Recent Literature

THE life of Charles Kingsley,1 which we think the American publishers have wisely reduced to one half the bulk of the English edition, is mainly presented in his own letters and the letters of his friends to him or about him, the thread of narrative with which the editor connects them being very slender. Naturally, the work is uncritical, and so much is reserved, through a sensitive regard for what would have been Kingsley’s own wish in regard to a memoir, that the reader has not the full materials for making up his own judgment of a writer whom death has remanded to the temporary abeyance all authors must fail into before time settles their true place. Doubtless his will not be just such a place as the generation to which Yeast and Alton Locke and Hypatia came as revelations would have given him. There was really more of ferment than of inspiration in those books, but they were good stories and are not likely to be so much forgotten hereafter as they are now. Nevertheless we think Kingsley’s lasting fame will not he that of a divine, or a naturalist, or a Tendenz - romancer, however deeply lie* was himself stirred by questions of theology, science, and social reform, but that of a poet. He was truly a poet of a real and noble sort, and several of his lyrics have the undying quality : the world will he deaf to many tremendous literary and psychic and social noises of the kind which Charles Kingsley himself was the man to be reverently stunned with, but it will not cease to hear the sweetness of such lyrics ns the Three Fishers, The Sands o’ Dee, Be good, sweet Maid, etc. His Andromeda, too, must remain among the few fine English hexameter poems, deserving to rank with those of Mr. Longfellow in technical perfection, and memorable for many eloquent and splendidly descriptive passages.

It appears to us that this subordination of the greatest quality in Kingsley’s nature, the poetic quality, to other qualities common to commoner men is what gives that touch of something almost ludicrous in the feverish striving of his life. He was a man of feeling, of emotion, and when he turned to the practical world he wasted his fine substance against it with an eager, almost anguished intensity of sympathy and longing. He is always in this prodigious excitement about something, so that his letters become painful reading from their inconsequent storm and stress, their utter want of repose and of clearness. He runs terribly to words, and sermonizes and exhorts at a rate hard to bear; and he heats himself over matters that he himself perceives ought to be dealt with only in calm and soberness. Perhaps it is from a lack of explicitness in the memoir that we do not quite know what were his actual feelings in regard to the Chartist movement and the Continental revolutions of 1848; about all that we are able to understand is that he feels deeply for people who are in trouble, and wants them to be very careful how they try to get out of it. But it is possible that the memoir is not altogether to blame for this indistinctness as to his position on political and social questions. His letters upon the woman question are of almost Delphic width of purport, and his long letter to Mill, stating why he has abandoned the movement, is a wonder of prolix inconclusiveness. The idealizing literary temperament is not dismayed when confronted with cases of wrong or suffering which immediate bravery and self-sacrifice may relieve, and so Kingsley’s private life was one of beautiful and heroic good works; but we are forced to the belief that his connection with public reforms has been as sentimental us Victor Hugo’s, with vastly more vagueness. The real reformers, the John Browns, the Garrisons, are “ calm as clocks,” — and clocks that do not go striking twelve all round the dial, and then run down with a whir. They are quite certain that they know what they want, and are not in dread of being nonplused when they get it.

One can easily understand how these very inequalities should endear Kingsley to those who knew him, and that those nearest him might imagine that he was helping a cause when he was merely suffering for it. In nearly all cases he suffered for the right, but not invariably. he did not, for example, suffer for it in the case of our late war, but he was afterwards willing to offer this republic what reparation he might in urging the establishment of an American professorship at Cambridge; and it is a significant comment upon his emotional wav of looking at things that he thought the United States would really take it ill if the professorship were not established. In like manner, when he came among us and found us all such kind, hospitable fellows, with such an exhilarating climate and safe travel and magnificent scenery, he was satisfied that nothing was so much wanting to seal the good feeling between Great Britain and America as to have some American buried in Westminster Abbey, — not foreseeing, good poet, that our demoniacal press would at once offer him all the living national bores for that honored sepulture. There was no harm in that; but such bursts of sentiment are not characteristic of very clear-sighted or far-sighted men. When one reads in Mr. Kingsley’s letters that “ no man shall know ” what he felt upon this or that terrible business, like the Indian mutiny or the revolutions of forty-eight, it is not with the liveliest faith that his feelings were wiser than the average contemporary excitement; nor is it very surprising to find him feeling quite contradictorily about the same thing, and justifying his inconsistency by that of St. Paul.

London Edition. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. 1877.

But all this matters little, and will matter less and less as we grow further away from Kingsley’s time, and love him as a poet, and honor him as a good and religious man, so fortunately placed in life as to be able personally to influence vast numbers of people. He had all that is best of English heartiness. He was very simple and downright, and entered with neighborly good-will into the interests of the Kversley people, high and low, and he was quite free from sectarian narrowness. He liked horses and peasants and soldiers; and if he could have afforded it, he would have ridden to hounds; as it was, he was a great friend of angling. It appears that in his youth he had dreams of turning his back upon the vexing problem of Europe and coming to the American backwoods; he had a love and a genius, probably, for pioneering which never died out of him. Late in life he exulted to rush out of church in full canonicals and turn to with the people beating out a fire which had caught in the dry heather; he worked with them all day, and visited them after midnight to encourage them. One fancies the danger as but small compared with that from a burning American forest; but the English are wrought up to great pitches of excitement by very mild phenomena: an earthquake that jostles their beds fills The Times with graphic communications, a heavy fall of snow slops all the cabs of London; and Mr. Kingsley fighting the burning heather was very characteristically if not indispensably engaged. He was always fighting some evil, and took a great pleasure in assaulting diphtheria with bottles of gargle and lotions; he was the sworn foe, also, of typhus fevers and other filth diseases, and he once dismayed an afflicted family, stifling in the foul air of their cottage, by bringing an auger and boring a hole through the wall at the head of the sick-bed.

