Recent Literature

IN those fond dreams of a future life which some of us still furtively indulge, despite the hard skeptic air of our sciencesmitten age, nothing is more dismaying than the chaos which the conditions of eternal life seem to make of all our mortal relations. If heaven is not to unite us with those we have lost, it is, to our earthly conceit of bliss, hardly heaven at all; but how can it fulfill this fond desire?

A poet has given the charm of the heart’s desperate demand to a poem which we have been reading over again in his book with a new sense of its poignant and potent force. Amidst the rapture of Paradise stand three spirits unconsoled. The first, answering the divine messenger, says : —

“ Ah, woe is me!
I from my clinging babe was rudely torn ;
Oh that my darling lay upon my breast! ”

The second: —

“ I was a fair and youthful bride,
He whom I worshiped ever at my side, —
Him through the spirit realm in vain I seek! ”

And the third : —

“ When the swift message set my spirit free,
Blind, helpless, lone, I left my gray-haired sire :
My friends were many ; he had none but me.”

Then the messenger sent to ask them of their sorrow bids them behold in him the child, husband, and father from whom death removed them long ago.

“ To lie, an infant, in thy fond embrace,—
To come with love’s warm kisses back to thee,
To show thine eyes thy gray-haired father’s face,
Not Heaven itself could grant; this may not be.
“ Then spread your folded wings and leave to earth
The dust once breathing ye have mourned so
Till Love, new risen, owns his heavenly birth,
And sorrow’s discord sweetens into song ! ”

To the mere earth-bound sympathies there might seem a pensive irony in the consolation offered; we, here below, do not easily rise to its height, though we perceive its truth far above us. But what impresses one chiefly in the poem is the powerful situation created in confronting the three bereaved souls with their common loss in the angel forever estranged from all likeness to the object of their mortal love. This situation is the stronger without the angel’s comforting words; but doubtless the poet here felt his allegiance to something higher than literary art. A very beautiful and imaginative passage of the poem is this, which keenly suggests the pathos of perpetual exile in a world of eternal bliss: —

“ Children of earth, our half-weaned nature clings
To earth’s fond memories, and her whispered name
Untunes our quivering lips, our saddened strings;
“ Sometimes a sunlit sphere comes rolling by,
And then we softly whisper, —can it be ?
And leaning toward the silvery orb we try
To hear the music of its murmuring sea ;
“To catch, perchance, some flashing glimpse of
Or breathe some wild-wood fragrance wafted
The opening gates of pearl that fold between
The blinding splendors and the changeless blue.”

There is another poem in Songs of Many Seasons which is almost as subtile as Homesick in Heaven, — from which we have been quoting, — but perhaps not of so high a strain, and that is An Old Year Song. The discerning reader will perceive the allegory, without consenting that the bird which has pleased us so long is singing now from the

“ boughs that shake against the cold,
Bare, ruined choirs.”

And, if he is the reader we think him, he will feel the tender, sad thrill of such lines as these : —

“ Fast, fast the lengthening shadows creep,
The songless fowls are half asleep,
The air grows chill, the setting sun
May leave thee ere thy song is done,
The pulse that warms thy breast grow cold,
Thy secret die with thee, untold :
The lingering sunset still is bright,—
Sing, little bird! 't will soon be night.”

Here is the same inward look which in the Epilogue to the Breakfast-Table Series has such a charmingly humorous cast, and which is very characteristic of our poet. It is interesting in these two poems as expressing the different sense of poethood and authorship, the deep interior desire of self-utterance, the quaint, amused, halfashamed hope of remembrance. Neither poem could be better in its way. We like also, very much, the good feeling of Bill and Joe, and the humor, with its final serious cast, in The Organ Blower. These, and Aunt Tabitha, Dorothy Q., and A Ballad of the Boston Tea-Party, are of that mood in which one may say the poet is most like himself. The group to which they belong is easily the best part of the little book that opens with them, and we say this without forgetting the excellence of the many occasional pieces that fill it out, and that it would be so much easier to undervalue than to value aright. They are songs of welcome and farewell to distinguished guests of all kinds; memorial verses for deaths, birthdays, and dedications ; rhymes for festival seasons; poems celebrating the meetings of the class of 1829. In the multitude of these asked-for gifts the poet is of course better and worse; but his variance is less notable than their goodness, their unfailing wittiness, their unfailing grace, their perfect fittingness, their triumph over what we may call their occasionality.

“ Here ’s the cousin of a king, —
Would I do the civil thing ?
Here ’s the first-born of a queen ;
Here ’a a slant-eyed Mandarin.
Would I polish off Japan ?
Would I greet this famous man,
Prince or prelate, Sheik or Shah ? —
Figaro ci and Figarà là !
Would I just this once comply ? —
So they teased and teased till I
(Be the truth at once confessed)
Wavered, yielded, did my best.”

And this best, as we were saying, is amazingly good. Since we are in the way of letting Dr. Holmes speak for himself about his poems, we find that we cannot do better than let him characterize the few war pieces he has included in his book.

“ Here are angry lines, ' too hard ! ’
Says the soldier, battle-scarred.
Could I smile his scars away
I would blot the bitter lay,
Written with a knitted brow,
Read with placid wonder now.
Throbbed such passion in my heart ?—
Did his wounds once really smart ? ’

If our Southern friends wish to read the Northern heart, here it is for them.

— Like Dr. Holmes’s Songs of Many Seasons, Mr. Whittier’s Hazel - Blossoms has the advantage of indicating in a few pieces the outlines of the poet’s range, and in certain of these pieces showing him at his best. As we think Dr. Holmes has written nothing better in their several ways than Homesick in Heaven, Bill and Joe, and Dorothy Q., so we incline to rate amongst the first of Mr. Whittier’s poems A Sea Dream, A Mystery, and John Underhill.

