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The dangers of intellectual pride are many and grave, and we do well to discipline ourselves and our students in the moral and ascetical controls of this as of all other vices. But the dangers of intellectual stagnation are not less grievous both for individual personality and for the common good. The wrath of the stupid has laid waste the world quite as often as has the craft of the bright.


Playwright MAXWELL ANDERSON, in a funeral oration spoken in St. George's Episcopal Church, Manhattan, by Actor ALFRED LUNT:

WE all have to come to terms with death, all of us who live long enough to know that it happens, long enough to welcome it or fear it. In this scientific age most of us accept the biological doctrine that birth and death are the essential machinery of evolution, reciprocal phases that make it possible for a species to change, perhaps to improve, over long periods of years. But that takes none of the heartbreak out of it, none of the sense of needless loss. And there are some few in every generation whom we would like to see exempt from the general law.

Some few among us seem to be successful experiments, much too valuable to be discarded lightly in the vast game of trial and error in which we are all discarded, in which we may indeed lead to something but may never, any one of us, be anything permanent. If we are to choose out of the men we thought worthy to survive beyond their times, our lists would be brief and they would not be the same, but Robert Sherwood would stand high in the balloting.

When we say that we have lost incalculably in intelligence, humor, and human kindness, we can see Bob's face, brooding for a moment before he can find and utter his implacable, unanswerable comment on these trite phrases.

He has escaped us now, as all escape into death, both from friends and enemies. But the memory of his face, his voice, his wit that seemed to gather slowly like a storm and flash with its lightning, these are still strongly with us, and there is none among us that doesn't have a sentence or phrase or episode etched on his cortex to remind him of what manner of man Sherwood was. No stranger could ever encounter Bob without becoming aware that he was in the presence of a formidable brain and personality. No friend of Bob's ever found him lacking in warmth, sympathy or time when there were troubles to be met. Though he was no opportunist, though he said what he thought whenever it was useful, he made few enemies. Many stood in awe of him because of his deft and pungent tongue, but apt as he was in attack or retort, Sherwood was readier still to give mercy, happier to be tolerant than to be angry.

In the American theater the death of Sherwood has an effect comparable to the removal of a major planet from a solar system. Nothing will be the same for any of us, near or far, from now on. There is no disguising that the death of Robert Sherwood is a heavy misfortune for us and for our times. We wish the dice could have fallen the other way. It was a better world when we had him with us.



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