In spite of all this, however, he himself lived and died in a thoroughly unwholesome house, Eversley rectory lying below the level of some neighboring ponds that kept it constantly damp, and from time to time rendered it uninhabitable. The inmates were frequently sick from it, and obliged to abandon it; it is highly probable that its humidity hastened Kingsley’s death, which took place so soon after his visit to our country. There is not much record of this visit which interests the American reader, but it seems to have been a joyous and triumphant experience with Mr. Kingsley, who has nothing but good words for us in his letters home. He is very happy and remarkably well throughout his whole progress up and down, and back and forth across Our continent; but it is not improbable that his fatigues were greater than he knew. At any rate, in the winter after his return to England, he was stricken down with pneumonia, while his wife lay, as he supposed, on her death-bed. It is a most pathetic circumstance of this sorrowful case that he died believing that she had passed before him. They could not see each other after his prostration; for a time they corresponded by notes carried between them ; this grew too irksome at last. Kingsley’s loving heart could not brook the total separation, and at a time when his life depended upon his remaining quiet, and in an even temperature, he risked all by leaving his bed to look once more upon the face so dear to him. He took her hand and holding it said, “ This is heaven,” and in a little while parted from her forever. His death follow ed soon upon the exposure. Toiler recovery we owe this memoir, written with a tenderness and affection wholly beautiful-

— “ Barry Cornwall’s” success as a poet was more than a success. His songs were received into the hearts and homes of thousands of people with a tenderness that makes success seem too cold a word to describe their destiny; and he himself, as the writer of those songs, was treated with so much honor by his literary contemporaries, that his fame had in it more of brotherhood than royalty. In this he was enviable. Yet, judging only from his poetry as it stands before us, it is not quite clear how his works should have gained so general an admiration. His songs have not the freshness and passion of Burns nor the delicate finish of Moore; the versatility and liveliness of Béranger are wanting in them; and although he chooses a greater variety of subjects than Heine, the " one-tonedness ” of his pieces, which Mrs. Browning refers to, is far more obvious than the German poet’s singleness of theme. Nevertheless, in the memorial volume2 which Mrs. Proctor and Mr. Coventry Patmore have so admirably put together, we find the strongest attestations of how greatly some of the best minds of the century prized Procter. Lamb’s playful and sweet sonnet it was of course not necessary to include ; but at the beginningof the book we find an impromptu by Swinburne on occasion of reading that sonnet, and at the close of Part I. are reproduced the richer and nobly musical strains which the same poet chanted over the dead songwriter’s grave. An extract from a rhymed epistle of Landor’s is also given, in which, after characterizing the Elizabethan and the modern poets, the Imaginary Conversationist says to Procter, —

“ You, placed afar from each extreme,
Nor dully drowse nor idly dream,
But ever flowing with good humor
Arc bright as spring and warm as summer.”

Letters are printed from Carlyle, Lord Jeffrey, and others, full of kindness and commendation. Perhaps there is a good deal in Landor’s suggestion, “ placed afar from each extreme;” much there is, too, in the prettiness, the pensiveness, the conventional verbiage of the poems, and withal the often superior artistic instinct shown in them. Besides, Procter had the advantage of avowedly setting out to supply a deficiency in English poetic literature, the want of short, singable songs. This gave point to his efforts, husbanded his genius, and caused him to be looked upon with a cumulative wonder as the years went by and brought no other candidate for the particular honors he had won in this direction. But after counting up aud analyzing these points, we must not fail to give due weight to the fact that the poet, owing to his attractive personality, his literary modesty, and other fortunate circumstances, became one of those typical and representative figures upon whom the world delights to lavish its good-will. They appear in the ranks of literature only at certain intervals, and in its devotion to them the public atones for its neglect of hundreds of men perhaps as gifted but more obscure and less symmetrically formed. These idols — we mean no sort of disparagement by the word — are more easily found in the second rank than among the supreme masters; for the latter are subject to excessive changes in the popular regard, having either to struggle long at the outset of their careers or to suffer some pitiless reaction of taste in later life. It is essential to successes (since we can invent no other word to express the idea) like Barry Cornwall’s, that the writer should make an impression quickly and then survive long after it. We have a very similar case in that of our own Halleck. Procter, like Halleck, became famous while young. Born in 1787, he wrote a very successful play in 1821, called Mirandola; between that and 1830 his Flood of Thessaly and Dramatic Fragments gained considerable renown ; and in 1832 he closed his poetical career by collecting his English Songs. The period of his literary activity lasted but seventeen years (1815—1832), yet he had the happiness to live thirty-two years longer in the enjoyment of his fame and of a brilliant circle of friends. His association with so many of the famous men of the time, and the fact that so many people had admired his work, to begin with, no doubt had an influence in prolonging and heightening his reputation ; so that the merits of tradition were added to those of sterling worth in the man and his writings.

The events of Procter’s life “ might all be told in a very few pages,” says the editor of this volume, “ unless, indeed, his friendships may be regarded as its events.” And they were so, in a singular and illustrious degree. He went to the same school with Byron and Peel, and as he in one place remarks he was, in the course of sixty years, acquainted with more than one hundred persons connected with literature. Mr. Patmore’s memorial is arranged in four parts, the first of which gives an autobiographical fragment and some passages of biography. The main items are that at school he was fonder of reading the British poets than of study; that he was particularly proud of holding his own in pugilistic combats at Harrow ; and that, though destined for the law, his literary taste for some time kept him from entering on the study of it. His father left him a good property, about 1816. He began conveyancing, after his marriage to Miss Anne Skepper, in 1824; and afterward he became one of the Commissioners of Lunacy, an office which he held for something like twenty years. He is said to have taken his greatest pleasure in his professional successes and the regular discharge of his comnissionership duties. The great event of his latter life was the sudden rise of his daughter Adelaide to poetic popularity. It is hardly to be regretted that he did not complete his autobiography ; the fragment he has left shows that his shyness and modesty would have covered up many of the most interesting details now given us by the editor; but it is somewhat unaccountable that he should have made so little record of that various literary multitude of which he saw so much. From time to time he essayed this, and what he actually prepared in this sort is the perfection of reminiscence. The third part of the present record consists of verses, hitherto unpublished, somewhat accidental and unsatisfactory, and the fourth is made up of a charming budget of letters from eminent or interesting persons. But it is in the second section that we must look for the sketches of the poet’s literary companions. These he began to write when in his seventy-ninth year, and never completed. Coleridge’s much-praised Bowles, the sonneteer, was his first acquaintance of note. About 1817 he met with Leigh Hunt, Keats, Thomas Love, Peacock, Hazlitt, Coulson, Novello the musical composer, and Charles Lamb ; Hazlitt introduced him to the painter Haydou; through Lamb he came to know Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Southey, the Lake poets, for whom, as we know, Lamb was a sort of London agent. In 1820 he visited Rogers, and met Campbell, Moore, Crabbe, Sir Walter Scott, and Macaulay. The valet de chambre’s apothegm, he says, does not apply to his experience of these famous men. “ I saw some of them tried severely enough by poverty, by loss of friends, by opposition from the world, and other causes. Yet they went through all bravely, heroically.” He shows, however, a decided antipathy for De Quincey ; and William Godwin, who stuffed his novels with so many fine phrases about generosity, he declares to have been “very cold, very selfish, very calculating.” Godwin’s whole relation with his son-in-law, the poet Shelley, was a constant process of moneysqueezing.

