Viscount Kaneko's Home-Some Souvenirs-A Roosevellian Mentory-DoctorBigelow's Propliecy-A First Meeting with Roosevelt-The Russo-Japanese War-Luncheons at the White House-Roosevelt's Interest in the Samurai Tradition -Sagamore Hill-Mrs. Roosevelt and Quentin-A Simple Home-The President Brings Blankets-A Bear Hunt- The Peace of Portsmouth and a Bearskin for the Emperor-A Letter of Roosevelt's on Relations with Japan-A Letter from Mid-Africa-" American Samurai"NEVER while in Japan did I feel quite so close to home as on the several occasions when I sat in the study of Viscount Kentaro Kaneko, in Tokyo, listening to his reminisences and looking at his souvenirs of Theodore Roosevelt.
No Japanese has been more widely known in the United States, or more familiar with our ways, than Viscount Kaneko (Harvard '78), Privy Councilor to the Emperor, chairman of the commission which is engaged in preparing the history of the reign of the late Emperor Meiji, and president of the America-Japan Society of Tokyo.
I found him living in a good-sized but not ostentatious house, purely Japanese in architecture. But it was not purely Japanese in its equipment. Like the houses of other Tokyo gentlemen accustomed to see much of foreigners, it had carpet over the hall matting, rendering the removal of shoes unnecessary, and certain of its rooms were furnished in the Occidental style.
Such rooms, in Japan, usually are stiff receptionrooms which look as if they were used only when visitors from abroad put in an appearance; but Viscount Kaneko's study held a homelike feeling which made me think the room was frequented by the master of the house when no guests were present.
On the walls were framed photographs of notables, European and American, with the Roosevelt, family very much to the fore, and. I noticed beneath the photograph of President Roosevelt a cordial inscription in the familiar handwriting, so honest and boyish-writing as unlike that of any other great man as Roosevelt himself was unlike any other great man.
When I had crossed and read the inscription, Viscount Kaneko called my attention to the frame.
"That frame," he said, "is made from a piece of Oregon pine which was brought among other presents to the Shogun by Commodore Perry. The Emperor presented me with a piece of the wood, and I had made from it that frame and a writing box on which the scene of Perry's arrival is depicted in gold lacquer."
There was also a'photograph of Mrs. Roosevelt with two of her sons, and one of Quentin Roosevelt as a child, astride a pony, with an inscription to the Viscount's son Takemaro, dated August seventh, 1905. In the corner of the frame was inserted a photograph which the Viscount had caused to be taken of Quentin's grave in France.
Viscount Kaneko was a student at Harvard when Roosevelt entered the university, but they were two years apart and did not know each other there. Their first meeting occurred in Washington in 1889, when Roosevelt was Civil Service Commissioner and Viscount Kaneko was returning to Japan after having visited the principal countries of Europe for the purpose of studying parliamentary forms. The first Japanese Parliament met in the year following, 1890, when Japan adopted a Constitution.
In looking back upon my interviews with the Viscount I find myself marvelling to-day, as I did then, at the detailed accuracy of his memory. He recounted events of fifteen and more years before with a vividness and an attention to trifles that was extraordinary. It was as if he had refreshed his memory by reading from a diary.
"I had two letters of introduction to Roosevelt," he told me, "when I went to Washington in 1889. One had been given to me by James Bryce, later Viscount Bryce, who was then in Gladstone's Cabinet. The other I received from my friend Dr. William Sturges Bigelow.
"When Doctor Bigelow gave me the letter, he said: 'This will introduce you to a man who will some day be President of the United States.' I always remembered that and watched Roosevelt's career with the more interest for that reason.
"On reachingg Washington I called on Roosevelt at a private boarding house where he was living, and he returned my call next day. Naturally I perceived at once that he was a man of extraordinarily vigorous mind. I enjoyed him greatly, and was pleased and interested, after my return to Japan, to see him steadily ascending. He became Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, Governor of New York. 'Now,' I said to myself on reading that he had been elected Governor, 'he is on the way to fulfilling Doctor Bigelow's prophecy.' Then he became Vice- President, and I thought: 'That is too bad. They have shelved him. He won't be President after all.' But McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt came to the White House.
"Early in 1904, at the time of our war with Russia, I was sent to the United States on an unofficial embassy. I went first to New York, where I remained for a week; then to Washington. There I called on my old friend Mr. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court-'Brother Kaneko' he used to call me-requesting him to take me to the White House to meet the President, who I thought would not remember me. But Justice Holmes had disagreed with Roosevelt over the Northern Securities case, and did not feel that he was persona grata at the White House just then. Therefore I arranged through our Minister, Mr. Takahira, for a meeting.
