Изображения страниц

in the woods who, when searching for the lost path, calls out, "'We're all right! There's the clearing!' There will always be some delicateminded excursionist to remark: That man's voice is too loud. He makes me nervous. The expression "All right" is slang. He is not wearing a collar! He has been perspiring. I think he has torn his trowsers!" "

Thus Mr. Perry characterizes Walt Whitman. The book is clear, simple, "spiritual" in the sense that a reverent insight into the poet's religion is attained; alive-as we Americans can hardly help being— to the humor of all life; hopeful with a high hope for our national poetry, which somehow sees that everything is miraculous and divine; and finally it is a "thing excellently well and cheerfully done."

W. L. S. THE MASTERS OF FATE. By Sophia P. Shaler. New York: Duffield & Co. 1906.

Every chapter of Mrs. Shaler's recent book, which owes its being to the suggestion of her husband, is pervaded with his spirit of broad humanity. It is an interesting collection of some two hundred examples of men and women who have made splendid use of their lives in spite of physical defects or sickness. The successive instances are well knit together by running comments and deductions in which the inspiring ideas of Dean Shaler are clearly visible. The whole book is a fine retort to those who uphold the doctrine of predestination, and to those who maintain that the laws of physical evolution should have sole sway in the world of men.

The material is handled in a sympathetic way, which makes very vivid the bitter conditions under which these men have struggled. Yet dealing as it does with great men merely in their conflicts with physical weakness, the book lays itself open to the charge of one-sidedness. We need to know what they have done as well as how they have done it: If that corrective thought is kept in mind the book will perhaps be more directly inspiring to those who have not been unfortunate on the physical side of their being. As it now stands it is primarily for the invalid. He will learn from it that "Fate has set a combat in his soul,

and it may be his own fault if he does not win victories there." One who did win such wonderful victories, Mr. Shaler himself, is the subject of the last chapter. Those who would know him better may well read that chapter first, and then the others as a further exposition of his character and ideals. R. B. G.

THE LIFE OF OSCAR WILDE. By Robert Harborough Sherard. London. T. Werner Laurie. 1906.

In view of the very widespread interest which has been manifested in the writings of Oscar Wilde, the necessity for an authoritative biography has become urgent. Unfortunately, and for obvious reasons, the compilation and publication of such a work must be a matter of the very greatest delicacy and tact, without which it should never be undertaken. The subject should, furthermore-and here the biography must be permitted to differ from the conventional-be approached from a purely literary point of view, and should not concern itself with an apology for, or a psychological analysis of, the character and characteristics of its subject. In all of these respects the volume under consideration seems to fall short of the ideal-even to fall very greatly short. It can certainly not increase our sympathy for Oscar Wilde to be told that (p. 160) "the reason why he assumed. . . . the 'æsthetic costume' was merely to attract attention to his personality"; or that (p. 336) "Max Nordau was right when he spoke of Oscar Wilde as a degenerate"; nor, at the same time, does it increase our respect for his biographer. In fact, the book produces in us the distinct impression of having been written as a financial investment, and in such a tone of indulgent patronage and false sympathy that the author's personality obtrudes itself upon one at every turn, making the book distasteful as well as poor biography.

It is interesting to know the dates of Wilde's birth and death, to be given a précis of the bad qualities of his ancestors, and to be assured that he was a gifted conversationalist, although these details may not serve to help us in an appreciation of his genius as a writer.

The illustrations are adequate. At the close is a bibliography of Wilde's works in their various editions, which is invaluable to the collector.

H. W. B.

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]
[blocks in formation]

The recent criticism in the American press of certain utterances on the Monroe Doctrine made by Professor Burgess of Columbia in his opening lecture at Berlin University suggests the question whether the interchange of professors between American and German universities has thus far proved to be what it was meant to become: an additional means of mutual understanding and intellectual friendship between the two nations. Personally, I do not agree with those who deplore Professor Burgess' utterances. On the contrary, I sympathize with his attitude, and it seems to me entirely within the scope of this inter-academic agreement that the representatives of the different universities should fearlessly and without reserve express their personal convictions and principles. For, after all, a most important part of this whole interchange consists in this: that the students of the two countries are brought thereby face to face with striking, well-rounded, powerful scientific personalities, with public characters-so to speakof another nationality.

It cannot, however, be denied that the undoubted irritation produced by Professor Burgess' attack of the Monroe Doctrine points to an element of danger in this international exchange, the danger of its being dragged into political controversies and thereby giving rise to political animosities. Nothing could be further removed from the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »