Recent Literature

MR. TENNYSON in his new drama separates himself from nearly all the things that we had always associated with him. Except for two songs, there is hardly a Tennysonian passage in the play; the moods are unhabitual; the diction is strange; in movement and structure the verse is unlike the verse of the Idyls and The Princess, and all the other blank verse of the laureate. The difference of this drama is an unexpected difference in every way. One would have thought, for example, that the latest tendency of a poet who had made art so much and so beautiful in his poetry, would be toward classic perfection in dramatic form; but this play is arch-Elizabethan in the looseness of its structure, its capricious changes of scene, its vast spaces of time and place. It is, in fact, not a poem, not a tragedy, but a tragic history, like the great histories of Shakespeare. But here its friends had better leave all comparison of it with Shakespeare’s plays ; for neither in character, nor in dramatic situation, nor in poeticalness will it bear the comparison. For all this, we think it is good : by the mercy of Heaven it is not necessary to be so great as Shakespeare in order to be good. Indeed, it may be that in the one matter of the sweetness of the song which Elizabeth, walking in her prison-garden, overhears the milkmaid sing, it is equal to Shakespeare ; but if it is not, then surely no one of our time else has written so glad and simple and arch a song:

MILKMAID (singing without).

Shame upon you, Robin,
Shame upon you now !
Kiss me would you ? with my hands
Milking the cow ?
Daisies grow again,
Kingcups blow again,
And you came and kissed me milking the cow.
Robin came behind me,
Kissed me well I vow ;
Cuff him could I? with my hands-
Milking the cow ?
Swallows fly again,
Cuckoos cry again,
And you came and kissed me milking the cow.
Come, Robin, Robin,
Come and kiss me now ;
Help it can I ? with my hands
Milking the cow ?
Ringdoves coo again,
All things woo again.
Come behind and kiss mo milking the cow.

Here is music without notes ; the words sing themselves ; that line,

“ And you came and kissed me milking the cow,”

with all its tinkling k’s — an oriole might have dropped it from his golden throat. It is about the only sound of cheer in the gloomy history that tells of the sorrows and crimes of Bloody Mary; and after it in beauty come those most tender, most touching passages, in which it is related how Lady Jane Grey died: —

BAGENHALL.

Seventeen — and knew eight languages — in music
Peerless— her needle perfect, and her learning
Beyond the churchman ; yet so meek, so modest
So wife-like humble to the trivial boy
Mismatched with her for policy ! I have heard
She would not take a last farewell of him,
She feared it might unman him for his end.
She could not be unmanned — no, nor outwomaned-
Seventeen — a rose of grace!
Girl never breathed to rival such a rose ;
Rose never blew that equaled such a bud.

STAFFORD.

Pray you go on.

BAGENHALL.

She came upon the seaffold,
And said she was condemned to die for treason ;
She had but followed the device of those
Her nearest kin : she thought they knew the laws.
But for herself, she knew but little law,
And nothing of the titles to the crown ;
She had no desire for that, and wrung her hands,
And trusted God would save her through the blood
Of Jesus Christ alone.

STAFFORD .

Pray you go on.

BAGENHALL.

Then knelt and said the Miserere Mei —
But all in English, mark you : rose again,
And, when the headsman prayed to be forgiven,
Said, “ You will give me my true crown at last,
But do it quickly ; ” then all wept but she,
Who changed not color when she saw the block,
But asked him, child-like, “ Will you take it off
Before I lay me down ? ” “ No, madam,” he said,
Gasping ; and when her innocent eyes were bound,
She, with her poor blind hands feeling — “ Where is it?
Where is it?”—You must fancy that which followed,
If you have heart to do it!

There is little else that one can separate from the context and feel the force of; and we must refer the reader to the play itself for proof of our right or wrong in judging it. If it has any unity, any strong, central spring, we have not found it, but have been obliged to content ourselves with its interest as it shifted from scene to scene, often of not much relevancy to the whole, or relation to each other. Mary’s coldly requited, pitiable love for Philip of Spain, her deluded hopes of offspring, her sincere, inflexible bigotry, her jealousy of Elizabeth, are historical traits which we cannot see that the poet adds much to ; and something like this may be said of most of the other historical persons. He surrounds them with the passions of all the nameless English people of their time, but we do not find that such forms of Elizabethan parlance as the characters use help the verisimilitude much; the effect is literary, rather; it is in regarding these events and men of the past with the conflicting human feelings which are of all times, ours as much as theirs, that the poet is a poet. Now and then there is a hearty burst of English prejudice or generosity, love or hate, that is fine, and all the truer for being in English that is as much Victoria’s as Elizabeth’s.

