MR. WARNER writes of his Levantine travels 1 as fortunately as he wrote of his journey up and down the Nile. The manner is not the same, and should not be ; a book on Egypt — which means sojourn in Alexandria and Cairo, and a voyage to the Cataracts and back in a dahabceah — can have a unity impossible to a book telling of Jerusalem and Damascus, of the Syrian coast cities and the Greek islands, of Constantinople and Athens ; and their parity must be chiefly in the primary difficulty they have to overcome with the reader. “ What! Another book on the Orient ? Oh, we can’t stand that ! ” Dear reader, there are odds even in books on the Orient ; and as for your powers of endurance, if you lived a thousand years, you would always be having another book on the Orient. Reflect what a terribly perfect one Daniel Deronda must be going to write ! For our own part we are glad in the mean time of something entertaining and fallible, knowing what edification is in store for us ; and, after all, it is not the Orient one cares about so much as the traveler who has been there : if Mr. Warner had written his book without stirring from his study at Hartford, it would have been of just the same concern to literature, not more nor less. We do not know but it is the more interesting to have a wellliked writer on well-known ground. It is pleasant to look for what Mr. Warner will say of this thing of which Mr. Kinglake said that ; of that thing of which Mr. Curtis said this; of the other thing of which Mark Twain said something else ; and it is a test of his quality in which the lovers of his humor will triumph that he has always something novel, amusing, or notable to say.
He went from Egypt to Jaffa by steamer, and thence by the new, unfinished wagonroad to Jerusalem ; and from the holy city he visited Jericho, Bethlehem, and the other neighborhoods of immemorial resort; returning to the coast, his course again carried him inland to Damascus and back to Beyrout ; then he took ship for Smyrna and Constantinople, and was finally at Athens. It is almost every inch familiar ground ; one could pave the roads and bridge the seas with the books that have been written about it ; and it is his good company which makes the journeys and voyages so pleasant. He has not only finely observed and suggestively commented on what he saw, but he has indulged himself much beyond the wont of the modern book-producing tourist in the literature of his subject, and if you are not the idlest reader in the world, you are in no little danger of knowing the East through him much better than you did before.
There is no intention on Mr, Warner’s part to display the reverse of the tapestry ; that is the vulgar ingratitude of a very different sort of traveler ; but we have been constantly struck with his perfect sincerity. You see the squalor and discomfort of the Orient and the gaudy spectacularity even of its magnificence ; the sense of a land so old as to have reached its second childhood possesses you from his frank descriptions. Much had we read of Damascus ; it remained for him to make its understand that it is wet and low ; that its streams and groves are canals bordered by willows ; that its fountains are jetless basins with the water running into them from spouts ; and that the frogs outsing the birds in its borders. After that, as much quaintness and decrepit splendor as you please ; there is no desire to mock Damascus ; but the other simple facts cling like one’s own experiences and characterize the place as only a comparative paradise, at the best. The readers of The Atlantic have already seen how freshly our honest observer could still study Jerusalem and its neighborhoods ; his methods with Damascus, Constantinople, and Athens, are the same. The modern fact is not turned to the light of history either to romance or to satirize it, but for the reader’s intelligence and pleasure. There is perhaps less of political discussion than we might desire in view of the present lively interest in the Turkish question ; but that is a kind of thing which soon loses its value. In compensation we have constant note of character in the swarming types and nationalities — not anxiously humorous, but acute and always entertaining. The reader of Mummies and Moslems will be glad to meet again his old friend A bd-el-Atti, the dragoman, who accompanies our travelers on their Levantine tour, and in all their present adventures is a charming if less dominant figure than in their voyage of the Nile. We feel that Abd-el-Atti is our friend almost as much as the author, who somehow makes us as glad of his charming qualities as if we shared them. His book is one whose value will appreciate upon second and third reading, for whoever fancies it to be merely entertaining, because he has enjoyed it so much, Will do it injustice.
— A new edition of a standard book, even if the author be no sufferer from obscurity, may have much the same effect as the restoring of a pictorial masterpiece. This emphasis and fresh interest are very agreeably supplied to Mr. Bryant’s collected poems 2 by the handsome volume in which his publishers have just issued the poet’s works. The cover, stamped with an elaborate arabesque pattern of gold, reminds us a little of the éditions de luxe of German publishers, and seems to insinuate dissent to the fashions now most in vogue in this country; but the pages are spaciously printed on fine paper, and reveal an abundant variety of fine wood engravings from designs by Birket Foster, Harry Fenn, Alfred Fredericks, and others. Mr. Fredericks, we must be allowed to say, does not in every case reach the standard set by the other illustrators, though he compensates by exceptional ingenuity in other efforts ; but the volume compares favorably in workmanship with the sumptuous Irving’s SketchBook put forth by the same house about ten years back. The style is no less suitable to a permanent classic than to holiday publication. This collection has the advantage over previous ones that it contains several poems not hitherto collected, including The Flood of Years, and The Two Travelers (recently published in The Atlantic). Besides the tine frontispiece portrait on steel, we find upon page 435 a wood-cut adapted by Mr. Fredericks from the wellknown portrait of Bryant seated in the forest. It would be superfluous to review in this place the productions of the distinguished author, who has so unflaggingly advanced in popular esteem; but we may offer one reflection which comes up involuntarily. The secret of Mr. Bryant’s long and successful career as a poet who has seldom extended his pieces beyond a certain moderate length, and has never sought to attract by complicated or exciting narrative, may be found, we think, in the entire integrity of his poetical mood, and the calm which has sometimes been called coldness. But this calm may be a much surer sign of power than fury of emotion is, in a poet as well as in a man of affairs. We consider it a sign of power in action, and although some critics may fail to trace the parallel, readers have in this case felt it to be a token of similar worth in poetry.
