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May 20, 1923 - Image 5

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SUNDAY, MAY 20, 192



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Non-Pedantic History
WILLIAN PLUMER'S MEMORAN- France. The slavery question was be-
DIM, University of mlhig'ain Pn. ginning to show itself in Congress and
was smouldering ominously even at
cttonr, Sacillen. $3.50. this early period. Tunis was preying
There is an ingrown tendency on on our merchant marne and accepting
the part of those who suffer from hy- our payments for prtertion at the
per-pedagogical dispositions to regard same time; Aaron Burr was planning
an empire in the Mississippi country
al works which combine-as they and retaining his personal influence
say in the sickle shooting galleries- in Waingn.
'pleasure and instructiao' with open in Washmgton.
distrust if not positive calumny. I Henry Clay had just succeeded John
most cases the attitude, I think, is Adair to a seat in the Senate and Mr.
justified for the literary field recently Plumer says of him: "He is a young
has been a nursery for all sorts of man--a lawyer-his stature is tall &
popular quasi-scientific books, some slender. I had nich conversaton with
of which reach most astounding con- hint & it afforded me much pleasure
clusions, and others which reach no Hfie is intellegent, sensible & appears
conclusions at all more than to dem- frank and candid. His address i
onstrate the gullibility of publishers good & manners eahy. So much for
and public. Fortunately, however the the first impression . . ." There it-
old line "professors have receded mediately follows a conversation be-
far taking their nigh-to and far-off tween the young Kentuckian and
spectacles with them and it is no Plumer wherein Clay tells the latest
longer considered unethical to sugar news of Burr's conspiracy: "He told
the intellectual hay-provided thatithe ie that Aaron Burr was present at
sugar is not used to detract from the the District Court of Kentucky when
inferiority of the fodder itself. "Wil- Mr. Davies made the second attempt
liam Plumer's Memorandum of Pro- to indict him for a conspiracy agt the
ceedings in the United States Senate- Spanish dominions & for attempting
1503.-1'07," notwithstanding the ex- &c to affect a disunion of the United
haustiveness of the full title is a good States.-that at this second time he
deal more than the same title admits told Mr. Burr that it was possible
of, for aside frost being a contribu- there might be something in the na-
tion of evident value to Americana, it ture of his enterprize that would
is, surprisingly enough, readable and militate against his (Clay's) duty as
singularly interesting. Appearng at a senator-& therefore it would be
a time when carloads of exhumed improper for him to engage as his
diaries and records of other days are council." Then a few months later
Being unloaded, when numerous Co- he states: "Henry Clay, the senator
lumbuses are discovering thq Nineties from Kentucky is a man of pleasure-
and the Eighties, and we are becoming very fond. of amusements-gambles
so socially self-conscious of various much. IHe told me that one evening
influences, movements and trends that he won at cards $1500-that at nother
we can scarcely stove without acting! evening e lost $600 , . . He has ta-
as if we were in front of a long-glass. ents-is eloquent but not nice or ac-
this book, by all the ghosts of our curate in his distinctions-He de-
fathers, should be acclaimed. Outside claims more than he reasons. He is
of the various technical journals de- genteel, polite & a pleasant compan-
voted to the study of history, and a ion. A man of honor and integrity."
few notices in the papers turning the Another entry: "Dined with the Pres-
spotlight on it from a scientific angle, ident of the United States-tarried in:
it is doubtful whether The Plumer the evening and drank coffee--& had1
Memorandum will be noticed at all. much conversation with him.
Of course, if the book were published i "ly usual course, when invited to
to sell in the sense of having quarter dine with him, is to converse very
page advertisements in the several little with him except on the weather
book-review pamphlets or having its and such common topics-untill we
dust-cover stamped with eurekas, have drank a glass or two. I do not
with little alteration it could make a mean that the president is under the
rather conceivable entre into the book- influence of wine-for he is very tem-
seller's windows and bring contri- perate-but as I am generally placed
butions into the cash-registers. As it next to hii-& even two glasses of
is, it is destined to conceal its candle- wine oftimes renders a temperate man
power under the bushel of an academ- communicatie."
ic green binding and to stalk the pre-
cise path of the ultra-erudite. His coment upon the Napolianic
Unfortunately, some of the more situation is interesting. The position
personal parts of the diary were omit- of the United States was peculiar at
ted since this was to be primarily a the time. Grateful for Napolian in
volume for academic consumption. It that he kept Great Britain fairly well
remains in several places, however occupied, there was at the same tine
beautifully remindful of the immortal no little trepidition on the part of
Pepys and John Evelyn. The editor re- America for fear of Frances military
tained the original text as far as pos- ambitions. Mr. Plumer says of Na-
sible, including the spelling and punc- pelion: "This nman is now able to dis-
tuation which adds considerably to the tuib tIe repose of the world.If'
attrctienes oftherecrd. think Bonaparte will find it difficult
triginssforthantherxeo i to conquor Russia. There, I trust,
Bringing forth another axe to grind. his empire will be bounded. 'Tis
it is all too rarely that we get honest fortunate for us that a vast ocean
concepts of our historical figures, and separates America from Europe. This,
when attempts in that direction do ap-sI hope will prove a barrier against
pear they are met often with suspi' his great power"
cous mutterings and locked minds; I
the old Fourth of July ballyhoo spir- These excerpts are taken at random
it of patriotism receives an unwelcome;to give an idea of the intimate type
jar and, ostrich-like, it goes to the of nan who has left us this record.
desert to hide. The never-tell-a-lie His observations are not as personal,
pa , he does not show that accentuated love
presidet must have at least heen se- of gossip and unconscious humor that'
prkesidy'entrms trhsei inu
en feet high or that statesmen must thereis Pe'nou charm so rriatside ut
have een sort of super-human eings thereiseog of the Ihuman side o
I life in this diary to make it a book
is enough to kill any one's interest which need not be reserved exclu-
in the story of his country-if they sively for technical use.
want to look at it from the view of a What appears to us to be the nai
hman achievement instead of a fairy- etc of the observations alone should
tale. Over-idealization defeats its own
ends and the personal portraits herein s far toeard prodtucing t.e nee-
do not idealize. As to the historical value of the
There is something about this that book itis interesting to note that Pro-
gives an almost uncomfortably clear fessor Brown's discovery-I think it

impression of the political situation may he called one-has already creat-
of the times, years which were fully ed much notice in scientific circles.
as precarious as those which we have The methods of reporting speeches
just passed through. Struggling to in Congress at the time this dairy
maintain our -xistence after the Re-,- was written were hap-hazzard to the
olution, our di.lomatic relations were last degree as the lack of official
strained with Spain, England and I (Continued on Page Eight) l

i . .. .. .. . .. .. .. .. . ..,. ..,. .. . .. .. .. . - -- -- -- -- - -- -- -- - ~-

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