Recent Literature

WHEN Edgar Poe ended his troubled career so drearily in a Baltimore hospital, at the age of forty, two antagonistic but equally decided opinions of him were left behind in the public mind, as if in order that the struggles and misunderstandings of his life might be prolonged in the popular discussion of him after death. It seems to us that the holders of both opinions have been wrong in maintaining that Poe must be painted either all in one color or all in another; must be set down as very bad, or else regarded as a remarkably praiseworthy being, with slight faults, who has been the victim of wholly unaccountable criticism. In a measure, Mr. Gill, in his new life of the poet,1 has followed the same method. He says frankly, in his preface, that he means to be “ ‘ to his [Poe’s] faults a little kind.' without shrinking from the duty of a biographer;” but he omits part of the duty of a biographer, we think, in giving no satisfactory explanation of Poe’s doubtful repute. Dr. Griswold’s calumnies he refutes in most particulars; and he even convicts that disingenuous editor of actually making alterations in Poe’s paper on Thomas Dnnn English before inserting it in the collected works, in order to sustain his (Griswold’s) remarks about the offensiveness of the article, though we notice that nothing is said about the charge that Poe several times sold the same or nearly the same poem to more than one magazine. The misdemeanors of Dr. Griswold, .every one will agree, were censurable enough ; and yet it is not a finality to assert that they were the product of fiendish and inexplicable malice. We hardly see how any one can read his curious, self-contradictory memoir without discovering that — besides the evil animus, which is quite obvious — there was present a considerable proportion of stupidity, and also some ground for adverse judgment in the subject himself. Mr, George R. Graham, who published a criticism of Griswold’s story soon after its appearance, gives the reason for this, in saying : “The opportunities afforded Mr. Griswold to estimate the character of Poe occurred, in the main, after his stability had been wrecked, his whole nature in a degree changed, and with all his prejudices aroused and active.” Mr. Graham himself says that Poe, during his relation with him, “was always the same polished gentleman, the quiet, unobtrusive, thoughtful scholar, the devoted husband, frugal in his personal expenses, punctual and unwearied in his industry, and the soul of honor in all his transactions. This, of course, was in his better days, and by them we judge the man.” A Mr. Clarke, proprietor of The Museum, a Philadelphia publication, who saw much of Poe in 1840, writes that he “was a pattern of domestic worth.” Mr. Gill seems to he persuaded that the poet’s health was not, as commonly supposed, undermined by frequent intoxication, but by the effects of grief for the death of his wife and the action of his morbid imagination; and he also contends, with good reason, as we think, that Poe was a man of chaste habits and at heart of scrupulous nicety of feeling. Yet it is within the memory of probably a good many persons that a gentleman closely connected with Poe in a periodical publication in New York, and not known to have any unworthy motive for the report, retained always afterward the opinion that he was one of the worst of men. To multiply instances of these conflicting impressions is Only to run off into the worn-out gossip of the subject; and we may content ourselves with noticing how Mr. Gill has laid open the sources of discordant opinion without showing the relation between cause and effect.

It is worth while to review the facts of Poe’s life as here given, for they have not been presented before so fully and so well. The poet’s ancestry Mr. Gill traces hack to a noble Italian family, De la Poe, some of whom, wandering into France and through England and Wales into Ireland, either changed their title to Le Poer or preserved the original form and anglicized it to Poe. The Chevalier le Poer, friend of the Marquis de Grammont, is mentioned as having been of the family of David Poe, the grandfather of the poet. This grandfather was a patriot and a general in our war of the Revolution, but his son was degenerate, and it is probable that Edgar Poe owed many of his misfortunes to his father’s proclivity for drink. Edgar Poe, it is maintained, did not drink brandy at Lexington and West Point, but Mr. Gill shows us that, soon after the engagement with the Southern Literary Messenger, when his prospects were greatly improved, he was overwhelmed with a despairing melancholy, like that which “in later years wrought upon him the direst effects,” — doubtless a direct inheritance from his father, complicated with the nature which had come down to him from that high-spirited ancestry. It seems quite probable that this depression drove him sometimes to take stimulants. What else does the expression in Poe’s letter to Mr, Kennedy mean ? “I am suffering under a depression of spirits which will ruin me should it be long continued. Write me, then, and quickly ; urge me to do what is right.” Towards the last of his life, his engagement of marriage with Mrs. Whitman, which has been the source of a good deal of discussion, seems to have been conditional on his abstaining from liquor, — a condition which he could not fulfill. Something of this sort must, of course, have been at the bottom of that great change in his character which Mr. Graham mentions as one cause of Griswold’s errors. Poe had a brother who wrote verses, but fell into had habits and died early. The poetic temperament had existed far hack in the family, one of the Poes being the author of that song of Gramachree which Burns thought so highly of; and with it was combined the strong animal nature, the turbulence, of the old Irish and Italian lords. Mr. Gill describes at length Poe’s terrible condition of mania during his last visit to Mr. Sartain, in Philadelphia, shortly before his death; and, however small the quantity of wine may have been which produced these fits, they must not only have sapped the unhappy victim’s vital forces, but also have made it as impossible for unsympathetic people to understand his condition as if he had taken a quart of rum at a sitting. In various degrees of insanity of this sort, he probably at times said things utterly unfounded, most damaging to himself, and of which he could have not the slightest remembrance when restored to his senses.

Mr. Gill says justly that, “sensitive to a degree altogether incomprehensible to practical minds,” Poe “yet was so unfortunate as to live among the practical-minded only, and at a time when temperament as such was essentially omitted in society’s estimate of a man.”But it is rather loose to say that Poe’s “ temperament was totally at variance with the spirit of the age in which he lived,” for it is at variance with that of any age.

