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[318]

Edwin Percy Whipple.

I have been pained to learn of the decease of my friend of many years, Edwin P. Whipple. Death, however expected, is always something of a surprise, and in his case I was not prepared for it by knowing of any serious failure of his health. With the possible exception of Lowell and Matthew Arnold, he was the ablest critical essayist of his time, and the place he has left will not be readily filled.

Scarcely inferior to Macaulay in brilliance of diction and graphic portraiture, he was freer from prejudice and passion, and more loyal to the truth of fact and history. He was a thoroughly honest man. He wrote with conscience always at his elbow, and never sacrificed his real convictions for the sake of epigram and antithesis. He instinctively took the right side of the questions that came before him for decision, even when by so doing he ranked himself with the unpopular minority. He had the manliest hatred of hypocrisy and meanness; but if his language had at times the severity of justice, it was never merciless. He ‘set down naught in malice.’

Never blind to faults, he had a quick and sympathetic eye for any real excellence or evidence of reserved strength in the author under discussion.


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