Procter’s admiration for his friend Hazlitt was very great. Writing to a friend in the last part of his life, he says that he despairs of an age which has forgotten to read Hazlitt. One curious fact given concerning that critic is that he had absolutely no books of his own. When he wished to write his lectures on the Elizabethan Dramatists, he had read none of them but Shakespeare. Procter lent him a dozen or two of his books, Hazlitt retired to the country, and at the end of six weeks had absorbed the whole and finished writing his lectures. Apropos of the term “ Elizabethan,” it is startling enough to read the following in a letter from Walter Savage Landor: “ How dare you talk so boldly of the gentlemen who are Come again so highly into favor? I mean the dramatists who rejoice in the title of Elizabethan, as if that paltry, snarling old b——ought to give her name to anything so great as even a moderate-sized poet. But all things are now Elizabethan, from poets that nobody can read to windows that nobody can look out of.” There are several interesting personal descriptions. Of Keats it is said : “ It would he difficult to discover a man with a more bright and open countenance. He was always ready to hear and reply; to discuss, to reason, to admit, and to join in serious talk or common gossip.” Leigh Hunt, Procter decides, “ was essentially a gentleman. . . . He saw hosts of writers of less ability than himself outstripping him on the road to future success, yet I never heard a word from him that could be construed into jealousy or envy ; not even a murmur.” Wordsworth, we are told, “ was a tall and ungainly man, with a grave and severe face, and a manner that indicated tranquillity or independence rather than high breeding.” Concerning Coleridge there occurs an extremely good anecdote, based, as usual, on the opium-eating poet’s enormous propensity for monologue in place of conversation. Wordsworth and a friend came one morning to breakfast with Samuel Rogers, and excused the lateness of their arrival by saying that they had been to call on Coleridge. “ How was it you called upon him so early?” inquired Rogers. “ Oh,” replied Wordsworth, “ we are going to dine with him this evening and ”— “ And,” said Rogers, “ you wanted to take the sting out of him beforehand.”

The correspondence of Procter embraces several letters from Thomas Beddoes, the author of that singular and poetical but little-known tragedy, Death’s Jest-Book; and letters from Landor, Byron, Freiligrath, and Lamb (who signs himself, “ Yours ever and two evers ”), together with Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Most of these are very characteristic. Here is an interesting piece of self-criticism from Byron: “As for myself, neither my way of thinking on the subject as an art — nor probably my powers — are at all adapted for the English drama ; nor did I ever think they were.” Longfellow wrote to him of his poems : “For me they are more suggestive of music than any modern songs whatever that the three kingdoms have produced.” And he appends these lines as a fuller expression of his feeling about them : —

“ And as swallows build
In these wide, old-fashioned chimneys,
So thy twitterings songs shall nestle
In my bosom.”

He also speaks of Evangeline, just then completed. “ I hope you will not reject it on account of the metre. In fact, I could not write it as it is in any other; it would have changed its character entirely to have put it into a different measure.”

Hawthorne’s letter, written before he went abroad, contains the following : “ We know you well, and love and admire you in a measure which those who have you bodily among them can hardly equal. An English poet should come hither to enjoy the best part of his fame; at home he cannot taste the most refined delight of it till he be dead, when I fear he will not greatly care about it.” One cannot but he struck by the heartiness and kindliness with which men of the largest calibre and widest fame hastened to offer their praise to this gentle song-writer. His whole life, indeed, as here depicted, is one that the literary fraternity and all persons of taste may study with the most thorough and refreshing satisfaction. It is praise enough of the book to say that in its easy style, its tenderness and cheer, and its abundance of anecdote, it is perfectly in keeping with its subject.

— Colonel Dodge’s book about our Western territory 3 is full of all manner of information regarding that part of the country and its inhabitants. It would he hard to name a book, or collection of books, in which could be obtained anything like the light on the subject that is thrown by this modest volume. It is made up entirely of the author’s recollections, not of what he has read, but of what he has seen with his own eyes, and consequently his testimony is of the most valuable kind, and his book is most entertaining.

The opening chapters describe the geological and physical peculiarities of the country : its formation from the detritus of the mountains and by mighty upheavals of the earth’s surface, the volcanic remains, the singular petrifactions, the canon, all find mention. In the account of the surface we are told of the appearance of the plains, their treelessness, the rivers with their dangerous quicksands; then comes an account of the climate with its fierce extremes, with the heat in some places rendered endurable by the dryness of the air and the coolness of the nights, while the cold is made more terrible by the terrible wind, and no season is really secure from violent, sudden storms. Under the head of Travel on the Plains is a singular statement which we do not remember ever seeing in print before, though many people have doubtless noticed it: “ Few persons, with any knowledge of geography or of the points of the compass, have traveled at all without having at some time experienced the curious sensation of being ‘turned round.’ A man is going up the Hudson River in a steamboat, and, walking from the cabin to the guards, finds himself apparently going down the river. A traveler looks from his book or paper out of a car window, and finds to his disgust that he seems to be going back towards his startingpoint. . . . No power of mind or will can change this feeling, which, however, generally goes off of itself after a while, as mysteriously and with as little cause as it came. It does not always go off, and a wrong impression once made may cling through life, as to me Detroit is always in Canada, and New Orleans always on the right bank of the Mississippi because I happened to be turned round when I first arrived in those cities. Under such curious circumstances the features of the best known localities become strange; everything looks different from what it ought to look. This is getting lost in the plains sense.”

