Difference between revisions of "III "THE FORGOTTEN MAN""
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Walter H. Page (1899), from
a photograph taken when he was editor of the <I>Atlantic Monthly</I>
Dr. Wallace Buttrick, President of the General
<br><br><FONT FACE="Times">Page enjoyed the full results of this labour
<br><br><FONT FACE="Times">Page enjoyed the full results of this labour
Revision as of 08:33, 29 November 2008
"THE FORGOTTEN MAN"
IN JULY, 1899, the publishing community learned that financial difficulties were seriously embarrassing the great house of Harper. For nearly a century this establishment had maintained a position almost of preeminence among American publishers. Three generations of Harpers had successively presided over its destinies; its magazines and books had become almost a household necessity in all parts of the United States, and its authors included many of the names most celebrated in American letters. The average American could no more associate the idea of bankruptcy with this great business than with the federal Treasury itself. Yet this incredible disaster had virtually taken place. At this time the public knew nothing of the impending ruin; the fact was, however, that, in July, 1899, the banking house of J. P. Morgan & Company practically controlled this property. This was the situation which again called Page to New York.
In the preceding year Mr. S. S. McClure, whose recent success as editor and publisher had been little less than a sensation, had joined forces with Mr. Frank N. Doubleday, and organized the new firm of Doubleday & McClure. This business was making rapid progress; and that it would soon become one of the leading American publishing houses was already apparent. It was perhaps not unnatural, therefore, that Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, scanning the horizon for the men who might rescue the Harper concern from approaching disaster, should have had his attention drawn to Mr. McClure and Mr. Doubleday. "The failure of Harper & Brothers," Mr. Morgan said in a published statement, "would be a national calamity." One morning, therefore, a member of the Harper firm called upon Mr. McClure. Without the slightest hesitation he unfolded the Harper situation to his astonished contemporary. The solution proposed was more astonishing still. This was that Mr. Doubleday and Mr. McClure should amalgamate their young and vigorous business with the Harper enterprise and become the active managers of the new corporation. Both Mr. McClure and Mr. Doubleday were comparatively young men, and the magnitude of the proposed undertaking at first rather staggered them. It was as though a small independent steel maker should suddenly be invited to take over the United States Steel Corporation. Mr. McClure, characteristically impetuous and daring, wished to accept the invitation outright; Mr. Doubleday, however, suggested a period of probation. The outcome was that the two men offered to take charge of Harper & Brothers for a few months, and then decide whether they wished to make the association a permanent one. One thing was immediately apparent; Messrs. Doubleday and McClure, able as they were, would need the help of the best talent available in the work that lay ahead. The first man to whom they turned was Page, who presently left Boston and took up his business abode at Franklin Square. The rumble of the elevated road was somewhat distracting after the four quiet years in Park Street, but the new daily routine was not lacking in interest. The Harper experiment, however, did not end as Mr. Morgan had hoped. After a few months Messrs. Doubleday, Page and McClure withdrew, and left the work of rescue to be performed by Mr. George Harvey, who, curiously enough, succeeded Page, twenty-one years afterward, in an even more important post---that of ambassador to the Court of St. James's. The one important outcome of the Harper episode, so far as Page was concerned, was the forming of a close business and personal association with Mr. Frank N. Doubleday. As soon as the two men definitely decided not to assume the Harper responsibility, therefore, they joined forces and founded the firm of Doubleday, Page & Company. Page now had the opportunity which he had long wished for; the mere editing of magazines, even magazines of such an eminent character as the Forum and the Atlantic Monthly, could hardly satisfy his ambition; he yearned to possess something which he could call his own, at least in part.
The life of an editor has its unsatisfactory aspect, unless the editor himself has an influential ownership in his periodical. Page now found his opportunity to establish a monthly magazine which he could regard as his own in both senses. He was its untrammelled editor, and also, in part, its proprietor. All editors and writers will sympathize with the ideas expressed in a letter written about this time to Page's friend, Mr. William Roscoe Thayer, already distinguished as the historian of Italian unity and afterward to win fame as the biographer of Cavour and John Hay. When the first number of the World's Work appeared Mr. Thayer wrote, expressing a slight disappointment that its leading tendency was journalistic rather than literary and intellectual. "When you edited the Forum," wrote Mr. Thayer, "I perceived that no such talent for editing had been seen in America before, and when, a little later, you rejuvenated the Atlantic. making it for a couple of years the best periodical printed in English, I felt that you had a great mission before you as evoker and editor of the best literary work and weightiest thought on important topics of our foremost men." He had hoped to see a magnified Atlantic, and the new publication, splendid as it was, seemed to be of rather more popular character than the publications with which Page had previously been associated. Page met this challenge in his usual hearty fashion.
To William Roscoe Thayer
34 Union Square East,
December 5, 1900.
MY DEAR THAYER:
The World's Work has brought me nothing so good as your letter of yesterday. When Mrs. Page read it, she shouted "Now that's it!"' For "it" read "truth," and you will have her meaning and mine. My thanks you may be sure you have, in great and earnest abundance.
You surprise me in two ways---(1) that you think as well of the magazine as you do. If it have half the force and earnestness that you say it has, how happy I shall be, for then it will surely bring something to pass. The other way in which you surprise me is by the flattering things that you say about my conduct of the Atlantic. Alas! it was not what you in your kind way say---no, no.
Of course the World's Work is not yet by any means what I hope to make it. But it has this incalculable advantage (to me) over every other magazine in existence: it is mine (mine and my partners', i. e., partly mine), and I shall not work to build up a good piece of machinery and then be turned out to graze as an old horse is. This of course, is selfish and personal---not wholly selfish either, I think. I threw down the Atlantic for this reason: (Consider the history of its editors) Lowell(<A NAME="n5"></A><A HREF="Pagenotes.htm#5">5</A>) complained bitterly that he was never rewarded properly for the time and work he did; Fields was (in a way) one of its owners; it was sold out from under Howells, etc., etc. I might (probably should) have been at the mercy completely of owners some day who would have dismissed me for a younger man. Nearly all hired editors suffer this fate. My good friends in Boston were sincere in thinking that my day of doom would never come; but they didn't offer me any guarantee---part ownership, for instance; and the years go swiftly. I could afford, of my own volition, to leave the Atlantic. I couldn't afford to take permanently the risks that a hired editor must take. Nor should I ever again have turned my hand to such a task except on a magazine of my own. I should have sought other employment. There are many easier and better and more influential things to do---yet., ten years hence I might have been too old. Harry Houghton(<A NAME="n6"></A><A HREF="Pagenotes.htm#6">6</A>) has an old horse thirty years old. I used to see him grazing sometimes and hear his master's self-congratulatory explanation of his own kindness to that faithful beast. In the office of Houghton, Mifflin & Company there is an old man whom I used to see every day---pensioned, grazing. Then I would go home and see four bright children. Three of them are now away from home at school; and the four cost a pretty penny to educate. My income had been the same for ten years---or very nearly the same. If I was a "magic" editor, I confess I didn't see the magic; and there is no power under Heaven or in it that can prove to me that I ought to keep on making magazines as a hired man---without the common security of permanent service for lack of which nearly all my predecessors lost their chance.
