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for the office and probably would have liked to fill it more than he ever admitted to anybody. But he was not willing to pay the price, and in refusing to pay the price, he should have the credit, not merely of a shrewd calculation of comparative costs, but of a genuine disposition towards personally disinterested action. No man would fight harder for an honor or a prize to which he believed himself fairly entitled. No man was more modest and hesitating in claiming an honor to which his title was dubious. He renounced a contest, not only because it might cost him too much, but also because the party and perhaps the country might have to pay too high a price. And there can be little doubt that, with his usual insight into the complexities of a particular human situation, he had made the decision which, had he lived, would have best contributed to his cherished patriotic and personal interests.
As has been frequently intimated in the foregoing pages, Mr. Hanna had not been for years a thoroughly well man. Particularly since his entrance into politics the handicap of certain physical infirmities had been constantly increasing, and had been the cause of grave alarm to his family and friends. The strain of his very active and wearing political life had manifestly been telling on his strength. He had been often advised and implored to go away and take a long rest, but he always refused. He was a man who did not know how to rest, and who became unhappy whenever he was deprived of his regular occupations and his familiar surroundings.
He was born with an exceptionally strong physique, and throughout his active life could under ordinary circumstances stand an enormous amount of work and strain. He was what used to be called a sanguine man—that is, a man of active disposition, red blood, high spirits and unflagging energy. This gift of abundant energy was never diminished by physical excesses. He was a total abstainer until past forty, and thereafter his consumption of alcohol was confined to an occasional glass of claret with his meals. He was not even a very large eater. His usual breakfast, for instance, consisted of a couple of soft-boiled eggs. He was not particularly addicted to tea or coffee, and ate fresh meat in moderation. His favorite dish of meat was corned-beef hash, which was made for him according to a very delectable recipe by a cook named Maggie, who had lived with the family for many years. One of Mr. Hanna's peculiar ways of entertaining was to invite guests to partake of Maggie's corned-beef hash for breakfast on Sunday morning. He also liked chipped beef, bacon and small deer-foot sausages. He was a great bread eater, but had no particular relish for cakes or sweets. The dessert which he preferred was a plain rice pudding as prepared by his excellent cook. Altogether his appetite seemed to run in the direction of starchy foods, – such as green corn, among vegetables, – and whatever he liked he liked very much. Perhaps he came nearer to excess in smoking than in any other physical habit. He had his own special brand of somewhat strong cigars, which had been carefully selected, and of which he consumed about a dozen a day. Energetic, however, as he was by disposition, he was not physically an active man. He belonged to the generation of Americans who took no exercise. One could not by the utmost effort of the imagination associate Mr. McKinley and Mr. Hanna with a game of tennis; and when a tennis player was actually installed in the White House, a political revolution was evidently impending. Mark Hanna did not even enjoy open air and the country. He was essentially an indoor and a city man. The one kind of outdoor life which amused him was yachting or boating— particularly on the Lakes. He would occasionally take a drive, but late in life even this mild form of physical activity ceased to attract. The only stirring up which his body received came as the incidental result of the mental stimulus and excitement resulting from a keenly interesting occupation. Public speaking, for instance, was physically refreshing to him, because it afforded wholesome exertion both to body and mind. There was nothing, however, in Mr. Hanna's physical habits which need have handicapped his work or shortened his life. His fundamental trouble seems to have been a legacy from the attack of typhoid fever from which he suffered in 1867. He was subject to attacks of congestion, which would send the blood to his head and cause him to faint. Sometimes they would last for several hours, throughout which his hands would be clenched and his body would become rigid. If he passed a year without a spell of this kind, he was lucky. They might be caused by indigestion, by a cold, or even by anxiety or emotion. If he ate a hearty meal and immediately after plunged into severe mental exertion, he was apt to suffer. The attacks were not, however, regarded seriously by the family. They usually yielded to simple remedies, and as soon as they were over Mr. Hanna immediately recovered his strength and was up again and doing business the same day. They indicated, however, an imperfection in the circulation of the blood, which, as he grew older, might well have other effects. In 1899 his knees began to give him some trouble. The difficulty was diagnosed as rheumatism, but it proved eventually to be an increasing chalky deposit on the knee joints, which gradually affected his finger joints as well. After this ailment fastened on him, he was always suffering more or less pain, and when he made speeches and was compelled to be long on his feet his suffering was acute. It was to get rid of this discomfort that he went abroad in the summer of 1899. Baths at Aix-les-Bains were prescribed, and Mr. Hanna took them conscientiously for three weeks. But he refused to submit to an after-cure in Switzerland, and during the three following weeks hurried rapidly over a large part of Europe. He was always a bad patient, just as he was always a man who scorned to take precautions against sources of contagion and infection. He would not submit to hygienic dictation—even when he was threatened with illness. The cure at Aix did him no permanent good, and thereafter he suffered from minor ailments—none of which prevented him from continuing his work, but all of which taken together indicated that his body was yielding under the strain imposed by his way of living. But he was not an apprehensive man, and he was too much interested in what he was doing to listen to any prudential advice. His wife soon began to realize that he was wound up too tight and was running too fast. She tells of warning him. “I don't know how you feel about it,” she said, “but to me you behave like a person who is under some strong excitement, who is rushing onward and cannot stop.” He admitted that she was right, but he refused even to discuss the matter of drawing back. “I am going on,” was his final word. He continued his unremitting and almost feverish activity, and for a while stood it fairly well. But in 1903 there were premonitions of a breakdown. Before beginning his long and strenuous stumping tour in the fall, he went off on a yachting trip for a month. The rest did him little good, because the boat was too much in port, where there were people to see and big dinners to be eaten. After his return to Cleveland he was confined to his bed for a while, but he pulled himself together, and to his own intense discomfort, went through the most arduous and exciting stumping tour of his career. The way in which he sometimes felt and suffered during that tour is indicated by the story which he told one cold autumn evening to Colonel Herrick, and which is related in the last chapter. After the election his immediate presence in Washington was required. An extra session of Congress had been called to deal with Cuban reciprocity. At the time he left Cleveland he looked extremely worn and debilitated. All his friends urged him to quit. Mrs. Hanna, too, was not well, and wanted to remain at home. But he insisted that both of them should go. He asserted that he had plenty of strength for his work and that they could save themselves by declining invitations to dinner. Such was their understanding, and they acted up to it. Between the beginning of November and Christmas they went out very rarely. On Tuesday, December 15, Mr. Hanna had a severe attack of the grip. He had planned to go to New York on Thursday for a meeting of the Civic Federation, and then to join Mrs. Hanna in Cleveland for the Christmas holidays. But on Thursday morning he was so miserable that it did not look safe to let him go alone. As Mrs. Hanna was in poor health, it was decided that Miss Mary Phelps, for many years the companion and friend of Mrs. Hanna, should accompany him. Mr. Hanna slept during the journey and that night had a little fever. Nevertheless he spent the whole of Friday at the meeting of the Civic Federation and in the evening attended a dinner of the McKinley Memorial Association. His fever still hung on, but it did not prevent him from continuing the next day his attendance of the sessions of the Federation. The dinner of that organization was scheduled for the same night. During the afternoon Mr. Hanna felt so ill that he decided to give up the dinner, but to drop in about nine o'clock and make a short speech. After dinner, however, he was taken with a severe chill, and was put to bed. His local physician, Dr. George E. Brewer, dosed him with the strongest stimulants. The chill was succeeded by a raging