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[Review of Frederick Douglass]

The Outlook

Books of the Week

Beacon Biographies. Edited by M. A. De Wolfe Howe. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston. Aaron Burr, by Henry Childs Merwin. Frederick Douglass, by Charles W. Chesnutt. 75c. each

These are remarkable biographies. Though uniform size–and the right size for the great body of readers–and exceptionally attractive in paper, typography, frontispiece engraving, and binding, they are not merely publishers' volumes. Mr. Merwin has written the life of Burr with as much spirit as James Parton, and with a judgment and insight that makes the reader understand both the love and hate inspired by Burr among contemporaries. Mr. Chesnutt, is in the same series, has written the life of Douglass with a still stronger impulse from within, for through this biography he carries forward the work against race prejudice which his artistic stories of the nobler side of negro life have done so much to further. Those who have been touched by the fine sympathy of "The Wife of His Youth," or the more recent story of "The Bouquet" in the October "Atlantic," will find in the life of Douglass the same moral elevation and the same strong impulse to a wider humanity. Mr. Merwin's story of the breakdown of the man of the finest spiritual lineage that ever figured in American politics, and Mr. Chesnutt's story of the ennobling of the mulatto slave, are books of supreme moral as well as historical interest.