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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Critical and Biographical Introduction

By Arthur Sherburne Hardy (1847–1930)

A SPECIAL taste for the abstract in mathematics, along with a practical interest in the military profession, do not generally enter into the stuff out of which romance-writers and poets are made. Mr. Hardy, however, is an interesting example of the temperament that takes hold of both the real and the ideal. Successively a hard-working professor of civil engineering and applied mathematical science in two or three institutions, he has built up a reputation in belles-lettres by working in them with an industry that has given him a distinctive place in what he once reckoned only an avocation. In addition he represented his country for eight years as minister abroad.

Mr. Hardy was born in 1847 at Andover, Massachusetts. By school life at Neuchâtel, Switzerland, he was early put into touch with French letters and French life. After a single year at Amherst College he entered the West Point Military Academy, graduating in 1869. He became a second lieutenant in the Third Artillery Regiment, saw some soldier life during 1869 and 1870, and then resigned from the service to become a professor of civil engineering at Iowa College for a brief time. In 1874 he went abroad, to take a course in scientific bridge-building and road-constructing in Paris, returning to take a professorship in that line of instruction at the Chandler Scientific School, connected with Dartmouth College. He assumed a similar professorship in Dartmouth College in 1878. This position (in connection with which he published at least one established textbook, ‘Elements of Quaternions,’ followed by his translation of ‘Argand’s Imaginary Quantities,’ by his own ‘Analytical Geometry,’ and by other practical works in applied mathematics) he held until 1893, when he became editor of the Cosmopolitan Magazine. In 1897 he was appointed minister resident and consul-general at Teheran, Persia; in 1899 he became minister to Greece; two years later he was transferred to Switzerland; and he completed his diplomatic service as minister to Spain, 1903–5.

Mr. Hardy in literature is a novelist and a poet. His novels include ‘But Yet a Woman’ (1883), ‘Wind of Destiny’ (1886), ‘Passe Rose’ (1889), ‘His Daughter First’ (1903), ‘Aurélie’ (1912), and ‘Diane and Her Friends’ (1914). The earliest of these is of peculiar grace, united with firmness of construction; with a decided French touch in the style (especially as to its epigrammatic flash), and with types of careful if delicate definiteness prominent in it, particularly in the delineation of Father Le Blanc, the philosophic and kindly curé. A story of more subtle psychologic quality, ‘The Wind of Destiny,’ came a little later, its scenery and characters partly French and partly American, and its little drama a tragic one. ‘Passe Rose,’ a quasi-historic novel, dealing with the days and court of Charlemagne,—the heroine of it a dancing-girl, with a princess as her rival in love,—appeared first as a serial in the Atlantic Monthly in 1888, to be published as a book in 1889. It is a romance of that human quality which meets with a response in every novel-reader’s heart. Mr. Hardy’s heroines are all charming; but he has presented us to no more winning type than this flower of a mediæval day, with “the hues of the Southern sea in her eyes and under the rose-brown flush of her skin, the sound of its waves in the ripple of her laughter.”