There is hardly a question of moral responsibility in the case at all. Men like Poe are illustrations of how far certain irreconcilable traits may be developed and actually embodied in a human career, — the career, too, of a remarkable genius; but such men are predestined to misfortune and disappointment, as Alfred de Musset was. Poe is almost the only representative of this class whom our literature contains, and public opinion has been shocked by the sharp contrast between his career and that of our more symmetrical masters. But it is impossible to read, without a deep sense of pathos, the narrative of his hap - hazard bringing up, his rash yet in many ways happy marriage; of his drifting from magazine to magazine, and his wretched poverty ; his continual hope of establishing a magazine of his own to be called The Stylus ; and finally of his utter defeat, and the constant devotion of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm, who was wont to soothe him to sleep in his unstrung and over-excited condition as one does a timid child. Then, too, Poe’s personal appearance and manners, his fondness for domestic pets, and all that was attractive about him are agreeably brought out; and we are enabled to sympathize with him in the spirit of the author of this generous and excellent memoir. We must refer all who are interested in Poe’s poetry to the volume itself for an analysis of the Raven and its composition which is as penetrating as it is new. Mr. Gill has certainly performed a service in the preparation of this biography, for which he deserves serious thanks.

— Mr. Morgan’s Ancient Society2 is a valuable contribution to the discussion of a subject which, since the establishment of the comparative method of study,— “the greatest intellectual achievement of our time,”—has been of paramount interest among all students of universal history. Stated briefly, the purpose of the work is to show, by a comparison of the development of social and political institutions among different tribes, or clans, occupying different portions of the earth, that “ the history of the human race is one in source, one in experience, and one in progress.”

The author starts with the assumption that the discoveries of the last thirty years have established, by a body of evidence sufficient to convince unprejudiced minds, the antiquity of mankind upon the earth. The existence of the race goes back definitely to the glacial period in Europe ; and one hundred or two hundred thousand years would not be an extravagant estimate of the lapse of time since the disappearance of the glaciers in the northern hemisphere. On the theory of the geometrical progression of our race, the period of savagery was necessarily longer in duration than the period of barbarism, as the latter was longer than the period of civilization. Recent investigations tend to the conclusion that mankind began their career “ at the bottom of the scale, and worked their way up from savagery to civilization through the slow accumulations of experimental knowledge.” It is this conclusion, or this proposition rather, which Mr. Morgan seeks to enforce, in contravention of the assumption which has for centuries been generally accepted, —the assumption of human degradation to explain the existence of barbarians and of savages who were found, physically and mentally, too far below the conceived standard of a supposed original man.

In order to furnish a basis for comparing the different branches of the human family at different stages of their growth, the following divisions and subdivisions are substituted for the “age of stone,” “ of bronze,” and “ of iron ” introduced by the Danish archæologists, namely : I. Savagery, subdivided as follows : (i.) lower status of savagery, beginning with the infancy of the human race, and ending with the acquisition of a fish subsistence and a knowledge of fire; (ii.) middle status of savagery, ending with the invention of the bow and arrow; (iii.) upper status of savagery, ending with the invention of the art of pottery. II. Barbarism, subdivided as follows : (i.) lower status of barbarism, beginning with the invention of the art of pottery, and ending with the domestication of animals in the eastern hemisphere, and with cultivation by irrigation, and the use of adobe brick and stone architecture, in the western hemisphere ; (ii.) middle status of barbarism, ending with the smelting of iron ore ; (iii.) upper status of barbarism, ending with the invention of a phonetic alphabet and the use of writing in literary composition. III. Civilization, subdivided into ancient and modern. The arts, institutions, and mode of life in the same status are found to be essentially identical upon all portions of the globe. And the germs of the institutions and arts of life were developed while man was still a savage.

The growth of intelligence is first traced by Mr. Morgan through inventions and discoveries ; secondly, in the idea of government; thirdly, in the idea of the family; and lastly, in the idea of property. The most elaborate and the most interesting portions of the work are those which treat of the growth of the family and the early institutions of government. In treating of the family, the main proposition which he endeavors to establish is that it began in the intermarriage of brothers and sisters in a group,—the consanguine family, — and grew through successive stages of development into the marriage of one man with one woman —the monogamian family.

The Aryans and Semites were the first to emerge from barbarism. But their existence, says Mr. Morgan, as distinct families was undoubtedly, in a comparative sense, a late event. On this point he takes issue with Sir Henry Maine and other eminent scholars who have adopted the theory that the infancy of society is exhibited in the patriarchal group. If we are restricted to the records which come down from the Aryans and Semites, then the patriarchal family is the oldest made known to us. But, as Herbert Spencer has recently said, after an apparently independent investigation of the same subject (On the Evolution of the Family, Popular Science Monthly, June, 1877), “ if we are to take account of societies more archaic than these, the position of Sir Henry Maine cannot be sustained, . . . The earliest social groups were without domestic organization as they were without political organization. Instead of the patriarchal cluster, at once family and rudimentary state, there was at first an aggregate of males and females without settled arrangements, and having no relations save those established by force and changed when the stronger willed.”

Throughout the latter part of the period of savagery and the entire period of barbarism, mankind in general were organized in gentes, phratries, and tribes. The relations to each other of these several organizations will be better understood when we say that they represented, in the period before the establishment of political institutions, the divisions now known as towns or parishes, counties and States. A confederacy of tribes finds its parallel in the original confederacy of the States of this Union. The gens, the lowest unit of government, now exists in its archaic form among the American aborigines ; and as its theoretical constitution and practical workings can be investigated more successfully here than in the historical gentes of the Greeks and Romans, Mr. Morgan devotes considerable space to an analysis of the Indian institutions, — a subject with which, by careful study and observation, he is well qualified to deal.

