IT is more than a year since we noticed these memoirs,1 and now an array of six volumes stands before us. They comprise the latter part of Mr. Adams’s service as secretary of state, his presidency, what his son calls “ the last two years of leisure,” and his stormy service in the lower house of Congress, The latter part we reserve for notice hereafter.
We see no reason to alter our criticisms of last year on the editing of these volumes. It is always candid and impartial. The diary tells nearly all the story; the few notes are judicious. We are still confined in a most tantalizing manner to Mr. Adams’s public career, rarely admitted to his private life, because, as we are more than once assured, “these are not matters of public interest.” On the contrary, while the long disputes in the House, of Representatives may be very well worth depositing in some public library as materials for history, what the public wants is more about Mr. Adams’s private life, in a book about one third the size of the present, and that sooner or later it must have. Our notice will touch such points of Mr. Adams’s personal character and habits as these volumes strongly bring out.
We begin with him in Mr. Monroe’s cabinet, and a most uncomfortable, impracticable associate he must have been, by his own account. He had a most troublesome way of being always in the right, — of course we all are, — and of insisting on facts and forcing his colleagues to confess their error, returning again and again to the charge. Such scenes as this must have been very common : " General Scott and I entered into a very earnest discussion as to the power of Congress to make internal improvements. I asked him several questions, till he said he did not like the Socratic mode of reasoning.” Mr. Adams, in fact, seems to have been wholly uninformed as to what would please and what would alienate men in intercourse. Eager to do the right thing, anxious to win friendship, just as he was eager to write poetry, he scarcely knew how. Soon after his inauguration he was invited to attend the Maryland Cattle Show, close to Baltimore, and after hesitating concluded not to go. “ It is apparent,” he says, " that the society wish to make the president a part of their exhibition. To gratify this wish, I must give four days of my time, no trifle of expense, and set a precedent for being claimed as an article of exhibition at all the cattle shows throughout the Union. From cattle shows to other public meetings, for purposes of utility or exposures of public sentiment, the transition is easy. Invitations to them would multiply from week to week, and every compliance would breed the necessity for numerous apologies. Finally, this is no part of my duties, and some duty must be neglected to attend to it. ‘ Seest thou a man diligent in his business.' ” On a return journey from home, while president, he arrives at Philadelphia. “There was a coach and four horses at the wharf, sent by I know not whom, but I declined riding, and walked to the Mansion House.”
At the time he was talked of for president, this way of dealing with men was a heavy tax upon his friends and a proportionate delight to his enemies. He wanted to be president, and believed he ought to he made so somewhat as Washington was, spontaneously. One of the most curious passages in these volumes occurs at a point where there is a break in the diary, a dialogue between Joseph Hopkinson and Mrs. Adams. In this, Lady Macbeth’s taunts on her husband’s halting ambition are most ingeniously and delicately applied to Mr. Adams.
This difficulty in commending himself to men naturally made it hard for him to get at their hopes and views. General Jackson’s name, being mentioned in connection with his own in 1824, " I said the vice-presidency was a station in which the general could hang no one, and in which he need quarrel with no one. His name and character would serve to restore the forgotten dignity of the place, and it would make an easy and dignified retirement for his old age ! “
Not being willing to take any active measures to be president, his animosity against all his competitors, and all whose support he believed doubtful, approached frenzy. Of Henry Clay he says, “ In pursuing a generous policy to him, as an enemy and a rival, I do some violence to my own inclinations, and shall be none the better treated for it. But I regard only the public interests.”Later, “ Clay plays brag, as he has done all his life.” Of Mr. Crawford there is hardly mention made without some bitter attack. “ Treachery of the deepest dye is at the bottom of Crawford’s character. The whole composition is like one of Milton’s fallen angels, except that Milton has made his devils true to one another.” This after Mr. Crawford had been disabled by palsy! Mr. Webster and Mr. Crowninshield being brought to a distinct issue of fact, Mr. Adams has no hesitation in taking the word of the latter, because he is the more devoted partisan, and Mr. Webster is scarcely allowed to be an honest man. These thoughts, which he fancied remained locked in his diary, really embittered his whole life. He was constantly saying to himself, “I will not remember that this man is my personal enemy ! ” and so many a sentence which he fancied had no keenness but that of argument was really barbed with rancor. Like other public men who indulge in the bitterest thoughts, almost calumnies, of their opponents, he winced at every blow. A Philadelphia paper having charged him with wearing neither waistcoat nor cravat, and sometimes going to church barefoot, he takes great pains to show that he did not mind it as his wife did. Other calumnies, some indeed truly infamous, he records; but when he says, “ No man in America has made his way through showers of ribaldry and invective of this character more frequent and various than I have breasted,” we may venture to think he fancied himself treated worse than he really was. Some months later, when the storm was hotter than ever, he says, “ It does not surprise me, for I have seen the same species of ribaldry year after year heaped upon my father, and for a long time upon Washington.”
He lived through it. His talents and merits, and the devotion of friends who would not be frozen or rebuffed, won him the presidency, and among his very first acts after his election was to offer Mr. Crawford a new term in the chair of the treasury, though he had again and again recorded him as in every way unfit for it, or indeed for any post demanding sound sense or probity. Of course Mr. Crawford refused.
Mr. Adams’s idea of official appointments was so lofty that it would be almost impracticable for a man even of Clay’s address or Franklin’s knowledge of human nature. For Mr. Adams, who learnt men with difficulty' and won them slowly, it was utterly impossible to fill all the offices with men of spotless character, from all sections of the Union, thoroughly devoted to his person, not bound to party, and each specifically adapted for his office. The gradual tapering off and ultimate extinction of the old Virginia dynasty raised up a host of office-seekers who had been virtually proscribed, from west, north, and centre, — although, of course, not a hundredth, perhaps not a thousandth, of the shoals of frogs that now fill the kneading-troughs of the White House, and of which the enchantments of the rival sorcerers only multiply the numbers. Mr. Adams not only did not like these persons, he could not understand them. He never asked for an office, — he only pronounced every one a self-seeker who did not recommend him. Why then did others seek office ? Unfortunately, too, in some cases where he gave up his own judgment to select persons pressed upon him, his objections proved to be well founded, as, for instance, when he yielded in appointing William P. Preble as a northeast boundary commissioner, — a public man whose first idea was Maine, and his second that the award of the King of Holland was as iniquitous as everything which proceeds from that foul monster, a crowned head.