Perhaps the present heat in men’s minds in Europe, regarding the pretensions of the Roman Church, supplies something of that “ fire ” to this history which the ocean telegraph told us the London Times found in it; and perhaps it would be well if we could kindle it from the same source. If we cannot, such of us as love the liberties never wholly safe from those pretensions can still be glad that he who is for so many reasons the first voice in Christendom has spoken as he has at this time. He makes us hear again how the great Cranmer, humbled before his triumphant enemies in his recantation, died triumphant over their implacable cruelty by renouncing that recantation ; and the last words of the history are an echo of the useful fear which, in spite of the fall of the temporal power and the advance of civilization, still lurks in men’s hearts: —

Bagenhall. . . . The papacy is no more.

Paget (aside). Are we so sure of that?

The history ends with Elizabeth’s coronation after Mary’s death; but the part that Elizabeth has in the play is very subordinate. Her character is accepted from the popular love; and even her person. She is to be good Queen Bess, beautiful as good; and not the despotic, silly, immoral, plain old coquette we know from Mr. Motley’s pages. It was her greatest good fortune that she succeeded her sister; and under her England was at least saved to religious liberty.

Many weighty facts are supposed to occur, but we see few or none of them ; we hear of them from eye-witnesses —eloquent, to be sure, but all the same standing between us and the thing itself. We hear of Wyatt being taken, of Lady Jane Grey put to death, of Cranmer burnt; it is only the minor scenes that the poet can enable us to look on directly, and in this he shows his want of dramatic genius. Not so, not by this veiled and diluted report, would Shakespeare, would the least of his contemporaries, have made things known to us; we should have seen them, heard them, turned hot and cold before them by the evidence of our own senses.

Of course so perfect a master of his art as Mr. Tennyson intends the roughness and unfinish of certain verses; but we do not see what the work gains by these, or by the broken verses Elizabethanly scattered through it; perhaps they may give a greater colloquial ease; but he is a poet who can ill spare his technical perfections. His dramatic experiment cannot be considered successful in a dramatic, or high poetical sense. Of poetry, indeed, whether we mean the poetry of fancy expressing itself in eloquent metaphor, or the poetry of imagination resulting from an impassioned conception of character or situation, there is very little ; but it is all extremely interesting history, and it has that sort of poetry which is proper to the historical romance — a novel of Scott’s or Manzoni’s.

— In spite of its short-comings we have read with interest and pleasure Miss Lar com’s Idyl of Work.1 To be sure the pleasure was alloyed at every moment by the thought of how great an opportunity had been missed; for it happens to very few poets to have personally known so poetic and uncommon a phase of life as that which Miss Larcom has to do with. It is that curious life of the first manufacturing towns of New England, in their early days, when the mill-girls were the daughters, not of operatives, but of farmers and well-to-do mechanics : they had many of them taught school, they were rarely without some culture or love of reading, they brought at least the grace of home-nurtured girlhood to their toil, and they beautified it by aspirations which to our shame and sorrow we have almost come to think are above work, or incompatible with it. These girls astonished our English visitors and critics by their æsthetic interpretation of the common curse; to the great amazement of travelers who knew the vicious and stupid operative class of the Old World, they even published a literary journal of their own writing. We have never seen any numbers of this periodical, and we suppose perhaps it was not the highest literature; and no doubt the life of these ambitious mill-girls had its droll little vulgarities; but after all, what a truly idyllic episode it was, in the hard history of work! Here is an odd glimpse of one of its phases, some others of which Miss Larcom does well to paint in all their sordidness: —

Then Eleanor: “ I wish there were no rule
Against our reading in the mills. Sometimes
A line of poetry is such a lift
From the monotonous clatter.”
“ To the praise
Of mill-girls be the need of such a rule,”
Said Miriam Willoughby. “ Far be the time
When no one shall have reason to forbid
Fruit now desired. And yet I wonder much
How you could be obedient.”
Esther smiled :
“ We are not; we rebel ; at least, evade.
Few girls but keep some volume hid away
For stealthy reading. Some tear out the leaves
Of an old Bible, and so get the whole ;
For books, not leaves, are tabooed. Others paste
The window-sills with poem, story, sketch:
No one objects to papering bare walls.
I have a memory-book well filled so. There ’s
The minstrel of the Merrimack, who sings
For freedom, and is every toiler’s friend :
He walks our streets sometimes, and we all know
His Yankee Girl, Angel of Patience, too.
There’s Bryant’s Thanatopsis, Death of the Flowers,
Hood’s Bridge of Sighs, likewise his Song of the Shirt,
With Shelley’s Skylark, Coleridge’s Mont Blanc.
These, and more waifs of lovely verse, I 've learned
Between my window and my shuttle’s flight.
As well forbid us Yankee girls to breathe
As read ; we cannot help it ”