“ The effect on some minds of being really and thoroughly lost or turned round on the plains is most appalling; ” and he gives several instances of its effects, one soldier being so badly frightened that when found two or three days afterwards he was a raving maniac, and did not for a month recover his reason. “ He recollected nothing but going a little distance off the road for something, and getting turned round and realizing that he was lost.” Probably what makes it so terrible and alarming is the resemblance of the feeling to that of a nightmare, the man’s reason serving only to mislead him. But the old plainsman, when some morning he finds the sun rising in the west, “ knows what this means at once; and unless he has a compass, or is as sure of his locality as a resident in New York would be on Broadway, he accepts the situation, goes into camp, and waits until he gets all right again.” The dangers are by no means all outside of the camp; the sudden overflowing of rivers, — a few inches deep at sunset and in a few hours mighty torrents carrying everything before them, — rattlesnakes, horse-thieves, charges of buffalo, skunk bites, for those obnoxious beasts have the habit of entering the tent when hungry and eating the exposed face or hand, and in the Arkansas country this is generally succeeded by hydrophobia,— such are some of the most prominent dangers to be guarded against. But for sportsmen the joys far outweigh the discomforts and dangers which beset the plains, and Colonel Dodge has written a most tempting account of the game to be found there and the proper method of bagging it, all of which is seasoned by the addition of a number of appropriate anecdotes. He mourns the reckless slaughter of buffalo and elk, which threatens very soon to exterminate the breed.

Nearly half of the book is taken up with a very full account of the Indians of that region, the Cheyennes, Sioux, and Arapahoes. He describes their domestic life, their religion, their methods of fighting, and gives many instances of their more than brutish cruelty. His full treatment of the subject allows no condensation here, but in the last two hundred pages may be found a thorough and undoubtedly exact statement of the conditions of the problem, and a very fair presentment of the difficulties awaiting any solution of the question how to treat the dispossessed red-man. The author has no sentimental affection for the savage, and on the other hand he condemns warmly the many breaches of faith which have disgraced our government. He calls the whole treaty system “ a murderous farce.” He wants the Indians to be kept to a rigid accountability for their actions instead of, as now, being petted with one hand and cuffed with the other. It is interesting to see how much less mischievous are Indians in British America, where they are treated with more consistency and far less savageness ; but then it is not impossible that they there come into contact with a class of white men less degraded than that set of ruffians who hang on the outskirts of our civilization and rejoice in the possession of hardly anything more than its vices. This excellent book is a sound authority on the interesting subjects which it discusses. It resembles nothing so much as the talk of a man who has a good deal to say and knows how to say it. The author’s experience has been long and varied, and he is full of curious facts and of amusing as well as blood-curdling stories. The introduction is serviceable, and the illustrations are deserving of commendation. Our brief outline gives but an incomplete notion of various merits of a book which must long serve as the most trustworthy compendium of an evanescent phase of our country’s history.

— The present condition of the Eastern Question would be enough of itself to make very welcome any information concerning one of the parties most prominent in the threatening troubles. Moreover, we Americans, who are connected with the most autocratic government in Europe by imaginary bonds of close sympathy, naturally are anxious to know definitely something about our vague friends who, like ourselves, have a vast untamed country to manage, and who enter late, and with that sort of self-consciousness which makes us understand one another, into the race with the rest of the world. But even if the Turk were what he once was, and even if we felt no more interest in Russia than in Tasmania, a book like this of Mr. Wallace’s could not fail to find many interested readers. It is not every one who can go to Corinth, but few of those who go see what is to be seen there, and fewer still are able to make a faithful and entertaining record of what they have observed and learned. Now Mr. Wallace is a conscientious worker; he never puts us off with reports at second hand when it is possible to see the things with his own eyes; he spared no pains to secure accuracy, and the consequence is that he has written a book which is a treasure-house of information, and he has done it in so pleasant a way that his story is, in fact, what is so often said in compliment, almost as interesting as a novel. He entered Russia in March, 1870, intending to spend but a few months there; but the more he studied the more he found he had to learn, so that before he had finished he had spent many years studying the history and social condition of the country. This large volume describes his life, his method of work, and gives us many personal reminiscences, while it contains in addition to these things the fruits of much research and the record of much that he learned, in the only way such things can be satisfactorily learned, from conversation with the people.

Since he found that by living in St. Petersburg he could not become familiar with the language, he voluntarily banished himself to a distant village where he had to speak Russian or starve, and once there he began to devote himself to examining what went on about him. All of this part of his personal experience is delightful reading: the life he recounts, the scenes he puts before us, remind us frequently of what can be equaled in this country in respect of dullness of life and the absence of interests, as well as in the aspect of nature. Our prairies, agricultural regions, and forests, our huge rivers, the doubly terrible climate, find formidable rivals in Russia; but here, to our eyes at least, the analogy ceases. In that country the tendency is to a rustic life ; with us this is combated by a very different spirit, which leads us to crowd into cities, and, moreover, the patient, enduring, unenterprising nature of the Slavs is very different from what exists here. How different it is this book clearly shows. Separate chapters describe the religious life of the people, their observance of outward rites, and the inferior condition of the priests, who have seldom stood much higher than the peasants. Elsewhere, to mention briefly one of the more important matters, we read of the life of the peasants, of the mir, or village community, which puts the authority, like that of a New England town-meeting, only much greater, into an assembly of the property owners of the commune, men and women. It is to be noticed, however, that although women have the right of speaking on all questions concerning their own households, such as a proposal to increase or diminish the household’s share of land, there is but little attention paid to them when they speak on the general welfare of the commune. The peasant family is an association iu which the members hold nearly all things in common, and the mir is, Mr. Wallace tells us, very much the same thing on a larger scale ; “ the members of a family all farm together, and those who earn money from other sources are expected to put their savings into a common purse; whilst the households composing a commune farm independently, and pay into the common treasury only a certain fixed sum.” The whole system of the annual allotment of land is a complex one unlike that at present existing in any civilized country, and while its presence nowadays throws light on much early history, it makes the manner of the future growth of Russia very obscure.