Elected, as he was, by a minority of the people and of the House, so long a federalist and yet not quite accepted by the democrats, Mr. Adams’s administration in the nature of things encountered a strong and systematic opposition from the outset, which soon swelled into an adverse majority ; and although his supporters formed the nucleus of what ultimately became a great national party, it was far from such during his term of office. The history of this struggle is well given in the diary, but under the Herculean labors of his office, — no little increased by the absence in Europe of his secretary of the treasury at its beginning,— the invincible diarist broke down, and never brought up the arrears of copying and filling out his scanty notes of each day. No ruler ever more completely believed “ L’etat, c’est moi.” Frederick II. himself was not more eager to do everything in person. Now there are reasons for thinking that a purely personal government, where every free-born citizen comes to the chief magistrate in person for everything, is not unacceptable to the people of the I United States. But Mr. Adams was neither prompt enough nor unscrupulous enough, A mind slow to convince arid a conscience tender to act became utterly overwhelmed by the business of his post. Female applicants were particularly perplexing. “The wife of Willis Anderson came to petition for his pardon. All importunities are trials of temper. The importunities of women are double trials. I had refused this woman three times, and she had now nothing new to allege, I now desired her not to come to me again. She hinted that her husband did not wish to be discharged from prison himself, and that it would be no relaxation of his punishment to turn him over to her.”
Yet he still kept up other tastes with indefatigable energy. He swam across the Potomac day after day, on one occasion running serious risk of life. Then he took to walking round the Capitol square, morning after morning, consuming an hour of what would be thought priceless time. On one occasion he took this walk on a sprained ankle. He suggested the design for Persico’s group for the pediment of the Capitol. Finding the grounds of the While House deficient in trees, he took up the whole art and science of plantations—Evelyn and Michaux — at fifty-eight, and records with the eagerness of a school-boy the delight he felt in seeing unfold the wonderful secrets which oak and chestnut keep locked in their trunks. There he found the comfort and strength which he had in vain tried towring from poetry and science. Long had he borne the sacred things of the Muses, smitten by a mighty love ; but when he found that his Sluggish nature and the cold blood arouud his heart denied the access to those chambers of nature, he could pray almost with exultation, “ Flumina amem Silvasque inglorius.” 2
His literary pursuits ho had to intermit while president. But on his retirement he seized on them again with renewed avidity. He returns with especial delight to his beloved Cicero, and completes the perusal of his entire works. But at the same time that he is tracking Antony through the mazes of the war at Mutina by the clew of the Philippics, he is seeing what this new novel of Pelham is, that is so much talked of. Fresh from the pages of Tacitus, he compares the senate in Jackson’s early years to the senate of Tiberius !
The rising school of oratory attracts his attention, and he claims with honest and just pride that its origin is due to his own lectures as Boylston professor. He certainly was doomed to prove its value in no slight measure. The most striking incident in his presidency beyond all doubt was the coincidence of his father’s death with that of Jefferson, on July 4,1826. From that time on for weeks, one might say months, Mr. Adams never could be sure that he would not have to be present at the delivery of some sermon or oration on these two. At first he begins to give his opinion of these performances. But at last the mere record of them is all he can make. On the day when Mr. Webster delivered his memorable oration at Faneuil Hall, two hours and a half in delivery, Mr. Adams had already attended one by Samuel L. Knapp at Chauney Street Church, for which he left home at seven A. M. Apropos of Mr. 'Webster’s oration. The writer of this notice has been assured by one of the audience. on that occasion, a person of unimpeachable veracity, that the speaker wore knee-breeches and the academic gown. Another, of equal probity, flatly denies this statement. Can some third eye-witness decide ?
The popularity of such addresses put Mr. Adams on his mettle. He began to think that he too could speak oftener, more fluently, and on more varied subjects than he did. He accepted invitations to address lyceums and other popular bodies. The journey of Lafayette through the country during his presidency, and the evident satisfaction which the old hero took in the ovations, however tedious, that everywhere awaited him, made him feel that there might be after all some pleasure, in going round the country and showing yourself to your fellow citizens. Thus at considerably over sixty years of age he was acquiring new tastes, taking up new pursuits, and actually forming a new character. Just at the time that himself and his old friends and enemies were fancying that his political career was ending in comparative failure, new friends were learning what a vast force of probity, of energy, of wisdom, underlay that uncouciliatory outside. In short, he was succeeding in expressing himself ; and when the country appeared to have utterly rejected him, his immediate fellow - citizens determined he should express himself in a new hall, which we must reserve for another notice.