A gens in the archaic period consisted of a supposed female ancestor and her children, together with the children of her daughters and of her female descendants through females, in perpetuity; in other words, a body of consanguinei, having a common gentile name. For instance: “ If a Seneca-Iroquois man marries a foreign woman, their children are aliens; but if a Seneea-Iroquois woman marries an alien or an Onondaga, their children are Iroquois of the Seneca tribe, and of the gens and phratry of their mother. The woman confers her nationality and her gens upon her children, whoever may be their father.”

The gens in its ultimate form, as it appears among the Greeks and Romans of the historical period, consisted of a supposed male ancestor and his children, together with the children of his sons and of his male descendants through males, in perpetuity.

The gens cannot, therefore, be regarded as an extension of the family. It embraces a part only of the descendants of a supposed common ancestor, and excludes the others ; it embraces a part only of the family, and excludes the remainder. Since descent in the female line is archaic, and more in accordance with the early condition of ancient society than descent in the male line, there is a presumption in favor of its ancient prevalence in the Grecian and Latin gentes. There is an absence of direct proof, but the presumption is strengthened by the fact that this form of descent remained in some tribes nearly related to the Greeks, and that there are traces of it in a number of Grecian tribes. A comparison of the Indian tribe with the gentes of the Greeks and Romans reveals their identity in structure and functions ; and the same is true of the phratries and tribes. In like manner, the Irish sept, the Scottish clan, the Albanian phrara, and the Sanskrit gauas are the same as the Indian tribe. The governmental organization of the Indians began with the gens and ended with the confederacy. The Greek and Roman system began with the gens and ended with a coalescence of tribes into one people, constituting a nation, and not merely a confederacy. The Greek and Roman gentes when they first came under notice were named after persons; the Indian gentes were named after animals or things, never after persons.

The phratry, the second member of the organic series, and corresponding to the curia of the Roman system, was constituted by the union of several gentes. It existed in a large number of the North American tribes. Whether it existed among the tribes in the lower status of barbarism has not been definitely ascertained, but it is presumed to have been general in the principal tribes. It was without governmental functions in the strict sense of the phrase, these being confined to the gens, the tribe, and the confederacy. Among the Iroquois Indians the phratry has existed from time immemorial. In its objects and uses, partly social and partly religious, it falls below the corresponding organization among the Greeks and Romans.

The numerous tribes of Indians in this country were formed, presumptively, out of what was originally one people. The fact of separation is derived in part from tradition, in part from a comparison of dialects, and in part from the use of the same names for the gentes. Where one tribe had divided into several, and these subdivisions occupied independent but contiguous territory, the confederacy reunited them in a higher organization, on the basis of the common gentes they possessed and the affiliated dialects they spoke. No confederacy has been found that reached beyond the bounds of the dialects of a common language. It appears from a statement of the general features of the famous Iroquois confederacy that the necessity for a general military commander was met by the appointment of two principal war chiefs, with equal powers. It is a curious fact that the same device for preventing the exercise of an arbitrary authority by one individual, or the usurpation of power, was resorted to by the Spartans in the election of their two kings, and by the Romans in creating two consuls to take the place of the king whose office had been abolished.

The origin of the Iroquois confederacy is ascribed to the mythical or traditionary Hä-yo-went-hä (man who combs), Longfellow’s Hiawatha, who promulgated his plan through a wise man of the Onondagas, Dagä-no-wé-dä (inexhaustible). Their names were inserted in the original list of sachems forming the great council of fifty, and no meaner names have ever been substituted in their place. “ At all the councils for the investiture of sachems their names are still called with the others, as a tribute of respect to their memory.” So Napoleon commemorated the heroism of one of his soldiers who fell in battle by ordering that his name be retained on the company’s roll, and that the response to the call be, “ Dead on the field of honor.”

In the light of the information drawn from the archaic constitution of the gens as found among the North American Indians, Mr. Morgan is enabled to clear up some points which have hitherto been obscure in the constitution of the Greek and Roman gentes. When Grecian society first came under historical observation, about 776 B. c., it was in a transitional state from gentile society (that is, a society based on kinship) into political society (that is, a society based upon territory and upon property). All except three of the ten principal attributes of the Grecian gentes —namely, descent in the male line, marrying into the gens in the case of heiresses, and the possible transmission of the highest military office by hereditary right—are found with slight variations in the gentes of the Iroquois.

Mr. Morgan controverts — or attempts to controvert — the view of Mr. Grote, that “ the primitive Grecian government is essentially monarchical, reposing on personal feeling and divine right.” He holds that the gentile institutions of the Greeks must have been essentially democratic, and he furnishes evidence which appears to establish his position. But, after all, the difference between Mr. Morgan and other historians as to the character of the early institutions of the Greeks seems to us more apparent than real.

The term basileus, which others have used as the equivalent of king, Mr. Morgan defines as general military commander, and takes exception to king as conveying a false impression as to the character of the government. But it all turns, of course, upon the definition of kingly power. If we take Mr. Freeman’s definition (Comparative Politics, Lect. 1V.) which is, perhaps, the most comprehensive and intelligent definition yet given, the powers which Mr. Morgan ascribes to the basileus might well be called kingly. The fact that the gentile institutions of the Greeks at that period must, in the nature of things, have been democratic is not inconsistent with the exercise of kingly power as that power is correctly defined.

