BOSTON has had a propensity for developing Americans of whose independence, rugged intellect, and creative power there is tangible evidence. One has only to fetch back a decade to remember Mrs. Jack Gardner and her Palace, Amy Lowell and her ’Patterns,’Charles Sargent and the Arboretum, or a generation to recall Phillips Brooks and Trinity Church, and Charles Eliot, president of a revived Harvard. Exactly a year ago this magazine published Dean Briggs’s prose portrait of President Eliot. ‘I have watched,’ wrote the Dean, ’first with boyish fear, then with a young assistant’s mingled fear and pride, then with no fear at all but with constantly increasing pride and gratitude and love, this greatest of all the men whom I have known.'
Now appears from the pen of another, familiar with Harvard and Cambridge, the definitive biography seeking to do justice to Eliot’s ’greatness.’ The author, Henry James, son of William the philosopher, and nephew of his namesake the novelist, has had in the preparation of this book the advantage of propinquity in impressionable years, and of perspective in maturity. Though ‘born and bred in Eliot’s Cambridge,’ Mr. James has chosen to do his writing at a reasonable distance from Boston — that is to say, in New York, where, as everyone knows, there is cultivated a certain detached criticism in regard to Harvard.