— There can be no harm in our expressing the wish that all readers who take up Mr. Weiss’s collected Shakespearian lectures3 might have heard him deliver them. But even those who have not enjoyed this pleasure will find traces of the writer’s peculiar eloquence in his rich, verbal style, though reproduced somewhat as the wave marks on a beach recall the absent tide. It is worth while to point out that this eloquence, even when we have only the literary part of it, as in the book before us, never wearies with mere rhetoric, notwithstanding that it is interpretation, rather than criticism, with which the author is occupied. But it is not alone in sympathetic apprehension that Mr. Weiss exhibits his strength; he also entertains and instructs by his dissertations on wit, humor, and irony, by the breadth and the detail of his comments on characters and his discovery of the art employed in their management, no less than by his evidences of Shakespearian erudition. If we think him metaphysical and fanciful at times, and if we cannot always admit his conclusions as to the authenticity of portions of the plays, we must at any rate confess that no one has handled the Bacon controversy more conclusively than Mr. Weiss. He has an amazing faculty for passing over familiar ground with a perfectly fresh enjoyment that enables him to seize a multitude of new influences and thoughts. Another result of this unprejudiced perception is his liberality in drawing illustrations of particular literary qualities from very recent writers: Mr. Blackmore, Thomas Hardy, Julian Hawthorne, and Edgar Fawcett are all quoted from. The “ up to date” tendency of the lecture-form has perhaps something to do with this, and is also to be thanked, in part, for the astonishing variety of amusing anecdotes and repartees, drawn from life and books, with which Mr. Weiss diversifies his chapters. These laughable things indicate a high degree of that virtue of quotation which Mr. Emerson has lately given its due. It is interesting, by the way, to compare Mr. Weiss’s opening discourse with Mr. Emerson’s essay on The Comic. Both start from the accepted point that man is the only laughing animal. But Mr. Weiss surprises us by carefully tracing a high degree of enjoyment in other animals, which sometimes rises into mirthfulness ; and he then shows that the essential difference between this and man’s power of laughter lies in his ability to “entertain keenly the pathos of life,” and his accumulation of all mental traits “ into the faculty of imagination, upon which everything that is laughable depends.” Mr. Emerson confuses humor with wit. “ Humor,” Mr. Weiss says, “ is a kind of disposition to adopt the whole of human nature, fuse all its distinctions, tolcrate all its infirmities. . . , Human dissatisfaction springs from the want of this ability to comprehend the whole within one reconciling idea . . . we have an instinct that all dissonant things ought to be reconciled . . . but only can be by the finite becoming the infinite. Humor strives to bridge this gulf. It is man’s device to pacify his painful sense that so many things appear wrong and evil to him.” Mr. Weiss cannot, however, rival Mr. Emerson’s clear statement that “ it is in comparing fractions with essential integers or wholes that laughter begins.” The richest interpretations in this volume are those of Portia, Helena, Ophelia, and Lady Macbeth ; yet singularly enough the weakest part of the whole Is the discussion of differences between men and women in general. Emboldened, perhaps, by his triumphs of interpretation, the author has attempted to clear up in a very brief space a mystery which we cannot believe will ever yield itself to treatment so direct. But, as a teacher of Shakespeare, Mr. Weiss has a very poetic and also a precise grasp of his subject, and a wide comprehension unusual with writers in the crowded field he has entered.
— In some things Mr. Tennyson’s second play4 is a great advance upon his first. He bas so far mastered the dramatic form as to have avoided the capital error of the Queen Mary, where the principal action took place by hearsay, and the only thing actually presented was the dialogue about it. There is, too, much more unity in this new play, where the interest very fully and constantly centres in Harold. His character is well imagined, we think, though still not very forcibly. Something very open, very kindly, very manly, takes one’s liking at his first words; and this liking follows him throughout, in sympathy for the true soul trapped into falsehood by no selfish coward ice, but by pity, and then led into more and more falsehood by love of country and by the hope of saving the land which has chosen him her forsworn king. To save his brother, a hostage in William’s hands, Harold swears upon the bones of the saints to make William king of England; and then to win Morcar of Northumberland to his aid against William, he breaks faith with Edith and weds Aldwyth, Morcar’s sister. The poet contrives that all this shall happen without the sense on the reader’s part that Harold is either a weak or faithless man; so ranch otherwise, indeed, that his miserable overthrow and death move an indignant compassion. Unhappily, also, the poet contrives that it shall all happen without any strong dramatic or moral effect. Harold’s speech, in the scene where he last appears —
The truth of love. Evil for good, it seems,
Is oft as childless of the good as evil
For evil" —
is not that supreme cry of conscience which it should be; and generally speaking the trouble with the drama is that it is not dramatic enough. There are two good strokes of theatre : where William, having Harold’s word, flings open the doors that conceal the secret conclave of the Norman nobles and clergy and bids him swear in their presence to keep it; and then where he pulls away the pall of the ark on which Harold has sworn, and shows it filled with the bones of the saints; but these are theatrical, not dramatic. In the scenes at William’s court in Normandy there are vivid suggestions of the cruel tyranny with which he rules; the state of a feudal despot who tears out men’s eyes and tongues and lops away their limbs is obliquely shown with a good, hearty, wholesome hate; and William himself is made to reveal himself nakedly for the cruel, wily savage he was. His talk is about the best talk in the book. There is much other talk, — tall, stout, resounding talk,—but somehow the people do not seem to mean it; not even Harold, whom one feels to be as truly characterized as William ; it seems rather to serve the poet’s occasion than the speakers’.
There are no pathetic passages in the Harold to compare with the speeches in the Queen Mary describing the death of Lady Jane Grey; there are in fact no very touching passages at all; and there is a meagreness in this play, a thinness of person and fact, which makes the former seem very robustly substantial. A magic tissue, like that which clothes all life in the Idyls of the King, makes these people intangible to us; and it is hard to see what thing worthy of him Mr. Tennyson accomplishes in his drama. He has not taken the space to paint us some vivid picture of the past, in which the figures could be said to have lived, if not to live; and in the narrow hounds which he has set himself there is a want of all atoning intensity. It affects one like tapestry. There is color and action, but the color has an unsatisfactory, dreamy blur; the action has the constraint of the loath material in which success is always more of a wonder than a pleasure.
— It seems to us that the unknown author of Mercy Philbrick’s Choice,5 however well she may be faring in respect of having her book much read and vivaciously discussed, has never yet had exact justice rendered her. The greatest merit of the book, its beautiful literary workmanship, is hardly insisted on at all; yet it is so very rare a merit that one would think it ought to be the first to claim the critic’s admiration. The style of Mercy Philbrick is a model for study. It is quiet and clear and strong. Everywhere there is a calm and just selection of words, moderation and delicacy of epithet; in the pictures, whether of New England scenery or manners, a kind of gentle and unstudied fidelity. In short, this grave and rather singular tale has precisely those retiring literary charms which Sainte-Beuve taught us to appreciate, and which he would himself have applauded most warmly; and these modest graces are so foreign to most of our light literature that it seems even a duty to lay stress upon them. About the interest and agreeableness of Mercy Philbrick as a story, there will inevitably be different opinions, but we think that even its partisans have not selected the best ground of defense against sundry rather foolish attacks which have been made upon it. It is not and does not pretend to be a typical love story. It is merely the simple recital of a strange heart experience, and a strangely sad one. A woman of the richest capacities, both mental and affection al, meets in her early, artless youth with a man upon whom she somewhat eagerly bestows her heart, and who proves only half worthy of it. The mixture in Stephen White of strength and weakness, magnanimity and meanness, honor and fraud, is delineated in a manner so masterly that it reminds one of George Eliot’s own. The man is painfully real; all the more so for the contradictions in his character ; and the unusual and objectionable relation which grew up between him and Mercy was perfectly probable under the circumstances. Given that man and that maiden, — for though we are told she was a widow it is impossible to keep the fact in mind,*—and their residence under the same roof, even in the sordid relation of landlord and tenant, and the rest all follows as sure as fate. Herein lies the chief art of the story. Moreover, the subdued intensity with which it is told produes an effect-as if it were whispered by the heroine’s self in some sombre twilight hour, long, long after it all occurred. And the listener, who is the reader, knows very well while he listens that such an experience was probably but one of many to the woman to whom it came, while it absolutely exhausted the man’s rather pitiful possibilities. And yet, if Stephen had been wholly unworthy of Mercy the tale would not have been half so sad. He is the one to be compassionated. The greatest blemish on the art of the book is the manner in which the poems are introduced, or rather added,— mechanically and of malice aforethought, like stucco ornaments. As to the poems themselves, some are very good indeed; some not so good. One, A Woman’s Battle, is of exquisite and memorable beauty. But it is easier to believe that the book was written for them, than they for the book; and the Woman’s Battle itself can have to the personages and events of the story only so forced and fanciful an application as almost threatens to impair its candid and sorrowful charm.
