Dr. Hale's Memories of a Hundred Years


IN that entertaining blend of Dichtung und Wahrheit, which most readers of the Atlantic have already examined with a kind of amused wonder, Dr. Hale informs us that he was “cradled in the sheets of a newspaper.” Doubtless it was there that he learned a little of everything except dullness. His narrative of his long life and its extraordinarily many-sided activity will be prized by all but the pedants, and not even they will venture to call it unreadable. That early cradling in the sheets of a newspaper has given Dr. Hale his diurnal freshness of observation, his off-hand, “latest edition ” fashion of inserting material and spiritual values in the same column, and his fine disregard of sequence. “ History through a key-hole ” is his own description of his method. If his peeps at fact sometimes lack the narrow accuracy of the key-liole method, he more than atones for it by the variety of rooms into which he bids us gaze. Cavilers may question the literal truth of such statements as, for instance, that Andrew Jackson visited Boston in 1830, that Webster was Secretary of State in 1844, tiiat Lowell edited the Atlantic and the North American Review at the same time, and that only three living men, beside Dr. Hale, now read Defoe’s Colonel Jack. But in weightier matters of the law Dr. Hale is impeccable. He declares that the United States “is ” and not “are,” and that it governs itself in spite of the politicians. This is wholesome doctrine, and his book is salted with it. His key-hole history has now the breezy intimacy of Pepys, and now the genial truistic unction of Polonius; but it breathes throughout a wholesome Americanism, and reflects the radiant optimism of one of the most youthful, vital spirits of our time. B. P.

  1. Memories of a Hundred Years. By EDWARD EVERETT HALE. TWO volumes. New York : The Macmillan Co. 1902.