— Dr. Holland’s Mistress of the Manse 3 has seemed to us only a fresh instance of his failure to develop any strength of design in poetry. Bitter-Sweet is his best effort in this direction, but even in that the most praiseworthy thing is the song about apples and cider, which used to raise the hope that we were to have a rural New England poet of decided freshness. In The Mistress of the Manse the only enjoyable passage, for ourselves, is the lullaby closing the fifth section of the third part, if we except these two stanzas : —
The organ sent its angels out ;
And up and down the holy place
They fanned the cheeks of care and doubt,
And touched each worn and weary face
Then sailed afar with peaceful sweep,
And, calling heavenward every eye,
Evanished in the silence deep —
The earth forgotten in the sky ! ”
These are good, and remind us of the better strains of Coventry Patmore, who has apparently had a strong influence on the author. Dr. Holland’s metre, his titles, and his effort to treat the commonest details in verse, all suggest this influence ; for the most part, however, one might fairly apply to the present composition Chorley’s rhymed prose satire on The Angel in the House. Dr. Holland has, moreover, an unfortunate magniloquence which Patmore avoids, in alluding to simple things. He tries to dignify coffee by calling it “the nectar of the morn’s repast,” and it takes some reflection to discover that he means by “ mosses of the lamb ” simply wool. Phrases like this are ingenious, but they do not make poetry of either wool or coffee. It would be ungracious, however, to pick to pieces a book which has found so many admirers : we cannot alter our candid estimate of it, but the author’s intentions are unimpeachable, and the story is honestly pathetic. The present edition is furnished with illustrations in great variety, some of which are excellent specimens of wood-engraving, and will make it a most acceptable gift-book. Mary Hallock hardly does herself justice ; her drawings in this series Seem to have suffered from haste. Thomas Moran’s barque “ half-way between two skies adrift” is a very delicate and thorough performance, and the decorative flower-vignettes by Helena De Kay, engraved by Mr. Henry Marsh, deserve very high praise : in their subordinated place they are perhaps the finest adornment of the volume, and have a delicious artistic restfuluess about them.
— Whatever theory one may choose for explaining the origin of the Round Tower at Newport, no history of the building will ever seem so real as that which Mr. Longfellow has established for it in one of his noblest ballads. This poem, The Skeleton in Armor,4 has been selected by Messrs. Osgood & Co. for that rich adornment and illustration which it has become customary to bestow at the Christmas season on some one of our famous stories in verse ; and we may regard this as a formal investiture of the ballad in its title to be thought the ouly acceptable legend attached to its subject. Those who have carefully considered the workmanship of the poem must have noticed how much its spell is aided by the admirably fitting choice of metre and stanza, and how fine a sympathy with Norse sentiment is woven into the lines with the same elusive and sinuous grace that belongs to northern decorative art. In view of this, it was certainly of good omen to the present edition that Mr. L. S. Ipsen’s skill was enlisted in drawing the borders which inclose each stanza with a design founded on Scandinavian ornament, and in devising the striking cover of the book, with its suggestion of the viking’s banquet-hall. For ourselves, we have to complain a little of the mechanical look which has given to some of the vignettes at the top of the borders their too stereotyped air ; but, with this exception, we think no one will fail to find in the network of historic decoration in which the stanzas are caught up, something exceptionally pleasing. But, in addition to this, we have eighteen full-page illustrations, one by E. A. Abbey and the rest by Mary A. Hallock. The latter merit, in the main, the highest compliments. Miss Hallock has not given us in her previous efforts the evidence of dramatic conception which these new illustrations disclose ; and if The Hanging of the Crane series was more softly even, it was less stimulating by far. The isolated figure of the hero, the scene of his escape with Hildebrand’s child, where they are made to enter through an “ arras rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,” and the glimpse of the father with his followers on the strand — these are achievements for which even stout admirers of the artist had hardly, looked as yet. They are very worthy results, and they give the value of contrast to the two or three more idyllic pictures that accompany them “I wooed the blue-eyed maid” and “ Time dried the maiden’s tears” are compositions flowing as naturally out of those gentler turns of the poem as music when it is really born of the verse to be sung with it. Of the books of this particular class we have found none, this year, which is equal to this charming combination of legend, poetry, and picture.
