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Title: Camping & Tramping with Roosevelt
Author: Burroughs, John, 1837-1921
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Camping & Tramping with Roosevelt" ***

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                              CAMPING &

                          BY JOHN BURROUGHS

                       Books by John Burroughs

    #WORKS.# 19 vols., uniform, 16mo, with frontispiece, gilt top.

    #FIELD AND STUDY.# _Riverside Edition._

    #UNDER THE APPLE-TREES.# _Riverside Edition._

    #THE BREATH OF LIFE.# _Riverside Edition._

    #THE SUMMIT OF THE YEARS.# _Riverside Edition._

    #TIME AND CHANGE.# _Riverside Edition._

    #LEAF AND TENDRIL.# _Riverside Edition._

    #WAYS OF NATURE.# _Riverside Edition._

    #FAR AND NEAR.# _Riverside Edition._

    #LITERARY VALUES.# _Riverside Edition._

    #THE LIGHT OF DAY.# _Riverside Edition._

    #WHITMAN: A Study.# _Riverside Edition._

    #A YEAR IN THE FIELDS.# Selections appropriate to each season
    of the year, from the writings of John Burroughs. Illustrated
    from Photographs by CLIFTON JOHNSON.

    #IN THE CATSKILLS.# Illustrated from Photographs by CLIFTON


    #BIRD AND BOUGH.# Poems.

    #WINTER SUNSHINE.# _Cambridge Classics Series._

    #WAKE-ROBIN.# _Riverside Aldine Series._



                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                         BOSTON AND NEW YORK


    From stereograph, copyright 1905, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

                          CAMPING & TRAMPING
                            WITH ROOSEVELT

                            JOHN BURROUGHS

                         _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS_


                         BOSTON AND NEW YORK
                       HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
                   #The Riverside Press Cambridge#


    _Published October 1907_


  ARRIVAL AT GARDINER, MONTANA                                    10
  THE PRESIDENT IN THE BEAR COUNTRY                               38
  MR. BURROUGHS'S FAVORITE PASTIME                                50
  SUNRISE IN THE YELLOWSTONE                                      64
  THE PRESIDENT ON A TRAIL                                        72
          AS THE TROPHY ROOM                                      82
  A YEARLING IN THE APPLE ORCHARD                                 98
  HALLWAY, SAGAMORE HILL                                         106


This little volume really needs no introduction; the two sketches of
which it is made explain and, I hope, justify themselves. But there is
one phase of the President's many-sided character upon which I should
like to lay especial emphasis, namely, his natural history bent and
knowledge. Amid all his absorbing interests and masterful activities
in other fields, his interest and his authority in practical natural
history are by no means the least. I long ago had very direct proof of
this statement. In some of my English sketches, following a visit to
that island in 1882, I had, rather by implication than by positive
statement, inclined to the opinion that the European forms of animal
life were, as a rule, larger and more hardy and prolific than the
corresponding forms in this country. Roosevelt could not let this
statement or suggestion go unchallenged, and the letter which I
received from him in 1892, touching these things, is of double
interest at this time, as showing one phase of his radical
Americanism, while it exhibits him as a thoroughgoing naturalist.
I am sure my readers will welcome the gist of this letter. After
some preliminary remarks he says:--

"The point of which I am speaking is where you say that the Old World
forms of animal life are coarser, stronger, fiercer, and more fertile
than those of the New World." (My statement was not quite so sweeping
as this.) "Now I don't think that this is so; at least, comparing the
forms which are typical of North America and of northern Asia and
Europe, which together form but one province of animal life.

"Many animals and birds which increase very fast in new countries, and
which are commonly spoken of as European in their origin, are really
as alien to Europe as to their new homes. Thus the rabbit, rat, and
mouse are just as truly interlopers in England as in the United States
and Australia, having moved thither apparently within historic times,
the rabbit from North Africa, the others from southern Asia; and one
could no more generalize upon the comparative weakness of the American
fauna from these cases of intruders than one could generalize from
them upon the comparative weakness of the British, German, and French
wild animals. Our wood mouse or deer mouse retreats before the
ordinary house mouse in exactly the same way that the European wood
mouse does, and not a whit more. Our big wood rat stands in the same
relation to the house rat. Casting aside these cases, it seems to me,
looking at the mammals, that it would be quite impossible to
generalize as to whether those of the Old or the New World are more
fecund, are the fiercest, the hardiest, or the strongest. A great many
cases could be cited on both sides. Our moose and caribou are, in
certain of their varieties, rather larger than the Old World forms of
the same species. If there is any difference between the beavers of
the two countries, it is in the same direction. So with the great
family of the field mice. The largest true arvicola seems to be the
yellow-cheeked mouse of Hudson's Bay, and the biggest representative
of the family on either continent is the muskrat. In most of its
varieties the wolf of North America seems to be inferior in strength
and courage to that of northern Europe and Asia; but the direct
reverse is true with the grizzly bear, which is merely a somewhat
larger and fiercer variety of the common European brown bear. On the
whole, the Old World bison, or so-called aurochs, appears to be
somewhat more formidable than its American brother; but the difference
against the latter is not anything like as great as the difference in
favor of the American wapiti, which is nothing but a giant
representative of the comparatively puny European stag. So with the
red fox. The fox of New York is about the size of that of France, and
inferior in size to that of Scotland; the latter in turn is inferior
in size to the big fox of the upper Missouri, while the largest of all
comes from British America. There is no basis for the belief that the
red fox was imported here from Europe; its skin was a common article
of trade with the Canadian fur traders from the earliest times. On the
other hand, the European lynx is much bigger than the American. The
weasels afford cases in point, showing how hard it is to make a
general law on the subject. The American badger is very much smaller
than the European, and the American otter very much larger than the
European otter. Our pine marten, or sable, compared with that of
Europe, shows the very qualities of which you speak; that is, its
skull is slenderer, the bones are somewhat lighter, the teeth less
stout, the form showing more grace and less strength. But curiously
enough this is reversed, with even greater emphasis, in the minks of
the two continents, the American being much the largest and strongest,
with stouter teeth, bigger bones, and a stronger animal in every way.
The little weasel is on the whole smaller here, while the big weasel,
or stoat, is, in some of its varieties at least, largest on this side;
and, of the true weasels, the largest of all is the so-called fisher,
a purely American beast, a fierce and hardy animal which habitually
preys upon as hard fighting a creature as the raccoon, and which could
eat all the Asiatic and European varieties of weasels without an

"About birds I should be far less competent to advance arguments, and
especially, my dear sir, to you; but it seems to me that two of the
most self-asserting and hardiest of our families of birds are the
tyrant flycatchers, of which the kingbird is chief, and the
blackbirds, or grackles, with the meadow lark at their head, both
characteristically American.

"Did you ever look over the medical statistics of the half million men
drafted during the Civil War? They include men of every race and
color, and from every country of Europe, and from every State in the
Union; and so many men were measured that the average of the
measurements is probably pretty fair. From these it would appear that
the physical type in the Eastern States had undoubtedly degenerated.
The man from New York or New England, unless he came from the
lumbering districts, though as tall as the Englishman or Irishman, was
distinctly lighter built, and especially was narrower across the
chest; but the finest men physically of all were the Kentuckians and
Tennesseeans. After them came the Scandinavians, then the Scotch, then
the people from several of the Western States, such as Wisconsin and
Minnesota, then the Irish, then the Germans, then the English, etc.
The decay of vitality, especially as shown in the decreasing fertility
of the New England and, indeed, New York stock, is very alarming; but
the most prolific peoples on this continent, whether of native or
foreign origin, are the native whites of the southern Alleghany
region in Kentucky and Tennessee, the Virginians, and the Carolinians,
and also the French of Canada.

"It will be difficult to frame a general law of fecundity in comparing
the effects upon human life of long residence on the two continents
when we see that the Frenchman in Canada is healthy and enormously
fertile, while the old French stock is at the stationary point in
France, the direct reverse being the case when the English of Old and
of New England are compared, and the decision being again reversed if
we compare the English with the mountain whites of the Southern


At the time I made the trip to Yellowstone Park with President
Roosevelt in the spring of 1903, I promised some friends to write up
my impressions of the President and of the Park, but I have been slow
in getting around to it. The President himself, having the absolute
leisure and peace of the White House, wrote his account of the trip
nearly two years ago! But with the stress and strain of my life
at "Slabsides,"--administering the affairs of so many of the wild
creatures of the woods about me,--I have not till this blessed season
(fall of 1905) found the time to put on record an account of the most
interesting thing I saw in that wonderful land, which, of course, was
the President himself.

When I accepted his invitation I was well aware that during the
journey I should be in a storm centre most of the time, which is not
always a pleasant prospect to a man of my habits and disposition. The
President himself is a good deal of a storm,--a man of such abounding
energy and ceaseless activity that he sets everything in motion around
him wherever he goes. But I knew he would be pretty well occupied on
his way to the Park in speaking to eager throngs and in receiving
personal and political homage in the towns and cities we were to pass
through. But when all this was over, and I found myself with him in
the wilderness of the Park, with only the superintendent and a few
attendants to help take up his tremendous personal impact, how was it
likely to fare with a non-strenuous person like myself? I asked. I had
visions of snow six and seven feet deep, where traveling could be
done only upon snow-shoes, and I had never had the things on my feet
in my life. If the infernal fires beneath, that keep the pot boiling
so furiously in the Park, should melt the snows, I could see the party
tearing along on horseback at a wolf-hunt pace over a rough country;
and as I had not been on a horse's back since the President was born,
how would it be likely to fare with me then?

