Recent Literature

MR. TAYLOR'S lyrical drama,1 Prince Deukalion, is a sustained adventurous effort, definite in purpose and careful in design. The poet has bestowed upon it, as if with intent to produce a masterpiece, all his natural resources enhanced by life-long practice, — the ripest thought and imagination of his prime. It doubtless exhibits the full compass and range of his versatile and often splendid lyrical faculty. Certainly it is an earnest effort in the highest department of verse, comparing with its author’s lyrics, idyls, and other metrical work as an opera or oratorio compares with minor forms of musical composition. As such it must be received, and by a corresponding standard judged, — if judged at all.

Whether such a poem will be thus received and examined is, irrespective of its worth, in some wise a test of the advance in our critical and popular taste. What does the period really care for, comprehend, enjoy ? We know that it does right to enjoy healthful, honest realism. We * also know that there is abundant welcome for a story in verse; that each of the tender or stirring lyrics, beautiful in kind,of which the time is so productive, is repeated everywhere to the strengthening of some poet’s hold upon our hearts. But, again, do our people, or their judicious censors, interest themselves in poetry pure and simple, or in the higher range of verse devoted to imaginative thoughts and themes?

The answer is still so much in doubt that a poet must be quite in earnest, devoted to the best ideal of his art, to put forth a work like this. Mr. Taylor’s effort is conceived in the spirit of a true artist, and even for making it he deserves our serious regard. His career always has been marked by a buoyant purpose; no poet has finer aspirations ; none has longed more ardently to make some contribution to the progress of song in his own land and generation. He is a man of quick emotions, and of convictions strengthened by varied study and experience. To such qualities we sometimes fail to do justice, in the sunny light of a generous, fairly won, literary success.

The rhythmic and poetic beauty of Prince Deukalion is wholly consecrated to an expression of the author’s belief and hope as a student of the past and a poet of the future. If we read it aright, the drama is meant to convey a summary of his social philosophy and religious faith. For a spirit of faith runs through it, although it openly rejects the limits of any sect or creed. The poet, observes life from a historic point of view, and successive religions as belonging to a series in the evolution of a type which must sustain the human race at some noblest period. The struggles, growth, and ideal perfection of mankind are his theme. Taking the respective forms of faith as the true measure, the finest manifestation, of civilization in different eras, he adopts tile form of allegory, and symbolical beings are the persons of his drama. The Masque of the Gods was constructed after this fashion, and indeed all the tendencies of Mr. Taylor’s mind—when passing from simple to abstract poetic work — strongly incline him to its use. Between the dates of Comus and Prometheus Unbound there is little of the sort in English poetry; in our own time nothing admirable except the Orion of R. H. Horne. Mention of Shelley’s impassioned drama will most adequately suggest to the reader the method and spirit of Mr. Taylor’s poem.

Two perils here he in wait. A direct moral or philosophical purpose never yet has weakened the firm hand of a master artist, but when' second-rate pieces era body it the result is false art and didacticism. Again, the poet who often dares to “ wrestle with the infinite ” manifestly invites disaster. There are lapses in this work, many passages hastily and crudely written, — some which might be isolated and treated in a manner the reverse of serious. These occur chiefly in the philosophical discourse, so frequent throughout the drama. But we may fairly say that Mr. Taylor’s fine poetic gift usually saves him from the evil first named. He escapes the other by a discreet avoidance of hyperbole, and does not often loosen the firm hold taken upon his subject at the start. His manner is varied, but elevated, and often entitled to Arnold’s epithet of grand. He has to do with large and simple ideals.

Deukalion and Pyrrha are each other’s complements, the typical mail and woman, wandering over earth from the primitive ages; sharing the advance from barbarism to classical paganism; experiencing successively the Romish and Protestant forms of Christianity; always awaiting the consummation of their nuptials, and that final perfection which shall come only with the freest and purest religion, the highest culture, — the serene faith and absolute knowledge to which Science directs them, revealing a power which governs all, and whispering a pledge of spiritual immortality.

A fuller analysis of the poem than can be given here is supplied by the author in a prose argument which precedes the whole. This introduction, evidently an afterthought, is written in a somewhat affected manner, not to our liking nor up to the level of the drama. The latter consists of four acts. Of these the first (A. D.AMP;GT;. 300) opens with the passing of the old gods and the rise of Christianity; but a few of its scenes are laid in the under-world, where Deukalion obtains a retrospective vision of the past. The second (A. D. 1300) confronts us with the supremacy of papal Rome; the third has to do with Protestantism and the present; the last is a melodious and joyous prophecy of the future, in which Good is preëminent, and Spirits of Dawn brighten the paths of an enfranchised race. The first scene of the poem is a plain sloping from high mountains toward the sea. Here, amid pastoral surroundings, — like those of Sicily, — a shepherd, awaking and seeing the temple of Demeter in ruins, exclaims, —

“ Have I outslept the thunder ? Has the storm
Broken and rolled away ? That leaden weight
Which pressed mine eyelids to reluctant sleep
Falls off: I wake ; yet see not anything
As I beheld it. Yonder hang the clouds,
Huge, weary masses, leaning on the hills ;
But hero, where Star-wort grew and hyacinth,
And bees were busy at the bells of thyme,
Stare flinty shards ; and mine unsandal’d feet
Bleed as I press them : who hath wrought the
change ?
The plain, the sea, the mountains, are the same ;
And there, aloft, Demeter’s pillared house, —
What! —roofless, now? Are she and Jove at
strife ?
Hark ! — what strain is that,
Floating about the copses and the slopes
As in old days, when earth and summer sang ?
Too sad to come from their invisible tongues
That moved ail things to joy ; but I will hear.”

