The autobiography of a Pennsylvanian/15 Miniatures
Joseph G. Cannon
IT has been my fortune to meet with “Uncle Joe,” as it is the custom to call him, the autocrat of the House of Representatives, upon two occasions. In 1905 I was a delegate to the Republican National Convention which met in Chicago and nominated Roosevelt and Fairbanks for the presidency and vice presidency. “Uncle Joe” presided over the convention. There were 30,000 people within the vast building; very few of the speakers could make themselves heard and there was more or less of bustle and disorder.
From the platform, a long and narrow boardwalk was extended out into the midst of the vast assemblage, from the far end of which the speeches were made. Failing to secure silence by ordinary appeals, “Uncle Joe” got down on his hands and knees and pounded with his gavel on these boards. The attitude caused a laugh, attention was attracted to him and away from the buzz of conversation and the maneuver succeeded. I made a speech nominating Fairbanks. Elihu Root and Chauncey M. Depew had spoken and when “Uncle Joe” introduced me he did it with a reference to “three of a kind,” which no doubt called up familiar associations in the minds of some who were present.
I met him again in the summer of 1909. The Honorable I. P. Wanger brought him to Norristown, where he had a reception and made an address at the court house. We then went in automobiles over the camp ground at Valley Forge, and then to the King of Prussia Inn. As it happened, Jack O'Brien, the noted pugilist, was at the inn preparing for a coming bout. He was an agreeable fellow, but had an unhealthy look, and my anticipation that he would be beaten in the coming contest was verified by the result.
“Uncle Joe” and O'Brien took off their coats and, with raised fists, faced each other in front of the inn, and in this attitude were photographed. From there we went to the Merion Cricket Club at Haverford, where we lunched with a large party of ladies and gentlemen, and some of us made speeches. He spoke sensibly and with a certain persuasiveness. A tall, gaunt, grizzled and homely man, with a fund of anecdote from the prairies and with rugged bluntness of phrase, he gives the impression of possessing character and resolution. At this luncheon, being one of those who appreciate his public life and services, I had a personal and, in a sense, a confidential chat with him. He made it plain to me that he thought Roosevelt, in his disturbance of all existing interests and conditions and his use of the power of the presidency to advance his friends and control the succession, had done much harm.
It is the fate of every old lion when his teeth begin to loosen and his legs to stiffen to fall a prey to the jackals who howl and hunt in packs. Even now, as this is written, March 19, 1910, the jackals are gathering around “Uncle Joe” with the chances that his work is over.
Monday, February 22, 1909, at the dinner of the alumni of the University of Pennsylvania, I sat through the evening alongside of the Honorable William H. Taft, and made this memorandum the next morning. He said to me:
“You were about to say something to me this morning when we met at the Academy of Music and were interrupted?”
"Oh, I was only about to express my surprise at your calling me by name. We only met once before and then but for a few minutes.”
“I have a pretty good memory for faces, but that is not it — you have a face that lingers. Besides, we have met more than once. Perhaps we were not introduced, but I have seen you at functions.”
“How do you like it,” I inquired, “up to the present time? You were thrown out on the stump, making speeches, rubbing up against all kinds of people, many of them anxious to commit you upon subjects of interest to them. It must have been a great experience.”
“I rather enjoyed it. I made 402 speeches. Bryan made over eight hundred, but then, as some one said to me, he is an exception which don't count and is all throat. I wrote out at the beginning of the campaign a letter of acceptance in which I expressed my views on all the issues. In my speeches I confined myself to it, and you know while you may use different language it is practically a repetition of the same thought in all of them.”
Dr. S. Weir Mitchell sat on my right. Mr. Taft on my left. Presently Mr. Taft turned to me and abruptly asked:
“What sort of a mayor is Mr. Reyburn making?”
Mr. Reyburn was a few seats to our left, and in the course of the evening was unfortunate in an effort to secure an interview. I answered:
“Dr. Mitchell only a few minutes ago said to me that he is an unlimited idiot. I do not agree with Dr. Mitchell in this conclusion. You know Mitchell is a little decided in his views. I think Mr. Reyburn is a good mayor, doing all he can for the benefit of the city. In Philadelphia the lines are drawn pretty closely. I mean the social lines. Mr. Reyburn has not the correct social brand.”
“It amused me,” said he, “to hear that Mrs. Reyburn feels that her husband is like the Lord Mayor of London and ought to take the lead in all functions.”
“She not only so feels, but she shows a disposition to enforce what she thinks to be a right. There is much in the relation of all sorts of people which may afford amusement to a mind of philosophical tendency.” Thereupon he gave a hearty laugh.
“You must be a very good-natured fellow,” I ventured, “to have got along so comfortably with Mr. Roosevelt.”
“Roosevelt,” he replied, “is impulsive, but he has as little pride of opinion as any man I have ever known. In all matters in my department, when the reasons were explained to him, he was satisfied. He sees through a problem, too, very quickly. He is mentally alert.”
“What do you think of your Supreme Court?” he inquired.
“It is in good shape,” I answered. “The Chief Justice, Mitchell, is an exceptionally able lawyer — and there are other strong men on the Bench.”
“Do you know Hay Brown?” he asked.
“Yes, I know him.”
“Do you know John Elkin?”
“Yes, and he is making a good judge, better than you might have supposed. As you know, he was a politician and had many associations other than legal. But he is doing well.”
“I knew Judge Joseph P. Bradley of the U. S. Supreme Court,” he said. “He had intended to resign, but he died on the Bench. He had his own antipathies. He came to me when I was solicitor general and said: ‘If you have any respect whatever for my wishes in the matter, you will see to it that that man Paxson of Pennsylvania is not appointed my successor. I never have a pain in the finger that he does not hurry down to Washington and send up his card, inquiring for my health.’ ” Thereupon I laughed.
