Recent Literature

MR. EMERSON’S latest volume,1 in the short time since its publication here, has been translated into German, and issued at Stuttgart, with an introduction by Julian Schmidt.2 Herr Schmidt, after a slight comparison with Carlyle and Goethe, says, “ Emerson is a poet and a philosopher, but little is gained by describing him as the one or the other, or as a combination of the two ; ” and he goes on to define him further as a kind of conversationist, whose essays stimulate us as intercourse with the best company stimulates, making us think better of ourselves, giving our thoughts a higher impulse, and leaving us without decisive settlement of a given question, but teaching a great deal, nevertheless. The charm and the profit, he says, are quite similar to those which result from the action of art upon us. Herr Schmidt’s exposition of his subject, though full of respect and admiration, is very strictly temperate. His definition, as just given, seems to us an excellent one ; and this moderation of tone is no less admirable. Indeed, if we are not mistaken, it will be apt to accord well with the impression left by Mr. Emerson’s recent publication upon that part of the reading world which most looks up to him. It is inevitable that in a case like the present one should look back, and inquire the relation between this result given us by the thinker of seventy-three and the contributions of the same mind at thirty-five or at fifty. What is the ultimate issue of this long intellectual career ? What the ratio of increase in the rewards of its activity, or what the degree of decadence? Making these inquiries, we are forced to admit that the last milestone, though measuring a long route, stands singularly close to the first, as if the traveling had been done in a circle. Strictly speaking, these essays should perhaps not be treated as representative of the latest years, for their structure seems to indicate that they originated at various times as lectures, and have been remodeled for publication. They are a little more loosely written than the early essays, or Nature, or The Conduct of Life, and include a noticeably large proportion of quotation, unknown in what we are inclined to call by comparison Emerson’s finished works. In any case, it would not be wise or profitable to dwell long on the reflection, “This book is not so good as those we used to read.” But the difference which is observable has a peculiar value ; the comparative informality of these papers brings out the different traits of the author in exaggerated form. The similes frequently appear forced, the illustrations not accurately applicable, and the feeling factitious in passages, as if from too fixed a habit of forcing impressions by extreme statement. “ In certain hours we can almost pass our hand through our own body ” is not an agreeable nor generally truthful phrase to indicate the exalting power of imagination. And the following seems to us a startling misapprehension : “ In dreams we are true poets ; we create the persons of the drama; we give them appropriate figures, faces, costume; they are perfect in their organs, attitude, manners ; moreover, they speak after their own characters, not ours; they speak to us, and we listen with surprise to what they say. Indeed, I doubt if the best poet has yet written any five-act play that can compare in thoroughness of invention with this unwritten play in fifty acts, composed by the dullest snorer on the floor of the watch-house.” To say nothing of the degradation which the greatest poets are made to suffer by the closing comparison, we may at least question the correctness of the value assigned to dreams, which are most often entirely wanting in true invention, and illogical in characterization, as well as foolishly improbable, though they undoubtedly have a juggling completeness of their own. Elsewhere occurs the statement that “the fable of the Wandering Jew is agreeable to men, because they want more time and land in which to execute their thoughts.” We doubt the agreeableness of the fable to any one; and its origin and use point distinctly to the misery of having more time and space than the human lot affords, while we remain in human life,—a moral quite opposed to the inference which Mr. Emerson attributes. “The artist has always the masters in his eye,” we read in The Progress of Culture, “ though he affects to flout them. . . . Tennyson would give his fame for a verdict in his favor from Wordsworth.” Surely the first statement, here, finds no answer in the minds of sincere artists, for they in no wise “ affect to flout ” the masters ; and it is quite as profitless an overstatement to deny the self-reliance of a poet like Tennyson (or any other mature, sane, and substantial poet) by such an imputation of weak distrust as that of the second sentence. Points like these abound in the book, and make it extremely fatiguing reading, especially to those who wish for the elixir of Emerson’s earlier volumes. On the other hand, there are many clear-ringing enunciations of the truth and many noble phrases to be found, from page to page. Some of them appear in the long discourse on Poetry and Imagination, which we have nevertheless felt to be a somewhat unnecessary production, a kind of painful tracingpaper exercise upon thoughts that are original in the minds of poets and creators, but find their best embodiment in imaginative works, and become tiresome when thus drawn out in explanation. The essay on Resources is especially good and stirring. Very pleasing, also, is that entitled Social Aims; Quotation and Originality is admirable ; and Greatness has a reassuring depth and quietude. The Persian Poetry takes us a long distance for not very large benefits ; and one of the most noticeable things about the Immortality is that among all the inducements to continued earthly life brought forward by the author, that of love of our kind and all the exquisite and inexhaustible relations of the affections is not once mentioned as of any value. It is a little strange that Mr. Emerson should write so well as he does here, concerning The Comic, when in another of the chapters he treats laughter with a lofty disdain. In The Comic he eulogizes wit and its effects without stint; in Social Aims he makes laughter synonymous with “ savage nature,” and says, “ Beware of jokes; . . . inestimable for sauce, but corrupting for food.” This, to be sure, is wisdom ; but it is added, “ True wit never made us laugh.” Consistency, we believe, is regarded by Mr. Emerson as by no means a jewel, but rather a stumbling-block to true intuitions; and indeed this is the gravest objection to his method, the greatest drawback on his advice to other thinkers, that he insists too strongly on the mood of the hour. “ Life is a train of moods " is a well-known dictum of his ; and in the present volume he values highly the “ minorities of one ” that have made the great revolutions of history and of art. Perhaps he does not value them too highly, but he does not enough remember that minorities may be wrong as well as majorities; and, though life be a train of moods, these are not all equally good. “ And what is Originality ? ” he asks. “ It is being, being one’s self and reporting accurately what we see and are.” But there must be a choice of what we will report, out of the total that we see and are: some reports would be valueless, and are therefore never made. In like manner, there may be a choice between one impression and another, for the sake of getting nearer to the truth ; and the choice or reconcilement of these impressions is consistency. In so far, then, as Mr. Emerson disregards this essential, it seems to us that he weakens his hold on the younger generation, which is getting a distinctly scientific habit of comparing and contrasting and approximating, and will not allow too large a place to the unsupported intuition, especially if it proceed from a mind which in its several utterances directly conflicts with itself. We dwell upon this, because Mr. Emerson’s lessons are too valuable to merit the clog which is thus continually hung upon them. But, in short, these essays deserve much of the same sort of praise that their predecessors have gained, with something more of accusation for want of sequence in the arrangement of ideas; and one cannot but regret that the sentences should meet the eye so bolt upright, and with that curious air of sitting for their photographs, which makes us suspect the iron head-rest behind them.