Soon an exquisite chorus of the departing Nymphs is heard, broken in upon by the chant, from under-ground, of the Spirits of the Christian Martyrs. The motive and arrangement of this antiphony are noble throughout, in the first degree poetic, and a fit overture to the whole drama. In later scenes a succession of allegorical beings appears: Gæa, Eros, Deukalion, Pyrrha, Pandora, Prometheus, Epimetlieus, Eos, and others. The Church of Rome is depicted as Medusa, wearing the triple crown, seated on a golden throne, and sending her heralds to the four quarters of the world, She accepts the services of the Muses, but has a wholesome dread of Urania, or Science. Upon her majesty, power, and craft Mr. Taylor has lavished his glories of color and diction. The Poet (Dante) and the Artist (Raphael?) appear. In the third act Calchas, High-Priest, fulfills the offices of Calvinistic Protestantism; but Deukalion has a vision of the New Heaven, and forces its angels to confess that they are satiate “ with endless weariness of rest.” Finally, we have Agathon, child of man, beautiful and active in the prophetic future; all temporal divinities disappear from their thrones; Prometheus and Epimetheus are again among men, rejoicing in the new dawn ; the nuptials of Deukalion and Pyrrha are perfected; and a choral antiphony, * in which also Gæa, Eos, and the dwellers of the earth participate, rises in thanks and aspiration to a universal God, the father of all.

The allegorical veil and nomenclature of this poem will daunt the casual reader. But ho will do well to overcome his fears, The ideal is so maintained by Mr. Taylor’s imaginative force that its story is unbroken and its personages become living and well defined. We enter into the spirit of the poet and take the meaning of his song. The personages and form have done service before, but in their present use and combination the author, like an architect building anew with old material, has composed upon no mean design a most original poem. Considering the metaphysical undertone, it is remarkably free from obscurity. An exception to this may be found in the utterances of Epimetheus, whose nature and mission are left, after all, nearly as much in doubt as they have reached us from the antique, and this despite a strenuous effort to shape them to some purpose. We suspect the poet himself had no thoroughly distinct conception of Epimetlieus, for he is too complete a master of language not to define clearly what he has clearly Been. One other feature which may be thought to lessen the elevating power .of the drama is an optimism inherent in its author’s nature, which banishes a strongly pathetic or tragic element from his work. Deukalion and Pyrrha know their high destiny from the outset, and it beacons them like a star upon their way. But life is tragic ; existence at times seems without a single hope; tendency and the decrees of fate, even the “ reign of law,” appear to w hirl us hither and thither, we know not how or why. And a recognition of this, so strange and subtile is the human soul, thrills us with our most fervent and exalted emotions, and often furnishes a potent element to the great creations of art and song.

But, leaving out of sight the intellectual of moral design, Prince Deukalion, taken simply as a poem, should more than please our votaries of the school which, owing to the instinctive reverence of students for excellence in the technique which they are practicing, insists upon art for art’s sake alone. We have had little of late so ideal in treatment, so noteworthy for richness and variety of metrical work. It is a kind of dramatic symphony, manifold in harmonized parts. Poets who read it will recognize the strong and flexible hand of an expert. Poe’s off - hand criticisms, now thirty years old, dallied not for courtesy, but where no personal feeling tainted them they have curiously stood the test of time, His avowal that Sir. Taylor, then just trying his voice, was unexcelled by any American poet in gifts of “expression,” and that he possessed true imaginative power, is brought to mind by this work, and even now can scarcely be gainsaid, though a now generation has arisen. Before Tennyson was widely known, and previous to the finesse of the latest school, a poet of Mr. Taylor’s nature would be impressed by the rhetoric of Byron, by Shelley as a lyrist, and reflect both in his general expression. It is easy to see that he passed through such an experience, nor has he yet lost the simplicity of statement underlying the melody of those fine masters. Still, his touch is modern and his own. Our public can refer to Prince Deukalion with reliance upon its display of poetic resource, and as a work presenting, through melodious diction and a strange variety of charming measures, a profitable study for metrical artists everywhere. The few lines which we have quoted give the key to the blank verse that is the basis of the work. This is generally compact and fine, and characteristic, in its eloquence and stately cæsuras, of the author’s style. But much of the drama justifies its sub-title, being composed of songs, interludes, choruses, in every form of verse, stanzaic or irregular. Of these there are more than in Prometheus Bound, aud many are beautiful, though perhaps none will make us care less for the Song of the Echoes, or Asia’s song, or the chorus of Unseen Spirits, in the second and fourth acts of Shelley’s unique creation. Yet the average quality is very high indeed. In the varied management of his Lieder, Mr. Taylor reminds us of his master, Goethe, and doubtless has increased-a rare natural gift by experience in translating the lyrical measures of Faust.

There is sometimes, however, the shade of difference between his lyrical quality and that of Shelley, for example, which ex ists between rhythm and tone; the one is obvious and eloquent, the other elusive, haunting. Fine and suggestive melodies, like Shelley’s and Shakespeare’s, come, rarely, but return forever, wandering here and.there. Mr. Taylor’s, beautiful as they are, seem to be evoked at will. Ariel, under the magician’s control, is not the delicate sprite who, with no spell upon him, returns at his own caprice, only to make you wish he might be captured, and on second thought thank the Muses that he still is free. But we repeat that, taken as a whole, and allowing for certain lapses when the poet puts on the preacher’s cassock, the four acts of this lyrical drama exhibit a variety so well combined that, as a symphonic poem, it should be welcome to those students of art who speak of a painter’s twilight fantasia, or his “ harmony in blue and gold.” We close by recommending every lover of delightful verse and aspiring thought to read Prince Deukalion. Its minor faults arc easily discerned; its beauties are intrinsic and pervading. Like most purely ideal works, it must be road twice to answer the cardinal question. What is the author’s design, and how far has he accomplished it ? The poetry of itself will sufficiently requite the reader for his effort.

