Not Judge O'Grady's Boy!

Lodge, Sir Oliver. Christopher. New York, Doren. $2.

THE subject of this “study in human personality” in Christopher Tennant, nephew of Lady Stanley and son of one Charles Cooper Tennant of Cadox-ton, Wales. Beside being an aristocrat, Charles Cooper Tennant’s chief distinction seems to have been that he was a brother in law of Frederick William Henry Myers, one of the finest spirits that England has ever produced. Like hundreds of thousands of other youths, Christopher was killed at the front. His death seems to have been the one notable event in his career, which is hardly surprising, considering that he was only a schoolboy of 19 when he was snuffed out. Yet here we have a full length study of the boy’s life, such as might be written of a great man after a long lifetime of accomplishment. It is interesting, naturally, for anything that is human is interesting to human beings, or should be. Furthermore, Sir Oliver may be trusted to emphasize the higher values in any subject he chooses to treat. Nevertheless, we cannot feel that there is not a little more than a touch of aristoc-racy worship in the book. Americans, with their democratic tendencies, are likely to resent Sir Oliver’s contention that the early death of a poor boy, who has had few chances for development, is not as great a loss to society as the early demise of a pampered young patrician. And is it true, as the author very plainly suggests, that the great human exceptions, who change the course of social evolution, are most likely to arise among the gently bred? In this connection, Sir Oliver says:

“Our social system demands from members of the proletariat not only innate genius, but a character of extraordinary strength, if they ever overcome economic difficulties, to emerge from the dead level of mediocrity, secure for themselves the necessary leisure, and come to high fruition. The severity of war losses is felt by all classes, but is more conspicuous when the foresight of parents and the inheritance from previous generations have rendered wholesome development possible and comparatively easy.”

In other words, it matters little if Judy O’Grady’s brat gets killed, but Lady Stanley’s nephew is a very different matter. We feel moved to remark that Sir Oliver might well spend it few years in reading the biographies of great men. If his attitude, thus impudently expressed, represents that of England’s ruling class, then we fear than England needs a bit of a change. The only possible excuse for the book is to be found in the author’s hint that messages have been passing between young Chris and his mother since the boy’s death. Sir Oliver is the leading Spiritualist of England. However, no sample message is given, though it is suggested that a later volume may consider the matter. The following sonnet, alleged to have been produced by F. W. H. Myers since his death, is excellent: and the claims made for its origin are certainly of extreme interest:

To all who wait, blindfolded by the flesh,
Upon the stammered promise that we give,
Tangling ourselves in the material mesh.
A moment while we tell you that we live.
Greeting and reassurance: never doubt
That the slow tidings of our joyful state,
So hardly given, so haltingly made out,
Are but the creaking hinges of the gate.
Beyond, the garden lies: and as we turn,
Wondering how much you hear, how much you guess.
Once more the roses of glad service burn
With hues of loving thought and thank- fulness:
Once more we move among the, strong and free.
Marveling yet in our felicity.