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Letters to His Children


and nature in all its moods and aspects. But love of children and
family and home was above all. The children always had an old-
fashioned Christmas in the White House. In several letters in these
pages, descriptions of these festivals will be found. In closing one
of them the eternal child’s heart in the man cries out: ”I wonder
whet her there ever can come in life a thrill of greater exaltation and
rapture than that which comes to one between the ages of say six and
fourteen, when the library door is thrown open and you walk in to see
all the gifts, like a materialized fairy land, arrayed on your special
table?”
His love for the home he had built and in which his beloved children
had been born, was not even dimmed by his life in the White House.
”After all,” he wrote to Ethel in June, 1906, ”fond as I am of the
White House and much though I have appreciated these years in it,
there isn’t any place in the world like home–like Sagamore Hill where
things are our own, with their own associations, and where it is real
country.”
Through all his letters runs his inexhaustible vein of delicious
humor. All the quaint sayings of Quentin, that quaintest of small
boys; all the antics of the household cats and dogs; all the comic
aspects of the guinea-pigs and others of the large menagerie of pets
that the children were always collecting; all the tricks and feats of
the saddle-horses–t hese, toget her with every item of household news
that would amus e and cheer and keep alive the love of home in the
heart of the absent boys, was set forth in letters which in gayety of
spirit and charm of manner have few equals in literat ure and no
superiors. No matter how great the pressure of public duties, or how
severe the strain that the trials and burdens of o?ce placed upon
the nerves and spirits of the President of a great nation, this
devoted father and whole-hearted companion found time to send every
week a long letter of this delight ful character to each of his absent
children.
2
As the boys advanced toward manhood the letters, still on the basis of
equality, contain much wise suggestion and occasional admonition, the
latter always administered in a loving spirit accompanied by apology
for writing in a ”preaching” vein. The playmate of childhood became
the sympathetic and keenly interested companion in all athletic
contests, in the reading of books and the consideration of authors,
and in the discussion of politics and public a?airs. Many of these
letters, notably those on the relative merits of civil and military
careers, and the proper proportions of sport and study, are valuable
guides for youth in all ranks of life. The strong, vigorous, exalted
character of the writ er stands revealed in these as in all the other
letters, as well as the cheerful soul of the man which remained
throughout his life as pure and gentle as the soul of a child. Only a
short time before he died, he said to me, as we were going over the
letters and planning this volume, which is arranged as he wished it to
be: ”I would rather have this book published than anything that has
ever been written about me.”
THE LE TTE RS
IN THE SPANIS H WAR
At the outbreak of the war with Spain in the spring of 1898 Theodore
Roos evelt, who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in
association with Leonard Wood, organized the Regiment of Rough Riders
and went into camp with them at Tampa, Florida. Later he went with his
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