"One morning in May, 1904, the Minister took me to call upon the President. Our appointment was for half past ten. We were not kept waiting long. I will never forget the picture of Roosevelt as he quickly thrust open the door and rushed into the room. The Minister had no chance to present me. 'I am delighted to see you again Baron!' the President exclaimed in that wonderfully hearty way of his. And as we shook hands he threw his arm over my shoulder, demanding: 'Why did you stay for a week in New York? Why didn't you come and see me right away?'
"During our talk, which lasted an hour, he let me see that he was absolutely neutral in his official attitude toward our war with Russia, but nevertheless made me feel that he had much personal sympathy for Japan. He declared frankly that popular sentiment in the United States was favourable to Japan, and added that the Russian Government had complained that American army and navy officers were openly pro-Japanese. This had made it necessary for him to issue a proclamation of neutrality. But though, as President, he was particular to be scrupulously just to both sides, I was in no doubt as to the friendliness of his private sentiments.
"He advised me not to stay in Washington, but to make my headquarters in New York, coming over to Washington to see him when it was necessary. This I did, and as time went on, and we became closer friends, he often did me the honour of inviting me to luncheon en famille at the White House.
"At one of these luncheons I told him of Doctor Bigelow's prophecy, and of how I had watched him mounting step by step to its fulfilment. That seemed to please him.
"' Edith,' he called across the table to Mrs. Roosevelt, 'do you hear that? Here is a man who has kept a friendly eye on me from away off in Japan.'
" Once at one of these intimate White House luncheons he remarked that as President it was necessary to preserve a certain style. 'Coming to see us here,' he said, 'you don't get an accurate idea of what our family life really is. You must come and pay us a visit at Oyster Bay this summer when we get home. Then you will know more about us.'
"He did not forget the invitation, but early in July 1905, repeated it by telegraph. I went to Oyster Bay and stayed over night. It was in many ways a memorable experience.
"He was always greatly interested in our samurai tradition and in the doctrine we call bushido. I remember his asking me how much money was required for the keeping up of a samurai's position. I explained that there were different classes of samurai-that the shoguns had themselves been samurai, with others of various grades below them.
"'Middle-class samurai,' I said, 'do not need a great deal of money. They require only enough for dress to be worn on social occasions, for the education of their families, and the maintenance of their political position, whatever it may be. They need no money for pleasures or extravagances.'
"'Just the same,' the President replied, 'a man doesn't want to fall behind his ancestors, materially or otherwise. Take my own case: I want to keep my place as my forbears kept theirs. I desire neither more nor less than what my father had. I want my children to be able to grow up in this old home at Oyster Bay just as the children of my generation did.' Then he began to ask me more about the details of samurai life.
"'What about doctor's bills?' he asked. 'You didn't mention that item in estimating the expense of living.'
"I told him of a curious custom we used to have. In each samurai class there were families of doctors who were endowed by the Government, the profession being passed down from father to son. These doctors took care of samurai families of the rank corresponding to their own, and charged nothing for so doing. Twice a year, in January and July, when it is customary to give presents, presents were given to the doctors. They also took care of the poor as a matter of charity.
"That interested him, too. He was always intensely interested in the samurai, because our samurai virtues were virtues of a kind he particularly admired-courage, stoicism, love of duty and of country.
"We sat on the wide verandah, overlooking the lawn sloping down toward Long Island Sound. Mrs. Roosevelt sat with us, knitting. It was July, but she was knitting mittens. Presently a maid came and spoke to her, and she left us.
"When she came back she said to me, ' Baron, I want to ask a favour of you. Quentin has been crying. He took great pains to clean his pony to-day, to show it to you, and we promised that he should be allowed to do so. He has been riding around the lawn hoping you would notice him,'
"Of course I sent for Quentin, and he appeared proudly upon his pony. I asked him to ride around the lawn, which he did.
"'You ride splendidly!' I said, when he drew up again before the porch.
"'Do you think so?' he asked, evidently much pleased.
"'Indeed I do!' I said, and asked him to go around the lawn again.
"When he came back I told him about my son, who was just his age. 'I shall have him learn to ride,' I said, 'and when he can ride as well as you can I shall have his picture taken on a pony and send it to you.'
"That," continued the Viscount, "is how we happen to have this picture of Quentin on his pony. He sent it to my son, and my son sent him a picture. I always like to think of the good-will there was between those two boys-an American boy and a Japanese boy who had never seen each other.
"That night we sat talking in the drawing room which is to the left of the hall as you go into the house. Mrs. Roosevelt was still kniting mittens for the children. It was all wonderfully simple and homelike. I could hardly believe that I was in the home of the head of a great nation. At that time the house was lighted with kerosene lamps, yet in Japan I had been using electric light for fifteen years.
"At about ten o'clock Mrs. Roosevelt said goodnight to us and retired. Before she went upstairs she moved about, fastening windows and putting out lamps in parts of the house in which they would not be needed any more. Then she brought candles and matches so that we should have them when we were ready to go to bed.
