Recent Literature

There seems to be something more of challenge than a fair mind will really find in Mr. Stedman’s presentation of his volume of poetry as his “ complete works,” Still we do not think that part of the title very fortunate, and it has, at least, the air of placing Mr. Stedman among the masters whose labors have been tested by the criticism of time, and have come out upon the shelves of gentlemen’s libraries in triumph; whereas Mr. Stedman is one of our younger poets whose qualities and powers have by no means been strictly inquired into. No man should be called happy while alive, and no poet s works complete till he is dead. He is capable at any moment of breaking out afresh, and the gentleman whose library should not be without him finds himself exposed to renewed expense, or the sudden mortification of owning an incomplete edition. If a poet, having once published his complete works, could be bound by something in the nature of a legal writing not to produce anything more, the buyer of his works would, of course, be secure ; but this is plainly impracticable, or, at least, it would be attended with great difficulties ; it would be a hard condition for the poet, especially if young, and it is barely possible that it might be a loss to the public. Besides, there are some performances of every man which are best left to the piety of posterity, when the slight and rudeness with which we treat each other living are kept in a decent abeyance, and what has been done is accepted without a murmur and often charitably dropped out of remembrance. If one cannot wait for this tolerant judgment, but feels that he must at once put everything to the touch, it is perhaps an admirable courage. Nevertheless, we fancy that Mr. Stedman will be caused duly to feel the disadvantage of having called his book “ complete works.” There will be people to sniff the air, and to say that there are some poems here which it were well not to have reprinted, except in fulfilment of the promise of the title-page. Indeed, we ourselves could wish to imply something of this sort as inoffensively as might be. To the number of what we may call these completing pieces belongs The Diamond Wedding, which, with much sprightliness, has too much crudeness, and is of a conclusion altogether too ineffective to be worth keeping; and there are several of the Tennysonian pieces, Penelope and Flood-Tide certainly, which are merely echoes of Tennyson. Every young poet is shaped by the great poets of his time, and reflects them; that has always been so and always will be so: but generally the young poet puts much of himself into his imitations, as Mr. Stedman did very notably in the poem called The Freshet. That is a story having reality and native strength, though it is as deeply colored by the author’s reading as the other poems we have mentioned; there is occasion for it: but Penelope and Flood-Tide affect you as the performance of one who says to himself, “ Come, I will make a poem like the Ulysses, and another like Locksley Hall,” and does it — with a difference. There are all kinds of imitations, and all degrees of unconsciousness in imitation. A poet may borrow the metre or stanza which another has made characteristic, if not invented, — as the In Memoriam verse of Tennyson, or the Longfellow hexameters, or the Spencerian verse,— because it suits the theme which he desires to treat; but if he does not take the mental attitude and attempt the peculiar phrasing of either of these poets, he will hardly be called an imitator, save by the vulgar-witted and thumb-fingered sort of critics. He may even adopt another’s phrase and posture, and yet, it he have stuff of his own to express, he is much more than an imitator. So, when you read the opening of Mr. Stedman’s poem of The Freshet, —
“ Last August, of a three weeks’ country tour,
Five dreamy days were passed amid old elms
And older mansions and in leafy dales.
I fell in, there,
With Gilbert Ripley, once my chum at Yale.
Poor Gilbert groaned along a double year, —
Read, spoke, boxed, fenced, rowed, trod the foot-ball
ground, —
Loving the college library more than Greek,
His meerschaum most of all. But when we came
Together, gathered from the breathing-time
They give the fellows while the dog-days last,
He found the harness chafe; then grew morose,
And kicked above the traces, going home
Hardly a Junior, but a sounder man,
In mind and body, than a host who win
Your baccalaureate honors,”—
you do feel a creeping and a regret; but going on to the end of the story, very touchingly told, with elearly and honestly indicated New England circumstance of character, incident, and scenery, you are glad to acknowledge that it is an authentic poem. But at its worst, this poem and the Penelope and Flood-Tide are sins of the poet’s youth, which he puts behind him, coming out later in a voice and manner of his own. It is probable that with a writer who shows more evidence of scholarship than any of our younger poets, the imitation of Tennyson was a conscious and deliberate act, which he felt well able to justify by example among the poets of all times and nations; still, it is better for him and for his readers when he relinquishes it. The gain is notable in a comparison of two classic stories, the Penelope, which is steeped and double-dyed in Tennyson, and the Aleetryôn, in which we detect no tint or taste of him. The former is every wav meagre, and the latter is told with a certain rich fulness which renders it an entire contrast. So far as we can make out, Mr. Stedman has asked nobody to help him in this poem, and what reflected color it has is from the whole body of Greek poetry. The bold fable is delicately handled, and there are some very charming pictures in it.
The Aleetryôn is a much later poem than the Penclope, but of the same period as the last, are other pieces which attest Mr. Stedman’s right to poetical expression while they show in some degree the same youthful faults. The sweetest of these is Heliotrope, and the best, without doubt, is The Ballad of Lager Bier, though there is a tender quaintness in Bohemia : A Pilgrimage, which we also like, and How Old Brown took Harper’s Ferry has a vigorous quaintness. Heliotrope belongs to a kind of poems in which Mr. Stedman has done less than he might have done with advantage, — poems with a vague sweetness, a dim and subtile passion fit to enrapture the heart of girlhood ; but the Ballad of Lager Bier is of a sort that he has almost made his own. For the sake of indicating their general nature, we should say that they are a Praedish sort, though the critic hereafter might more truly describe such poems as of the Stedmanish sort. We have in mind the Ballad already named, Peter Stuyvesant’s New Year’s Call, Fuit Ilium, and Pan in Wall Street, as a group of poems naturally springing out of the poet’s life in New York and his sense of the great city’s unconscious and recondite poeticalness, — to put it very crudely. The Ballad of Lager Bier is the pleasure and the aspiration of the young littérateur, who empties his tankard in a New York beer-hall, and talks and dreams of the generous fluid’s ancestral home beyond the sea, borrowing, as American talkers and dreamers always must, the light and color of his jollity from far-off times and lands : —
“ Go, maiden, fill again our glasses !
While, with anounted eyes, we scan
The blowze Teutonic lads and lasses,
The Saxon— Pruss— Bohemian,
The sanded floor, the cross-beamed gables,
The ancient Flemish paintings queer.
The rusty cup-stains on the tables,
The terraced kegs of Lager Bier.
“ And is it Göttingen, or Gotha,
Or Munich’s ancient Wagner Brei,
Where each Bavarian drinks his quota,
And swings a silver tankard high ?
Or some ancestral Gasthaus lofty
In Nuremburg — of famous cheer,
Where Hans Sachs lived, and where, so oft, he
Sang loud the praise of Lager Bier?
“ For even now some curious glamour
Has brought about a misty change!
Things look, as in a moonlight dream, or
Magician’s mirror, quaint and strange.
Some weird, phantasmagoric notion
Impels us backward many a year,
And far across the northern ocean,
To Fatherlands of Lager Bier.
“ As odd a throng I see before us
As ever haunted Brocken’s height,
Carousing, with unearthly chorus,
On any wild Walpurgis-night;
I see the wondrous art-creations !
In proper guise they all appear,
And, in their due and several stations,
Unite in drinking Lager Bier.
“ I see in yonder nook a trio :
There’s Deacon Faust, and, by his side,
Not half so love-distraught as Io,
Is gentle Margaret, heaven-eyed ;
That man in black beyond the waiter —
I know him by his fiendish leer—
Is Mephistophiles, the traitor!
And how he swigs his Lager Bier!
“ Strange if great Goethe should have blundered,
Who says that Margaret slipt and fell
In Anno Domini Sixteen Hundred,
Or thereabout; and Faustus — well,
We won’t deplore his resurrection,
Since Margaret is with him here,
But, under her serene protection,
May boldly drink our Lager Bier.
“That bare-legged gypsy, small and Lithy,
Tanned like an olive by the sun,
Is little Mignon; sing us, prithee,
Kennst du das Land, my pretty one !
Ah, no! she shakes her southern tresses,
As half in doubt and more in fear;
Perhaps the elvish creature guesses
We 've had too much of Lager Bier.
“There moves, full-bodiced, ripe, and human,
With merry smiles to all who come,
Karl Schuæffer’s wife,—the very woman
Whom Rubens drew his Venus from !