I had known the President several years before he became famous, and
we had had some correspondence on subjects of natural history. His
interest in such themes is always very fresh and keen, and the main
motive of his visit to the Park at this time was to see and study in
its semi-domesticated condition the great game which he had so often
hunted during his ranch days; and he was kind enough to think it would
be an additional pleasure to see it with a nature-lover like myself.
For my own part, I knew nothing about big game, but I knew there was
no man in the country with whom I should so like to see it as

Some of our newspapers reported that the President intended to hunt in
the Park. A woman in Vermont wrote me, to protest against the hunting,
and hoped I would teach the President to love the animals as much as I
did,--as if he did not love them much more, because his love is
founded upon knowledge, and because they had been a part of his life.
She did not know that I was then cherishing the secret hope that I
might be allowed to shoot a cougar or bobcat; but this fun did not
come to me. The President said, "I will not fire a gun in the Park;
then I shall have no explanations to make." Yet once I did hear him
say in the wilderness, "I feel as if I ought to keep the camp in
meat. I always have." I regretted that he could not do so on this

I have never been disturbed by the President's hunting trips. It is to
such men as he that the big game legitimately belongs,--men who regard
it from the point of view of the naturalist as well as from that of
the sportsman, who are interested in its preservation, and who share
with the world the delight they experience in the chase. Such a hunter
as Roosevelt is as far removed from the game-butcher as day is from
night; and as for his killing of the "varmints,"--bears, cougars, and
bobcats,--the fewer of these there are, the better for the useful and
beautiful game.

The cougars, or mountain lions, in the Park certainly needed killing.
The superintendent reported that he had seen where they had slain
nineteen elk, and we saw where they had killed a deer and dragged its
body across the trail. Of course, the President would not now on his
hunting trips shoot an elk or a deer except to "keep the camp in
meat," and for this purpose it is as legitimate as to slay a sheep or
a steer for the table at home.

We left Washington on April 1, and strung several of the larger
Western cities on our thread of travel,--Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison,
St. Paul, Minneapolis,--as well as many lesser towns, in each of which
the President made an address, sometimes brief, on a few occasions of
an hour or more.

He gave himself very freely and heartily to the people wherever he
went. He could easily match their Western cordiality and
good-fellowship. Wherever his train stopped, crowds soon gathered, or
had already gathered, to welcome him. His advent made a holiday in
each town he visited. At all the principal stops the usual programme
was: first, his reception by the committee of citizens appointed to
receive him,--they usually boarded his private car, and were one by
one introduced to him; then a drive through the town with a concourse
of carriages; then to the hall or open-air platform, where he spoke to
the assembled throng; then to lunch or dinner; and then back to the
train, and off for the next stop,--a round of hand-shaking,
carriage-driving, speech-making each day. He usually spoke from eight
to ten times every twenty-four hours, sometimes for only a few minutes
from the rear platform of his private car, at others for an hour or
more in some large hall. In Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul,
elaborate banquets were given him and his party, and on each occasion
he delivered a carefully prepared speech upon questions that involved
the policy of his administration. The throng that greeted him in the
vast Auditorium in Chicago--that rose and waved and waved again--was
one of the grandest human spectacles I ever witnessed.

In Milwaukee the dense cloud of tobacco smoke that presently filled
the large hall after the feasting was over was enough to choke any
speaker, but it did not seem to choke the President, though he does
not use tobacco in any form himself; nor was there anything foggy
about his utterances on that occasion upon legislative control of the

    [Illustration: ARRIVAL AT GARDINER, MONT.

    From stereograph, copyright 1906, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York.]

In St. Paul the city was inundated with humanity,--a vast human tide
that left the middle of the streets bare as our line of carriages
moved slowly along, but that rose up in solid walls of town and
prairie humanity on the sidewalks and city dooryards. How hearty and
happy the myriad faces looked! At one point I spied in the throng on
the curbstone a large silk banner that bore my own name as the title
of some society. I presently saw that it was borne by half a dozen
anxious and expectant-looking schoolgirls with braids down their
backs. As my carriage drew near them, they pressed their way through
the throng and threw a large bouquet of flowers into my lap. I think
it would be hard to say who blushed the deeper, the girls or myself.
It was the first time I had ever had flowers showered upon me in
public; and then, maybe, I felt that on such an occasion I was only a
minor side issue, and public recognition was not called for. But the
incident pleased the President. "I saw that banner and those flowers,"
he said afterwards; "and I was delighted to see you honored that way."
But I fear I have not to this day thanked the Monroe School of St.
Paul for that pretty attention.

The time of the passing of the presidential train seemed well known,
even on the Dakota prairies. At one point I remember a little brown
schoolhouse stood not far off, and near the track the school-ma'am,
with her flock, drawn up in line. We were at luncheon, but the
President caught a glimpse ahead through the window, and quickly took
in the situation. With napkin in hand, he rushed out on the platform
and waved to them. "Those children," he said, as he came back, "wanted
to see the President of the United States, and I could not disappoint
them. They may never have another chance. What a deep impression such
things make when we are young!"

At some point in the Dakotas we picked up the former foreman of his
ranch and another cowboy friend of the old days, and they rode with
the President in his private car for several hours. He was as happy
with them as a schoolboy ever was in meeting old chums. He beamed with
delight all over. The life which those men represented, and of which
he had himself once formed a part, meant so much to him; it had
entered into the very marrow of his being, and I could see the joy of
it all shining in his face as he sat and lived parts of it over again
with those men that day. He bubbled with laughter continually. The
men, I thought, seemed a little embarrassed by his open-handed
cordiality and good-fellowship. He himself evidently wanted to forget
the present, and to live only in the memory of those wonderful ranch
days,--that free, hardy, adventurous life upon the plains. It all came
back to him with a rush when he found himself alone with these heroes
of the rope and the stirrup. How much more keen his appreciation was,
and how much quicker his memory, than theirs! He was constantly
recalling to their minds incidents which they had forgotten, and the
names of horses and dogs which had escaped them. His subsequent life,
instead of making dim the memory of his ranch days, seemed to have
made it more vivid by contrast.

When they had gone I said to him, "I think your affection for those
men very beautiful."

"How could I help it?" he said.

"Still, few men in your station could or would go back and renew such

"Then I pity them," he replied.

He said afterwards that his ranch life had been the making of him. It
had built him up and hardened him physically, and it had opened his
eyes to the wealth of manly character among the plainsmen and

Had he not gone West, he said, he never would have raised the Rough
Riders regiment; and had he not raised that regiment and gone to the
Cuban War, he would not have been made governor of New York; and had
not this happened, the politicians would not unwittingly have made his
rise to the Presidency so inevitable. There is no doubt, I think, that
he would have got there some day; but without the chain of events
above outlined, his rise could not have been so rapid.

Our train entered the Bad Lands of North Dakota in the early evening
twilight, and the President stood on the rear platform of his car,
gazing wistfully upon the scene. "I know all this country like a
book," he said. "I have ridden over it, and hunted over it, and
tramped over it, in all seasons and weather, and it looks like home to
me. My old ranch is not far off. We shall soon reach Medora, which
was my station." It was plain to see that that strange,
forbidding-looking landscape, hills and valleys to eastern eyes,
utterly demoralized and gone to the bad,--flayed, fantastic, treeless,
a riot of naked clay slopes, chimney-like buttes, and dry
coulees,--was in his eyes a land of almost pathetic interest. There
were streaks of good pasturage here and there where his cattle used to
graze, and where the deer and the pronghorn used to linger.

When we reached Medora, where the train was scheduled to stop an hour,
it was nearly dark, but the whole town and country round had turned
out to welcome their old townsman. After much hand-shaking, the
committee conducted us down to a little hall, where the President
stood on a low platform, and made a short address to the standing
crowd that filled the place. Then some flashlight pictures were taken
by the local photographer, after which the President stepped down,
and, while the people filed past him, shook hands with every man,
woman, and child of them, calling many of them by name, and greeting
them all most cordially. I recall one grizzled old frontiersman whose
hand he grasped, calling him by name, and saying, "How well I remember
you! You once mended my gunlock for me,--put on a new hammer." "Yes,"
said the delighted old fellow; "I'm the man, Mr. President." He was
among his old neighbors once more, and the pleasure of the meeting was
very obvious on both sides. I heard one of the women tell him they
were going to have a dance presently, and ask him if he would not stay
and open it! The President laughingly excused himself, and said his
train had to leave on schedule time, and his time was nearly up. I
thought of the incident in his "Ranch Life," in which he says he once
opened a cowboy ball with the wife of a Minnesota man, who danced
opposite, and who had recently shot a bullying Scotchman. He says the
scene reminded him of the ball where Bret Harte's heroine "went down
the middle with the man that shot Sandy Magee."

Before reaching Medora he had told me many anecdotes of "Hell-Roaring
Bill Jones," and had said I should see him. But it turned out that
Hell-Roaring Bill had begun to celebrate the coming of the President
too early in the day, and when we reached Medora he was not in a
presentable condition. I forget now how he had earned his name, but no
doubt he had come honestly by it; it was a part of his history, as was
that of "The Pike," "Cold-Turkey Bill," "Hash-Knife Joe," and other
classic heroes of the frontier.

It is curious how certain things go to the bad in the Far West, or a
certain proportion of them,--bad lands, bad horses, and bad men. And
it is a degree of badness that the East has no conception of,--land
that looks as raw and unnatural as if time had never laid its shaping
and softening hand upon it; horses that, when mounted, put their heads
to the ground and their heels in the air, and, squealing defiantly,
resort to the most diabolically ingenious tricks to shake off or to
kill their riders; and men who amuse themselves in bar-rooms by
shooting about the feet of a "tenderfoot" to make him dance, or who
ride along the street and shoot at every one in sight. Just as the old
plutonic fires come to the surface out there in the Rockies, and hint
very strongly of the infernal regions, so a kind of satanic element in
men and animals--an underlying devilishness--crops out, and we have
the border ruffian and the bucking broncho.

The President told of an Englishman on a hunting trip in the West,
who, being an expert horseman at home, scorned the idea that he could
not ride any of their "grass-fed ponies." So they gave him a bucking
broncho. He was soon lying on the ground, much stunned. When he could
speak, he said, "I should not have minded him, you know, _but 'e 'ides
'is 'ead_."

