The courier. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1894-1903, October 26, 1901, Image 1

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    ,-OL. XVI., NO. XLIII
r ..
Mf a m -a
W. L I SJ&d m r P
Office 1132 N street, Up Stairs.
Telephone 384.
Barrett Wendell, professor of English men an indignant belief in their op-
at Harvard college. For years pro- pression and confidence in the dem-
fessors of literature have been en- agogue's power and willingness to
deavoring to construct a satisfactory change all that If their votes elect
definition of literature. Mr. Wen- him to the place he seeks,
dell's definition is explicit and in- It is therefore not idle caviling to
elusive: "Literature is the lasting assert the untruth of a part of the
Subscription Rates.
Per annum.,
Six months ,
Rebate of fifty cents on cash payments.
Single copies
expression in words of the meaning
of life." Therefore contemporaries
cannot tell what is literature and
what is not, for the lasting test has
not yet been applied to it. The books
that the people have handled, worn
out and which are edited again and
again in every generation, belong to
literature. And the books like David
Harum, which sell by the hundred
thousand at first and are not called
for by the children of the purchasers
of the first five hundred thousand, are
not literature.
Mr. Wendell's history is divided
into seven periods or books. The
prologue to the Declaration. Men
are not equally born. Any man who
desires can prove the injustice and
oppression of society and the institu
tions of this country to a company
which believes the opening state
ments of the Declaration. If all men
are created equal by God then it is
easy to convince an adult crowd that
cruel and rapacious men have made
by the Bible. The first scientist, was
It Copernicus? who asserted that the
earth is round was in danger of his
life in this world, and, according to
the priests, of hell fire in the next.
Not until man began to study the
Bible for the truth in it and without
a predisposition to accept absurdi
ties, was its real value appreciated.
The higher criticism has put far
away any fear that science can affect
the moral truths of the Bible. But
when the higher critics' books were
first published, even those who ad
mitted the truth of their commen
taries were shocked and deprecated
the wisdou of making them. We
them poor and unequal in accomplish- still put forth our hands to steady the
Tbx Cointm -will not be responsible for vol
nntarj communications unless accompanied by
retain pottage.
meAW. FtXriSefrf "iSod'huStatfS earliest literary productions of Amer- or creed, however it may comfort or
cent and the reward of accomplish
meat and that these cruel and rapac
ious men should be displaced from
power, deprived of their property, etc.
I do not believe that any statement
publication if adritable.
A Literary History of America.
Since literature first accumulated
there have been various histories
written of it. Every period has its
historian who sorts the heap over
again and rearranges the material,
frequently giving places of honor to
works which preceding historians
have slighted, and disregarding au
thors upon whom contemporary re
cording secretaries bestowed first
rank. Anthony Trollope is an ex
ample of the latter, and Edgar Allen
I'oe of the former reclassification.
Some rearrangements are allowed to
remain, others are immediately dis
turbed by critics who follow hard
upon each other's heels, or by the
neglect of an author's author by the
people themselves. The acclama
tions of a pleased people do not al
. ways last through an author's life.
Every ten years there is need for
a new critic-historian; the large and
growing heap of English and Amer
ican literature needs frequent class
ifying and assorting. They teach
ark of truth which will be solid as the
Andes when we are dust.
The truth about anything can hurt
nobody. Its promulgation is for
civilization and progress. The peo
ple who keep open minds, who are not
easily convinced, who know history
and have an idea or two about the
development of the race, but who
more than all respect traditions and
their meaning, are the people who are
going to arrive first at the goal where
all the nations of the earth will ar
rive eventually.
"Responsibility of the Board."