But what a host of tricksome graces
Play round our fairy Undine here,
Who pouts at all the bearded faces,
And, laughing, brings the Lager Bier.
“ ‘ Sit down, nor chase the vision farther,
You ’re tied to Yankee cities still ! ’
I hear you, but so much the rather
Should Fancy travel where she will.
Yet let the dim ideals scatter;
One puff, and lo ! they disappear;
The comet, next, or some such matter,
We 'll talk above our Lager Bier.”
We mean to say that all this is as good as there has been of its kind,—and the kind is good, free, bright, and hearty ; and that it is true to a phase of life on which men, grown older, look fondly back, and wish, that they could find as much in those dreams as they used to find. Fuit Ilium is a monologue on the pulling down of an old New York mansion that once was in the heart of fashion, and now falls before encroaching business which wants to put a block in the place of a home. The motive is slight and hackneyed, if you please, but the feeling evoked is eternally responsive to such appeals, and the pictures passed before the fancy are true and vivid. Peter Stuyvesant’s New Year’s Call is the fabled description of the first New Year’s call ever made in New York, and it is charming for its liking of old times and for the broadness and good-humor with which its sketches of character are done. Like the other two, it seems to have grown from the Manhattan soil, and it has a right Knickerbocker flavor of its own. But the ripest and best of all these poems is Pan in Wall Street,—a sketch in which the brokering, hurried, anxious, sordid aspect of the place is lightly contrasted with what we longingly imagine of an uncaring, happy, mythologic World, by the poet who listens to an Italian vagrant playing a Pan’s-pipe in the portico of the Treasury building; —
“ ’T was Pan himself had wandered here
A-strolling through this sordid city,
And piping to the civic ear
The prelude of some pastoral ditty !
The demigod had crossed the seas,—
From haunts of shepherd, nymph, and satyr,
And Syracusan times, —to these
Far shores and twenty centuries later.
“ A ragged cap was on his head ;
But — hidden thus— there was no doubting
That, all with crispy locks o’erspread,
His gnarléd horns were somewhere sprouting;
His club-feet, cased in rusty shoes,
Were crossed, as on some frieze you sec them,
And trousers, patched of divers hues,
Concealed his crooked shanks beneath them.
“ He filled the quivering reeds with sound,
And o’er his mouth their changes shifted,
And with his goat’s-eyes looked around
Where'er the passing current drifted;
And soon, as on Trinacrian hills
The nymphs and herdsmen ran to hear him,
Even now the tradesmen from their tills,
With clerks and porters, crowded near him.
“The bulls and bears together drew
From Jauncey Court and New Street Alley,
As erst, if pastorals be true,
Came beasts from every wooded valley ;
The random passers stayed to list,—
A boxer Ægon, rough and merry,
A Broadway Daphnis, on his tryst
With Nais at the Brooklyn Ferry.
“A one-eyed Cyclops halted long
In tattered cloak of army pattern,
And Galatea joined the throng,—
A blowsy, apple-vending slattern ;
While old Silenus staggered out
From some new-fangled lunch-house handy,
And hade the piper, with a shout;
To strike up Yankee Doodle Dandy.
“A newsboy and a peanut-girl
Like little Fauns began to caper :
His hair was all in tangled curl,
Her tawny legs were bare and taper;
And still the gathering larger grew.
And gave its pence and crowded nigher,
While aye the shepherd-minstrel blew
His pipe, and. struck the gamut higher.
“ O heart of Nature, beating still
With throbs her vernal passion taught her,—
Even here, as on the vine-clad hill,
Or by the Arethusan water!
New forms may fold the speech, new lands
Arise within these ocean-portals,
But Music waves eternal wands,—
Enchantress of the souls of mortals !
“ So thought I, —but among us trod
A man in blue, with legal baton,
And scoffed the vagrant demigod,
And pushed him from the step I sat on.
Doubting, I mused upon the cry,
‘ Great Pan is dead!' — and all the people
Went on their ways : — and clear and high
The quarter sounded from the steeple.”
Here is something that, whatever its range and its degree, is thoroughly felt, and thoroughly well done. It sets the reader feeling and thinking ; it playfully summons a host of airy fancies, idle yearnings, half-sad, half-humorous regrets, and touches nerves that keenly respond, and, in witness of its art, ask to be more deeply stirred ; it is quick and light and just sufficient. On the group of poems of which it is the first, we should largely rest our liking for Mr, Stedman, and, without presuming to advise him or any Other poet as to what kind of poems he should write, we think that in the writing of these pieces his forte lies. Something of this sort is certainly suggested in the fact that the strong, easy, original, perfectly rounded Ballad of Lager Bier was done at the same time that he was helplessly invoking Mr. Tennyson to help him out with Penelope and Flood-Tide, and was touching various other artificial stops with a wandering hand.
There is another group of poems by Mr. Stedman which we like very much, and which may be roughly described as country-poems, in distinction from those of which we have been Speaking as city-poems. To these belong The Doorstep, Country Sleighing, Holyoke Valley, Autumn Song (though we object to anyone’s crying “ Hilly-ho ! ” in American scenery), The Heart of (New England, and in some sort, The Old Love and the New. They all express the same sympathy with simple and tender experiences, and with Nature in her different familiar aspects; some are more descriptive and others more emotional; but on the whole, they all seem much in the same key. We do not know a more affecting American ballad than The Heart of New England, which is also a symmetrical and finished poem ; and The Doorstep is exquisite in its pensive archness. Our readers ought to remember both of these, and probably they will have the same difficulty we have felt in deciding whether in their quite different way they are not as good as Pan in Wall Street.
Among the longer poems in this volume Alice of Monmouth has fine passages,—especially the trooper’s account of the charge In which the colonel was lost,—but the poem is not forcibly ended ; and incomparably better is The Blameless Prince, which we noticed at the time of its first appearance (Atlantic for May, 1869), and of which a cursory review suggests nothing new to us, except a heightened sense of the power shown in the treatment of some of the more dramatic scenes. We respect the treatment all the more, because we think less favorably of the subject now than we did then, and imagine the poet’s difficulties in managing it to be greater than we formerly did. Of nearly all Mr. Stedman’s poems we are able to say that they are the work of a skilled, sincere, and earnest artist. In fact, as we have said, he is the most scholarly of our young poets, and you feel that he never slights any particular work, that he always makes the most of himself. His good qualities in his successful performance are clearness of conception, and a concise, ringing, and effective expression. You will not find, perhaps, the most delicate music in his verse, and he may not thrill and penetrate you with some miracle of diction. But his phrase is just and true and lucid ; it lacks color, to be sure, but then you are never confused with those prismatic tints which may mean much or may mean nothing. The whole is honest. His best work seems to us altogether good, and his worst not altogether bad.
— Mr. O’Reilly, who writes Songs from the Southern Seas, was a Fenian prisoner in Australia, whence he escaped in an open boat, and was picked up by the captain of a whaler, who gave him money to come to tins country. It is not necessary to know this to be interested in his poems, which we shall not quite call successful, and yet which have made us like them by certain unhackneyed traits. The scenes are new, and the stories are, some of them, well told; indeed, The King of the Vasse is a very fair poem, which lacks little of being a very fine one. In a modest, wellworded prelude, the poet says : —
“ From that fair land and drear land in the South,
Of which through years I do not cease to think,
I brought a tale, learned not by word of mouth,
But formed by finding here one golden link
And there another; and with hands unskilled
For such fine work, but patient of all pain
For love of it, I sought therefrom to build
What might have been at first the goodly chain.
“ It is not golden now : my craft knows more
Of working baser metal than of fine;
But to those fate-wrought rings of precious ore
I add these rugged iron links of mine.”