But this is not all, nor half. A man ought to express himself, ought to live his own life, say his own little say, before silence comes. The "say" may be bad---a mere yawp, and silence might be more becoming. But the same argument would make a man dissatisfied with his own nose if it happened to be ugly. It's his nose, and he must content himself. So it's his yawp and he must let it go.
I'm not going to make the new magazine my own megaphone---you may be sure of that. It will nevertheless contain my general interpretation of things, in which I swear I do believe! The first thing, of course, is to establish it. Then it can be shaped more nearly into what I wish it to become. If it seem unmannerly, aggressive, I know no other way to make it heard. If it died, then the game would be up. Well, we seem to have established it at once. It promises not to cost us a penny of investment.
Now, the magazines need new topics. They have all threshed over old straw for many years. There is one new subject, to my thinking worth all the old ones: the new impulse in American life, the new feeling of nationality, our coming to realize ourselves. To my mind there is greater promise in democracy than men of any preceding period ever dared dream of---aggressive democracy---growth by action. Our writers (the few we have) are yet in the pre-democratic era. When men's imaginations lay hold on the things that already begin to appear above the horizon, we shall have something worth reading. At present I can do no more than bawl out, "See! here are new subjects." One of these days somebody will come along who can write about them. I have started out without a writer. Fiske is under contract, James would give nothing more to the Atlantic, you were ill (I thank Heaven you are no longer so) the second- and third-rate essayists have been bought by mere Wall Street publishers. Beyond these are the company of story tellers and beyond them only a dreary waste of dead-level unimaginative men and women. I can (soon) get all that I could ever have got in the Atlantic and new ones (I know they'll come) whom I could never have got there.
You'll see---within a year or two---by far a better magazine than I have ever made; and you and I will differ in nothing unless you feel despair about the breakdown of certain democratic theories, which I think were always mere theories. Let 'em go! The real thing, which is life and action, is better.
Heartily and always your grateful friend,
WALTER H. PAGE.
Thus the fact that Page's new magazine was intended for a popular audience was not the result of accident, but of design. It represented a periodical plan which had long been taking shape in Page's mind. The things that he had been doing for the Forum and the Atlantic he aspired to do for a larger audience than that to which publications of this character could appeal. Scholar though Page was, and lover of the finest things in literature that he had always been, yet this sympathy and interest had always lain with the masses. Perhaps it is impossible to make literature democratic, but Page believed that he would be genuinely serving the great cause that was nearest his heart if he could spread wide the facts of the modern world, especially the facts of America, and if he could clothe the expression in language which, while always dignified and even "literary," would still be sufficiently touched with the vital, the picturesque, and the "human," to make his new publication appeal to a wide audience of intelligent, everyday Americans. It was thus part of his general programme of improving the status of the average man, and it formed a logical part of his philosophy of human advancement. For the only acceptable measure of any civilization, Page believed, was the extent to which it improved the condition of the common citizen. A few cultured and university-trained men at the top; a few ancient families living in luxury; a few painters and poets and statesmen and generals; these things, in Page's view, did not constitute a satisfactory state of society; the real test was the extent to which the masses participated in education, in the necessities and comforts of existence, in the right of self-evolution and self-expression, in that "equality of opportunity," which, Page never wearied of repeating, "was the basis of social progress." The mere right to vote and to hold office was not democracy; parliamentary majorities and political caucuses were not democracy---at the best these things were only details and not the most important ones; democracy was the right of every man to enjoy, in accordance with his aptitudes of character and mentality, the material and spiritual opportunities that nature and science had placed at the disposition of mankind. This democratic creed had now become the dominating interest of Page's life. From this time on it consumed all his activities. His new magazine set itself first of all to interpret the American panorama from this point of view; to describe the progress that the several parts of the country were making in the several manifestations of democracy---education, agriculture, industry, social life, politics---and the importance that Page attached to them was practically in the order named. Above all it concerned itself with the men and women who were accomplishing most in the definite realization of this great end.
And now also Page began to carry his activities far beyond mere print. In his early residence in New York, from 1885 to 1895, he had always taken his part in public movements; he had been a vital spirit in the New York Reform Club, which was engaged mainly in advocating the Cleveland tariff; he had always shown a willingness to experiment with new ideas; at one time he had mingled with Socialists and he had been quite captivated by the personal and literary charm of Henry George. After 1900, however, Page became essentially a public man, though not in the political sense. His work as editor and writer was merely one expression of the enthusiasms that occupied his mind. From 1900 until 1913, when he left for England, life meant for him mainly an effort to spread the democratic ideal, as he conceived it; concretely it represented a constant campaign for improving the fundamental opportunities and the everyday social advantages of the masses.
Inevitably the condition of the people in his own homeland enlisted Page's sympathy, for he had learned of their necessities at first hand. The need of education had powerfully impressed him even as a boy. At twenty-three he began writing articles for the Raleigh Observer, and practically all of them were pleas for the education of the Southern child. His subsequent activities of this kind, as editor of the State Chronicle, have already been described. The American from other parts of the country is rather shocked when he first learns of the backwardness of education in the South a generation ago. In any real sense there was no publicly supported system for training the child. A few wretched hovels, scattered through a sparsely settled country, served as school houses; a few uninspiring and neglected women, earning perhaps $50 or $75 a year, did weary duty as teachers; a few groups of anemic and listless children, attending school for only forty days a year---such was the preparation for life which most Southern states gave the less fortunate of their citizens. The glaring fact that emphasized the outcome of this official carelessness was an illiteracy, among white men and women, of 26 per cent. Among the Negroes it was vastly larger.