Naturally the history of the emancipation of the serfs takes up a good deal of place in the book. We are informed how serfage, which was in fact exactly the same thing as slavery, although the fact has often been denied, arose, thrived under various emperors, and was finally abolished, as well as what the effect of the emancipation has been on the serfs and their former proprietors. According to Mr. Wallace this slavery was a thing of slow growth, and not the sudden result of a proclamation or of the violence of Boris Godunof, as has been widely stated. The peasants were serfs before the “ institution ” became recognized by law, and the change from the condition of belonging to the soil and inseparable from it to that of being sold without reference to the land was a gradual but undeniable one. They were almost defenseless against the ill treatment of their owners, and ill treatment was by no means rare; yet when they were emancipated by the present emperor they were not much excited. They had no ardent love of liberty, and they found it no panacea, though that they had hardly expected. The changes that emancipation wrought were principally of a legal sort, affecting the way in which the peasant owned his land, and have had no such seriously disturbing effect as was anticipated. The full particulars of this are to be found in Mr. Wallace’s volume, and they bear witness to the great thoroughness with which he has investigated this and every question.

In this brief sketch we have mentioned but a small part of the subjects discussed. It would be hard to find any point of Russian civilization which is not here treated. It is to be remembered that Mr. Wallace’s experience in the country was of a very rare kind. Few Russians, to say nothing of foreigners, have ever seen so much of their native land or with such good opportunities, for he became intimate with people of all classes of society, and visited the remotest quarters of the empire at times with government inspectors. Since what he sought was the truth, and not facts in support of a theory, he was able to make his book what it is, a record which no student of modern history, indeed no indolent reader of books of travel, can afford to neglect. It is a book of rare merit and interest, deserving the highest praise. One seldom finds so thoroughly satisfactory workmanship as has gone to the making of this volume.

— The gentle reader of this magazine cannot fail to have liked, for their very fresh and delicate quality, certain sketches of an old New England sea-port, which have from time to time appeared here during the last four years. The first was Shore House, and then there came Deephaven Cronies and Deephaven Excursions. These sketches, with many more studies of the same sort of life, as finely and faithfully done, are now collected into a pretty little book called Deephaven,4 which must, we think, find favor with all who appreciate the simple treatment of the near-at-hand quaint and picturesque. No doubt some particular sea-port sat for Deephaven, but the picture is true to a whole class of old shore towns, in any one of which you might confidently look to find the Deephaven types. It is supposed that two young girls — whose young-girlhood charmingly perfumes the thought and observation of the whole book — are spending the summer at Deephaven, Miss Denis, the narrator, being the guest of her adored ideal, Miss Kate Lancaster, whose people have an ancestral house there; but their sojourn is only used as a background on which to paint the local life : the three or four aristocratic families, severally dwindled to three or four old maiden ladies; the numbers of ancient sea-captains cast ashore by the decaying traffic; the queer sailor and fisher folk; the widow and old-wife gossips of the place, and some of the people of the neighboring country. These are all touched with a hand that holds itself far from every trick of exaggeration, and that subtly delights in the very tint and form of reality; we could not express too strongly the sense of conscientious fidelity which the art of the book gives, while over the whole is cast a light of the sweetest and gentlest humor, and of a sympathy as tender as it is intelligent. Danny is one of the best of the sketches; and another is The Circus at Denby, which perhaps shows better than any other the play of the author’s observation and fancy, with its glancing lights of fun and pathos. A sombre and touching study is that of the sad, simple life so compassionately depicted in In Shadow, after which the reader must turn to the brisk vigor and quaintness of Mrs. Bonny. Bits of New England landscape and characteristic marine effects scattered throughout these studies of life vividly localize them, and the talk of the people is rendered with a delicious fidelity.

In fact, Miss Jewett here gives proof of such powers of observation and characterization as we hope will some day be turned to the advantage of all of us in fiction. Meanwhile we are very glad of these studies, so refined, so simple, so exquisitely imbued with a true feeling for the ideal within the real.

— Since as a people we gave up boasting about our achievements, and took to unmercifully deprecating them, there have been few more agreeable offsets to our gloomy self-criticism than the distinction which Mr. Eugene Schuyler, American consul at Constantinople, has won for himself throughout Europe. This accomplished scholar, who many years ago made the first English translation from Tourguéneff, was the investigator of the Bulgarian atrocities last year, and his inquiries enabled another American, Mr. McGahan, acting as correspondent for the London Daily News, to spread that whole hideous episode before the English public. These two gentlemen enjoy the singular fame of having taken English public opinion by the forelock, and led it in the direction which the real sympathies of the people and of the popular leaders inclined it to take. Mr. Schuyler has since made his appearance as the author of undoubtedly the most thorough, brilliant, and entertaining work on Turkistan5 which has yet been given to the English-speaking world. The first volume is taken up with describing his journey in 1873 along the Syr Darya (Jaxartes), one of the rivers of Eden ; the manners of the Khirgiz of the steppe, and Mussulman life in Tashkent and Samarkand ; and the valley of Larafshan, east of Samarkand. The Khirgiz occupy, we suppose (though Mr. Schuyler says nothing about it), the territory of the Massagetæ of the ancients, who were famed for their perhaps excessively prudent habit of killing their parents at a certain age, and for sacrificing horses to the sun, on account of their swiftness. Horses at least play an important part among the Khirghiz; for they have races from twelve to twenty miles long, horses being often given as prizes ; and there is a picturesque but too forcible custom of “love chases,” where a maiden mounts a fleet horse, armed with a heavy whip which she uses on the persons of those suitors who come too near catching her and whom sh does not favor. Both of these volumes are full of graphic descriptions, besides a mass of historical and ethnical information. A traveler like Mr. Schuyler in such a region as Central Asia has to be his own historian and geographer, often bringing back entirely new material and correcting old judgments. In short, he partakes of the honors of discovery, to some extent. The second half of this work is particularly valuable for the luminous insight it gives into the Russian conquests in the East. No one who wishes to understand the questions involved in these can dispense with reading the last four chapters of Mr. Schuyler’s second volume. His searching and comprehensive survey of Russian proceedings in Turkistan since 1865, his impartiality in dispensing praise and blame, his candor and his courtesy, are all quite unsurpassable. As the author did not spare, last summer, what Mr. Carlyle in his latest utterance calls “ the unspeakable Turk,” so he does not hesitate to pass sharp criticism ou the Russian, when necessary. But while condemning in some instances, he says that “ the Russian movements in Central Asia have been marked by great discipline and humanity.” He does not, like Mr. Carlyle, declare that the Russians have “ done signal service to God and man in drilling into order and peace anarchic populations all over their side of the world; ” in some cases quite the contrary is shown; but he gives it as his firm belief that Russia has no designs upon India, and has been drawn unavoidably into her latest Khivan conquests and advances on Kuldja, and with disadvantage rather than gain to herself. The human existence which Mr. Schuyler has to describe is queer and distorted enough; but the clear, graceful style gives everything a fascination the reverse of disagreeable. The illustrations, from drawings by the Russian painter Vereschagine (which we recognize as being taken from the latter’s Tour du Monde), add much to the entertaining quality of the book.