Under Cleisthenes, about the year 500 B. c., the Athenians established the second great plan of government, based upon territory and property, — a democracy which, as Mr. Freeman says, raised a greater number of human beings to a higher level than any government before or since, and which gave freer play than any government before or since to the personal gifts of the foremost of mankind.

The concluding portion of Mr. Morgan’s work describes “ the growth of the idea of property.” There have been three great rules of inheritance : the first rule, which came in with the institution of the gens, distributed the effects of a deceased person among its members; the second rule gave the property to the agnatic kindred, to the exclusion of the remaining gentiles ; and the third rule gave the property to the children of the deceased owner. The oldest tenure by which land was held was by the tribe in common ; afterwards it was divided among the gentes, with shifting severalties to the householders. This was followed in time by allotments to individuals for special purposes or for particular services, which naturally led to permanent holdings in severalty. A great deal has been written upon this subject in recent years. Sir Henry Maine and others hold that all ownership is originally tribal; that family ownership comes afterwards, and individual ownership last. Herbert Spencer and his followers find evidences to show that from the beginning there has been individual ownership of all such things as could without difficulty be appropriated.

The limits of such a notice as this forbid an examination of the grounds of difference between these two sets of writers. We have endeavored in this outline of Mr. Morgan’s work to furnish an adequate idea of its scope and purpose, and here we may as well conclude without further comment.

— The quaint little volume of Popular Sayings from Old Iberia 3 is only a slender rill from the vast source of Spanish proverbs, certain of which are gathered and arranged here with “one increasing purpose " of illustrating the essential humanity underlying much of the popular wisdom of the most proverb-loving nation. “Every popular saying is a chapter from the history of a heart" is the first of these proverbial passages, the last of which is deeper and better than many theologies : “ ‘ I can forgive anything for love,’said a Spanish boatman,

‘ and so, I suppose, can the Almighty.’ ” “That which cannot be signed ought not to be written ;” “Behold the injustice of the world! Because the great-grandfather once killed a cat in his village, the family has ever since been called ‘cat-killer;’” “ There is no such thing as a modest highwayman ; neither does any honest fellow like to make himself too visible; ” “ Calumny hurts three persons : him who utters it, him who hears it, and him of whom it is spoken ; but the last, happily, not always, or not for a long time; ” “ Many offenses are only blunders ; ” “ When you give, give ; do not lend; ” “ Because a man is of a splendid and generous disposition, those persons benefited by him must not feel the less bound to feel and prove and show their gratitude;” “Mind not evil gossips, and do not honor them with the name of ‘society;’” “ Beware of pride, my angel, lest you fall; for another angel fell by pride,” — these are a few of the sayings through which the same wise and generous spirit runs. This spirit, characterizes the whole collection, in which, however, there are many subtle and pungent proverbs of the sort which Sancho Panza loved to roll under his tongue : “ One ‘ Take it’ is better than a thousand ‘ I will give you;’” “Not to go to war Santiago married, but . . . now he longs to be a soldier ; ” “ Covetousness bursts the bag; ” “ An honest maid should stay quietly at home, as if one leg were broken; ” “ There are many who agree with the squire that a fat trouble is better than a lean one;” “ Caress a cat and she will probably claw your face ; ” “ In the headache of a lady or the lameness of a dog you must not always believe.”

The range of the selection is, of course, wider than these adages indicate ; it is a suggestion of the riches of Spanish proverbial lore in many other directions, but it is scarcely more than a suggestion, which it is a pity should not some day be followed up by an ampler store, with something like a critical and historical essay on the material.

One learns from the Canadian “ notices ” appended to the book that one of the editors is a Spaniard (Fieldat is the armorial legend of an ancient Andalusian house), who has not only the national passion for proverbs, but is deeply versed in that curious kind of learning; and who, we wish, might take a hint from Giuseppe Giusti’s charming essay on Tuscan Proverbs, and give us the fruit of further research in Castilian proverbs similarly exemplified and illustrated. A vastly more thorough work—even something exhaustive — might, for his readers at least, pleasantly and profitably engage the leisure which we fancy a foreigner of such tastes and erudition might find abundant in the old capital of New France.

— Mr. Greene’s fitness to write a history of Rhode Island4 is one of those facts which one recognizes with a sense of personal advantage too rarely felt in a world where at best the right man so often sets about the wrong work. His studies in the whole field of our colonial and revolutionary annals, resulting in his Historical View of the American Revolution, and the exhaustive researches in his Life of Major-General Nathanael Greene, must have rendered the preliminary work for this excellent sketch of Rhode Island history comparatively easy; and the book has the fortunate air of being lightly and rapidly thrown off, while it suggests nothing of haste or slight. There is no attempt to cast the light of romance about the prime facts of a story so precious to humanity in their simple grandeur, but the vital point is brought out with fresh force, and we revere anew the greatness and clearness of soul in Roger Williams which, in an age when the whole world was bloodily persecuting for opinion’s sake, could conceive the idea of a perfect toleration in matters of religious belief, and could establish at once the principle that the power of the state must never extend to these. This is the undying honor of Rhode Island, that in her narrow bounds, on the borders of a desert continent, in spite of the hate and jealousy of her sister colonies, she could preserve inviolate a principle of which, as yet, mankind hardly dreamed; and of all the benefits which America has bestowed upon the world, it may be questioned whether this principle is not the greatest.

