After a temporary incandescence in the Metropolitan Opera House, Mr. Bernard Shaw has concluded his American visit. Mr. Shaw came to a nation which possessed of him varying estimates, where he was severally regarded as an able dramatist, a senile jokester, or a great man. He leaves that nation with an unmistakably altered following, most of whom are inclined to soften the edges of their criticism and to swell the songs of their praise. For whatever else may have been established by Mr. Shaw's tour, the circumstance of his mortality seems now indisputable, and, in his own words, "the persecution cannot be for much longer."
As is the case with most advanced men, Mr. Shaw is not quite able to believe that the world has caught up with him. His one American speech was devoted to a triumphant exposition of the cross purposes at which finance works--a misfortune of which his hearers were already very painfully aware. A slight flutter was raised when the speaker dryly complimented the American people as the saviours of Russia, or the saviours of communism, and then pointed out that our "natural political science" thus bulwarked our own capitalistic monopoly. But in the main, those who merely wait another manifestation of the vigorous thought of an earlier Shaw must be doomed to disappointment.
But it would be very dull to insist on further proof of the patent greatness of Bernard Shaw. Almost alone of our contemporaries, he has had a divine consistency. One may, like Mr. Chesterton, disapprove of his principles, but he cannot trap Mr. Shaw into applying those principles falsely. A brave regularity in an unpopular position is always an admirable thing, but Mr. Shaw has made it inspiring and pleasant also. He may be, as Lenin said "a good man fallen among Fabians," but he is certainly not as Mr. McCabe once charged so ineptly "quite as entertainer." For to entertain merely is far beneath Mr. Shaw's dignity; he has written entertainingly because he is an entertaining man, and knows full well that "the opposite of 'funny' is not 'serious,' it is simply 'not funny,' and nothing else."