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William Richards Castle William Roscoe Thayer.

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stances it will show that she has forgot-
ten to fight for all mankind." Mr. Wil-
son has been reminded that " humanity "
is not his present job as President of the
United SUtes. Mr. Thayer, I judge,
would hardly say so. He has some hard
words for the President as one too prone
to speak instead of acting, but in the
matter of the danger of substituting sel-
fish national interests for humanity, Mr.
Thayer and Mr. Wilson seem to think
alike.

How the French Boy Leama to Write;
a Study in the Teaching of the
Mother Tongue, by R. W. Brown,
A.M. *05, Professor of Rhetoric and
Composition in Wabash College;
pp. 260. Cambridge: Harvard Uni-
versity Press, 1915.
Professor Brown has made a substan-
tial contribution to the equipment of
an army more remarkable for individ-
ual initiative than for arms, drill, or
tactics. For thirty years nothing has
been more taught among us than com-
position, nor more variously, nor less
consecutively. The revival of the *80's,
partly a revolt from years of inefficient-
ly applied analysis, was mainly an
ardent and insufficiently directed pur-
suit of expression. The axiom that
we must learn to write by writing
came to mean in practice that writing



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Literary Notes.



743



b sufficient of itself; the recovery of
the idea of expression as vital in edu-
cation led too many teachers to as-
sume that this device of education
would work automatically. Hence we
have industriously read so many themes
not worth reading that we have still
to answer for far too many themes not
worth writing. Happily even reams of
futility have not destroyed our faith in
the value of expression; but no less hap-
pily we have been driven by criticism to
face the necessity of teaching expression
consecutively. That much of the criti-
cism has been ill informed, or ill natured,
or even mistaken, should not leave us
the less ready to admit that we have
much to learn in method. To say that
method should not be formality is only
to say that method should not be bad;
it implicitly admits the fundamental
flaw — a flaw deeper than any touched
by our critics — that our method iis
sometimes sound, sometimes superficial,
sometimes random, sometimes novel,
often temporarily stimulating, but
above all astonishingly meagre and
tentative.

How many teachers of composition
have as a practically available fund the
experience of even their contemporaries
in the practical matter of assignments?
Which assignments are fruitful, for what
purpose, with what emphasis, with what
frequency, and above all for what age
and in what order, many a tyro is still
left to learn of his first classes. That
both he and his classes will often blunder
into profitable paths is, doubtless, evi-
dence of the perennial vitality of the
subject; but it is small defence against
wasteful groping. Of what lies behind
our contem]>oraries, of the experience
of centuries, many teachers of composi-
tion seem quite unaware. No form of
education has a history longer or more
continuous. How little this history is



known may be seen in our enthusiastic
proposal and acceptance of new methods
that are centuries old. A method is not,
of course, good for us today because it
is old; what is pathetic is that our edu-
cational past is not known. Experiment
we are likely to need always. Our pres-
ent experiments with oral composition,
for instance, and with both oral and
written composition for those Americans
whose native tongue is not English, are
significant studies in adaptation. But
experiment that blindly repeats expe-
rience, instead of starting from it, is
hardly worthy of the name. Our very dis-
sociation of the terms rhetoric and com-
position hints that the formei- is a branch
of archffiology. It is to be feared that
many teachers know rhetoric only as
rhetorical. This false and narrow con-
ception of a whole body of pedagogical
experience may explain much of our un-
certainty. Not many years ago the pop-
ular cry was "less rhetoric and more
composition." The cry was warranted
— by the misinterpretation of rhetoric.
Since then we have learned that the
chief need of our teachers of composition
is an approved and sufficient rhetoric.