“Paxson,” I said, “was a man of strong common sense, but lacking in tone. He grew rich.”
“How did he make it?”
“He was executor for David Jayne and, thereafter, was thrifty and saving.”
“I suppose he had good information as to investments,” he added with a twinkle.
“I am not one of those,” said I, “who believe that the Philippines ought to be surrendered. Nations as well as men have to meet their fate. We have them and ought to take care of them.”
“That is my opinion,” said he, decidedly, “and I shall do all I can to have the Panama Canal finished while I am President. The resolution of Congress at the outset of the Spanish War announcing a policy as to Cuba in the event of success was a great blunder.”
This is one of my own pet views and I strongly assented, adding: “Mr. McKinley ought never to have tied himself up with his proclamation.”
“I see by the newspapers,” said I, “that you are going to appoint Senator Knox Secretary of State. If it be true, I am much pleased. Now do not tell me anything.”
“I am going to appoint him,” he replied with emphasis.
“You know him well?”
“Quite well; I appointed him to the Senate.”
“So you did.”
“You may be able to do something with those people in the South. Their interests are sure to get away with their prejudices, and it may come in your administration,” I suggested.
“I hope it does,” and turning to Budd, who is a Democrat, he added, “Democracy is nothing but a memory.”
He impressed me as being sane, vigorous and good-hearted, and I feel assured that his administration will be successful.
On Saturday evening, March 12, 1910, Mrs. Pennypacker and myself, as the guests of Mr. Shelly, occupied a proscenium box at Hammerstein's Opera House at Broad and Poplar Streets in Philadelphia, and heard Mary Garden in the opera Louise. She is an artist both in the use of her voice and in the histrionic part of the performance, showing power as well as skill. We were taken behind the scenes and introduced to her. A large woman, with great vital force, she is thoroughly feminine and has those physical characteristics which prove so attractive to men. In the brief interview she showed that mental alertness which enabled her to do and say what the situation seemed to require. She greeted me with:
“Governor, I am pleased to see you. This is a most distinguished honor,” and she extended her hand and laughed cheerily.
“We have been following your fortunes through the evening with the greatest interest,” I interjected.
“I hope you have not been shocked?” she inquired.
“There was no possibility of our being shocked; we were only absorbed.”
She had been arranging for the next scene and had placed in her bosom six or eight red roses. She drew my attention to them.
“Don't you think. Governor, that I have too many of these for proper effect?”
I could not accept the intimation without the possibility of mistake and, therefore, without indelicacy.
“I think, Miss Garden, that as you are, you are perfect.”
She plucked one of the roses from the bunch and said:
“There, take it. It is artificial, but then it will last the longer.”
“I shall see to it, since you have been so generous, that it lasts a long time.”
As a cover she gave another to Mr. Shelly. Then she turned suddenly, clutched it away from him, and said:
“No, you shan't have it. I will give it to Mrs. Pennypacker.”
Then she was called to the stage.
It has been my fortune to be brought into relations with the President in various ways and to have had at different times personal intercourse with him. A contemporaneous estimate of one who has filled so conspicuous a rôle, by any observer, may possess some value. My youngest brother, James L. Pennypacker, went to Harvard University. Roosevelt was in the same class and in some of the same societies and when my brother became an editor of the Harvard Advocate, Albert Bushnell Hart and he urged Roosevelt for the staff and succeeded in having him elected. They had their photographs taken together. Consequently, I began to hear of Roosevelt in his days at college. He has frequently spoken to me of my brother as “my Pennypacker.” What I heard of him was that he was not regarded among his associates as in any way remarkable save for earnestness of purpose and promptness of movement, though the fact that my brother, through most of the bizarre fortunes of the President, has been steadfast in his loyalty, speaks well for the impression he made. In the Hayes campaign the students marched in a parade through Boston. They were never on very good terms with the townspeople, and from the roof of a tall building potatoes and refuse, it may be some stones, were thrown at them. Roosevelt, excited and angry, suggested at once that they burn down the building.
A few years later, after Mr. Roosevelt began to appear in New York politics, occurred the contest between Mr. Blaine and Mr. Cleveland for the presidency. At that time I was secretary of the Philadelphia Civil Service Reform Association. The Independents in Pennsylvania favored Mr. Blaine, and when George William Curtis attempted to throw the weight of the Civil Service Reform Association on the side of Cleveland, I answered him in a letter circulated over the country. Roosevelt was also in favor of Blaine and we had some correspondence which are still among my letters.
We touched again later in a more important way, though he probably never knew of the fact.
In the Philadelphia National Convention of 1900 there was a struggle for the mastery between Mr. Hanna, supported by the national administration, upon the one hand, and Mr. Quay and Mr. Platt, on the other. Hanna had selected a candidate for the vice presidency. It is a fact well-known in Pennsylvania public life that Mr. Quay not only had a fondness for me, but he had confidence in my judgment. I told him at that time that the man for the occasion was Roosevelt, and I have ever felt since that I was a factor in this fateful turn in the fortunes of the President. At all events, Quay and Platt had him nominated and balked Hanna. When McKinley died and Roosevelt became the President, my feeling toward him was one of enthusiastic and hopeful approval, due, no doubt, largely to a sense of some personal association and to the fact that I was pleased to see a man of Dutch descent reach a station so exalted. I gave expression to this feeling to Mr. Quay. The only comment of that wise observer of men was:
“I hope he will be discreet.”