The first of these is a fancy of people at a sea-side resort who hear a new-comer singing to the morning solitude of her he has long loved and lost: —

“ Is this the wind, the soft sea-wind
That stirred thy locks of brown ?
Are these the rocks whose mosses know
The trail of thy light gown,
Where boy and girl sat down ?
“ A stranger now, a world-worn man,
Is he who hears my name ;
But thou, methinks, whose mortal life
Immortal youth became
Art evermore the same.
“ I could not look on thee and live
If thou wert by my side ;
The vision of a shining one,
The white and heavenly bride,
Is well to me denied.
“ But turn to me the dear girl-face
Without the angel’s crown ;
“ Draw near, more near, forever dear!
Where'er I rest or roam, Or in the city’s crowded streets,
Or by the blown sea-foam,
The thought of thee is home ! ”

They all wonder who he can be, and they find him at breakfast apparently a mere

“ man of action, not of books,
To whom the corners made in gold
And stocks were more than sea-side nooks.”

The charm of the poem is in the genius with which the situation is idealized and the singer realized and made probable to the imagination, and in the wise art with which all is left to the fancy, unconcluded and unguessed. With what surpassing sweetness the little story is told, our readers, to whom it was first told, ought to remember. It is full of this poet’s peculiar tenderness, and there are gleams of his demurest humor in the closing stanzas of the poem, which describe the curiosity of the people at breakfast to know who the singer can be : —

“ In vain the sweet-voiced querist sought
To sound him, leaving as she came ;
Her baited album only caught
A common, unromautic name.”

The poem called A Mystery deals with a common but startling experience of perhaps every one : the sudden sense, at given moments and places, that what now seems to be for the first time has all been before : —

“ No clew of memory led me on,
But well the ways I knew ;
The feeling of familiar things
With every footstep grew.

“ The river wound as it should wind;
Their place the mountains took ;
The torn white fringes of their clouds
Wore no unwonted look ;
“ Yet ne’er before that river’s rim
Was pressed by feet of mine,
Never before mine eyes had crossed
That broken mountain line.
“ A presence strange at once and known
Walked, with me as my guide ;
The skirts of some forgotten life
Trailed noiseless at my side.”

This sort of “ weird seizure ” has often enough tempted poet and romancer to some effort at its portrayal; but we do not remember ever to have seen its shadowy, evanescent character so clearly caught as here ; and no one else has found so sweet and high a meaning in it, as he who has drawn from it the hope

“ That love would temper every change
And soften all surprise,
And, misty with the dreams of earth,
The hills of heaven arise.”

John Underhill seems to us one of the best of those Puritan ballads (so we can call them for want of a better name) in which Mr. Whittier is unquestionably the best of our poets. The New England past is very rich in suggestions if not in facts of this sort, and it singularly invites the poetic fancy because there is no modern refinement of conscientiousness as respects man’s responsibility to God and his own soul for his errors, which may not be reasonably attributed to the austere religionists of our former times. Indeed, every touch identifying the past and present in such high regards seems to add to the truthfulness of the historic effect, whereas just these touches are the ones which most mar the study of almost any other past. The Friend’s Burial and The Prayer of Agassiz are also characteristically fine poems; and in the volume is that ode on Sumner which fitly celebrates the statesman who was yet more a philanthropist. It is both a carefuller and a freer picture of the man than poets are wont to paint of the great dead : —

“ Safely his dearest friends may own
The slight defects he never hid,
The surface-blemish in the stone
Of the tall, stately pyramid.
“ What if he felt the natural pride
Of power in noble use, too true
With thin humilities to hide
The work he did, the love he knew ?
“No sense of humor dropped its oil
On the hard ways his purpose went;
Small play of fancy lightened toil;
He spake alone the thing he meant.”

Here and elsewhere a frank hand is laid upon well-known defects of Sumner’s temperament ; but to point them out seems part of the praise of him.

A very interesting part of this little volume is that which contains the few pieces of the poet’s sister, Elizabeth H. Whittier, of which the poet himself speaks more truthfully and discerningly than any other critic could. The poem on Doctor Kane in Cuba and that called The Wedding Veil show a gift that only needed exercise to make its fineness and force fully recognized.

— The best part of Katharine Earle is the account of the heroine’s childhood, which was spent in Poplar Street, in Boston, a place venerable with the antiquity of twenty-five departed years. There is something lively and natural in the account of the simple amusements of the little girl, and in her attempt to break the Fugitive Slave Law. When she grows up she knows the severer troubles of mature years. She has a lover of whom it must be said that he shows equal laxity with regard to other laws, who pays attention to two or more young women at one time, and who is accused of knowing more than he should about a certain bank-robbery. She is much troubled by him, but his place is taken, in time, by another man, a professor in the school where she also teaches, and who, from observing and apparently despising her, becomes an ardent lover; and when by the treachery of one of her rivals these two are made to lose their way in the woods and stay out overnight, he shows how he has profited by the novels he has read, by convincing her that the only thing they can do to silence offensive rumor is to get married. This they do, and after brief misunderstanding which is pardonable in consideration of the speed with which they married, they are happy together. This is by no means a wonderful novel, but the frank, honest character of the heroine is not at all badly drawn, and there are no violent and unnatural incidents. This alone is so rare in a novel of such slight calibre, as almost to make Katharine Earle commendable.