Professor Brown has interpreted a
consistent body of rhetoric, thoroughly
modern in application, soundly devel-
oped by consecutive adaptations of
a great tradition. Of this tradition,
though he shows himself sufficiently
aware of it, he wisely says little; for one
of the striking excellences of his book is
its singleness. Without display of erudi-
tion or any other intrusion of himself, he
has kept to the important task of in-
terpreting the significance of present
French practice. The result is a singu-
larly compact and lucid exposition. We
find what we seek; we find it in its
place; and we find it suggestive. This
contribution is none the less original
because of some previous studies; for



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744



Literary Notes*



[Jane,



the educational scope and meaDing of
the French teaching of composition have
no other single interpretation in Eng-
lish. The survey of the English Board
of Education is valuable almost entirely
as an assemblage of facts; Hartog's
study deals with adaptations to British
schools; Young's essay, though sugges-
tive, makes no attempt at extensive dis-
cussion. AH these, and FarringtonV ex-
cellent general works on French primary
and secondary schools. Professor Brown
has used, and of course many French
sources; but they have been merely pre-
paratory to his first-hand observation.
He has observed, not merely seen.
Doubtless his best preparation was his
own experience as a teacher; for he has
discerned teaching values and inter-
preted not only courses, but teachers.
Programs and instructions, presented
fully, have their significances illumin-
ated by sympathetic understanding.
Educational surveys of this quality are
not so easy nor so conmion as to make us
the less grateful that this one has been
done by a teacher with so strong a sense
of his profession.

His applications to our own case Pro-
fessor Brown confines to a few sugges-
tive generalizations. That others wiU
occur to his readers means that his
method lets the French speak for them-
selves. To one who has taught com-
position long enough to rejoice in its
educational scope, the French experience
oonfirms a faith in certain large princi-
ples. Most obviously it demonstrates
that system for the teacher and progress
for the student mean consecutiveness. It
shows no less clearly that correctness,
about which we talk much and, with
equal impatience, do little, begins early,
is not separable, and is helpful, net hos-
tile, to expressiveness. It reveals corre-
lation as fundamentally the relation of
language studies to experience, which
includes reading, from the early grades



up into the college. It reminds us that
the study of composition, for its immedi-
ate ends and for the sake of all study of
literature, should add to its rhetoric
poetic. Finally it urges upon school and
college alike that the t^farhing of com-
position be mainly, not analytical, much
less merely corrective, but promotive.
If Professor Brown has not urged these
particular inductions, he has induced
them in hb reviewer. And he should in-
duce others, general and specific; for his
book should be read by every teadier
of En^ish.

ArtUU and' Thinkers, by L. W. Flaccus,
Ph.D. '04, Assistant Professor of
Philosophy in the University of
Pennsylvania. Longmans, Green &
Co., 1916.
The author presents in this book a
series of essays on Bodin, Maeterlinck,
Wagner, Hegel, Tolstoy, and Nietzsche,
in which the philosophers to a certain
extent counterbalance the artists. In-
deed, the author develops in the Intro-
duction the idea that the activities of
the two interpenetrate each other, and
that he intends to study them in that
relation. But one is baffled by the state-
ment that "the true value of thought for
art seems to me to depend on its indirect-
ness and emotional suggestiveness; they
make you fed the thrust of the universe;
back of the artist's earnestness there
must be a certain freedom of playfulness,
just as there must be a certain earnest-
ness back of the playfulness of the phi-
losopher; downrightness and eagerness
to solve problems have spoiled many a
play and novel" (p. 9). It is Mr. Flac-
cus's indirectness and emotional suggest-
iveness that lie at the basis of hb val-
uation of both the thinker and artbt,
hence he abhors the "gritty admixture"
which b found in the works of Hegd,
Wagner, Nietzsche, Ruskin, and Tol-
stoy, and prefers the attitude of Maeter-



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745



linck who "ignores the social and cul-
tural relations of art" (p. 87). What he
really admires in Maeterlinck is the
*** graphic and decorative touch in his de^
scriptions of the world without," and his
"atmospheric method" of the world
within, which gives his men and women
"the blurred unreality of figures in a fog
— one gets a sense of faltering lines, of
insecure dbtances, and of a merging of
greys and blacks, which produce weird
and monotonous imaginative effects"
(p. 45). It is quite clear that Mr. Flac-
cus is a symbolist, that he advocates a
"decorative" or "atmospheric" philos-
ophy, which reveb in haze and mist, the
abode of the initiated devotees of "the
elusive art of Maeterlinck and Baude-
laire" (p. 141), and that he is, in matters
of art, a disciple of Bergson who admires
Maeterlinck*s Han viial. If Mr. Flaccus
openly confessed his predilection for the
"atmospheric," those of his readers who
differed from him or wished to be in-
structed objectively could lay his book
aside, without any feeling of provocation,
though of positive dissent. But every-
thing is so tainted by the method of the
sjrmbolic doctrinaire that one hardly
perceives the violent distortions which
Rodin and Tolstoy have suffered at the
hands of the author.