The story of the poem is scarcely anything at all: mostly the sayings and goings and comings of four young girls, whose characters are not forcibly distinguished and whose adventures — except in the case of one who is almost led astray by a young man of a well-known type of fashion and selfishness—amount to very little. The value of it all is in its faithfulness to the life it depicts— faithfulness to the daily commonplaceness as well as the higher motives of that life; and the charm is in the sincerity with which it is treated. It is in fact approached with a good deal of boldness, and handled with perhaps as great simplicity as we could expect of any but the greatest poet in treating the conditions of modern life, which seem to embarrass the minor sort as sorely as the costume of our period does the sculptor of it. Miss Larcom, also, has succeeded in keeping the girlish atmosphere and sentiment perfectly her people’s virtues, faults, hopes, despairs, plans, joys, sorrows, and affectations, strike one as all true girlish, and move one to a compassionate sympathy with girlhood struggling to keep life pretty and nice and even noble in circumstances so adverse. In this way we think her poem is a work of higher artistic effect than she supposes; for in her modest and prepossessing preface she is careful to warn us against expectation of great artistic achievement. It is a pity that having the choice to do so, she did not attempt something more decided and dramatic than she has done; she could have grouped all the characteristic facts of this sketch around the persons of a real story, and there is now distance enough between our time and that she describes to allow of whatever liberties romance needed to take with reality. It would have needed to take so very few.

The following passage will give a notion of the Wordsworthian courage with which Miss Larcom paints the scene of her idyl: —

For the room
Showed legibly its inmates’ daily life.
Isabel’s couch, a sofa-bedstead, worn
And faded, stood against the whitewashed wall,
The birds-of-paradiso upon its chintz
Dim-plumaged ; and —perhaps by accident —
A red shawl, tlung across the sofa’s arm,
Concealed its shahbiness. Above it hung
A colored wood-cut, of an arch-faced girl
Crossing a brook, barefooted, with a smirk
Of half-coquettish fear. Near Esther’s bed
Raphael’s Madonna from an oval gazed,
The Virgin with her Child alone, engraved
In some old German town, a relic left
From Eleanor’s homo. The bookshelf swung between
Two simple prints, — the Cotter’s Saturday Night
And the Last Supper, dear to Esther’s heart,
Though scarce true to Da Vinci. On the shelves
Maria Edgeworth’s Helen leaned against
Thomas à Kempis. Bunyan’s Holy War
And Pilgrim’s Progress stood up stiff between
Locke on the Understanding and the Songs
Of Robert Burns. The Voices of the Night,
Bridal of Pennacook, Paradise Lost,
With Irving’s Sketch - Book, Ivanhoe, Watts’s Hymns,
Mingled in democratic neighborhood.
Upon a small, white-napkined table lay
Three Bibles, by themselves, — one almost new,
The others showing usage. Little need
To say the unworn one was Isabel’s,
Who boasted it her only property
That was not worse for wear.

The same sincerity which appears here is seen throughout, and there is a tender yet hearty liking for nature which gives us fresh, unfurbished landscapes, and outlooks from the mill-life into the hills where one of the girls has her home, and where the others visit her. There are also some common stories of love and disappointment which are made to appeal to us as directly as matters of that kind in real life. In fact, though the poem is shapeless, and as we said almost storyless, it is as we likewise said interesting and pleasant, and one may well give a summer evening to it. Of course it is sad; but it is brave, and that is as good as gay. How can one be merry when there are so many missing links to find ? It is not so easy to suggest by quotation the sense of beauty as the sense of truth, which the reader will not fail to find in the poem, and for which we must send him to it. There are several lyrical passages scattered through the story, of which those of a ballad character are the best.