— Holden with the Cords frankly challenges the hostility of the worldly mind by announcing itself as a religions novel, and the author prophesies that the “ great novel of the future ” will belong to the same class. This may be so. At least, it is not worth while to dispute a point which the future only can decide, but meanwhile we can assure the reader that the proportion of religion to romance in the present volume is so small that the most “ advanced ” need not be offended thereby. There are plenty of forged wills, poisoned cups, secret chambers, midnight assassins, and long-lost brothers and sisters, but only one sermon properly so called. There is a blameless and uninteresting hero, a supernatural villain, a shadowy and angelic principal heroine, and two minor heroines who are artists. The presence of these last suggests some curious thoughts about the artist-woman whose type is now so fully established, both m city directories and the pages of light literature. Holden with the Cords is not in - written; there is a good variety of characterization, places are particularly well described, and only a few of the incidents are violently improbable. A few, on the other hand, are fresh and picturesque, especially the scene in Satra’s studio, where the ungentle closing of the door behind her heartless lover, as he takes his final leave of her, causes the ruin of the hastily constructed model of her first great work, which had been conceived under the spell of his influence. “ Apparently the clay figure was trembling with sympathetic emotion. It even bent toward her, as if suddenly endued with life. For a moment the old fable of Pygmalion seemed coming true.

. . . Then the limbs gave way, the trunk fell forward, down went Bearer and Child together, the faces of each giving her one last, distorted look of malign meaning ere they crushed into fragments on the platform.” Moreover, the book although sensational is a pure one. Whatever its faults or crudities may be, it is thoroughly satisfactory and, we may add, American in the fact that there is not in it a single case of a man in love with another man’s wife, or a woman with another woman’s husband ; these are points in their French and English models which the ordinary novelists mostly forbear to imitate. The best and the worst which can be said of Holden with the Cords is that it presents a perfect type of that class of books which young schoolgirls read many times and describe by the adjective “ splendid.”

— In Salem : A Tale of the Seventeenth Century, one more attempt is made to use for purposes of art that most distressing episode of New England history, the witchcraft-delusion of 1692. In no hands but Hawthorne’s, as we think, could such an attempt ever have been completely successful, and the present author’s experiment is in every way unworthy of the tragic epoch which it presumes to illustrate, and incongruous with it. The spirit of that dark hour is never caught, or its landscape or characters realized. The story is in fact so light and foolish that there seems something indelicate, not to say impudent, in dragging into it one or two of the unhappy Salem victims and their more unhappy persecutors. A single extract will perhaps justify this judgment. The heroine of the story forms a Platonic friendship for a young Indian chief, and this is the way they seal it: —

“ ‘ Listen, daughter of the pale-face ! . . Pashemet has no mother, and his sister is long gone to the spirit-land. Pashemet is alone in his wigwam, He has no mother, no sister ’ —

“ ‘ And I too,’ said Alice, answering him in his own strain, ' I too am the last of my people. I have no father, no brother. I too am alone. But see,’ she said, kindly, ' I will be your sister and I will choose you for my brother.’ Stooping to the water that rippled at their feet, she dipped her hand in it, and laid it on the dusky brow of the youth beside her. 'O Pashemet, my brother, I baptize you “ the Firtree.” ’

“ Calm, grave, and unsmiling, the Indian boy imitated her graceful action, and, as he sprinkled the bright drops over her long, flowing chestnut curls, he murmured gravely, ‘ O Alice, my sister, pure and beautiful ! I baptize thee “ the Water-lily ”

Girls may always have been silly ; but we thought it had been established that the noble red-man, even in his palmiest days, never talked in this way.

— Explorers are gradually narrowing the unvisited regions of Africa: Livingstone, Stanley, Speke, Rohlfs, and others have been of late busily devoting themselves to the solution of its geographical puzzles, and now Schweinfurth presents the public with an account of what he has done in a part of the country, between 3° and 10° north latitude, which had never been previously explored. Travelers had been all around this region, but Schweinfurth was the first to enter it. For an undertaking of this sort he was admirably fitted ; he had already considerable experience in African travel, and to the enthusiasm of an explorer he had added the training of a scientific man, so that the Humboldt Institution of Natural Philosophy and Travels, of Berlin, was very glad to avail itself of his services and to supply him with the requisite funds. He proposed to make a botanical investigation of the districts watered by the western affluents of the Nile, but he gives his readers what is by no means a dry catalogue of his botanical discoveries, but rather a remarkably interesting history of his travels. As noticeable as anything are his kind-heartedness and his treatment of the Africans as human beings, which undoubtedly explain the uniform good treatment with which he met. For accomplishing his journey, he, for what seem to be very good reasons, determined not to attempt an expedition, but to join a train of one of the merchants of Khartoom, who with an armed band made a yearly visit to his seribas or outlying stations, to purchase ivory and slaves, to relieve the guards at the different outposts, and to arrange any quarrels between neighboring chiefs. Traveling in this way, Dr. Schweinfurth visited the Dinkas, Bongos, Niam-Niams, and Monbuttoos, and his account of this part of his journey is a rich treasury of curious information.

The Dinkas live in an iron age; the wives of some of the rich often carry nearly half a hundred-weight of iron about them in the way of ornament. According to their notions it is effeminate in men to wear any clothing, and those that do are called women. Dr. Schweinfurth was known to them as the Turkish lady. They are good cooks and cleanly eaters, and more particular than many other savage races in refusing to touch many common articles of food which are eaten by their neighbors. They are good fighters, but also kind-hearted, especially to those who are connected with them by ties of kinship. The Bongos are less warlike, are gross eaters, and good mechanics. They are also great lovers of music, playing on little flutes, and on a singular monochord, from which they bring forth some not unpleasant airs. Their meagre orchestra is completed by gigantic trumpets, made from great stems of trees, and by kettle-drums. Their singing is a “ babbling recitation, which at one time suggests the yelping of a dog, and at another the lowing of a cow.” They have firm belief in witches and in evil spirits, and are without any conception of a creator or of any ruling power above.

