Character and Fame
IN this varied and energetic career, so full both of achievement and frustration, there is much which appears psychologically puzzling. The fact that to many of Frémont's contemporaries his personality seemed alien and impenetrable helps to explain why his aims and motives were frequently misjudged, and his acts aroused such violent antagonism. He made ardent friends who loved him (some of them) just this side of idolatry; he made enemies who found no condemnation too harsh. Many who attempted to measure him in a detached way formed, after long study, an impression that he was a genius manqué, a distinguished and valuable man who just fell short of being effectively great. Josiah Royce, not the friendliest of observers, wrote that the most transient personal intercourse with this romantic and fascinating figure left a sense of a peculiarly hidden and baffling character. "The charming and courtly manner, the deep and thoughtful eyes, the gracious and selfpossessed bearing, as of a consciously great man at rest, awaiting his chance to announce his deep purpose and to do his decisive deed--all these things perplexed one who had any occasion to observe, as some did, that the deep purpose seemed always to have remained in reserve, and that there had been some reason in his life why the decisive deed had never been done." Other men, like Schurz, felt strongly attracted to him at first sight, and yet retained, in a sense of some subtle deficiency combined with great capacities, an unwillingness to give him their complete confidence.
Yet Frémont's character and mind are essentially simple and clear, and both his talents and limitations are susceptible of as