— We have tried to imagine the feelings of a reader who should take up the Life of Hamilton 3 with no previous knowledge of the manner in which Hamilton’s life stopped short, and have partially succeeded in persuading ourselves that this imagined reader would, after the first shock, confess that the life in its possibilities had been completed when Burr’s hateful shot was fired. Nevertheless, whether forewarned or not, the reader can scarcely accept with patience the miserable end of a strong life, and we suspect that Hamilton’s death, against which all our sense of justice cries out, has unconsciously cast its shame backward over the life in the minds of many Americans of the present day. There was such a pitiful appeal to mean judgment, in the duel, that one feels outraged at being called in to witness it in the case of a generous man, and Hamilton’s nature deserved a better takingoff than an event which can be called tragic only by a reporter in search of an affecting head-line.

What Hamilton might have done in the years succeeding his death, when if living he would have been in the maturity of his marvelous mental power, it is idle to conjecture, for he was a man of genius; yet the work which he did accomplish was so essentially connected with the formative years of the republic that it is difficult to think of him as a public man, after Jefferson’s complete ascendency, except as a critic and disregarded prophet. His active life, though it closed in its forty-eighth year, began in its eighteenth, and between those two points was so possessed by an impetuous current that our sense of its incompleteness is only a momentary sense caused by the sudden extinction: a cooler retrospect shows thirty years of intense public life, coincident with a period of national history when individual force was most positively felt, so that Hamilton’s place is assured by the very permanence of the institutions which owe to him so much of their being and form.

Mr. Morse has done well in concentrating interest upon Hamilton’s course as connected with the larger movements of the state. His brilliant youth, his military experience, and his professional career afford opportunities for high lights in the picture, but the biographer has rightly judged that an interest in Hamilton at this day must spring from an interest in politics and finance. Nevertheless, the fascination which Hamilton exercised over his contemporaries was not from any merely external magnetism, and the generous reader who follows this narrative will scarcely fail to acknowledge a personal homage to a man who carried his own glowing personality into the repellant air of a statesman’s life. To read of Hamilton’s victories in Congress and Cabinet is to be stirred by a sense of mental power exercising itself upon the most momentous subjects, and to be present as witness at the formal institution of national life. Hamilton was so emphatically the leader of the Federal party, and was himself so positive a person, that a work like this devoted to his public life is one of the best means afforded for apprehending the Federal force in the formative period of our national life. The questions which then arose cover a wide range of political speculation, and the student is in danger of looking upon them as mere abstractions ; so did not the men look on them who wrestled with them, and no one now can fairly measure the discussions which issued in the text of the constitution and in the domestic and foreign policy of the government which form so much of our traditional law, who does not place himself by the side of the men to whom these questions were living realities.

The justness of Mr. Morse’s treatment of his difficult subject impresses the reader at every turn. It is perhaps impossible that any admirer of Hamilton, however impartial his temper, should give satisfaction to those who think politically in opposition to him, but we suspect that the candid reader who follows Mr. Morse will be prepared for some of the violent terms in which he will find Hamilton condemned by Jeffersonian writers. That is to say, Mr. Morse is too clearly desirous of historic truth to avoid placing Hamilton in certain lights which enable the reader to understand something of the opposition with which he met. Every generation is likely to think its own quarrels most momentous, and it is every way wise that the questions of the day should receive the most absorbing attention; yet the glimpses which one gets, in this work, of the temper of men who seem in our imagination to look calmly and compassionately down on our petty squabbles, reveal an intensity of minor political life that justifies a comparison of the two epochs to our advantage, while the dangers which then arose and were averted or postponed afford the best lesson-book for political students to-day.