Quoting the trite statement about the
change in Tolstoy's life caused by his My
Confession, and about the harm which
conversion causes the artitft, Mr. Flac-
cus at once prejudices his case by stamp-
ing Tolstoy's What is Art? as erratic,
because of his misjudgment of Shakes-
peare, Maeterlinck, Baudelaire, etc., and
because " he could not enjoy verse and
its music, and so misjudged the symbol-
ists utterly" (p. 142). One would think
that, to disprove Tolstoy's views, Mr.
Flaccus would dissect them, as they are
represented in his mature and significant
What is Art? But no, hb essay on Mau-



passant which precedes that work by a
dozen years is quoted instead, with the
four art tests in the inverse order of their
importance. The moral relation thus
appears as the least important though
"the one most heavily staked." The
few quotations from the larger work are
so chosen as still further to weaken his
cultural theory of art. The religious de-
mands of art are put completely in the
background, so as to "find a place for
the subjective, the complex, the elusive,
the abnormal," by which the art "is all
the richer for a Maeteriinck or a Baude-
laire" (p. 158). Mr. Flaccus is not even
aware of the fact that the great Russian
artists have subscribed to every word of
Tolstoy's views, that Antokolski's criti-
cism of Whai is Art? ia one long paean,
and that Vereshchagin's activity is an
attempt to carry out the precepts of
Tolstoy, whom he even preceded in his
religious fervor, a^one may see from his
several essays. Worse than that, Ro-
din's own conception of art has been so
warped by Mr. Flaccus as to make his
religious conviction appear as some-
thing accidental and unnecessaty. He
says that Rodin is a symbolist (p. 29),
but that the word is here used in an en-
tirely different sense from which it can
be applied to Maeterlinck is obvious
from the words of Rodin, who identifies
that symbolism with religion, for "if re-
ligion did not exist I should have to
invent it; true artists are in short the
most religious of men" (p. 29). When
Rodin touches Tolstoy he becomes truly
great. Instead of expatiating on this
important relation, the author says that
"this fluid, natural symbolism Rodin
joins to a strong and accurate tech-
nique" (p. 36), as though this were the
most important aspect of his art.

It will be seen from these extracts
that unless one is a symbolist one will
not gain any comfort from the "decora-



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746



Literary Notes.



[Jane,



live'* aspect of art and philosophy, as
advocated by Mr. Flaccus. To one who
makes serious demands upon the thinker
and artist the book must remain a dis-
appointment.

New Homes Under Old Roofs. By J. S.

Seabury, '04. New York: Frederick A.

Stokes Co.

Any book treating of the subject to
which this volume is devoted should be
welcome, provided the author has put
into his task the earnest thought that is
necessary and drawn from this a result
that meets the demands both of practica-
bility and popular interest. Mr. Seabury
b manifestly treating a subject that has
a real fascination for him and his earnest
effort has given us a book of real value.
In how satisfactory a manner the old
house of our forefathers, here in New
England, may be adapted to modem
needs is surprising to many who have
made the experiment. Given really good
proportion, which most of these old
houses fortunately had, and a fair state
of preservation, the task of the reoon-
structo!' is likely to be very successful.
Mr. Seabury's preamble is interesting in
that it classifies the several distinct types
in a clear concise manner. It has evidently
been the author's intention, however, to
lay stress not so much upon this part of
his work as upon the many photographic
reproductions that he has shown. Each
of these b given a page to itself and is
concisely described and criticized. One
page is given to the house in its former
state. Opposite is a page devoted to the
reconstruction. These examples — all
of them taken from that very interesting
and prolific source — the district of
Massachusetts which lies in the semi-
circle which might be drawn from Dux-
bury to Beverly Farms, by way of Ded-
ham, Framingham, Sudbury, Wayland,
Weston, Concord, and including Tops-



fidd and Hamilton, are well dioaen, weQ
compared and beautifully reproduced.
No more charming photographs on thu
subject, giving as th^y do the impres-
sion of both house and site at one glance,
have ever been given us. Most of them
are the work of Mr. Alfred W. Cutting.
The chief value of the book lies in the au-
thor*s ingenious method of comparison.
He has very wisely refrained from an
exposition of what should or should not
have been done in particular cases, nor
does he indulge in a catalogue of rules
that should apply to particular types of
houses. He tells us that the charm of the
finished house often lies in the solution
of the individual problem and how true
this is can readily be seen from the dif-
ferent examples that he shows. "The
more thoroughly we knowtheold house,"
he says, "the better prepared we will be
to handle it in its proper manner."
Here is a thoroughly sensible and pleas-
ant way of treating a subject which for
all of us — owners, architects, builders,
real-estate dealers or whatever we are,
has a meaning.