At one place in Dakota the train stopped to take water while we were
at lunch. A crowd soon gathered, and the President went out to greet
them. We could hear his voice, and the cheers and laughter of the
crowd. And then we heard him say, "Well, good-by, I must go now."
Still he did not come. Then we heard more talking and laughing, and
another "good-by," and yet he did not come. Then I went out to see
what had happened. I found the President down on the ground shaking
hands with the whole lot of them. Some one had reached up to shake his
hand as he was about withdrawing, and this had been followed by such
eagerness on the part of the rest of the people to do likewise, that
the President had instantly got down to gratify them. Had the secret
service men known it, they would have been in a pickle. We probably
have never had a President who responded more freely and heartily to
the popular liking for him than Roosevelt. The crowd always seem to be
in love with him the moment they see him and hear his voice. And it is
not by reason of any arts of eloquence, or charm of address, but by
reason of his inborn heartiness and sincerity, and his genuine
manliness. The people feel his quality at once. In Bermuda last winter
I met a Catholic priest who had sat on the platform at some place in
New England very near the President while he was speaking, and who
said, "The man had not spoken three minutes before I loved him, and
had any one tried to molest him, I could have torn him to pieces." It
is the quality in the man that instantly inspires such a liking as
this in strangers that will, I am sure, safeguard him in all public

I once heard him say that he did not like to be addressed as "His
Excellency;" he added laughingly, "They might just as well call me
'His Transparency,' for all I care." It is this transparency, this
direct out-and-out, unequivocal character of him that is one source of
his popularity. The people do love transparency,--all of them but the

A friend of his one day took him to task for some mistake he had made
in one of his appointments. "My dear sir," replied the President,
"where you know of one mistake I have made, I know of ten." How such
candor must make the politicians shiver!

I have said that I stood in dread of the necessity of snowshoeing in
the Park, and, in lieu of that, of horseback riding. Yet when we
reached Gardiner, the entrance to the Park, on that bright, crisp
April morning, with no snow in sight save that on the mountain-tops,
and found Major Pitcher and Captain Chittenden at the head of a squad
of soldiers, with a fine saddle-horse for the President, and an
ambulance drawn by two span of mules for me, I confess that I
experienced just a slight shade of mortification. I thought they might
have given me the option of the saddle or the ambulance. Yet I entered
the vehicle as if it was just what I had been expecting.

The President and his escort, with a cloud of cowboys hovering in the
rear, were soon off at a lively pace, and my ambulance followed close,
and at a lively pace, too; so lively that I soon found myself gripping
the seat with both hands. "Well," I said to myself, "they are giving
me a regular Western send-off;" and I thought, as the ambulance swayed
from side to side, that it would suit me just as well if my driver did
not try to keep up with the presidential procession. The driver and
his mules were shut off from me by a curtain, but, looking ahead out
of the sides of the vehicle, I saw two good-sized logs lying across
our course. Surely, I thought (and barely had time to think), he will
avoid these. But he did not, and as we passed over them I was nearly
thrown through the top of the ambulance. "This _is_ a lively
send-off," I said, rubbing my bruises with one hand, while I clung to
the seat with the other. Presently I saw the cowboys scrambling up
the bank as if to get out of our way; then the President on his fine
gray stallion scrambling up the bank with his escort, and looking
ominously in my direction, as we thundered by.


    From stereograph, copyright 1906, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York.]

"Well," I said, "this is indeed a novel ride; for once in my life I
have sidetracked the President of the United States! I am given the
right of way over all." On we tore, along the smooth, hard road, and
did not slacken our pace till, at the end of a mile or two, we began
to mount the hill toward Fort Yellowstone. And not till we reached the
fort did I learn that our mules had run away. They had been excited
beyond control by the presidential cavalcade, and the driver, finding
he could not hold them, had aimed only to keep them in the road, and
we very soon had the road all to ourselves.

Fort Yellowstone is at Mammoth Hot Springs, where one gets his first
view of the characteristic scenery of the Park,--huge, boiling springs
with their columns of vapor, and the first characteristic odors which
suggest the traditional infernal regions quite as much as the boiling
and steaming water does. One also gets a taste of a much more rarefied
air than he has been used to, and finds himself panting for breath on
a very slight exertion. The Mammoth Hot Springs have built themselves
up an enormous mound that stands there above the village on the side
of the mountain, terraced and scalloped and fluted, and suggesting
some vitreous formation, or rare carving of enormous, many-colored
precious stones. It looks quite unearthly, and, though the devil's
frying pan, and ink pot, and the Stygian caves are not far off, the
suggestion is of something celestial rather than of the nether
regions,--a vision of jasper walls, and of amethyst battlements.

With Captain Chittenden I climbed to the top, stepping over the rills
and creeks of steaming hot water, and looked at the marvelously clear,
cerulean, but boiling, pools on the summit. The water seemed as
unearthly in its beauty and purity as the gigantic sculpturing that
held it.

The Stygian caves are still farther up the mountain,--little pockets
in the rocks, or well-holes in the ground at your feet, filled with
deadly carbon dioxide. We saw birds' feathers and quills in all of
them. The birds hop into them, probably in quest of food or seeking
shelter, and they never come out. We saw the body of a martin on the
bank of one hole. Into one we sank a lighted torch, and it was
extinguished as quickly as if we had dropped it into water. Each cave
or niche is a death valley on a small scale. Near by we came upon a
steaming pool, or lakelet, of an acre or more in extent. A pair of
mallard ducks were swimming about in one end of it,--the cool end.
When we approached, they swam slowly over into the warmer water. As
they progressed, the water got hotter and hotter, and the ducks'
discomfort was evident. Presently they stopped, and turned towards us,
half appealingly, as I thought. They could go no farther; would we
please come no nearer? As I took another step or two, up they rose and
disappeared over the hill. Had they gone to the extreme end of the
pool, we could have had boiled mallard for dinner.

Another novel spectacle was at night, or near sundown, when the deer
came down from the hills into the streets and ate hay, a few yards
from the officers' quarters, as unconcernedly as so many domestic
sheep. This they had been doing all winter, and they kept it up till
May, at times a score or more of them profiting thus on the
government's bounty. When the sundown gun was fired a couple of
hundred yards away, they gave a nervous start, but kept on with their
feeding. The antelope and elk and mountain sheep had not yet grown
bold enough to accept Uncle Sam's charity in that way.

The President wanted all the freedom and solitude possible while in
the Park, so all newspaper men and other strangers were excluded. Even
the secret service men and his physician and private secretaries were
left at Gardiner. He craved once more to be alone with nature; he was
evidently hungry for the wild and the aboriginal,--a hunger that seems
to come upon him regularly at least once a year, and drives him forth
on his hunting trips for big game in the West.

We spent two weeks in the Park, and had fair weather, bright, crisp
days, and clear, freezing nights. The first week we occupied three
camps that had been prepared, or partly prepared, for us in the
northeast corner of the Park, in the region drained by the Gardiner
River, where there was but little snow, and which we reached on

The second week we visited the geyser region, which lies a thousand
feet or more higher, and where the snow was still five or six feet
deep. This part of the journey was made in big sleighs, each drawn by
two span of horses.

On the horseback excursion, which involved only about fifty miles of
riding, we had a mule pack train, and Sibley tents and stoves, with
quite a retinue of camp laborers, a lieutenant and an orderly or two,
and a guide, Billy Hofer.

The first camp was in a wild, rocky, and picturesque gorge on the
Yellowstone, about ten miles from the fort. A slight indisposition,
the result of luxurious living, with no wood to chop or to saw, and no
hills to climb, as at home, prevented me from joining the party till
the third day. Then Captain Chittenden drove me eight miles in a
buggy. About two miles from camp we came to a picket of two or three
soldiers, where my big bay was in waiting for me. I mounted him
confidently, and, guided by an orderly, took the narrow, winding trail
toward camp. Except for an hour's riding the day before with Captain
Chittenden, I had not been on a horse's back for nearly fifty years,
and I had not spent as much as a day in the saddle during my youth.
That first sense of a live, spirited, powerful animal beneath you, at
whose mercy you are,--you, a pedestrian all your days,--with gullies
and rocks and logs to cross, and deep chasms opening close beside
you, is not a little disturbing. But my big bay did his part well, and
I did not lose my head or my nerve, as we cautiously made our way
along the narrow path on the side of the steep gorge, with a foaming
torrent rushing along at its foot, nor yet when we forded the rocky
and rapid Yellowstone. A misstep or a stumble on the part of my steed,
and probably the first bubble of my confidence would have been
shivered at once; but this did not happen, and in due time we reached
the group of tents that formed the President's camp.

The situation was delightful,--no snow, scattered pine trees, a
secluded valley, rocky heights, and the clear, ample, trouty waters of
the Yellowstone. The President was not in camp. In the morning he had
stated his wish to go alone into the wilderness. Major Pitcher very
naturally did not quite like the idea, and wished to send an orderly
with him.

"No," said the President. "Put me up a lunch, and let me go alone. I
will surely come back."

And back he surely came. It was about five o'clock when he came
briskly down the path from the east to the camp. It came out that he
had tramped about eighteen miles through a very rough country. The day
before, he and the major had located a band of several hundred elk on
a broad, treeless hillside, and his purpose was to find those elk, and
creep up on them, and eat his lunch under their very noses. And this
he did, spending an hour or more within fifty yards of them. He came
back looking as fresh as when he started, and at night, sitting before
the big camp fire, related his adventure, and talked with his usual
emphasis and copiousness of many things. He told me of the birds he
had seen or heard; among them he had heard one that was new to him.
From his description I told him I thought it was Townsend's solitaire,
a bird I much wanted to see and hear. I had heard the West India
solitaire,--one of the most impressive songsters I ever heard,--and I
wished to compare our Western form with it.

The next morning we set out for our second camp, ten or a dozen miles
away, and in reaching it passed over much of the ground the President
had traversed the day before. As we came to a wild, rocky place above
a deep chasm of the river, with a few scattered pine trees, the
President said, "It was right here that I heard that strange bird
song." We paused a moment. "And there it is now!" he exclaimed.

Sure enough, there was the solitaire singing from the top of a small
cedar,--a bright, animated, eloquent song, but without the richness
and magic of the song of the tropical species. We hitched our horses,
and followed the bird up as it flew from tree to tree. The President
was as eager to see and hear it as I was. It seemed very shy, and we
only caught glimpses of it. In form and color it much resembles its
West India cousin, and suggests our catbird. It ceased to sing when we
pursued it. It is a bird found only in the wilder and higher parts of
the Rockies. My impression was that its song did not quite merit the
encomiums that have been pronounced upon it.