The party to which Hamilton belonged, and of which he was the leader, was a party with historical ideas ; and the growing disposition in our country to temper political theories and mere sciolism by a reference both to our own history and to the experience of other nations is favorable to a revival of interest in Hamilton and his school. We regret that Mr. Morse did not find it in his way to account more fully for the ascendency of the Jeffersonian school and party, which was not due to any mere political blunder of President Adams ; but he has conferred so positive a boon upon the general reader by his clear and patient examination of a little understood period of our history, that we have only thanks for a writer who takes his place in that small but growing number of philosophical and just students of American history.

— We have not seen any book, of those which the present Centennial ardor has inspired, more useful in its unpretending way, or more entertaining, than Mr. Abbott’s little volume called Revolutionary Times.4 Its two hundred pages are devoted to twelve brief chapters, treating of the political and social state of the country during the war for independence, and the periods next preceding and following it. What life was among the different classes of the people in days when the classes were much more distinctly separated, education, literature, journalism, religion, professions and trades and how each was paid and prospered, with some sketches of famous men and women,—this is about the range of the book, which is written with ease and clearness, as well as a simple, business-like directness that makes it very pleasant reading. There are touches of humor here and there, which turn the whimsical aspects of those heroic years to the light. And there is a good sense of what is in itself quaintly amusing in the arrangement of selected materials, where these have not been worked over by the author, who, however, has recast in his own language the substance of a very generous historical reading, though he makes no pretense to original research.

— The greater space at Mr. Scudder’s disposal in his extremely entertaining volume 5 allows him to deal with his material more distinctly as a compiler, and requires him to do less rewriting and compression than the plan of Mr. Abbott’s work exacts. It is more comprehensive than Revolutionary Times, and the picture of the old colonial and early national life is in much greater detail. The first pages treat of the Siege of Boston, a subject with which Mr. Scudder dealt so well in a former number of this magazine, and the first section is devoted to New England. The sources from which the editor has here drawn are such characteristic, varied, and delightful records as the Baroness Riedesel’s journals, the painter Trumbull’s Autobiography, Crèvecœur’s Letters of an American Farmer, the Marquis de Chastellux’s Travels, Lieutenant Aubery’s Travels, Elkanah Watson’s Memoirs, Buckingham’s Personal Memoirs, etc. For the Dutch society of Albany the editor finds richness in Mrs. Grant’s Memoirs of an American Lady — an always amiable and sometimes unconsciously delicious study of the times and people, quite fairly Dutch in its minuteness, and of the quaintest idyllic interest. Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and Graydon’s Memoirs of his own Times supply the materials for the picture of life in the ancient capital, and for that of the South the editor has gone to Garden’s Anecdotes of the American Revolution and Johnson’s Travels and Reminiscences. There is a full and clear preface, written with Mr. Scudder’s unfailing gracefulness, and wherever the editor’s pen touches the work throughout, in comment or introduction, it leaves a light of agreeable humor or suggestive thought. The book is very admirably done, and if the new Sans-Souci Series can be sustained on this level it will merit all the success achieved by the charming Bric-a-Brac Series, now — regrettably enough — ended.

— We commended to the reader last month a very delightful book of Nile travel, to the rich fullness of which we have still a sense of having but half done justice; and we do not know how we shall now better praise Mr. Appleton’s Nile Journal6 than by saying that it charmingly justified itself even to a reviewer fresh from Mr. Warner’s book. It would serve no purpose, however, to compare it with that book, so totally different are the moods which the two address. One can easily establish the distinction that Mr. Warner’s motive is humor and Mr. Appleton’s is wit, but little is gained when this is done. The Nile Journal is much more obviously comparable to Mr. Curtis’s Nile Notes of a Howadji, which it resembles at once in having a conscience against burdening the reader with facts of general utility, and in offering him instead a sort of disembodied information— the color, the sentiment, the perfume, of the dahabeëh voyage. But in the Nile Journal our compagnon du voyage is no luxurious dreamer, whose mellow alliterations unnerve a little while they enchant. It is a brisk, alert, vividly suggestive and discursive spirit which offers us the hospitalities of the Rachel; it is the tone of society, easy, sympathetic, fine, and sensible. The journalizer gives the poetry of Nile travel, as the Howadji does, but the poetry is of the lighter, gayer sort, that runs naturally into vers de société; the perfume is often the savory odor from the laboratory of Paolo the cook ; the excellent flavor of the Nile fish is as frankly recognized as their beauty. The literature of the book has those qualities of amateurishness which are the most agreeable; and if the reader does not look for what he has no right to expect in a book so explicitly informal, he cannot very well help enjoying this Nile Journal. At any rate we will confidently take the risk of advising him to put it into the budget he is packing for the mountains or the seaside.