The first exhortation to reform came from the Wautauga Club, which Page had organized in Raleigh in 1884. After Page had left his native state, other men began preaching the same crusade. Perhaps the greatest of those advocates whom the South loves to refer to as "educational statesmen" was Dr. Charles D. McIver, of Greensboro, N.C. McIver's personality and career had an heroic quality all their own. Back in the 'eighties Mclver and Edwin A. Alderman, now President of the University of Virginia, endured all kinds of hardships and buffetings in the cause of popular education; they stumped the state, much like political campaigners, preaching the strange new gospel in mountain cabin, in village church, at the cart's tail---all in an attempt to arouse their lethargic countrymen to the duty of laying a small tax to save their children from illiteracy. Some day the story of McIver and Alderman will find its historian; when it does, he will learn that, in those dark ages, one of their greatest sources of inspiration was Walter Page. McIver, a great burly boy, physically and intellectually, so full of energy that existence for him was little less than an unending tornado, so full of zeal that any other occupation than that of training the neglected seemed a trifling with life, so sleepless in his efforts that, at the age of forty-five, he one day dropped dead while travelling on a railroad train; Alderman, a man of finer culture, quieter in his methods, an orator of polish and restraint, but an advocate vigorous in the prosecution of the great end; and Page, living faraway in the North, but pumping his associates full of courage and enthusiasm---these were the three guardsmen of this new battle for the elevation of the white and black men of the South. McIver's great work was the State Normal College for Women, which, amid unparallelled difficulties, he founded for teaching the teachers of the new Southern generation. It was at this institution that Page, in 1897, delivered the address which gave the cause of Southern education that one thing which is worth armies to any struggling reform---a phrase; and it was a phrase that lived in the popular mind and heart and summed up, in a way that a thousand speeches could never have done, the great purpose for which the best people in the state were striving.
His editorial gift for title-making now served Page in good stead. "The Forgotten Man," which was the heading of his address, immediately passed into the common speech of the South and even at this day inevitably appears in all discussions of social progress. It was again Page's familiar message of democracy, of improving the condition of the everyday man, woman, and child; and the message, as is usually the case in all incitements to change, involved many unpleasant facts. Page had first of all to inform his fellow Southerners that it was only in the South that "The Forgotten Man" was really an outstanding feature. He did not exist in New England, in the Middle States, in the Mississippi Valley, or in the West, or existed in these regions to so slight an extent that he was not a grave menace to society. But in the South the situation was quite different. And for this fact the explanation was found in history. The South certainly could not fix the blame upon Nature. In natural wealth ---in forests, mines, quarries, rich soil, in the unlimited power supplied by water courses---the Southern States formed perhaps the richest region in the country. These things North Carolina and her sister communities had not developed; more startling still, they had not developed a source of wealth that was infinitely greater than all these combined; they had not developed their men and their women. The Southern States represented the purest "Anglo-Saxon" strain in the United States; to-day in North Carolina only one person in four hundred is of "foreign stock," and a voting list of almost any town contains practically nothing except the English and Scotch names that were borne by the original settlers. Yet here democracy, in any real sense, had scarcely obtained a footing. The region which had given Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to the world was still, in the year 1897, organized upon an essentially aristocratic basis. The conception of education which prevailed in the most hidebound aristocracies of Europe still ruled south of the Potomac. There was no acceptance of that fundamental American doctrine that education was the function of the state. It was generally regarded as the luxury of the rich and the socially high placed; it was certainly not for the poor; and it was a generally accepted view that those who enjoyed this privilege must pay for it out of their own pockets. Again Page returned to the "mummy" theme ---the fact that North Carolina, and the South generally, were too much ruled by "dead men's" hands. The state was controlled by a little aristocracy, which, in its social and economic character, made a failure and left a stubborn crop of wrong social notions behind it---especially about education." The chief backward influences were the stump and the pulpit. "From the days of King George to this day, the politicians of North Carolina have declaimed against taxes, thus laying the foundation of our poverty. It was a misfortune for us that the quarrel with King George happened to turn upon the question of taxation---so great was the dread of taxation that was instilled into us." What had the upper classes done for the education of the average man? The statistics of illiteracy, the deplorable economic and social conditions of the rural population---and most of the population of North Carolina was rural---furnished the answer.
Thus the North Carolina aristocracy had failed in education and the failure of the Church had been as complete and deplorable. The preachers had established preparatory schools for boys and girls, but these were under the control of sects; and so education was either a class or an ecclesiastical concern. "The forgotten man remained forgotten. The aristocratic scheme of education had passed him by. To a less extent, but still to the extent of hundreds of thousands, the ecclesiastical scheme had passed him by." But even the education which these institutions gave was inferior. Page told his North Carolina audience that the University of which they were so proud did not rank with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and other universities of the North. The state had not produced great scholars nor established great libraries. In the estimation of publishers North Carolina was unimportant as a book market. "By any test that may be made, both these systems have failed even with the classes that they appealed to." The net result was that "One in every four was wholly forgotten"---that is, was unable to read and write. And the worst of it all was that the victim of this neglect was not disturbed over his situation. "The forgotten man was content to be forgotten. He became not only a dead weight, but a definite opponent of social progress. He faithfully heard the politician on the stump praise him for virtues that he did not have. The politicians told him that he lived in the best state in the Union; told him that the other politicians had some hare-brained plan to increase his taxes, told him as a consolation for his ignorance how many of his kinsmen had been killed in the war, told him to distrust any one who wished to change anything. What was good enough for his fathers was good enough for him. Thus the 'forgotten man' became a dupe, became thankful for being neglected. And the preacher told him that the ills and misfortunes of this life were blessings in disguise, that God meant his poverty as a means of grace, and that if he accepted the right creed all would be well with him. These influences encouraged inertia. There could not have been a better means to prevent the development of the people."
Even more tragic than these "forgotten men" were the "forgotten women." "Thin and wrinkled in youth from ill-prepared food, clad without warmth or grace, living in untidy houses, working from daylight till bedtime at the dull round of weary duties, the slaves of men of equal slovenliness, the mothers of joyless children---all uneducated if not illiterate." "This sight," Page told his hearers, "every one of you has seen, not in the countries whither we send missionaries, but in the borders of the State of North Carolina, in this year of grace."
"Our civilization," he declared, "has been a failure." Both the politicians and the preacher had failed to lift the masses. "It is a time for a wiser statesmanship and a more certain means of grace." He admitted that there had been recent progress in North Carolina, owing largely to the work of McIver and Alderman, but taxes for educational purposes were still low. What was the solution? "A public school system generously supported by public sentiment and generously maintained by both state and local taxation, is the only effective means to develop the forgotten man and even more surely the only means to develop the forgotten woman.
