WASHINGTON, March 17, 1913 (UP) -- When William Jennings Bryan became secretary of state little did an enthusiastic populace ween that the job would develop another quality in the versatile Nebraskan.
It has, however. And today, when Bryan isn't barricading himself against callers "paying their respects" (with an application for a job of some kind folded in their pocket) the secretary is giving a free-for-all exhibition of silence to which the speechlessness of the clam is a mighty roar.
About the only chance any newspaper correspondent has had so far of finding out what Bryan thinks of national policies has been to purchase a phonograph and some records of Bryan's speeches.
Everybody knew that Philander C. Knox, Bryan's predecessor, was a silent person. He exuded it. Every time he decided to break his loud speechlessness, he put on a pair of earmuffs so the unusual sound wouldn't jar him. But when Bryan was named as his successor everybody in the newspaper world perked up. There would sure be some news with the Nebraskan on the job.
The second or third day after he had been sworn in a troop of enthusiastic correspondents were admitted to his presence.
"I shall make it a rule not to talk about anything at all until it has been done," was Bryan's edict.
The next interview went lie this:
"Mr. Secretary, how about Mexico?"
"Ah," Bryan replied earnestly. "You have heard of the Mudfog papers, where the correspondent wired in, 'It is 12:30 o'clock and nothing has happened since I wrote you last.'"
Finally the correspondents got desperate. One asked Bryan how much he weighed. With the diplomatic trait strong in him, the secretary answered:
"Tom Reed said, 'No man over 200 pounds is a gentleman', I am 23 or 24 pounds over being a gentleman."
Then he said when he got a new house, had his riding horse shipped, bought a new hat, or something like that, he would "bulletin" the fact to the press. On such little things as the Mexican question, Cuban amnesty or something, he had recourse to the Mudfog papers, and announced that it was now 1 o'clock and the same condition of affairs existed. It has been successively 2, 3, 4, and 5 o'clock, and the same report since then.
But nevertheless, and notwithstanding the fact that the silver-tongued orator won't talk, Bryan is certainly on the job. He has an enormous number of callers. He works like a truck horse.
But oh, how silent he is!