— In taking up Mr. Hardy’s new story,7 one instantly re-discovers how great is the charm of a book in which the style everywhere gives token of a sensitive personal touch from the author, where the words do not, as in average novels, shrivel and harden into their ordinary aspects, but continually freshen in the quiet dew of thought that the author lets fall upon every detail, the most trivial. This thoughtfulness, which is not formal, but is a natural æsthetic inspiration very much at ease, affects all particulars of the composition; and every page thus gets an interest of its own. Everything is given in pictures, so far as it may be, and these are always delicately drawn, with a spiritualized force of language which seems to us uniquely Mr. Hardy’s among all English novelists; and when a picture cannot be made, the mood of a character or other connecting link is presented in so interesting a way that one cannot slur it over. So that Mr. Hardy scarcely need fear the new mode, jast coming into notice, of “ condensing,” that is, clipping one wing of every famous fiction, so that it may not be able to fly out of reach. But he is so much an artist that, while he will probably be greeted with unusual enthusiasm, at each appearance, by a certain limited audience, he will be promptly rejected by another uncertain and larger one. In Ethelberta, however, there is certainly no lack of interest of a kind which must be acceptable to a wide variety of readers. The heroine is a butler’s daughter who, from governessing, has passed into London society as the daughter-in-law of Lady Petherwin; and the strange predicament of her parentage, together with her personal attractions and the motive of marrying in a way to profit her poor relations, which greatly complicates her love-affairs, — these elements are all of lively efficacy. The turns of the plot, at the close, are extremely clever and absorbing. Yet undoubtedly the tale lacks largeness of scope and depth of feeling ; and the drawing of the characters (aside from Ethelberta), though good, has about it a certain lightness and remoteness. Ethelberta comes of the same stock with Fancy Day and Bathsheba Everdene, but she has a tone of her own also, and is by far the richest natured of the three. Mr. Hardy’s passport to favor ought to receive a potent visé in this recent venture, admitting him to rank near George Eliot and William Black among the English novel-writers of to-day. He is perhaps a better artist than either; but his small range of characters and want of moral inspiration closely limit him. He might easily, we should say, take even a higher place as a producer of plays for the stage than he now holds as a novelist.

— Achsah 8 is a novel, with some amusing characters in it representing certain wellknown New England types, with a plot of so old but unvenerable a sort that it cannot be warmly commended. The hero, Owen Rood, is a young man who has a lofty superiority to conventional religious belief and a taste for writing magazinearticles, who falls in love with the charming Achsah. These two are kept apart by the machinations of her father, Deacon Sterne, whose domestic tyranny may be compared with that of Ponchinello. He is a caricature of certain Yankee faults, and there is doubtless many a village in New England where, if this novel is read, there will be one or more names suggested by the irreverent as the probable original of this character. Owen’s aunt is this villain’s counterpart, and she does a great deal towards blocking the course of true love. Both she and the deacon are laughable in their exaggeration of meanness, hypocrisy, and falsehood, but it is to be regretted that the author should have forborne “ holding his hand ” as he has done, so that while he raises a momentary smile his skill is not shown to the best advantage. The talks between the different characters, outside of the love-making, the parts about the murder, and the like, are the most entertaining things in the novel. If all the rest had been as good, it would have been a readable book; but as it is, it may be considered to show a fair amount of promise. A novel with a good portion of local color, as it is called, and with a fair representation of dialectic peculiarities, is pretty sure to have a certain popularity, and such Achsah well deserves ; but it is to be hoped that a writer who really is well equipped with some of the elements required will remember that novel-writing, like every other occupation, requires real and persistent effort before anything satisfactory is accomplished. This novel has too much the appearance of being off-hand work.

— Dr. Brinton’s book on the Religious Sentiment 9 is an ambitious attempt to explain religion, its history in the past, its present condition, and its prospects for the future, within the compass of a volume that can be easily held in the hand. The method the author employs is that with which scientific books have made us all familiar, which consists in applying a most rigid investigation to the phenomena of the subject under discussion, analyzing their origin, displaying their sequence, and letting these stand as a complete explanation. However useful this course may be, and indeed however essential, it is yet by no means complete, because it leaves out much that especially characterizes religious sentiment. The author approaches the subject “as a question in mental philosophy to be treated by the methods of natural science;” but the methods of natural science are certainly incompetent to do equal justice to all subjects, and while there is much truth in Dr. Brinton’s accumulation of facts and theories, it is far from doing the subject justice. The material he has amassed is very great; the reader is led from the crass ignorance of savages to the recent “ prayer-gauge debate ” with great swiftness and dexterity, and on the way he has much to learn about Buddhism, Brahmanism, etc., — the list is a long one. It would be perhaps unfair to say that there is an excessive complexity in the subjects treated, but there is a possible superfluity of erudition shown in the manner of treatment. That all the learning is accurate cannot be affirmed. For instance, page 156, it is stated that the Buddhist assumes all existence to be but imaginary, and that consequently he justly infers that the name is full as much as the object. But is this a fair statement of the Buddhist’s creed, or of his inferences ? It is not surprising that in the immense amount of ground gone over there should be errors like this. In fact, the information gives the reader more frequently the feeling of accuracy than does the reasoning based upon it. Examples of this are to be found in the last chapter, on the Momenta of Religous Thought, where, for instance, we read that “ in Greece alone, a national temperament, marvelously sensitive to symmetry, developed the combination of maximum strength with perfect form in the sun-god, Apollo, and of grace with beauty in Aphrodite. The Greeks were the apostles of the religion of beauty,” etc., all of which is true, but by no means a discovery. In a word, with all its machinery of arrangement and explanation, the book leaves matters little, if any, further advanced than they were at the beginning. What the author has done is to collect facts and make some true remarks about religion, but what he has failed to do is to treat his subject with anything like satisfactory completeness. The book has the air of settling everything in the most complete way, but no one who knew about religion from this book alone would gather that religion was one of the main forces of the world.

