F. K. L.
The next letter has been included because it shows Lane’s direct and unequivocal method when defending a subordinate whom he thought unfairly criticized. He quoted, and in office practised, Roosevelt’s maxim of giving a man his fullest support as long as he thought him worthy to be entrusted with public business. The names are omitted here for obvious reasons.
Washington, June 10, 1914
My dear Billy,—I have your letter of June 9th, relating to summer residence homesteads, and referring sneeringly several times to Blank. I wonder if you realize that Blank is my appointee and my friend. [He] has done you no wrong, and he intends to do the public no wrong. He is as public-spirited as you are, but you differ with him as to certain phases of our land policy, though not so widely as you yourself think. Is that any reason why you should discredit him? Is it not possible for men to differ with you on questions of public policy without being crooks? Your talk has started Chicago talking; nothing definite, just whispers. Is this fair to Blank? Is it fair to me? ... Is the test of a man’s public usefulness decided by his views as to whether the desert lands should be leased or homesteaded?
I am saying this to you in the utmost friendliness, because I think that your attitude is not worthy of your own ideal of yourself, and it certainly does not comport with my ideal of you, which I very much wish to hold. Surely honest men may differ as to whether grazing lands should be leased, and if Blank is not honest then it is your duty to the public service and to me to show this fact.
At the bottom of your letter you say, “This report will introduce you to Mr. Blank.” Now it just so happens that that line should read “This report will introduce you to Mr. Lane,” for I am responsible for that report. It was not written until after he had consulted with me, and I dictated an outline of its terms. ... As always, cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To his Brother on his Birthday
Washington, [August, 1914]
... This is somewhere around your birthday time, isn’t it? Well, if it is, you are about forty-nine years of age and I look upon you as the one real philosopher that I know. I’d trade all that I have by way of honors and office for the nobility and serenity of your character. You feel that you have not done enough for the world. So do we all. But you have done far more than most of us, for you have proved your own soul. You have made a soul. You have taught some of us what a real man may be in this devilish world of selfishness. What other man of your acquaintance has the affection of men who know him for the nobility of his nature? I don’t know one. You know many who are lovable, like—sympathetic like myself, brilliant, sweet-tempered,—lots of them. But who are the noble ones? Who look at all things asking only, “What is worthy?” And doing that thing only. You tell the world that you will not conform to all its littlenesses. That, I haven’t at all the courage to do. You tell the world that you are not willing to feed your vanity with your everlasting soul. Where are the rest of us, judged by that test?