— In the annual holiday installment of illustrated poems Miss Humphrey gives the impressions made upon her mind by the well-known hymn, the Rock of Ages,2 Direct illustration of the images which are the means and the incidents, and not the ends, of such poems must needs emphasize what does not need emphasis, and unless conceived in a very imaginative spirit must have a tendency to materialize the thought and hinder the aspiration. In the case of the Rock of Ages, we have thus, first the cleft rock; then “ the water and the blood" and the cleansing; then the cross and the clinging to it, the washing in the fountain, and so on. Miss Humphrey, in her attempt to do honor to this poem, has seized upon these images, and interpreted them with more or less of directness, and not without a degree of poetic sympathy, in a series of wood-cuts which accompany the text and burden it with a commentary which can scarcely touch the vital part of it or kindle a new emotion. The lines do not invite direct illustration or portraiture, and the picture of a conventional angel sitting in a ray of light, pointing upward with one hand, and with the other directing two women to a dark door-way in a wall of rock, or the picture of a girl, drawn at threequarter length, with her back set against the image of a shadowy cross, making a gesture with her hands, signifying that they are empty ; or the view of an Oriental basin or pool with women fainting upon the steps thereof, — these, even if composed in a far more poetic spirit than they are, or drawn with far greater knowledge of the elements of composition, cannot give new impulse or significance to the sublime image of the “ Rock of Ages cleft for me ; ” or to the idea of

“ Nothing in my hand I bring:
Simply to thy cross I cling ; ”

or, that of

“ Foul, I to the Fountain fly ;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.”

Any attempt to give absolute form to such images must fail by reason of the inevitable grossness of its results when Compared with the spiritual conditions which they typify.

The function of art with regard to such subjects was thoroughly understood by the illuminators of the missals and hour books of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They decorated the page ; they did not seek to illustrate it. Their marginal or initial paintings were either entirely conventional, or they were content with motifs for their pencils taken from the text with remote allusion or parallel, their art playing, in fact, the same part that the musical accompaniment plays to the words of the poet. This func tion of art is accessible to Miss Humphrey, for in this very book she has a page of comparatively legitimate decoration based upon the theme, “ Let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our Salvation,”which is very graceful in intention and not badly drawn. In comparison with this and with the pretty conceit of harebells growing out of the cleft of a rock overhanging the sea, which occupies the margin of the last verse of the poem, such a poorly-drawn, useless, and meaningless foreground of ferns us illustrates the first verse, and such a vision of impossible Gothic architecture as intrudes itself upon the beautiful thought of the second verse, are simply impertinences.

— The illustrations to Dr. Holmes’s poem of The School Boy 3 are not only well done, but generally very well chosen as to subject. Mr. J, Appleton Brown’s sketches of the local scenery at Andover please us best; and we greatly like some of Mr. Sheppard’s drawings : that, for example, of the stage coach ; and still better, that called The Shy Maiden, — the little girl whom the school boy finds in the house which is to be his home. In this both the child’s figure and face, and those of “ the virgin Hymen long had spared,” are admirable studies. Mr. Merrill’s birds, too, wherever they come fluttering into the text— as they have a pretty air of doing — are lovely, and it is pleasant to notice how much more truly they are related to the poem than such bald literalities as the pictures of a planchette, and of the two hands shaking each other to illustrate the sentiment of reconciliation. Mr. Merrill is to blame for the first of these, and Mr. Sheppard for the second ; the latter has also to regret the feebly-imagined and imperfectly realized allegory called Gates Ajar. Mr. Hitchcock’s humbler efforts to depict the Andover school buildings give their quaint ugliness in a very satisfactory way, and his great elm is excellent. But we end as we began with Mr. Brown’s pictures : they are every one charming; they are in the mood of the poem, and they are delicate and tender hits of true New England landscape.

The poem was read at the centennial celebration of Phillips Academy at Andover in June last, and is to our thinking one of the very best of the author’s many good occasional poems. He returns in it to the rhymed heroic verse which he loved long ago, and which he always used so well; and some of its descriptive lines have not — to put it strongly — been excelled by any he has written. This passage is in his happiest and most characteristic manner : —

“ My cheek was bare of adolescent down
When first I sought the Academic town ;
Slow rolls the coach along the dusty road,
Big with its filial and parental load ;
The frequent hills, the lonely woods are past,
The school-boy’s chosen home is reached at last.
I see it now, the same unchanging spot,
The swinging gate, the little garden plot,
The narrow yard, the rock that made its floor,
The flat, pale house, the knocker-garnished door,
The small, trim parlor, neat, decorous, chill,
The strange, new faces, kind, but grave and still ;
Last came the virgin Hymen long had spared,
Whose daily cares the grateful household shared,
Strong, patient, humble, her substantial frame
Stretched the chaste draperies I forbear to name.
Brave, but with effort, had the school-boy
To the cold comfort of a stranger’s home ;
How like a dagger to my sinking heart
Came the dry summons, “ It is time to part;
' Good-by ?' ‘ Goo-ood-by ! ’ one fond, maternal
Homesick as death ! Was ever pang like this ?
Too young as yet with willing feet to stray
From the tame fireside, glad to get away, —
Too old to let my watery grief appear, —
And what so bitter as a swallowed tear ?

— Mr. W. J. Linton has designed and engraved a series of illustrations to the most famous of Bryant’s poems,4 confessedly taking hints for his designs from David Scott, William Blake, Isaac Taylor, author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm, and “ almost unknown as an artist.” The illustrations are not always of the imaginative kind, but belong to the order of art that simply translates literature into pictorial forms. The poet says, “The oak shall send his roots abroad and pierce thy mold,” and then the artist shows you the oak doing it. “ In the cold ground ” suggests a snowy churchyard ; “ the infinite host of heaven,” a stretch of sky with stars in it. But here the artist is at his poorest, and on the whole the pictures form a grave and fit accompaniment to the text. Some of the larger ones, like Under the Open Sky, and Resolved to Earth again, have a peculiar, tranquil beauty akin to the poet’s own genius, and that called The Dead reign There is solemnly impressive. As these things go, the attempt to illuminate a poem that does not easily lend itself to graphic interpretation is unusually successful.