This is not claiming enough for himself, but the reader the more gladly does him justice because of his modesty, and perhaps it is this quality in the author which oftencst commends his book. The King of the Vasse is the story of a child of the first Swedish emigrants to Australia, who lies dead in his mother s arms when they land. A native chief, coming with all his people to greet the strangers, touches the boy’s forehead with a great pearl which he keeps in a carven case or shrine, and the mighty magic of it calls him back to life, but with a savage soul, as his kindred believe; for he deserts them for the natives, over whom he rules many years, inheriting and wearing the magic pearl. At last the young men of the tribe begin to question his authority, and one of them, with a spear-thrust, destroys the great pearl. Jacob Eibson then seems repossessed by a white man’s soul, and returns to the spot long since abandoned by his kindred, and finds it occupied by English settlers, whose children’s simple childlike playmate he becomes, and remains till his death. The plot is good, and, in many respects, it is adequately managed ; it is always managed with a sober simplicity which forms an excellent ground for some strong dramatic effects. The Australian scenery and air and natural life are everywhere summoned round the story without being forced upon the reader. Here, for instance, is a picture, at once vivid and intelligible,— which is not always the ease with the vivid pictures of the word-painters. After the rains begin in that southern climate —
“ Earth throbs and heaves
With pregnant prescience of life and leaves ;
The shadows darken ’neath the tall trees’ screen,
While round their stems the rank and velvet green
Of undergrowth is deeper still; and there,
Within the double shade and steaming air,
The scarlet palm has fixed its noxious root,
And hangs the glorious poison of its fruit;
And there, ’mid shaded green and shaded light,
The steel-blue silent birds take rapid flight
From earth to tree and tree to earth ; and there
The crimson-plumaged parrot cleaves the air
Like flying fire, and huge brown owls awake
To watch, far down, the stealing carpet snake,
Fresh-skinned and glowing in his changing dyes,
With evil wisdom in the cruel eyes
That glint like gems as o'er his head flits by
The blue-black armor of the emperor-fly ;
And all the humid earth displays its powers
Of prayer, with incense from the hearts of flowers
That load the air with beauty and with wine
Of mingled color ....
“ And high o’erhend is color ; round and round
The lowering gums and tuads, closely wound
Like cables, creep the climbers to the sun,
And over all the reaching branches run
And hang, and still send shoots that climb and wind
Till every arm and spray and leaf is twined,
And miles of trees, like brethren Joined in love,
Are drawn and laced ; while round them and above,
When all is knit, the creeper rests for days
As gathering might, and then one blinding blaze
Of very glory sends, in wealth and strength,
Of scarlet flowers o’er the forest’s length ! ”
There are deep springs of familiar feeling (as the mother’s grief for the estrangement of her savage-hearted son), also touched in this poem, in which there is due artistic sense and enjoyment of the weirdness of the motive ; and in short, we could imagine ourselves recurring more than once to the story, and liking it better and better. The Dog - Guard is the next-best story In the book, — a horrible fact, treated with tragic realism, and skilfully kept from being merely horrible ; and The Amber Whale comes near being very good, but is a yarn too much spun out to be strong. The other pieces of Australian or miscellaneous origin and interest are none of them wanting in good points, though none of them are quite successful. Yet a full third of the book is good ; and we could honestly ask the reader to give his time to it on account of The King of the Vasse alone. Some of the best poems in it are the preludes to the stories, and we like this proem to the whole for its good artistic feeling, and its good feeling in every way : —
“ It may he I liavc left the higher gleams
Of skies and flowers unheeded or forgot;
It may be so,—but, looking hack, it seems
When I was with them L beheld them not.
“ It may be so ; but when I think I smile
At my poor hand and brain to point the charms
Of God’s first-blazoned canvas! here the aisle
Moonlit and deep of reaching gothic arms
From towering gums, mahogany, and palm,
And odorous jam and sandal; there the growth
Of arm-long velvet leaves grown hoar in calm, —
In calm unbroken since their luscious youth.
“ How can I show you all the silent birds
With strange metallic glintings on the wing ?
Or how tell half their sadness in cold words, —
The poor dumb lutes, the birds that never sing?
Of wondrous parrot-greens and iris hue
Of sensuous flower and of gleaming snake,—
Ah ! what I see I long that so might you,
But of these things what picture can I make?
“ Sometime, maybe, a man will wander there, —
A mind God-gifted, and not dull and weak;
And he will come and paint that land so fair,
And show the beauties of which I but speak.
But in the hard, sad days that there I spent,
My mind absorbed rude pictures : these I show
As best I may, and just with this intent, —
To tell some things that all folk may not know.”
— The longest poem among Mr. Miller’s Songs of the Sunlands is Isles of the Amazons, and it happens also to be the best. The fable is of a Spanish adventurer, who deserts his countrymen at the time of the conquests, and wanders off into the wilds by the Amazon River; he is very young and delicate, a poet as well as a soldier, and an embattled sisterhood who come sweeping down the stream in their canoes, with their queen at their head, take him for an Amazon of another color, and adopt him into their tribe. In time their islands are invaded by the neighboring men; and when each Amazon is tempted to take herself a mate among the invaders, it is discovered that the proud queen has anticipated their defection and is already what Mr. Miller would call the Spaniard’s bride. The story is well enough and it does not wantonly imperil the proprieties; but it is tediously told, with the excess of tropical vegetation and astral effects and brown nudity characteristic of Mr. Miller’s poetry. One reads it through—at least we did so — with effort, and parts from it without a sense of due reward for one’s virtue. There is no striking thought in it that we remember, nor even just or unstrained imagery; everywhere is exaggeration and the vocative case. There is a little natural feeling in the impossible situation, which is prettily managed; and it seems as if Mr. Miller could have made a very pleasing poem, if he had not been obliged to be a poet all the time, — if he could have forgotten himself for a while.
By the Sundown Seas is a celebration in Spencerian verse of the regions of the Pacific Slope,—a rhapsody from which we get little comfort or meaning, though there are occasional intelligible pictures in it. Here is a good one of the California vaquero. —
“ His broad-brimmed hat pushed back with cureless air,
The proud vaquero sits his steed as free
As winds that toss his black abundant hair.
How brave he lakes his herd in branding days
On timbered hills that belt about the plain,
He climbs, he wheels, he shouts through winding ways
Of hiding fern and hanging fir ; the rein
Is loose, the rattling spur drives swift; the mane
Blows free; the bullocks rush in storms before;
They turn with lilted heads, they rush again,
Then sudden plunge from out the wood and pour
A cloud upon the plain with one terrific roar.”
We did not observe anything else in the poem so strong and coherent as this. The other pieces have not much that is good in them; in the best of the Olive Leaves, that one called Beyond Jordan, there is something offensively sensuous; though if a man will call his poem or picture religious he will run small risk of offending.
—In his series of sketches, Oldport Days, we think we see Mr. Higginson at his best. He has the rare faculty of an artist whose studies from nature interest us not only for their own merit but for his thoughtful and imaginative comments us he places them before us on his easel. We are in Oldport; and the very name introduces us to a place which is the same, and yet not quite the same, that it is to the general eye,—like landscape in a Claude glass, or seen upside down. The very name of the place, slightly changed from its real name, seems like a key to the somewhat poetic aspect it wears in the writer’s mind. It is not the literal photographs we see,—like those which adorn the pages of the book, — so much as the transcripts of an artist, in which things are colored with real and yet half-ideal hues.
Prospero’s wondrous island would have been forever disenchanted had that masterhand which sketched it defined its latitude and longitude, told us the species of its trees and the geology of its rocks, defined the floating form of Ariel, and handed Caliban over to Darwin as the long-desired “ missing link,” There is an art we modern Americans need, and that is to go deeper than imitation,— to take nature as a base and scaffolding, but build thereon somewhat as the poets love to build. For the poet sees the literal and the ideal as in one stereoscopic view.
“ The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do lake a sober coloring front the eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality,”
But sometimes we feel the bare actual to be the best; and though this author’s genius loves the poetic aspects of things, it delights at times no less in strict realism. Nothing can be better than the description on page 43, where he speaks of the Oldport wharves : —
“ Other wharves are occupied by mastyards, places that seem like play-rooms for grown men, crammed fuller than any old garret with those odds and ends in which the youthful soul delights. There are planks and spars and limber, rusty anchors, coils of rope, bales of sail-cloth, heaps of blocks, piles of chain-cable, great iron tar-kettles like antique helmets, inexplicable little chimneys, engines that seem like dwarf locomotives, windlasses that apparently turn nothing, and incipient canals that lead nowhere. For in these yards there seems no particular difference between land and water : the tide comes and goes anywhere, and nobody minds it; boats are drawn up among burdocks and ambrosia, and the platform on which you stand suddenly proves to be something afloat; vessels are hauled upon the ways, each side of the wharf, their poor ribs pitiably unclothed, ready for a cumbrous mantuamaking of oak and iron. On one side, within a floating boom, lies a fleet of masts and unhewn logs, tethered uneasily, like a herd of captive sea-monsters, rocking in the ripples. A vast shed that has doubtless looked ready to full for these dozen years spreads over half the entrance to the wharf, and is filled with spars, knee-timber, and planks of fragrant wood : its uprights are festooned with all manner of great hawsers and smaller ropes, and its dim loft is piled with empty casks and idle sails. The sun always seems to shine in a ship-yard; there are apt to be more loungers than laborers, and this gives a pleasant air of repose; the neighboring water softens all harsher sounds, the foot treads upon an clastic carpet of embedded chips, and pleasant resinous odors are in the air.”