— Mr. William Morris’s poetry has always, we will confess it, been a somewhat perplexing affair to us, and this new reprint of some old poems of his only increases our besetting doubt whether it is quite worth while to do the things he does so well. From first to last in him there is a sort of prepense return to former mental conditions and feelings ; and to read his poems is like looking through a modern house equipped with Eastlake furniture, adorned with tiles, and painted in the Pompeiian style, or hung with Mr. Morris’s own admirable wall-papers : it is all very pretty indeed; charming; but it is consciously mediæval, consciously Greek, and it is so well aware of its quaintness, that on the whole one would rather not live in it. Then, is Mr. Morris’s poetry a kind of decorative, household art ? Not quite; but it suggests that. For example, the first four poems in this little book,2 The Defence of Guenevere, King Arthur’s Tomb, Sir Galahad, and The Chapel in Lyoness, are the sort of thing that one would like to have painted on large, movable screens. As it is, they are rather painted than written, and might perhaps serve the desired purpose of decoration if pasted on the screens. They are doubtless true enough to the fabulous Arthur-world which it is so pleasant to muse upon; but in Sir Harpdon’s End we have a literary daylight that is more easy to be in, and a resemblance to mediæval feelings, ideas, and traits that once actually were. He is a French knight in the English service just after the time of the invading Edwards, and having cut off the ears of his cousin, he is taken by the French and hanged, and the squire of a French knight who tries to save him is sent to tell his lady; and then “one sings from the outside” something all in Italics. This Italic song had to come in, of course. The rest is very hardly realistic, and the situation is boldly painted, and the compliments that passed between the cousins are set down in good round, relishing terms. There is character in the piece; not much drama; and we take it there is truth. So there is in The Haystack in the Floods; which is a butcherly, dreadfully vivid episode, leaving the nerves on edge. But there seems to be less time lost, and fewer words wasted in expressing the mediæval “situation” in the short poem called Shameful Death. The good Lord Hugh is hung by Sir John of the Fen, who takes him by stealth and treachery. The brother of Lord Hugh, who cuts the cord from his neck, speaks : —

“ I am three score years and ten
And my hair is all turned gray,
But I met Sir John of the Fen,
Long ago on a summer day,
And am glad to think of the moment when
I took his life away.”

No misgivings here; no twinges of remorse ; no uncleanly scruples; in all the years that have passed, this good soul has been perfectly clear and happy about it! If this is modern, it seems still a wonderfully good conception of things and men as they were. So, too, even in the vagueness of the Arthurian poems, the poet now and then strikes a note that in its great simplicity rings out full and distinct from all the wandering music, as where Guenevere, speaking of her sin with Lancelot, says : —

“ Unless you pardon, what shall I do, Lord,
But go to hell ? and there see day by day
Foul deed on deed, hear foulest word on word,
Forever and ever such as on the way
“ To Camelot I heard once from a churl,
That curled me up upon my jennet’s neck
With bitter shame : how then, Lord, should I curl
For ages and for ages ?

It took courage to use the word curl, here ; it is almost funny; it is also inexpressibly pathetic, and beyond all other possible phrases true to the sense of the shame lamented.

— Among the numerous publications, good, bad, and indifferent, which the great Centennial called forth, the Bunker Hill Memorial3 is incomparably the best. It has a clear and neatly written account of the battle by Mr. J. M. Bugbee, and a poem by Dr. Holmes which has now probably been printed a million times throughout the country (allowing for the newspaper publication), and has been seen by a large majority of the reading-and-writing population of the Union. It is therefore rather late to commend it to the public attention, but not too late to recognize it as one of the finest poems, if not the very finest, written by its author. He has, we believe, done nothing else so full of character and drama as this gallant story, which he puts into the mouth of the grandmother who saw the battle from the belfry, and who tells the story of it to her grandchildren. It is indeed a most fortunate blending of qualities, of a fiery enthusiasm that kindles the reader’s blood, of a sly sense of the humorousness of the characters sketched, and of a graphic imagination that sets the successive phases of the scene visibly before us. The old lady who fancies that the uproar is caused by “ those scalping Indian devils come to murder us once more,” the wooden-legged corporal who “ would sometimes swear and tipple,” and his surrounding of anxious and wildly excited fellow-watchers from the steeple, plucking at him with hand and tongue, —

“ Are they beaten ? Are they beaten ? ARE they beaten ? ”

are the genre elements of a very heroical picture. There are lines in the poem which glow upon the sense like veritable sweeps of color: —

“ In their scarlet regimentals, with their knapsacks on their backs,
And the reddening, rippling water, as after a seafight’s slaughter,
Round the barges gliding onward, blushed like blood along their tracks,”and other verses in which the dreadfulness of the strife is audible, as, — “Like the rattlesnake’s shrill warning the reverberating drum,” while the details, the propriety of time and place, are wrought with exquisite felicity. It is a splendid addition to our literature, not to be surpassed in its way; and we know no better way, on the whole.

— Mrs. Richardson has dedicated her History of our Country 4 to her two boys, and she has told it them with a simple clearness which will address itself advantageously to the whole large and growing class of young people ignorant of American history, and to very many of their elders. In some ways it seems to us quite an ideal achievement. While it tells of the great adventures and wars with that generous warmth and color which are their due, it distinctly traces the course of political events, and treats interestingly of the achievements of peace — the inventions, the development of the new territories, the discovery of the Western gold and silver mines, the growth of our wonderful cities. Mrs. Richardson has so presented characteristic events that in running over her book one has a fresh impression of the romance of our past; yet she does not labor to produce any such impression. She takes no freedom with events equivalent to that sort of suppression and transposition of facts which in painting is called “composition,” but she has felt the poetry of her material, and she contrives to make her reader feel it by easy, sincere, and generally unaffected narration. Now and then she makes the mistake of dragging into her well-behaved diction some phrase of doubtful taste, caught from our slangpoisoned vernacular, and here and there we are sorry to see that she has trouble with the preterites of such difficult verbs as lie and plead. But these are very small matters, which need not affect the pleasure of her reader, and which cannot go far to corrupt his diction; generally the style is good American-English — the only kind of English that Americans can be expected to write “like natives.”