— We wish that Mr. Anthony Trollope, in view of his somewhat melancholy skill in hashing up matter to pass as fiction, would publish something in the way of Half-Hour Lessons in Novel-Writing. Such a work, however, if written in a candid spirit, might be very damaging to the author. For example, the recipe for concocting a book like his latest 10 would probably contain a recommendation to read up one or two memoirs of English statesmen, with references to the memoirs of court ladies, followed by attentive perusal of the daily papers with a view to writing dry summaries of make-believe political news, such as Mr. Trollope himself can supply in any desirable (or undesirable) quantity. A further essential, we imagine, would be the revival of some manuscript prepared in earlier years and rejected by unappreciative publishers. This should then be well sifted in with the newly collected matter, in such a way that the weak love-story would fall into little compartments by itself, and the political make-believe into other compartments by itself, the two sets of compartments alternating so as to have the air of having been constructed together, in a single, inseparable design. One can easily conceive, at least, of its being no difficult matter to produce on this plan a light volume in eighty chapters and six hundred and ninety pages, like The Prime Minister. But we doubt if even Mr. Trollope could give a satisfactory explanation of the complaisance with which critics treat this kind of work, and the avidity with which readers devour it. We find his novels extolled as agreeable and wholesome, but it is hard to assent conscientiously to either adjective. To our thinking, the present attempt is not only carried out with the least possible energy, either as to representation of character or as to the invention of the simplest incident, but it is also extremely fatiguing reading, and in portions decidedly repulsive, owing to the author’s total want of inspiration when handling unpleasant episodes. The feebleness of his imagination, too, causes the more emotional parts to sound like burlesque. All these defects are not new in Mr. Trollope’s work, but, together with his amazing repetitional prolixity, they are becoming very tiresome. The book furnishes just enough occupation to the mind to make it useful in inferior moods, and this of course is Mr. Trollope’s recommendation to a large class of readers. A humorous suspicion sometimes arises, that the author justifies to himself his dullness by some hallucination that he is providing the world with historical pictures of English society; but despite his imitation of the younger Crébillon in drawing (as he doubtless does) from persons in real society, and his catering to the modern English taste — which Mr. Nadal has pointed out — of having the nobility handled with extreme familiarity in fiction, we do not fancy that posterity will be especially grateful for his labors.

— Mr. Bolles has chosen a subject of wide interest and treated it with great skill. In his small volume11 of a little more than two hundred pages he goes over the complicated questions that have arisen between labor and capital, and has attempted the solution of some of the difficulties that puzzle modern society. This he has done, in our opinion, without prejudice or partiality ; he does not regard the laboring man and the capitalist as foes, but rather as allies working ultimately for the same end, although with different aims. It is not a sentimental or rhetorical tie that connects the two, but rather the identity of their interest in general, and the necessity of toleration in both, in particular cases.

He sees plainly the dissensions existing between labor and capital, and he places the cause in the faults of both sides. Each class is, naturally enough, seeking the attainment of its own selfish ends, and what has been dissatisfaction on the part of the laboring classes has grown to be mischievous and often suicidal folly, from the desire to better their condition and the perception of the great force of combination. The superabundance of labor, too, impoverishes the laboring man. But for the results too generally produced by combination Mr. Bolles has only blame ; he by no means denies the existence of misery, but he argues that the right way of relieving it has not been found by, say, the English tradeunions, which deprive men anxious to work of the power of working, limit the number of apprentices, inculcate degrading idleness upon the workers, and so exercise a most offensive despotism and diminish the power of capital. Capital is nothing without labor, and so labor feels justified in making any conditions; but what is labor without capital ? Such excesses, when frequent, drive the business away from a country, and, if they ruin a manufacturer, also surely ruin his laborers. On the other hand, the controller of capital is not irresponsible ; it is incumbent on him to do his share to promote the welfare of the workingmen, and not to rest in selfish ease. A practical reconciliation of the interests of all is pointed out in the chapters on coöperation and on industrial partnership, matters which, although not exactly novel, are yet unknown to many of those most concerned in them. In conclusion, we can only say that an impartial, intelligent, simply-written book like this can hardly fail to have a good effect in pointing out abuses to be remedied and methods to be followed. If instead of declamation against the vices of capitalists and the unholiness of putting one’s money into business, and against the short-sightedness of misled working-people, we could have a calm discussion of the causes of difference, it would be much better for society and for all concerned individually. Patience and education must do their work slowly. But there is every reason to hope that laborers will listen to counselors like Mr. Bolles rather than to demagogues. At any rate, they will find that although he criticises their faults, he has their good at heart.

