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OF OUR LITERATURE

AN INTERPRETATION OF THE
AMERICAN SPIRIT

BY
JOHN LOUIS HANEY, PH.D.

PRESIDENT, AND PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH PHILOLOGY
CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, PHILADELPHIA

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON

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TO
ROBERT ELLIS THOMPSON

FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS ONE OF THE GREAT TEACHERS OF AMERICA

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BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

How many of us ever give thought to the number of words that are spoken, written, or printed in the course of a single day by our great nation of over 100,000,000 persons?

Young and old gather in schools, lecture-halls, theatres, and churches to listen to the spoken word; others make their way daily to the factory, the store, the office, or the bank, and again the spoken word is dominant in carrying on the country's business. The ever-busy postal system distributes the vast accumulation of letters that represent in part the daily use of the written word. From the humming newspaper presses, as well as from the establishments of the magazine publishers and the book publishers, comes the still greater mass of material that contributes its quota toward the daily use of the printed word.

What is the permanent significance of this wide-spread use of words upon words? Do we attach much importance to most of our conversations of the past? How many of the letters that we received last week or last year were worth preserving? What value do we give to yesterday's newspaper or last month's magazine? We know that countless words are spoken, written, or printed daily to accomplish our purposes. These words may be of interest to-day, this week, or this year; then, for the most part, they take their place in the dim past of forgotten things.

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