Even if he is not well enough known to have a place in Vapereau’s Dictionnaire des Contemporains, the Count de Gobineau has done sufficiently good service in the fields of scholarship and of belles-lettres to win a high reputation among students and readers. His novel, Les Pléiades, is one of the wisest of recent works of French fiction, and his position as French minister to Persia gave him an opportunity, which he did not neglect, to offer to the Western world a great deal of information about the ancient and modern history of that interesting country. In this last volume 6 he has collected half a dozen studies of Oriental life to illustrate some of the most marked traits of the Asiatics, who are but little understood by their contemporaries of the West. In his preface he calls attention to the great points of difference between people of different races, showing that they are much greater than the points of external resemblance in the matter of eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, and resting when tired. Bring together, he says, an African negro, an Arab, and St. Vincent de Paul, and what resemblance would you find in their three natures? Let a moralist overhear them: would he maintain his favorite hypothesis that all men are alike? People so unlike ourselves as are the Orientals should be regarded, he claims, from quite another point of view than that of the moralist, and in his sketches he has merely given us the representation of certain sides of Eastern life without drawing any conclusions as to the moral worth of those about whom he writes. More than that, this volume bears the mark of being a faithful record of what it assumes to describe. The author’s familiarity with the people of Central Asia, his knowledge of their manners, methods of thought and action, of their faults and virtues, makes itself felt everywhere. Regarded simply as stories, the first sketch is the most deserving of praise; a few touches bring the different characters before us and open to us what is really a new world, in which the practical has no place and there is no other law than caprice or passion. This story about the dancing-girl is very interesting and is well told, but though this is more complete than the others, they are by no means to be despised, for they all are of value for their excellence in showing certain Oriental traits. Thus, the story of Gamber-Aly describes the career of a young good-for-nothing, a coward and braggart, who owes his success in life to his good looks. The War of the Turcomans is perhaps as characteristic as any, with its account of a campaign and the side light thrown on the habit of universal peculation. These tales may possibly contain a great deal of exaggeration, but it would seem more likely that they do not, and at any rate they do not read like the ordinary misrepresentation of an outsider who detects a conspicuous quality and then devotes himself to ringing changes upon it; indeed, the contrary impression is given by the fact that often the narration seems to proceed from the lips of some Oriental talking to one of his fellow country-people, who will be interested but not amazed by what he hears. Les Amants de Kandahar is again a love story; La Vie de Voyage really no more than a short account of the charm of traveling in the desert. L'Illustre Magicien is slighter yet.

But it may be said once more that it is not as a collection of rounded and complete tales that this volume demands attention, but simply for the views it gives us of the East. It resembles an artist’s portfolio, which may lack pictures ready for framing though it may contain hasty sketches which teach us something we did not know before; and yet this comparison would be unjust if it seemed to decry the merit of the book and to make it out anything but interesting. It is a collection of charming sketches, made up of rare and curious although simple material.

— M. Zola’s last contribution7 to modern literature is a book that demands attention on account of its shameless assault on every principle of literature which distinguishes a novel as a work of art from a criminal indictment, to say nothing of the outrages on decency of which the book is continually guilty. This author has already gained some notoriety by his deliberate choice of noisome subjects, and in his series describing the foul adventures of the families of Rongon and Macquart under the empire he has first and last brought to a high point that kind of denunciatory writing which has its origin in derisive inscriptions on walls and gates. He has a perfect right to detest the empire which has so lately fallen to the ground of its own corruption, but he has surely brought no credit to himself by the means he has taken to discredit his foes. This volume, L’Assommoir, is the seventh of the series, and in each one he has bedaubed some man or set of men with his ingenious virulence ; but now at last he has passed all bounds of endurance, and he is winning the abuse which he busily employs himself in weaving into a martyr’s crown. Such, at least, is the opinion of those who are not more offended than they are sickened by the form of composition he has chosen, and who are not convinced by his preface to this volume, in which he takes up the defense of himself and affirms, among other things, that he is a very respectable, worthy citizen in his private life. Now there is no doubt of this, and after all it is a matter that concerns his family and neighbors more than it does the public, but this is byno means the only case in which men’s theories and practice differ, or in which men who lead quiet lives write demoralizing books. It is true that the books one generation calls demoralizing are sometimes much admired by the next and by succeeding ones, but it does not follow that in order to be famous in the future it is necessary to be odious to the present, and yet that is one of the most wide-spread of contemporary delusions.