"After an hour's talk about the war, which was still raging, the President rose and lit the candles. Then he put out the remaining lamps, and conducted me upstairs to my room. It was a cool night. He felt of the coverings on my bed, and decided that I might need another blanket. 'I'll get you one,' he said, leaving the room. And in a minute or two he reappeared with a blanket over his shoulder.
"'Come,' he said, as he put it on the bed, 'and I'll show you the bathroom.' I went with him. 'Here's soap,' said he, 'and here are clean towels.' Then he took me back to my room and wished me a good night.
"As for me, I was fascinated, almost dazed. I kept saying to myself, 'This man who has lighted me upstairs with a candle, and carried me a blanket, and shown me where to find soap and towels, is the President of the United States! The President of the United States has done all these things for me. It is the greatest honour a man could have.'
"Earlier in the same year, before the President moved from the White House to Oyster Bay, he went bear hunting. That was just before Admiral Togo's victory over the Russian fleet, in the Sea of Japan.
"Before leaving, the President sent for me and told me, in the presence of Mr. Taft, who was Secretary of War, that if anything of importance should come up during his absence, I was to see Mr. Taft about it, and that in the event of its being anything absolutely vital, Mr. Taft would know how to reach him.
"Mr. Taft showed me a photograph hanging on the wall of the President's office, showing the wild country to which the President was going on his hunting trip.
"I remarked playfully to him that I thought it advisable, at that time, that the President refrain from killing bears, whatever other animals he might see fit to slay.
" Roosevelt, sitting at his desk, overheard me.
"'What's that you are saying?' he asked.
"I repeated what I had said to Mr. Taft.
"'Why do you think I should not kill bears?' demanded the President.
"'Well, Mr. President,' I replied, 'you know that the various nations have their special symbols in the animal kingdom. America has the eagle, Britain thelion, France the cock, and Russia, well-'
"He got up, laughing and came over to me.
"'Nevertheless,' he said, 'I shall go right ahead and kill bears!' "Before he left on that hunting trip I went to see him and asked as a special favour that he give me the skin of one of the bears he should! kill.
"He refused, saying tha if he were to start presenting trophies to his friends they would all be after him.
"At that I said to him, 'If I were asking this for myself, Mr. President, I would not pursue the matter further, but I am not asking it for myself. I want that bear skin for our Emperor.'
"'Very well, then,' he said. 'You shall have it.'
"He went off on his hunting trip, and came back. Then followed the negotiations for a cessation of hostilities between Japan and Russia, and the Portsmoutheace Conference, through which Roosevelt brought about the end of the war.
"In August of the same year, 1905, I received this letter from him."
The Viscount handed me the letter to read. It was as follows:
Oyster Bay, N, Y,. August 30, 1905."Later," the Viscount went on, "I was asked by the President to come to Oyster Bay and select one of the skins. I however did not wish to make the selection, so the President did that, picking out the largest skin of all and giving it to me for the Emperor Meiji.
MY DEAR BARON KANEKO:
I cannot too highly state my appreciation of the wisdom and magnanimity of Japan, which make a fit crown to the prowess of her soldiers. Will you tell the Emperor that I shall take the liberty of sending him by you a bear skin? I want you soon to come out here and take lunch.
"His Majesty was greatly pleased with the skin, not only because it was a trophy from the President himself, but because of the emblematic nature of the gift. That bearskin was in his library at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo as long as he lived."
One of the most important Roosevelt letters shown me by Viscount Kaneko was on the subject of Japanese-American relations. As this letter is not included in the two-volume collection of Roosevelt correspondence compiled in such masterly fashion by Joseph Bucklin Bishop, Roosevelt's literary executor, I have asked the permission of Mrs. Roosevelt and of Mr. Bishop to quote it here.
It was as follows:
THE WHITE HOUSE
May 23, 1907.
MY DEAR BARON KANEKO:
I much appreciate your thought of Archie. The little fellow was very sick but is now all right. His mother and I have just had him on a short trip in the country.
I was delighted to meet General Kuroki and Admiral Ijuin with their staffs. General Kuroki is, of course, one of the most illustrious men living. Through his interpreter, a very able young staff officer, I spoke to him a little about our troubles on the Pacific Slope.
Nothing during my Presidency has given me more concern than these troubles. History often teaches by example, and I think we can best understand just what the situation is, and how it ought to be met, by taking into account the change in general international relations during the last two or three centuries.
