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Title: Heroes of To-Day
Author: Parkman, Mary R.
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.

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                           HEROES OF TO-DAY

           [Illustration: John Muir among his beloved trees]

                           HEROES OF TO-DAY

                  GRENFELL ⁂ ROBERT F. SCOTT ⁂ SAMUEL
                       PIERPONT LANGLEY ⁂ EDWARD
                   TRUDEAU ⁂ BISHOP ROWE ⁂ JACOB A.
                       RIIS ⁂ HERBERT C. HOOVER
                        RUPERT BROOKE ⁂ GEORGE
                              W. GOETHALS

                            MARY R. PARKMAN

                 Author of “Heroines of Service,” etc.

                           ILLUSTRATED WITH


                               NEW YORK
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                       Copyright, 1916, 1917, by
                            THE CENTURY CO.

                      _Published September, 1917_

                               MY FATHER


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

I THE LAIRD OF SKYLAND: JOHN MUIR                                      3


III THE DEEP-SEA DOCTOR: WILFRED GRENFELL                             53

IV THE CAPTAIN OF HIS SOUL: CAPTAIN SCOTT                             81

V A MODERN VIKING: JACOB RIIS                                        105

VI A PIONEER OF THE OPEN: EDWARD L. TRUDEAU                          133



IX A HERO OF FLIGHT: SAMUEL PIERPONT LANGLEY                         233

X A POET-SOLDIER: RUPERT BROOKE                                      263

XI A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD: HERBERT C. HOOVER                         295



John Muir Among His Beloved Trees                          _Frontispiece_

John Muir and John Burroughs in the Yosemite Valley                   25

Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell                                               55

The Hospital at St. Anthony, Northern Newfoundland                    66

Captain Robert F. Scott                                               87

Jacob A. Riis                                                        110

The Jacob A. Riis Settlement                                         119

Edward L. Trudeau                                                    146

First Sanitarium Cottage Built                                       155

Major Goethals                                                       178

The “Man of Panama” at Panama                                        195

Bishop Peter T. Rowe                                                 213

Samuel P. Langley                                                    248

Rupert Brooke                                                        274

Herbert C. Hoover                                                    300

The Belgian Children’s Christmas Card                                317


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You told me, Father--” began John.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Photo by F. P. Clatworthy_

John Muir and John Burroughs in the Yosemite Valley]

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Things are in the saddle,
      And ride mankind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: Dr. Wilfred T. Grenfell]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: The hospital at St. Anthony, Northern Newfoundland]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                           TO THE MEMORY OF
                           THREE NOBLE DOGS
                        WHOSE LIVES WERE GIVEN
                          FOR MINE ON THE ICE
                           APRIL 21ST, 1908
                           WILFRED GRENFELL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “You must take my drum” (Drake said),
       “To the old sea-wall at home,
     And if ever you strike that drum,” he said,
       “Why, strike me blind, I’ll come!

    “If England needs me, dead
       Or living, I’ll rise that day!
     I’ll rise from the darkness under the sea
       Ten thousand miles away!”

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

“It was the spirit of Sir Francis Drake.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three years were spent in that terrible land where

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Photo by Brown Bros._

Captain Robert F. Scott]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The silence was deep with a breath like sleep
      As our sledge runners slid on the snow,
    And the fateful fall of our fur-clad feet
      Struck mute like a silent blow.

    And this was the thought the silence wrought,
      As it scorched and froze us through,
    For the secrets hidden are all forbidden
      Till God means man to know.
    We might be the men God meant should know
      The heart of the Barrier snow,
    In the heat of the sun, and the glow,
      And the glare from the glistening floe,
    As it scorched and froze us through and through
      With the bite of the drifting snow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little later Scott wrote in his diary:

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

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

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

“The soul of a brave man is stronger than anything that can happen to


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Brown Bros._

Jacob A. Riis]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His brother jumped to his feet and bowed low.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: The Jacob A. Riis settlement, Henry Street, New York]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So began his life as a reporter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

STEVENSON: _El Dorado_.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Photo by Wm. Distin_

Edward L. Trudeau]

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


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

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

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

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

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

“That’s nothing, Doctor! You don’t weigh no more than a dried

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Underwood & Underwood_

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Don’t hesitate to state your case, the boss will hear you through;
     It’s true he’s sometimes busy, and has other things to do,
     But come on Sunday morning, and line up with the rest,--
     You’ll maybe feel some better with that grievance off your chest.

       See Colonel Goethals, tell Colonel Goethals,
       It’s the only right and proper thing to do.
       Just write a letter, or, even better,
       Arrange a little Sunday interview.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am not proposing to tie up the work--you are doing that,” was the

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

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

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

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

“One cubic yard,” was the reply.

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

“One cubic yard.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Photo by Brown Bros._

The “Man of Panama” at Panama]

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

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


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


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

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

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

“How can I serve him?” asked Offero.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Courtesy of Rev. C. E. Betticher_

Bishop Peter T. Rowe]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute_

Samuel Pierpont Langley]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Photo by Brown Bros._

Rupert Brooke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: _Underwood & Underwood_

Herbert C. Hoover]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: The Belgian children’s Christmas card, printed at the
Plantin Museum in Antwerp]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Blank:

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

Yours sincerely,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

not against flesh and bood=> not against flesh and bood {pg viii}

the United States cruiser _Kearsage_=> the United States cruiser
_Kearsarge_ {pg 141}

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