In this novel we find the narration of a most piteous story. The heroine, Gervaise, a washer-woman, marries out of good nature a workman, Coupeau, and there would seem to he a fair prospect of their success in life until the author is seen to be sharpening his knife and mixing his poisons preparatory to the final massacre. Coupeau breaks his leg, and after his recovery is transformed from an honest, industrious workman into a lazy, good-for-nothing sot. An old lover of Gervaise turns up and takes a place in the family, and finally, after sinking lower and lower in degradation, which is described at length, Coupeau dies of delirium tremens and Gervaise soon follows him. This incomplete sketch of the groundwork of the novel leaves out what is its real offense, and that is the author’s deliberate blackening of every human being in it. There are some scenes in it which are not bad, such as that one describing the wedding, but it would be hard to find a book that produces so strong a feeling of physical disgust as this one does. Much of the book is absolutely revolting: the account of the combat between the two women in the laundry makes Fielding’s description of a similar scene read like a Sunday-school novel ; the nauseous particulars of the viciousness of Gervaise and of the depths of abasement to which drink brings her seem to make the air stifling with vileness. Those who like this sort of writing call it powerful, but yet it is not a matter of congratulation that a man writes a novel which shows its power by an excess of unsavoriness. If a painter were to paint a picture of some disagreeable subject so exactly that those who saw it would want it covered with chloride of lime, he would then evidently appear to have strayed from the true path of art. But that a writer should do it is held by M. Zola, at least, to be a justifiable thing. He says this novel is the chastest of his books, — it might well be that without exciting raptures, — and he adds that it is also true. Now tha t is something wholly beside the question. There are a great many things in human nature which cannot be told, however truly. What would one think of a musician who composed a symphony made up of nothing but the clatter of a street and the setting of saws, and then answered his critics by saying that each of those sounds was one he had heard? What sculptor willingly represents deformity ? Who carves the statue of a crétin ? Yet those who most loudly claim that their novels are works of art are the readiest to fall into a fault which needs only to be imagined in another branch of art to appear in all its offensiveness.

It is singular how those who carry on the fight in defense of what they call art for art’s sake, while they are discussing the theory, fly to lofty heights of abstract reason, but as soon as they come to put their reasoning into practice drop down to the sewers to lug something forth to astound the world. So far as they react against a narrow, hypercritical intermeddling of the outside public they are right; but as soon as they think that the world can be managed on that single notion they fail as utterly as would those who should ask for a commission of clergymen, lawyers, merchants, sailors, and farmers to decide on the merits of a book before publication. The one definite a priori principle which shall apply to all books has not yet been uttered, but it is still possible to mention some of the things which cannot improve their value, and one of them is trying to produce in readers the feeling of physical repulsion. All of this diving down into unutterable defilement does not belong to fiction. The answer to this would probably be of a galling nature, implying that the sentimental idealist preferred to wrap himself up in day-dreams about the attractive virtues of working people, and to remain in ignorance of ail the sin and misery there is in the world. But this would be an inaccurate statement; the place for such things is in books of social science, of political economy, not in novels. It is but a matter of taste, after all. It will not be found to be the best physician who talks about loathsome diseases in mixed company, and that a certain class of French novel-writers should vie with one another in seeing who could go the farthest in this sort of writing does not prove they are the best of their kind. When readers become as familiar with ghosts as with telegrams, care no more for a dozen murders than for a dozen sneezes, and have become stolid to every allurement of vice, the writer in order to produce a physical sensation has to adopt more drastic methods and finds his delight in describing nasty smells, etc., as M. Zola has done with singular unction. But it yet remains true that he is only carrying bad art to its legitimate conclusions. It is not necessary to be alarmed at the seeming success of such men. They of course arouse curiosity, and a certain part of the public that is warned away from their books is tempted by this warning to see what is so deserving of abuse; but literature has survived a good deal of such bad taste in the past, so that we may have hopes for the future even if M. Zola prefer to revel in the gutter and to sing of what he finds there. Moreover, M. Zola belongs to but a clique of French writers, and the notoriety he has brought upon himself should not be put upon all his fellow-countrymen, any more than, say, Robert Browning should be confounded with Gerald Massey, in forming an opinion of contemporary English literature. Zola fancies, apparently, that he is completing Balzac’s work, but Balzac, even when he offends his readers, draws something besides physical impressions ; but it would be superfluous to continue the comparison.

So much about the value of the work ; it may be worth while to consider briefly how he has performed the unsavory task he set himself. His own style is not attractive, and when any of the characters speak they use, naturally enough, the choicest argot, which M. Zola puts down without the use of the dash,— perhaps considering that it would injure the appearance of the page. He lets no chance pass of describing the coarseness of the events of the novel. He not only lets it run on from the beginning to the end without one redeeming ray of virtue, except the brief and unsatisfactory appearance of a good blacksmith, but he goes out of his way to drag in atrocities by the hair of the head, so that his reader gets dizzy with the mephitic air this corruption breeds.

When he tries his hand at it this author can regale the public with choice improprieties, but in this story, painful and shocking as many of the incidents are, it is not their impropriety so much as the coarse indelicacy of the writer that is odious. And then it is possible to object to the rather shallow view of this historian of contemporary events, who puts all the blame for arrogance among rulers, discontent among the lower classes, and for vice everywhere, upon the shoulders of the late emperor. There was bad blood in the two families he describes, and that certainly came from older sins and vices. The novel preceding this one had for its object the abuse of Eugene Rouher, here called Rongon, and it described very effectively what his enemies might well imagine the man to he, and showed in a series of coarse pictures the seamy side of life at the late imperial court, which Zola had many opportunities of knowing, for, if we are not mistaken, he was at one time, the Due de Moray’s private secretary.

These novels may be compared with the modern French plays in respect of effectiveness and intensity of impression, but when brought into comparison with the good and lasting work of the past, the over-brightness of the colors, the general exaggeration, the loud-mouthed abuse, become much too noticeable. Then, too, not even the most violent and most exaggerated of modern French plays has shown anything approaching the fierce coarseness of Zola’s method. He has yet in contemplation a number of similar novels, in which he hopes to represent what he considers the world to be, and probably he will go on from bad to worse, from necessity as well as from choice. So far as he has now gone he is far ahead of all rivals. It is to be hoped he will remain so for a very long period.


A Calendar of the Dakota Nation. By Lieut.-Col. Garrick Mallory, U. S. A.