The Niam-Niams, the principal race of Central Africa, are cannibals. They are capital warriors, and great hunters. The women alone devote themselves to the cultivation of the soil. Their war-cry is “ Meat ! meat! ” which foreshadows the doom of their defeated foes. In their arts of peace they show considerable skill, especially in iron-work, pottery, wood-carving, building, and basket-work. Their earthenware vessels are spoken of very warmly by Schweinfurth. The men are exceedingly devoted to their wives, so that if any women are captured by the bands of Nubians the latter are able to exact any amount of ransom from the disconsolate Niam-Niams. They too are musical; they play on a sort of guitar, but monotonously and with very little melody. Their religious notions are exceedingly vague. They are, however, civilized enough to make use of Planchette for divinations ; this instrument has found votaries in China as well as in the United States.

The author gives a very interesting account of his introduction to the NiamNiam king. A few days after his reception, Schweinfurth saw him with his head in the skin of a great black baboon, wearing on his wrists large bundles of tails of the guinea-hog, and a number of rings on his bare legs, dancing in celebration of a victory of his forces.

South of the Niam-Niam country are the Monbuttoos. They resemble their neighbors whom we have just described, in their love of war and the chase, and in their habits of cannibalism. Schweinfurth says they are a noble race of men, who have some national pride, and who are blessed with intellect and judgment such as few of the African savages can ay claim to. Their pottery is graceful in shape, and adorned with ornamental figures.

The most singular part of the book is the account ot the Akkas, or pygmies, a few of whom Schweinfurth saw. They are supposed to be the descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of Africa. They are ardent hunters, often mischievous and cruel. The Monbuttoos and Niam-Niains make pets of them, regarding them as a sort of benevolent spirits.

These meagre synopses give but a faint notion of the interesting facts Dr. Sehweinfurth has collected in these strange regions. We can only refer the reader to his two entertaining volumes. Besides these solid merits, the book has the added charm of being testimony to the modesty and thoughtfulness of a man who has accomplished a great task, in the face of serious difficulties, out of pure love for science. The reader will be sure to lay aside the book with a high opinion of its author. The translation is a very good one.

— Mr. MacGahan’s record of his own expedition in Central Asia, in pursuit of the Russian army advancing against Khiva, makes a very entertaining volume. The author, who was the correspondent of the New York Herald, started for Khiva some time after the Russian forces had begun their march to the same place. In company with Mr. Schuyler, Secretary of the Legation of the United States at St. Petersburg, he went to Orenburg, and thence to Kazala on the Jaxartes, hoping to arrive in time to join a detachment which unfortunately had already left. The commander of the fort refused to give them permission to follow, but the two Americans pushed on to Fort Perovski without his permission. The Russian general, Kaufmann, had forbidden Europeans to enter Turkestan, but Mr. MacGahan, being an American, bade good-by to his companion, and struck boldly into the desert. He had with him a Tartar servant, who proved a great incumbrance, a guide, and a young Khirgiz to look after the baggage and his six horses. His “ light and unpretentious equipment ” was composed of “ a heavy, double-barreled English hunting rifle, a double-barreled shot gun, both of which pieces were breechloading, an eighteen-shooter Winchester rifle, three heavy revolvers, and an ordinary muzzle-loading shot gun throwing slugs, besides a few knives and sabres.” His departure from Fort Perovski, on account of his fear of the interference of the commandant, resembled a hurried flight. He got away unhindered, and after a weary journey of four and a half days over the burning desert he managed to reach the rear-guard of the Russian army. The commanding officer, a German, refused him food for himself and his horses, but he was more kindly treated by the Russian officers, who paid him every attention. Here again he had a chance to show his energy, for being unable to get permission to proceed alone, he stole away by night, and by dint of reaching the next well two hours before a party of Cossacks, sent to bring him back in disgrace, he managed to reach the Oxus just in time to witness the first firing at the Khivans on the opposite shore. He had spent in all thirty days in the desert, and the modest, manly record of his experience there should be read by everyone who cares for deeds of adventure.

His story of the capture of Khiva, and of the cruel war upon the Turcomans, is vivid and interesting. Especially good is the description of a night-attack made upon the Russians by the Turcomans, who dashed through the lines, and, for a time, nearly caused a panic.

The book is very interesting ; it is full of humor, and well deserves reading. The writer had a most curious experience to tell and he has told it well. The engravings, taken from the sketches of Russian officers, add to the value of the book. The New York Herald certainly chooses its correspondents well.

— Modern Christianity a Civilized Heathenism is marked by the same audacity of attack and passionate force of demonstration as was its predecessor, The Fight in Dame Europa’s School. The latter arrested the attention and swayed for a moment the opinion of the civilized world, and the present volume can hardly fail of an equal, if equally fugitive effect. It is, at least, a little curious to consider that the same France which engaged the author’s fervid partisanship in Dame Europa is the very epitome of that heathen civilization which, by implication, he condemns so severely in Modern Christianity.

The plan of the book is very simple. A young and clever East Indian gentleman, naturalized and practicing law in England, and thoroughly disabused of any religious prejudices whatever, visits his friend, a wellto-do bachelor clergyman of the established church, in whose luxurious rectory, “ sitting with a couple of long clay pipes over a small September fire,” the two drift into a (so-called) religious discussion, and the heathen unfolds his “ views.” These are, substantially, that the term Christian civilization is a complete misnomer ; that Christianity and civilization are, in fact, antagonistic and mutually destructive forces, and that just so far as the modern world is civilized, it is anti-Christian ; the aims and achievements of our civilization, its reverence for wealth, its care for material comfort and the refinements of living, the superficial virtues and suave deceptions which constitute its good manners, and the spirit of its favorite researches into physical science, being all essentially heathen and unsparingly condemned by the precepts of Christianity and the life and character of its founder. Consequently, the modern Christian minister who preaches Christ, while he systematically seeks for himself and enjoys all the good things of this life, is in a position whose amazing falsity abundantly accounts for the very general and fast-growing contempt with which his ministrations arc regarded.