At this point, I saw amid the rocks my first and only Rocky Mountain
woodchucks, and, soon after we had resumed our journey, our first blue
grouse,--a number of them like larger partridges. Occasionally we
would come upon black-tailed deer, standing or lying down in the
bushes, their large ears at attention being the first thing to catch
the eye. They would often allow us to pass within a few rods of them
without showing alarm. Elk horns were scattered all over this part of
the Park, and we passed several old carcasses of dead elk that had
probably died a natural death.

In a grassy bottom at the foot of a steep hill, while the President
and I were dismounted, and noting the pleasing picture which our pack
train of fifteen or twenty mules made filing along the side of a steep
grassy slope,--a picture which he has preserved in his late volume,
"Out-Door Pastimes of an American Hunter,"--our attention was
attracted by plaintive, musical, bird-like chirps that rose from the
grass about us. I was almost certain it was made by a bird; the
President was of like opinion; and we kicked about in the tufts of
grass, hoping to flush the bird. Now here, now there, arose this
sharp, but bird-like note. Finally, we found that it was made by a
species of gopher, whose holes we soon discovered. What its specific
name is I do not know, but it should be called the singing gopher.

Our destination this day was a camp on Cottonwood Creek, near
"Hell-Roaring Creek." As we made our way in the afternoon along a
broad, open, grassy valley, I saw a horseman come galloping over the
hill to our right, starting up a band of elk as he came; riding across
the plain, he wheeled his horse, and, with the military salute, joined
our party. He proved to be a government scout, called the "Duke of
Hell Roaring,"--an educated officer from the Austrian army, who, for
some unknown reason, had exiled himself here in this out-of-the-way
part of the world. He was a man in his prime, of fine, military look
and bearing. After conversing a few moments with the President and
Major Pitcher, he rode rapidly away.

Our second camp, which we reached in mid-afternoon, was in the edge of
the woods on the banks of a fine, large trout stream, where ice and
snow still lingered in patches. I tried for trout in the head of a
large, partly open pool, but did not get a rise; too much ice in the
stream, I concluded. Very soon my attention was attracted by a strange
note, or call, in the spruce woods. The President had also noticed it,
and, with me, wondered what made it. Was it bird or beast? Billy Hofer
said he thought it was an owl, but the sound in no way suggested an
owl, and the sun was shining brightly. It was a sound such as a boy
might make by blowing in the neck of an empty bottle. Presently we
heard it beyond us on the other side of the creek, which was pretty
good proof that the creature had wings.


    From stereograph, copyright 1905, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

"Let's go run that bird down," said the President to me.

So off we started across a small, open, snow-streaked plain, toward
the woods beyond it. We soon decided that the bird was on the top of
one of a group of tall spruces. After much skipping about over logs
and rocks, and much craning of our necks, we made him out on the peak
of a spruce. I imitated his call, when he turned his head down toward
us, but we could not make out what he was.

"Why did we not think to bring the glasses?" said the President.

"I will run and get them," I replied.

"No," said he, "you stay here and keep that bird treed, and I will
fetch them."

So off he went like a boy, and was very soon back with the glasses. We
quickly made out that it was indeed an owl,--the pigmy owl, as it
turned out,--not much larger than a bluebird. I think the President
was as pleased as if we had bagged some big game. He had never seen
the bird before.

Throughout the trip I found his interest in bird life very keen, and
his eye and ear remarkably quick. He usually saw the bird or heard its
note as quickly as I did,--and I had nothing else to think about, and
had been teaching my eye and ear the trick of it for over fifty years.
Of course, his training as a big-game hunter stood him in good stead,
but back of that were his naturalist's instincts, and his genuine love
of all forms of wild life.

I have been told that his ambition up to the time he went to Harvard
had been to be a naturalist, but that there they seem to have
convinced him that all the out-of-door worlds of natural history had
been conquered, and that the only worlds remaining were in the
laboratory, and to be won with the microscope and the scalpel. But
Roosevelt was a man made for action in a wide field, and laboratory
conquests could not satisfy him. His instincts as a naturalist,
however, lie back of all his hunting expeditions, and, in a large
measure, I think, prompt them. Certain it is that his hunting
records contain more live natural history than any similar records
known to me, unless it be those of Charles St. John, the Scotch

The Canada jays, or camp-robbers, as they are often called, soon found
out our camp that afternoon, and no sooner had the cook begun to throw
out peelings and scraps and crusts than the jays began to carry them
off, not to eat, as I observed, but to hide them in the thicker
branches of the spruce trees. How tame they were, coming within three
or four yards of one! Why this species of jay should everywhere be so
familiar, and all other kinds so wild, is a puzzle.

In the morning, as we rode down the valley toward our next
camping-place, at Tower Falls, a band of elk containing a hundred or
more started along the side of the hill a few hundred yards away. I
was some distance behind the rest of the party, as usual, when I saw
the President wheel his horse off to the left, and, beckoning to me to
follow, start at a tearing pace on the trail of the fleeing elk. He
afterwards told me that he wanted me to get a good view of those elk
at close range, and he was afraid that if he sent the major or Hofer
to lead me, I would not get it. I hurried along as fast as I could,
which was not fast; the way was rough,--logs, rocks, spring runs, and
a tenderfoot rider.

Now and then the President, looking back and seeing what slow progress
I was making, would beckon to me impatiently, and I could fancy him
saying, "If I had a rope around him, he would come faster than that!"
Once or twice I lost sight of both him and the elk; the altitude was
great, and the horse was laboring like a steam engine on an upgrade.
Still I urged him on. Presently, as I broke over a hill, I saw the
President pressing the elk up the opposite slope. At the brow of the
hill he stopped, and I soon joined him. There on the top, not fifty
yards away, stood the elk in a mass, their heads toward us and their
tongues hanging out. They could run no farther. The President laughed
like a boy. The spectacle meant much more to him than it did to me. I
had never seen a wild elk till on this trip, but they had been among
the notable game that he had hunted. He had traveled hundreds of
miles, and undergone great hardships, to get within rifle range of
these creatures. Now here stood scores of them with lolling tongues,
begging for mercy.

After gazing at them to our hearts' content, we turned away to look up
our companions, who were nowhere within sight. We finally spied them a
mile or more away, and, joining them, all made our way to an elevated
plateau that commanded an open landscape three or four miles across.
It was high noon, and the sun shone clear and warm. From this lookout
we saw herds upon herds of elk scattered over the slopes and gentle
valleys in front of us. Some were grazing, some were standing or lying
upon the ground, or upon the patches of snow. Through our glasses we
counted the separate bands, and then the numbers of some of the bands
or groups, and estimated that three thousand elk were in full view in
the landscape around us. It was a notable spectacle. Afterward, in
Montana, I attended a council of Indian chiefs at one of the Indian
agencies, and told them, through their interpreter, that I had been
with the Great Chief in the Park, and of the game we had seen. When I
told them of these three thousand elk all in view at once, they
grunted loudly, whether with satisfaction or with incredulity, I could
not tell.

In the midst of this great game amphitheatre we dismounted and enjoyed
the prospect. And the President did an unusual thing, he loafed for
nearly an hour,--stretched himself out in the sunshine upon a flat
rock, as did the rest of us, and, I hope, got a few winks of sleep. I
am sure I did. Little, slender, striped chipmunks, about half the size
of ours, were scurrying about; but I recall no other wild things save
the elk.

From here we rode down the valley to our third camp, at Tower Falls,
stopping on the way to eat our luncheon on a washed boulder beside a
creek. On this ride I saw my first and only badger; he stuck his
striped head out of his hole in the ground only a few yards away from
us as we passed.

Our camp at Tower Falls was amid the spruces above a cañon of the
Yellowstone, five or six hundred feet deep. It was a beautiful and
impressive situation,--shelter, snugness, even cosiness, looking over
the brink of the awful and the terrifying. With a run and a jump I
think one might have landed in the river at the bottom of the great
abyss, and in doing so might have scaled one of those natural obelisks
or needles of rock that stand up out of the depths two or three
hundred feet high. Nature shows you what an enormous furrow her plough
can open through the strata when moving horizontally, at the same time
that she shows you what delicate and graceful columns her slower and
gentler aerial forces can carve out of the piled strata. At the Falls
there were two or three of these columns, like the picket-pins of the
elder gods.

Across the cañon in front of our camp, upon a grassy plateau which was
faced by a wall of trap rock, apparently thirty or forty feet high, a
band of mountain sheep soon attracted our attention. They were within
long rifle range, but were not at all disturbed by our presence, nor
had they been disturbed by the road-builders who, under Captain
Chittenden, were constructing a government road along the brink of the
cañon. We speculated as to whether or not the sheep could get down the
almost perpendicular face of the chasm to the river to drink. It
seemed to me impossible. Would they try it while we were there to see?
We all hoped so; and sure enough, late in the afternoon the word came
to our tents that the sheep were coming down. The President, with coat
off and a towel around his neck, was shaving. One side of his face was
half shaved, and the other side lathered. Hofer and I started for a
point on the brink of the cañon where we could have a better view.

"By Jove," said the President, "I must see that. The shaving can wait,
and the sheep won't."

So on he came, accoutred as he was,--coatless, hatless, but not
latherless, nor towelless. Like the rest of us, his only thought was
to see those sheep do their "stunt." With glasses in hand, we watched
them descend those perilous heights, leaping from point to point,
finding a foothold where none appeared to our eyes, loosening
fragments of the crumbling rocks as they came, now poised upon some
narrow shelf and preparing for the next leap, zig-zagging or plunging
straight down till the bottom was reached, and not one accident or
misstep amid all that insecure footing. I think the President was the
most pleased of us all; he laughed with the delight of it, and quite
forgot his need of a hat and coat till I sent for them.