The first three chapters of Mr. Greene’s book are devoted to the story of Roger Williams, his trials and his triumphs; then follow some half dozen chapters relating to the transactions of Rhode Island with the Indians, her first difficulties with Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the war of King Philip. The less picturesque but not less important facts of colonial history are quite as carefully presented ; the significance of each is noted ; and the gradual progress of the community in wealth, numbers, and refinement is studied. It is to the credit of Rhode Island that, at the same time when her first sea-port was becoming the great mart of the slave - trade, the sense of the wickedness of slavery should be so early felt and expressed as it was; and it is an anomaly of her history that the only people ever persecuted within her limits were some Huguenot exiles; these, however, suffered merely from popular prejudice, and as Frenchmen, not as Huguenots. The coming of Berkeley, with the impulse given by his presence to intellectual life, is one of those episodes dear to the scholar’s fancy; and the dreamful financiers of the present day will find much to ponder in the little colony’s experience with paper money. The part taken by Rhode Island in the Revolution, and the stirring incidents of her history leading up to that struggle, naturally occupy a large share of the author’s attention ; but he traces her advance in the arts of peace at the conclusion of the war with an interest which does not suffer the reader to lose sight of its importance. Indeed, it, is a very notable characteristic of Mr. Greene’s admirable work that he at no time suffers his dramatic events to obscure the interest of the quieter facts, but assigns to each its value in the story of the State.

Some notices of the Dorr rebellion, which indirectly resulted in substituting a constitution for the royal charter under which Rhode Island had led fifty years of republican life, and of her share in the war of secession, close the work; to which are appended some documents of peculiar use and interest, such as the charter, the Dorr constitution, and the present constitution of the State.

One of the pleasantest chapters of the book is that on The Mode of Life in our Forefathers’ Days. This has a quite idyllic charm, and is only too brief. We wish there might have been more of it, and that Mr. Greene had found it within his purpose to tell us of the Newport of Malbone’s and Stuart’s days, and had chosen to paint the social aspects of the place during the Revolution.

— The worst thing about Mrs. Robinson’s book is its title,5 for that is obscure, and with all its length does not describe the contents of the volume. It is hard to do that well on any title-page, and this book contains such a miscellany of past politics that it is even more difficult than usual. It consists of two distinct parts: Mrs. Robinson’s Memoir of her husband, which fills nearly two hundred pages; and the so-called Pen-Portraits, which make up nearly four hundred pages. The latter are selections from the newspaper articles and letters of Mr. Robinson during twenty - eight years, and less than half are portraits, unless the times had been sitting for a photograph all along. The able journalist does indeed sketch the portrait of his times, from year to year; and Mr. Robinson also undertook, in his later years, to delineate famous men. In this he succeeded well, for he was both observing and accurate, though not always impartial. Few men are, but some acquire a sufficient average impartiality by writing about the same topics for many years, and thus presenting the same subject from several points of view. This Mr. Robinson did, and the final impression left by all he wrote was by no means partial or bigoted. He began journalism in a little weekly newspaper office in Concord, as a whig editor; he soon became an abolitionist, and so continued through the antislavery contest and the great civil war; and he ended with being an “ independent ” or liberal republican during the years following 1871. He was always an ardent politician, but in his later years became a critic rather than a partisan, though he seldom hesitated to take sides strongly. His acquaintance with political leaders in New England was very extensive, and the judgment he formed and expressed in regard to any of them was always shrewd and generally correct. To men whom he did not know he was often unjust, as we are all prone to be towards strangers. In this volume strictures both just and unjust are made, but in the main they are fair, and never are they malicious. Some of them are no doubt trivial, but others are marked by the clearest insight into character. Thus, in the passage from the diary of April 14, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln’s murder, we find these striking sentences about that great man and the unlucky personage who succeeded to his place: “Lincoln had no adequate idea of what ought to be done; but I fear Johnson has still less. Lincoln was, at least, master of himself and master of the situation ; Johnson may be the tool of everybody and anybody. With four years of prudent leadership under a man whose popularity was unbounded, and who could have been, if it were necessary, reëlected in 1868, the country might have been consolidated. Western jealousy of the East, as well as Southern hatred of the North, would have been softened, and things brought round again to their old relations.” This was good sense in 1865; in 1872 we find the same quality in the letter to Sumner just after his speech against Grant. “ I have no faith in the theory,” he writes, “ that if Grant is reëlected, things will be better. They are likely to be worse, — intolerable for such men as you who are in public life, dangerous for the whole country. Yet there is public virtue enough to prevent anarchy or despotism, either now or four years hence. How long the country could stand Grant is indeed a question, but of the final result I have no doubt.”

Mrs. Robinson has written her Memoir in a lively and vigorous style, not always elegant, but seldom failing to be effective. She has enriched it with many extracts from printed and unprinted papers, and the reader who is interested in it at all will find it too short. Her husband’s character, as there portrayed, is a natural and strong one, with little that was romantic, but modest and amiable in the midst of hot political warfare. He had the habits and tastes of a literary man, though he wrote almost exclusively for the newspapers, his single contribution to magazine literature being an article on General Butler, published in The Atlantic for December, 1871. He was one of a circle of friends, some of whom were very eminent persons, and who all set a high value on his friendship and his talents. These friends in 1859 invited Abraham Lincoln and Carl Schurz to a public dinner in Boston on the birthday of Jefferson. Mr. Schurz came to the dinner, and made there one of his first political speeches. Mr. Lincoln did not come, but sent a letter which is very characteristic of him. Mrs. Robinson prints it from the original preserved by her husband, and its closing words are well worth quoting here. After speaking of the principles of Jefferson as “ the definitions and axioms of free society,” Mr. Lincoln said : " This is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave must consent to have, no slave, Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it. All honor to Jefferson, to the man who in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that today, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression ! ” This is the only passage we recall wherein Lincoln gives his estimate of Jefferson, and it is on the whole a just one.