In the fall of 1903 the provost of the University of Pennsylvania came to me to ask me to secure the presence of Mr. Roosevelt at the Academy of Music on the following 22d of February to deliver the annual address before that institution of learning. At the time I was very much occupied with the affairs of the commonwealth, but the welfare of the University ever appealed to me and I promised to make the effort. Mr. Quay, upon whom Mr. Roosevelt then much depended, arranged for an interview. On the day appointed, I went to Washington and Mr. Quay took me in his carriage to the White House. I presented the matter to the President and he, in reply, said, with a laugh:
“Mr. Quay has given directions that I am not to make any address upon any subject until after the election next fall, and here he is supporting you in an effort to get me to go to Philadelphia.”
Mr. Quay assented to the truth of the charge. Then the President, in more serious mood, gave me reasons why, in anticipation of the political campaign, he did not feel he could accept, but in effect promised me that the following year, if desired, he would make the address. I thanked him and told him that would be eminently satisfactory, and the succeeding February 22d he kept the engagement.
He invited us to return to lunch with him. At the White House for luncheon were Mrs. Roosevelt and another lady or two, two or three senators, and as many newspaper editors from New York. The President came in from a horseback ride in his riding suit. He began to talk when he entered the outer door. He talked all the time on the way to the table and he talked all the time throughout the luncheon. Hardly an observation was made by any one else at the table, and, in fact, it would only have been possible by the exercise of a sort of brutal force. The subject which he discussed was Italian literature, with which he did not appear to me to be very familiar. Every once in a while he turned to Mr. Quay, who sat on his right, and put some question to him as to an authority, but he seldom waited for an answer. The strongest impression made on me was that of mental excitement, of a man laboring under a serious nervous strain, and if I could have given him advice it would have been to sit down quietly somewhere and rest. I feared a break-down before the end of his term.
When Mr. Roosevelt delivered his address, I, as a trustee of the University, was present on the platform. While being introduced to the trustees and others in the waiting room, he plunged at Dr. Weir Mitchell, shook him fiercely and ejaculated:
“I have just been reading one of your books,” and gave a quotation.
“That is the third time he has told me that story,” grumbled Mitchell, as he came away, “and I never wrote anything of the kind in my life.”
The address was unimportant in itself, but his coming showed kindness and was much appreciated.
I likewise sat on the platform and heard him make his address July 4, 1902, at Pittsburgh, noticing his habit of snapping off his words as though trying to bite through them with his teeth (perhaps this is what happened to “thru”) and heard another, later, before the Masons at Masonic Temple in Philadelphia. On the latter occasion he attracted much attention by coming at me, with both fists closed, glaring at me with assumed savagery, striking me on the chest with force enough to upset a light man, and shouting:
“Nothing like a double Dutchman, nothing like a double Dutchman!”
On Decoration Day of 1905, which was the first time Mr. Roosevelt had ever been at Gettysburg, I rode in a barouche with him, Mrs. Roosevelt and Ethel, over the grounds. Ethel was then a sweet, attractive little girl of about eleven years of age, and I tried to entertain her. She afterward wrote me a pretty little note which will be found among my papers. He asked me whether I had ever seen any military service and I told him that I had carried a musket for a brief period, and that it had been my fate to be in the first force to meet the rebels at Gettysburg. This aroused his keen interest and opened the way for me to tell him of the unequaled contribution of our family to that war, it having furnished two major generals, five colonels and in all one hundred and forty-eight men. “It is wonderful,” he said. Afterward I heard of his repeating the tale over the country.
At a reception in Cambridge, Massachusetts, two years later, at which my sister-in-law was present, he shouted across the room:
“I know something about the Pennypackers that you don't know. They sent one hundred and forty-eight men into the war.”
The cards, invitations, programmes and photographs relating to his inauguration and my participation in it will be found among my papers.
At the inauguration ball in the evening it pleased me that Mrs. Roosevelt did not need an introduction and to hear her say to Mrs. Pennypacker, “Your husband was so good to my little girl.”
In the spring of 1906, a large delegation of state senators and representatives, on behalf of the state, went with me to Washington to invite the President to deliver the oration at the dedication of the state capitol the ensuing autumn. Senators Penrose and Knox accompanied us. To me was left the burden of making the persuading speech. I had written a formal letter of invitation suggesting that we would make every effort to accommodate ourselves to his wishes and would let him designate the day. He accepted and selected the fourth day of October, which happened to be the anniversary of the reunion in 1877 of the Pennypacker family at Pennypacker's Mills. After he had received us and heard me he dismissed the delegation and asked Penrose and Knox and myself to come into his private room in the annex to the White House, as there was a matter of importance about which he wanted to talk to us. Closing the doors, he turned to me and said in effect that he had information from reliable sources that there was going to be another great coal strike in the course of the coming summer, that he gave me warning in advance, so that I might be prepared, and that he would like me to enter into communication with him on the first appearance of difficulty. At that moment he and I set our faces in different directions. It was in effect an announcement to me that in the event of differences between the coal operators and the coal miners in Pennsylvania he intended to take charge of the matter as he had done before. I had always regarded the appointment of the coal commission not only as a stretch of the authority of the national executive, but also as an interference with the sovereignty of the state and an unjustifiable assumption of a duty which pertained to that sovereignty alone. I listened in silence, with the inward determination that in the event of the emergency he had forecasted he should have nothing whatever to do with its settlement, unless the resources of the state proved inadequate. In a preceding chapter I have given my letters to President George F. Baer of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company and to John Mitchell, head of the labor organization, my proclamation to the people of the state, and have narrated the use of the state constabulary and the steps taken which led to the settlement of the coal strike by the authorities of Pennsylvania. I had, however, touched Mr. Roosevelt in his most sensitive nerve and I have always felt that he did not forgive me.