Can anything be more exact than the description ? Can we not almost smell the tar and the planks and the salt water ?
Mr. Higginson shows great versatility of theme and treatment. But his pensively thoughtful strains sometimes run too much into the sentimental, as in the Drift-Wood Fire, A Shadow, and the little story called An Artist’s Creation. He generally tells his stories admirably; but we confess to a feeling of disappointment in the plot and dénouement of the Haunted Window. The character of Severance is not definitely enough marked, the incident of his love for the Fayal girl not sufficiently narrated and emphasized, and her appearance at the window not satisfactorily accounted for; while Severance’s death is introduced too suddenly and without due explanation and motive. There is not enough air of probability, but the story is told as if the writer were somewhat at a loss how to clear up the mystery of the haunted window, and, in doing it, had drawn too exclusively on his fancy, which has introduced too tame a bit of machinery for the result. But there are exquisite pictures in the story. Here is one : —
“ As we looked from the broad piazza, there was a glassy smoothness over all the bay, and the hills were coated with a film, or rather a mere varnish, inconceivably thin, of haze more delicate than any other climate in America can show. Over the water there were white gulls flying, lazy and low ; schools of young mackcrel displayed their white sides above the surface ; and it seemed as if even a butterfly might be seen for miles over that calm expanse. The bay was covered with mackerelboats, and one man sculled indolently across the foreground a scarlet skiff. It was so still that every white sail-boat rested where its sail was first spread ; and though the tide was at half-ebb, the anchored boats swung idly different ways from their moorings. Yet there was a continuous ripple in the broad sail of some almost motionless schooner, and there was a constant melodious plash along the shore. From the mouth of the bay came up slowly the premonitory line of bluer water, and we knew that a breeze was near.”
This is true and delirious painting from nature, as good as anything in our best studios. No one has written so admirably about the sea. You feel that long familiarity with the changeful element has wrought no insensibility to its varied charms. The chapter In a Wherry is full of the most graphic and poetic studies.
We like Mr. Higginson full as well when he escapes entirely from the sentimental moods which sometimes take possession of him and comes into the cheerful air and crowd which suggest such sparkling masterpieces as Madame Delia’s Expectations. His humor at such times is exquisite ; his humanity is always refreshing, but most so when his humor is relieved by occasional modulations into the minor keys of feeling, and reverts naturally to an ending on the major chords. In Madame Delia there is a humor that does not set out to be “ funny,” but which cannot conceal itself when the proper occasion for it occurs, and where all moods are brought into play in healthy and agreeable alternation. The opening description of the poor show-woman’s tent, the handbells, the stock of attractions offered to the public, the performers, the snakes and monkeys, the sword-swallower, Mr. De Matson and Mons. Comstock, and Gerty the little trapeze girl, all touch us profoundly while we smile and laugh. Madame Delia is a wide-awake, enterprising New England woman, who sees to all the details of her business. Her husband, De Marsou, walks up and down outside the tent to lure spectators in, but his wife knows how feeble and incompetent he is in the business.
“ ‘ That man don’t know how to talk no more :n nothin’ at all,’ said Madame Delia, reproachfully, to the large policeman who stood by her. ‘ He never speaks up bold to nobody. “Why don’t he tell ’em what’s inside the tent ? I don’t want him to say no more ’n the truth, but he might tell that. Tell ’em about Gerty, you nincum ! Tell ’em about the snakes. Tell ’em what Comstock is. ’T ain’t the real original Comstock ’ (this to the policeman), ‘ it. ’s only another that used to perform with him in Comstock Brothers. This one can’t swaller, so we leave out the knives.’
“ ‘ Where’s t' other ? ’ said the sententious policeman, whose ears were always open for suspicious disappearances.
“ ‘ Did n’t you hear ? ’ cried the incredulous lady, ‘ Scattered ! Gone ! Went off one day with a box of snakes and two monkeys. Come, now, you must have heard. We had a sight of trouble payin’ detectives.’
“ ‘ What, for a looking fellow was he ? ’ said the policeman.
“ ’ Dark-complected,’ was the reply. ‘ Black mustache. He understood his business, I tell you now. Swallered five or six knives to onst, and give good satisfaction to any audience.”
In Sunshine and Petrarch, Mr. Higginson gives us translations of a dozen of the Italian poet’s sonnets, while sitting in the grass by the sea, in a little secluded cove, where the waves seem to come in with just fourteen ripples answering to the number of lines in each poem. Each of these old Petrarchian melodies is accompanied by a strain of sentimental or descriptive comment a little too premeditated. We have taken the trouble to compare the translations with the original, and we find a good deal of inequality as to the literal rendering of lines. In several instances Mr, Higginson has sacrificed much more than could be wished to the necessities of rhyme. And yet this was almost unavoidable, especially as he adheres strictly to the old sonnet form, in which the rhymes are so frequently repeated. Rhyme in translation is a terrible Procrustean tyrant, who shortens or lengthens, binds or loosens, omits or adds, as his exigencies require.
In style, this book bears comparison with the author’s best essays. His sentences are so polished that we sometimes almost wish for a little more abandon. His style is, perhaps, somewhat too self-conscious, and tends toward what is termed fine writing rather more than one sometimes desires to see, — as some painters tend to overfinish. But how much better is excess of finish than the reverse ! The charm of Mr. Higginson’s writings lies in his matter even more than His manner: in his just and discriminating criticism, in his wholesome outlook into nature and society, and into the profound depths that underlie these; in his thoughtful and tender humanity ; in steady appreciation of the sterner and more erratic phases of character, as of the most domestic, feminine, and poetic ; in his sympathy with children, and with the poor and frieudless; in his chivalric devotion to the cause of woman’s rights ; in his large estimates of the grand movements of past ages of thought and achievement, as well as of the multiform life mirrored in the facets of the many-sided present.
One of the felicities of his hook is the tact with which he makes his transitions from one paragraph to another somewhat disconnected, reminding one of the modulations of a symphony. There is an ingenuity here that is born of a quick imagination, but we are disposed to trace this accomplishment in a measure to the character of a mind whose large sympathies can find points of contact in things seemingly remote from each other ; a mind to which the common fraternity of races and the symphony of religions present no insuperable dividing lines. This is the best sort of versatility, which takes humanity and nature, not as if seeing things and men distributed in separate cells, but in a wide audience-room, where one can glance from one individual to another, at will. It consists in utterly vacating all sectarianism of whatever sort, and seeing a unity and sympathy between all.
“ Each part may call the farthest brother,
For head with foot hath private amity,
And both with moons and tides.”