— Although there is abundant material in the scientific literature of the day, very few attempts have been made at any popular account of our native insects in their varied relations to each other, to man, and to their enemies; most of those histories already written have had an agricultural bearing, and are scattered in journals and reports. Dr. Packard is not only a pleasant writer, but he is remarkably well fitted, as he has proved in his Guide to the Study of Insects, to collect the latest information and present it in a connected and attractive form. In his Half Hours with Insects 6 we have a dozen chapters, full of information and suggestive thoughts, upon the insects of the garden, field, etc., upon insects as mimics and architects and as food, upon their social life and mental powers, and upon their relations to man; while a chapter on The Population of an Apple-Tree gives a sad list of twenty or more insects which damage this choicest of fruit-trees. This chapter and indeed some of those first mentioned savor somewhat of an entomological report, and are not so well fitted for a popular work; but the chapters upon mimicry and architecture, and the social instincts and mental capacities of insects, are full of interest, holding one’s attention to the last. The spirit of the new zoölogy breathes through the whole work and lends a certain charm to its treatment. It is unquestionably the best popular book on American insects which has yet been published.

— Mr. Tenney’s book, Coronation,7 is somewhat difficult to describe. It is neither a boy’s book nor a man’s book; it is neither a story nor a treatise. It gives in a rambling, incoherent, fragmentary way an account of the author’s walks and talks, in the forest and by the sea, with a friend who appears to have frittered away his life in trying to grasp the infinite. In its description of New England coast scenery along and in the vicinity of Cape Ann (or Cape Anne, as the author claims is the correct way of spelling it), and in some of the comments on men and things, there is much in the book that reminds one of Thoreau. So far there is something attractive in it. But there is a part of the work, and much the larger part, which reminds one of the Rev. De Witt Talmage’s discourses, and which is not at all attractive or edifying; and there are little jokes and trivial conversations recorded which would hardly be creditable to a young scbool-boy making his first essay in composition. It would have been well if the writer had accepted a sensible bit of advice which he put into the mouth of his friend Cephas : “I advise you to keep out of print all you can. You may want to controvert your own opinions, modify your statements, and certainly to mend your style from four hundred to a thousand times before you die. Don’t print, don’t.” If the mystical young man for whose special benefit the author pretends to have written this book derives any spiritual consolation from it, it must be that his brain has received a peculiar stimulus from the phosphorescent quality of the food furnished on Cape Ann.

We very much doubt whether, to use the words of Carlyle, any sick heart will find healing here, or whether any darkly struggling soul will find light.

— The Scripture Club of Valley Rest8 shows a good deal of versatility on the part of the author. The leading members of an enterprising church form a scripture club to which orthodox and unorthodox are alike invited, and in which it is proposed to allow the largest liberty of expression. The Sermon on the Mount is first taken up, and the discussion which follows on the beatitudes is somewhat in the style of the conversations carried on by Arthur Helps’ Friends in Council. Hard hits are given

and returned, and incidentally the characters of the participants are very cleverly brought out. Wherever two or three members come in contact during the week there the Sunday fights are renewed. Thus Mr. Stott, a well-to-do builder, frees his mind: “Works include faith ? I always like to get hold of a real idea about religion, but that notion is too far-fetched for anything. Why, according to you, a Unitarian or a heathen, if he does good, is a child of God and a partaker of the promises. Christ might as well not have lived and died, if that is all his work amounted to.” The definition of righteousness developed antagonisms too serious for the continued association of all the members. The practical moralists, those who held to Matthew Arnold’s views of righteousness as right living, withdrew from the Sunday noon discussions, and those who remained devoted their attention thenceforth to less exciting topics, such as the true location of the holy sepulchre, the geography of Palestine, and the place prepared for the future abode of those who were justified by faith. Whoever has taken part in vestry meetings and Bible societies connected with country churches will appreciate the characters described by Mr. Habberton.


Henry Gréville is the nom de plume of a lady who has very recently won a good position as a writer of fiction, by means of a number of novels which all deal with life in Russia. She has spent many years in that country, and now that popular attention is turned in that direction her books have an additional claim upon the reader. An additional claim, because their excellence and interest are such as also attract consideration. Of those mentioned to-day, LesKoumiassine10 is an excellent example of this author’s merits. The scene of the story is laid in Russia, in the household of the Koumiassiue family, which consists of the count, a middle-aged, good-natured pleasure-seeker, who is not counted of much importance in the telling of the story; of the countess, who is one of the main characters; their son, a boy of nine or ten ; a daughter, a girl of about sixteen; and a niece, who is a year or two older. There are besides these a host of others, governesses, servants, dependents, lovers, etc., so that, first and last, a very full parade of Russian citizens passes before the reader. At the opening of the story the countess is represented as anxious to marry off her niece, Vassilissa, before the time shall come for introducing her own daughter into society, with the same object. Vassilissa’s father had died, leaving his wife and infant daughter very poor, and the countess had adopted the young orphan and brought her up exactly as if she were her own daughter. The two girls had been the most intimate friends: Zénaide, or Zina, had neither shown nor felt any ill-feeling towards her cousin, and the current of their lives had been unbroken until the time came when the countess determined her niece should be married. The way in which the proud, self-satisfied, and on the whole well-meaning countess is described, with her strong will and impatience of opposition to which she is wholly unaccustomed, will seem to most readers the best thing in the book. Naturally enough she is more ambitious for her daughter than for her niece, whom she wishes to see married to some worthy but not brilliant man ; and it is the history of her attempts to carry out these designs which fills this book. The particulars of the plot need not be given here; they are recorded too entertainingly in the novel itself; but every time that the countess interferes in the management of affairs, however much the reader may approve or disapprove of her actions, it is impossible not to admire the ingenious and perfectly natural way in which she justifies her deeds to herself, and puts all the blame for everything that goes wrong upon others. One gets a very definite notion of exactly what sort of a woman she is, with her enormous wealth and habit of command, and the curtain is drawn from before a large portion of Russian society, such as is represented in this woman and her companions and surroundings. Certainly, she is a very life-like character. It is with equal success that the two young girls are portrayed; indeed, it would be hard to find more charming heroines than these, with their staunchness to one another, their innocence and frolicsomeness.