On the 4th of October, 1906, I rode through the streets of Harrisburg with him in a barouche in which was also the mayor of that city. He was on his feet nearly the whole time almost throwing himself out of the carriage in energetic recognitions of the vociferous shouting and cheers of the crowd. The mayor found a chance, with some difficulty, to express a most earnest hope that Mr. Roosevelt would permit the people again to elect him to the presidency. I was perhaps called upon by the situation to concur in this maladroit compliment, but refrained. The President naturally made no response. As he threw himself to right and left, I said: “I do not know what to make of you,” to which he in like manner made no response. To some comment of mine upon the responsibilities and powers of the President, he took time to say: “It is a great office.”
The newspapers in their efforts to find some defect about the capitol had been making much to-do about some little heads on the main doors. As he entered the building he said with a manifest effort to be generally heard: “These are the finest bronze doors I have ever seen,” for which I was duly grateful. He ran over the building, commenting favorably upon all he saw. It was raining heavily. To the suggestion that we have the ceremonies inside he said: “No, we will speak from the platform.” While I was making the dedicatory address some one in the crowd called aloud. Mr. Roosevelt caught me by the coat and said, “Don't answer him, don't answer him.” His address was pronounced in its views. He commended highly the special session of the legislature and its work. He attacked the courts. He advocated a concentration of power in the National Government, citing James Wilson. He picked out an old soldier in front of him and made the veteran wild with pleasure by personal references. He met Mrs. Pennypacker and asked for the number of her children. He signed the proof notes of his address while on the platform and gave them to me.
He lunched at the mansion. He asked for “My Pennypacker” and I had my brother come to the table beside him.
He had promised to speak in York and was hurried away to the train shouting and gesticulating. I have not seen him since.
I began with much admiration for him and at the close of his administration it does not meet the approval of my judgment. There has been too much commotion and too little result. There has been too much appeal to the unthinking crowd, too much denunciation, too much of the outré. I do not understand why, as a Dutchman, he had no word of sympathy for the Boers fighting for their land and permitted the United States to be used by their enemies. I do not understand why he should emphasize his gratitude to Pennsylvania, when she gave him the largest majority any President ever received in a state, and then see to it that she had no cabinet position, no place in the Supreme Court, and no minister abroad by his appointment. I do not understand the condemnation of postmasters for political activity and throwing the whole power of the presidency into the nomination and election of his successor. I do not like publicly attacking the meat trade and at the same time permitting it to use benzoate of soda. I cannot reconcile zeal for civil service reform with putting a doctor chum at the head of the army, and turning out a worthy incumbent in order to find a place for his private secretary as collector of the port of New York. His assaults upon congress and the courts do not accord with a due appreciation of and regard for our system of government. And yet he has been a most vigorous personality and it may be has been of some benefit to our life. I am inclined to think that the solution of his inconsistencies lies in the fact that he is a man of strong impulses, with good inclinations and not of a high order of intelligence. Whether he is to be put in the class with Richard Coeur de Lion and Henri Quatre or in that other class with Mahomet and John Law, I do not pretend to decide.
After Governor Tener had accepted the presidency of the League of Base Ball Clubs, the Pen and Pencil Club gave him a dinner. At this dinner I met “Connie Mack,” the man who has been heard of everywhere because under his management the Athletic Club won the championships through a series of years. His real name is Cornelius McGillicuddy. He made a speech about what he had done and hoped to do which was apt and pleasing. He is a dark-eyed and fleshless man, about five feet ten inches in height, and through the drawn lines of his rather hard face a smile of good nature continually makes its way.
Charles E. Hughes
The University of Pennsylvania for many years has celebrated the 22d of February, holding exercises in the American Academy of Music, where some man of wide reputation makes an address to the assembled classes and invited public. These demonstrations are regarded as of more than ordinary importance and seats are much in demand, and requests for them often end in disappointment. Of the Presidents, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft have made addresses upon these occasions. Upon that date in 1910 Charles E. Hughes, then governor of New York, delivered the oration and received the degree of Doctor of Laws. I was introduced to him in the foyer of the Academy, where the trustees assembled and from which they marched in procession to the stage.
“Everybody knows Governor Pennypacker,” was his response.
With heavy black whiskers around his face, with more hair there than on his head, with very much the manner of a grocer selling sugar over a counter, he gave the impression of one whose cultivation had very recently begun. The color of the skin, the timbre of the voice and the physical composure, showing no disturbance of nerve, all indicated good health and satisfactory nutrition. His address was delivered with sonorous tones that could be easily heard over the house, and he pleased his audience, who gave him hearty applause. In matter it was commonplace in the extreme, giving no evidence either of learning, acuteness of thought or grasp of his subject. In the main it was an effort to convince his hearers that men in public and private life ought to be virtuous in order to reap a due reward of happiness, accompanied with the suggestion that there are officials, not himself, who fail to pursue this course and deserve retribution.
At the dinner given in the evening by the alumni, I was the toastmaster, and I inquired of James M. Beck, the bland orator and successful lawyer, who sat at my side, whether it would be safe to poke a little fun at Hughes or whether he was so stiff and narrow as to fail to understand it. “You will be entirely safe,” said Beck, who further gave me his judgment that the governor was really a very worthy man, with high motives. I introduced him as a man who had made a reputation over the country by trying to do in New York what we had accomplished in Pennsylvania, and some other chaff of like character, and he bore it with great equanimity, and made a good speech.
In the course of this speech he said he “had improved by degrees,” referring to his recent doctorate. I introduced to him a number of persons, among them a preacher who took that inopportune time to urge upon him a new edition of the testament, and he still behaved with good nature and self-restraint.
