THOMAS SERGEANT PERRY
WHILE I was a boy in high school, I read Mr. Perry's admirable book English Literature in the Eighteenth Century. His treatment of the subject produced a permanent impression, and about eight years later when I was a graduate student at Harvard, he was kind enough to invite me to lunch at his house in Boston. Mr. Perry was a great linguist and after he was seventy years old learned Russian and finally read it with ease. He said he thought he had accomplished more than Cato, who learned Greek at eighty. Mr. and Mrs. Perry brought up their children to speak European languages; I remember my amazement at this lunch at their house when the baby girl had a tantrum and was removed from the room, crying and protesting in French. I had not supposed any American children took French so seriously or so naturally. That baby is now the wife of Mr. Joseph C. Grew, the accomplished American ambassador to Japan; formerly ambassador to Turkey and to France.
Mr. Perry was a scholar who loved learning for its own sake; he had little ambition and disliked publicity. His intellectual curiosity was insatiable and his letters to me were always interesting. In the seventies he had known Turgenev well in Paris and at that time he produced an English translation (from the French version) of one of his novels. He had an unqualified admiration for the writings and for the personality of Chekhov; and as he grew older he felt that America was intellectually immature and steadily growing more vulgar.