— Mr. Boyesen, in his recent collection of short stories,6 unites the elements which distinguish his two novels from each other. Gunnar was a tale of .Norse life solely, and A Norseman’s Pilgrimage carried the reader into the now popular domain of mixed American and European life and character: in the present volume three of the tales are Norwegian, the other three have a double nationality. Truls the Nameless and Asathor’s Vengeance have a wild poetic completeness which we miss in the rest of the group, for Mr. Boyesen’s pictures of real life, drawn with much freshness and skill, have a certain note of crudeness in them for which it is not quite easy to account. It appears to us to proceed from an inclination on the author’s part to rest satisfied with his first conception of particular passages, when further maturing would improve them, and from his habit of stating other things, very well in themselves, with so little art that they sound commonplace. This, however, is matter for literary criticism alone, and will trouble very few readers. The Story of an Outcast is the only part of the volume which we distinctly dislike: it is a painful story of a sin told with a directness bordering on bluntness, for which we can discover no compensating moral or idea or sentiment. Here, too, we notice a pair of verbal errors : “The sad feature about his mouth,” instead of “expression,” and “smolder into the earth ” where “molder” should have been used. But in general Mr. Boyesen’s style is very pure and agreeable, often reaching a delightful and poetic grace. The Man who Lost his Name, which is the first of these fictions, we have reserved to mention last, because it is in some respects the finest. It contains a careful study of an American girl, traced with a lightness and brilliancy which command decided approbation; and in truth the whole volume shows a combined vigor and daintiness in the author’s genius which lead us to expect the happiest results from it in future
— Of the few public buildings which have stood a hundred years in America, Independence Hall in Philadelphia easily holds the first place in popular regard. It has been subjected to as much contumely and neglect, too, as any other national monument, and our gratitude to Colonel Etting for his ardent labors in restoring the hall, and for his record of its history,7 is all the more lively from the evidence before us that nothing but individual enthusiasm could have availed to render the building what it now bids fair to be, a structural and graphic symbol of the birth of the republic. It seems as if in this country people in their corporate capacity were indifferent to public monuments, or grossly ignorant or inefficient when undertaking them, and that permanent records of national or civic history owed their existence as a rule to the individual efforts of private citizens. It. has come to be generally assumed that government will not or cannot concern itself with monuments, and that voluntary associations alone are competent to undertake them. Massachusetts in its corporate capacity refused to save the Hancock house, and the national government has never, so far as we know, attempted what it should be its pride to do, to gather and publish the writings of Washington. If the spirit of our institutions forbids such honorable expenditure, it is to be feared that this vague spirit is not much concerned about a vast deal of expenditure for purposes which are not national but selfish.
Colonel Etting’s volume is a witness to what can be done where intelligence and enthusiasm are combined. He has brought together all the scraps of historical material which bear upon the building and the use to which it has been put, has restored the design to the true originator, and has given abundant illustration of the several stages of appearance made by the hall. The last few pages are the most interesting and the most stimulating ; they hint toother communities what may be done by combined effort to restore and preserve such memorials as exist. The book is what it purports to be, an historical account of the hall, differing in this respect from Belisle’s History of Independence Hall, which has no value as a hisiory of the hall, and only aims at giving sketches of the persons connected with the events which took place in the building. There is room, we think, for a small volume which should take Mr. Etting’s material and cast it in a more graphic and narrative form, by which the personality of Independence Hall might be made vivid to the reader, somewhat as it now is made clear to the spectator. An historical sketch which should use this hall as a background would serve a good purpose in a lesson in history; the hall itself affords now a most admirable object-lesson.
— The. first number of this work has just appeared.1 It contains four colored plates representing five familiar wild flowers : the columbine, the wild geranium or cranesbill, the wavy-leaved aster, and two gerardias, one of which may be better known by its common name, the downy false foxglove. The text gives a description of each plant in language so clear and simple that any lover of flowers, though not a professed botanist, can identify the species. Here and there foot-notes are added to aid the student in understanding the name and arrangement of the floral organs. Technical terms, however, are very sparingly used. Yet the statement of facts is scientifically accurate.
But the text contains much more than mere botanical description. Our plants are compared with other species of their own genus and family, and points of likeness and unlikeness are pointed out. We learn to know their geographical range, their favorite haunts, some of their uses, their habits, and what may be termed their behavior. Under this head are mentioned the spiral twists and turnings by which the erodium buries its own seed in the ground ; the thievish habits of the pretty gerardias, which, not content with preying on strangers, must needs turn on themselves and attack their own plunder; and the cannibalism of those mistletoes that devour their own kith and kin.