John Scott, a most worthy Philadelphia lawyer, son of United States Senator John Scott, told me, November 10, 1910, the following facts:
He goes to the Canadian woods every summer. There he has an Indian guide of whom he is very fond, named Louis Gill, of the tribe of Abenakies. One day this Indian said to Scott:
“Do you know Senator Cu-ay?”
“Yes, I know Senator Quay.”
“He is one of our tribe,” the Indian affirmed with a glad smile.
“Does he take any interest in your affairs?” asked Scott.
“Yes,” replied Gill, “when our Catholic Church burned down we wrote to him and he sent us $5,000. He is a good man.”
January 5, 1914, F. W. Fleitz, deputy attorney general (with John P. Elkin) under three state administrations, entertained a few of us at the Harrisburg Club, with his recollections of Senator Quay. He said:
“Quay was the most wonderful man I have ever known. He understood men thoroughly. He never gave orders. He had no regard for money save as a means to an end. There were times in his life when he was penniless. He was entirely without vanity. He had certain veins of superstition. Once in Florida a rattlesnake crept out from a hole. I threw a stone at it. He checked me and told me never to strike a snake. Then he explained to me that once a long while ago the Seminoles and the rattlesnakes, after long hostilities, made a treaty of peace. No Seminole will ever strike a rattlesnake, and no snake since has bitten a Seminole. ‘I never strike a snake,’ said he, ‘and don't you do it.’
“In the sununer of 1895, I tried to prevail on him not to begin his struggle with Governor Hastings. I pointed out to him that he was firm in his seat in the senate for several years, that Hastings' strength would wane as his term neared its end, that the mayors of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the corporations at that time were hostile. He said to me: ‘There is no fault in your reasoning, but I must make the fight. I often discard my reason and follow my intuitions.’
“He took me down to St. Lucie in Florida with him several times. There he entertained the Earl of Newcastle and his brother, Lord Hope. He was an admirable host. While there was never any ostentatious show of attention, he always quietly saw to it that his guest had the best boat, and the best fishing tackle, and the pleasant seat. On one occasion, while we were fishing together at Atlantic City, a man of some distinction asked to go along. ‘Are you a good sailor? It is apt to be rough out there, and when we are once anchored, we have to stay,’ the Senator quietly suggested. The man came in a white shirt, and after the boat had been fixed about seven miles out, Ben Sooy went back to the shore. Ere long the man with the white shirt lay on the broad of his back in the bottom of the boat, retching and gasping, while the fish were being thrown all over him. ‘Damn him,’ said the Senator, ‘he ought to have had sense enough not to come out here.’
“On another occasion, at Atlantic City, he said to Sooy: ‘Ben, I will give you ten dollars if you will jump into the sea.’ In an instant Sooy was overboard. We threw him a rope. The Senator drew a knife and said: ‘Ben, give up those ten dollars, and I will not cut this rope.’ ‘I will swim to China for ten dollars,’ said Sooy. All laughed and drew him in.
“Another time we were fishing in Florida. The large, powerful fish (tarpon) had to be exhausted before being taken into the boat. We had lost several from the lines while playing with them. The Senator said: ‘I intend to draw the next fish straight to the boat,’ and he did. It was a dangerous proceeding. When it came near, the Senator called: ‘Ben, gaff that fish.’ Sooy struck it and in an instant the harpoon and fish were up in the air, and Sooy was battling with the waves. We helped him into the boat whereupon, disgusted, he shouted: ‘If any damn fool wants another fish harpooned, he may do it himself.’
(Turning to me.) “He was very fond of you and proud of what you accomplished. I was at a hotel in Washington one evening with Quay, Penrose, Durham, Larry Eyre and John P. Elkin, and we had been discussing for several hours Pennsylvania affairs. All of them, except Eyre and myself, retired to an inner room. It had been assumed everywhere that Elkin was to be the nominee for the governorship, and everything looked favorable. When they came out Quay had been drinking some, and I ordered a carriage and went home with him. On the way he was silent, but finally said to me: ‘The old man is not dead yet, Fleitz, you stick to me, and you will come out all right.’ He repeated the words. I knew that something had occurred in the room, and feared for Elkin. A few weeks later he sent word to Elkin to come to St. Lucie, and there told him he could not be the nominee for governor.
“I have often seen him drink. I never saw him so under the influence of liquor that it affected either his head or his walk. He had a peculiar way of drinking. During a campaign — perhaps for a year — he would not touch a drop. He had absolute self-control. He would pour out the liquor for his guests, and sit among them, his own glass empty. After the campaign was over he would go away and drink, I always thought to get rid of the nervous anxiety.”
Wu Ting Fang
This bright Chinaman, when minister from his country to the United States, made a very agreeable impression upon Americans. He had much of the American trend of thought and was keen as a briar. When the University of Pennsylvania dedicated its law building, he was present. A baronet named Rowe had been sent to represent the University of Oxford and he made an address at the Academy of Music. A poorer speaker never appeared in public. He had no voice and no manner. He read from a manuscript and his sight was defective. He turned his back to the audience and rapidly emptied the hall. Wu leaned over to me and whispered:
“I wish he would shut up.”
Again with an air of relief from weariness, he said:
“I did see your wife today. I did make a joke at her. I told her she could pack pennies.”
General Samuel Pearson
I had an interview today, February 17, 1911, with General Samuel Pearson of the Boer Army, a short, thick-set man, rugged and brown in complexion, with an earnest and emotional manner and rapidity of utterance, which reminded me much of Mr. Roosevelt, and I am sure that in temperament they are quite alike. When carried along with a rapid flow of words, and with the blood flowing to his head, he occasionally lost control of the nerves of speech and stammered. He was born in the Transvaal. His people, on the side of his father, came from Denmark, and on the side of his mother, from Holland. Kruger, to whom he says he was opposed, and who, in his opinion, was a most remarkable personage, sent him with a message to Mr. Roosevelt, at that time President of the United States. He took with him a letter of introduction from Robert Roosevelt of New York, the uncle of the President. The President greeted him with:
“What can I do for you?”