— There is a certain satisfaction to be had from any attempt in the way of a genuine American novel, when the author gives evidence of a desire to depict faithfully the phase of life he has chosen to illustrate, even if we find him falling short of thorough success in the undertaking. Brave Hearts deals mainly with California life in the mines within the last decade, and has the merit of presenting its peculiarities in a manner indicating real knowledge of His subject in the author. There is moreover some attempt to contrast picturesquely with this the common life of intellectual persons at the East more deserving of praise for its good-will than for any satisfactory artistic result, hut indicating a clear eye for realities and real differences. Philip Russell furnishes the type of hesitating thinker, timid for want of action, who is getting to take his place among the indispensable properties of the novelist of to-day ; but both he and all the personages of the book are rather slightly put together out of a few simple constituents of human nature, which do not seem to have grown together into substantial individualities, but rather to have been combined in proportions to suit the exigencies of the plot, This Russell, however, goes to the mining district as a newspaper correspondent, believing that “ some practical experience of life would have been a great thing for Hamlet,” and that it may therefore benefit himself. He leaves behind his sister Alice, with his friend Morton, the newspaper editor, in background as a prospective lover. A slight train of adventure is then carried through for his benefit in the West, resulting in his falling in love with one Kate Campbell, whose father had fled thither under unjust suspicions connected with an old bank forgery. The difficulty, however, is, that he conceives one Stephen Moore, whose “ partner ” he has become, to be likewise in love with Kate. Meantime, Morton steps out of the background and offers himself to Alice. One Vane, also connected with the bank Campbell had been in, proposes marriage to her. She declines both offers ; and, Philip having met with an accident, she proceeds to California, where she of course falls in love with Stephen Moore, who has all along been a polished gentleman, formerly a .Federal officer, and a friend of Morton’s, though for the time being he is driver of a Wells Fargo stagecoach. Vane now appears, being on the trail of the real forger, whom he presently checkmates. He also provides adroitly for Kate Campbell, whose father dies ; and at once all the persons are swept from the board, by the conclusion of engagements between Philip and Kate on the one hand, and Stephen and Alice on the other,—leaving us with an unpleasant sensation of having been humbugged with sham Westerners. We are haunted throughout the volume with the hope that the unmistakable promise of the author’s power of observation will be realized, but are forced to confess at the end that he has missed making any artistic success. There is too much melodrama in the plot, and the book seems written too much for the purpose of exhibiting special manners of mining-life, without enough of character development to make them worth representation. The author evidently has ideas of what is needed to make a good novel; but he lacks dramatic skill, has failed to proportion parts to the whole as they should be, and rollicks through the entire story with a rough-and-ready language that lacks style. Now and then he strikes out a spark of epigram from his hasty reveries en passant; and the keenness and humor revealed in this way amid the general roughness, added to his evident intention to be true, lead us to believe that he may with study attain to some riper production, which artist; and critic can join with the average reader in approving.
— We welcome the custom, now becoming apparently more and more prevalent, of supplying the guide-book’s office with works which, while available for travellers, will also nourish in the sight-seer something more than the mere fevered ambition to “ do ” a given number of castles, towers, towns, and churches, with a view to augmenting his stock of facts for statistical or social display. Among the number of these we may count Mr. Blackburn’s Normandy Picturesque and we are moved by the excellence of the two heliotype reproductions of sketches (one of them by Prout) in Rouen, to maintain that all similar pocketbooks should enlist the pencil as well as the pen in their completion. The text is terse and pregnant: we fancy that the. author’s natural tendency, as a sketcher, to depict rather than describe or make voluminous comment, has assisted him to the brevity of his easy, almost epistolary style, so commendable in a work of this kind. At first one feels a certain regret that such regions as Normandy should so soon have to succumb to embodiments in hand-books, however pretty or artistic ; for now assuredly, if never before, must the locust-cloud of tourists descend upon their quiet fields, and, along with various “ improvements ” (some of them, doubtless, much needed), bring desolation thereon. Still, the tide seeming already to have set that way, we may be thankful to Mr, Blackburn for rescuing in this cheerful, light, contemporary picture much that would otherwise in a few years more have disappeared beyond recovery. There is some relief, too (though of a mean kind), in reading his account of enormities committed in those parts by the French themselves, who build shanties and post, affiches on the walls of their Middle Age churches, clap a cast-iron spire on their Rouen cathedral, and think of nothing but a traffic in their antiquities, or a speedy gravitation toward mighty Paris. For centralization, as we learn from Air. Blackburn, is corrupting the simple provincial heart of Normandy with desire of new things, even as our Boston and New York drain the life-blood of the New England and middle farming districts into themselves. However, to come down plainly to the business of the book, we must confess to an unaffected pleasure in the author’s cheery manner of introducing travellers to the curious old country of Duke William, and of making it easily accessible to fireside travellers like ourselves. It is almost as good as going to read through these notes of the possible little circular tour they suggest, beginning at quaint Audemer, with a wise distinction as to travelling-plans of “the simple right ” and “ the elaborate wrong,” and running on to Caen, and the entertaining little description of the famous Bayeux Tapestry ; to Granville with its wholesome fisher-girls, and so to Falaise, the Conqueror’s birthplace, and the valley of the Seine; coming back to ourselves through the short concluding dissertation on architecture and costume. Its constant taking of the artistic view is one of the most commendable characteristics of this little volume; but he has not taken us to Normandy without better reasons than that of merely furnishing amusement; he intends that what we there see shall cause us to reflect upon what we find, on returning home. Like all of us in this time, and indeed all men in all times, he in one breath complains and speaks well of the age in which he lives. “ It is a restless age,” he says, “ in which advertisements of ‘ FAMILIES REMOVED ’ are pasted on the walls of a man’s house, without appearing to excite his indignation.” Nevertheless, he has hopes for the future of architecture. For one thing, we are to find that mediæval building, with certain improved sanitary provisions, is entirely applicable to the necessities of modern life. But to America he looks for something wholly new in architecture. Let us, however, rather listen to a word or two of warning with which he tempers his hope. “The very essence and life of Gothic art,” he says (p, 60), —and this bears as strongly on any good new art we may wish to raise on Gothic or other foundations, — “ is its realism and truism ” (sic) ; “ and until we carry out its principles in our hearts and lives it will he little more to us than a toy and a tradition.” Again, speaking of America, lie says: “It may be that we point to the wrong quarter of the globe, and we shall certainly be told in Europe that no good thing in art can come from ‘ the great dollar cities of the West,’ from a people without monuments and without a history ; but there are signs of intellectual energy, and a process of refinement and cultivation is going on which it will he well for us of the Old World not to ignore. Their day may be not yet ; before such a change can come the nation must find rest; . . . . they must know (as the Greeks knew it) the meaning of the word ‘ repose.’ ” Meantime we need not be above learning a lesson even from the cheap modern Gothic of the French seaside villas in Normandy, of which Mr, Blackburn gives us an idea in four little sketches. These villas, it appears, are much frequented by English, who, as we had before dimly supposed, come to live in Normandy for cheapness’ sake. The statements of one of these colonists to our author bears so much resemblance to similar declarations of Americans, who for like reasons have flown to like foreign asylums, that we quote one of a short series, all equally negative : “ We believe that our children will be well educated, and pick up French for nothing, — which they do not!” Mr. Blackburn, on the whole, approves the theory that “ English people had better live in their own country, if they can.” And we will add, that by the substitution of another familiar patronymic for the word " English,” we shall find in these words a maxim worthy of much more general faith and practical application among ourselves than it now enjoys in the ranks of the cultivated. It appears to us a maxim not altogether unconnected with those schemes of originative American art which not Mr. Blackburn alone, but many a dreamer on this continent, hopes before long to see entering upon their development.
— Judging from ourselves, few lovers of the angelic art who take up the Memoirs of Moseheles — in the American edition improperly entitled Recent Music and Musicians — will easily lay it down until they have finished it. Its pages are full of telling yet generous Criticism of nearly all the artists and composers of Europe, who, beginning with Beethoven, pass in review before the reader ; and while the more famous of them are brought out in high relief, the background against which all are exhibited is the complete and genial character of Moscheles, the beauty of whose domestic and social relations as here and there they unobtrusively appear make one of the great charms of the book. It is edited by the wife of the virtuoso, and in her brief Preface she says, with the humility characteristic of German women, that “others might have done the work better, none with such reverential love.” But the modest disclaimer is unnecessary. A feminine touch so light, so discriminating, yet sympathizing, is visible throughout the whole, that we doubt whether any one else could possibly have “ done the work ” so well.