Reference is made to the investigations of the German botanists, Sprengel and Muller, on the subject of fertilization by means of insects; and we are shown that the structure of each of our plants lends itself to the accomplishment of this end. Especially quaint is Sprengel’s account of the contrivances that aid cross-fertilization in the wood geranium, G. Sylvatica, an account published almost a hundred years ago. Insects visit the plant in search of nectar. Sprengel found that the lower part of the petals is provided on the inner side and on both edges with fine, soft hairs; and these, he thought, serve to protect from rain drops the nectar contained in glands lying at the base of the petals, just as the hairs of the eyebrows and eyelashes retain any drops of perspiration that fall from the forehead, and keep them from the eye; and yet the insect is not hindered in the least from reaching the nectar. Within the compass of a few pages the author has given us the life history of our plants. He possesses the rare power of presenting scientific facts in such a clear, concise, and telling manner that the veriest novice cannot fail to comprehend them, and the most stubborn disbeliever in the interest of scientific studies must needs confess their charm. Only one improvement in this beautiful work suggests itself to our mind. It would add to its usefulness if drawings of the stamens, pistils, and sections of the ovary were added to the plates. It would then be complete as a manual of reference.
Professor Goodale has been ably seconded by Mr. Sprague, who is already well known by his admirable illustrations of Dr. Gray’s work on the Genera of the United States, and of Mr. Emerson’s Trees and Shrubs of Massachusetts. The drawings combine scientific accuracy with much of the grace and beauty of nature. He carefully indicates the differing color and divergence of the stamens and pistils in older and younger flowers, and the successive stages of development in the fruit. Beside each plant he groups some of its root-leaves, for these, as every careful observer knows, differ very much in shape and size from the leaves that grow higher on the stem.
The plates are chromo-lithographs. The color of the flowers is true to nature, and the shading is as delicate as if it had been done by hand. The type and paper are in keeping with the general excellence of the work.
— Here is a singular, unassuming little collection of abbreviated sketches and stories,8 so slight and unconnected that only the most modest writer would have thought of putting them together. They are very prettily written, though one may not always understand why they were written, except for the sake of some association hardly of general interest. They are like flowers, or rather like grasses and minute buds picked in various regions and kept in a hortus siccus, — mementos a trifle scant and something too soignés, but acceptable. Seashore and Prairie is precisely the sort of book to be read between the scattered moments of talk or reverie which one enjoys while lolling under a tree in summer.
— If some one who had found Mr. Hutton’s essays9 dull should ask us to explain our good opinion of them, we could put our reply in the briefest form by saying that in the case of each author whom he discusses the critic has, through long reflection, reached some one thought concerning his subject which is simple and searching and true. It often happens that one cannot say as much as this for critics more congenial and more clever than Mr. Hutton. But he hardly gets beyond one really fathoming idea in the same essay. In the chapter on Wordsworth, this initial perception goes to the interior of the matter so directly that it suffices entirely, and the simple working out of the essayist’s theory and the exemplifying of it in various quotations from the poet are enough to insure an analysis of much interest. Mr. Hutton finds the source of Wordsworth’s power in the fact that he does not surrender himself to nature and to moods, but checks the current of spontaneous feeling as soon as it has begun to flow, with “a steady remonstrance and a high resolve” (using Wordsworth’s own words), so as to gain some insight or some inspiration which natural influences and impulses would not give. This observation is very well developed. The title, Goethe and his Influence, might have been shortened, for the chapter which it heads makes no attempt to discuss Goethe’s influence, but is simply a well - economized and impartial sketch of the great German’s life, with excellent comments interspersed. “'Adequate to himself,’” he says, in conclusion, “ was written on that broad, calm forehead; and therefore men thronged eagerly about him to learn the incommunicable secret. It was not told, and will not be told. For man it is a weary way to God, but a wearier far to any demi-god.” Nothing in Hawthorne seems to impress him much, aside from that author’s power in depicting “unnatural alliances of feeling; ” and, though the discussion of Clough is interesting, as coming from one who apparently knew him, and the essay on Matthew Arnold’s poetry as coldly complete as its theme, we do not think that Mr, Hutton does as well in any of these pieces as in his account of Goethe. He makes a painstaking examination of George Eliot which stands quite on a par with the latter ; but, after we have given him credit for culture, coolness, independent judgment, and a lucid style (with, however, a bias for cumbrous wording), we must own to a fellow-feeling with our supposititous reader who finds Mr. Hutton somewhat dull.
FRENCH AND GERMAN.10
For many years French writers have been busy editing older works, but of late the number of reissues of long famous books has almost outweighed that of new ones, which have, too, been very nearly outdone in the matter of interest. It is some time since there has been an edition of the letters of Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, and many readers will doubtless be glad to hear of their reappearance with copious notes by M. Eugène Asse, who has already published the Lettres Portugaises, and is preparing those of Montesquieu, and of Madame du Deffand to the Chevalier d’Aydie, for immediate publication. Those who recollect what Sainte-Beuve has said about this interesting woman, Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, will need no further recommendation to this volume; those who do not will find among his writings his valuable judgment on one of the most romantic of the sidepieces of literature. It will be remembered that Mademoiselle de Lespinasse was one of the celebrated women of Paris, who about a century ago conducted a salon where the wisest and wittiest people met and founded traditions of all that is best in French society. At the age of twenty-one she had become the companion of Madame du Deffand, the great friend of Horace Walpole, and for ten years their intimacy had lasted when Mademoiselle de Lespinasse was discovered in what her older friend considered an act of treachery, namely, in holding a little court of her own where she received adoration from the most interesting of the visitors to the house. This betrayal caused the separation of the two women, and Mademoiselle de Lespinasse at once set up a salon where the leading wits of Paris saw her daily and delighted in her conversation. D’Alembert’s adhesion to Mademoiselle de Lespinasse was one of the most marked incidents of this affair, and his defection was a great blow to Madame du Deffand, who never forgave either him or the woman whom he preferred to herself. In fact, D’Alembert was seriously in love with Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, while her feeling for him knew many vicissitudes. A formidable rival was M. de Mora, a young Spanish nobleman of great promise, ten years her junior, to whom she was ardently attached. He was called home, and shortly after his departure Mademoiselle de Lespinasse fell in love with M. de Guibert, an officer who was considered one of the leading men of the day. He had distinguished himself oil the field, he had written well on the art of war, and he had composed a tragedy, which was for a literary man in France at that day what the composition of a rhapsody on an Italian painter is for a young English writer now.
