**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

* * * * *

In a fat volume of forty thousand quotations from the literature of all times and countries, compiled by some patient and industrious person, at least half of it is not worth the paper on which it is printed. There seem to be more quotations in it from Shakespeare than from any other poet, which is as it should be. There seem to be more from Emerson than from any other American poet, which again is as it should be. Those from the great names of antiquity–the Bible, Sadi, Cicero, AEschylus, Euripides, Aristotle, and others–are all worth while, and the quotations from Bacon, Newton, Addison, Locke, Chaucer, Johnson, Carlyle, Huxley, Tennyson, Goethe are welcome. But the quotations from women writers and poets,–Mrs. Hemans, Mrs. Sigourney, Jean Ingelow, and others,–what are they worth? Who would expect anything profound from J. G. Holland or Chapin, O. W. Holmes, or Alger, or Alcott, or Helps, or Dickens, or Lewes, or Froude, or Lowell? I certainly should not.

Such a selection is good to leaf over. Your thought may be kindled or fanned here and there. The subjects are arranged alphabetically, and embrace nearly all themes of human interest from ability to zephyrs. There is very little from Whitman, and, I think, only one quotation from Thoreau.

* * * * *

The death of Howells gave me a shock. I had known him long, though not intimately. He was my senior by only one month. It had been two years or more since I had seen him. Last December I read his charming paper on “Eighty Years and After” and enjoyed it greatly. It is a masterpiece. No other American man of letters, past or present, could have done that. In fact, there has been no other American who achieved the all-round literary craftsmanship that Mr. Howells achieved. His equal in his own line we have never seen. His felicity on all occasions was a wonder. His works do not belong to the literature of power, but to the literature of charm, grace, felicity. His style is as flexible and as limpid as a mountain rill. Only among the French do we find such qualities in such perfection. Some of his writings–“Their Wedding Journey,” for instance–are too photographic. We miss the lure of the imagination, such as Hawthorne gave to all his pictures of real things. Only one of Howells’s volumes have I found too thin for me to finish–his “London Films” was too filmy for me. I had read Taine’s “London Notes” and felt the force of a different type of mind. But Howells’s “Eighty Years and After” will live as a classic. Oh, the felicity of his style! One of his later poems on growing old (“On a Bright Winter’s Day” it is called) is a gem.