Ignatz Moscheles was born in Prague in 1794, and was trained there from seven to fourteen years of age by an inflexible master of the old school, Dionys Weber, who said, “ Who on earth is there except Mozart, Clementi, and Bach ? A pack of crazy, hare-brained fools, who tarn the heads of our young people. Beethoven, clever as he is, writes a lot of harebrained stuff, and leads pupils astray.” At fourteen the boy, already an accomplished pianist, was sent to Vienna to complete his studies and to earn his daily bread. Beethoven was then at the zenith of fashion there as well as of fame, and young Moscheles, whose friends and companions were Meyerbeer and Hummel, Reichhardt and Czerny, worshipped him. “ We musicians,” he says in his diary, “ whatever we may be, are mere satellites of Beethoven, the dazzling luminary.” Going one day to visit Salieri, the contemporary and rival of Mozart, he found on his table a sheet of paper on which was written in large, bold, characters, “ The pupil Beethoven has been here.” “What,” said Moscheles to himself, “ a Beethoven acknowledge that he has yet to learn of a Salieri! How much more then do I stand in need of his teaching.” And he forthwith put himself under Salieri’s guidance for three years. Many of the Viennese ladies of that period had been admirably taught, and the memoir states that the youthful Moscheles, “modestly admitting their superiority in delicacy of touch and expression, soon appropriated these qualities.” At twenty-two Moscheles left Vienna for a series of concert-tours throughout Northern Europe, in whose most famous cities he was recognized and applauded as a brilliant pianist of the highest rank. He finally settled down in London as one of the leading artists and teachers of the great capital, and his house for more than twenty years was the head-quarters where all musicians reported themselves and met in the inner intimacy and communion of their profession. In its accounts of merry evenings with Malibran, Thalberg, Mendelssohn, and others, the book gives fascinating glimpses of the extraordinary things that artists do for their own and each other’s amusement when no “public” is by to applaud. The most interesting sketches in the book are those relating to Beethoven, Malibran, and Mendelssohn. All the traditional sorrows of genius seemed to accumulate on Beethoven’s devoted head; and the heart-rending story of the neglect, poverty, and fearful suffering of his last days is given precisely as the facts occurred. One does not know at what most to marvel, — the callous heart of the Viennese among whom he lived, or the exaggerated gratitude of the dying composer toward the London Philharmonic Society for their moderate gift to him of five hundred dollars. How little must his fellow-creatures ever have done for one of their greatest benefactors, when so small a service on the part of some of them could move him so deeply !
But Mendelssohn, the brilliant, affectionate, petulant genius, was the enthusiasm of the manhood of Moscheles. Weary, at length, of British stolidity and of his metier of fashionable music-master, Mendelssohn easily persuaded him to leave London for Leipzig, there to take the head of the “ Department for Composition and Playing,” in the Conservatory that Mendelssohn had just founded. The brief year which the ardent friends spent there together in a common work was evidently the culmination of Moschcles’s career. The terrible blow of Mendelssohn’s sudden death cut short all their glad hopes and anticipations of joint achievement, and henceforth it is easy to see that life for the one remaining was no longer the same. Its rapture and its spontaneity were gone, and duty only remained. How well Moscheles fulfilled the trust that devolved upon him the long celebrity of the Leipzig Conservatory as a training-school for young artists well attested.
As a pianist, Moscheles was one of the great virtuosi whose demands upon the instrument stimulated its makers to produce the “ grand ” piano-forte as we now have it. As a musician, he stood midway between the old school and the new ; for while the severe traditions in which he had been so early steeped forbade his entire acceptance of the “music of the future,” his large-mindedness kept him from a narrow antagonism to it. He wondered and doubted, but did not allow himself to condemn, though to us his delicate criticism “ that heart and soul are not wanned by being so overloaded with passionate music ” is the best expression of its defects that we have seen. As a composer, though lie docs not belong either to the first or the second order of great men, his works will always be valuable to the piano-student, and several of them have passed to a place among the classics. He died peacefully at Leipzig in 1870, aged seventy-five, after a life successful and honored, and useful almost to the last.
— The age in which we live is an unhappy one for generalizes. No one has caught the whole spirit of the time, nor can it be fixed in a happy phrase : its whole genius is complex, and it is daily becoming more so, and men are driven into specialities by the vastness of their subjects.
The New American Cyclopædia of the Messrs. Appleton (published 1803) came in time to fill, in great measure, the gap which years and the specialists had made, and its great and continued sales bore witness to the want it essayed to supply. But even this, with its annual supplemental volume, has been for some years unsatisfactory, and all kinds of devices have been tried to supplement it. Even our Unabridged Dictionaries have blossomed forth into a mixture of dictionary and cyclopædia, where the definition of the word is aided by the condensed essay and the illustration of the cyclopædia proper. The latest of the many new encyclopædias is the Revised Edition of the New American Cyclopædia, by the same editors who brought out the original edition ; and it is of this that we desire to speak, judging of it by the two volumes already printed.
It is plain that all cyclopædias in all languages must be greatly alike in their general features, since they seek to supply nearly the same needs, and therefore it is more particularly in the minor details of a work of this class that the points for commendation or censure must he sought. The goodness of such a work must be considered as a function of the circumstances under which it is to be used, and a great excellence of the book in question is its adaptation to the wants of the general class of readers in America. None of the discursive eloquence of the essays of the British Cyclopædia is here permitted, but the ideals striven for in its articles arc clearness, shortness, fulness, and fairness. The difficulty of reconciling these antagonistic requisites seems to have been met in an admirable way. It is presumed by the editors, that for the very fullest knowledge of a subject the original works treating of it will he consulted, and a careful bibliography is given at the end of each article, to facilitate such reference. Sufficient information for all ordinary wants is always given.
With regard to the clearness of each article, too much praise cannot be given. In but one case in the two volumes before us have we noticed a doubtful meaning ; this occurs in the article Andersonville, regarding the trial of Wirz. A foreigner might be led to suppose that his trial was ordered by the Confederate authorities. In one or two cases we have found incorrect statements, but they arc always perfectly definite. Peculiarly admirable, as a general rule, is the statement of cases in which authorities conflict: almost perfect fairness has been attained, and the theories of no one man have been given an exclusive place. In this respect a vast improvement has been made upon the first edition.
The shortness of the articles, too, is highly to be commended, as it has been gained by no sacrifice of completeness, but in new articles by studied condensation, and in the older by a vigorous striking out of all epithets, enthusiasm, and eulogy. As a great concession a man may once he called a genius, but never twice. The space thus obtained has allowed the insertion of engravings and woodcuts, and of them we intend to speak at some length, since they may be taken as one of the distinctive features of the new work. Commonly they are admirably well selected, and their titles are chosen with discrimination — a work requiring care and thought. As a rule, too, the cuts are very well executed, clear and sharp. This cannot always he said of the small woodcut maps, which are often confused in detail. As examples of this, we may cite the maps of the Argentine Republic, Alsace and Lorraine, Algeria, Alaska, and others. These are usually too small, and this causes the confusion ; wherever space enough is given, as in the maps of the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania, and the map illustrating the excellent article on Arctic Discovery, there is nothing but commendation to be given. The larger steel maps of the book, though correct in all details as far as we have tested them, are yet inartistic in execution and coloring, and are not pleasant to refer to. When shall we have the art of map-making, as shown in Stieler’s Atlas and in other European hooks, domesticated in America ? The illustrations to each article are generally real helps to the understanding of the topic, and are almost never superfluous.
Real omissions occur in one or two instances : for example, under the head Bartholdy, no hint is given that for many years one of the greatest of musicians was known as F. M. Bartholdy. Again, the modern method of measuring base lines with the base-apparatus of Repsold, or with that of our own Coast Survey, is not mentioned. Under Beethoven, it is not stated that Richard Wagner, the greatest of living musicians and a leading writer on the æsthetics of music, has written a critical essay on Beethoven’s Life and Genius. It would perhaps have been well to mention as a kind of typical fact that Batavia Java had a street railway; and it seems as if the formula for finding the difference of level of two heights by the barometer might well have been given, although this may be doubted.
We will mention one or two statements which we regard as erroneous or ill-judged: for example, under Acceleration, we find a statement that the duration of one daily rotation of the earth is probably constant; probably the best astronomers would incline to the contrary belief. The same article closes with a theory of revolving planetary atmospheres, which, may or may not be true, but certainly has no direct proof from observation.
But for bad theory, the article on Aerolites is by far the worst in the book. Nobody, as the writer somewhat indignantly assumes, has “ asserted ” that Clio is the smallest body of the solar system : in all probability several of the asteroids, notably Eunomia, are smaller; and the diameter of Clio stated so confidently as “scarcely sixteen miles” is probably doubtful by at least twice that amount. The descent to small “dust” by two imaginative steps is all pure speculation, more likely to be true than false, but still quite unworthy any place in a serious article, A similar criticism may be made of the supposition that aerolites are found on the moon’s surface in a state of “ better preservation ” than on our own globe: from such imaginings to the questions of the school-men, or to problems of “lunar politics,” there is but a step.