"If any beggar for a church school oppose a local tax for schools or a higher school tax, take him to the huts of the forgotten women and children, and in their hope less presence remind him that the church system of education has not touched tens of thousands of these lives and ask him whether he thinks it wrong that the common wealth should educate them. If he think it wrong ask him and ask the people plainly, whether he be a worthy preacher of the gospel that declares one man equal to another in the sight of God ? . . . The most sacred thing in the commonwealth and to the commonwealth is the child, whether it be your child or the child of the dull-faced mother of the hovel. The child of the dull faced mother may, as you know, be the most capable child in the state. . . . Several of the strongest personalities that were ever born in North Carolina were men whose very fathers were unknown. We have all known two such, who held high places in Church and State. President Eliot said a little while ago that the ablest man that he had known in his many years' connection with Harvard University was the son of a brickmason." In place of the ecclesiastical creed that had guided North Carolina for so many generations Page proposed his creed of democracy. He advised that North Carolina commit this to memory and teach it to its children. It was as follows:
"I believe in the free public training of both the hands and the mind of every child born of woman.
"I believe that by the right training of men we add to the wealth of the world. All wealth is the creation of man, and he creates it only in proportion to the trained uses of the community; and the more men we train the more wealth everyone may create.
"I believe in the perpetual regeneration of society, and in the immortality of democracy and in growth everlasting."
Thus Page nailed his theses upon the door of his native state, and mighty was the reverberation. In a few weeks Page's Greensboro address had made its way all over the Southern States, and his melancholy figure, "the forgotten man" had become part of the indelible imagery of the Southern people. The portrait etched itself deeply into the popular consciousness for the very good reason that its truth was pretty generally recognized. The higher type of newspaper, though it winced somewhat at Page's strictures, manfully recognized that the best way of meeting his charge was by setting to work and improving conditions. The fact is that the better conscience of North Carolina welcomed this eloquent description of unquestioned evils; but the gentlemen whom Page used to stigmatize as "professional Southerners"---the men who commercialized class and sectional prejudice to their own political and financial or ecclesiastical profit ---fell foul of this "renegade," this "Southern Yankee" this sacrilegious "intruder" who had dared to visit his old home and desecrate its traditions and its religion. This clerical wrath was kindled into fresh flame when Page, in an editorial in his magazine, declared that these same preachers, ignoring their real duties, were content "to herd their women and children around the stagnant pools of theology." For real religion Page had the deepest reverence, and he had great respect also for the robust evangelical preachers whose efforts had contributed so much to the opening up of the frontier. In his Greensboro address Page had given these men high praise. But for the assiduous idolaters of stratified dogma he entertained a contempt which he was seldom at pains to conceal. North Carolina had many clergymen of the more progressive type; these men chuckled at Page's vigorous characterization of the brethren, but those against whom it had been aimed raged with a fervour that was almost unchristian. This clerical excitement, however, did not greatly disturb the philosophic Page. The hubbub lasted for several years---for Page's Greensboro speech was only the first of many pronouncements of the same kind---but he never publicly referred to the attacks upon him. Occasionally in letters to his friends he would good-naturedly discuss them. "I have had several letters," he wrote to Professor Edwin Mims, of Trinity College, North Carolina, "about an 'excoriation' (Great Heavens! What a word!) that somebody in North Carolina has been giving me. I never read these things and I don't know what it's all about---nor do I care. But perhaps you'll be interested in a letter that I wrote an old friend (a lady) who is concerned about it. I enclose a copy of it. I shall never notice any 'excoriator.' But if you wish to add to the gaiety of nations, give this copy to some newspaper and let it loose in the state---if you care to do so. We must have patience with these puny and peevish brethren. They've been trained to a false view of life. Heaven knows I bear them no ill-will."
The letter to which Page referred follows:
MY DEAR FRIEND:
I have your letter saying that some of the papers in North Carolina are again "jumping on" me. I do not know which they are, and I am glad that you did not tell me. I had heard of it before. A preacher wrote me the other day that he approved of every word of an "excoriation" that some religious editor had given me. A kindly Christian act---wasn't it, to send a stranger word that you were glad that he had been abused by a religious editor? I wrote him a gentle letter, telling him that I hoped he'd have a long and happy life preaching a gospel of friendliness and neighbourliness and good-will, and that I cared nothing about "excoriations." Why should he, then, forsake his calling and take delight in disseminating personal abuse?
And why do you not write me about things that I really care for in the good old country---the budding trees, the pleasant weather, news of old friends, gossip of good people---cheerful things? I pray you, don't be concerned about what any poor whining soul may write about me. I don't care for myself: I care only for him; for the writer of personal abuse always suffers from it---never the man abused.
I haven't read what my kindly clerical correspondent calls an "excoriation " for ten years, and I never shall read one if I know what it is beforehand. Why should I or anybody read such stuff? I can't find time to do half the positive things that I should like to do for the broadening of my own character and for the encouragement of others. Why should I waste a single minute in such a negative and cheerless way as reading anybody's personal abuse of anybody else---least of all myself?
These silly outbursts never reach me and they never can; and they, therefore, utterly fail, and always will fail, of their aim; yet, my dear friend, there is nevertheless a serious side to such folly. For it shows the need of education, education, education. The religious editor and the preacher who took joy in his abuse of me have such a starved view of life that they cannot themselves, perhaps, ever be educated into kindliness and dignity of thought. But their children may be---must be. Think of beautiful children growing up in a home where "excoriating" people who differ with you is regarded as a manly Christian exercise! It is pitiful beyond words. There is no way to lift up life that is on so low a level except by the free education of all the people. Let us work for that and, when the growlers are done growling and forgotten, better men will remember us with gratitude.
I felt greatly complimented and pleased to receive an invitation the other day to attend the North Carolina Teachers' Assembly in June. I have many things to do in June, but I am going---going with great pleasure. I hope to see you there. I know of no other company of people that I should be so glad to meet. They are doing noble work---the most devoted and useful work in this whole wide world. They are the true leaders of the people. I often wish that I were one of them. They inspire me as nobody else does. They are the army of our salvation.
Write me what they are doing. Write me about the wonderful educational progress. And write me about the peach trees and the budding imminence of spring; and about the children who now live all day outdoors and grow brown and plump. And never mind that queer sect, "The Excoriators." They and their stage thunder will be forgotten to-morrow. Meantime let us live and work for things nobler than any controversies, for things that are larger than the poor mission of any sect; and let us have charity and a patient pity for those that think they serve God by abusing their fellow-men. I wish I saw some way to help them to a broader and a higher life.
WALTER H. PAGE.