The Federal Executive, by J. P. Hill.
Boston: Houghton Mifilin Co., 1916.
The growth of the United States, with
its varied population, coupled with the
immense expansion of the intricate busi-
ness of the country, has brought about
a situation that has caused the world to
wonder how the Constitution — a writ-
ten document — could be stretched to
meet the present requirements of a gov-
ernment under it. Mr. Hill, in his book.
The Federal Executive, gives a very de-
tailed account of the groiH-th of the pow-
ers assumed by the President and the
various departments — powers that in
many cases have had to be assumed in
order to conduct the necessary daily
business of the country. By the "Fed-
eral Executive" Mr. Hill means the



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747



President and his Tarious anus, the ten
executive departments of the Govern-
ment — the departments being merely
the method of executing business by the
President A "strict constructionist,"
such as Mr. Hill evidently feels one
should not be, has reason to feel that
with the latitude assumed away from
the Constitution in the powers the va-
rious departments now exercise, the limits
of States' rights are being trodden down.
Properly, to a certain degree, the
bounds of the Constitution have had to
be overstepped by federal legislation and
by powers assumed by the Executive,
but it does not seem to us that every one
will agree with Mr. Hill when he says,
"the Nation no longer fears the power of
the President." Much Federal legisla-
tion is still necessary properly to con-
duct the great variety of business of the
country, but many would prefer to have
this business conducted through legisla-
tion rather than through the power now
U3)Bd by the President and the various
departments. As Mr. Hill justly says,
"before the repeal of *The Tenure of
Office Act,' Congress was the dominating
element in National Government; to-
day the President is the dominating in-
fluence," — owing to his power of ap-
pointing the members of his Cabinet,
who are the heads of the various depart-
ments that carry on with him so much of
the business of the Government. Each
of the ten departments is taken up by
Mr. Hill after he has elaborated the
power of the President, their origin
traced, the laws bringing them into ex-
istence quoted, and then the detail of
their business described and examined at
considerable length. For the general
reader, the account of the growth of the
Department of Justice from the simple
advisory capacity of the Attorney-
General to the present complicated
place that Department takes in all our



life, is sufficient to give an idea of the
power the various executives now have
in their hands. Further than this, the
book will appeal chiefly to the student
(and an excellent textbook it would
make), as it is not a brilliantly written,
though thorough book. It is timely and
useful, as it is essential that students of
American life and hopes should realize
how much power the President has had
to assume and how far we are from the
original idea of our Government. Neces-
sarily the original idea has had to be
modified, but it was such a wonderful
idea that this book shows the danger
of departing too far from it.

The Supernatural in Tragedy^ by C. E.

Whitmore. Cambridge: Harvard

University Press, 1915.
In this revised doctoral dissertation
the author declares his purpose to be
the survey of "those periods in which
examples of the supernatural in tragic
drama are most numerous, in order to
determine what the particular contribu-
tion of each case is, and thus secure data
from which general conclusions may
perhaps be drawn." After outlining the
limits of his subject and supplying fun-
' damental definitions. Dr. Whitmore
goes on to say, at the end of his introduc-
tion, "I hope to reveal a fundamental
unity in the relation of the supernatural
to tragedy . . . and to show an inti-
mate connection between the highest re-
sults of such manifestations and the su-
pernatural itself." In the main body
of the discussion he considers the Greek
drama, Seneca, mediieval sacred drama,
the Renaissance in Italy, the Elizabeth-
an age, and certain modern aspects,
particularly what he calls the "modern
revival." In conclusion Dr. Whitmore
endeavors to explain what he feels is a
"necessary connection" between the
supernatural and tragedy. Let him



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748



LUerary Notu.