It is a pleasure to turn from this to such admirable articles as those on Athens (an absolutely exhaustive description, and a model encyclopædia article), Architecture, Astronomy, Arctic Discovery, Army, Artillery, and many other such. The legal and medical articles, too, seem to he characterized by great clearness, and by an absence of one-sidedness quite remarkable.
— The Voice and How to Use It is an essay prepared by its author as a sort of text-book for his pupils. It is written in the form of conversations between teacher and pupil, and, so far as we can make out, it contains — amid much irrelevant matter—the author’s explanation of the terms used by singing teachers. He defines “method” as “the proper application of natural laws ” ; says that singing and speaking are identical ; that purity of tone is power; that the registers of the voice are not, as many hold, rigorously defined ; that vocal sounds must be taken in front of the mouth ; and that in singing, words should be pronounced as they are spelled, and carefully articulated. In his opinion, the month should not be more widely opened to produce a high tone (!) and he believes that singing out of tune is not caused by an incorrect ear, but by an improper forming of the tone. He is opposed to clearing the voice by the use of what he calls “ lubricating agents,” and thinks that a welltrained voice can be used without injury almost ad libitum. He suggests one point that we have long thought should he nothing less than insisted upon by singing-teachers, namely, that pupils should vocalize without an instrument, and with the aid of the timing-fork merely. Truth of intonation, beauty and purity of tone, would be thereby far more successfully obtained than at present, because the attention of the pupil would be concentrated on the tones he or she is producing, whereas now the attention is not merely divided, it is distracted, in nine cases out of ten, by the endeavor to get the accompaniment correct.
The English of Mr. Daniell’s book is a perfect specimen of “native American.” In style and in thought it seems the product of the native mind as developed by the normal schools of our country, and to those who look up to normal-school culture it will doubtless appeal. The author has got nearly, if not all, of his best ideas from sources which he does not acknowledge or even name, notably the original and remarkable work on the singing voice by Mrs. Emma Seiler, and his book is at once incomplete and superficial. It will teach no one to sing without a teacher, for that the best hook that ever was written could not do, singing being an imitative “ art,” and not “ natural ” at all, and every well-trained teacher knows, of course, all that it contains, and more too. It. may, however, assist pupils in detecting ignorant teachers, and its suggestions, if read, may keep such teachers from doing as much harm to the voices under their care as they doubtless otherwise would.
— Besides the books already noticed we have received a number of publications of which we can now speak only bibliographically, and not critically. We have from J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, the first three volumes (History of Ferdinand and Isabella) of a new edition of Prescott’s works, revised by John Foster Kirk, author of the History of Charles the Bold. Mr. Kirk’s labor has been mainly to collate the former editions, amend and add from the author’s manuscripts, verify doubtful references, carefully read the proofs, and append notes correcting or substantiating disputed points in the text. Mr. Prescott had expressed the wish for some such service at the hands of Mr. Kirk, formerly his secretary, and singularly well fitted for it by his own thorough studies and performance. The edition is printed in the substantial and handsome style characteristic of the publishers' books. The same publishers send us Blanche Seymour, a novel by the author of Erma’s Engagement; and A Great Lady, a romance from the German of Van Dewall. — Henry Holt & Co., New York, publish The Autobiography of John Stuart Mill; a translation, by Mathilde Blind of David Friedrich Strauss’s The Old Faith and The New, two volumes in one, with an American version of the author’s Prefatory Postscript; and a most worthily printed translation by J. Safford Fiske of Taine’s Tour through the Pyrenees, with a great number of illustrations by Doré, — a book not likely to have a rival, in richness of workmanship and literary and artistic splendor, among those published for the coming holidays.— Messrs. Holt & Co. acknowledge their indebtedness for valuable hints in the arrangement of this volume to Mr. Henry Blackburn, whose Artists and Arabs J. R. Osgood & Co. issue uniform with his Normandy Picturesque in their pretty Saunterer’s Series, with numerous illustrations of Arabic life and character. This house also publish two new books by Jules Verne, whose former extravaganzas pleased so well, namely, Five Weeks in a Balloon, with forty-eight small pictures in heliotype ; and a translation by N. D’Anvers of The Fur Country, or 70° North Latitude, printed uniform with Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and having one hundred pictures by the illustrators of the latter book. The Story of Goethe’s Life, by George Henry Lewes, is the author’s abridgment of his Life and Works of Goethe, from which he has made this continuous narrative by leaving out his criticisms of Goethe’s writings. Lucy Maria is the story serially printed in The Hearth and Home by Mrs. Abby Morton Diaz, the author of those charming books, The William Heary Letters, and William and his Friends; Lucy Maria being, as the reader will remember, one of his most delightful friends. Doing his Best, continuing the fortunes of Jack Hazard, is Mr. Trowbridge’s capital story for boys, reprinted from Our Young Folks. — From Roberts Brothers we have Mrs. L. M. Moulton’s pretty book for children, Bedtime Stories, with pictures by Addie Ledyard; and Records of a Quiet Life, by Augustus J. C. Hare, author of Walks in Rome, etc., with an introduction to these family memoirs by William L. Gage, who revises the book for American readers.— Preparation of Objects for the Microscope, by Thomas Davies, and Half-Hours with the Microscope, by Edwin M. Lankester, are two of the popular manuals of G. P. Putman’s Sons, New York. — D. Appleton & Co., New York, reprint in French Home Life the excellent articles on that subject which have appeared from time to time in Blackwood’s Magazine; and they add to their International Scientific Series, The Study of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer, with a preface by Professor Youmans. — Dodd and Mead, New York, publish The Women of the Arabs, by Rev, Henry Harris Jessup, for Seventeen years an American missionary in Syria ; What can She Do ? a novel by Rev. E. P. Poe, author of Barriers Burned Away, etc.; Against the Stream, a story by Mrs. Charles, author of the Schöuberg-Cotta Family ; and Kit Carson, a biography by John S. C. Abbott, uniform with others of their series of American Pioneers and Patriots. — From Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger, Philadelphia, we have The Golden City, by Rev. B. F. Barrett, author of several collateral Swedenborgian works; from Scribner, Armstrong, & Co., New York, Lombard Street, A Description of the Money Market, by Walter Bagshot; from Hurd and Houghton, New York, Bianca Cappello, a tragedy, by Mrs. Elizabeth C. Kinney; Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers, and their works, A Handbook, by Clara Erskine Clement, (author of a Handbook of Legendary and Mythological Art), with illustrations and monograms; and The Grammar of Painting and Engraving, a version, by Kate Newell Doggett, of Blanc’s Grammaire dcs Arts du Dessin, with the original illustrations ; from Sheldon & Co., New York, The Rose of Disentis, a version of Heinrich Zschokke’s story, by James J. D. Trenor, who announces it as one of several translations from the same author ; and Asleep in the Sanctum and other Poems, by Alphonso A. Hopkins; from G. W. Carleton & Co., New York, Jessamine, a novel by Marion Harland; from Orange Judd & Co., New York, A Man of Honor, a story of Virginia life, by George Cary Eggleston ; from Deutsch & Co., Baltimore, The Deicides: Analysis of the Life of Jesus and of the several Phases of the Christian Church in their Relation to Judaism, by J. Cohen, in a translation by Anna Maria Goldschmidt; from Ginn Brothers, Boston, the third volume of Rev. H. N. Hudson’s Shakespeare for schools and clubs; from Macmillan & Co., London and New York, Lady Hester, or Ursula’s Narrative, a story by Miss Charlotte M. Yonge; On the Origin and Metamorphoses of Insects, by Sir John Seibbach, one of the Nature Series, with many illustrations ; and a revised American edition in four volumes of Edward A. Freeman’s History of the Norman Conquests of England; from A. G. Brown & Co., Boston, The Rising Son, a history of the colored race, by William Wells Brown, M.D.; from Robert Clarke & Co., Cincinnati, An Historical Account, by C. W. Butterfield, of the Expedition against Sandusky under Colonel William Crawford, in 1782, with Biographical Sketches, Personal Reminiscences, and Descriptions of interesting Localities, including also Details of the disastrous Retreat, the Barbarities of the Savages, and the awful Death of Crawford by Torture ; one of the valuable Ohio Valley Series.