— The adventurous genius of Gustave Doré drifts so naturally toward impossibilities that we are a little surprised at his not having embarked before now with Coleridge’s congenial mariner. Speaking dramatically, nevertheless, it is much better that he should have postponed this work5 till the present; for it comes to us at a moment when a long course of prolific invention had begun to create in the minds of certain reluctant skeptics a suspicion of monotony and possibly of superfluity. The gathering of this reserved strength is curiously exhibited in the comparative flatness of the first three pictures, showing the mariner and the wedding-guest before the recital. These, admittedly, form only a prelude ; but, although Doresque enough in conception and tone, their originality is of a preconceived and partly mechanical sort. The fourth design, showing the ship flying over a vast waste of sea toward two black water-spouts, quickens the tempo, and in the fifth we find ourselves brought with a sudden, arresting shock into the midst of the tragic atmosphere which prevails throughout the further succession of frightful scenes. In some of these the energy of imagination is positively ferocious, though of course in marvelous keeping with the unearthly quality of the poem. The plate referring to the shooting of the albatross gives an original and unexpected view : down in the loft corner is seen a part of the yards of the ship ; the rest of the large space is taken up by the representation of an ice-encumbered sea, and the albatross floats in air at the centre, with the cross-bolt flying Straight toward its breast. “ The moving moon went up the sky” furnishes another instance of the same sort of surprise ; for the sky and the moon are not given at all, but instead a wondrously far-spreading ocean is set before us, with the reflected moonlight slowly traveling over its unmarked leagues. There is the merest edge of sky at the top, and the moonlight and the ship are almost lost in the solitude of waters. This mode of securing novelty may be accused of meretriciousness, but to our thinking it is precisely as justifiable as a figure of speech, and is an exact parallel, in fact, to the synecdoche of poetry, where a part is put for the whole. Once or twice M. Doré’s fancy becomes riotous and gets the upper hand of him, as it has been apt to do ; for example, in the illustration suiting the words, —
From the land of mist arid show,”
and again in that which is given with the lines, —
A pleasant noise till noon,”
the extravagance of the first and the foolishness of the second call out au untimely laugh in the midst of the general sombreness.
We might take exception to the looseness with which he has treated some portions of his work, where nothing was to be gained by it, and to the rather insensible cutting of parts of the blocks. The albatross on the cover, too, copied from that in one of the drawings, is — after the fashion of dye-cutters — made mechanical and shorn of its pristine grace. But the volume, containing the full text of the poem in a fair, large type, is very sumptuously gotten up, The pictures and the poem seem to form but a single work, and that a work of signal and striking genius. Few persons who have the fortune to possess them will be able hereafter to dissociate the words of Coleridge from the powerful illustrations of Doré.
— The first five numbers of Unger’s Etchings 6 represent, in all its luxury of paper and print, a stately folio edition, —the original letterpress of Leyden, — and include some thirty of the promised series of etchings, mounted upon heavy board, and suitable for binding, framing, or preservation in portfolios. We imagine that every subscriber to the work will have his own question as to the best disposition to make of it, but none need be deterred from binding it by those literary follies which characterize most textual accompaniments of engravings ; Mr. Vosmaer’s remarks are altogether discreet as to length and substance. There is sometimes, not always, a little biographical notice of the master whose painting has been etched, and usually an account of the subject, with a very useful description of the coloring of the original. Of criticism there is very fitly almost nothing, or else of the most general sort. The reader is left to the unvexed enjoyment of the etchings, to which the fame of the artist is not necessary. Their exquisite qualities cannot escape the sense of the merest novice in such matters ; every one must feel that here is work of the highest kind, and the ordinary observer may leave the connoisseur his keener rapture, and derive a pleasure from the etchings not less in degree, however different in kind. To a process which perhaps better than any other lends itself to the interpretation of painting, the great etcher has been able to give in wonderful measure the character of each subject and the style — almost the very mood — of each master. So much of tone, for instance, is imparted to the Titian’s Cleopatra that one has to think twice before he misses the coloring of that curiously undramatized bit of nude loveliness; the mellow Titianesque tints seem to live in the miraculous lights and darks of the etching. Then in such a picture as the Adam and Eve of Palma Vecchio, how all the gentle grace, the rich calm, the serene sweetness of the painter’s spirit is reproduced ! Or turn to A Man’s Portrait by Tintoretto, and see how that young Venetian actually exists in the etching, as he once did in Venice, and still does on the painter’s canvas. Veronese’s patrician pomp, Guido’s affluent tenderness, Rubens’s sensuous splendor repeat themselves with marvelous effect here, where all their softness and opulence in color has to be suggested by gradations of black and white ; and the quaint homeliness and vulgarity of the Dutch school, full of narrative and characterization, are to be as perfectly felt, one imagines, as in the originals themselves. In all cases the portraits are the best : in that of the Italian painters, because nothing of the spirit and beauty of the originals is lost ; and in that of the Dutch and Flemings, because the etching can give the strong individuality and interest of the pictures. There are comparatively few landscapes, and these are not of the greatest value, except as examples of subject and manner ; and there are some two or three pictures in the collection which one may look at with curiosity, but not with enjoyment, unless he has not only the taste for olives but also the taste for malodorous Teutonic cheeses.