— This being the Exposition year, L’Art5 is naturally and rightly devoted in great measure to the æsthetic interests of the great fair. The articles on the architecture of the Exposition are continued from the preceding volume, and there is an embarrassment of riches in the papers relative to the painting and sculpture exhibited, though only the French, Italian, and Spanish schools are as yet treated. These papers are of course profusely illustrated, some times with reproductions of the works mentioned in wood-engraving or etching, and often by single figures or passages from them, a form of illustration peculiarly in teresting and suggestive, especially when these extracts are the designs of the artists who executed the originals. Of the French we know what great things to expect, and of the Spaniards what rich and strong things; the reader may therefore turn with perhaps fresher interest to the paper on Italian art at the Exposition, in which he will find proofs of reanimation which were certainly not shown at Philadelphia. There are charming and valuable studies of the beautiful pavilion of the Prince of Wales at the Exposition; and such of the wonders of the great show as come quite within the range of the arts are touched with pen and pencil. But it is not suffered to be a burden ; and by way of compensation, the Paris Salon for 1878 is treated with a degree of fullness (in some ten or twelve criticisms) which we do not remember to have seen equaled even in L’Art before. The exhibition of the Royal Academy in London has also its due share of space ; and the volume is not lacking in those special studies which have made this publication so attractive. We must mention that on Portraits of Marie Antoinette, closing with the last ever made,—the sad face she wore in the Temple, — as one of singular interest; and we must commend to the reader the articles on Military Painting, with their exquisite entire and fragmentary reproductions. This branch of painting is studied in various private exhibitions, the French government being moved to exclude most of the most patriotic battle-pieces by the politeness of the Germans, who refrained from exhibiting anything relating to the war of 1871. Among the etchings of the volume, one of the best is that of Bonnat’s portrait of Don Carlos at the Exposition, and Flameng’s portrait of Madame *** at the Salon is a piece full of the most striking qualities, and curiously daring and original in treatment. Altogether the most beautiful etching, or illustration of any kind, is that of Morris’s Academy picture, First Communion at Dieppe: a pious procession of young girls in white, white-veiled and singing as they come towards you, full of devotion and movement, and with the sweetest rapture in some faces, and the fiercest in others.

— The fifth part of M. Racinet’s Costume Historique6 has fourteen plates in gold and silver, and ten in camaieu — the richest installment yet, we believe, of this sumptuous work. Of the former three are interiors: one of the Alhambra, fourteenth century ; another of the famous Cabinet de l’Amour, by Le Sueur, in the Hotel Lambert, seventeenth century ; the third a parlor of a middle-class English family in the eighteenth century. The last is curiously interesting, as well for the dress of the half dozen people shown as for the furniture of the apartment. It must be late in the eighteenth century, for the women wear the simple crossed kerchief on their bosoms, and the men’s powdered wigs are of the diminished type in which they disappeared altogether. The scene might have been studied in the mansion of some well-to-do citizen in Boston or New York, of the same period. The furniture is not of the Queen Anne style, but is somewhat extravagant in its scrolls and curves. The Cabinet de l’Amour is the double-size plate, and is curious as a study of that style of decoration in which the paneling of the wall is divided, and two cornices or friezes are introduced. The furniture is not greatly unlike the sort in use among us before Mr. Eastlake came to strike everything dead with conscientious rigidity. A very charming plate shows costumes of French people of quality in the seventeenth century, with portraits of such famous beauties as Madame de Maintenon, the Princess® de Conti, the Duchesse de Bourbon, and the Countess d’Egmont. What is still more interesting is the plate illustrating the jewelry of the eighteenth century in a multitude of forms, with its changing character from reign to reign. Spanish, Russian, Persian, Singhalese, Kabyle, Algerian, and Caffre costumes afford subjects for as many plates : in that of the Singhalese and the Algerians, the dress of the Jewish woman is remarkable for reminiscences of the different countries in which their race has sojourned, and it is rather European than Oriental, In the plate giving Caffre costumes there is naturally more Caffre than costume.

The camïeux, giving Egyptian domestic utensils, Roman ensigns, Hungarian jewels, Italian head - dresses of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and Italian furniture of the same period, and French hats and wigs of the eighteenth century, are inferior to the other lithographs only in color. All the illustrations are accompanied with notices and comments at once learned, clear, and entertaining.

— The large number, and the character of the books relating to our colleges, which have recently been published, prove not only that the public takes great interest in them, but also that this interest is constantly increasing. The two volumes before us are very different in all respects, but, to convey a general idea of this difference, it is sufficient to say that the one is written from the point of view of the undergraduate, the other from that, in most cases, of the instructor, — in all, that of a graduate of some years’ standing. Mr. Thwing describes, almost exclusively, the life led by students; the moral and religious influences which surround them, the character of their scholarship and of the instruction offered, the popularity and influence of athletic sports, etc. The writers of The College Book,7 on the other hand, are chiefly desirous of showing the historical development of the institutions which they respectively discuss.

This is almost always fully and excellently done. The sketch of Harvard University, by Professor Ames, of the law school, is the longest and most elaborate, and must, we should think, have required much patient research among the college archives. The article on Yale by Mr. Kingsley, of New Haven, is similar in character, but shorter and less comprehensive, while the papers of the Rev. Mr. Gladden on Williams, of the Rev. Mr. Packard on Bowdoin, and of Professor Winchester on Wesleyan University, indulging, as these writers do, more in general reflections, are perhaps more attractive ’ to the public at large than are the essential, ly statistical papers. As compared with Mr. Th wing’s book, these articles are also noticeable as being free from bias of any kind, while American Colleges,8 we regret to say, is pervaded with what we can not help considering a very narrow view of religion and religions people. Here, for instance, are the respective opinions of Mr. Thwing and of Professor Ames, on the religions character of Harvard undergraduates: “The lowest extreme (as regards the number of Christians) is probably one to five, as at Harvard, and the highest, nine to ten, as at Oberlin. . . . The increase in the number of Christian collegians within the last twenty-five years is most gratifying. In 1853 only one man in every ten at Harvard College was a professor of religion . . . but it is safe to say that at the present time one half of American college students are Christian men and women.” Now Mr. Ames: “ Harvard College,”he says, “ is regarded by many ill-informed persons ... as an irreligious place. If those who use the word ‘irreligious’ mean to imply that a lower moral tone prevails among the young men at Harvard than at other colleges, the only reply to be made is that they state that which is not true.”