FRENCH AND GERMAN.2

Now that Sainte-Beuve has gone, there is no French critic left who fairly takes his place, but there are still writers who bring to their criticism sound views, a good style, and more seriousness of intention than is to be found among many of those of whom it is their duty to write. No one has the charming style of Sainte-Beuve, which like the best writing is that which most resembles talking, the vehicle of true criticism ; nor do we find any one with the same intelligent justice, with the same power of throwing a charm over the subjects which at first might seem least attractive. But M. Edmond Scherer is worthy of much praise for his work in the same direction. We have before us to-day the fourth volume of his Études sur la Littérature conlemporaine, in which he has gathered up a number of articles on various subjects, none of them bearing a later date than the middle of 1870, while most were written even longer ago. Thus it will be seen that most of them appeared in the last days of the Second Empire, and they contain very often harsh criticism of the decadence of literature which marked those sad days when France stood so low in the estimation of thoughtful Frenchmen and so high in that of foreigners enamoured of the wellwatered streets and civil policemen. M. Scherer’s condemnation is far from being the querulous complaint of a profound grumbler, or the easy smartness of a boulevard-fop. He notices the state of French literature of what we must call the present time. He takes M. Vaperran’s Année littéeraire et dramatique for 1867 as his text, and compares its showing with the earlier memorable times of the century. We cannot help thinking, however, that he makes the ease out rather worse than he need have done, for, allowing SainteBeuve to beloug to an earlier period, while there has been no one to replace Alfred de Musset, Taine certainly is deserving of high praise, and foreigners cannot be expected to give very lavish adoration to a period of which Chateaubriand was the acknowledged head. But it is true, on the other hand, that there is hardly a well-known writer in France who had not completed his education by the year 1848 ; there appears to be no generation growing up to take the places which in the course of a few years must be left vacant. Taine himself, and About in literature, and Prévost-Paradol and Bréal in linguistics, have no young men following them; while the older men, who gave often less warm adherence to the government, did good work by their writing, the younger men have either contented themselves with the cheap notoriety of bitter opposition, without the ability to suggest anything better, or they embraced the opportunity, which the Second Empire very generously offered, of seeking to do nothing more than amuse the public. This task they accomplished well, but there is no real satisfaction to be got from their work. One such man was Baudelaire, a dull writer of wilfully, coldly improper lines, which by some singular fortune have made him a scapegoat to receive a great deal of abuse, which might have been more impartially distributed ; of him there is a notice in this volume of M. Scherer’s. He speaks of Baudelaire’s works as books to be read for instruction rather than for pleasure, because they illustrate so well certain qualities of the age. They represent, he goes on to say, the decay of a literature. “ I had always supposed that to be a mere phrase, used by old men to condemn books of a style to which they were unaccustomed. I used to say to myself that everything was relative ; that every age had its language and literature, which were of use to express the thoughts of men at certain moments of the life of society, But no, there is in the human mind and in its productions a time of old age as well as one of youth ; after maturity comes decay, when the intelligence grows feeble, the tongue thicker, when ugliness and stiffness take the place of beauty and strength. To dispute this it would he necessary to abolish the distinction between beauty and ugliness, and this is what the Baudelaires are trying to do,”
More space is given to Sainte-Beuve than to any one else in this volume, which covers the time of the great critic’s death. One of the paragraphs is on his library.
“ Not that every writer has a library. Chateaubriand bad none ; he used to call them rat-holes. Nor did Lamartine have one. Lamartine and Chateaubriand were above everything, poets even in their travels and histories. But Sainte-Beuve was compelled to have a library, and he had a large one. In fact, he had several, each one representing a phase of his life, an epoch of his work. Thus his Tableau de la poésie française au seizième siècle figures there in a collection of our sixteenth-century poets. .... Then comes a Second library, such as served to make the PortRoyal..... But that was not his favorite corner: he preferred a little number of masterpieces ; the Iliad, which he placed first ; Virgil, of the different editions of whom he made a tolerably complete collection, towards the end of his life; Racine, of whom he was especially fond; and among the poets of our time, Lamartine. M. Hugo knew this, and said one day to Lamartine, in Sainte-Beuve’s presence, ‘ He likes you more than me.’ Add to these poets a few moralists, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, and you have his favorite collection.”
Many of his books bore marginal notes. Homer and Horace, of course, A few English authors were thus annotated, among others a Cowper, and a volume of Sir William Temple’s Essays. “ On a bundle of books and articles about China was written, ‘Article to be written on Chinese poetry, to be followed by one on French poets, the funeral procession of our contemporaries,’ ”
Here is another note: ‘‘To maintain a reputation with posterity, and in order to have it. wide-spread, it is necessary that posterity should imagine it has need of you as a type, as an example, as perpetual and convenient material for quotations. That keeps your memory fresher than the intrinsic merit of your work. In a word, l'homme qui passe pour avoir eu te plus d’esprit est celui qui a l'esprit de demain et d'apres-demain.' ”
M. Taine is the subject of two articles, one treating of his method, and the other reviewing briefly his Philosophie de l'art en Grèce. M. Scherer not unnaturally feels a certain hostility to M. Taine’s complete theories, and he gives us a brief criticism of them which is very well deserved. He acknowledges the points of resemblance to be found in many people of the same time in history, which are brought into notice more especially by M. Taine’s ingenious method. “Thus there is a common point, in the seventeenth century, between the philosophy, the poetry, the court, and the religion; between Louis XIV., Bossuet, Descartes, and Racine: this may escape the eye at first, though it may not be impossible to determine it; and this it is which forms the character of the century.”
This, too, is produced by two things, an individual nature and the modifications wrought by history. The seventeenth century is to he explained by the aptitudes of race, and by the influences of all kinds under the action of which these aptitudes are developed. And M. Taine is anxious to go back to the primal originating influence. All of us who have read his History of English Literature know the way in which he goes back to climate, race, and history to explain the course of English literature, and a system which explains everything but the great men who have made that literature what it is.
M. Veuillot’s Odeurs de Paris receives what it is not the custom in this country to call a “genial” notice. M. Veuillot flung abuse about him at everything in Paris which was not directly connected with the Roman Catholic Church, and thereby he made many enemies. M. Scherer wastes no love on this man who undertakes to do the work of reforming society with the weapons of an outcast, and has written a notice which is a very good answer to an abusive book.
There is also an article on the prefaces by A. Dumas, fils, to the edition of his plays, in which he attacks the specious arguments of that gentleman, who wishes to remodel society by dramatic representations, forgetting it is not so easy to do good as it is to do harm by means of the theatre.
In a word, this volume of M. Scherer’s essays will be found very entertaining reading. Nowhere in the volume is there such delicate criticism as Sainte-Beuve shows, but yet there is plenty of good sense, humor, and intelligent observation. Criticism is good which gives us this ; anything beyond is luxury.
  1. The Poetical Works of Edmund Clarence Stedman. Complete Edition. Boston : James R. Osgood & Co. 1873.
  2. Songs from the Southern Sens, and other Poems. By JAMES BOYLE O'REILLY. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1873.
  3. Songs of the Sunlands. By JOAQUIN MILLER. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873.
  4. Oldport Days. By THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON. Boston : J. R. Osgood & Co. 1873.
  5. Brave Hearts. A Novel. By ROBERTSON GRAY. New York: J. B. Ford & Co. 1873.
  6. Normandy Picturesque. By HENRY BLACKBURN. Boston : J. R. Osgood & Co. 1873.
  7. Recent Music and Musicians, as described in the Diaries and Correspondence of Ignatz Moscheles. Edited by his Wife, and adapted from the original German by A. D. COLERIDGE. New York: Henry Holt & Co. 1873.
  8. The American Cyclopœdia : A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge. Edited by GEORGE RIPLEY and CHARLES A. DANA. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1873.
  9. The Voice and How to Use It. By W. H. DANIELL. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1873.
  10. All books mentioned under this head are to be found at Schönhof and Möller’s, 40 Winter Street, Boston, Mass.
  11. Études sur la Littérature contemporaine. Par EDMOND SCHERER. 4me Série. Paris, 1873.