The subjects copied are chiefly in the galleries of Cassel and Brunswick, and though very characteristic are seldom the most famous works of the greater masters. Rembrandt is represented abundantly, and by works signally expressive of his genius. Veronese is here in the Famiglia di Dario, and Tintoretto in portraits. There is an exquisite landscape by Ruysdael—a waterfall ; the interior of a barber-surgeon’s shop by Teniers; portraits and allegorical pieces by Rubens, etc. In the grouping of these and other old masters in the same series, an old fact concerning them all strikes one with novel force ; their total want of imagination in the literary sense. Heroic or vulgar, their subjects are painted with the most simple and material conception of the idea; they are sometimes theatrical, spectacular, but seldom dramatized.
The delightful portrait of Unger himself on the title page is one of the principal charms of a work to which we shall recur on its completion, and which we now commend with all possible cordiality to our readers. Nothing in these numbers seems weakly or ineffectively done except the Noli me tangere of Rembrandt.
— A clever innovation among holiday books for children is the little miscellany of tales and rhymes in French, Janet et ses Amis,7 published by the Messrs. Appleton, and mainly the work, we believe, of Mrs. Hoyt, a daughter of the late Chief-Justice Chase. It is printed in a fair, large type, is provided with a gayly capricious cover, and has many illustrations showing just that trace of the amateur’s hand which in certain cases has the agreeableness of a slight accent in foreigners’ English. The contents of the little volume are exceedingly varied and sprightly ; the humor and fancy that pervade them make amusing reading for grown children. L’École de Maître Corbeau is a piece of verse full of excellent advice, of which this is a specimen : —
Gentiment fais-le. Pourquoi ? — Parce-que.”
This pretty “gentiment,” which is a subtle device for giving the true Parisian accent, appears elsewhere, also. Nothing could be better than La Pomme qui Dort, as a delicate piece of fancy with a nice moral plum at the bottom of it. Indeed, everything with which Janet has to do is refreshingly sound and wholesome. But we were especially pleased with the French version of Little Red Riding Hood, which has a cheerful ending very naïvely told. How opportunely the hunter comes along, to hear the wolf snoring, after his repast; and with what skillful reserve we are told that “ il vit, non sans un certain surpris, le loup tout seul dans le lit! ” Hunter whips out his knife, cuts the wolf’s throat, and out step the grandmother and little Chaperon Rouge, who thank him gracefully, remarking that in their late abode inside of the wolf “ il fasait noir à faire peur.”
— The proprietors of the heliotype process have brought out in time for the giftmaking months four new volumes8 of excellent reproductions from famous works by the masters of design. We have before now given it as our opinion that there is no other form of cheap reprint after classical engravings which so pleasantly preserves the exact lines of impressions from the original plates, and escapes the reproach of looking as simple and comparatively inexpensive as it really is. The plan of the four series now first published is in each case very well conceived. The Dresden Gallery holds a particularly favored place in the hearts of travelers and art lovers ; the selection from its abundance of powerful and beautiful works has been judiciously made ; and the result is, on the whole, quite satisfactory, though (as might have been anticipated) the two illustrious Madonnas of Raphael and Holbein do not appear to as good advantage as the less important works, owing to the difficulty that has baffled engravers in attempts to render these celebrated works adequately. Of the Sistine Madonna we find both Müller’s and Steinla’s copies given, the latter of which is the more acceptable. So good a success has been achieved with the small Dutch pictures that we hope it may suggest hereafter a series composed entirely of these. The Gray Collection, of course, provides material for an exceedingly comprehensive list. We feel safe in saying that few series of reproductions have been published, giving within the same limits so much that calls for admiration on diverse grounds as this set of gems from the Gray Collection. Raphael’s Galatea, Da Vinci’s Last Supper and Combat for the Standard, Murillo’s Immaculate Conception, Domenichino’s St. Jerome, Velasquez’s Cervantes, and Watteau’s Embarkation for Cythera form a part of the contents, and are in themselves enough to compose a very respectable whole. The Gallery of Great Artists is more circumscribed in its interest than the other three assemblages; but to many the quality of this interest will he more keenly relished than that of the rest. Following our own taste, we should probably give exceptional sanction to The Titian Gallery. The pleasure of seeing one artist’s compositions grouped by themselves is one which is always to be hailed with fresh enjoyment, partly for the reason that it is what galleries and portfolios generally deny us. There is, therefore, something unusually restful and agreeable in this volume of Titian’s pictures. It is also provided with a very fair account of Titian’s life, works, and friends, which will be the more appreciated after a perusal of the weak notices attached to the other collections. In all these collections of heliotypes it will perhaps be understood without saying that some single pieces are less meritorious than others, owing now to the short-comings of the engravings and again perhaps to some unexpected treachery of the heliotyping process ; but these are not to be dwelt ou as very much more serious than the imperfections of original prints. The heliotype books are so good, the effects they give are so delicate, varied, and also strong, that they must find favor not only with art lovers of small means, but also with those who know how nearly insurmountable are the obstacles to making collections of original engravings repay in completeness the large outlay which any effort in that direction involves.