In the College Book the heliotype illustrations are excellent; they not only give a perfectly accurate idea of the localities they depict, but are often pleasing and artistically made pictures.

— Messrs. Houghton, Osgood & Co. publish two holiday books for children as richly attractive in binding and illustration as any of the English “juveniles ” which have of late years crowded American publications of the same kind from the market, to the serious loss of literature and of little readers. We trust that the tide is turned, and that American children are again to form their ideas of life and society and nature from books that paint our own conditions, and not from English publications, which are as false to anything they are likely to know hereafter as they are inferior at their best to the best American writings for the young. There is nothing in as recent English books for children at all comparable to Miss Jewett’s lovely, well-principled, and good-mannered volume of Play Days, or to any one of Mr. Scudder’s charming Bodley books, the third of which we now have in as “ goodly outside ” as the quaintest of the “Walter Crane style” of imported literature. The Bodleys on Wheels9 are the same delightful Bodleys as those we had “in town and country,” and in “ telling stories; ” if there is any change they have grown more delightful. It is pleasant to see how the little people have developed from book to book; and as the range is practically unlimited, we hope they will always keep doing something. We shall be keenly disappointed if we are obliged to part with them before the youngest is married and settled in life; even then we should like them to review their past for their children’s amusement in one vast Bodley book as large as an unabridged Webster, — or Worcester, as the reader prefers. The story of their adventures on wheels is simply: the record of a journey made in the family carry-all from Roxbury up through some of Our old seaport, towns as far as Newburyport. It is no painful search for the picturesque or the historic, but whatever is most characteristic in the places visited turns up in the way of the appreciative Bodleys. The easy quiet of the original mood is kept throughout, and there is something accordant with the attitude first struck in the tranquillity with which the author helps himself to long stories and poems as he goes on, and enriches his narrative with the best relevant literary material from other hands. His own touch is felt always in what the children say and do, and its increasing skill in the unlabored sketches of people they meet. There is an atmosphere in the book which one breathes like that of our real world, and there is always the best and sweetest spirit.

— Besides the striking cover, sumptuously stamped in gold and red, Mr. Kappes furnishes eight full-page colored illustrations for the new edition of Mother Goose.10 These are all conceived in the quaint and grotesque vein, rather than in the tenderer spirit of some of the English pictures for nursery rhymes, and leave something to be desired in this way; but it is hard to see how in their kind they are surpassable. They are exquisitely printed, and have all the effect of illuminations with the pencil, their colors, at once vivid and delicate in tone, acquiring a rich relief from the heavy gold backgrounds. The volume is not only unique in their excellence, but has an uncommon literary value in the preface, in the historical notice of the Goose family of Boston which gave its name to the famous rhymes, and in the curious notes at the end of the collection. These will interest every admirer of poems which have an occasional Homeric obscurity, and something more than Homeric uncertainty of origin; for Mother Goose did not invent them, but merely lent her name to the first American edition.

Ike Partington 11 was a youngster who sported mischievously about an American Mrs. Malaprop as long ago, we think, as the days of the Carpet Bag, if the Carpet Bag can be said to have had its day. We have had a surfeit of humor since then, and perhaps the old fun is better for being remembered rather than reproduced, so we read this little book with a kindly sense of being amused, and wonder if there is quite as much need as there once was of entering a protest against the conventional boy of the story books. This boy is offered to us as the real article, and we recognize his features, but we are not quite sure that the real boy is always playing little pranks, any more than that he was always asking Jonas questions. Besides, the lively boy has not been hidden under a bushel in juvenile literature of late; his light has shone through a pumpkin, as it were, and so the youthful Ike Partington is less of a missionary of fun than he might once have been. This account of our old acquaintance’s mischief is in addition to what we have known before and we find it easy reading and easy forgetting. Mrs. Partington keeps up her familiar character, but we had forgotten that she made so many puns.

— Old friends under new names appear in Sophie May’s Little Pitchers,12 who belong to the children made familiar to us ever since the Little Prudy stories created their sensation in the child-world. We say very properly that those are all stories about children for parents to read and laugh over, and if we were reading them aloud to children we certainly should skip some of the new readings in theology which these audacious little divines are fond of proposing. We do not think, either, that children or grown people find the ungrammatical nonsense in print so very charming; but for all that these little Yankee children and their Western kinsfolk are a sunny, happy-golucky set, and we cannot frown on their delinquencies very seriously. The stories are simple and often amusing, and the few lessons which are taught are. healthy and natural. Children like the books, and we do not wonder, although in theory they are all wrong. It is a good while since we have read anything from this good-natured writer, so perhaps we recognize more directly an improvement in this book as regards the divinity and the grammar. If now she will exclude all reports of the sacred, though it may he amusingly expressed, thoughts which her children may have of God, and let them speak naturally without making use of what has been called the childese dialect, we shall be even more heartily her debtors than we now are.

— The art which can be shown in a book for children is happily illustrated in Mr. Aldrich’s translation of Mère Michel13 The story is well known and loses nothing in the translator’s hands, who preserves the touch of mock seriousness so exquisitely right in this little feline melodrama. It is real enough, no doubt, to children, though they may have now and then a lurking suspicion that they are made fun of, and they will get their enjoyment out of it in one way now, in another way when they come to read it to their children. They will be fortunate if they find this version still to be had. The illustrations are capital, many of them, such as “ The cat wishes to go with the carriage ” on page 27, and the various representations of Lustucru, being real aids to the reader’s imagination.

