Unforgettable and unforgivable are some of the things Mr. Huneker says about beer. He calls it "the cool brew," "the amber brew," "foaming nectar," "the wet blond masterpiece." A man who will write like that is a man without shame. Mr. Huneker knows better, ever so much better. He can also do worse, ever so much worse. Listen to him at his worst of all: "Bargain day is a marrow bone sweet to woman; sweeter even than the Votiform Appendix." Reader, did you ever yearn to make quiet, strong men weep? Call them to you and read aloud that sentence.
Second impression: Mr. Huneker is the most catholic liker in the world. He likes New York, Stendhal, beer, Ernest Lawson, shipping, Bach, Pelham Parkway, the Karlskirche in Vienna, fried oysters, Saint Gaudens' Farragut, Memling, Rupert Hughes, veal chops, Von Vondel's Luzifer, bean soup, Shelley, Jules Laforgue, Vance Thompson, locomotives, Piranesi, Berlin hotels and Cornelia van Oosterzee. Mr. Huneker is the only living man who likes both Rembrandt and Zuloaga, and Vermeer and Defregger and Van Gogh.
Not only catholic but indiscriminating? Not so indiscriminating as you might suppose. Take any one of the above items and collect Mr. Huneker's scattered dicta. Take beer. He doesn't like all beer. He likes beer at a certain temperature, Pilsner better than other beers, Pilsner at Prague better than Pilsner at Pilsen: "As for the Pilsen Urquell-and you can't go to Prague without drinking its chief beverage-I can only say as a humble admirer of the liquid that makes pleased the palate but does not fatten, that not in Pilsen, its home, is the brew so artfully presented."
Third impression: A similar examination of Mr. Huneker upon all the items in the above list would establish this astounding fact: He has actually read the books of all the authors, seen the pictures of all the painters, heard the music of all the composers, slept in the hotels of all the towns, whose names he tosses off. At first his easy familiarity with these proper names appears unwarranted, but if you read enough of him you discover that it is nothing of the sort. In Mr. Huneker the habit of multifarious reference is neither the pretentiousness nor the affectation it sounds like. If he made up his mind not to talk shop he would have to stop writing. Everything is his shop.
Fourth impression: Impossible to guess in what degree Mr. Huneker is a perceiver. Signs of perceptiveness, appearing here and there on the flood of reference, soon sink out of sight. They sink, but he swims. Every temptation to throw him a life-preserver should be resisted. He doesn't need one. This flood is his native element, in which he can keep afloat indefinitely, swimming with unwearied energy at high speed.
Fifth impression and last: This book is a space-filler, written without sign of fatigue, written by a very energetic and omnivorous man, in a devil of a hurry, by a man who doesn't care what stuff the curtains are made of that he hangs between you and his cleverness and ability.
Not an impression but an objective truth: "New Cosmopolis" is a useful guide about many of the places it treats-about New York, Vienna, Prague, Madrid, Bruges, Rotterdam.
-The New Republic, Volume 2