— The title of Mr. Clark’s book 9 gives a good summary of its contents. It will be seen that the subject he has chosen is one by no means over-familiar to the majority of readers, for many who are acquainted with the early history of the Turks and Arabs are ignorant of their present condition, and of both it will be possible to derive tolerably satisfactory information from this small volume. Mr. Clark has carefully studied the main authorities which treat of the early appearances of the Turks and of the Arabs, and he has given in a few pages graphic pictures of their wonderful and alarming advance against our civilization. The only fault to be found here is an occasional absence of dates, for which the reader will have to search elsewhere. Thus, in describing the advance of the Saracens in Syria, Egypt, the North of Africa, and Spain, there is no mention of the time when these most important events happened; and certainly no one would gather from Mr. Clark’s meagre reference to the decay of the Moorish power any definite notion of the manner of its defeat in Spain. Elsewhere, too, are similar unsatisfactory passages, though it could hardly be obviated in the great condensation required by the brevity of the book. What it does tell, it tells clearly and concisely. The most useful part is that which describes the present condition of these races and their neighbors. To be sure, the reader finds among undeniable facts frequent mere assertion of the speedy disappearance of Mohammedanism, which the future may or may not disprove, but this is something of which we have only insufficient means of judging, and Mr. Clark may be right.
One of the best things about the book, for its literary merits are but modest, is the fair-mindedness of the author, — his generous statement of the virtues of the people he writes about. Instead of going out of his way to find fault and pick flaws with those of another religion than his own, he takes every occasion to bear witness to the many excellent qualities of the Mohammedans. This volume is but part of a larger work which, it is designed, shall give the public a tolerably complete picture of what our missionaries meet with in the Turkish empire. This is an interesting subject, and at the present moment it is peculiarly timely.
— Whatever the subject he chooses, and he is at home with a good many, Mr. Hamerton is pretty sure to write an entertaining book, and this one,10 which gives an account of his life in France, is no exception. He takes the reader into his confidence and tells him just how hard it was to find exactly the sort of house he wanted, how French country-houses are for the most part no better than shooting - boxes, the châteaux comfortless, and the town-houses uninhabitable ; how he vainly traveled in remote parts of the country until finally a friend found for him a convenient home in a nameless city, within a night’s journey of Paris, or Lyons, or Geneva, and within twentyfour hours of London. Below it were Roman ruins, while above ground stood two Roman gateways, a temple, and the foundations of the theatre and amphitheatre ; a cathedral ; a wall with towers, some Roman, others Gothic, surrounded the city. When we add that a trout-stream ran through the property, it will be seen that but littie was wanting to make the place an attractive home. After describing this tempting place, the author goes on to give his readers just that full record of what he saw in his daily life which is most interesting and useful to an outsider. The merit of this part is that it so exactly resembles the talk of a sensible man whose tact enables him to know just what his hearers would like to hear.
It would not be at all fair to take for granted that all that Mr. Hamerton narrates applies exactly to the whole of France. It is by no means a homogeneous country ; far less so, or no more so, than our own ; and it is easy to see how little a man familiar with the manner of life in New England would understand plantation life in one of the Southern States. In the same way it would not do to argue that Mr. Hamerton was inaccurate because what he saw does not correspond with another’s experience elsewhere. He seems to have found himself in an old-fashioned part of the country, where some old customs were rigidly maintained, but that only makes the book pleasanter reading. In his agreeable way he tells us of the difference between English and French customs, from the difference between the hours of meals to the more important social customs, such as those which in France keep men from making the acquaintance of the young women, whom they marry very much as different nations make treaties together, by means of ambassadors and formal proposals. All that he has to say of the peasants is of the greatest interest. He represents them as very ignorant, by no means so much under the influence of the priests as is commonly supposed, but with singular notions of their own, illiterate, superstitious, yet frugal, intelligent, cautious, and hard-working.