The history is in two parts, the first of which has to do with the country from the time of the discovery to that of our independence. The early Spanish, French, and English voyagers and adventurers contribute their picturesqueness and romance, and the ever-fascinating names of Narvaez, De Soto, Cabot, Ribault, Raleigh, Smith, Cartier, illuminate the page, which must be dull indeed when their names will not communicate from it a thrill of enthusiasm and pride in us who inherit their continent. Then come in their order the stories of the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements, Roger Williams in Rhode Island, the Dutch at New York, the Catholics in Maryland, the Quakers in Pennsylvania, the Indian wars, the Salem witchcraft, the wars with the French colonies, the great Revolution. Throughout there is diligent effort to present the social as well as political aspect of the country, and this intention is not sacrificed to the natural delight of reporting battles, which, so long as men fight them, will be interesting to read and write of.

The second half of the history covers ground not yet gone over so often, but of less varied interest; yet Mrs. Richardson has not failed to seize the important facts and present them in an admirably interesting and significant way. The first administrations, with their peaceful and warlike enterprises, the growth of pioneering and the explorations of the West, the reduction of the Algerine pirates. Burr’s duel and trial for treason, the invention of the steamboat, are some of the principal matters that bring the story down to the opening of the war of 1812, a struggle which is clearly treated as to its provocation and the position of parties concerning it, and vividly painted as to its glorious triumphs on sea and land. After that the era of internal improvements and of banks began; the stormy period of nullification followed, and the antagonism between freedom and slavery took form. Mrs. Richardson makes very attractive the annals of the antislavery movement, and places its martyrdoms and sacrifices on record among the heroic events of our history. William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, and Abraham Lincoln, each a different expression of the national conscience against a national wrong, are here considered in what seems to us a just relation and proportion, with a temper that need not offend the least of those who have not yet risen to a conception of their grandeur. The story of the War of the Secession is patriotically told, with fervor, and with the distinctness of narration characteristic of the whole history.

The work is by no means free from blemishes, and undoubtedly it is not the “ last word ” to young people on the subject; but in scope, in fullness, in right intention, and in interesting management, it is quite the best history of its sort which has been produced.

The mechanical execution of the volume marks a great advance in the style of subscription-book publications. The paper is good, the letter-press of Riverside excellence, and the illustrations mostly agreeable and suggestive pictures, and not caricatures of the proposed subjects.

— Whatever place may be assigned to our civil war among the great wars of modern times, it cannot be disputed that it was a struggle of great intensity, of great cost in blood and treasure, and most important in its consequences. Moreover, it was altogether our own war; nothing like it has ever been waged upon this continent, and thus many circumstances combine to make it a study of extreme interest to every patriotic and thoughtful American. Without undertaking to express an opinion as to which was the most splendid of “ its sudden making of splendid names,” it is safe to say that General Sherman will always be mentioned among its first three soldiers. The war raised him to the rank of general, it ended only ten years ago, he has written his memoirs,5 they are published, and he is alive. If anything were needed to add to the interest natural to such a publication, it would be found in the fact that, almost as much as by his victories, he has attracted the attention of the American people by his letters and speeches. His book is such as our knowledge of him prepared us to expect, and it is a treat. It is impossible, within our present limits, to discuss the campaigns which it describes, or to do much more than give some description of its contents. He begins by addressing himself gracefully to “ his comrades in arms, volunteers and regulars,” and states distinctly that “ what is now offered is not designed as a history of the war, . . . but merely his recollection of events, corrected by a reference to his own memoranda,” and then he introduces himself to his readers as a lieutenant of artillery, stationed in South Carolina, in 1846, and goes straight on with his story from that point. His style is characteristic of the man. It makes no pretensions to grace, finish, or dignity, other than the dignity of simplicity. It is absolutely free from rhetorical ornament, and it does not hesitate to be colloquial in the extreme, but it is admirable in its clearness and directness. It may not be good English, but it is excellent American. The book is always interesting, and the style may be described as rapid. He abounds in anecdotes, well told, and often humorous, and sometimes be paints a picture in a few phrases, as when he sketches his last view of Atlanta and the battle-fields around it: no account of the Grand Review has given a better idea of it than his few simple words : “ For six hours and a half that strong tread of the Army of the West resounded along Pennsylvania Avenue.” If it be added that he never in a single instance yields to the temptation to be sentimental, enough has been said about the manner of the book.

