General Harrison's Affections
( Originally Published 1902 )
I WENT at one time to Washington to request President Harrison to appoint a friend to an important office. The President received me kindly, and after I had made a statement of facts in behalf of my friend, he said,
" That appointment has given me more trouble of mind than any other one in my gift, including membership in my Cabinet. At least a dozen good men are urged for the position. I have narrowed the list down to two men, the one in whose interest you have come, and another from the northern part of the State. It is the choice between these two men that has troubled me. Both have brilliant minds, both are able lawyers, both are men of the highest integrity, both are intimate personal friends, and both have rendered signal service in the campaign. I have taken the matter to bed with me, and have lost more than one hour's sleep over it." I replied, " Mr. President, knowing you as well as I do, I am surprised to hear you speak as you do, and I am as much delighted as surprised. You are perhaps aware that you, like John Sherman and Senator Edmunds, are credited by the public with having a heart, but a heart largely under the control of the intellect." " Yes," he said, " I know that, but how little either of us is understood in this regard. Let me give you an incident about Senator Edmunds that will illustrate my thought.
" There was an important bill to be considered in the Senate, in which I had an especial interest, and I said, ` Senator Edmunds, I want you to be sure and be present this afternoon to help me with my measure.' He said, ` I will not be there.' ` You must,' I said. ` I cannot,' he replied. He continued, ` I have an invalid daughter, who is the idol of my heart. I am trying to make life just as happy for her as possible. I promised her to stay with her this afternoon, and I intend to do so if the wheels of the government stand still.'
The senator's eyes were full of tears as he talked, and I said to myself, the people think Edmunds is cold as an iceberg, they do not know him ; his heart is warm and tender as a woman's. Like the Senator, I do not wear my heart on my coat-sleeve, but a little farther below the surface, perhaps, than in most men it lies, bringing joy to me, and, I hope, some blessing to my fellow men." As the President related the pathetic incident, I looked into his face and noticed that his heart was mellow and his eyes were moist, and I thought how easy it is to misjudge others, to consider a nature cold as ice, which is, in reality, tender and warm.