— For quite young children there are few books so good as good melodies, and when the children themselves go into partnership with their singing-books a very healthful pleasure is found. The Young Folks' Opera14 is not quite so ambitions as its name would intimate. It is a book of original songs and music, with choruses for children, and occasionally a little action, as in the Clock Song, when the children swing their arms in imitation of a pendulum, in the Butterfly Song, when both hands are moved about with the fingers fluttering, in Fife and Drum, when those instruments are imitated, and in the Blacksmith’s Shop, when the blows of the hammer are given. The subjects are nearly all simple and taken from a child’s experience, the words are generally intelligible, the music is easy, if commonplace and the action quite as interpretative as in most operas. The idea is not new; even the kindergarten songs of the same sort were not the first discoveries, for the farmer sowed his corn before Froehel s day, we think:; but the idea does not need to be new, it only needs to be prettily developed. This little book is good enough in its way to make us wish for a better. Until the better one comes along this may well be used in the school room or the nursery when the family is old-fashioned enough to be large.

— In a profusely illustrated volume of four hundred pages, Mr. Coffin, who has written heartily before in the interest of boys, tells now The Story of Liberty 15 in a series of historic pictures, beginning with the wresting of Magna Charta from King John and closing with the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. That he should have made this the last instead of the first picture in a diorama of liberty will at once commend the book to those who are not to be taken in by the Know Nothing intellectual platform, of which a chief plank is that America is the birth-place of freedom. The great landmarks of human progress since the time of King John are pointed out, and one whizzes past the monuments of historic conflicts with a rattling speed which makes it a little difficult to realize the amount of historic space actually traveled. The selection of salient points in history, to be passed thus in review, has the advantage that it makes the dramatic more dramatic and thus more rememherable ; it has the disadvantage that one is in danger of thinking progress to consist in a series of frantic jumps from one coigne of vantage to another, and the author himself is liable to be kept in a feverish mood all the time. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Coffin, who starts off in such haste that he forgets to mention any date but the day of the month for several pages, should seem to the reader at last to be riding his horse very hard. The book is in the present tense throughout, and our rhetorics all tell us that this lends animation to a narrative, but somehow this persistent fiction leaves us a little jaded at last, and the high key in which the narrative is pitched leads us to ask whether history after all is always shouting the battle-cry of freedom. But we cannot find it in our hearts to carp at Mr. Coffin’s book for more than a few minutes. We have all been crying so loudly for history and fact in the place of the sensational crime and twaddle offered to boys, that when our history comes and we find it a little like Madame Tussaud’s wax-works, chamber of horrors and all, it is hardly fair to shrug our shoulders and turn away from the show. So we acknowledge gratefully that the book with its spectacle of pictures and its general resolution of history into a peepshow, is a book to buy and give boys. They have stout digestions and will not turn away from reading which might have little attraction for members of a historical society; they will certainly find in Mr. Coffin a writer of generous enthusiasm and a flourishing pen.

— The Rev. Elijah Kellogg takes a smaller canvas than Mr. Coffin and gives his glimpse of history for boys in the form of a tale,16 the scene of which is laid in what used to be called the back country of America. Let no one be prejudiced by the smack of cheap Indian in the title. We have our own private theory on till titles divided in the middle by or, but it has not prevented us from doing our duty in beginning this little book and taking our pleasure in reading It. It is one of a series, and the frontispiece discloses an Indian in swimmingdrawers apparently on the point of tomahawking a boy who seems to be bathing in a pond, and wards off the blow with his naked arm. We guess, and guess wrongly, that the Indian is the young brave of the Delawares, and that the hatchet is to be buried in the youth’s skull. But all this conventionalism of the sensational, including the title itself, is only a mild concession to a supposed blood-thirstiness in the public-schoolboy ; the book itself is an honest and every way admirable picture of life on the Pennsylvania frontier after Braddock’s defeat and before the fall of Quebec. It is not necessary to have read the previous volumes of the series to enjoy thoroughly this one; and we heartily commend it as true not only to the outside facts of history, which have been evidently studied with painstaking regard for accuracy, but also to human nature. There is religion in it, but no cant, and the religion could not have been left out, without marring the historic truth of the picture. There is besides in the book a solid sense of what constitutes the elements of strong character, and a boy will find here not only plenty of adventure but the constant suggestion of a sturdy manliness. We hope the Forest Glen Series will stretch out to the crack of doom if it can always hold such excellent books.

— It is not a little singular that agriculture, which is surely a time-honored occupation of mankind, should be one in regard to which there is so little exact knowledge. The number of questions still in doubt is simply enormous ; opinions vary concerning the best fertilizers to use, the best way of applying them, the best crops to raise, etc.; it is only necessary to read any one of the Massachusetts Agricultural Reports to see how much in the dark the scientific farmer still is. There is no lack of experiments; every farmer is forever trying to solve the questions that occur to him, but the uncertainty remains, although there are signs of light within the last few years.

Books on agriculture are often unsatisfactory. At times, the information given is buried beneath a load of more or less dramatic conversation, perhaps delightful to the farmer whose reading consists of but little more than the almanac, but wearisome to almost any one else. Mr. Allen’s book 17 has not this fault; it is a very clear and precise account of the way in which he succeeded in bee-raising. His methods need not be told here. Those who can try the experiment will find in this book all the needed information intelligently given, and they will have but to follow his advice, with as close an imitation of his energy and constant care as may be possible. Intelligence and persistence are, and always will be, the farmer’s main aid. Without them all books are useless, and with them an enormous deal may be done on even the most exhausted farms in New England.


Mr. Hillebrand is an intelligent writer, as we have had frequent occasion to say, and the reader is kept always interested, as well by the great variety of subjects that he is competent to treat as by His manner of treating them. He writes well in German, French, and English; he has a special knowledge of Italian subjects; and there is nothing he undertakes to discuss on which he does not throw some light. That he throws all the light that is desirable cannot be affirmed; there is about his judgments at times a certain narrowness and harshness — not in the way of being too sensitive to faults, but of not always accurately distinguishing between what is good and what not so good—that disappoint the reader. But, on the whole, Ids volumes are entertaining, for Mr. Hillebrand is a practiced writer; and they are instructive, for he is a thorough student.