The arraignment for inconsistency is certainly a terrible one, and the behavior under fire of the clergyman of the book is truly pitiable. He is, of course, the author’s own man of straw, but we cannot think him a fair representative of his class, even in a state church; when all is said, the average Christian minister is rather above than below the average man in intelligence and virtue. And still it is probable that a large proportion even of that minority of adults in a Christian community who attend church at all are, if they would confess it, habitually puzzled and pained by a sense of something remote, effete, futile, in the preaching which they hear. Either it has no bearing at all on such questions of conscience as arise out of the affairs of daily life, or, as in the case of certain “popular” preachers, it puts ou a vulgar and unbecoming secularism, which robs it of the last remnant of dignity. A feeling akin to compassion for the preacher, on account of the strange incongruity between the life which he must live and the word which he thinks he must preach, is, we believe, more common with the conscientious hearer than that spirit of rather ferocious satisfaction in his discomfiture displayed by the “civilized heathen ” of the book. Nevertheless, that incongruity must somehow be removed, else the pulpit cannot hope to regain its traditional power. Is such removal possible without that radical warfare on society, that denial of family ties and ascetic rejection of the lighter humanities which Christ in his brief life certainly exemplified, and which the exigeant Brahmin demands ? Is it possible if the preacher is to take the Bible for his text-book ?

It is a question to be answered with diffidence ; but why should not the Christian preacher sometimes dare to say, Christ our Lord did not come to reveal a system of morality. Incidentally he delivered moral precepts, but these were never intended to constitute a formal code. They are in no way superior to the highest precepts of heathen morality, and are even of somewhat narrower range than they, since they do not include the civic virtues, and lay the lightest possible stress on the purely domestic. Still less did he come to furnish a pattern of life. His career was in every way exceptional—type only of the career, in every age, of the very few who are so possessed by a work to be wrought, a testimony to be delivered, that they inevitably and rightly repudiate or refuse to assume the obligations of the ordinary man, even those which are most sacred. No man, it is probable, ever followed more closely and literally the example of his Master, than Ignatius Loyola ; but the history of the order which he founded — as of the other monastic orders — shows plainly enough what is likely to be the result when large bodies of men, from whatever motive, take upon themselves vows of “ poverty, chastity, and obedience.” What then was the mission of Christ, and how are we to account for his singular and supreme position in history, and for the vast power of consolation and support to individual souls which his very memory still possesses ? His mission was to reveal immortality. He died and rose again, that is, returned to earth in a form which his sorrowing survivors recognized, to confirm their faint hope of a future life. Precisely at that time, the horizon of the civilized world being very dark with the portents of coming storm and destruction, the anxiety of the more spiritually minded among men for some such confirmation had become sickening in its intensity. Hence the opportuneness of Christ’s coming, so insisted on by his early followers. We are supposing that our preacher has an implicit faith in the facts of revelation, although able perhaps to distinguish between the authority of these and that of the ethical and doctrinal speculations even of Christ’s earliest followers. But if confronted with the extreme improbability of the resurrection, he may well reply that resurrection is intrinsically no more improbable than either birth or death, but only the mark of a higher stage of development than either. And this is what Christ’s first disciples did actually teach. Consider Saint Paul, — the most brilliant man and memorable preacher of them all. He did indeed renounce a distinguished worldly career and adopt an ascetic way of living for the sake of the work he had to do. So did Socrates before him, and so have many men since. But the type of his character was singularly unlike Christ’s. He was a highly educated man, with a passion for dialectics and the manners of the world. He reproved sin, but seldom abruptly or unsparingly. He was even remarkable for tact, for that sympathy with his audience and seeming concession to their habits and weaknesses which the heathen caviler at Modern Christianity denounces as so particularly unchristian ; as when, in one of the most graceful public speeches on record, he quoted the Greek poets to an Athenian assembly, or in the numerous instances where he adopted the cumbrous phraseology of the. Jewish ceremonial law, for the sake of adapting himself to Hebrew prejudices. But his main theme, that which distinctively he “ went everywhere preaching,” was the resurrection of the dead. Men questioned what this resurrection from the dead might mean, and he was eager to tell them, He touches the summit of his remarkable eloquence, when he attempts to show by purely natural analogies that the thing is not incredible. He himself declares that all his ethical teaching rests on this foundation, and would fall with its withdrawal. “ If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain.” “ But if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, those also who sleep in Jesus” — whose souls have departed as did his — “ will God bring with him,” will he likewise preserve and restore in their individuality. And on the whole, if even with a much fainter faith than theirs whose experience actually touched his own, we may accept this after life of Christ, his significance and supremacy seem to us accounted for,

At least this central truth, if it be a truth, dwarfs at once all dogmatic deductions from his fragmentary and often figurative teaching. The Brahmin of the story talks continually as if the doctrine of the everlasting punishment of the wicked were the centre of Christ’s system. It was not, although he certainly used words on rare occasions which seem to require some such interpretation. But if it is a risen Lord we follow rather than a dogmatic teacher, we are at once absolved from the agonizing struggle to accept anything so utterly repugnant to that inherent moral sense by which alone all books, all lives, all precepts must finally by us be tried.

Early in the discussion between the clever infidel and the feeble-minded parson, the former is made to say that he would himself embrace Christianity if he could but find one thoroughly consistent follower of the historic Christ. Such an one at last he sees, one who has bestowed all his goods to feed the poor and is dying early of a malignant disease contracted in the course of his arduous ministrations. And the last glimpse we have of our fluent skeptic shows him kneeling on the floor of the church where the martyr had once ministered, beating his breast in a seeming agony of remorse and self-abasement. The inference is that he himself will follow in the dead man’s footsteps,

Artistically, — if the word be not impertinent, — there is no fault to be found with such a conclusion. Enthusiasm is ever contagious, and reactions are inevitable, and, if anything is meant, were doubtless meant to be so. But the calmer reason of mankind will still pronounce that he who best fulfills the widest, and at the same time most natural range of duties in this present life is likely to be making the best of all preparation for that unknown existence, which we have not yet quite ceased to hope is to come.