This book is mainly made up of her letters to him, which portray with painful accuracy the passion that destroyed her life. Her love for Guibert was the cause of great torment to her on account of her recent and indeed still present affection for Mora, while later her chief suffering came from Guibert’s indifference, his marriage with another woman, and her consequent jealousy. What Clarissa Harlowe is among novels, this volume is among memoirs, in the direct appeal it makes to human sympathies and in the exposure it makes of the tenderest feelings. The series of letters forms an unequaled narration of passion told without a veil of reserve, for the letters were written for only one man’s perusal. It is fair to say that wo of a hundred years later will read them with much more sympathy than Guibert gave them, for in the whole story he wears the appearance of a man whose only interest in life was his own success. She saw through him clearly, and she was right when she said, “ You were right in telling me you did not need to be loved as I love you; no, that is not your measure; you are so perfectly amiable that you ought to be the first object of all those charming ladies who wear on the outside of their heads all that they carry within, and who are so amiable that they love themselves in preference to everything.” But to follow SainteBeuve here would be like pretending to discover America by starting from Liverpool in a Cunard steamer. It is only necessary to announce the book and let it make its way to readers, who will rejoice in finding facts that outdo fiction on its own ground. Certainly the time of meagre original additions to literature is well employed in bringing out new editions of the valuable books of the past.
— Another of the same sort is Dussieux’s collection of the lettres intimes of Henry IV.11 Henry the Fourth is already well known as an excellent writer of French, and of that sort of French which was written before it had become enslaved by rules and rigid etiquette. This volume makes no pretensions to including all of Henry I Vth’s correspondence, but such a collection has been made as shall illustrate the most prominent sides of this king’s complex character. We have accordingly letters written from the camp, which show his joy in fighting, love letters of a rather graceless sort, and others which express his difficulties when married to Mary Medici and seated on the throne of France. But whatever the cause of his writing, there is in every line the charm that makes this king one of the most fascinating of those known to history, and perhaps the most fascinating Frenchman that ever lived, Readings of device, a constant tendency to judge everything according to a witty, half-cynical standard, bravery and gallantry were combined in him in such a way that he is an excellent representative Frenchman of the Gallic type, of the sort that was more frequent before the Revolution, before the time when a nation that was accustomed to deal with things by epigrams became immersed in “great moral ideas.” It is no wonder that the most entertaining of the novels of Alexandre Dumas were those in which this king was introduced ; even that ingenious writer would have found it hard to invent a character better suited for a hero of fiction than this veritable person. This volume contains an excellent copy of the portrait of Henry IV. in the museum at Versailles, which represents most admirably that wise and witty face; there is in addition a good copy of the interesting mask taken after his death. As to the style of these letters, it would be hard to say too much in praise. Tt is as vigorous as possible, with all the variety and mark of originality which are lacking in modern French. A perusal of this volume will throw a great deal of light on the history of the period.
— M, Marius Topin has just published a volume of essays on contemporary French novelists 12 which may be found worth reading, though it contains nothing like the last word on any of the authors written about. Those here discussed are George Sand, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Charles de Bernard, Alexandre Dumas, Mérimée, Ferry, Bandeau, About, Flaubert, Alphonse Daudet, Zola, Claretie, Madame Bentzon, Madame Caro, Madame Craven, Gaboriau, Theuriet, Jules Verne, and a few others less well known. The notices of the most important of these men are the least satisfactory, because they are too brief to begin to cover the ground. The others are treated with commendable fairness, in spite of the necessary air of compliment with which M. Topin first addresses his remarks to his contemporaries. It is with considerable tact that this critic shows the merits and faults of the different writers. It is, however, hard to agree with much that he says. It requires, for instance, a very catholic taste to find anything sublime in the melodramatic Captain Nemo of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and the admiration expressed for Gaboriau borders on the excessive; but these failures are mainly due to his good nature and his willful determination to say polite things, as well as to his non-observance of the true proportion between the different men, so that what is called sublime in Jules “Verne would be ridiculous in Balzac, and yet the same adjectives have to do double duty. Topin’s admiration for Zola is tempered by discreet blame for the way in which his virulence against the second empire has run away with him, and frequently he shows agreeable sympathy for merits which a hastier reader would be too inclined to overlook. On the whole the book will be found to have more that is good than what is bad in it.
— The connection between Richardson, Rousseau, and Goethe,13 the three men whom Mr. Erich Schmidt has chosen for discussion in his study of the novel of the last century, does not perhaps strike the casual observer with much force. A little reflection, however, will be sufficient to make it plain that it existed, and was an element of great importance; how great it was, and how intricate in its workings, this interesting book clearly shows. Nowadays Richardson is so little read that we are accustomed to regard the admiration our forefathers had for him as one of the many proofs of their inferiority to us, their enlightened descendants. As for toiling through the many bulky volumes of his novels, one would only do it when traveling by stage from Boston to Washington ; the two things have disappeared together. Even when we have the bulky tales trimmed and shortened for our greater ease, it is hard to make out what so excited enthusiasm in the last century. There are many things to explain that, however, as for instance, the rarity of entertaining reading, and the natural way in which Richardson represented what was one of the prevailing feelings of his time, the lingering relic of Puritanism. In England, Fielding’s parody and different tone were an immediate and healthy reaction against much of Richardson’s mawkish sentiment. In Germany, however, His novels had the most enormous success, of which Schmidt gives many proofs. One minor poet sang his praises, calling “the Briton Richardson more immortal than Homer,” and solider heads, Goethe, Wieland, and Herder, were full of admiration. The imitations by inferior writers were numerous, and novels written in the form of letters became excessively common. In France, as Schmidt says, Marivaux and Nivelle de la Chaussée had been Richardsonian before Richardson, but he nevertheless was greeted as a reformer and founder of new things. Diderot’s panegyric about him was of the most enthusiastic kind. “0 Richardson! Richardson! homme unique à mes yeux! tu seras ma lecture dans tous les temps! ” and again, “ O Richardson! si tu n’as joui de ton vivant de toute la reputation que tu meritais, eombien tu seras grand chez nos neveux, lorsqu’ils te yevront a la distance d’ou nous voyons Homére ! ”
There is hut little doubt, according to Schmidt, that Richardson’s success gave Rousseau the thought of publishing his Nouvello Héloïse in epistolary form. After all, the main objection nowadays to that method is its antiquity; its merits on the other hand are numerous : it gives the reader a clear insight into the letter-writer’s mind without the need of didactic instruction, and shows qualities with an air of naturalness that outweighs often the author’s unsupported affirmation of their existence. Goethe’s Werther is also told in letters, but only in those of a single person, while the Nouvelle Héloïse is made up from the correspondence of a number of people.
