An American Family in Germany

By J. Ross BROWNE. New York : Harper & Brothers.
IF the author of this amusing book had been less devoted to his purpose of making fun, we think he could have made us a picture of German life which we should have been very glad to have in the absence of much honest information on the subject and the presence of a great deal of flimsy idealizing. As it is, we fear that his work, for the most part a truthful portraiture, will present itself only as a caricature to those unacquainted with the original, and that, for all Mr. Browne says to the contrary, many worthy people must go on thinking German life a romantic, Christmas-tree affair, full of pretty amenity, and tender ballads, and bon-bons. But some day, the truth will avenge itself, and without the least air of burlesque show us that often narrow and sordid existence, abounding in sensual appetites, coarse or childish pleasures, and paltry aims, and varnished with a weak and extravagant sentimentality, —-that social order still so feudally aristocratic and feudally plebeian, in which the poor are little better than vassals, and their women toil in the fields like beasts of burden, and the women of all classes are treated with rude and clumsy disesteem.
Mr. Browne’s book is devotedly funny, as we hinted, but, in spite of this, is really very amusing. A Californian, rich from the subiti guadagni of his shares in the Washoe mines, is carried to Frankfort by his enthusiastic wife, who is persuaded that Germany is the proper place to bring up American children. They live there in the German fashion, — Mrs. Butterfield charmed and emulous of German civilization, Mr. Butterfield willing, but Incorrigibly Californian to the last, and retaining throughout that amazing local pride in the institutions, productions, and scenery of his adopted State which Americans so swiftly acquire in drifting from one section of the Union to another. The invention of this family is not the least truthful thing in the book, which in many respects is full of droll good-sense and good humor.