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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Henry van Dyke (1852–1933)
Critical and Biographical Introduction by Mary Leland Hunt
DR. HENRY VAN DYKE, preacher, lecturer, diplomat, is also a writer of many graceful and accomplished books. Of Dutch descent on his father’s side, he was born in 1852 at Germantown, Pennsylvania, and was educated at Princeton College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Berlin. His first pastorate was at Newport, but his name is most closely associated with the Brick Presbyterian Church in New York, where his sermons attracted large congregations for seventeen years. In 1900 he became a professor of English literature at Princeton University. From 1908 to 1909 he was American lecturer at the University of Paris. In 1913 he was appointed American Minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg, a post which he held until February 1917.  1
  Dr. van Dyke’s versatile pen has not only been employed upon many professional and quasi-professional subjects,—religion, ethics, patriotism, travel in the Holy Land, but it has also produced a large number of short stories and desultory essays and a considerable volume of verse. Even this category is not complete, for it takes no account of the widely read ‘Christ-Child in Art: A Study of Interpretation,’ or of ‘The Poetry of Tennyson’ (1889), an enthusiastic appreciation that has remained very popular in America. Dr. van Dyke’s best-known story is ‘The Other Wise Man,’ which doubtless owes something of its popularity to its biblical and seasonal connections. His stories are collected under the titles ‘The Ruling Passion,’ ‘The Blue Flower,’ and ‘The Unknown Quantity.’ In the first of these collections Canadian French characters figure largely and attractively and there is a good dog story.  2
  Because of its out-of-doors atmosphere ‘The Ruling Passion’ shares in the charm of that portion of Dr. van Dyke’s work that most entitles him to a place among men of letters,—his essays upon picturesque places and his favorite sport of angling. These are gathered together in ‘Little Rivers: A Book of Essays in Profitable Idleness’ (1895); ‘Fisherman’s Luck and Some Other Uncertain Things’ (1899), and ‘Days Off, and Other Digressions’ (1907). Whether the scene is the wilds of Canada, some nook of the Alleghanies, the more sophisticated haunts of Long Island, or some hidden leafy retreat not too far from examination papers and Princeton, the author makes us share his delight in fishing, tramping, and landscape, and his joy in the song of birds and the bloom of flowers. These pleasant subjects are clothed in an admirable style, graceful, polished, touched with humor, lightly adorned with literary allusion, and drifting easily into narrative. While these essays form the most distinctive part of Dr. van Dyke’s contribution to literature, his collected ‘Poems’ (1911) and a small volume entitled ‘The Grand Canyon and Other Poems’ (1914) offer a body of readable and refined verse. Perhaps the most vigorous of the poems are those that concern nature or patriotism or bring a tribute to the dead, as in the fine sonnet on Richard Watson Gilder.  3

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