Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/71

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67
MR. ROOSEVELT'S OPPORTUNITY

body is needed to make cultivation seem "worth while." Somebody is needed to "lead the cheering" for study, for work. Somebody is needed to offset the snobbish instructor who says (and whose own sympathies are affected by the opinion): "Debating contests are not a thing that the best class in the university takes any interest in." Somebody is needed to make the prizeman just the least bit of a hero amongst his fellows. Somebody is needed to make the keen intellectual blade or wide reader, whether he take academic rank or not, feel his accomplishment to be something more than an overshadowed and unfashionable brilliancy. Somebody is needed to fan the lurking sparks of ardor in the mind. Somebody is needed to make visible to the young eye that invisible war with powers of the air in which the scholar is a man-at-arms and a campaigner. And if this leader is also an athlete and a sportsman, if this leader of work is also a leader of play, the blend can hardly, as things now stand, be over-prized.

For it brings us, in a rough but ready form, in sight of that round and whole education which is the sane ideal. It might even make the sanguine hope to see in an American university ideas current amongst the healthy studentry as one often sees them in Europe. Such a leader would not stop contented with those excellent athletic contests in which, however, a horde of undergraduates sit as spectators while a few harrassed braves perform. He would be likely to remember that the most successful systems of education, in antiquity for example, cared for the bodily training of every individual. One can not imagine his advent failing to make a difference even to "the unexercised and the unwashed."

But the difference made by his advent as regards moral ideal is the least to be forgotten. I will not repeat what is so often truly said about the state of the moral atmosphere in the nation with regard to money. Which are the personalities that really glitter to average young eyes? When a brilliant man of business and of fashion accumulates a vast fortune in his last years by methods believed to be dishonorable and dazzles a city by his social charm, the tasteful splendor of his surroundings, and his business power, when it is commonly said in comment on the tales of his private life that "those men do absolutely anything they like," it is noticeable that even the rumors touching the manner of his death do not entirely check the awe of the young listener.

It is something to give collegians an embodiment of what they feel to be dashing success and national power, wholly untainted in point of honesty and private life; something to have brilliancy and probity undivided.

Of course there may be those who feel that Mr. Roosevelt would come whooping into the still air of study and, being used to mightier