FOUR MEN OF HUMBLE BIRTH HOLD WORLD DESTINY IN THEIR HANDS
From: How To Write Special Feature Articles
(Category: PART II
BY WILLIAM G. SHEPHERD
WASHINGTON--Out of a dingy law office in Virginia, out of a cobbler's
shop in Wales, out of a village doctor's office in France and from a
farm on the island of Sicily came the four men who, in the grand old
palace at Versailles, will soon put the quietus on the divine right of
In 1856, three days after Christmas, a boy named Thomas was born in the
plain home of a Presbyterian parson in Staunton, Va. When this boy was 4
years old, there was born in Palermo, on the island of Sicily, 4,000
miles away, a black-eyed Sicilian boy. Into the town of Palermo, on that
July day, came Garibaldi, in triumph, and the farmer-folk parents of the
boy, in honor of the occasion, named their son Victor, after the new
Italian king, whom Garibaldi had helped to seat.
Three years later still, when Thomas was playing the games of 7-year-old
boys down in Virginia, and when Victor, at 3, spent most of his time
romping on the little farm in Sicily, there was born in the heart of the
foggy, grimy town of Manchester, in England, a boy named David. His home
was the ugliest of the homes of all the three. It was of red brick, two
stories high, with small windows, facing a busy stone sidewalk. Its
rooms were small and little adorned, and not much hope of greatness
could ever have sprung from that dingy place.
There was one other boy to make up the quartet. His name was George. He
was a young medical student in Paris twenty-two years old when David was
born in England. He thought all governments ought to be republics, and,
by the time he was 25, he came over to the United States to study the
American republic, and, if possible, to make a living over here as a
doctor. He had been born in a little village in France, in a doctor's
While George was in New York, almost starving for lack of patients, and
later, while he taught French in a girls' school in Stamford, Conn.,
little Thomas, down in Virginia, at the age of 10 years, had buckled
down to his studies, with the hope of being a lawyer; Victor, at 6, was
studying in a school in far-away Palermo, and David, at 3, fatherless by
this time, was getting ready for life in the home of his uncle, a
village shoemaker, in a little town of Wales. The only city-born boy of
the four, he was taken by fate, when his father died, to the simplicity
of village life and saved, perhaps, from the sidewalks.
The years whirled on. George married an American girl and went back to
France, to write and teach and doctor. Thomas went to a university to
study law. David, seven years younger, spent his evenings and spare time
in his uncle's shoe shop or in the village blacksmith shop, listening to
his elders talk over the affairs of the world.
Victor, with law as his vision, crossed the famous old straits of
Messina from his island home and went to Naples to study in the law
In the '80s things began to happen. Down in Virginia, Thomas was
admitted to the bar. In old Wales, David, who, by this time, had learned
to speak English, was admitted to practice law in 1884, and, in 1885,
the black-eyed, hot-blooded Sicilian Victor received the documents that
entitled him to practice at the Italian bar.
George, in France, by this time had dropped medicine. Bolshevism had
arisen there in the form of the Commune, and he had fought it so
desperately that he had been sentenced to death. He hated kings, and he
also hated the autocracy of the mob. He fled from Paris.
Soon they will sit at a peace table together, the first peace table in
all human history from which divine-right kings are barred. The future
and the welfare of the world lie in their four pairs of hands. Their
full names are: Georges Clemenceau, premier of France; David Lloyd
George, prime minister of England; Victor Emanuel Orlando, premier of
Italy, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States.
* * * * *
_(Saturday Evening Post)_
Three half-tone reproductions of wash-drawings by a staff artist.
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