The Democratic Spirit

Ed. by Bernard SmithKNOPE
THERE is no more popular indoor sport for book reviewers than criticizing a large, thoughtful, and valuable anthology. ‘The author has included many passages of great merit,’ — here they have to rub their hands and grin for a while, — ‘but this reviewer cannot help noticing certain lacunœ,’and so on. This noble book of 927 pages contains passages from one hundred American supporters of Democracy — if only we knew what we meant by that abused term — which all of us can read with profit and a kind of acid pleasure. The admirable short biographies preceding each of the hundred selections are luminous and helpful. Choice in the difficult undertaking of making the selections is clearly a matter of opinion and taste, and, as such, non est disputandum. We may say, however, that the direction of the editor’s choosing is toward the left, as is proper in an anthology of democracy. He is for the common man, the oppressed, the underdog. He must think the proper government of this country a democracy rather than a representative one. Significantly he quotes from the speeches and papers of Jefferson, Madison, Cleveland, Wilson, and F. D. Roosevelt, but Washington, T. R. Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover — the rugged individualists — are ignored. Nor does Hamilton figure anywhere. Those lacunœ!
We are grateful to him for including passages from the artless journal of the sainted John Woolman, too little known by readers of today, and for the contribution his splendid book will be toward the education of Americans. R. E. D.