[June,



speak for himBelf : '* We must agree that
tragedy is the form of drama which
seeks to penetrate as far as possible into
the mystery of existence, and to reveal
the secret sources of human actk)n. It
is inevitable that thb should involve
some opinion of those forces beyond
man of whose existence, however to be
conceived, we must be conscious. But
such forces are precisely what we under-
stand by the supernatural, taken in its
widest and also its deepest sense. When
a writer has penetrated to the very verge
of human existence, he must confront
the question. What lies beyond? and it is
in some aspect of the supernatural that
he will find whatever answer he chooses
to give." The upshot of his argument is
that the supernatural is necessary to
"the most perfect expression of the
tragic q)irit in drama." Most of us will
feel that Dr. Whitmore goes entirely
too far in formulating such a thesb.
Who shaU say that Othdlo and Lear,
without supernatural elements, are in-
ferior to HamUt and Macbeth, with such
elements? Some of us, furthennore,
would not consider Hamlet without the
ghost as unthinkable as Hamlet without
the Prince himself. And why does the
author completely ignore French ciassi-'
cal tragedy? Would it become "great"
by the injection of some of this "neces-
sary" element or is it hopeless anyhow?
This fundamental objection aside, we
may commend Dr. Whitmore for a care-
ful and workmanlike investigation. He
points out that "Greek tragedy was
forced by the circumstances of its origin
to enstage the action of supernatural
forces"; and that "the proper presenta-
tion of the mortals is necessary to the
artistic use of the supernatural." These
are two of his most valuable conclu-
sions. AU in all, he has given us a thor-
oughly readable oontribiitk>D to the
study of tragedy.



The Ameriean College. New Yoric:
Henry Holt & Co.
The American CdUege consists of a
series of eleven papers read by leading
educators of today at the celebration of
the 100th anniversary of the founding
of Allegheny College, whose President,
W. H. Crawford, has written an inter-
esting introduction "to indicate the
general scope and spirit of the papers
presented, and to whet the appetite of
the reader for what follows." Not so
much the history and development of the
college in this country as its program,
curriculum, achievements, present sta-
tus, and probable future comprise the
list of subjects on which these articles
were written. The men wha delivered
them (each of whom was urged to ex-
press his thoughts freely, frankfy and
openly) were chosen with a view to the
authority with which they could speak
on the subject allotted to them. The
first was read by Pres. W. H, P. Ftence,
of Brown University, whose subject is
"The Aim and Scope of the New Eng-
land CoDege,"' whiidi institution he
shows to have been bom (^ the Christian
faith, with the primary aim to equip men
for their life work. He points out the ad-
vantage of the present unofficial rektioB
between church and college over the for-
mer parochial influence over tiie college.
Prof. Paul Shorey, of the University of
Chicago, emphames the important posi-
tion of the knguages and literatures,
which he regards as interrekted and in-
terdependent, in the college curriculum.
Dean C. H. Haskins, ef Harvard, di»-
cusses the i^ace of the Newer Humani-
ties in the college program, a group in-
cluding economics^ political sdenoe, and
sociology, which are concerned with or-
ganized society, and especially with the
State. The importance of physical and
natural sciences is considered by Prof. E.
G. Conklin, of Princeton; the college as



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749



a preparation for professioiial study and
for practical affairs is ably treated by
Pres. Rush Rhees» of the University of
Rochester, and Pros. C. F. Thwing, of
Western Reserve; John H. Finley, Presi-
dent of New York State University,
speaks of the present status and prob-
able future of the Eastern college; the
college in the South is the subject of
Pres. W. P. Few of Trinity College; Pres.
W. F. Slocum, of Colorado College,
writes of the college in the West; Pres.
Alexander Meiklejohn, of Amherst, dis-
cusses the function of the college as dis^
tinct from all other institutions of learn-
ing; and Commissioner Philander P.
Claxton, of the Bureau of Education at
Washington, writes on "The American
College in the Life of the American
People." It is a book well worth reading
because of its range of subjects and the
authority of those who contribute.

Roadside Glimpses of the War, by Arthur
Sweetser. '11, New York: The Mac-



Online LibraryWilliam Richards Castle William Roscoe ThayerThe Harvard graduates' magazine → online text (page 101 of 103)