— Miss Cobbe’s book,12 which treats mainly of the immortality of the soul of man, contains a serious and interesting discussion of the question from the point of view of a seeker after truth, who does not rest satisfied with either the common answers of theologians or the hasty denial of its possibility on the part of the materialists. What she tries to do is to show what are the arguments to incline a religions person to believe that the soul does exist after death. To these arguments she does not ascribe the force of unfailing conviction; she merely tries to show how unlikely it is that man is sent into the world to live for a time and then to perish utterly. But she defends them with considerable eloquence. Indeed, her earnestness and sincerity make the book a really valuable contribution to serious literature.

A strong sense of individuality would lead one to take comfort from this volume and its groping after truth; observation, without personal bias, would render one insensible to its forcible appeal. Both, however, would agree that, starting with Miss Cobbe’s assumption of the existence of a just, beneficent Creator, the case is stated with great clearness and cogency. There is no doubt of the importance of the question ; as Miss Cobbe says, “ Should the belief in a life after death still remain an article of popular faith after the fall of supernaturalism, then (freed, as it must be, of its dead-weight of the dread of hell) the religion of succeeding generations will possess more than all the influence of the creeds of old; for it will meet human nature on all its noblest sides at once, and insult it on none. On the other hand, if the present well-nigh exclusive devotion to phySico-scientific thought end in throwing the spiritual faculties of our nature so far into disuse and discredit as to leave the faith in immortality permanently under a cloud, then it is inevitable that religion will lose half the power it has wielded over human hearts.”

After this attempt to show the possibility and likelihood of immortality, Miss Cobbe goes on to discover its probable nature, but all discussions of that sort being necessarily so obscure, it is not worth while to linger over what she has to say; not because it lacks interest, but because it is hardly more than an expression of the writer’s own tastes. Of more value are the remaining articles, Doomed to be Saved and The Evolution of the Social Sentiment. In the first of these she treats of the possible improvement of every human being under a dispensation which shall not blight the further development of the soul by the infliction of eternal punishment for sins committed in the flesh, and in the other she speaks of sympathy as a thing of later growth, which is found only in a rudimentary form, if at all, among children and uncivilized races.

A careful perusal of this book will convince any one of what, if he is already familiar with Miss Cobbe, he will be ready to believe, namely, her ability. No one who is racked by doubt, or who cares to think for himself, should neglect to read The Hopes of the Human Race.

— All the most adventurous travelers of the present day are correspondents of the New York Herald, and Mr. Southworth, the author of Four Thousand Miles of African Travel,13 is not an exception. At present the geographers of that well-known paper are giving most of their attention to Africa, although we are quite sure that the discovery of the North Pole will he made by some enterprising special contributor; and hunting up other and famous explorers, as Stanley did Livingstone, was made the model in directing Mr. Southworth’s steps towards the equator. The object of his journey was to ascertain the whereabouts of Sir Samuel Baker, but in that he was unsuccessful, and instead of making his bow before that explorer he turned northward and eastward, and marched to the Red Sea, reaching Massowah, the port of Abyssinia. It is not as a record of travel that this book deserves consideration, in spite of the fact that the author made the difficult journey across the Nubian Desert, and went farther south than Khartoom ; of his journeyings he gives but a meagre account. “ Racing on the Nile,”he says, “ could be made a very exciting and interesting pastime if it were properly patronized, and the building of fast models were encouraged.” In the future of Egypt, as he sees it, this change will doubtless be one of the first introduced in the process of Americanizing that country, which, Mr. Southworth tells us, is what the viceroy is endeavoring to do. Elsewhere we are told of the viceroy’s flattering tongue, and it may be a possible thing that Mr. Southworth is a victim to its wiles. Certainly he repays the Egyptian’s approval of this country by a most lavish admiration of everything in Egypt and in the future of that country. He has just the same feeling about the viceroy that Americans used to have for the late Napoleon III., but this statement by no means implies too close a resemblance between the two rulers. At any rate, Mr. Southworth fortifies his hopefulness about Egypt by the use of convincing statistics, and he shows therewith the immense possible value of the Soudan as soon as Central Africa has an outlet for its fertility. A railroad running to Cairo would bridge the dangerous and costly desert and shorten to four days the time necessary for the trip. The richness of the soil is very great, and it is especially adapted for cotton and sugar. Removing the cataracts, it is feared, would seriously affect the flow of the Nile, by permitting the water to rush down to the sea when the river was high, so that during the rest of the year the river would be very low, or possibly dry, whereas at present the cataracts partly dam the waters and prevent this immediate waste.

Mr. Southworth also contributes to the history of the African slave-trade some melancholy particulars. He estimates the number of slaves exported from the country between the Red Sea and the Great Desert at twenty-five thousand annually, as follows : from Abyssinia, fifteen thousand; by the Blue Nile, three thousand; by the White Nile, seven thousand. For these twenty-five thousand sold, fifteen thousand more are killed, and sometimes fifty thousand in a year he considers a fair estimate of the number taken from their homes. It is not easy to find a remedy for this great evil, but with the advance of civilization it will doubtless be possible to diminish it.