That Page should have little interest in "excoriators" at the time this letter was written---in April, 1902---was not surprising, for his educational campaign and that of his friends was now bearing fruit. "Write me about the wonderful educational progress," he says to this correspondent; and, indeed, the change that was coming over North Carolina and the South generally seemed to be tinged with the miraculous. The "Forgotten Man" and the "Forgotten Woman" were rapidly coming into their own. Two years after the delivery of Page's Greensboro address, a small group of educational enthusiasts met at Capon Springs, West Virginia, to discuss the general situation in the South. The leader of this little gathering was Robert C. Ogden, a great New York merchant who for many years had been President of the Board of Hampton Institute. Out of this meeting grew the Southern Educational Conference, which was little more than an annual meeting for advertising broadcast the educational needs of the South. Each year Mr. Ogden chartered a railroad train; a hundred or so of the leading editors, lawyers, bankers, and the like became his guests; the train moved through the Southern States, pausing now and then to investigate some particular institution or locality; and at some Southern city, such as Birmingham or Atlanta or Winston-Salem, a stop of several days would be made, a public building engaged, and long meetings held. In all these proceedings Page was an active figure, as he became in the Southern Education Board, which directly resulted, from Mr. Ogden's public spirited excursions. Like the Conference, the Southern Education Board was a purely missionary organization, and its most active worker was Page himself. He was constantly speaking and writing on his favourite subject; he printed article after article, not only in his own magazine, but in the Atlantic, in, the Outlook, and in a multitude of newspapers, such as the Boston Transcript, the New York Times, and the Kansas City Star. And always through his writings, and, indeed, through his life, there ran, like the motif of an opera, that same perpetual plea for "the forgotten man"---the 'need of uplifting the backward masses through training, both of the mind and of the hand. The day came when this loyal group had other things to work with than their voices and their pens; their efforts had attracted the attention of Mr. John D. Rockefeller, who brought assistance of an extremely substantial character. In 1902 Mr. Rockefeller organized the General Education Board. Of the ten members six were taken from the Southern Education Board; other members represented general educational movements and especially the Baptist interests to which Mr. Rockefeller had been contributing for years. In a large sense, therefore, especially in its membership, the General Education Board was a development of the Ogden organization; but it was much broader in its sweep, taking under its view the entire nation and all forms of educational effort. It immediately began to concern itself with the needs of the South. In 1902 Mr. Rockefeller gave this new corporation $1,000,000; in 1905 he gave it $10,000,000, in 1907 he astonished the Nation by giving $32,000.000, and, in 1909, another $10,000,000; the whole making a total of $53,000,000, the largest sum ever given by a single man, up to that time, for social or philanthropic purposes. The General Education Board now became the chief outside interest of Page's life. He was made a member of the Executive Committee, faithfully attended all its sessions, and participated intimately in every important plan. All such bodies have their decorative members and their working members; Page belonged emphatically in the latter class. Not only was he fertile in suggestions, but his ready mind could give almost any proposal its proper emphasis and clearly set forth its essential details. Between Page and Dr. Buttrick, Secretary and now President of the Board, a close personal intimacy grew up. Dr. Buttrick moved to Teaneck Road, Englewood, where Page had his home, and many a long evening did the two men spend together, many a long walk did they take in the surrounding country, always discussing education, especially Southern education. A letter to the present writer from Dr. Abraham Flexner, the present Secretary of the Board, perhaps sums up the matter. "Page was one of the real educational statesmen of this country," says Dr. Flexner, "probably the greatest that we have had since the Civil War."
And this Rockefeller support came at a time when that movement known as the "educational awakening" had started in the South. In 1900 North Carolina elected its greatest governor since the Civil War---Charles B. Aycock. A much repeated anecdote attributes Lincoln's detestation of slavery to a slave auction that he witnessed as a small boy; Aycock's first zeal as an educational reformer had an origin that was even more pathetic, for he always carried in his mind his recollection of his own mother signing an important legal document with a cross. As a young man fresh from the university Aycock also came under the influence of Page. An old letter, preserved among Page's papers, dated February 26, 1886, discloses that he was a sympathizing reader of the "mummy" controversy; when the brickbats began flying in Page's direction Aycock wrote, telling Page that "fully three fourths of the people are with you and wish you Godspeed in your effort to awaken better work, greater activity, and freer opinion in the state." And now under Aycock's governorship North Carolina began to tackle the educational problem with a purpose. School houses started up all over the state at the rate of one a day---many of them beautiful, commodious, modern structures, in every way the equals of any in the North or West; high schools, normal schools, trade schools made their appearance wherever the need was greatest; and in other parts of the South the response was similarly energetic. The reform is not yet complete, but the description that Page gave of Southern education in 1897, accurate in all its details as it was then, has now become ancient history.
And in occupations of this kind Page passed his years of maturity. His was not a spectacular life; his family for the most part still remained his most immediate interest; the daily round of an editor has its imaginative quality, but in the main it was for Page a quiet, even a cloistered existence; the work that an editor does, the achievements that he can put to his credit, are usually anonymous; and the American public little understood the extent to which Page was influencing many of the most vital forces of his time. The business association that he had formed with Mr. Doubleday turned out most happily. Their publishing house, in a short time, attained a position of great influence and prosperity. The two men, on both the personal and the business side, were congenial and complementary; and the love that both felt for country life led to the establishment of a publishing and printing plant of unusual beauty. In Garden City, Long Island, a great brick structure was built, somewhat suggestive in its architecture of Hampton Court, surrounded by pools and fountains, Italian gardens, green walks and pergolas, gardens blooming in appropriate seasons with roses, peonies, rhododendrons, chrysanthemums, and the like, and parks of evergreen, fir, cedar, and more exotic trees and shrubs. Certainly fate could have designed no more fitting setting for Page's favourite activities than this. In assembling authors, in instigating the writing of books, in watching the achievements and the tendencies of American life, in the routine of editing his magazine---all this in association with partners whose daily companionship was a delight and a stimulation---Page spent his last years in America.