The volume18 before us to-day contains an interesting series of essays on Doudan’s and Balzac’s letters, on Daniel Stern’s Memoirs, and on Buloz and Thiers. These are followed by two chapters on Renan as a philosopher, and Taine as a historian. There are some essays on Italian subjects ; the whole concluding with four papers on Machiavelli, Rabelais, Tasso, and Milton, At the beginning, Mr. Hillebrand discusses with considerable warmth an essayist’s right to publish in a single volume scattered essays that have appeared in various periodicals. That there should be any question about this seems strange, and certainly this form of reaching the public is too common in France and England to be objected to at the present day. Its advantages are obvious; but few periodicals are read by every one, and essays published in those few are sometimes too good to be left in clumsy volumes against the day when the reader shall have both time and inclination to hunt them up, and especially to do that in public libraries, for lack of house-room prevents most people from binding all their old magazines. In Germany, too, volumes of collected essays are tolerably frequent. Julian Schmidt publishes them often, and so do, one would think, enough other German writers to make the fashion widely recognized. As a general thing, probably, it is the lack of smoothness and unity of the essays that is the most serious objection to their republication. There is no difficulty of the kind here, however, as we have already said, and the essays are worthy of preservation, especially since it is in part a foreign public that will read them.

That on Doudan does him more justice than he has got from many of his reviewers. There is no objection made to his humor or to his criticism, — both of these have been attacked in print more frequently, one is safe in saying, than by private readers,— and he is discreetly appreciated. The article is a very slight one, however, giving the merest glimpse of what is to be found in Doudan’s letters. Here, as elsewhere, we notice one of the objections to this method of writing, — the brevity of the essay. This is also, in a way, a virtue, but it has its bad side, when, without any warning, the reader comes suddenly upon the end of an article when he imagines himself not much more than half-way through. This air of being bitten off is doubtless given by the editor’s relentless shears, and so was unavoidable ; but it is without grace. The paper on Balzac suffers from it to a much greater extent. Mr. Hillebrand had undertaken, with the recently published correspondence for a text, to put together a brief life of the great novelist, from the information he had derived from a great number of separate sources. This was an excellent plan, and it is well carried out, so that the reader has put before him a very full and accurate image of Balzac’s elusive personality. The letters are shown to be important, whereas many reviewers had blamed them for not telling more about their writer’s method of composition (as if an author could ever explain the way he was possessed by his genius!), and all the dignity and simplicity of Balzac’s character receive the acknowledgment which is their due. It is impossible, however, to agree with the reviewer’s praise of the would-be humor of Balzac’s early letters. It has an artificial, willful sound, as of horse-play, which his sister, if she had been a wiser woman, would have taken pains to correct. Balzac was a great man, but facetiousness was not his strong point, and nowhere is this plainer than in his letters.

Renan comes in for the warmest commendation as the “ representative of the best part of his whole generation,” — a statement which, it will be observed, is throwing down the glove to pretty nearly his whole generation, for they would never give their votes to this representative. Of course this opinion may not be final, and Mr. Ilillebrand may be right, after all, in calling Renan, “ in the most distinctive sense, the man of his time,” whose “ works give the truest and most beautiful expression to the feelings of the time.” The numerical majority does not always give expression to the feelings of an age ; these are to be found rather in the mouths of some few leaders, who utter what will be the commonplaces of the succeeding multitude; but it will be a curious thing if Renan’s strong, self-conscious devotion to an aristocracy ever becomes a popular principle. Until this shall happen he must remain a reactionary, struggling against the theories and practice of his time, unable and unwilling to approve of the course of events. He may be right, but it is not easy, under these circumstances, to call him a representative of the time; if he is one, he is very independent of his constituents. However, this is not a matter which can be settled off-hand in this way, and it is mentioned here mainly as an example of the sort of unconventional statement that continually calls upon the reader to pause and consider just how far he agrees with the writer.

Another instance is the article on Rabelais, in which Mr. Hillebrand gives his reasons for not liking that famous man. He brings up his obvious faults, and fails to see enough to redeem them in short, when we have said that he does not like Rabelais: we have said all that there is to be said, and what many will agree with. The volume is full of intelligent remarks on a great variety of subjects which are of general interest, and it is well written.

— Pêle-Mêle19 is the title of a little book of poems, written by a French Canadian, and published in Montreal. The author, M. Louis Fréchette, a native of Canada, has collected a number of poems of very different kinds and of varying degrees of merit, written some as long ago as 1859 and I860, and others only last year. The phrase “of varying degrees of merit ” has no invidious meaning, for all the difference, or rather the main difference, between the poems is in the importance of the subject. Some were written merely as trifles to grace unimportant matters of temporary interest; but these are all neatly done, with a touch of the poetical feeling that distinctly marks the more serious verses. Certain of the latter are not perfectly clear; but we gather from them that the author quitted Canada for political reasons, and that he took refuge in Chicago. Without pretending to solve this matter, it will be enough to say that the result has been the writing of some poetry far above the general run of the article in that famous city, which has not yet rivaled Weimar as a home of literature, The little poem Reminiscor, for instance, which is one of the most charming of the collection, has Chicago for its birthplace. It treats of a subject not wholly unfamiliar to those who know French literature, — a poet’s reminiscence of the time when he was a student; but it would be hard to find' a more charming, a more truly poetical treatment of the subject than this which M. Fréchette dedicates to a friend of his : —

“ All! je l‘aime encor ce temps de bohême,
Où chacun de nous par jour ébauchait
un roman boiteux, un chdtif poëme,
Où presque toujours le bon sens louchait.
“ Oui, je l'aimc encor ce temps de folie
Où le vieux Cujas, vaincu par Musset,
S en allait cacher sa mélancolie
Dans 1'ombre où d'ennui Pothier moisissait.
“J’aime le passé, qu’il chante ou soupire,
Avec ses lepons quïl faut vénérer,
Avec ses chagrins qui m'ont fait sourire,
Avec ses bonheurs qui m'ont fait pleurer ! ”

The veritable Quartier Latin has not often been more gracefully sung.