In a word, this is just the novel that those people want who are always looking after a story in the French tongue which shall not deal directly or by implication with evil-doing. It is not to be put on the same shelf with Madame Craven’s highly religious stories, but it may be safely commended to those who care for a really entertaining French novel treating of society, and, over and above, of society of an unfamiliar kind in which every one is interested.

— La Princesse Oghérof1 is another Russian story by the same writer, which will be found readable enough as novels go. It is a less ambitious work than the one just mentioned, but it has its gentle pathos, and its drawing of good characters and bad characters made from very clearly distinguished models, and much of the regular machinery of the modern novel. Not that it reads at all like a perfunctory performance, but it lacks the quiet growth of interest which makes Les Koumiassine so agreeable. In both it is easy to perceive how well the author knows the people she undertakes to describe, not only in the trifling matters which mark their own civilization, but also in their more important qualities which they share with the rest of the human race. She by no means contents herself with the trivial record of social laws and misdemeanors; she sees and represents clearly the feelings and emotions that underlie them.

— It is hard to find any great value in Gustave Flaubert’s Trois Contes,2 which is the title of his last volume. He is well known as the leader of the school of French realists, but he has another side, a sort of love for picturesque details which he apparently collects from wide reading about the past. In Madame Bovary he drew a picture of the present as he saw it, and Salambo is a glowing sketch of Carthage as he fancied it from such researches as he made into its history. In the first of these tales, Un Cur Simple, he makes a study of a servant - woman, but, after all, the reader cannot help asking himself whether it is not work misapplied. What Flaubert shows us is much more how observant a realist he himself is than the sort of a woman the old servant was. Insignificant details are crowded into every page, but simply for their own sake; when they are all in the tale ends, and the reader is left to admire or not to care for, as his nature may direct, a rather cold-blooded study of an ignorant, kindly old woman. If the woman, and not the collection of things to say of her, were the main object of the story, the reader would feel differently about it. In the next, La Légende de Saint Julien l’Hospitalier, we find Flaubert back in the congenial description of mediæval life, telling the adventures of the saint, who when young was full of a thirst for blood, and finally, by mistake, slew his father and mother, as had been foretold of him in his cradle. After this he became a saint, and the story of his death is told with great power. The whole legend is narrated, Flaubert adds, on some glass windows in his native town, and there is a resemblance between the literary method of this author and the vivid coloring and conventional drawing of glass windows. The last sketch, Herodias, shows this quality even more strongly. It is crammed with the most motley and confused details, and reads like the dream of an opium-eater after it has been put into shape for publication, with the missing links ingeniously supplied.

— A story that has reached its twelfth edition in two years certainly deserves mention, especially if, like Le Bleuet,11 it is a charming, innocent little tale, of a kind not too common in French or indeed in any other language. The success of the hook is easily explained. In addition to the merit of the story, there is on the first page of the paper cover a pretty colored drawing of a bleuet, a flower like a sweet-william, made by Carpeaux upon his death-bed; and, moreover, we find within a preface by George Sand. Appended to the story are seventyseven pages containing notices of the press concerning the story. As for the tale itself it is very pretty, even if it hardly deserves this exceptional treatment. Franz Tilmann, a young Alsatian farmer, makes the acquaintance of the Duke de B舒 and his family, who are spending the summer in the country. The family consists of the duke’s daughter Renée, and his niece Augusta. Franz has a feeling of great friendship for Renée, he brings about her marriage with the man she loves, and he falls deeply in love with the other young girl, who is also attached to him. It would be unfair to go further in recounting the story, which is full of delicate sentiment and chastened, unostentatious observation. That foreign readers will admire it so warmly as do the French can hardly be averred, for we are accustomed to stories in which innocence and poetry combine, and there is a faint trace of exaggeration in their union here ; but yet the story is very pretty and the book is well worth reading.