In the night we heard the sheep going back; we could tell by the noise
of the falling stones. In the morning I confidently expected to see
some of them lying dead at the foot of the cliffs, but there they all
were at the top once more, apparently safe and sound. They do,
however, occasionally meet with accidents in their perilous climbing,
and their dead bodies have been found at the foot of the rocks.
Doubtless some point of rock to which they had trusted gave way, and
crushed them in the descent, or fell upon those in the lead.

The next day, while the rest of us went fishing for trout in the
Yellowstone, three or four miles above the camp, over the roughest
trail that we had yet traversed on horseback, the President, who never
fishes unless put to it for meat, went off alone again with his lunch
in his pocket, to stalk those sheep as he had stalked the elk, and to
feel the old sportsman's thrill without the use of firearms. To do
this involved a tramp of eight or ten miles down the river to a bridge
and up the opposite bank. This he did, and ate his lunch near the
sheep, and was back in camp before we were.

We took some large cut-throat trout, as they are called, from the
yellow mark across their throats, and I saw at short range a
black-tailed deer bounding along in that curious, stiff-legged,
mechanical, yet springy manner, apparently all four legs in the air at
once, and all four feet reaching the ground at once, affording a very
singular spectacle.


    By kind permission of Forest and Stream.]

We spent two nights in our Tower Falls camp, and on the morning of the
third day set out on our return to Fort Yellowstone, pausing at
Yancey's on our way, and exchanging greetings with the old
frontiersman, who died a few weeks later.

While in camp we always had a big fire at night in the open near the
tents, and around this we sat upon logs or camp-stools, and listened
to the President's talk. What a stream of it he poured forth! and what
a varied and picturesque stream!--anecdote, history, science,
politics, adventure, literature; bits of his experience as a ranchman,
hunter, Rough Rider, legislator, civil service commissioner, police
commissioner, governor, president,--the frankest confessions, the most
telling criticisms, happy characterizations of prominent political
leaders, or foreign rulers, or members of his own Cabinet; always
surprising by his candor, astonishing by his memory, and diverting by
his humor. His reading has been very wide, and he has that rare type
of memory which retains details as well as mass and generalities. One
night something started him off on ancient history, and one would have
thought he was just fresh from his college course in history, the
dates and names and events came so readily. Another time he discussed
palæontology, and rapidly gave the outlines of the science, and the
main facts, as if he had been reading up on the subject that very day.
He sees things as wholes, and hence the relation of the parts comes
easy to him.

At dinner, at the White House, the night before we started on the
expedition, I heard him talking with a guest,--an officer of the
British army, who was just back from India. And the extent and variety
of his information about India and Indian history and the relations of
the British government to it were extraordinary. It put the British
major on his mettle to keep pace with him.

One night in camp he told us the story of one of his Rough Riders who
had just written him from some place in Arizona. The Rough Riders,
wherever they are now, look to him in time of trouble. This one had
come to grief in Arizona. He was in jail. So he wrote the President,
and his letter ran something like this:--

     "DEAR COLONEL,--I am in trouble. I shot a lady in the eye,
     but I did not intend to hit the lady; I was shooting at my

And the presidential laughter rang out over the tree-tops. To another
Rough Rider, who was in jail, accused of horse stealing, he had loaned
two hundred dollars to pay counsel on his trial, and, to his surprise,
in due time the money came back. The ex-Rough wrote that his trial
never came off. "_We elected our district attorney_;" and the laughter
again sounded, and drowned the noise of the brook near by.

On another occasion we asked the President if he was ever molested by
any of the "bad men" of the frontier, with whom he had often come in
contact. "Only once," he said. The cowboys had always treated him with
the utmost courtesy, both on the round-up and in camp; "and the few
real desperadoes I have seen were also perfectly polite." Once only
was he maliciously shot at, and then not by a cowboy nor a _bona fide_
"bad man," but by a "broad-hatted ruffian of a cheap and common-place
type." He had been compelled to pass the night at a little frontier
hotel where the bar-room occupied the whole lower floor, and was, in
consequence, the only place where the guests of the hotel, whether
drunk or sober, could sit. As he entered the room, he saw that every
man there was being terrorized by a half-drunken ruffian who stood in
the middle of the floor with a revolver in each hand, compelling
different ones to treat.

"I went and sat down behind the stove," said the President, "as far
from him as I could get; and hoped to escape his notice. The fact that
I wore glasses, together with my evident desire to avoid a fight,
apparently gave him the impression that I could be imposed upon with
impunity. He very soon approached me, flourishing his two guns, and
ordered me to treat. I made no reply for some moments, when the fellow
became so threatening that I saw something had to be done. The crowd,
mostly sheep-herders and small grangers, sat or stood back against the
wall, afraid to move. I was unarmed, and thought rapidly. Saying,
'Well, if I must, I must,' I got up as if to walk around him to the
bar, then, as I got opposite him, I wheeled and fetched him as heavy a
blow on the chin-point as I could strike. He went down like a steer
before the axe, firing both guns into the ceiling as he went. I jumped
on him, and, with my knees on his chest, disarmed him in a hurry. The
crowd was then ready enough to help me, and we hog-tied him and put
him in an outhouse." The President alludes to this incident in his
"Ranch Life," but does not give the details. It brings out his mettle
very distinctly.

He told us in an amused way of the attempts of his political opponents
at Albany, during his early career as a member of the Assembly, to
besmirch his character. His outspoken criticisms and denunciations had
become intolerable to them, so they laid a trap for him, but he was
not caught. His innate rectitude and instinct for the right course
saved him, as it has saved him many times since. I do not think that
in any emergency he has to debate with himself long as to the right
course to be pursued; he divines it by a kind of infallible instinct.
His motives are so simple and direct that he finds a straight and easy
course where another man, whose eye is less single, would flounder and

One night he entertained us with reminiscences of the Cuban War, of
his efforts to get his men to the firing line when the fighting began,
of his greenness and general ignorance of the whole business of war,
which in his telling was very amusing. He has probably put it all in
his book about the war, a work I have not yet read. He described the
look of the slope of Kettle Hill when they were about to charge up it,
how the grass was combed and rippled by the storm of rifle bullets
that swept down it. He said, "I was conscious of being pale when I
looked at it and knew that in a few moments we were going to charge
there." The men of his regiment were all lying flat upon the ground,
and it became his duty to walk along their front and encourage them
and order them up on their feet. "Get up, men, get up!" One big fellow
did not rise. Roosevelt stooped down and took hold of him and ordered
him up. Just at that moment a bullet struck the man and went the
entire length of him. He never rose.

On this or on another occasion when a charge was ordered, he found
himself a hundred yards or more in advance of his regiment, with only
the color bearer and one corporal with him. He said they planted the
flag there, while he rushed back to fetch the men. He was evidently
pretty hot. "Can it be that you flinched when I led the way!" and then
they came with a rush. On the summit of Kettle Hill he was again in
advance of his men, and as he came up, three Spaniards rose out of the
trenches and deliberately fired at him at a distance of only a few
paces, and then turned and fled. But a bullet from his revolver
stopped one of them. He seems to have been as much exposed to bullets
in this engagement as Washington was at Braddock's defeat, and to have
escaped in the same marvelous manner.

The President unites in himself powers and qualities that rarely go
together. Thus, he has both physical and moral courage in a degree
rare in history. He can stand calm and unflinching in the path of a
charging grizzly, and he can confront with equal coolness and
determination the predaceous corporations and money powers of the

He unites the qualities of the man of action with those of the scholar
and writer,--another very rare combination. He unites the instincts
and accomplishments of the best breeding and culture with the broadest
democratic sympathies and affiliations. He is as happy with a
frontiersman like Seth Bullock as with a fellow Harvard man, and Seth
Bullock is happy, too.

He unites great austerity with great good nature. He unites great
sensibility with great force and will power. He loves solitude, and he
loves to be in the thick of the fight. His love of nature is equaled
only by his love of the ways and marts of men.

He is doubtless the most vital man on the continent, if not on the
planet, to-day. He is many-sided, and every side throbs with his
tremendous life and energy; the pressure is equal all around. His
interests are as keen in natural history as in economics, in
literature as in statecraft, in the young poet as in the old soldier,
in preserving peace as in preparing for war. And he can turn all his
great power into the new channel on the instant. His interest in the
whole of life, and in the whole life of the nation, never flags for a
moment. His activity is tireless. All the relaxation he needs or
craves is a change of work. He is like the farmer's fields, that only
need a rotation of crops. I once heard him say that all he cared about
being President was just "the big work."

During this tour through the West, lasting over two months, he made
nearly three hundred speeches; and yet on his return Mrs. Roosevelt
told me he looked as fresh and unworn as when he left home.

We went up into the big geyser region with the big sleighs, each drawn
by four horses. A big snow-bank had to be shoveled through for us
before we got to the Golden Gate, two miles above Mammoth Hot
Springs. Beyond that we were at an altitude of about eight thousand
feet, on a fairly level course that led now through woods, and now
through open country, with the snow of a uniform depth of four or five
feet, except as we neared the "formations," where the subterranean
warmth kept the ground bare. The roads had been broken and the snow
packed for us by teams from the fort, otherwise the journey would have
been impossible.

The President always rode beside the driver. From his youth, he said,
this seat had always been the most desirable one to him. When the
sleigh would strike the bare ground, and begin to drag heavily, he
would bound out nimbly and take to his heels, and then all three of
us--Major Pitcher, Mr. Childs, and myself--would follow suit,
sometimes reluctantly on my part. Walking at that altitude is no fun,
especially if you try to keep pace with such a walker as the President
is. But he could not sit at his ease and let those horses drag him in
a sleigh over bare ground. When snow was reached, we would again
quickly resume our seats.

As one nears the geyser region, he gets the impression from the
columns of steam going up here and there in the distance--now from
behind a piece of woods, now from out a hidden valley--that he is
approaching a manufacturing centre, or a railroad terminus. And when
he begins to hear the hoarse snoring of "Roaring Mountain," the
illusion is still more complete. At Norris's there is a big vent where
the steam comes tearing out of a recent hole in the ground with
terrific force. Huge mounds of ice had formed from the congealed vapor
all around it, some of them very striking.