The revelations are curious about the nobility, and the way in which those of humble birth, if they rise at all in the world, pull themselves up into further distinction by adding a noble suffix to their names. These false and, so to speak, home-made nobles find no other difficulty in their way to social success than such scruples as may arise within their more or less tender bosoms; the kind world, it would seem, merely stands by and encourages this form of dishonesty. Mr. Hamerton’s testimony with regard to the priests, their kindness and devotedness to their charges, the great power of the bishops, etc., will be found of value. In short, there is not a dull page in the volume. There is, on the other hand, a great deal that is new, and just that sort of information which experience alone acquires and only seldom can communicate. There is one part of Mr. Hamerton’s book, however, to which we think exception can very easily be taken, and that is the section concerning the present state of university education in France. Although the author enumerates many of the objections that can be brought against it in its present condition, he yet seems to think that it deserves great praise. Undoubtedly it does disseminate a certain amount of instruction among a great many pupils, but the higher education has been for years steadily lowering in France to suit the capacities of the duller pupils, and there has been wonderfully little encouragement to those who were brighter than the average. If Mr. Hamerton were to try to show the excellence of the French system in comparison with that of Germany, perhaps he would find his task harder than when he is writing about Oxford. A remodeling of the French system could not fail, we think, to be of the greatest service to the country, and help restore its prosperity.
The chapters dealing with the author’s experience in the late war are, like the whole book, very well worth reading.
— What Dr. Loring set out to do he has, we think, accomplished in the best manner. His book 11 originated in some newspaper essays on agricultural subjects, which were made more entertaining by the fiction of a “farm-yard club ;” and by means of the members of this body we are given the outline of a typical rural New England community. While, therefore, the volume conveys a mass of information, often put in a highly ingenious and agreeable form, about cattle, sheep, barn-fowls, horses, together with theories and practices in feeding these ; about the best methods of raising fruit and flowers and grapes ; and about farming implements, — it at the same time gives a view of American country life to which we have often wished that some professed novelist would call attention. We have heard So much about the grotesque and ugly and vulgarly comic and unduly intellectual sides of New England communities that it is a great relief to have any one treat this subject with such wholesome and encouraging cheerfulness as Dr. Loring exhibits. He contrives to give us the near view, and the good-humored interest natural to a small society, and carries along a couple of characteristic love stories, and something of the whole town history of Jotham, without letting either these or the affairs of husbandry flag in interest. Much amusing observation of personalities is also brought to bear, of which the passage relating to the old sexton is a particularly good sample. The book is illustrated fully and carefully, both as to persons and animals, by several well-known draughtsmen.
— It was a part of the felicity of Landor’s taste in general that led him to hit upon the form of Imaginary Conversations as his most fitting vehicle. Drawn to it thus by a fortunate instinct, he seems at last to have recognized that it was characteristic of his genius, for he even entitled his dramatic pieces Imaginary Scenes and Conversations in Verse. The charm of his Pericles and Aspasia rests on a precisely similar basis, that of imaginative interpretation of character assisted by a wide literary culture. Of the present republished volumes 12 the first is a little monotonous for consecutive reading ; but both books are to be taken up at leisure, to be kept for moments worthy of their fine workmanship, and often resorted to. Open any where in these agreeable volumes and you are sure to come upon subtle thoughts, searching criticisms, and delicate fancies, presented in clear, charming, temperate prose. They are detachable, and may be plucked like ripe fruit from a vine. But the historic and critical value of the portraits of themselves which the speakers in these conversations present without effort is at least equally an element of attraction. The American publishers announce that their reprint will be completed by a third series, the Conversations of Literary Men, the demand for which will doubtless be quickened by these two.
FRENCH AND German.13
Every one will remember the muchquoted remark of the heartless man who heard with joy of the death of a famous writer, because now he could bind him up ; but nowadays a man’s death is more truly the occasion of putting new shelves into one’s book-case, in order to receive those works he had disowned or condemned when in the flesh, or the riflings of his drawers it may be, or the forgotten, neglected work which careful editors manage to save from impending oblivion. The two volumes of Sainte - Beuve’s writings before us to-day belong to this last-named class rather than to any other. The first one, Chroniques Parisiennes, 14 consists ot what Sainte-Beuve wrote between 1843 and 1845 for a friend of his, the editor of the Revue Suisse, partly with a view of publication and partly for the purpose of giving his correspondent useful indications about literary matters at Paris. This editor had free permission to omit or modify as he pleased before printing, and indeed some of the passages were marked “ for you alone,” when discretion was especially necessary. It will be seen that in this way Sainte-Beuve had full opportunity to divest himself of formalities, and to omit some of the preliminary flatteries which were incumbent on him when criticising over his own name some man whom he was continually meeting in society. Since we have the strict copy of the original texts, and not the modified printed version, we are given the opportunity of reading Sainte-Beuve’s real views of French literature at that time, almost as if we could have looked over his shoulder when he was writing his intimate letters.