The origin of Rousseau’s great novel Schmidt finds in his affection for the Countess d’Houdetot, which is narrated at length in his Confessions. How close is the connection between his experience and this novel is clearly shown. What besides the epistolary form was derived from Richardson is slight enough. Schmidt considers Julie and Claire to have been modeled in some respects after Clarissa Harlowe and Anne Howe. The other resemblances are less marked. The Nouvellc Héloïse appeared in 1761, and at once created great applause in Germany; its influence on Goethe in his composition of Werther is well known. Schmidt makes very full comparisons between the two great novels, and in addition throws a great deal of light on the influence they had and the condition of the reading public at the time. Rousseau was the first to praise the beauty of the Alps. Dr. Lowther, in Richardson’s Sir Charles Grandison, in speaking of his crossing the Alps of Savoy laments losing sight of the farmers plowing and pruning, and called Savoy “ one of the worst countries under heaven.” In Germany the love of nature had been fostered by Thomson and Young and Ossian; the two last-named are especially responsible for the superfluous and eternal appearance of the moon in German books. Rousseau also taught his readers to admire an English park more than the artificially arranged garden of the French; indeed, it would be hard to enumerate all of his ideas, now conventional platitudes, which once were novel.
What most distinguishes that time from our own is the tender sensitiveness, the tearful susceptibility which distinguished all who pretended to stand superior to the common herd. “ Rousseau and Goethe were the first to honor the poetry of love and intense passion,” says Schmidt. Instances from the two novels are given in abundance, and in addition the following extract from a letter of Caroline Flachsland to Herder : “ He wept for joy, and as for me, I lay with my head on Merck’s bosom; he was exceedingly touched, wept with me, and —I don’t remember everything we did. O sweet tear of my life ! shed in the arms of a friend ! O sweet tears of friendship, how divine ye are!” In his letters in return he calls her “an angel,” “ holy one of the Lord ; ” he speaks of her “ holy foot.” She is not behind him; she says, speaking of him, “A heavenly being in human form stood before me.” To him her picture was “the sweetest sacrament.” He ended his letters with “ Hosanna in the highest,” “Kyrie Eleison.” This disagreeable mixture of religion and of human affection was one of the most wide-spread results of the sentimentalism of the time.
It is impossible to give by extracts a complete notion of this book of Schmidt’s, which is itself so much made up of extracts from various authors who throw light on the subjects treated. It should be read to be fully enjoyed. Those who take it up will find it an entertaining and useful book, a modest monument of thorough research and intelligent thought. It throws a great deal of light on the ways and feelings of the last century. And in performing his task Schmidt has shown the energy characteristic of his countrymen in reading and annotating all manner of third and fourth rate novels written a hundred years ago, in order to show how great was the influence of the foreign authors upon German thought. — Hand-books of literature are more frequently a combination of dates and more or less hackneyed extracts than they are intelligent guides or companions to curious readers ; in M. Courrière’s history of Russian literature,14 however, which is one of a series treating of the various contemporary literatures of Europe, we have a thoughtful book which gives us, in addition to the necessary facts, such exposition and explanation of their underlying causes as is most rare and valuable. The foreigner’s knowledge of Russian literature is necessarily limited by general ignorance of the language. In translations there is nothing open to him except Tourguéneff, Pouchkine, Count A. Tolstoi, Herzen, some of Pisemski and of Gogol, and, as the fruit of some research, detached bits of Lermontoff and others. On the whole, in view of the small compass of Russian literature, this is not so bad a showing, but the translations are of various degrees of merit, and at the best are translations. Admirers of Tourguéneff will find in this volume an interesting discussion of his writings and of their place in Russian literature.
— D'Haussonville’s life of Sainte-Beuve 15 is a decidedly readable book, and it is by no means surprising that a critic who from the nature of his profession left a good many enemies behind him should have his life told in a spirit far removed from intemperate eulogy. On the whole, the book leaves on the reader’s mind a somewhat unpleasant impression of the great French writer, who in his day exercised similar arts, and with little touches of venom distilled in his praise was far from being as laudatory as he at first seemed to be. While d’Haussonville’s intent is plain, it can hardly be said that he exceeds reasonable limits in writing this life. The fact is that we are so accustomed to the opposite method, that of blind advocacy on the part of biographers, who vie with one another in describing spotless characters, that one who uses cool judgment strikes us at first as unpleasantly as do those friends who share our confidence and yet begin with our faults in describing us to strangers. This may, to be sure, secure their liking more certainly than lavish praise, which seldom fails to call up hidden hatred, but to our vanity it bears the appearance of treachery. This biography seems more unkind than perhaps it should -on due consideration. D’Haussonville shows that Sainte-Beuve was of a timid, retiring nature, averse to discord and confusion ; but then, is it not unwise to ask that the qualities of a cavalry-officer and of a literary man should be combined in the same man? Sainte-Beuve showed no weakness towards the end of his life, when he was a senator, and by his speeches aroused a great deal of violent op position, and some part of his previous indifference may fairly be ascribed to that lack of sudden and blind enthusiasm which was part of his critical nature. That he should try many things and really believe in but few was different from the general experience of men whose experiments are not many, whose views are soon ascertained and held with obstinacy, but it is to this restless spirit of inquiry in Sainte-Beuve that we owe the great variety of his wise savings on so many branches of experience and thought. He, unlike most persons who have their lives written, had his faults, but in spite of them he will doubtless be known as the most remarkable man, from a purely literary point of view, of the last forty years of French history. His ability is not denied by d’Haussonville, and the life that he has written, although not of the usual kind, throws much light on the incidents of his career. The epigram, quoted from Cousin, with which the volume closes, that Mérimée was a gentleman and SainteBeuve was not, is of the nature of a pinthrust, and of no more importance than that would be in sanguinary warfare.
