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and George Washington was another. It thrilled me to realize what sudden greatness had fallen on me; and at the same time it sobered me, as with a sense of responsibility. I strove to conduct myself as befitted a Fellow Citizen.
Before books came into my life, I was given to star-gazing and day-dreaming. When books were given me, I fell upon them as a glutton pounces on his meat after a period of enforced starvation. I lived with my nose in a book, and took no notice of the alternations of the sun and stars. But now, after the advent of George Washington and the American Revolution, I began to dream again. I strayed on the common after school instead of hurrying home to read. I hung on fence rails, my pet book forgotten under my arm, and gazed off to the yellow-streaked February sunset, and beyond, and beyond. I was no longer the central figure of my dreams; the dry weeds in the lane crackled beneath the tread of Heroes.
What more could America give a child? Ah, much more! As I read how the patriots planned the Revolution, and the women gave their sons to die in battle, and the heroes led to victory, and the rejoicing people set up the Republic, it dawned on me gradually what was meant by my country. The people all desiring noble things, and striving for them together, defying their oppressors, giving their lives for each other all this it was that made my country. It was not a thing that I understood ; I could not go home and tell Frieda about it, as I told her other things I learned at school. But I knew one could say “my country" and feel it, as one felt “God” or “myself.” My teacher, my schoolmates, Miss Dillingham, George Washington himself could not mean more than I when they said “my country,” after I had once felt it. For the Country was for all the Citizens, and I was a Citizen. And when we stood up to sing “America,” I shouted the words with all my might. I was in very earnest proclaiming to the world my love for my newfound country.
“I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills." Boston Harbor, Crescent Beach, Chelsea Square — all was hallowed ground to me. As the day approached when the school was to hold exercises in honor of Washington's Birthday, the halls resounded at all hours with the strains of patriotic songs; and I, who was a model of the attentive pupil, more than once lost my place in the lesson as I strained to hear, through closed doors, some neighboring class rehearsing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” If the doors happened to open, and the chorus broke out unveiled –
“O! say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
delicious tremors ran up and down my spine, and I was faint with suppressed enthusiasm.1
Write an account of any of the following processes as processes.
or catalogue system in a library. 8. Learning that not everything was discovered by an American. 9. Becoming aware that there is a life of thought. 10. Becoming reconciled to a great loss of money or friends. 11. Deciding upon a new wall-paper. 12. Fitting into the town circles after a year away at college. 13. Discovering that some beliefs of childhood must be abandoned. 14. Perceiving that you really agree with some one with whom you
have been violently squabbling. 15. The literary person finds attractiveness in engineering and
agriculture — and vice versa. 16. Working out a practical personal philosophy of life. 17. Finding a serious motive in life. 18. Determining upon a tactful approach to a "touchy" person. 19. Acquiring the college point of view in place of the high-school
attitude. 20. Discovering one's provincialism. 21. Discovering one's racial or national loyalty. 22. Finding out that the world does not depend on any individual,
but goes ahead, whether he lives or dies. 1 Mary Antin: The Promised Land. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, publishers.
Few of us pass a day without answering such questions as, “What do you think of the Hudson car?" or, “How did Kreisler's playing strike you?" or, “What is your opinion of the work of Thackeray or Alice Brown or Booth Tarkington?” or,
like the X disc harrow?” When we are among intimate friends we give our opinions, based on our personal reaction to the subject of inquiry or on our impartial estimate of it as an automobile, a musical performance, a collection of books, or an agricultural machine. Many of us give a large space in our conversation to such estimates on all conceivable subjects. And, for purposes of insignificant conversation, there is no reason why we should not. Accused of making “Criticism" in the formal sense, however, many of us should recoil with terrified denial. But that is exactly what we are doing, whether we praise or blame, accept or reject, so long as we base our opinion on sincere personal or sound principles, we criticize. For criticism is the attempt to estimate the worth of something – object or idea either abstractly on a basis of principles and relations, or personally on the basis of our reactions to the subject of criticism. That is, we may, for example, criticize the roads of New York State on the basis of what a road is for and how well these roads serve their purpose, or we may take as basis the inspiration, the keen ecstasy that we feel as we skim over the smooth boulevard. So long as our notions of good roads are sound, so long as we react sensibly, with balance, to the smooth rounding way, we make good criticism, we judge the worth of the subject of criticism and find it either good or bad.
It is to be noted that this criticism is something more than
mere comment, than mere off-hand remarks. The old saying is, “Anybody can say something about anything!” An offhand utterance may tell the truth; we cannot be sure that it will. Only when we have a well-considered basis of either principle or personal feeling can we be at all certain of our opinions.
Now the range in which our opinions, our criticisms, may be expressed, is as wide as human thought and accomplishment. We sometimes think of criticism as being confined to literature and art, and speak of literary criticism, musical criticism, dramatic criticism, and art criticism, as if these were all. The term criticism has actually been so restricted in common practice that unless otherwise noted it is taken for granted as applying to these subjects. But criticism is much more comprehensive than such restriction indicates: any object or subject is capable of criticism. Just as we might arrive at the conclusion that Booth Tarkington's stories about Penrod are either good or bad, so we might say that a make of piano, a type of bridle, a new kind of fertilizer, a method of bookkeeping, a recipe for angel cake is good or is sufficient or is valueless. We might have — in fact we do have - Engineering Criticism, Carpenter Criticism, Needlework Criticism, Poultry Criticism, and as many kinds as there are classes of subjects. In this treatment we shall use the term in this broad sense and include all subjects in our scope. Of course we are to remember that the criticism becomes of more value as the subject of criticism is of more moment: criticism of the drama is nobler, perhaps, than criticism of egg beaters and picture hooks. We must also remember that the less high orders of criticism are neither useless nor undesirable but often most helpful.
Requirements demanded of the Critic Since, then, the brand of the critic is on us all, since we practice the habit, consciously or not, most of the time, and
since the range is so wide, no reason exists why we should be terrified at the thought of writing criticism, of making formal estimate. Certain requirements are demanded, to be sure; not every one can dive into the sea of criticism without making an awkward splash and receiving a reddening smart. But these requirements are in no way beyond the possibility of acquiring by any one who will set himself to the task.
a. Ability to analyze In the first place, a critic must have the power to analyze. We have seen that analysis consists in breaking a subject into its components, in discovering of what it is made. This is the first great necessity in criticizing. You wish, for example, to make a criticism of a new rifle for your friends. It is not enough that you should with gusto enunciate, “It's just great!” “Oh, it's fine, fine and dandy!” “Golly but it's a good one!” Your friends are likely to ask “Why?” or to say, “The gentleman doth protest too much!” If, on the other hand, you remark that the rifle is admirable because of its sights, its general accuracy, its cartridge chamber, its comparative freedom from recoil, then you will be giving your friends definite and useful criticism, for you will have analyzed the virtue of the object into its components. Now this necessity for analysis exists in criticism of literature and art just as in criticism of rifles. Before you can properly estimate the value of a novel or a play you must divide the impression it makes into the various heads, such as emotional power, convincingness in the message of the book or play, truth to life, and whatever heading you may think necessary. Until you do this your impressions, your judgments will of necessity be vague and dim in their outlines, and though they may seem to be comprehensive, will be found actually to be insufficient to give your reader or listener a firm notion of the subject — he will have no nucleus of thought round which his total estimate will