Page's independence as an editor, sufficiently indicated in the days of his vivacious youth, became even more emphatic in his maturer years. In his eyes, merely inking over so many pages of good white paper was not journalism; conviction, zeal, honesty---these were the important points. Almost on the very day that his appointment as Ambassador to Great Britain was announced his magazine published an editorial from his pen, which contained not especially complimentary references to his new chief, Mr. Bryan, the Secretary of State; naturally the newspapers found much amusement in these few sentences; but the thing was typical of Page's whole career as an editor. He held to the creed that an editor should divorce himself entirely from prejudices, animosities, and predilections., this seems an obvious, even a trite thing to say, yet there are so few men who can leave personal considerations aside in writing of men and events that it is worth while pointing out that Page was such a man. When his firm was planning to establish its magazine, his partner, Mr. Doubleday, was approached by a New York politician of large influence but shady reputation who wished to be assured that it would reflect correct political principles. "You should see Mr. Page about that," was the response. "No, this is a business matter," the insinuating gentleman went on, and then he proceeded to show that about twenty-five thousand subscribers could be obtained if the publication preached orthodox standpat doctrine. "I don't think you had better see Mr. Page," said Mr. Doubleday, dismissing his caller.
Many incidents which illustrate this independence could be given; one will suffice. In 1907 and 1908, Page's magazine published the "Random Reminiscences of John D. Rockefeller." While the articles were appearing, the Hearst newspapers obtained a large number of letters that, some years before, had passed between Mr. John D. Archbold, President of the Standard Oil Company and one of Mr. Rockefeller's business associates from the earliest days, and Senator Joseph B. Foraker, of Ohio. These letters uncovered one of the gravest scandals that had ever involved an American public man; they instantaneously destroyed Senator Foraker's political career and hastened his death. They showed that this brilliant man had been obtaining large sums of money from the Standard Oil Company while he was filling the post of United States Senator and that at the same time he was receiving suggestions from Mr. Archbold about pending legislation. Mr. Rockefeller was not personally involved, for he had retired from active business many years before these things had been done; but the Standard Oil Company, with which his name was intimately associated, was involved and in a way that seemed to substantiate the worst charges that had been made against it. At this time Page, as a member of the General Education Board, was doing his part in helping to disperse the Rockefeller millions for public purposes; his magazine was publishing Mr. Rockefeller's reminiscences; there are editors who would have felt a certain embarrassment in commenting on the Archbold transaction. Page, however, did not hesitate. Mr. Archbold, hearing that he intended to treat the subject fully, asked him to come and see him. Page replied that he would be glad to have Mr. Archbold call upon him. The two men were brought together by friendly intermediaries in a neutral place; but the great oil magnate's explanation of his iniquities did not satisfy Page. The November, 1908, issue of the magazine contained, in one section, an interesting chapter by Mr. Rockefeller, describing the early days of the Standard Oil Company, and, in another, ten columns by Page, discussing the Archbold disclosures in language that was discriminating and well tempered, but not at all complimentary to Mr. Archbold or to the Standard Oil Company.
Occasionally Page was summoned for services of a public character. Thus President Roosevelt, whose friendship he had enjoyed for many years, asked him to serve upon his Country Life Commission---a group of men called by the President to study ways of improving the surroundings and extending the opportunities of American farmers. Page's interest in Negro education led to his appointment to the Jeanes Board. He early became an admirer of Booker Washington, and especially approved his plan for uplifting the Negro by industrial training. One of the great services that Page rendered literature was his persuasion of Washington to write that really great autobiography, "Up from Slavery," and another biography in a different field, for which he was responsible, was Miss Helen Keller's "Story of My Life." And only once, amid these fine but not showy activities, did Page's life assume anything in the nature of the sensational. This was in 1909, when he published his one effort at novel writing, "The Southerner." To write novels had been an early ambition with Page; indeed his papers disclose that he had meditated several plans of this kind; but he never seriously settled himself to the task until the year 1906. In July of that year the Atlantic Monthly began publishing a serial entitled "The Autobiography of a Southerner Since the Civil War," by Nicholas Worth. The literary matter that appeared under this title most readers accepted as veracious though anonymous autobiography. It related the life adventures of a young man, born in the South, of parents who had had little sympathy with the Confederate cause, attempting to carve out his career in the section of his birth and meeting opposition and defeat from the prejudices with which he constantly found himself in conflict. The story found its main theme and background in the fact that the Southern States were so exclusively living in the memories of the Civil War that it was impossible for modern ideas to obtain a foothold. "I have sometimes thought," said the author, and this passage may be taken as embodying the leading point of the narrative, "that many of the men who survived that unnatural war unwittingly did us a greater hurt than the war itself. It gave everyone of them the intensest experience of his life and ever afterward he referred every other experience to this. Thus it stopped the thought of most of them as an earthquake stops a clock. The fierce blow of battle paralyzed the mind. Their speech was a vocabulary of war, their loyalties were loyalties, not to living ideas or duties, but to old commanders and to distorted traditions. They were dead men, most of them, moving among the living as ghosts; and yet, as ghosts in a play, they held the stage." In another passage the writer names the "ghosts" which are chiefly responsible for preventing Southern progress. They are three: "The Ghost of the Confederate dead, the Ghost of religious orthodoxy, the Ghost of Negro domination." Everywhere the hero finds his progress blocked by these obstructive wraiths of the past. He seeks a livelihood in educational work---becomes a local superintendent of Public Instruction, and loses his place because his religious views are unorthodox, because he refuses to accept the popular estimate of Confederate statesmen, and because he hopes to educate the black child as well as the white one. He enters politics and runs for public office on the platform of the new day, is elected, and then finds himself counted out by political ringsters. Still he does not lose faith, and finally settles down in the management of a cotton mill, convinced that the real path of salvation lies in economic effort. This mere skeleton of a story furnishes an excuse for rehearsing again the ideas that Page had already made familiar in his writings and in his public addresses. This time the lesson is enlivened by the portrayal of certain typical characters of the post-bellum South. They are all there---the several types of Negro, ranging all the way from the faithful and philosophic plantation retainer to the lazy "'Publican" office-seeker; the political colonel, to whom the Confederate veterans and the "fair daughters of the South (God bless 'em)" are the mainstays of " civerlerzation " and indispensable instrumentalities in the game of partisan politics; the evangelical clergymen who cared more for old-fashioned creeds than for the education of the masses; the disreputable editor who specialized in Negro crime and constantly preached the doctrine of the "white man's country"; the Southern woman who, innocently and sincerely and even charmingly, upheld the ancient tradition and the ancient feud. On the other hand, Page's book portrays the buoyant enthusiast of the new day, the reformer who was seeking to establish a public school system and to strengthen the position of woman; and, above all, the quiet, hardworking industrialist who cared nothing for stump speaking but much for cotton mills, improved methods of farming, the introduction of diversified crops, the tidying up of cities and the country.
