by the ship-load in Argentina, transported to Belgium, where it was milled and made into bread, and then sold for less than the price in London. The details of distribution were so handled as to remove all chance for waste and dishonesty; and finally, the cost of the work itself—the total expense of the Relief Commission—was less than one-half of one per cent. of the money expended.

Many of the Belgians were, of course, able to{324} pay for their food. They had property or securities on which money could be raised. The destitute people were the peasants and wage-earners whose only dependence for daily bread—their daily labor—had been taken from them by the war.

In the winter of 1917 Mr. Hoover came to America to tell about conditions in Belgium and the work of the Relief Commission. Looking his fellow-citizens quietly in the face he said: “America has received virtually all the credit for the help given, and we do not deserve it. Out of $250,000,000 that have been spent, only $9,000,000 have come from the United States, the rich nation blest with peace—who owes, moreover, much of her present prosperity to the misfortunes of the unhappy Belgians, for the greater part of the money expended for relief supplies has come to this country.”

There is not a child in Belgium who does not know how Mr. Brand Whitlock, the American Ambassador, and other American “Great-hearts,” have stood by them in their terrible need, just as they know that the wonderful “Christmas Ship,” laden with gifts from children{325} to children, came from America. They have come to look on the Stars and Stripes as the symbol of all that is good and kind. In his book, “War Bread,” Mr. Edward E. Hunt, who was one of the members of the Relief Commission, prints several letters from Belgian children. Here is one signed “Marie Meersman.”

I have often heard a little girl friend of mine speak of an uncle who sent her many things from America, and I was jealous. But now I have more than one uncle, and they send me more than my friend’s uncle did, for it is thanks to you, dear uncles, that I have a good slice of bread every day.

All Americans who once realize that by far the greater part of the money spent for Belgium has come from the nations on whom the burdens of war are pressing most heavily must want America to do much more.

Do you know the story of the kind-hearted passer-by who was so moved by the misfortune of a workman, hurt in an accident, that he exclaimed aloud, in an agonized tone, “Poor fellow! Poor, poor fellow!” Another bystander, however, reached in his pocket and drew out some money. “Here,” he said, turning to the{326} first speaker, “I am sorry five dollars’ worth. How sorry are you?”

That is the question that Mr. Hoover has put to America: “What value do you put on your thankfulness for peace and prosperity and your sympathy for a suffering people less fortunate than yourselves?”

As we look at Mr. Hoover, however, we say, “In giving him to the work, America has at least given of her best.” And we like to think that he is truly American because his interests and sympathies are as broad as humanity, because all mankind is his business, because in deed and in truth he is “a citizen of the world.”


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:
not against flesh and bood=> not against flesh and bood {pg viii}
the United States cruiser Kearsage=> the United States cruiser Kearsarge {pg 141}

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