D. Appleton & Co., New York: A Vocabulary of English Rhymes, arranged on a New Plan. By Rev. Samuel W. Barnun.
Cassell, Tetter, ami Gal pin, New York: The Life of Christ. By F. W. Farrar, D. D, Canon of Westminster. Illustrated. Parts I. to IV.
Census of Massachusetts : 1875. Prepared under the Direction of Carroll D. Wright, Chief of the Bureau of Statistics of Labor. Volume I. Population and Social Statistics.
Estes and Lauriat, Boston: Half Hours with Insects. By A. S. Packard, Jr. — Roman Legends. A Collection of the Fables and Folk-Lore of Rome. By R. H. Busk.
J. B. Ford & Co., New York : A New Library of Poetry and Song. Edited by William Cullen Bryant. Illustrated with Steel Portraits, Wood Engravings, Silhouette Titles, Manuscript Fac-similes, etc. Parts I. to VIII.
William F. Gill & Co., Boston: Impressions and Reminiscences. By George Sand Translated by H. K. Adams. With Memoir.
Henry Holt & Co., New York: Noblesse Oblige. By the Author of Mile. Mori.
History of Public Education in Rhode Island from 1636 to 1876. Compiled by Authority of the Board of Education, and edited by Thomas B. Stockwell, Commissioner of Public Schools.
Hurd and Houghton, New York: Literary Reminiscences ; from the Autobiography of an English Opium Eater. By Thomas De Quincey. — Life and Times of William Samuel Johnson, LL. D., First Senator in Congress from Connecticut, and President of Columbia College, New York. By E. Edwards Beardsley, D. D., LL. D.
Lee and Shepard, Boston : Nelly Kinnard’s Kingdom. By Amanda M. Douglas.
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J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia: Sir Rae. A Poem. With Illustrations. — Poems. By Sidney Lanier. — Hours with John Darby. By the Author of Thinkers and Thinking, etc. — The Teachings of Providence; or, New Lessons on Old Subjects. By Rev. J. B. Gross.
Macmillan & Co., London: The Californians. By Walter M. Fisher.
A. B. Nims & Co., Troy, N. Y.: Castle Windows. By Latham Cornell Strong.
Napoleon and Josephine. A Tragedy in a Prologue and Five Acts. By It. S. Dement.
Noyes, Snow, & Co., Boston : Long Look House : A Book for Boys and Girls. By Edward Abbott. Silhouette Illustrations by Helen Maria Hinds.
James R. Osgood & Co.,Boston : Poems of Places. Scotland. Vol. I. Edited by Henry W. Longfellow.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York: History of French Literature. I. From its Origin to the Renaissance. By Henri Van Laun. — History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century. By Leslie Stephen. In Two Volumes. — Octavius Brooks Frothingham and the New Faith. By Edmund O. Steadman. — Modem Materialism. Its Attitude towards Theology. By James Martineau, LL. D. — A Child’s Book of Religion. For Sunday Schools and Homes. Compiled by 0. B. Frothingham. New Edition. Revised. — Outlines of Lectures on the History of Philosophy, By John J. Elmendorf, S. T. D. — An Alphabet in Finance. A Simple Statement of Permanent Principles and their Application to Questions of the Bay. By Graham Me Adam. With Introduction by R. R. Bowker. — The Gold of Chickaree. By Susan and Anna Warner.
Roberts Bros., Boston : Imaginary Conversations. By Walter Savage Lahclor. Second Series. Dialogues of Sovereigns and Statesmen. — Wenderholme. A Story of Lancashire and Yorkshire. By Philip Gilbert Hamerton.
Scribner, Armstrong, & Co., New York: Philip Nolan’s Friends: A Story of the Change of Western Empire. By Edward E. Hale.— Sans-Souci Series. Anecdote Biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Edited by Richard Henry Stoddard. — The Boy Emigrants. By Noah Brooks. With Illustrations by Thomas Moran and W. L. Sheppard.
Charles P. Somerby, New York : Heroines of Free Thought. By Sara A, Underwood.
Special Report on Public Libraries in the United States. Bureau of Education. Part II.
The Centennial Exposition of 1876. By S. R. Crocker. Reprinted from The Literary World.
- Memoirs of John Quincy Adams. Comprising Portions of his Diary from 1795 to 1848. Edited by CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Vols. VI.-XT. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1875-76.↩
- Virgil, Georgics, ii. 483-486↩
- Wit, Humor, and Shakespeare. Twelve Essays. By JOHN WEISS. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1876.↩
- Harold; A Drama. By ALFRED TENNYSON Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Mercy Philbrick’s Choice. No Name Series. Boston : Roberts Brothers.↩
- Tales from Two Hemispheres. By HJALMAE HJORTH BOYESEN, author of Gunnar and A Norseman’s Pilgrimage. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- An Historical Account of the Oh! Stale House, of Pennsylvania now known as the Hall of Independence. By FRANK M. ETTING. With numerous Illustrations. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1876.↩
- The Wild Flowers of America. Illustrations by ISAAC SPRAGUE. Text by GEORGE L. GOODALE, M. D. Boston : H. O. Houghton & Co.; Cambridge ; The Riverside Press 1870.↩
- Seashore and Prairie. By MART P. THACHER. Boston : James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Essays in Literary Criticism. By RICHARD HOLT HUTTON. Philadelphia : Joseph H. Coats & Co.↩
- All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moellers, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.↩
- Lettres Intimes de Henri IV. Avec une Introduction et des Notes par L. DUSSIEUX, Professeur honoraire a l'Ecole militaire de Saint-Cyr. Paris: Baudry. 1876.↩
- Romanciers Contemporains. Par MARIUS TOPIN. Paris : Charpentier. 1876.↩
- Richardson, Rousseau, und Goethe. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Romans im aclitzehnto Jahrhundere Von ERICH SCHMIDt Jena : Frommann. 1875↩
- Histoire de la Littérature Conttmporaine en Russie. Par C. COURRIEKE. Paris : Charpentier. 1875.↩
- C. A. Sainte-Beuve. Sa Vie et set Œuvres. Par le Vicomte D'HAUSSONVELLE, Deputé à 1’Assemblde nationale. Paris : Lévy. 1875↩