A third of the first volume is devoted to the author’s experiences in California, New York, Kansas, and Louisiana, before the outbreak of the war, and it is as agreeable reading as any part of the work, but of course it wants the special interest of what follows, and therefore we leave it without further remark than that it comprises an account of the gold-fever, and that it shows that Sherman displayed early the same qualities that gained for him fame and success in later days and on broader fields. To tell what those qualities were requires a liberal use of adjectives. Those who have read his letters, still more those who have heard him speak, and most of all those who have met him and talked with him in the freedom of unrestrained private conversation, will not be surprised if terms of praise are used freely. We believe him to be a singularly clear-sighted, foreseeing, firm, plucky, determined, prompt, sensible, wise man, full of energy, snap, and self-reliance, reasonably modest, as candid and fair as so vehement a character can be expected to be, plain-spoken in the extreme, thoroughly manly, and intensely wide-awake and natural. A very eminent man lately said in our hearing that he thought no one else between the two oceans could have written the book, and he was sure no one else would. We doubt the justice; of this remark. It is true that Sherman blames with great freedom, and that his blame falls freely upon the living, but there is not a trace of malice in the book, so far as we can see, and he never goes out of his way to find fault, and never, or very rarely, imputes unworthy motives for the actions which he disapproves. It is true that his wrath is hot and fresh against Mr. Stanton, and that Mr. Stanton is dead, but the action of “ the great war secretary ” against him was public and official, and the right of indignant protest seems to us to be one which is not taken away by the death of the aggressor. So far as our own knowledge goes, there never was a useful, patriotic public servant who was at the same time a more unscrupulous and intolerable tyrant than Mr. Stanton. Time may dull the edge of this feeling, or show it to be incorrect, but if it has not yet done so for one who never smarted under his injustice, it is no wonder that it has not done so for the great soldier who was the most conspicuous sufferer. If the history of our civil war is ever thoroughly written, there will be a painful chapter in it about the intense jealousies of the soldiers warping the action of some of the men who claimed to be and no doubt thought they were true patriots. The question whether the best public man in civil life can, in view of the ambition for power or place or both which is apt to inspire them, be a loyal and zealous supporter of those who conduct military operations, is one which cannot be answered by a sweeping and unqualified affirmative. It may be well to remark in this connection that however Sherman burned with the sense of wrongs done him, he never suffered his indignation to interfere with his action. Early in his career, when he had suffered acutely from the cruel and unfounded imputation of insanity, had outlived the first effects of this injury and risen to high command, and then had been superseded by the intriguing McClernand, we see him exerting himself successfully to induce Porter to waive his prejudice against McClernand. At the close of the war, when, after he had gained all his great successes, he received the sharpest and most unmerited provocation from Mr. Stanton, it does not appear that he allowed his conduct as a soldier to be affected by his feelings.

To come down to particulars about the matter of praise and blame, he gives Halleck liberal credit for his energy at St. Louis in the winter of 1861-62, and ascribes to him the plan of campaign which resulted in the brilliant captures of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, but, on the other hand, he says that his “ measures to capture General Johnston’s army . . . simply excited my contempt for a judgment such as he was supposed to possess.” It is fair to say that this strong language is applied to some orders issued by Halleck in what seems to have been unnecessarily close sympathy with Stanton’s most insulting action, and that it was not the first instance in which Halleck showed a disposition to be arrogantly despotic. It is hard to forget his dispatch of March 4, 1862, to General Grant, after he had captured the two forts: “ You will place Major-General C. F. Smith in command of expedition, and remain yourself at Fort Henry. Why do you not obey my orders to report strength and positions of your command ? ” The whirligig of time brings its revenges, and it matters little now what orders the forgotten Halleck sent to Grant or published in regard to Sherman, but there does not seem any very good reason why Sherman, in describing the events of ten years ago, should not say how he then felt about them.

We like nothing in the book so little as the treatment of Thomas. He is praised as “ nobly fulfilling his promise to ruin Hood,” and as gaining “ the brilliant victory at Nashville,” and that is about all, while there are frequent references to his slowness and the dissatisfaction which it caused. Without undertaking to criticise the blame, we think it safe and right to criticise the praise. Thomas, in our opinion, gained the most brilliant victory of the war, not unlike in kind and equal in degree to Marlborough’s exploit at Ramillies. The success was complete and perfect, not only on the field, but afterwards, for from that day Hood’s army substantially ceased to exist. General Sherman’s services and successes were very great, but it never fell to his lot to even approach Thomas’s success in battle, and his praise of his coadjutor might well have been more cordial.