During this period all the civilized nations have made great progress. During the first part of it Japan did not appear in the general progress, but for the last half century she has gone ahead so much faster than any other nation that I think we fairly say that, taking tha last three centuries together, her advance has been on the whole greater than that of any other nation. But all have advanced, and especially in the way in which the people of each treat people of other nationalities. Two centuries ago there was the greatest suspicion and malevolence exhibited by all the people, high and low, of each European country, for all the people, high and low, of every other European country, with but few exceptions. The cultivated people of the different countries, however, had already begun to treat with one another on good terms. But, when, for instance, the Huguenots were exiled from France, and great numbers of Huguenots workmen went to England, their presence excited the most violent hostility, manifesting itself even in mob violence, among the English workmen. The men were closely allied by race and religion, they had practically the same type of ancestral culture, and yet they were unable to get on together. Two centuries have passed, the world has moved forward, and now there could be no repetition of such hostilities. In the same way a marvellous progress has been made in the relations of Japan with the Occidental nations. Fifty years ago you and I and those like us could not have travelled in one another's countries. We should have had very unpleasant and possibly very dangerous experiences. But the same progress that has been going on as between nations in Europe and their descendants in America and Australia, has also been going on as between Japan and the Occidental nations. In these times, then, gentlemen, all educated people, members of professions and the like, get on so well together that they not only travel each in the other's country, but associate on the most intimate terms. Among the friends whom I especially value I include a number of Japanese gentlemen. But the half century has been too short a time for the advance to include the labouring classes of the two countries, as between themselves.
Exactly as the educated classes in Europe, among the several nations, grew to be able to associate together generations before it was possible for such association to take place among the men who had no such advantages of education, so it is evident we must not press too fast in bringing the labouring classes of Japan and America together. Already in these fifty years we have completely attained the goal as between the educated and the intellectual classes of the two countries. We must be content to wait another generation before we shall have made progress enough to permit the same close intimacy between the classes who have had less opportunity for cultivation, and whose lives are less easy, so that each has to feel, in earning its daily bread, the pressure of the competition of the other. I have become convinced that to try to move too far forward all at once is to incur jeopardy of trouble. This is just as true of one nation as of the other. If scores of thousands of American miners went to Saghalin, or of American mechanics to Japan or Formosa, trouble would almost certainly ensue. Just in the same way scores of thousands of Japanese labourers whether agricultural or industrial, are certain, chiefly because of the pressure caused thereby, to be a source of trouble if they should come here or to Australia. I mention Australia because it is a part of the British Empire, because the Austrilians have discriminated against continental immigration in favour of immigartion from the British Isles, and have in effect discriminated to certain degree in favour of immigration from England and Scotland as against immigration from Ireland.
My dear Baron, the business of statesmen is to try constantly to keep international relations better, to do away with causes of friction, and secure as nearly ideal justice as actual conditions will permit. I think that with this object in view and facing conditions not as I would like them to be, but as they are, the best thing to do is to prevent the labouring classes of either country from going in any numbers to the other. In a generation I believe all need of such prevention will have passed away; and at any rate this leaves free the opportunity for all those fit to profit by intercourse, to go each to the other's country. I have just appointed a commission on general immigration which will very possibly urge restrictive measures as regards European immigration, and which I am in hopes will be able to bring about a method by which the result we have in view will be obtained with the minimum friction.
The foregoing letter may well be studied at this time when, through lack of the kind of statesmanship shown by Roosevelt, the Californian situation has become worse instead of better.
With warm regards to the Baroness, believe me,
Baron Kentaro Kaneko,
Another letter shown me by Viscount Kaneko was written in pencil on a large sheet of yellow paper torn from a pad. It came from the African jungle, and ran as follows:
Mid-AfricaThe last letter of the series was written on the stationery of the Kansas City Star, of which Roosevelt was an associate editor with an office in New York. The letter read:
Sept. 10th, 1909.
MY DEAR BARON,
I have no facilities for writing here; but I must just send you a line of thanks for your welcome note. I have had a most interesting trip; my son Kermit has done particularly well. He has the spirit of a samurai! I greatly hope to visit Japan; but when it may be possible I can not say.
With warm regards to the Viscountess, believe me,
New York, Aug. 21, 1918.The foregoing, written less than five months before Colonel Roosevelt's death, was the last letter of the series shown me by Viscount, Kaneko.
MY DEAR VISCOUNT KANEKO:
I thank you for your letter; and Mrs. Roosevelt was as much touched by it as I was. Remember to give your son a letter to us when he comes here to go to Harvard. One of our newspapers, the Chicago Tribune, when the news was brought that Quentin was dead and two of his brothers wounded, spoke of my four sons as "American samurai." I was proud of the reference! As you say, all of us who are born are doomed to die. No man is fit to live who is afraid to die for a great cause. My sorrow for Quentin is outweighed by my pride in him.
Faithfully your friend,
Reading it I was reminded of what Colonel Roosevelt said to me as he lay on his bed in the hospital the last time I saw him.
Speaking of his four sons in the war he said:
"We have been an exceptionally united family. Come what may, we have many absolutely satisfying years together to look back upon."