“There is nothing you can do for me personally. Mr. Kruger has sent me to see whether something cannot be done to prevent the English from getting horses in America. If they cannot get horses here they cannot win in the war. Mr. McKinley issued a proclamation on neutrality; this is not being neutral. It is aiding one side in the war, and that side an empire against a democracy.”
“That question has been settled,” said the President. “It was decided by the judge in Louisiana.”
“What the judge in Louisiana decided was that he had no right to interfere and that if there was to be interference it must come from the government of the United States. It is, therefore, a matter for you.”
“It is all settled,” was the reply. “Your people ought to stop fighting. They ought to surrender.” This statement angered the general, and he said:
“I did not come here to ask your advice about military matters and I do not think you are competent to give it. General Louis Botha is the man to say whether or not the cause ought to be surrendered.”
“I shall not interfere,” said the President.
“I will compel you to take some action,” replied the general, who says that Mrs. Van Rensselaer, who wrote a history of New York, told him that the Roosevelts were not Dutchmen but Jews. He then went to Louisiana with the determination of gathering a lot of men together and killing the Englishmen there buying and shipping horses. There were about a hundred and fifty of them. He was persuaded to the contrary by the judge and by the fact that he was entirely without money to defend his cause in the American courts.
“I made a great mistake,” he added. “If I had killed those Englishmen the American people would have been aroused and our cause would have been won. However, the Dutch have control of the government in the Transvaal, and as soon as England gets into trouble they will be independent. It is the greatest war in history and we ruined the prestige of England.”
Some time later he saw John Hay, who told him that the Dutch in the Transvaal were the vassals of the English.
October 15 and 16, 1912, the American Antiquarian Society celebrated at Worcester, Massachusetts, the hundredth anniversary of its foundation and assembled many distinguished men, including President Taft. Waldo Lincoln, the president of the society, gave us a luncheon in his house and I sat at a little square table, which could accommodate four persons, with Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts and James Bryce, author of The American Commonwealth, and then Ambassador from England to the United States. A thin little man, with a bright eye and long whiskers, he is utterly incapable of dressing himself and his shirt bulged out in a hump before him, but alert, knowing and wise.
“I have all the works of Voltaire in my library, a hundred volumes or so,” said Adams, “but nobody reads Voltaire any more.”
“I could read the works of Jacob Boehm with interest,” added Bryce, “but not La Henriade.”
“I have read La Henriade,” I ventured to suggest.
“It is a pleasure to meet a man in America who has really read La Henriade,” replied Bryce in a tone which did not quite disclose whether it meant surprise or sarcasm.
“Rabelais can no longer be read,” again suggested Adams.
“It is too coarse,” said I.
“It is stupid,” added Bryce.
“So it is with Hudibras. Its wit is mere dullness,” said Adams.
“Take such lines as ——
|‘||There was an ancient sage philosopher|
|Who had read the works of Alexander Ross over,’|
and they have some of that sort of fun which we found acceptable in the Ingoldsby Legends,” I gently suggested, but it met with no response. Bryce made many queries in regard to existing conditions in America, but always stopped short at the point of danger and never ventured an opinion. The effect of the blending of races and the result of the coming presidential election interested him, but he had no views.
“What will Pennsylvania do?” he inquired.
“Vote for Taft,” I replied, and there the subject was dropped.
He listened to the address of Henry Cabot Lodge, which contained many strictures upon England, without the indication of any emotion whatever. At the dinner the President, Bryce, Adams, Paget, the minister from Peru to the United States, and myself all made speeches.
Robert E. Peary
On the 11th of December, 1909, I dined in New York with the Pennsylvania Society of that city at the Waldorf-Astoria. It was a great dinner given to Philander C. Knox, Franklin MacVeagh and Wickersham, the three Pennsylvanians in the cabinet of President Taft. The two United States Senators — Penrose and Oliver; Governor Stuart; Horace Howard Furness, the Shakespearean scholar; the former Governor, James A. Beaver; Von Moschzisker, the coming Supreme Court Justice; Lloyd C. Griscom; John Wanamaker; and many others were among the guests. Andrew Carnegie presided and did it well. It was my fortune to sit alongside of Robert E. Peary for the greater part of the evening. A few evenings before, in the Academy of Music, I had heard his first lecture since the discovery of the North Pole and once before I had dined with him, when he was not so famous. He received much of the attention shown to the celebrities throughout the evening and made the first speech. It was a meritorious speech, brief and with a thought in it. He said in substance that he had been born along the Susquehanna, reared in Maine, and supported by the contributions of New York, and, therefore, was under special obligation to the people of three states; that for hundreds of years explorers had striven to find the North Pole and to find a passageway between the two great oceans, and in our day both tasks had been accomplished. That was all he said. A tall, slim man, with steel-blue eyes, a mustache, a sandy complexion, while the red in his hair was not at all a color but a tendency, alone pointing to some more or less remote ancestor, and a self-contained manner indicating strength of will and poise. He was not obtrusive or effusive, neither was he deprecatory, and when he spoke there was not the slightest symptom of nervousness.
“Commander, when I heard you the other night, it was all clear to me except your getting across those stretches of water you called ‘leads.’ I should not have liked to depend upon chipping off cakes of ice and zigzagging them across. A man on the far side of a lead might be in a confounded trap.”
A smile crept slowly over his face.