This book, it will be noticed by the reader, is rather a collection of miscellaneous information about Africa, not too carefully put together, in which the most important part is what is said of the possible utilizing of Central Africa. From a literary point of view there is not much to praise ; there is a good deal of “ padding,” and a wholly unnecessary number of French words and phrases on almost every page. Moreover, Mr. Southworth’s enthusiasm about things Egyptian will fill the cynical with a fear that everything is not so near perfection as he would seem to think. Time will, however, show whether he is right or not. But he in his foreign fervor does not forget his fellow-countrymen, for he says he was “ of the opinion that twelve energetic, I might say reckless, Americans, each with his special mental and physical gifts, could bare that whole continent to the view of an anxious mankind.” No wonder the viceroy is in haste to “ Americanize ” Egypt.

FRENCH AND German.14

If Daudet’s Froment,15 published more than a year ago, were an unknown book and generally overlooked, it would be right to sing its praises; but as it is, while in many ways the book deserves success, it is by no means so much better than many other novels as its popularity would imply, nor does it demand untempered approval. The plot of the story is the one familiar to the reader of French novels, the faithlessness of a wife ; a plot which is rendered necessary by the construction of French society, which so nearly ignores the English heroine, the young unmarried girl. There is here, however, no temporizing with vice, no painting it in fascinating colors, but rather the literary error of sacrificing everything in order to make the guilty woman odious. In speaking of Thackeray, in his History of English literature, Taine points out the difference between English novelists, who make their novels moral satires, and the French, who write artistic novels, illustrating his remarks by comparing Balzac’s Valérie Marneffe in La Cousine Bette with Thackeray’s Becky Sharp; “ Thackeray’s whole business is to degrade ” her. . . . “ Under this storm of irony and contempt the heroine is dwarfed, illusion is weakened, art attenuated, poetry disappears, and the character, more useful, has become less true and beautiful.” If this is true of Thackeray, it is equally true of Daudet in the novel before us; he shows us the heroine not only wicked, but also vulgar, ignorant, pushing, and disagreeable in every way. This, it must be confessed, is different from most novels of this sort, in which it is the unhappy husband who is commonly put into an odious or ridiculous light, while the wife has all the virtues save one. Here just the contrary is done, and it would be hard to exceed the author’s virulence against the woman who does all the harm.

The outline of the story is something like this: the book opens with an account of the marriage of Sidonie Chèbe to the elder Risler, a Swiss, honest, hard-working, kindly-hearted, who has recently been admitted a partner into the firm of Froment and Risler, manufacturers of paper. He loves his wife devotedly ; she, however, who had passed her childhood and youth in great poverty, marries him to secure position, and to make good her disappointment at not winning for her husband Georges Froment, who had married a friend of hers from whom she had tried to win him. Frantz, a younger brother of her husband, had also been in love with her, and they had been engaged, but her ambition and hope of a better match with Georges had broken this off. Without giving all of the particulars, it need only be said that after she marries she is thrown continually into the society of Georges, and they immediately proceed to pursue the wicked ways. She is thoroughly vicious, Georges is a lamentably jelly-like mass of weakness. The intrigue is noticed by every one except the injured husband and the deceived wife. The cashier of the firm writes to Frantz, beseeching him to return and open his brother’s eyes ; he comes back, but Sidonie makes short work of him, and soon induces him to write a letter asking her to elope with him, which she has no faintest thought of doing, but she keeps him silent by holding the note over him in terrorem. Matters go on from bad to worse, the firm’s money goes to buying Sidonie jewels, dresses, a villa, carriages and horses, etc., until finally the day of reckoning comes, and the wife of Georges finds out the whole story, while at the same time it is made clear to Risler. The extravagance of the guilty ones has been so great that the firm is on the point of failing, but a machine Risler has just invented brings them new wealth after the selling of Sidonie’s luxuries enables them to weather their immediate difficulties. Her mischiefmaking is not yet at an end ; she is lost to society, but she sends Frantz’s note to her husband, and in his despair he takes his own life. With that tragedy this powerful book ends.

It will be noticed that this novel shows the bitterest results of wickedness, and in so doing the novelist does not go beyond the limits of his duty. It is not possible, however, to give all his methods the same praise. The virulence with which Sidonie is shown to be not only immoral but without taste in dress or house-furnishing is tiresome ; the reader seeks in his own mind for something in her defense ; he grows weary of hearing her accused of ill-temper, meanness, and pettiness of every sort. In a word, the heroine is treated with just a slightly excessive amount of the caricature which makes the drawing of all the other people of the book seem delightfully life-like. The muddled wits of Sidonie’s father ; the rigid honesty of Sigismund Planus, the cashier; and above all the Delobelle family, are portrayed with wonderful skill. Delobelle the father, a distant relative of Wilkins Micawber, had at one time been an actor in the provinces, but with this story he is in Paris, seeking employment in some theatre, and meanwhile letting himself be supported by his adoring wife and daughter. He is the victim of his own delusions and his colossal selfishness, and as touching as anything in the story is the willful devotion of his family and their tender nursing of his whims. His daughter, Désirée, is especially well drawn, and the pathetic failure of her life is piteous reading. Nowhere does Daudet’s earnestness about his story desert him; he never writes a line that does not count, and his people are very life-like, and unfailingly consistent. This Froment Jeune et Risler Ainé is hardly less gloomy a book than Droz’s cheerless Babolain, but it differs from that in not giving the impression of quite such hopeless misery, like that of a nightmare, which makes Babolain so severe an attack upon the reader’s feelings.

