One incident which received little publicity at the time was in all probability the match which fired the magazine. One of the ablest and most level-headed members of the Senate was Senator Redfield Proctor, of Vermont. The solidity of his character and acquirements and his known sense and conservatism made him a power in Congress, and he had the confidence of the people. He visited Cuba and wrote a report in which he detailed as an eyewitness the atrocities which the government and the soldiers were perpetrating. He read this report to Mr. McKinley and Senator Hanna. They both said: "Senator Proctor, if you read that to the Senate, our negotiations end and war is inevitable."
The president requested the senator to delay reporting to the Senate. The excitement and interest in that body were never more unanimous and intense. I doubt if any senator could have resisted this rare opportunity not only to be the centre of the stage but to occupy the whole platform. Senator Proctor made his report and the country was aflame.
One summer I arrived in London and was suffering from a fearful attack of muscular rheumatism. I knew perfectly well that I had brought it on myself by overwork. I had suffered several attacks before, but this one was so acute that I consulted Sir Henry Thompson, at that time the acknowledged head of the British medical profession. He made a thorough examination and with most satisfactory result as to every organ. "With your perfect constitution," he said, "this attack is abnormal. Now tell me of your day and every day at home. Begin with breakfast."
"I breakfast at a quarter of eight," I said.
"Then," continued the doctor, "give me the whoIe day."
"I arrive at my office," I said, "at nine. Being president of a great railway company, there is a large correspondence to be disposed of. I see the heads of the different departments and get in touch with every branch of the business. Then I meet committees of chambers of commerce or shippers, or of employees who have a grievance, and all this will occupy me until five o'clock, when I go home. I take a very short lunch, often at my desk, to save time. On arriving home I take a nap of ten or fifteen minutes, and then look over my engagements for the evening. If it is a speech, which will probably happen four evenings in a week, I prepare in the next hour and then deliver it at some public banquet or hall. If I have accepted a formal address or, as we call them in America, orations, it is ground out on odd evenings, Sunday afternoon and night."
The doctor turned to me abruptly and said: "You ought to be dead. Now, you have the most perfect constitution and less impaired than any I have examined at your time of life. If you will follow the directions which I give you, you can be perfectly well and sound at the age of one hundred. If you continue your present life until seventy, you will have a nervous breakdown, and thereafter become a nuisance to yourself and everybody else. I advise absolute rest at a remote place in Switzerland. There you will receive no newspapers, and you will hear nothing from the outside world. You will meet there only English who are seeking health, and they will not speak to you. Devote your day to walking over the mountains, adding to your tramp as your strength increases, and lie for hours on the bank of a quiet stream there, and be intensely interested as you throw pebbles into it to see how wide you can make the circles from the spot where the pebble strikes the water."
I thought I understood my temperament better than the doctor, and that any rest for me was not solitude but entire change of occupation. So I remained in London and lunched and dined out every day for several weeks, with a week-end over every Sunday. In other ways, however, I adopted the doctor's directions and not only returned home cured, but have been free from rheumatism ever since.