— In his Sacred Anthology Mr. Conway has collected a large number of choice utterances from both Biblical and Pagan authors, and arranged them side by side under the various headings he has taken to illustrate. For the accomplishment of this task he has drawn freely from the Brahman and Buddhist religious books, from the Persian writers Sádi, Omar Khayyám, Háfiz, etc., from the Chinese and Japanese, the Egyptian and the Scandinavian bards, confining “ his selections to those books of a moral and religious character which, having commanded the veneration of the races among whom they were produced, are still the least accessible to European readers.” He has chosen from a wide field with excellent judgment, and we have a volume of great interest. Indeed, to a thoughtful reader it cannot fail to give much material for reflection, when he compares the various forms of expressing similar ideas of reverence, wonder, or adoration, and sees how much that is admirable is to be found in the sacred writings of other races. Mr. Conway has contented himself with giving the texts alone, and has left them to make their own sermons, and this they are sure to do. Such work as this, which is itself in great measure one of the results of the scientific study of language, is the material out of which a new science, that of Comparative Religion, is gradually forming. It may he doubted whether the scientific method is capable of settling the relative strength of various religious feelings, but, to a certain extent, every reader will try something of the same sort of discrimination for himself in reading the book. He will at any rate get a wider sympathy for those whom he has been accustomed to look down upon with a certain contempt, and he will learn that all truth is not to be found in the geographical boundaries he is most familiar with.

The volume is one of lasting merit, and it is printed and bound as the book deserves.

— It is now and then the happy fortune of a human being to be so richly endowed with all those qualities which kindle the enthusiasm and conduce to the joy of his kind, that his fascination, his very personal magnetism, persists and moves the hearts of men long after death has withdrawn him from the first sphere of his shining. Of none was this ever truer than of Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose eminent and permanent musical fame is something quite distinct from the immortality of his personal sweetness and grace, although so perfectly harmonious with it. His very shade wins love. We long to catch and clasp those miraculously gifted hands which we cannot bear to see always outstretched in “ yearning for the farther shore.”

Ferdinand Hiller’s brief memorial of the beloved composer is very artless and informal. In his simple and sorrowful preface, the author tells us that he has sometimes been reproached for hoarding, so to speak, his intimate knowledge of Mendelssohn’s history and character, but that he was long withheld because he feared “ to give occasion for the very slightest accusation of trying to gain popularity through his friendship.” Now, however, that Mendelssohn himself has become the subject of aspersion from the disciples of an upstart school of art, he is glad to come forward and shed what added light he can on the loveliness of his nature and the inestimable value of his work. He regrets that he had not taken notes, at the time, of many things which Mendelssohn said, and also that so much of their highest intercourse was at the piano and through the medium of music, of which — we thank him for emphatically saying— language is totally incapable of giving even the most distant idea.

The volume consists principally of letters from Mendelssohn to Hiller, united by the slightest and most unpretending thread of narrative which could render them intelligible. These letters do not differ materially in character from the precious ones which we already possess, but often shed a fresh light on interesting epochs of Mendelssohn’s life, or little caprices of his character. Extracts cannot illustrate them, but we make room for two, taken quite at random, because they are so intensely characteristic of his playfulness, his petulance, and his sublime humility. The first is from Leipsic in 1836. “You had better not boast so much about your Ciecilia Society. We Leipsickers are getting up a performance of Israel in Egypt which will be something quite perfect; more than two hundred singers, with orchestra and organ in the church. I look forward to it immensely. We shall come out with it in about a week, and that is also one of the things which makes my head in a whirl just now, for these rehearsals, with all the amateur ladies and gentlemen singing and screaming away all at once, and never keeping quiet, are no easy matter. You are better off at the Cæcilia Society, where they have been well drilled into obedience; but then they criticise among themselves, and that isn’t nice either. In fact — and so on ! I wish I were at the Fahrthor, and also at the Pfarreisen; you may believe me or not. Stamaty is staying here, and I have got to teach him counterpoint. I declare I really don't know much about it myself, but he says that’s my modesty ! ”

The other letter is written during Mendelssohn’s first visit to England after his happy marriage, and bewails the separation from his young wife.

“ Here I sit in the fog, — very cross, without my wife,— writing to you, because your letter of the day before yesterday requires it; otherwise I should scarcely do so, for I am much too cross and melancholy to-day. .... It is becoming unbearable, and I wish I had let Birmingham he Birmingham, and were sitting with Cecile, and could enjoy life more than I do to-day.

D&endash;n it! You know what that means, don’t you ? and I have three more weeks of it before me, and have got to play the organ at B—on the 22d, and be at Leipsic again on the 30th—in a word, I wish I were rid of the whole business. I must be a little fond of my wife, because I find that England and the fog and beef and porter have such a horribly bitter taste this time — and I used to like them so much.”

Dr. Hiller describes the charming married home of Mendelssohn at Leipsic with such photographic minuteness as well-nigh to give it a place in the recollections of us all, and confesses, with a directness which is infinitely pathetic, to the estrangement (so needless, yet so natural to people of their intense susceptibilities) which divided the two friends in the very last years of Mendelssohn’s life, to the piercing and incurable regret of himself, so long the survivor.