It is needless to say that he has only praise for Grant, and he speaks in high terms of Dahlgren, and Hazen, and rather well of Kilpatrick; while of Lincoln he says, “ Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other.” He finds fault with Fremont, Buell, McClernand, llalleck, Rosecrans, Burnside, Hooker, and Butler, expressing different degrees of disapprobation of the character or conduct of all. He uses few harsh epithets, and seldom, as we have already remarked, imputes unworthy motives ; but the officers we have named, and some of less note, would find certain portions of the book unpleasant reading.

There are some things not in the book, the absence of which is agreeable. In the first place, it is understood that General Sherman is a Catholic, and much surrounded by Catholics. There is not a word in the memoirs to indicate his religion, except the passing mention of his placing a little girl of his in a convent. He is a regular, and a graduate of West Point, and yet he never says a word about regulars and volunteers at which a volunteer could take exception. More than that, his recognition of the merits of the volunteer officers is full and cordial, while he sets no bounds to his praises of his volunteer troops. Indeed, if he had called the Army of the West, as General Hooker called the Army of the Potomac, “ the finest army on this planet,” it would have been the equivalent of the language he actually uses : “ It was, in my judgment, the most magnificent army in existence.” Again, he is distinctively, by birth, education, and preference, a Western man, and yet he says nothing in disparagement of the Eastern armies and their performances.

Our present impression is that Sherman is a most able man, an accomplished strategist, and a great soldier; but we doubt whether he is a very good fighter or a skillful tactician. He was surprised at Shiloh, he failed at Haines’s Bluff, he was not very successful at Chattanooga, he failed at Kenesaw, he was very roughly handled before Atlanta, he made a tactical failure at Bentonsville, and, to go back to his début, he certainly did not put his troops in skillfully at Bull Run. It was a curious coincidence, though not in the least his fault, that he was absent from his lines at the surrender of Vicksburg and of Savannah. He seems to be admirable in planning, but not quite so good in execution. He has been a fortunate soldier, but he has won his success fairly. He owes it to his admirable sense, and to his unfaltering determination. His march to the sea has added greatly to his fame, and yet the merit of that lay mainly in the conception. He says himself that his infantry columns met no opposition whatever, and that he never was forced, in all his march through Georgia, to use anything more than a skirmish line.

The free use he makes of his letters, orders, and reports gives a very great interest and value to his book. He is never dull, and he contrives to break up and enliven even the accounts of the movement of troops so that the attention never seriously flags. He had the great merit of seeing clearly and always that our war was war in earnest, that it was a stubborn, terrible reality, that the whole Southern people was united against us, and that every energy must be bent to the one end of conquering the rebellion by force of arms, His letters to Southern generals have often an especial snap.

He was ready and glad to employ black men to aid the operations of our armies, but he scorned the action of Union States in filling their quotas with blacks collected and enlisted in the South. He thought every Northern man owed it to his country to help the good cause himself, and that “the enlistment of every black man did not strengthen the army, but took away one white man from the ranks.”

His memoirs close with the great review in Washington, but he appends a concluding chapter on the military lessons of the war, which is full of knowledge, wisdom, and sound sense. His book is one which every true American ought to read, and one which no such man can read without pride and pleasure.