These chapters, extensively rewritten, were published as a book in 1909. Probably Page was under no illusion that he had created a real romance when he described his completed work as a "novel." The Atlantic autobiography had attracted wide attention, and the identification of the author had been immediate and accurate. Page's friends began calling his house on the telephone and asking for "Nicholas" and certain genial spirits addressed him in letters as "Marse Little Nick"---the name under which the hero was known to the old Negro family servant, Uncle Ephraim---perhaps the best drawn character in the book. Page's real purpose in calling the book a "novel" therefore, was to inform the public that the story, so far as its incidents and most of its characters were concerned, was pure fiction. Certain episodes, such as those describing the hero's early days, were, in the main, veracious transcripts from Page's own life, but the rest of the book bears practically no relation to his career.
The fact that he spent his mature years in the North, editing magazines and publishing, whereas Nicholas Worth spends his in the South, engaged in educational work and in politics and industry, settles this point. The characters, too, are rather types than specific individuals, though one or two of them, particularly Professor Billy Bain, who is clearly Charles D. Mclver, may be accepted as fairly accurate portraits. But as a work of fiction "The Southerner" can hardly be considered a success; the love story is too slight, the women not well done, most of the characters rather personified qualities than flesh and blood people. Its strength consists in the picture that it gives of the so-called "Southern problem," and especially of the devastating influence of slavery. From this standpoint the book is an autobiography, for the ideas and convictions it presents had formed the mental life of Page from his earliest days.
And these were the things that hurt. Yet the stories of the anger caused by "The Southerner" have been much exaggerated. It is said that a certain distinguished Southern senator declared that, had he known that Page was the author of "The Southerner," he would have blocked his nomination as Ambassador to Great Britain; certain Southern newspapers also severely denounced the volume; even some of Page's friends thought that it was a little unkind in spots; yet as a whole the Southern people accepted it as a fair, and certainly as an honest treatment of a very difficult subject. Possibly Page was a little hard upon the Confederate veteran, and did not sufficiently portray the really pathetic aspects of his character; any shortcomings of this sort are due, not to any failing in sympathy, but to the fact that Page's zeal was absorbingly concentrated upon certain glaring abuses. And as to the accuracy of his vision in these respects there could be no question. The volume was a welcome antidote to the sentimental Southern novels that had contented themselves with glorifying a vanished society which, when the veil is stripped, was not heroic in all its phases, for it was based upon an institution so squalid as human slavery, and to those even more pernicious books which, by luridly portraying the unquestioned vices of reconstruction and the frightful consequences which resulted from giving the Negro the ballot, simply aroused useless passions and made the way out of the existing wilderness still more difficult. So the best public opinion, North and South, regarded "The Southerner," and decided that Page had performed a service to the section of his birth in writing it. Indeed the fair-minded and intelligent spirit with which the best elements in the South received "The Southerner" in itself demonstrated that this great region had entered upon a new day.
Nor was Page's work for the South yet ended. In the important five years from 1905 to 1910 he performed two services of an extremely practical kind. In 1906 the problem of Southern education assumed a new phase. Dr. Wallace Buttrick, the Secretary of the General Education Board, had now decided that the fundamental difficulty was economic. By that time the Southern people had revised their original conception that education was a private and not a public concern; there was now a general acceptance of the doctrine that the mental and physical training of every child, white and black, was the responsibility of the state; Aycock's campaign had worked such a popular revolution on this subject that no politician who aspired to public office would dare to take a contrary view. Yet the economic difficulty still remained. The South was poor; whatever might be the general desire, the taxable resources were not sufficient to support such a comprehensive system of popular instruction as existed in the North and West. Any permanent improvement must therefore be based upon the strengthening of the South's economic position. Essentially the task was to build up Southern agriculture, which for generations had been wasteful, unintelligent and consequently unproductive. Such a far-reaching programme might well appall the most energetic reformer, but Dr. Buttrick set to work. He saw little light until his attention was drawn to a quaint and philosophic gentleman---a kind of bucolic Ben Franklin ---who was then obscurely working in the cotton lands of Louisiana, making warfare on the boll weevil in a way of his own. At that time Dr. Seaman A. Knapp had made no national reputation; yet he had evolved a plan for redeeming country life and making American farms more fruitful that has since worked marvellous results. There was nothing especially sensational about its details. Dr. Knapp had made the discovery in relation to farms that the utilitarians had long since made with reference to other human activities: that the only way to improve agriculture was not to talk about it, but to go and do it. During the preceding fifty years agricultural colleges had sprung up all over the United States---Dr. Knapp had been president of one himself; practically every Southern state had one or more; agricultural lecturers covered thousands of miles annually telling their yawning audiences how to farm; these efforts had scattered broadcast much valuable information about the subject, but the difficulty lay in inducing the farmers to apply it. Dr. Knapp had a new method. He selected a particular farmer and persuaded him to work his fields for a period according to methods which he prescribed. He told his pupil how to plough, what seed to plant, how to space his rows, what fertilizers to use, and the like. If a selected acreage yielded a profitable crop which the farmer could sell at an increased price Dr. Knapp had sufficient faith in human nature to believe that that particular farmer would continue to operate his farm on the new method and that his neighbours, having this practical example of growing prosperity, would imitate him.
Such was the famous "Demonstration Work" of Dr. Seaman A. Knapp; this activity is now a regular branch of the Department of Agriculture, employing thousands of agents and spending not far from $18,000,000 a year. Its application to the South has made practically a new and rich country, and it has long since been extended to other regions. When Dr. Buttrick first met Knapp, however, there were few indications of this splendid future. He brought Dr. Knapp North and exhibited him to Page. This was precisely the kind of man who appealed to Page's sympathies. His mind was always keenly on the scent for the new man---the original thinker who had some practical plan for uplifting humankind and making life more worth while. And Dr. Knapp's mission was one that had filled most of his thoughts for many years; its real purpose was the enrichment of country life. Page therefore took to Dr. Knapp with a mighty zest. He supported him on all occasions; he pled his cause with great eloquence before the General Education Board, whose purse strings were liberally unloosed in behalf of the Knapp work; in his writings, in speeches, in letters, in all forms of public advocacy, he insisted that Dr. Knapp had found the solution of the agricultural problem. The fact is that Page regarded Knapp as one of the greatest men of the time. His feeling came out with characteristic intensity on the occasion of the homely reformer's funeral. "The exercises," Page once told a friend, "were held in a rather dismal little church on the outskirts of Washington. The day was bleak and chill, the attendants were few---chiefly officials of the Department of Agriculture. The clergyman read the service in the most perfunctory way. Then James Wilson, the Secretary of Agriculture, spoke formally of Dr. Knapp as a faithful servant of the Department who always did well what he was told to do, commending his life in an altogether commonplace fashion. By that time my heart was pretty hot. No one seemed to divine that in the coffin before them was the body of a really great man, one who had hit upon a fruitful idea in American agriculture---an idea that. was destined to cover the nation and enrich rural life immeasurably." Page was so moved by this lack of appreciation, so full of sorrow at the loss of one of his dearest friends, that, when he rose to speak, his appraisment took on a certain indignation. Their dead associate, Page declared, would outrank the generals and the politicians who received the world's plaudits, for he had devoted his life to a really great purpose; his inspiration had been the love of the common people, his faith, his sympathy had all been expended in an effort to brighten the life of the too frequently neglected masses. Page's address on this occasion was entirely extemporaneous; no record of it was ever made, but those who heard it still carry the memory of an eloquent and fiery outburst that placed Knapp's work in its proper relation to American history and gave an unforgettable picture of a patient, idealistic, achieving man whose name will loom large in the future.
