There is an excellent editorial article, "Concerning Activities," in the current number of the Harvard Monthly. Its concluding sentence defines an ideal of the first importance both to undergraduates and to the fusty old fellows into which some of them will grow: "We need more of the amateur spirit, more devotion of our best to the things we really like to do."
If the contributors to the Monthly do best what they really like to do, it appears on the evidence of this number that they must like the art of criticism. The opening article of the issue treats with a sane discrimination, "The Spring Plays of the Harvard Dramatic Club." It is said that there will be no dramatic criticism worthy of the name in America until we have a drama equally worthy. It has become a byword that the dramatic-courses at Cambridge are accomplishing one of these ends; and this piece of criticism signed "C. B." is an encouraging token that the critical faculty is finding its development side by side with the creative. Later in the number Richard Dana Skinner writes of "Les Fauves" with refreshing intelligence and good sense; for without shutting the door of his sympathies against the newest vagaries of the French painters, he contrives to exhibit the strange gods which he does not follow.
A Defence of Democracy.
In the category of criticism, also, "The Old Ideal: A Retort," by Hiram Kelly Moderwell must be placed. When the Monthly printed in April a defence of the beauty of aristocracy, it must have been clear that the other side should have its say. Mr. Moderwell takes up the cudgels for democracy, and plies them with no little skill and force. The preaching on either side is of the sort which will comfort most those who are already converted. The Monthly's own editorial comment on the opposing discourses suggests the really significant thing about them: "is it no inconsiderable achievement for an undergraduate to have a social ideal and to take the trouble of giving it tangible expression."
The most ambitious story in the number is "Simple Heart," by Arthur Wilson--the tale of a romantic simpleton in a laundry and the undergraduate, not too shadowy to leave an impression of a hopeless cad. The story is told wholly from the girl's point of view; the man seems meant to be what he is, but somehow the tragedy of it all, in spite of some telling bits, fails to make the impression its elements should have commanded. "Do You Remember?"--a fishing story by M.H. Spear--accomplishes more successfully what it set out to do. In "The Silver Image" J. Donald Adams tells with some effectiveness a supernatural story of colonial times.
Prose and Verse Free from Pose.
Mr. Adams contributes also "A Bird's Song in the Meadow," a lyric with a music of its own and sometimes of positive charm. The other poetical offerings do not rise appreciably above the level of Monthly verse. In both prose and verse there is on the whole a reassuring absence of pose, and a true play of that "amateur spirit" which is one of the best symptoms in any periodical. M.A. DE WOLFE HOWE '87,
Associate Editor of the Youth's Companion.