History on Roosevelt, August 7, 1912



To the Editor of The Republican: --

The noble, inspiring sonnet written in honor of Theodore Roosevelt by the greatest living English poet, William Watson, has not received its due appreciation owing to the bitter political controversy of the hour. Coming from one who is viewing the fierce battle at Chicago from afar, with absolute impartiality, it should open our eyes to the great moral issues involved in this campaign, and let us glimpse what the verdict of the future historian and poet will be, upon our greatest living American citizen. We must remember that, as Watson well says: --

Empires dissolve, and people disappear;
Song passes not away.
Captains and conquerors leave a little dust.
And kings a dubious legend of their reign;
The swords of Caesars, they are less than rust.
The poet doth remain.

The day will come when the "solid men of Boston" as George Smalley calls them, will look back upon the reign of the political boss as they now look back upon the shameful degradation of fugitive slave hunting. The revelations of the political iniquity at Chicago will perhaps bring about the liberation of Massachusetts from bossism, and the old Bay state will once more assert her sovereignty and listen to the men who, as Watson says, "Towers as Teneriffe towers from the ocean" above us all.

Why have we no great political poet of our own to immortalize our "year of shame"? For Watson did not spare his own country when he thought the scourge was needed. Where is there a James Russell Lowell to voice the sentiment of the American nation? Why must we wait for an English poet to crown our hero, and to write --

Thou are the fiery pulse, the conquering will.
Thou art America, dauntless Theodore.

M. R. F. Gilman (Mrs Bradley Gilman)

Canton, June 23, 1912.

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