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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
THE CITY of Boston has been long remarkable for its distinguished figures in science, politics, and affairs, in art and literature—and particularly in the walk of letters. Edward Everett Hale is one of these figures.  1
  Dr. Hale’s long and productive life has been one of great and varied usefulness. The religious, philanthropic, civic, and literary circles of his community have felt for many years the impact of his vigorous personality, and his reputation as preacher and writer has become national. His family is a noted one: his father was Nathan Hale, first editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser,—Nathan Hale the martyr being of the same line,—while several of the immediate kin of Edward Hale find places in American biography. Born in Boston, April 3d, 1822, Edward Everett Hale was educated at the famous Latin School, then at Harvard, of which he is one of the most noteworthy sons. Hale read theology and was licensed to preach by the Boston Association of Congregational Ministers, his first regular settlement being in Worcester, where he was pastor of the Church of the Unity from 1846 to 1856. Thence he went to the Boston Unitarian society known as the South Congregational Church, and for more than forty years has been its active head.  2
  As a clergyman Dr. Hale has shown rare qualities as preacher and organizer. His theology has been of the advanced liberal type, his teaching emphasizing good works. His earnest, helpful efforts in the broadest humanitarian undertakings have gone far outside the conventional limits of his calling, making him more widely known as a public man. Both by direct personal endeavor and through the influence of his writings he has been instrumental in founding many societies for beneficent work of all kinds, of which the Harry Wadsworth Clubs and the Look-Up Legion, with members by the tens of thousands in different lands, are examples. He has kept closely in touch with his Alma Mater at Cambridge, serving it as member of the board of overseers and as president of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. The degree of S. T. D. was conferred upon him by Harvard in 1879.  3
  His journalistic enterprises have been too many for enumeration here. He began early, setting type in his father’s office as a lad and showing himself a diligent scribbler. Perhaps his best-known editorial connections have been with the magazine Old and New, started under Unitarian auspices with the idea of giving literary expression to liberal Christianity, and afterwards merged in Scribner’s Monthly; and Lend A Hand, a sort of record of organized charity, founded in 1886.  4
  Few writing clergymen have been so voluminous as Dr. Hale; few so successful. In addition to the long list of his magazine papers and articles of every sort, his books number upwards of fifty titles. As is inevitable in one who is so prolific, throwing off literary work with a running pen,—often with a practical rather than an artistic aim,—much of his writing is occasional in motive and ephemeral in character. It includes histories, essays, novels, poems, and short stories; and the average quality, considering the variety and extent of the performance and the fact that with Dr. Hale literature is an avocation, an aside from his main business in life, is decidedly high. The short story is the literary form in which he has best expressed his gift and character. One of his stories, ‘The Man Without a Country,’ is a little American classic. Others, such as ‘My Double and How he Undid Me’ and ‘The Skeleton in the Closet,’ have also won permanent popularity. They were written a generation ago, when the short story was not the familiar form it has since become; so that in addition to their merit, they are of interest as early ventures in the tale distinguished from the full-length novel.  5
  ‘The Man Without a Country,’ selections from which follow, well represents Dr. Hale’s characteristics. Its manner has ease, felicity, and good breeding. The narrative runs along in such an honest, straightforward way, there is such an air of verisimilitude, that the reader is half inclined to accept it all as history; although the idea of a United States naval officer kept a prisoner at sea for a long lifetime and never permitted to hear or know of his native land, is hardly more credible than the idea of the ‘Flying Dutchman’ or the ‘Wandering Jew.’ Yet when the tale appeared the writer received letters of inquiry, indicating that the fiction was taken in sober earnest; and in a later edition he stated in an appendix that it lacked all foundation in fact. But over and above its literary fascination, ‘The Man Without a Country’ is surcharged with ethical significance. It is a beautiful allegory, showing the dire results of a momentary and heedless lapse from patriotism, and so preaching love of country. It develops a lively sense of what it is to have a flag to fight for, a land to love. This lesson is conveyed with power and pathos; and the story’s instant and continued acceptance is testimony, were any needed, that Americans felt the appeal while enjoying the lovely fiction for its own sake. Such work, on the moral side, is typical of Dr. Hale. He cannot write without a spiritual or moral purpose. Dr. Hale died on June 10, 1909; he was mourned by all the citizens of Boston, and lay in state for hours while crowds filed past his bier in reverential sorrow.  6

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