Cassell, Petter, & Galpin, New York : The Life of Christ. By F. W. Farrar, D. D., Canon of Westminster. Illustrated with Steel Plates and numerous Wood Engravings. Parts 5, G, 7. and 8.

Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger, Philadelphia: The W ord of God on True Marriage.

E. P. Dutton it Co., New York : Notes on Genesis, By the late Frederick W. Robertson, M. A.

Henry Holt & Co., New York : Classic Literature, principally Sanskrit, Greek, and Roman, with Some Account of Persian, Chinese, and Japanese in the Form of Sketches of the Authors, and Specimens from Translations of their Works. By C. A. White. — Campancr Thai and other Writings. From the German of Jean Paul Friedrich Richter. — Bessie Lang. By Alice Corkran. — Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces; or, The Married Life, Death, and Wedding of the Advocate of the Poor, Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkas. By Jean Paul Friedrich Richter. Translated from the German by Edward Henry Noel, with a Memoir of the Author by Thomas Carlyle. Vols. I. and II.

H. O. Houghton & Co., Cambridge ; Hurd and Houghton, New York : History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877. With a Genealogical Register. By Lucius R. Paige. — Appalachia. March, 1877. Vol. I., No. 2.

Jansen, McClurg, & Co., Chicago: Six Little Cooks ; or, Aunt Jane’s Cooking Class.

Lee & Shepard, Boston : A Book of American Explorers. By Thomas Wentworth Higginson. — The Art of Projecting. A Manual of Experimentation in Physics, Chemistry, and Natural History, with the Porte Lumière and Magic Lantern. By Prof. A. E. Dolbear. Illustrated.

J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia : Questions Awakened by the Bible. By Rev. John Miller.— Three Years at Wolverton. A School Story. By a Wolvertonian. — The Science of Language, Linguistics, Philology, Etymology. By Abel Uovelacque. Translated by A. H. Keane, B. A — Worthy Women of our First Century. Edited by Mrs. O. J. Mister aud Miss Agnes Irwin.

Lockwood, Brooks, & Co., Boston : What is Art ? or, Art Theories and Methods concisely stated. By S. G. W. Benjamin.

Loring, Boston: Will it be? By Mrs. Helen Z. Ford.

Jas. R. Osgood & Co., Boston : Out of the Question. A Comedy. By W. D. Howells. — Two Men of Sandy Bar. A Drama. By Bret Harte. —Poems of Places. Edited by Henry W. Longfellow. Italy. Vols. I., II., and III.

G. P. Putnam’s Sous, New York: The Cradle of the Christ. A Study in Primitive Christianity. By Octavius Brooks Frothingham. — The Best Reading. Hints on the Selection of Books ; on the Formation of Libraries, Public and Private; on Courses of Reading, etc. With a Classified Bibliography for Easy Reference. Edited by Frederic Beecher Perkins.— The Spirit of the New Faith. A Series of Sermons. By Octavius Brooks Frothingham. — Essays on Political Economy. By Frederick Bastiat. English Translation revised, with Notes, by David A. Wells.

Report of a Reconnaissance from Carroll, Montana Territory, on the Upper Missouri, to the Yellowstone National Park, and Return. Made in the Summer of 1875, by William Ludlow, Captain of Engineers, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel U. S. Army, Chief Engineer Department of Dakota.

Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, showing the Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year 1875.

Report of the Chief Signal-Officer to the Secretary of War for the Year 1876. Roberts Brothers, Boston : From Traditional to Rational Faith ; or, The Way I came from Baptist to Liberal Christianity. By R. Andrew Griffin. — A Winter Story. By Miss Peard. — A Modern Mephistopheles. No Name Series.

A. Roman & Co., San Francisco: Seeking the Golden Fleece, A Record of Pioneer Life in California. By J. D. B. Stillman. With Plates.

Scribner, Armstrong, & Co., New York: Epochs of Ancient History. The Roman Triumvirates. By Charles Merivale, D. D., Dean of Ely. With a Map. — llowto Camp Out. By John M. Gould. — That Lass o' Lowrie’s. By Frances Hodgson Burnett. Illustrated by Alfred Fredericks.

Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Education, together with the Thirty-Second Annual Report of the Commissioner of Public Schools of Rhode Island. January, 1877.

The Storm in the Isle of Wight, September 28, 1876. And on the Cause of Storms. By G. A. Rowell.

Ward, Lock, & Tyler, London: Hoho and Haha. Their Adventures. Narrated and Illustrated by Sabilla Novello.

S. R. Wells & Co., New York : How to Teach, according to Temperament and Mental Development ; or, Phrenology in the School-Room and the Family. By Nelson Sizer.

R. Worthington, New York: Roman Catholicism, Old and New, from the Standpoint of the Infallibility Doctrine. By John Schulte, D. D., Ph. D.

  1. Charles Kingsley : his Letters and Memories of his Life. Edited by his Wife. Abridged from the
  2. Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall). An Autobiographical Fragment and Biographical Notes, with Personal Sketches of Contemporaries, Unpublished Lyrics, and Letters of Literary Friends. Boston : Roberts Brothers. 1877.
  3. The Plains of the Great West and their Inhabitants, being a Description o f the Plains, Game, Indians, etc., of the Great North American Desert. By RICHARD IRVING DODGE, Lieutenant-Colonel U. S. A. With an Introduction by WILLIAM BLACKMORE. Illustrated. New York: G. R. Putnam’s Sons. 1877.
  4. Russia. By D. MACKENZIE WALLACE, M. A., Member of the Imperial Hussion Geographical Society. New York : Henry Holt & Co. 1877.
  5. Deephaven. By SARAH O. JEWETT. Boston : J. R Osgood & Co. 1877.
  6. Turkistan. Notes of a Journey in Russian Turkistan, Khokand, Bukhara, and Kuldja. By EUGENE SCHUYLER, Phil. Dr., Member of the American Geographical Society and of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, etc. With three Maps and numerous Illustrations. In two volumes. New York: Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. 1876.
  7. All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Moeller’s, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.
  8. Nouvelles Asiatiques. Par LE COMTE DE GOBINEAU. Paris: Didier. 1876.
  9. L’Assommoir. Par ÉMILE ZOLA. Paris : Charpentier. 1877.