“ Te souvient-il bien de nos promenades,
Quand, flaneurs oisifs, le&cheveux au vent,
Nous al I ions ruder sur les esplanades,
Ou Ton nous lanjait maint coup-d’oeil savant ?
“ Tout était pour nous sujet d'amusettes :
Sans le sou parfois, mais toujours coutents,
Nous suivions aussi le pas des fillettes . . .
Nous vendions des points à Roger Bontemps.”

The poet who writes so neatly about these light subjects can also strike a more solemn note, as in the following beginning of a poem entitled Le ler Janvier: —

‘ Vents qui Secouez les branches pendantes
Des saptns neigeux au front blanchissant ;
Qui mêlez vos voix aux notes atridentes
Du givre qui grince aux pieds du passant;
“ Nocturnes clameurs qui moutez des vagues,
Quand l'onde glacée entre en ses fureurs ;
Bruits sourds et coupes, rumeurs, plaintes vagues,
Qui troublez du soir les saintes horreurs ;
“Craquements du froid, murmures des ombres,
Frissons des forets que l’hiver étreint,
Taisez-vous !. Du haut des Tastes tours
La cloche a jetd ses sanglots d'alrain ”... etc.

Such pieces as Renouveau, La Louisianaise, A Anna-Marie, Vielle Histoire,Les_ Oiseaux Blancs, and Au Bord du Lac show* another sort of facility which too often, although not here, becomes affectation. The sonnets, too, are very graceful. In short, the manliness and simplicity of the poems are very attractive, and although in his gleaning the poet has brought together some slight pieces, there are many more of real poetical worth. It is a volume which is a real addition to literature of the lighter sort.

—We have also a book of prose by another Canadian, M. Napoléon Legendre, entitled Echos de Québec.20 It consists, apparently, of a number of chroniques from some French paper of that city, and naturally the number of subjects taken up for discussion is large and varied. The brief space allowed the writer has too often forbidden the full discussion of the subjects be has chosen, but at other times he manages to crowd into a very small compass considerable information. The article on Canadian literature, for instance, throws a good deal of light on what, judging from the books before us, is less well known than it deserves, and we cannot close without expressing our best wishes and hopes for its future. Certainly it is much to the credit of the French Canadians that they nourish so genuine a love of letters as these books testify to, and that they give such meritorious proof of their interest in literature.

  1. Prince Deukalion: A Lyrical Drama. By BAYARD TAYLOR. Boston : Houghton, Osgood & Co. ; Cambridge : The Riverside Press. 1878
  2. Rock of Ages. By AUGUSTUS MONTAGUE TOPLADY. With, designs by MISS L. B. LLUMPHREY Engraved by JOHN ANDREW and SON. Boston: Lee and Shepherd. 1879.
  3. The School-Boy. By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. With Illustrations Boston : IIoughton, Osgood & Co 1S7D
  4. Thanotopsis. By WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT. New York : G. P. Putnam’s Sons. 1878.
  5. L'Art Hebdomadaire Illustrée. Quatrième Année : Tome III.; Tome XIV. de la Collection. Paris ; A Ballue. New York: J. W. Bouton. 1878
  6. A. Racinet. Le Costume Historique. Cinq Cents Planches: 300 en Couleurs, Or, et Argent; 200 en Camaieu. Avec des Notices explicatives et une Étude hietorique. Paris: Li bra ire de FirminDidet et Cie. Now York : J. W.Bouton.
  7. The College Book. Edited by CHARLES F. RICHARDSON and HENRY A. CLARKE. Boston ; Houghton Osgood & Co. 1873.
  8. American Colleges: Their Students and their Work. By CHARLES F. THWING. New York : G.P Putnam’s Sons. 1878.
  9. The Bodleys on Wheels. With Illustrations, Boston: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 1879.
  10. Mother Goose’s Melodies; or, Songs for the Nursery. With Illustrations in Color. By ALFRED KAPPES. Boston : Houghton, Osgood & Co 1879.
  11. Ike Partington,; or, the Adventures of a Human Boy and his Friends. By B. P, SHILLABER, author of Partingtonian Patchwork, Lines in Pleasant Places, etc. Boston : Lee and Shepard. 1879.
  12. Little Pilchers. By SOPHIE MAY, author of Little Prudy Stories, etc. Boston: Lee and Shepard. 1879
  13. The Story of a Cat Translated from the French of EMILE DE LA BEDOLLIERRE by T. B. ALDRICH With, numerous [sic] designs in silhouette by HOPKINS. Boston: Houghton, Osgood and Company 1879.
  14. The Young Folks' Opera: or, Child Life in Song. By ELIZABETH P. GOODRICH Boston • Lee and Shepard. 1879.
  15. The Story of Liberty, By CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN, author of The Boys of '76. Illustrated. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1879.
  16. The Forest Glen Series, Burying the Hatchet ; or, the Young Brave of the Delawares. By ELIJAH KELLOGG. Illustrated, Boston : Lee and Shepard 1879
  17. The Blessed Bees. By JOHN ALLEN New York : G P. Putnam’s Sons. 1878.
  18. Zeiten, Völker, Menschen. Von KARL, HILLEBRAND. 4ter Band. Profile. Berlin: Oppenlieim 1878
  19. Pêle-Mêle: Fantnisies et Souvenirs Fantaisies Par Louis H. FRECHETTE. Montreal: Lovell. 1877.
  20. Echos de Québec. Par NAPOLEON LEGENDRE Québec : Coté et Cie. 1877. Two vols