“The danger is not so great. Generally they are not very wide. They freeze over. The effort to reach the Pole was made at the lowest temperature when this danger is the least. On one occasion, however, I realized what it meant. We came to a lead two miles wide. I thought out the situation and concluded to wait until it should be frozen over and we waited three days. Then my Esquimaux reported a crossing two or three miles away. We went over on snowshoes fifty paces apart and singly, but it was very dangerous and I feared we should never reach home to tell the tale.”
“Would it not be possible to take some light kind of a canoe along?”
“No, the only hope of success lay in transporting as little as possible. We had to run the risks.”
To another query put by Mr. Lloyd C. Griscom, he said in reply:
“We lived altogether upon compressed foods. No coffee was permitted. Under the excitement of the advance, coffee would have resulted in loss of sleep and that would have meant loss of vital force. We needed it all. The ration was a quart of tea, morning and evening, but no coffee. Coffee is a drink for the tropics but not for the poles. We would not have a movement of the bowels for perhaps a week. There was no trouble to keep comfortably warm in a temperature of sixty degrees below zero. It was essential not to permit enough exertion to cause perspiration. That also meant a loss of force.”
He, himself, made a reference to Cook.
“Commander,” said I, “I had no confidence in Cook from the time of his initial telegram, which did not say he had found the Pole, but that he had been successful. If, however, he did get there it was partly an accident and he has not the merit of a man who has planned and labored for the result.”
“Governor, there is no ‘if’ in the proposition. I knew the two Esquimaux who were with him, from their childhood. They are very keen about directions and distances. They could not be mistaken about where they went. He wandered about the country, but he was never far from land. The Esquimaux are savages. If the wife of one of them for any reason cannot go hunting with him and the wife of his friend can, they trade wives and think nothing of it, but about many things they know better than we do.”
“Are you going to let that man Shackelford capture the South Pole?” I inquired.
He replied with earnestness:
“If I had a hundred thousand dollars I should go there.”
This was interesting because it had been reported that he would never undertake anything of the kind again.
“Why don't you seize upon Andy?” and I pointed to Carnegie, only a few feet from us.
“He will not do a thing toward it,” he said rather sadly, and I gathered the impression that he had made the effort. In his canny fashion Andy had, nevertheless, introduced him as the only discoverer of the North Pole and committed the society to the statement.
John R. Brooke
John R. Brooke, who fought at Gettysburg, commanded in Cuba during our war with Spain, who has been the senior major general in the United States Army, called on me, November 26, 1913, together with Major David S. B. Chew, to ask me to try to prevent the memorial erected in Germantown, to commemorate the battle, from being disturbed.
By my appointment he had been a member of the commission which erected the memorial and had been much talked of for the governorship at the time I was selected. He told me of his trouble and then sat in my office and talked. A large man, weighing perhaps two hundred and twenty pounds, with gray hair, blue eyes and a double chin, he did pretty much all of the talking and was deliberate, with low, unemphatic utterance to the point almost of exasperation. He had been in the same class with Dr. Nathan A. Pennypacker in the school at the Trappe. He had been at the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and had there spoken. In creating the commission Governor Stuart had asked him to be a subordinate to General Louis Wagner, who was never at Gettysburg at all and had commanded a negro regiment and was turned out of the commission by Governor Tener, but the General had held too high a rank to be a bob to any kite and he had declined. He had gone at one time to the office of General Wagner. As he entered he stepped on a mat and a bell rang. Wagner yelled at him:
“Get off of the mat!”
He turned around on the mat and the bell again rang.
“Get off of the mat!” Wagner yelled more loudly.
“He probably did not recognize you,” I gently suggested.
“It makes no difference who I was,” replied the General, “he is no gentleman. I turned on my heel and have had nothing to do with him since.” And the General continued:
“The rebels who tried to break up the government are now in control of it. The Secretary of War has ordered that wherever in the records of his department the word ‘Rebellion’ is written, it shall be obliterated and the words ‘The Civil War’ be substituted. It is all due to that fellow Roosevelt, who is disordered but has an infinite capacity for mischief.”
Congress Hall had been restored to its original condition by the City of Philadelphia and was opened October 25, 1913, with ceremonies consisting of addresses, a military parade and a banquet. I had met Mr. Wilson when he delivered an address before the University of Pennsylvania and now was one of the committee to receive him. We met him at the train, when he arrived at Broad Street Station, lunched with him at the Bellevue-Stratford and escorted him to the hall where he made an address. He is about five feet nine inches in height, with sparse hair, eyes of no particular color, a clouded skin, lips a little too thick that wabble about and do not fit together well, a smile that lights up his face but suggests that it is a thing of habit, and a body spare almost to the extent of emaciation.
There are certain men whom I have encountered in life, some of them like William Sulzer and Israel Zangwill, who have reached distinction, who give me the impression that through generations of forefathers they have been unsufficiently fed. A lack of nutrition, due to poverty or to weakness of the stomach, has affected their bodies and necessarily also their mental action. I have always thought that John Calvin must have belonged to this type. They are generally strong-willed and, within certain limits, efficient, but their judgments are never to be trusted, because they are not broad enough to see consequences in their causes. They make such fatal mistakes as burning Michael Servetus to advance the cause of Christianity.
Wilson is a man of this build. While searching his features and contour, I felt that I could understand the character of the man who turned against the forces which elected him to the governorship of New Jersey; who, while looking for the presidency, asked Andrew Carnegie for a pension; who, while governor of his state, abandoned it and went to Bermuda; and who, calling the attention of the world to his first serious address to congress by going in person to deliver it, wrote into it the remarkable figure of speech, “an isolated island of jealous power.” His address at Congress Hall had no relation to the occasion and had no value. He was brought into contrast with Champ Clark, round, healthy, jovial, with something of the milk of human kindness in his soul, who also made an address. After it was over and Wilson had slipped away to Swarthmore, I went up to Clark:
“How do you do, Governor?” he inquired.