The novelty of the geyser region soon wears off. Steam and hot water
are steam and hot water the world over, and the exhibition of them
here did not differ, except in volume, from what one sees by his own
fireside. The "Growler" is only a boiling tea-kettle on a large scale,
and "Old Faithful" is as if the lid were to fly off, and the whole
contents of the kettle should be thrown high into the air. To be sure,
boiling lakes and steaming rivers are not common, but the new features
seemed, somehow, out of place, and as if nature had made a mistake.
One disliked to see so much good steam and hot water going to waste;
whole towns might be warmed by them, and big wheels made to go round.
I wondered that they had not piped them into the big hotels which they
opened for us, and which were warmed by wood fires.


    From stereograph, copyright 1904, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York.]

At Norris's the big room that the President and I occupied was on the
ground floor, and was heated by a huge box stove. As we entered it to
go to bed, the President said, "Oom John, don't you think it is too
hot here?"

"I certainly do," I replied.

"Shall I open the window?"

"That will just suit me." And he threw the sash, which came down to
the floor, all the way up, making an opening like a doorway. The night
was cold, but neither of us suffered from the abundance of fresh air.

The caretaker of the building was a big Swede called Andy. In the
morning Andy said that beat him: "There was the President of the
United States sleeping in that room, with the window open to the
floor, and not so much as one soldier outside on guard."

The President had counted much on seeing the bears that in summer
board at the Fountain Hotel, but they were not yet out of their dens.
We saw the track of only one, and he was not making for the hotel. At
all the formations where the geysers are, the ground was bare over a
large area. I even saw a wild flower--an early buttercup, not an inch
high--in bloom. This seems to be the earliest wild flower in the
Rockies. It is the only fragrant buttercup I know.

As we were riding along in our big sleigh toward the Fountain Hotel,
the President suddenly jumped out, and, with his soft hat as a shield
to his hand, captured a mouse that was running along over the ground
near us. He wanted it for Dr. Merriam, on the chance that it might be
a new species. While we all went fishing in the afternoon, the
President skinned his mouse, and prepared the pelt to be sent to
Washington. It was done as neatly as a professed taxidermist would
have done it. This was the only game the President killed in the
Park. In relating the incident to a reporter while I was in Spokane,
the thought occurred to me, Suppose he changes that _u_ to an _o_, and
makes the President capture a moose, what a pickle I shall be in! Is
it anything more than ordinary newspaper enterprise to turn a mouse
into a moose? But, luckily for me, no such metamorphosis happened to
that little mouse. It turned out not to be a new species, as it should
have been, but a species new to the Park.

I caught trout that afternoon, on the edge of steaming pools in the
Madison River that seemed to my hand almost blood-warm. I suppose they
found better feeding where the water was warm. On the table they did
not compare with our Eastern brook trout.

I was pleased to be told at one of the hotels that they had kalsomined
some of the rooms with material from one of the devil's paint-pots.
It imparted a soft, delicate, pinkish tint, not at all suggestive of
things satanic.

One afternoon at Norris's, the President and I took a walk to observe
the birds. In the grove about the barns there was a great number, the
most attractive to me being the mountain bluebird. These birds we saw
in all parts of the Park, and at Norris's there was an unusual number
of them. How blue they were,--breast and all! In voice and manner they
were almost identical with our bluebird. The Western purple finch was
abundant here also, and juncos, and several kinds of sparrows, with an
occasional Western robin. A pair of wild geese were feeding in the
low, marshy ground not over one hundred yards from us, but when we
tried to approach nearer they took wing. A few geese and ducks seem to
winter in the Park.

The second morning at Norris's one of our teamsters, George Marvin,
suddenly dropped dead from some heart affection, just as he had
finished caring for his team. It was a great shock to us all. I never
saw a better man with a team than he was. I had ridden on the seat
beside him all the day previous. On one of the "formations" our teams
had got mired in the soft, putty-like mud, and at one time it looked
as if they could never extricate themselves, and I doubt if they could
have, had it not been for the skill with which Marvin managed them. We
started for the Grand Cañon up the Yellowstone that morning, and, in
order to give myself a walk over the crisp snow in the clear, frosty
air, I set out a little while in advance of the teams. As I did so, I
saw the President, accompanied by one of the teamsters, walking
hurriedly toward the barn to pay his last respects to the body of
Marvin. After we had returned to Mammoth Hot Springs, he made
inquiries for the young woman to whom he had been told that Marvin was
engaged to be married. He looked her up, and sat a long time with her
in her home, offering his sympathy, and speaking words of consolation.
The act shows the depth and breadth of his humanity.

At the Cañon Hotel the snow was very deep, and had become so soft from
the warmth of the earth beneath, as well as from the sun above, that
we could only reach the brink of the Cañon on skis. The President and
Major Pitcher had used skis before, but I had not, and, starting out
without the customary pole, I soon came to grief. The snow gave way
beneath me, and I was soon in an awkward predicament. The more I
struggled, the lower my head and shoulders went, till only my heels,
strapped to those long timbers, protruded above the snow. To reverse
my position was impossible till some one came and reached me the end
of a pole, and pulled me upright. But I very soon got the hang of the
things, and the President and I quickly left the superintendent
behind. I think I could have passed the President, but my manners
forbade. He was heavier than I was, and broke in more. When one of his
feet would go down half a yard or more, I noted with admiration the
skilled diplomacy he displayed in extricating it. The tendency of my
skis was all the time to diverge, and each to go off at an acute angle
to my main course, and I had constantly to be on the alert to check
this tendency.

Paths had been shoveled for us along the brink of the Cañon, so that
we got the usual views from the different points. The Cañon was nearly
free from snow, and was a grand spectacle, by far the grandest to be
seen in the Park. The President told us that once, when pressed for
meat, while returning through here from one of his hunting trips, he
had made his way down to the river that we saw rushing along beneath
us, and had caught some trout for dinner. Necessity alone could induce
him to fish.

Across the head of the Falls there was a bridge of snow and ice, upon
which we were told that the coyotes passed. As the season progressed,
there would come a day when the bridge would not be safe. It would be
interesting to know if the coyotes knew when this time arrived.

The only live thing we saw in the Cañon was an osprey perched upon a
rock opposite us.

    [Illustration: THE PRESIDENT ON A TRAIL

    From stereograph, copyright 1905, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

Near the falls of the Yellowstone, as at other places we had visited,
a squad of soldiers had their winter quarters. The President called on
them, as he had called upon the others, looked over the books they had
to read, examined their housekeeping arrangements, and conversed
freely with them.

In front of the hotel were some low hills separated by gentle valleys.
At the President's suggestion, he and I raced on our skis down those
inclines. We had only to stand up straight, and let gravity do the
rest. As we were going swiftly down the side of one of the hills, I
saw out of the corner of my eye the President taking a header into the
snow. The snow had given way beneath him, and nothing could save him
from taking the plunge. I don't know whether I called out, or only
thought, something about the downfall of the administration. At any
rate, the administration was down, and pretty well buried, but it was
quickly on its feet again, shaking off the snow with a boy's
laughter. I kept straight on, and very soon the laugh was on me, for
the treacherous snow sank beneath me, and I took a header, too.

"Who is laughing now, Oom John?" called out the President.

The spirit of the boy was in the air that day about the Cañon of the
Yellowstone, and the biggest boy of us all was President Roosevelt.

The snow was getting so soft in the middle of the day that our return
to the Mammoth Hot Springs could no longer be delayed. Accordingly, we
were up in the morning, and ready to start on the home journey, a
distance of twenty miles, by four o'clock. The snow bore up the horses
well till mid-forenoon, when it began to give way beneath them. But by
very careful management we pulled through without serious delay, and
were back again at the house of Major Pitcher in time for luncheon,
being the only outsiders who had ever made the tour of the Park so
early in the season.

A few days later I bade good-by to the President, who went on his way
to California, while I made a loop of travel to Spokane, and around
through Idaho and Montana, and had glimpses of the great, optimistic,
sunshiny West that I shall not soon forget.



Our many-sided President has a side to his nature of which the public
has heard but little, and which, in view of his recent criticism of
what he calls the nature fakirs, is of especial interest and
importance. I refer to his keenness and enthusiasm as a student of
animal life, and his extraordinary powers of observation. The charge
recently made against him that he is only a sportsman and has only a
sportsman's interest in nature is very wide of the mark. Why, I cannot
now recall that I have ever met a man with a keener and more
comprehensive interest in the wild life about us--an interest that is
at once scientific and thoroughly human. And by human I do not mean
anything akin to the sentimentalism that sicklies o'er so much of our
more recent natural history writing, and that inspires the founding of
hospitals for sick cats; but I mean his robust, manly love for all
open-air life, and his sympathetic insight into it. When I first read
his "Wilderness Hunter," many years ago, I was impressed by his rare
combination of the sportsman and the naturalist. When I accompanied
him on his trip to the Yellowstone Park in April, 1903, I got a fresh
impression of the extent of his natural history knowledge and of his
trained powers of observation. Nothing escaped him, from bears to
mice, from wild geese to chickadees, from elk to red squirrels; he
took it all in, and he took it in as only an alert, vigorous mind can
take it in. On that occasion I was able to help him identify only one
new bird, as I have related in the foregoing chapter. All the other
birds he recognized as quickly as I did.

During a recent half-day spent with the President at Sagamore Hill I
got a still more vivid impression of his keenness and quickness in all
natural history matters. The one passion of his life seemed natural
history, and the appearance of a new warbler in his woods--new in the
breeding season on Long Island--seemed an event that threw the affairs
of state and of the presidential succession quite into the background.
Indeed, he fairly bubbled over with delight at the thought of his new
birds and at the prospect of showing them to his visitors. He said to
my friend who accompanied me, John Lewis Childs, of Floral Park, a
former State Senator, that he could not talk politics then, he wanted
to talk and to hunt birds. And it was not long before he was as hot
on the trail of that new warbler as he had recently been on the trail
of some of the great trusts. Fancy a President of the United States
stalking rapidly across bushy fields to the woods, eager as a boy and
filled with the one idea of showing to his visitors the black-throated
green warbler! We were presently in the edge of the woods and standing
under a locust tree, where the President had several times seen and
heard his rare visitant. "That's his note now," he said, and we all
three recognized it at the same instant. It came from across a little
valley fifty yards farther in the woods. We were soon standing under
the tree in which the bird was singing, and presently had our glasses
upon him.