— It is always a trying moment when we are compelled to ask ourselves, concerning some well-known and long-cherished writer, whether at last we have taken the measure of his or her resources, and caught sight of the limits of a genius we should like to think limitless. The worst of such cases is, that an honestly unfavorable opinion is quite as likely as not to be lumped in with the easy verdict of depreciation which the gentle readers of this world are always ready to render on sudden trial, and so to be misconstrued. Nothing Mrs. Stowe may do can destroy our admiring estimate of the remarkable fictions which, after Uncle Tom’s Cabin, have made her fame. The Pearl of Orr’s Island, The Minister’s Wooing, and the Oldtown books have done what it was difficult enough for any books to do ; they have shown that the immense political and social power of her first novel was only the mask of a strength far more real and beautiful and, artistically, more enduring. Along with the painstaking exactness of representation of the earlier among these, there was a certain admirable carelessness. The authoress walked, as it were, with a diviningrod in hand, and while we strayed with her through the prosaic New England farm and village, it twitched, and lo, a fresh rill of fancy bubbled up from the unsuspected and familiar ground. Nowadays, there is the divining-rod still, but it has lost its witchery. The change seems to have come, partly at least, through the transference of Mrs. Stowe’s interests to a new field, where the purpose of her stories (always a praiseworthy one) is somewhat befogged by the vulgarity of the persons. It is that peculiar kind of American life characterized by what the authoress calls, in remarkable phrase, “ undress intimacy,” that seems to have attracted her, to her great detriment and our own exceeding loss. The way in which the parties to We and Our Neighbors6 habitually address each other is quite intolerable when we consider that they profess to represent very good elements of our society. Worse than that, even, these literal-sounding reports of their talk are utterly uninteresting. We do not believe that the special phases which Mrs. Stowe has lately chosen to treat are entirely unsusceptible of art; but they clearly do not offer material to equal her earlier successes. We and Our Neighbors is a sequel to My Wife and I, and is stamped with the same unpleasant mannerism which had infected that book. The plot of this one is not much more distinct, and indeed it seems to have very little excuse for being, beyond the demand of a very large public who will doubtless accept this last labor with entire satisfaction. The story opens up good opportunities once or twice, but all the situations are so baldly treated, and with so little communicative fire, that the volume closes without a single genuinely moving passage having been encountered. An assumption, however, is all along maintained, that the story is pitched in a high key of thought. The impulse, indeed, is high; but the expression and the results of the thinking are nowhere fine. “ We and Our Neighbors, therefore,” writes Mrs. Stowe in conclusion, “ are ready to receive your congratulations.” We honestly confess that we have none to give ; and could it be done without arrogance, we should like to prove that our reluctance proceeds solely from too great a loyalty to what is best in the authoress’s genius. The illustrations, it should be added, are vastly superior to those of the antecedent volume, being by Mr. Fredericks. We are sorry to see, however, that in the picture facing page 73 he has reproduced without acknowledgment a clever feminine figure by Du Maurier, the famous Punch draughtsman.

— Readers of Mr. Sage’s article in this number, should they feel the stir of sylvan adventure strongly enough to emulate him, will do well to arm themselves with Messrs. Osgood & Co.’s Guide to Maritime Canada.7 We venture to say it will be found as indispensable as the onions Mr, Sage recommends. It supplies ample information as to the leasing of salmon rivers, which it is comforting to know are let to the highest bidder; but it does a great deal more than this. It is, in fact, the most interesting and various in its Contents of the excellent series of guides issued by these publishers. More than ever, since the publication of Mr. Warner’s Baddeck, people are waking up to the fact that in the region here treated of can be found the largest variety of scenery, manners, and historic association combined with cool weather, accessible to the summer-tourist, and Mr. Sweetser offers a convenient key to this new labyrinth of delights. He gives twenty-one days as the time requisite for a glimpse of southern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the St. Lawrence, and the fares for this

tour amount to about forty dollars. The single tourist can thus get his month of complete recreation at a cost of not more than one hundred dollars. A vast amount of information as to side-trips and trips to Newfoundland and along the Labrador coast is compressed and intercalated between the points touched by this general tour; and travelers will find no difficulty, from the admirable clearness of the arrangement, in devising variations to suit themselves. The book is discreetly garnished with extracts from Longfellow, Parkman, Whittier, Stedman, Bayard Taylor, and Warner, which give one a new sense of the extrinsic value of the places visited, and render the volume as interesting as it is full of information. There are four maps and four plans accompanying it. The only fault we have to charge the former with is the conventional darkening of the water just off shore, which makes such murky work with the names of towns and points along the coast. The plans of towns are perfectly satisfactory.

  1. Queen Mary. A Drama. By ALFRED TENNYSON Boston : J. R. Osgood A: Co. 1875.
  2. An Idyl of Work. By LUCY LARCOM. Boston : J. R. Osgood & Co. 1875.
  3. The Defence of Guenevere, and other Poems, By WILLIAM MORRIS. (Reprinted without Alteration from the Edition of 1858.) London : Ellis and White. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1875.
  4. Memorial. Bunker Hill. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co. 1875.
  5. The History of our Country, from its Discovery by Columbus to the Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of its Declaration of Independence, etc. By ABBY SAGE RICHARDSON. Profusely Illustrated. Boston : H. O. Houghton & Co.; New York : Hurd and Houghton; Cambridge : The Riverside Press. 1875.
  6. Memoirs of General William T. Sherman. By Himself. In Two Volumes. New York : D. Appleton & Co. 1875.
  7. We and Our Neighbors ; or, Records of an Unfashionable Street. (Sequel to My Wife and I.) By HARRIET BEECHER STOWE. With Illustrations. New York : J. B. Ford & Co. 1875.
  8. The Maritime Provinces: A Handbook for Travelers. A Guide to the Chief Cities, Coasts, and Islands of the Maritime Provinces of Canada; also Newfoundland and the Labrador Coast. Boston: J. R. Osgood & Co. 1875.