These Chroniques are something not easily defined; they are a combination of gossip, information, and criticism which resembles more closely than anything else the talk of an intelligent, cultivated man. They are full of good hits and of good criticism of a rather uninteresting time, for the principal literary event recorded is the appearance of Sue’s Mysteries of Paris ; there is some talk about Victor Hugo’s play, Les Burgraves, which does not come in for hot praise, and of Ponsard’s Lucrèce, which receives more favorable treatment. We are told all the jokes made about both plays, what Hugo said of the more successful work of his young rival. Of more general application is what he has to say, page 223, about those authors who are forever bewailing in public the flight of time, and with it, of their youth. “ In short,” he says, “ every one says adieu very early and keeps saying it till very late, without being able to decide to leave. One of our poets began to be affected by this public regret of the swift lapse of years on his thirtieth birthday, and some begin to bewail it aloud at the age of twenty-five. So long as one is young, that does very well and seems like a pleasant joke, like an innocent affectation. But when riper years have really come, when the irreparable harm is really felt, then the sighs are changed into bitter cries. . . . Such is the interesting and curious result of the abuse of lyric genius, of the inspiration of youth and fancy encompassing everything, of the moral void beneath sentimental airs, and of the epicurean life of pleasure varnished over with a sort of religious mysticism. That is the serious evil, the thing that ought to be denounced. At no time in the ages of great and serious tasks has any thought been taken of this secret lamentation. . . . Our young lyrical and poetical age, in not knowing how to grow old and in exposing publicly its miserable weakness, betrays its vulnerable point, its lack of positive moral inspiration and belief.” Somewhat the same thing is said again in a brief mention of Gautier’s poems, which, he says, “ will have a certain success with those who are satisfied with graceful fancy and variety of color.”
— It is not a violent thing to turn from Sainte-Beuve to Scherer, for although the living critic gives most of his attention to politics he does not neglect literature, and every volume of his essays is full of intelligent and instructive writing. In the volume that has last appeared, 15 greater attention is paid to foreign writers than to those of France, but it is none the less excellent on that account. A list of the titles of his essays will show that his researches cover a good deal of ground. The Hominco Question, Lucretius, Rabelais, Dante, Machiavelli, Taine’s History of English Literature, Shakespeare and his Critics, Milton, Sterne, Goethe, Bossuct, and La Fontaine are the subjects gone over, and it will go hard if out of all of these something is not found for almost every reader. In the volumes of Sainte-Beuve we had spoken criticism which, as he himself said, always runs by the side of written criticism, is often different from it, and is always the true expression of people’s thoughts. This is true of contemporary criticism alone, and while the report of what is spoken is very delightful reading, it is necessarily limited in amount. Written criticism has this advantage, however, that it is more serious, more thoughtful, and possibly less malicious.
The whole of M. Scherer’s book will be found interesting. For an example, this extract from a review of Taine’s History of English Literature may be taken. It points out fairly one of the radical faults of this able book. “The individual considered from the point of view of his genius, or more exactly of his individuality, has nothing to do with a book which pretends to be a philosophy of history. One of two things is true : either the race accounts for everything, even individual characteristics, in which case only the general causes need to be pointed out ; or else a man’s genius is something we are powerless to explain, which has to be accepted without a pretense of determining the law, and then it should be passed over in a treatise which, in distinction from literary works, proposes solely ‘ to study the psychology of a people.’ ” And then he goes on to show how often and how seriously Taine has broken this rule. The article on Sterne shows clearly with what intelligent sympathy Scherer interprets a foreign literature. It would be hard to find in English a better characterization of that more admired than enjoyed writer. The whole volume should be read by all who care for wise criticism.
— Der junge Goethe 16 consists of three volumes, which give us all that was written by that great author until about 1776. With the exception of a preface from the editor, Michael Beruays, in the first volume, there is nothing in the book but what Goethe wrote, so far as the most painstaking researches have been able to recover it, in its earliest form, and with all the peculiarities of style, etc., carefully preserved. Thus we have a very full supply of his correspondence and his earlier writings as they appeared and made their first great impression, before they were altered by his revising though not always improving hand. The value of this collection is evidently very great. In the first place, we have many of his poems not only in their original form, which is always interesting to those who study an author, but also with full indication of the time when they were written, which it is important to know and by no means easy to ascertain from the ordinary editions. The original reviews of Worther, of Stella, of Götz, one would have far to hunt for. The Mitsehuldigen is here as it came from his pen, printed from the MS. copy which he himself made for Friederiko. Only a careful comparison between the two texts of two separate dates will show how great is the difference between them. The letters are many, and nothing has been considered too unimportant to be omitted ; consequently the value of this work, which has been edited with the greatest care, is very considerable. It is hardly too much to say that we have here a species of autobiography written without the slightest expectation of its meeting the eye of the public. The carelessness of these hasty notes, as the editor points out, will be found an excellent commentary on the work he was producing at the same time, and throw much light upon his character and habits, being superior in this respect to the more formal letters he wrote when older and when his fame was more surely established. No edition of Goethe is complete enough to dispense with this work, which will be heartily welcomed by all friends of German literature. Bernays’s introduction will be found well worth reading, not only for what he says about his book, but also for his dissertation on Goethe.