If any harm befall Miss Stone, the
American Board of Foreign Missions
U responsible. The Board sent her
over there and should have been as
ready to redeem her as Mr. Cudahy
was to ransom his son from the Pat
Crowe gang. Instead of asking for
contributions the oillcers of the Board
should, have sent the money and asked
the American people to make up the
sum afterwards. If the Board were
composed of business men who were
in the habit of appealing to the peo
ple as customers, the members would
be afraid to lose the confidence and
respect of the people by refusing to
perform a-plain duty and by actually
deserting a woman, their agent, who
bas been abducted while in the per
formance of the mission for which'
they sent her to Turkey. It is some
times said that governing boards of
churches have no business conscience
or sense of responsibility, or of the
binding force of a contract. The al
legation is not without frequent in
stances of proof. The American'
Board of Foreign Missions has just
as much responsibility for Miss Stone
as any father has for his son for
whom a ransom is demanded by rob
bers. In this Instance the members
of the board have miserably failed to-
p acknowledge their responsibility and
wrote his serting conditions which people who fessor3 of reljgion used to believe that p' Mlss Stonc out of robber hand
the earth was flat, that somewhere UBI,,re praceeamjr w punisn tne rob
there was an end off from which one rs any father TW d0' T5ere
m.H..t.ifnnrnnM t. that. t 'ore the Board has demonstrated its
.TPnpraliMes" are shining, attractive . .. . ...,..., unntneas to remain in charge of A-
Hes A demagogue will to the end MflMBH eu" V J"V merican women sent from this coun-
make use of generalizations based on protected by angels who warded travel- ery to heathen countries. The offi-
the undemonstrable phrases of the ersoff with a drawn sword, and fur- cers of this board receive several hun-
Declaration to awaken in working ther that this doctrine was taught dred thousand dollars every year from
ica were directly influenced by the
Elizabethan impulse and literature,
and Elizabethan literature lasted in
America long after English literature
had assumed quite another character
and was controlled by another inspira
tion. I knew of no other literary his
tory in which history and literature
are so admirably articulated, the con
nection between the two so expressly
and plainly and convincingly shown.
For a student, or any old lover pf
literature, long graduated and rustv,
for whom titles have lost their charm
and to whom old professors, once ven
erated, are now pedantic, stilted,
little men of not much use in an act
ive world, this book brings back the
enthusiasms, the worship of litera
ture and of the beauty that never was
on land or sea. The book has an ex
tensive bibliography and a complete
index. Mr. Wendell is the author of
William Shakespeare, a Study in
Elizabethan literature, of a book on
English composition, and of a book of
essays called Stelligeri.
Some criticism of the undemon
strable statements contained in the
Declaration of Independence has from
time to time appeared in this paper.
To impugn a document which, how
ever Dhrased. has been a source of
students how to do this work more
or less satisfactorily in most univer- inspiration to Americans, one should
SititS. Yet. nnf.wlt.hstnnrtlnir t.he he sure of his allegations. In 1856 SO
thousands who have been taught, great a lawer and so enthusiastic an
only a few historians of literature are American as Rufus Choate in a po-
confined by the readers of litera- litical letter called the Declaration
ture. When the historian Greene "a glittering generality." The phrase
wrote a short history of the English "glittering generalities" has passed
People it was as If no other history of into popular use and means conspic-
Uneland hnH tvar iwon writ.tnn. nnim shininir words and phrases as-
when Stopford Brooke
l'rimer nf "Eno-Hai. litoMtnw it. w-m dn not analvze or verify statements
received with the expectant joy that by the light of experience, accept as
proclaimed the Held, until his coniimr. true. Or in other words "glittering
There are dozens of histories of
American literature but not one vital
and convincing history like this
"literary History of America" by
encourage the mourner, is worth
while if it is not true. In the long
run a false creed destroys character
and transfers to the disciple its own
hypocrisy. Any man or woman who
believes that the Christian credo is
false is within his human duty trying
to prove it, no matter whether or not
he has a better belief to offer. No
man can permanently hinder the
truth from being accepted by all man
kind. The atheist who honestly is
convinced that Christians and all the
people of the world, of whatever re
ligion, who believe in a beneficent
God are mistaken, should not be
scoffed at nor reviled because he en
deavors to show us what he considers
our mistake. His endeavor and the
fact that he believes that he is right
and that all the rest of the world,
living and dead, are wrong, prove the
strength of his conviction and the
possession of a sort of courage and
confidence in himself only possessed
by a very few sane men. His anxiety
to correct what he believes is a gross
misconception should not deceive us
as to his motive, which is as unsel
fish as a missionary's. He thinks we
have taken the wrong path and he
want? to show us the one he has
found. His path leads nowhere and
be does not claim that it does, and
the one we have elected to follow is
trodden deep by feet of martyrs and
feet that were pierced; and leads?
But if he can prove that our trail is a
false one be does not have to prove
his a better. We would better sit
down by the side of the road, and be
merry with our comrades than fol
low a road that has no end, for to
morrow we die.
But the truth will prevail.