    From stereograph, copyright 1907, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

"There is no mistake about it, Mr. President," we both said; "it is
surely the black-throated green," and he laughed in glee. "I knew it
could be no other; there is no mistaking that song and those markings.
'Trees, trees, murmuring trees!' some one reports him as saying. Now
if we could only find the nest;" but we did not, though it was
doubtless not far off.

Our warblers, both in color and in song, are bewildering even to the
experienced ornithologist, but the President had mastered most of
them. Not long before he had written me from Washington that he had
just come in from walking with Mrs. Roosevelt about the White House
grounds looking up arriving warblers. "Most of the warblers were up in
the tops of the trees, and I could not get a good glimpse of them; but
there was one with chestnut cheeks, with bright yellow behind the
cheeks, and a yellow breast thickly streaked with black, which has
puzzled me. Doubtless it is a very common kind which has for the
moment slipped my memory. I saw the Blackburnian, the summer
yellowbird, and the black-throated green." The next day he wrote me
that he had identified the puzzling warbler; it was the Cape May.
There is a tradition among newspaper men in Washington that a Cape May
warbler once broke up a Cabinet meeting; maybe this was that identical

At luncheon he told us of some of his ornithological excursions in the
White House grounds, how people would stare at him as he stood gazing
up into the trees like one demented. "No doubt they thought me
insane." "Yes," said Mrs. Roosevelt, "and as I was always with him,
they no doubt thought I was the nurse that had him in charge."

In his "Pastimes of an American Hunter" he tells of the owls that in
June sometimes came after nightfall about the White House. "Sometimes
they flew noiselessly to and fro, and seemingly caught big insects on
the wing. At other times they would perch on the iron awning bars
directly overhead. Once one of them perched over one of the windows
and sat motionless, looking exactly like an owl of Pallas Athene."

He knew the vireos also, and had seen and heard the white-eyed at his
Virginia place, "Pine Knot," and he described its peculiar, emphatic
song. As I moved along with the thought of this bird in mind and its
snappy, incisive song, as I used to hear it in the old days near
Washington, I fancied I caught its note in a dense bushy place below
us. We paused to listen. "A catbird," said the President, and so we
all agreed. We saw and heard a chewink. "Out West the chewink calls
like a catbird," he observed. Continuing our walk, we skirted the edge
of an orchard. Here the President called our attention to a
high-hole's nest in a cavity of an old apple tree. He rapped on the
trunk of the tree that we might hear the smothered cry for food of the
young inside. A few days before he had found one of the half-fledged
young on the ground under the tree, and had managed to reach up and
drop it back into the nest. "What a boiling there was in there," he
said, "when the youngster dropped in!"

A cuckoo called in a tree overhead, the first I had heard this season.
I feared the cold spring had cut them off. "The yellow-billed,
undoubtedly," the President observed, and was confirmed by Mr. Childs.
I was not certain that I knew the call of the yellow-billed from that
of the black-billed. "We have them both," said the President, "but the
yellow-billed is the more common."

We continued our walk along a path that led down through a most
delightful wood to the bay. Everywhere the marks of the President's
axe were visible, as he had with his own hand thinned out and cleared
up a large section of the wood.

A few days previous he had seen some birds in a group of tulip-trees
near the edge of the woods facing the water; he thought they were
rose-breasted grosbeaks, but could not quite make them out. He had
hoped to find them there now, and we looked and listened for some
moments, but no birds appeared.

Then he led us to a little pond in the midst of the forest where the
night heron sometimes nested. A pair of them had nested there in a big
water maple the year before, but the crows had broken them up. As we
reached the spot the cry of the heron was heard over the tree-tops.
"That is its alarm note," said the President. I remarked that it was
much like the cry of the little green heron. "Yes, it is, but if we
wait here till the heron returns, and we are not discovered, you would
hear his other more characteristic call, a hoarse quawk."

Presently we moved on along another path through the woods toward the
house. A large, wide-spreading oak attracted my attention--a superb

"You see by the branching of that oak," said the President, "that when
it grew up this wood was an open field and maybe under the plough; it
is only in fields that oaks take that form." I knew it was true, but
my mind did not take in the fact when I first saw the tree. His mind
acts with wonderful swiftness and completeness, as I had abundant
proof that day.


    From stereograph, copyright 1907, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

As we walked along we discussed many questions, all bearing directly
or indirectly upon natural history. The conversation was perpetually
interrupted by some bird-note in the trees about us which we would
pause to identify--the President's ear, I thought, being the most
alert of the three. Continuing the talk, he dwelt upon the inaccuracy
of most persons' seeing, and upon the unreliability as natural history
of most of the stories told by guides and hunters. Sometimes writers
of repute were to be read with caution. He mentioned that excellent
hunting book of Colonel Dodge's, in which are described two species of
the puma, one in the West called the "mountain lion," very fierce and
dangerous; the other called in the East the "panther,"--a harmless and
cowardly animal. "Both the same species," said the President, "and
almost identical in disposition."

Nothing is harder than to convince a person that he has seen wrongly.
The other day a doctor accosted me in the street of one of our inland
towns to tell me of a strange bird he had seen; the bird was
blood-red all over and was in some low bushes by the roadside. Of
course I thought of our scarlet tanager, which was then just arriving.
No, he knew that bird with black wings and tail; this bird had no
black upon it, but every quill and feather was vivid scarlet. The
doctor was very positive, so I had to tell him we had no such bird in
our state. There was the summer redbird common in the Southern States,
but this place is much beyond its northern limit, and, besides, this
bird is not scarlet, but is of a dull red. Of course he had seen a
tanager, but in the shade of the bushes the black of the wings and
tail had escaped him.

This was simply a case of mis-seeing in an educated man; but in the
untrained minds of trappers and woodsmen generally there is an element
of the superstitious, and a love for the marvelous, which often
prevents them from seeing the wild life about them just as it is. They
possess the mythopoeic faculty, and they unconsciously give play to

Thus our talk wandered as we wandered along the woods and field paths.
The President brought us back by the corner of a clover meadow where
he was sure a pair of red-shouldered starlings had a nest. He knew it
was an unlikely place for starlings to nest, as they breed in marshes
and along streams and in the low bushes on lake borders, but this pair
had always shown great uneasiness when he had approached this plot of
tall clover. As we drew near, the male starling appeared and uttered
his alarm note. The President struck out to look for the nest, and for
a time the Administration was indeed in clover, with the alarmed
black-bird circling above it and showing great agitation. For my
part, I hesitated on the edge of the clover patch, having a farmer's
dread of seeing fine grass trampled down. I suggested to the President
that he was injuring his hay crop; that the nest was undoubtedly there
or near there; so he came out of the tall grass, and, after looking
into the old tumbled-down barn--a regular early settler's barn, with
huge timbers hewn from forest trees--that stood near by, and which the
President said he preserved for its picturesqueness and its savor of
old times, as well as for a place to romp in with his dogs and
children, we made our way to the house.

The purple finch nested in the trees about the house, and the
President was greatly pleased that he was able to show us this bird


    From stereograph, copyright 1907, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

A few days previous to our visit the children had found a bird's nest
on the ground, in the grass, a few yards below the front of the house.
There were young birds in it, and as the President had seen the
grasshopper sparrow about there, he concluded the nest belonged to it.
We went down to investigate it, and found the young gone and two
addled eggs in the nest. When the President saw those eggs, he said:
"That is not the nest of the grasshopper sparrow, after all; those are
the eggs of the song sparrow, though the nest is more like that of the
vesper sparrow. The eggs of the grasshopper sparrow are much lighter
in color--almost white, with brown specks." For my part, I had quite
forgotten for the moment how the eggs of the little sparrow looked or
differed in color from those of the song sparrow. But the President
has so little to remember that he forgets none of these minor things!
His bird-lore and wood-lore seem as fresh as if just learned.

I asked him if he ever heard that rare piece of bird music, the flight
song of the oven-bird. "Yes," he replied, "we frequently hear it of an
evening, while we are sitting on the porch, right down there at the
corner of the woods." Now, this flight song of the oven-bird was
unknown to the older ornithologists, and Thoreau, with all his years
of patient and tireless watching of birds and plants, never identified
it; but the President had caught it quickly and easily, sitting on his
porch at Sagamore Hill. I believe I may take the credit of being the
first to identify and describe this song--back in the old "Wake Robin"

In an inscription in a book the President had just given me he had
referred to himself as my pupil. Now I was to be his pupil. In dealing
with the birds I could keep pace with him pretty easily, and, maybe,
occasionally lead him; but when we came to consider big game and the
animal life of the globe, I was nowhere. His experience with the big
game has been very extensive, and his acquaintance with the literature
of the subject is far beyond my own; and he forgets nothing, while my
memory is a sieve. In his study he set before me a small bronze
elephant in action, made by the famous French sculptor Barye. He asked
me if I saw anything wrong with it. I looked it over carefully, and
was obliged to confess that, so far as I could see, it was all right.
Then he placed before me another, by a Japanese artist. Instantly I
saw what was wrong with the Frenchman's elephant. Its action was like
that of a horse or a cow, or any trotting animal--a hind and a front
foot on opposite sides moving together. The Japanese had caught the
real movement of the animal, which is that of a pacer--both legs on
the same side at a time. What different effects the two actions gave
the statuettes! The free swing of the Japanese elephant you at once
recognize as the real thing. The President laughed, and said he had
never seen any criticism of Barye's elephant on this ground, or any
allusion to his mistake; it was his own discovery. I was fairly beaten
at my own game of observation.

He then took down a copy of his "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail,"
and pointed out to me the mistakes the artist had made in some of his
drawings of big Western game.

