After the unusual excellence of the October and November numbers, the December Monthly is a disappointment. The graduate article is interesting from its very brilliant and enthusiastic style, but it is rambling and not pointed; a "first paper" on Cardinal Newman is scholarly but somewhat lifeless; and the "story" of the number is a delicate character-sketch, but lacks a visible cause for existence. The verse is much better than the prose, however, especially the "battle song" by Herbert Bates, ('90). It is to be hoped that so good an innovation as a "graduate poem," so to speak, will be continued. The editorial on the growth of the college is reasonable, and just.
To turn to more detailed criticism: The "graduate article," this time by Mr. Santayana, is entailed "A Glimpse of Yale." It would be manifestly unfair to critcize such an article without a pretty thorough knowledge of Yale, but one who is not perfectly acquainted with the manners and customs of the "Elis" finds difficulty in making out just what conclusion the author is attempting to reach, unless perhaps it is that Yale is the leading American university, a conclusion which is palpably untenable.
"Before the Battle," by Herbert Bates is a war-song, strong and quick, to the very soul. It has all the power that characterized the work by the same author in the years before his graduation.
M. Lovett's paper on "Cardinal Newman" is, as has been said, very careful and scholarly, but it has not the life to commend it to the ordinary reader, and the pains taken with it will not make up to him for its length. The fact that in spite of this length the substance is of excellent material, does not prevent its being dry.
The "Woodstock Poem," by P. H. Savage, comes on the whole, very close to nature and to the air of the wilderness, and in spite of one or two inexcusably rough lines, the verse is well-managed and successful.
Perhaps, the most disappointing feature of this disappointing number is "A Mistake of the Bishops" by Pierre la Rose. It is a charmingly worded and sympathetic character-sketch, but after carrying one gently up to an apparent climax it leaves one in the air, with nothing to break one's fall, and the return to this mundane sphere is accompanied by something very like a dull thud.