— Those who care to read a full and entertaining account of two successful military expeditions cannot do better than turn to Mr. Stanley’s Coomassie and Magdala, which records the conquest of Abyssinia by the English in 1868, and the defeat of the Ashantees in the early part of the year just closed. The most complete account and consequently the most interesting is that of the Abyssinian campaign. In describing the Coomassie expedition Mr. Stanley uses a facile pen, and gives us a vivid account of the dangers to which the English army was exposed. Fearful heat and fever were the main difficulties; there were but five days of fighting before the English were completely victorious, and able to make their way honorably to the sea-shore. The Abyssinian expedition was embarrassed by far less serious dangers, there was none of the demoralization of disease, and the results of the expedition were even more successful, if anything. Both, however, have brought great glory to the English army. Mr. Stanley has written agreeably, and apparently with great impartiality. He criticises at times Sir Garnet Wolseley, and he condemns especially this general’s undue haste to reach the coast before the rainy season had begun, but he does this in no carping spirit. He points out, too, some minor inaccuracies in the conduct of the campaign ; on the whole, however, he gives it great praise. It is with more enthusiasm that he describes the Abyssinian expedition, which certainly was in almost every way more picturesque, and he has managed to narrate all its striking points with commendable skill. This part of the volume may well take its place as a new history from which ardent boys may learn the lesson of what skill and enthusiasm can perform in spite of many difficulties. The obstacles are clearly pointed out for which tact and energy were needed and found, and there is an admirable account of the final success. Mr. Stanley is certainly a valuable newspaper correspondent, and he has written a book which rises much above the flippancy one might expect to find in a volume of the sort, which was formed from a correspondent’s hasty letters. The two parts are unequal in this respect, that on Magdala being far superior to the other.


Scribner, Armstrong, & Co., New York: Oriental and Linguistic Studies. By William Dwight Whitney. — The Paraclete. — Rhymes and Jingles. By Mary Mapes Dodge. — Brie-a-Brac Series. Barham, Harness, and Hodder. By R. H. Stoddard. — Life and Literature in the Fatherland. By John E. Hurst.

J. R. Osgood & Co., Boston : Childhood Songs. By Lucy Larcom. — Chemical and Geological Essays. By T. Sterry Hunt.— The Emigrant’s Story. By J. T. Trowbridge.

D. Appleton & Co., New York: Animal Mechanism. By E. J. Marey.

Harper and Brothers, New York : Latin Hymns. By F. A. March. — The Sack of Gold. By Virginia W. Johnson.—French Principia. Part I.

Macmillan & Co., New York : The Common Frog. (Nature Series.) By St. George Mivart, F. R. S. — A Ramble Round the World. By Baron De Hübner.

Dodd and Mead, New York: Strength and Beauty. By Mark Hopkins, D. D.

G. F. Putnam’s Sons, New York : Among the Trees. By William Cullen Bryant. Illustrated by Jervis McEntee.

James Miller, New York: Verses of Many Days. By William Osborn Stoddard.

F. B. Patterson, Philadelphia: Poems by Sterne. By Stuart Sterne.

Lee and Shepard, Boston : For Better or Worse. By Jennie June.

Henry Holt & Co., New York: Three Essays on Religion. By John Stuart Mill.

J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia: Memoirs of John Quincy Adams. Vol. III. By Charles Francis Adams.

Longmans & Co., London : Early English History. By John Pym Yeatman.— Report of the Commissioner of Education.

J. P. Morton & Co., Louisville, Ky. : Practical and Critical Grammar. By Noble Butler.


Strodtmann’s translation of the lectures delivered at the University of Copenhagen is hardly a new book, or on that account worthy of mention, but it has a stronger claim for notice from the fact that it is a valuable contribution to the study of the literature of the early part of this century. These lectures, we are told by Strodtmann, excited a great deal of enthusiasm at the time of their delivery, and a great deal of recrimination when they were first published. There is but little in them, one would say, that calls for attack, and especially the sort of attack with which apparently they met. Brandes said what is very

true, that Danish literature is of but little interest, and the greater part of his book is devoted to studying the literature of France and Germany in the period when they stood in close connection with one another. Freethinker, corrupter of morals, upsetter of society, are the names he has earned by thus discussing foreign literature instead of his own. Of such a conflict there can he but one end; to an outside observer there is nothing worthy of note in the commotion the book has called forth. As for the book itself, it is an interesting, well-written study of the reaction, headed by Rousseau, against the literature of the eighteenth century, of the books which were written under his influence, and of the later Romantic reaction. This is a subject which it might be thought had been worn threadbare by this time. Even those who have never read a line of Rousseau know in a vague way that his literary influence has been very great. That is the first lesson taught by the numerous writers on Romanticism, and if Brandes cannot be charged with telling a new truth in proclaiming this, he has the merit of setting it in a forcible light, which impresses what he has to say upon his readers. His style is always brilliant, and at times eloquent. The very beginning of his opening lecture is a very good example of his manner. Of France he says, “ While in all external relations this country is inclined to change, and, in following this inclination, knows no limits or moderation, it is yet, in all literary matters, exceedingly conservative, recognizing authority, maintaining an Academy, and observing moderation. The French had overthrown their government, hanged or banished the odious aristocrats, founded a republic, carried on a war with Europe, done away with Christianity, decreed the worship of a Supreme Being, deposed or established a dozen rulers, before it occurred to any one to declare war against the Alexandrine verse, before any one ventured to question the authority of Corneille or Boileau, or to have any doubt that the observance of the three unities was absolutely necessary for the preservation of good taste. Voltaire, who had but little respect for anything between heaven and earth, respected the Alexandrine verse. All tradition he turned upside down ; he employed tragedies as means of attack against the powers they bad hitherto been supporting, namely, the right of kings and of the church ; from many of his tragedies he excluded love, which before his time had been the main interest in a real tragedy ; he tried to follow in the footsteps of Shakespeare: but he did not venture to shorten his verse by a single foot, to modify in the slightest respect the conventional method of rhyming, or to make the action last longer than twentyfour hours or to place the action in two different places in one play. He did not hesitate to wrench the sceptre from the hand of kings, or to tear the mask from the face of priests, but be respected the traditional dagger in Melpomene’s hand, and the traditional mask before her face.”