During this same period Page, always on the outlook for the exceptional man, made another discovery which has had world-wide consequences. As a member of President Roosevelt's Country Life Commission Page became one of the committee assigned to investigate conditions in the Southern States. The sanitarian of this commission was Dr. Charles W. Stiles, a man who held high rank as a zoologist, and who, as such, had for many years done important work with the Department of Agriculture. Page had hardly formed Dr. Stiles's acquaintance before he discovered that, at that time, he was a man of one idea. And this one idea had for years brought upon his head much good-natured ridicule. For Dr. Stiles had his own explanation for much of the mental and physical sluggishness that prevailed in the rural sections of the Southern States. Yet he could not mention this without exciting uproarious laughter---even in the presence of scientific men. Several years previously Dr. Stiles had discovered that a hitherto unclassified species of a parasite popularly known as the hookworm prevailed to an astonishing extent in all the Southern States. The pathological effects of this creature had long been known; it localized in the intestines, there secreted a poison that destroyed the red blood corpuscles, and reduced its victims to a deplorable state of anaemia, making them constantly ill, listless, mentally dull---in every sense of the word useless units of society. The encouraging part of this discovery was that the patients could quickly be cured and the bookworm eradicated by a few simple improvements in sanitation. Dr. Stiles had long been advocating such a campaign as an indispensable preliminary to improving Southern life. But the humorous aspect of the bookworm always interfered with his cause; the microbe of laziness had at last been found!
It was not until Dr. Stiles, in the course of this Southern trip, cornered Page in a Pullman car, that he finally found an attentive listener. Page, of course, had his preliminary laugh, but then the bookworm began to work on his imagination. He quickly discovered that Dr. Stiles was no fool; and before the expedition was finished, he had become a convert and, like most converts, an extremely zealous one. The hookworm now filled his thoughts as completely as it did those of his friend; he studied it, he talked about it; and characteristically he set to work to see what could be done. How much Southern history did the thing explain? Was it not forces like this, and not statesmen and generals, that really controlled the destinies of mankind? Page's North Carolina country people had for generations been denounced as "crackers," and as "hill-billies," but here was the discovery that the great mass of them were ill---as ill as the tuberculosis patients in the Adirondacks. Free these masses from the enervating parasite that consumed all their energies---for Dr. Stiles had discovered that the disease afflicted the great majority of the rural classes---and a new generation would result. Naturally the cause strongly touched Page's sympathies. He laid the case before the ever sympathetic Dr. Buttrick, but here again progress was slow. By hard hammering, however, he half converted Dr. Buttrick, who, in turn, took the case of the hookworm to his old associate, Dr. Frederick T. Gates. What Page was determined to obtain was a million dollars or so from Mr. John D. Rockefeller, for the purpose, of engaging in deadly warfare upon this pest. This was the proper way to produce results: first persuade Dr. Buttrick, then induce him to persuade Dr. Gates, who, if convinced, had ready access to the great treasure house. But Dr. Gates also began to smile; even the combined eloquence of Page and Dr. Buttrick could not move him. So the reform marked time until one day Dr. Buttrick, Dr. Gates, and Dr. Simon Flexner, the Director of the Rockefeller Institute, happened to be fellow travellers---again on a Pullman car.
"Dr. Flexner," said Dr. Buttrick---this for the benefit of his incredulous friend---"what is the scientific standing of Dr. Charles W. Stiles?"
"Very, very high," came the immediate response, and at this Dr. Gates pricked up his ears. Yet the subsequent conversation disclosed that Dr. Flexner was unfamiliar with the Stiles bookworm work. He, too, smiled at the idea, but, like Page his smile was not one of ridicule.
"If Dr. Stiles believes this," was his dictum, "it is something to be taken most seriously."
As Dr. Flexner is probably the leading medical scientist in the United States, his judgment at once lifted the hookworm issue to a new plane. Dr. Gates ceased laughing and events now moved rapidly. Mr. Rockefeller gave a million dollars to a sanitary commission for the eradication of the hookworm in the Southern States, and of this Page became a charter member. In this way an enterprise that is the greatest sanitary and health reform of modern times had its beginnings. So great was the success of the Hookworm Commission in the South, so many thousands were almost daily restored to health and usefulness, that Mr. Rockefeller extended its work all over the world---to India, Egypt, China, Australia, to all sections that fall within the now accurately located "hookworm belt." Out of it grew the great International Health Commission, also endowed with unlimited millions of Rockefeller money, which is engaged in stamping out disease and promoting medical education in all quarters of the globe. Dr. Stiles and Page's associates on the General Education Board attribute the origin of this work to the simple fact that Page, great humourist that he was, could temper his humour with intelligence, and could therefore perceive the point at which a joke ceased to be a joke and actually concealed a truth of the most far-reaching importance to mankind.
Walter H. Page (1899), from a photograph taken when he was editor of the Atlantic Monthly
Dr. Wallace Buttrick, President of the General Education Board
Page enjoyed the full results of this labour one night in the autumn of 1913, when Dr. Wickliffe Rose, the head of the International Health Board, came to London to discuss the possibility of beginning hookworm work in the British Empire, especially in Egypt and India. Page, as Ambassador, arranged a dinner at the Marlborough Club, attended by the leading medical scientists of the kingdom and several members of the Cabinet. Dr. Rose's description of his work made a deep impression. He was informed that the British Government was only too ready to cooperate with the Health Board. When the discussion was ended the Right Honourable Lewis Harcourt, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, concluded an eloquent address with these words:
"The time will come when we shall look back on this evening as the beginning of a new era in British colonial administration."