“My name is Pennypacker,” I said at the same time.
“Oh, I know you very well, and anyhow I could tell you from the caricatures.”
“You made a good speech,” I followed. “I wish to goodness that while your Democrats were electing a President they had elected you.”
He laughed and replied:
“So do I.”
I replied: “I should have felt much more secure about our national affairs.”
Then he grew sober.
Edward T. Stotesbury
Dining with Charles C. Harrison, the former provost of the University of Pennsylvania, on the evening of September 23, 1914, at his attractive country place, I sat at the head of the table with Mrs. Harrison and on my left was E. T. Stotesbury, the millionaire, who, entering the house of Drexel & Company years ago as a clerk at a small salary, is now the head of the establishment. A short, meagre man, with much vivacity, he told me that he had been much opposed to the nomination of George H. Earle, Jr., for the mayoralty of the city, but that now, under the Wilson regime, eleven hundred men had been discharged by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and every business in which he was interested was stagnant, and he hoped for the return of Penrose to the United States Senate.
“I have just received a letter from the head of the firm of Harjes & Co., in Paris. It is pitiable. He asks me to be his executor. He tells me the Germans are near the city, that he does not know whether he or his children will be alive a week hence, that he does not know whether he will have anything to leave to them, that no man can tell what will happen.”
Stotesbury was interested in the opera in Philadelphia.
“I paid Mary Garden,” said he, “eighteen hundred dollars a night, and made an engagement to pay her eighty thousand dollars in the course of the winter. The newspapers accused me of spending too much time in her dressing room, while on the other hand she described me as “such a timid little man.”
Peary — Amundsen — Shackleton
On the evening of January 16, 1913, at the Art Club in Philadelphia, I met Robert E. Peary, who discovered the North Pole, Roald Amundsen, who reached the South Pole, and Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Englishman who made a brave attempt to get to the South Pole, but failed. It certainly was an unusual combination to encounter at one time. A reception was given them by the Art Club, at which many distinguished Philadelphians were present. John Cadwalader escorted me to a seat at the luncheon upstairs and, being a member of the club, acted as a personal host. While we were chatting, we were interrupted, however, by a gentleman who said he had been hunting for me and that the president of the club wanted me to dine with the guests. About twenty persons sat at the dinner table. It gave me the opportunity of seeing at closer range the explorers and saying a few words to them. Peary I have known and have elsewhere depicted. Amundsen is a tall, bony man, with the lines of his face drawn, thin and tough, giving much the impression of a Calvinistic Scotchman, fed on oatmeal and the twenty-nine articles of the Covenant. He was, nevertheless, cordial and answered such questions as were put to him with few but direct words. He indicated a certain sense of power and is probably made of sterner stuff than most men.
Shackleton, a short, stocky, dark-eyed and dark-haired Englishman, I pitied. What could be more uncomfortable than to feel that you had come near, but had not touched, the goal and then to be shown in contrast with two men, each of whom had succeeded in the difficult quest.
General Nelson E. Miles, who was one of the party, came over and sat with me at the table after the cigars had been handed around. Much of his talk was about Roosevelt, whom he detested.
Once while I was active in the management of the Penn Club in Philadelphia, an institution at the corner of Eighth and Locust streets, started by my friend Wharton Barker, and which has entertained many distinguished persons, we concluded to give a reception to the “good grey poet.” The gentlemen of the city were there, all in their evening dress. Whitman came over from Camden in a rough gray suit intended for the street and considerably the worse for wear. This was permissible if due to necessity or even to his own convenience. A large-framed, muscular man, he wore a long, heavy beard and gave the indication of brawn and vigor. Before coming he had industriously inserted forty or fifty pins in the lapel of his coat and they shone forth conspicuously. This, of course, was pure affectation, throwing doubt on the suit and giving the appearance of humbuggery to the whole performance. It has ever seemed to me that this element ran through all of his so-called poetry. There is much filth and wastage in the world, but nature soon covers it up and conceals it from view. To give it undue prominence is, therefore, to be unnatural and in effect is much like the ostentatious array of pins. Even decent people have at times occasion to make use of a jordan, but they put it under the bed where the drapery hides it from sight. Poets like Whitman and novelists like Emile Zola and Thomas Hardy insist on putting it on the parlor table, and they call this offense realism.
I have met Mr. Root on two occasions; at Chicago where he made the speech nominating Roosevelt for the presidency, a speech which could not be heard and, therefore, made little impression on the audience, and again at the Franklin dinner of the American Philosophical Society, where he sat between me and Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, whom he spent most of his time in jibing. A slim, rugged, iron-gray man who gives the impression of will-power and intelligence, which he undoubtedly possesses, he is a living illustration of the old saw, “First get on, then get honor, then get honest.” Beginning life as an associate of Tweed, progressing into a successful corporation lawyer and accumulator, he now, in his old age, proclaims that there are higher motives than the pursuit of money, and he is keen to perceive corruption in politicians outside of New York. He stood manfully by Roosevelt while the latter had power and then promptly dropped him. As a United States Senator, he represented the financial interests of New York City, and, if a choice had to be made between the welfare of the country and the welfare of these interests, always found good or plausible reasons for clinging to the flesh pots. As a statesman he ought never to be forgiven for his part in the surrender of our sovereignty over the Panama Canal. On the whole, he is a man capable of great usefulness, but entirely too shrewd and worldly-wise to be a safe dependence.