As the book goes on, Brandes gives particular men and their writings more special consideration. From Rousseau he dates the rise of the reaction against the eighteenth century, he shows how much Goethe, when he wrote his Werther, was under Rousseau’s influence, and he traces the growth of what may be called unhappiness in literature through a series of acknowledged masterpieces. Chateaubriand’s René he compares with Werther; in this last-named Brandes finds discontent with the existing condition of affairs, which condemned the hero to poverty, prevented him from marrying, and instead compelled him to see the girl of his choice married to an ordinary man, whom he more than half despised. In René, on the other hand, Brandes sees for the first time melancholy appear. His comparison of it with what is shown in Molière’s Misanthrope is ingenious. Of the hero of the play, he says, “ He is a misanthrope by reasoning, not by temperament; ” he calls him a product of the classical, oratorical eighteenth century period; while for the melancholy of this century, or perhaps it may be safe to say of the first half of this century, before certain scientific discoveries breathed such new life into the intellectual energy of men, he finds deeper reasons : " The individual is emancipated. No longer contented with remaining on the spot where he has been placed or where he was born, not satisfied merely with plowing the paternal field, he feels, with the appearance of democracy, for the first time the world lying literally open before him.” Everything seems possible to him, but his power does not increase in the same proportion, least of all the power of self-control, and hence comes despair. We have come no nearer finding an answer to the questions, Why were we born ? why do we live ? what is the meaning of it all ? We have only become more conscious of our lack of knowledge.

Of Senancour’s Obermann he gives an interesting description, as well as of Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe. In this brief abstract we have space for but very unsatisfactory mention of the different valuable remarks the author makes. He says that Adolphe is less brilliant than René, less resigned than Obermann, but that he belongs to the same restless, undecided generation. It should be premised that Adolphe is a novel that will seem very familiar to those who read an abstract of it, and who at the same time have any knowledge of French literature. It describes the love of a young man for a married woman, several years older than himself, her desertion of her husband for the sake of her lover, whose affection for her gradually cools, her death, and his vain regrets. The influence this book has had on later French literature it is only too easy to see, especially in Balzac, who has himself influenced so many others. Brandes says of it that it was the Werther of women. The maladie du siècle advanced a step, spreading from the man to the woman. In Werther the man was sick, sad, and despondent, but Charlotte was firm, untouched, although a trifle cold and insignificant. By this time, however, it was her turn to love and to despair, and this makes the story of Adolphe. All of these books express discontent with society, and a struggle against its limitations. The same opposition is to be found in Madame de Staël’s Delphine and Corinne, and Brandes gives his readers a very thorough statement of what is contained in these books, and of their connection with literary development.

Then follows a discussion of the Romantic reaction, in which there is a very entertaining account of the Hellenism of Goethe, and of the reaction in favor of the Middle Ages. It is not so much that Brandes says a great deal that is absolutely new that he deserves praise, it is for the ingenuity and novelty of his expressions, for the unexpected solution he throws on different questions. A very good example of this may be seen in the chapter where he compares the Teutonic mind with that of the Hindus, and again where he gives to France the credit of being rather more like Greece than is Germany. Not that he gives much time to these fantastical notions, but when he introduces them in order to throw clearer light on his subject, he does it with a novel turn that arrests the attention.

In this study of literature he refers to but few hooks, but he chooses those which he considers the most representative. He writes an historical sketch of literature not to bring in all the books which have appeared in it, but to trace the growth of certain literary phenomena as they appeared in their most novel and most striking forms.

The volume now before us, it will be noticed, is merely the first one. The book, as a whole, will be deserving of the attention of those who care for a wide view of modern literature. Brandes will be found a most suggestive writer.

  1. Songs of Many Seasons. 1862-1874. By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. Boston: J. R, Osgood & Co. 1875.
  2. Hazel-Blossoms. By JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER. Boston : J. It. Osgood & Co. 1874.
  3. Katharine Earle. By ADELINE TRAFTON. Boston : Lee and Shepard; New York : Lee, Shepard, and Dillingham. 1874.
  4. Holden with the Cords. By W. L. M. JAY. New York : E. P. Dutton & Co. 1874.
  5. Salem: A Tale of the Seventeenth Century. By D. R. CASTLETON. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1874.
  6. The Heart of Africa. Three Years' Travels and Adventures in the Unexplored Regions of Central Africa, from 1868 to 1871. By Da. GEORG SCHWEINFURTH. Translated by ELLEN E. FREWER. With an Introduction by Winwood Reade. In two Volumes. With Maps and Wood-cut Illustrations. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1874.
  7. Campaigning on the Oxus, and The Fall of Khiva. By J. A. MACGAHAN, Correspondent of the New York Herald. With Map and numerous Illustrations. New York : Harper and Brothers. 1874.
  8. Modern Christianity a Civilized Heathenism. Boston: Wm. F. Gill & Co. 1874.
  9. The Sacred Anthology: A Book of Ethnical Scriptures, Collected and Edited by MONCURE DANIEL CONWAV, Author of The Earthward Pilgrimage. New York : Henry Holt & Co. 1874.
  10. Mendelssohn. Letters and Recollections by DR. FERDINAND HILLER. London: Macmillan & Co 1874.
  11. Coomassie and Magdala: The Story of Two British Campaigns in Africa. By HENRY M. STANLEY. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1874.
  12. All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moeller’s, 40 Winter Street, Boston, Mass.
  13. Die Hauptströmungen der Literatur des neuncehnten Jahrhunderts. Vorlesungen gehalten an der Kopenhagener Universität. Von G. BRANDES. Uebersetzt und eiugeleitet von ADOLF STRODTMANN. Erster Band: Die Emigrantenliteratur. Berlin: Verlag von Franz Duncker. 1872.