— In his Amerikanische Skizzen 17 Mr. Knortz gives the German public some of the results of his stay in this country. The author is already favorably known as the collector of some Indian legends, published in Germany about half a dozen years ago, and by his translation of some of Longfellow’s poems, and of some English and Scotch songs and ballads. The subjects here treated are some of the most characteristic of certain sides of American life. We have in the first place an account of his sufferings on his way to this country in an emigrant ship, which makes as painful a story as parts of Smollett’s novels, and an amusing record of a holiday trip on Lake Superior and of his experiences with the Indians of that region. In addition we have short essays about the Spiritualists and the Mormons, and a good account of a visit to the Mammoth Cave. There is a good deal of humor in some passages, which enlivens the book, but there are also passages which might well be omitted, such as those which gird at religion. There will be more persons pained than amused at the coustant ridicule of the church near New York where the author for a time was organist. With this exception the book is entertaining enough, and will give its readers a fair notion of some of the, eccentricities on the seamy side of life in this country.
— Les Cahiers de Sainte-Beuve 18 is an unsatisfactory substitute for his memoirs, consisting of fragmentary reports of conversation, brief witticisms, disconnected observations, etc , prepared for publication by himself, though avowedly by a secretary, but withheld from print on account of the appearance of volume xi. of the Causeries, which contained much of the same sort. How good some of the things noted in this book are can be best seen by reading it, for we have space for hardly more than commendation of its merits without confirming our statements by quotations. Here is one passage : “Nothing is swifter to decline in crises like the present [the Revolution of 1848] than civilization. In three weeks the results of many centuries are lost. Civilization, life, is a thing learned, and invented. . . . After years of tranquillity men are too forgetful of this truth ; they come to think that culture is something innate, that it is the same thing as nature. Barbarism is but a few paces off and begins again as soon as our hold is slackened.” The whole book is full of thoughtful and wise remarks, and, while briefer than Chroniques Parisiennes, already mentioned, is well worth being read.
- In the Levant. By CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER. Boston : James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Poems by William Cullen Bryant. Collected and arranged by the author. Illustrated by One Hundred Engravings, from Drawings by Birket Foster, Harry Fenn, Alfred Fredericks, and others. New York : D. Appleton & Co.↩
- The Mistress of the Manse. By J. G. HOLLAND Illustrations drawn by Mary A. Hallock, Thomas Moran, Alfred Fredericks, Edwin A. Abbey, and Helena De Kay New York : Scribner, Armstrong, & Co 1877↩
- The Skeleton in Armor. By HENRY W. LONGFELLOW. With Illustrations. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. By SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE. Illustrated by Gustave Doré. New York : Harper and Brothers. 1876.↩
- Works of William Unger : A Series of Seventy Etchings after the Old Masters. With Descriptive Text. By C. VOSMAER. New York : J. W. Bouton 1876.↩
- Janet et ses Amis. Par J. R. C. H. Dessins de J. R. C. H. et de R. E. D. New York : D. Appleton & Cie. 1877.↩
- Gems of the Dresden Gallery. Twenty-four Heliotypes. With Notices of the Works and the Artists. 1 vol. large 4to. — Gems of the Gray Collection. A Series of Twenty-four choice Engravings reproduced in Heliotype from the Originals in the Gray Collection of Engravings, Harvard University. With full Historical and Descriptive Letterpress. 1 vol. large 4to. — Gallery of Great Artists. A Series of Portraits engraved on Steel by Eminent Engravers, reproduced in Heliotype. With Biographical and Descriptive Letterpress. 1 vol large 4to.— The Titian Gallery. Twenty-four of the finest and most popular of Titian’s Pictures. With full account of the Artist and his Works. 1 VOL. large 4to.— Boston : James R. Osgood & Co 1877↩
- The Arabs and the Turks. Their Origin and History, their Religion, their Imperial Greatness in the Past, and their Condition at the Present Time, with Chapters on the other Non-Christian Tribes ofWestern Asia. By EDSON L. CLARK, Member of the American Oriental Society. Boston : Congregational Publishing Society. 1876.↩
- Round my House. Notes of Rural Life in France in Peace and War. By PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON, author of The Intellectual Life, A Painter’s Camp, etc. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1876.↩
- The Farm-Yard Club of Jotham. An account of the Families and Farms of that Famous Town. By GEORGE B. LORING. Illustrated. Boston: Lockwood, Brooks, & Co. 1876.↩
- Imaginary Conversations. By WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR First Series. Classical Dialogues, Greek and Roman. Second Series. Dialogues of Sovereigns and Statesmen. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1876.↩
- All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moeller’s, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.↩
- Chroniques Parisiennes (1843-45). Par C. A. SAINTE-BEUVE. Paris; Lévy. 1876.↩
- Etudes Critiques de Littérature, Par EDMOND SOHEREE. Paris : Lévy. 1876.↩
- Der junge Goethe. Seine Briefe und Dichtungen von 1764-76. Mit einer Einleitung von MICHAEL BERNAVS. 3 Theile. Leipzig : Hirzel. 1876.↩
- Amerikanische Skizzen. Von KARL KNORTZ Halle : Gesenius. 1875.↩
- Les Cahiers de Sainte-Beuve. Paris : Lemerre. 1876↩