— Gloomy as it is, it will be considered nearly farcical in comparison with the same author’s latest novel, Jack,16 which has just appeared. This story, which is dedicated to Gustave Flaubert as the author’s friend and maître, describes with much power the life of a young man who has the misfortune to have been born out of wedlock. The story is inspired by fierce indignation, not with the laws by which society preserves the sanctity of the family, but rather with vice and with the weakness and indifference of the vicious. In Froment Jeune et Risler Ainé, Daudet shows the way in which a guilty life not only sears the soul and produces utter indifference to the welfare of others, but he also paints wickedness growing worse and worse and bringing every misfortune in its wake as a legitimate consequence. So in Jack the author sets out to show a life wholly wrecked by this accident of birth, and he never relents or holds his hand in adding gloom to the picture. No writer of a tract ever hounded a guilty hero to perdition with more unscrupulous severity than is here shown by Daudet, and even if this adds to the impressiveness of the book, it diminishes its literary excellence. It is a fair question whether a novel is the proper means for expressing wrath or violent disgust. The writer who is especially interested in setting some particular wrong right, or in branding it with hot contempt, is likely to let the precise development of his story and of his characters be neglected in his anxiety to make on the reader an impression as deep as that which he himself feels. The public which reads novels takes them up for amusement, and is tolerably sure to be somewhat dull in its feelings and comparatively irresponsive to even the justest eloquence. Satire would seem to be within its province, or restrained anger, but when those bounds are passed, it is almost certain to be to the detriment of the novel. The novelist is an observer who records his observations, not an advocate. But whatever may be the truth about the general question, in this particular case it cannot be doubted that the author’s ardor has marred his work.

The plot is by no means what is best in this book, and in many places the author has stopped in telling his story to let his characters appear in the fullest light and show their most marked qualities. Thus, he holds D’Argenton up to the most relentless ridicule ; his vanity, his arrogance, the barrenness of his brains, are continually forced upon the reader’s notice. Certain jokes never fail to be repeated, even two or three times on a page.

That the story is powerful there can be no doubt. Many passages exhibit great power, others perverted ingenuity concocting misery for the hero. Most of the characters are genuine caricatures, but even then they are grimly amusing. There is, of course plenty of pathos in the book. Impossible as much is, and flavored with wrath as it all is, and though it be nothing but painful reading, the book will be found able and clever. But the chances are, however, that the reader will detest it when he lays it down. Let him not say he has not received warning.

  1. Letters and Social Aims. By RALPH WALDO EMERSON. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1876.
  2. Neue Essays (Letters and Social Aims). Von R. W. EMERSON. Autorisirte Uebersetzung. Mit einer Einleitung von JULIAN SCHMIDT. Stuttgart: Verlag vou Berth. Auerbach. 1876.
  3. The Life of Alexander Hamilton. By JOHN T. MORSE, JR. In two volumes. Boston : Little, Brown, and Company. 1876.
  4. Revolutionary Times: Sketches of our Country, its People and their Ways, One Hundred Years ago. By ENWARD ABBOTT. Boston : Roberts Brothers.
  5. Sans-Souci Series. Men and Manners in America One Hundred Years ago. Edited by HORACE E. SCUDDER. New York : Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. 1876.
  6. A Nile Journal. By T. G. APPLETON. Illustrated by EUGENE BENSON. Boston: Roberts Brothers.
  7. The Hand of Ethelberta. A Novel, By THOMAS HARDY, author of Far from the Madding Crowd.
  8. Achsah: A New England Life-Study. By REV. PETER PENNOT. Illustrated. Boston: Lee and Shepard. 1876.
  9. The Religious Sentiment : Its Source and Aim. A Contribution to the Science and Philosophy of Religion. By DANIEL G. BRINTON, A. M., M. D. New York : Henry Holt & Co. 1876.
  10. The Prime Minister. By ANTHONY TROLLOPE. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates.
  11. The Conflict between Labor and Capital. By ALBERT S. BOLLES, Author of Chapters in Political Eronomy, and Editor of the Norwich Morning Bulletin. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1876.
  12. The Hopes of the Human Race, Hereafter and Here. By FRANCES POWER COBBE. New York: James Miller. 1876.
  13. Four Thousand Miles of African Travel: a Personal Record of a Journey up the Nile and through the Soudan to the Confines of Central Africa,embracing a Discussion on the Sources of the Nile, and an Examination of the Slave-Trade. By ALVAN S. SOUTHWORTH, Secretary of the American Geographical Society. With Map and Illustrations Now York: Baker, Pratt, & Co. ; London : Sampson Low & Co. 1875.
  14. All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moeller’s, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.
  15. Froment Jeune et Risler Ainé. Mœurs Pari siennes. Paris: Charpentier. 1874.
  16. Jack. Mœurs contemporaines. Two vols. Paris: Dentu. 1876.