"Do you see anything wrong in the head of the pronghorn?" he asked,
referring to the animal which the hunter is bringing in on the saddle
behind him. Again I had to confess that I could not. Then he showed me
the mounted head of a pronghorn over the mantel in one of his rooms,
and called my attention to the fact that the eye was close under the
root of the horn, whereas in the picture the artist had placed it
about two inches too low. And in the artist's picture of the
pronghorn, which heads Chapter IX, he had made the tail much too long,
as he had the tail of the elk on the opposite page.

I had heard of Mr. Roosevelt's attending a fair in Orange County,
while he was Governor, where a group of mounted deer were exhibited.
It seems the group had had rough usage, and one of the deer had lost
its tail and a new one had been supplied. No one had noticed anything
wrong with it till Mr. Roosevelt came along. "But the minute he
clapped his eyes on that group," says the exhibitor, "he called out,
'Here, Gunther, what do you mean by putting a white-tail deer's tail
on a black-tail deer?" Such closeness and accuracy of observation even
few naturalists can lay claim to. I mentioned the incident to him,
and he recalled it laughingly. He then took down a volume on the deer
family which he had himself had a share in writing, and pointed out
two mistakes in the naming of the pictures which had been overlooked.
The picture of the "white-tail in flight" was the black-tail of
Colorado, and the picture of the black-tail of Colorado showed the
black-tail of Columbia--the difference this time being seen in the
branching of the horns.

The President took us through his house and showed us his trophies of
the chase--bearskins of all sorts and sizes on the floors, panther and
lynx skins on the chairs, and elk heads and deer heads on the walls,
and one very large skin of the gray timber wolf. We examined the teeth
of the wolf, barely more than an inch long, and we all laughed at the
idea of its reaching the heart of a caribou through the breast by a
snap, or any number of snaps, as it has been reported to do. I doubt
if it could have reached the heart of a gobbler turkey in that way at
a single snap.


    From stereograph, copyright 1907, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

The President's interest in birds, and in natural history generally,
dates from his youth. While yet in his teens he published a list of
the birds of Franklin County, New York. He showed me a bird journal
which he kept in Egypt when he was a lad of fourteen, and a case of
three African plovers which he had set up at that time; and they were
well done.

Evidently one of his chief sources of pleasure at Sagamore Hill is the
companionship of the birds. He missed the bobolink, the seaside finch,
and the marsh wren, but his woods and grounds abounded in other
species. He knew and enjoyed not only all the more common birds, but
many rarer and shyer ones that few country people ever take note
of--such as the Maryland yellow-throat, the black and white creeper,
the yellow-breasted chat, the oven-bird, the prairie warbler, the
great crested flycatcher, the wood pewee, and the sharp-tailed finch.
He enjoyed the little owls, too. "It is a pity the little-eared owl is
called a screech owl. Its tremulous, quavering cry is not a screech at
all, and has an attraction of its own. These little owls come up to
the house after dark, and are fond of sitting on the elk's antlers
over the gable. When the moon is up, by choosing one's position, the
little owl appears in sharp outline against the bright disk, seated on
his many-tined perch."

A few days after my visit he wrote me that he had identified the
yellow-throated or Dominican warbler in his woods, the first he had
ever seen. I had to confess to him that I had never seen the bird. It
is very rare north of Maryland. The same letter records several
interesting little incidents in the wild life about him:

"The other night I took out the boys in rowboats for a camping-out
expedition. We camped on the beach under a low bluff near the grove
where a few years ago on a similar expedition we saw a red fox. This
time two young foxes, evidently this year's cubs, came around the camp
half a dozen times during the night, coming up within ten yards of the
fire to pick up scraps and seeming to be very little bothered by our
presence. Yesterday on the tennis ground I found a mole shrew. He was
near the side lines first. I picked him up in my handkerchief, for he
bit my hand, and after we had all looked at him I let him go; but in a
few minutes he came back and deliberately crossed the tennis grounds
by the net. As he ran over the level floor of the court, his motion
reminded all of us of the motion of those mechanical mice that run
around on wheels when wound up. A chipmunk that lives near the tennis
court continually crosses it when the game is in progress. He has done
it two or three times this year, and either he or his predecessor has
had the same habit for several years. I am really puzzled to know why
he should go across this perfectly bare surface, with the players
jumping about on it, when he is not frightened and has no reason that
I can see for going. Apparently he grows accustomed to the players and
moves about among them as he would move about, for instance, among a
herd of cattle."

The President is a born nature-lover, and he has what does not always
go with this passion--remarkable powers of observation. He sees
quickly and surely, not less so with the corporeal eye than with the
mental. His exceptional vitality, his awareness all around, gives the
clue to his powers of seeing. The chief qualification of a born
observer is an alert, sensitive, objective type of mind, and this
Roosevelt has in a preëminent degree.

You may know the true observer, not by the big things he sees, but by
the little things; and then not by the things he sees with effort and
premeditation, but by his effortless, unpremeditated seeing--the
quick, spontaneous action of his mind in the presence of natural
objects. Everybody sees the big things, and anybody can go out with
note-book and opera-glass and make a dead set at the birds, or can go
into the northern forests and interview guides and trappers and
Indians, and stare in at the door of the "school of the woods." None
of these things evince powers of observation; they only evince
industry and intention. In fact, born observers are about as rare as
born poets. Plenty of men can see straight and report straight what
they see; but the men who see what others miss, who see quickly and
surely, who have the detective eye, like Sherlock Holmes, who "get the
drop," so to speak, on every object, who see minutely and who see
whole, are rare indeed.

President Roosevelt comes as near fulfilling this ideal as any man I
have known. His mind moves with wonderful celerity, and yet as an
observer he is very cautious, jumps to no hasty conclusions.

He had written me, toward the end of May, that while at Pine Knot in
Virginia he had seen a small flock of passenger pigeons. As I had been
following up the reports of wild pigeons from various parts of our
own state during the past two or three years, this statement of the
President's made me prick up my ears. In my reply I said, "I hope you
are sure about those pigeons," and I told him of my interest in the
subject, and also how all reports of pigeons in the East had been
discredited by a man in Michigan who was writing a book on the
subject. This made him prick up his ears, and he replied that while he
felt very certain he had seen a small band of the old wild pigeons,
yet he might have been deceived; the eye sometimes plays one tricks.
He said that in his old ranch days he and a cowboy companion thought
one day that they had discovered a colony of _black_ prairie dogs,
thanks entirely to the peculiar angle at which the light struck them.
He said that while he was President he did not want to make any
statement, even about pigeons, for the truth of which he did not have
good evidence. He would have the matter looked into by a friend at
Pine Knot upon whom he could depend. He did so, and convinced himself
and me also that he had really seen wild pigeons. I had the pleasure
of telling him that in the same mail with his letter came the news to
me of a large flock of wild pigeons having been seen near the
Beaverkill in Sullivan County, New York. While he was verifying his
observation I was in Sullivan County verifying this report. I saw and
questioned persons who had seen the pigeons, and I came away fully
convinced that a flock of probably a thousand birds had been seen
there late in the afternoon of May 23. "You need have no doubt about
it," said the most competent witness, an old farmer. "I lived here
when the pigeons nested here in countless numbers forty years ago. I
know pigeons as I know folks, and these were pigeons."

    [Illustration: HALLWAY, SAGAMORE HILL

    From stereograph, copyright 1907, by Underwood & Underwood,
    New York]

I mention this incident of the pigeons because I know that the fact
that they have been lately seen in considerable numbers will be good
news to a large number of readers.

The President's nature-love is deep and abiding. Not every bird
student succeeds in making the birds a part of his life. Not till you
have long and sympathetic intercourse with them, in fact, not till you
have loved them for their own sake, do they enter into and become a
part of your life. I could quote many passages from President
Roosevelt's books which show how he has felt and loved the birds, and
how discriminating his ear is with regard to their songs. Here is

"The meadow-lark is a singer of a higher order [than the plains
skylark], deserving to rank with the best. Its song has length,
variety, power, and rich melody, and there is in it sometimes a
cadence of wild sadness inexpressibly touching. Yet I cannot say that
either song would appeal to others as it appeals to me; for to me it
comes forever laden with a hundred memories and associations--with the
sight of dim hills reddening in the dawn, with the breath of cool
morning winds blowing across lonely plains, with the scent of flowers
on the sunlit prairie, with the motion of fiery horses, with all the
strong thrill of eager and buoyant life. I doubt if any man can judge
dispassionately the bird-songs of his own country; he cannot
disassociate them from the sights and sounds of the land that is so
dear to him."

Here is another, touching upon some European song-birds as compared
with some of our own: "No one can help liking the lark; it is such a
brave, honest, cheery bird, and moreover its song is uttered in the
air, and is very long-sustained. But it is by no means a musician of
the first rank. The nightingale is a performer of a very different and
far higher order; yet though it is indeed a notable and admirable
singer, it is an exaggeration to call it unequaled. In melody, and
above all in that finer, higher melody where the chords vibrate with
the touch of eternal sorrow, it cannot rank with such singers as the
wood-thrush and the hermit-thrush. The serene ethereal beauty of the
hermit's song, rising and falling through the still evening, under the
archways of hoary mountain forests that have endured from time
everlasting; the golden, leisurely chiming of the wood-thrush,
sounding on June afternoons, stanza by stanza, through the
sun-flecked groves of tall hickories, oaks, and chestnuts; with these
there is nothing in the nightingale's song to compare. But in volume
and continuity, in tuneful, voluble, rapid outpouring and ardor, above
all in skillful and intricate variation of theme, its song far
surpasses that of either of the thrushes. In all these respects it is
more just to compare it with the mocking-bird's, which, as a rule,
likewise falls short precisely on those points where the songs of the
two thrushes excel."

In his "Pastimes of an American Hunter" he says: "It is an
incalculable added pleasure to any one's sense of happiness if he or
she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and
enjoy the wonder-book of nature. All hunters should be nature-lovers.
It is to be hoped that the days of mere wasteful, boastful slaughter
are past, and that from now on the hunter will stand foremost in
working for the preservation and perpetuation of the wild life,
whether big or little." Surely this man is the rarest kind of a

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