— One of the most important of recent German novels is Spielhagen’s Sturmflut.12 A few years ago this author was much admired in this country, and a translation was sure to follow quickly the publication of one of his books ; but that day seems to have gone by, and one does not have to look far to find the reason. He is a writer of considerable power, but, in the past at least, he has never been contented with modestly doing the by no means easy work which he did best; he has thought it necessary to introduce a “blood and thunder” element, consisting of almost impossible incidents, mysterious, flashing-eyed characters, and such treatment of the plot as has made the New York Ledger a power in the land. But he seems to have partly outgrown such efflorescent exaggeration in this story. It is there, and in too great abundance, but there is so much more of other and sounder work that its presence is not very conspicuous. The novel is a very complex one, and, apparently, Spielhagen has been influenced in his manner of composition by George Eliot’s later stories, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. In his attempt at bringing before the reader his notion of German society since the war with France, he puts upon the scene an enormous number of persons, and carries in his hand a very complicated series of intrigues, all of which are subordinate to the main plot of the story. The career of speculation into which the Germans entered during the sudden prosperity of victory, and which was so soon followed by failure and disappointment, appears to have made a deep impression on that people, who, it would seem, imagined they had taken every necessary precaution against disaster. But the world was not made over again for their accommodation, and they soon learned what has been the usual experience of mankind, that unholy prosperity is followed by reaction. Other German novels have been written about the same disaster, but this is decidedly the most serious and by far the ablest. While it has the clumsy form which George Eliot’s genius has taught us to tolerate, — although posterity, always averse to learning lessons from its ancestors, may despise it,—the reader who can keep distinctly in mind the various dimly connecting interests will receive very accurate impressions of the faults of German society. That these differ in detail from those of other countries of course goes without saying. What is especially to he noticed in Spielhagen is his ardent republicanism and his dislike of a rigid, conventional aristocracy. The young heroine falls in love with a sea-captain, who, to be sure, went through the campaign in France as officer of the landweher, but in spite of that he is a hissing and a reproach to the old tiobility whom he continually meets. The characters are yet distinct persons while they serve as representatives of different classes; but it is easy to see how each one carries on his shoulders the faults and virtues of a large number of his fellow citizens as well as his own individuality. There is the old general, who stands for the best side of the army, with his loyalty and keen sense of honor; his son, the young, wild dare-devil; the wise president; the rich manufacturer, who detests socialism; the speculator who finally comes to grief; and the count, the worthless aristocrat. The young girls cannot be classified in this way. They lead lives independent of politics and wars and commercial interests. The considerable length of the book enables Spielhagen to expound with great freedom his notions of the present condition of Germany, and he makes use of his opportunity by means of long conversations between the different characters. It cannot be denied that he shows a great deal of power in this task. He has photographed society with its ambitions, cleverness, silliness, and all its virtues and faults, but just as no photograph was ever taken that made a group seem naturally formed, there are frequent traces of strings being pulled by the author that his characters may say for him what he has to say, rather than what would be most naturally on their lips. Many of the scenes are exceedingly good. The book opens well; here and there are very life-like bits; the catastrophe is described in a powerful way, and the whole story is wonderfully impressive. Unforttunately, just what was meant to be most imposing is most theatrical, and the darkeyed Italians ought never to have been allowed in a novel treating of united Germany. The book would have been infinitely better if they had been exiled before it began, for since Thackeray’s imitation of Disraeli’s early novels, in Codlingsby, no such ridiculous, extravagant, and absurd words have been put into the mouths of any characters of fiction. Some of the older sinner’s remarks would make the fortune of an American humorist. But Spielhagen seems really awe-stricken by the bogey he has wound up to lead every evil plot. The reader has but little patience with so transparent and conceited a villain, who has walked straight out of a melodrama into this novel, which is yet filled with the dry air of intelligent realism when the other characters are on the stage.

But aside from this weak point the book is one of the ablest German novels that has been published for many a long year. Spielhagen has written a book of great power, and has won a pdace among the best novelists of the time. It is a book which does not receive due justice in a brief notice like this. It may well be read and re-read carefully.

— Turguéneff’s new novel13 has appeared in the authorized German translation which is published in Mitau. This rendering may be generally commended; but it is sad to notice that here and there difficult passages have been omitted by the translator. On pages 297 and 417 are instances of this. In other respects no fault is to be found.

  1. The Life of Edgar Allan Poe. By WILLIAM F. GILL. Illustrated. New York : C. T. Dillingham. Chicago: Claxton, Remsen and Haffelfinger. Boston : William F. Gill & Co. 1877.
  2. Ancient Society; or, Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery, through Barbarism, to Civilization. By LEWIS H. MORGAN, LL.D New York : Henry Holt & Co.
  3. Popular Sayings from Old Iberia. By FIELDAT and AITIAICHE. Second Edition. Quebee: Dawson & Co. 1877.
  4. A Short History of R/wrJe Island. By GEORGI WASHINGTON GREENE, LL. D. Providence: J A. and R. A. Reid, 1877
  5. Warrington" Pen-Portraits. A Collection of Personal and Political Reminiscences from 1848 to 1876. Form the Writings of William S. Robinson. With Memoir and Extracts from Diary and Letters never before published. Boston : Edited and Published by Mrs. W. S. Robinson. 1877
  6. Half Hours with Insects. By A. S. PACKARD, JK. Boston : Estes and Lauriat. 1877.
  7. Coronation. A Story of Forest and Sea. By E. P. TENNEY. Boston: Noyes, Snow, & Co. 1877.
  8. The Scripture Club of Valley Rest; or, Sketches of Everybody's Neighbors. By the author of The Barton Experiment, etc New York: G. P. Putnam’s Song.
  9. All books mentioned under this head are to be had at Schoenhof and Mueller’s, 40 Winter St., Boston, Mass.
  10. Let Koumiassine. Par HENRT GRÉVILLE. Paris: Plon. 1877.
  11. La Princesse Oghérof. Par HENRY GRÉVILLE. Paris : Plon. 1877.
  12. Trois Contes. Par GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. Paris Charpentier. 1877.
  13. Le Bleuet. Par GUSTAVE HALLER. Préface dee GEORGE SAND. Douzèmeme Edition. Paris. 1877.
  14. Sturmflut. Von FRIEDERICH SPILHAGEN. In 3 Bdn. Leipzing. 1877.
  15. Neu-Land. Ein Roman. Von IWAN TURGENJEW Autorisirte Ausgabe. Mitau. 1877.