Recent Literature

THE READERS of The Atlantic already know the quality of Mrs. Kemble’s agreeable book1 —and its quantity, too, for the greater part—from the Old Woman’s Gossip, printed in these pages; perhaps a fourth of the volume is new. The additional portion is not new in manner or method ; there is the same vigorous nonchalance and desultory frankness, the same redundancy and want of arrangement, and the effect is as if the author cared nothing for her material, and little more for her reader. On the whole, we think this is a pity and a mistake, for here is the making of one of the best autobiographies in any language, and one who writes so brilliantly as Mrs. Kemble owes a debt to literature which she cannot repudiate. But this memoir, broken at hap-hazard by long and not wholly relevant letters, and these letters interrupted again by parenthetical after-recollections, form a huddled and confused procession, from which one struggles to extricate times and places, and which only the carefullest reading can reduce to order. The pages swarm with famous and fascinating names, but they are like faces that appear and reappear in the routs and crushes at which the author often met their owners, and the reader experiences all the exciting touchand go discomfort of that kind of encounter. The great London world of half a century ago lies here in fragments; it can be put together, but you must put it together for yourself.

The fault is characteristic, but it is not without frequent and delightful reliefs; it is more characteristic of the last than of the first half of the book, and throughout there are scattered bits of portraiture which, if not perfected as they might have been, are vivid and satisfactory sketches. Lady Caroline Lamb, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Mrs. Norton, and a hundred others are thus sketched, and the Kembles are all admirably done. We should hardly know where to turn for better reading than the first chapters of the memoir, which are devoted mainly to their family traits and affairs, with their theatrical beginnings and experiences, and the curious blending of the domestic and the histrionic in their lives. They were, as Mrs. Kemble justly says, respectable people, and confirmed in their morality by their British desire to be respectable:; yet the fact that they were originally something very like strolling players is not blinked. Coming of this race, as Mrs. Kemble does, it is all the more impressive to find her so explicit as she is in condemnation of the actor’s profession : she thinks the portrayal of factitious emotion beneath a man, and the personal exhibition odious for a woman. This is almost the moral of the book. She tells us that she went upon the stage without inspiration or aspiration and that from time to time throughout her triumphant career her dream was to escape from it into some simplest sort of retirement.

But Mrs. Kemble’s interest as a person not her interest as an actress, is supreme in the book ; and the reader will not weary of the revelation of her character. The outlines of her history have long been known ; it is not necessary to retrace them, and here we have to do merely with her girlhood, for she was but twenty-five when she married in 1834. It is a character with which one grows into respectful friendship Its strength, often lapsing, indeed, into mere vehemence, is founded upon a feeling of right expressed with never-failing clearness. The good sense of her ideas of life and duty is what is so satisfactory. The girlish letters, running over with the flippancy of girlhood, and exuberantly confidential upon a thousand points, never betray any evidence of wrong thinking, and in their seriousness they are beautifully and transparently right-minded. We need not say that the maturer comment with which they are interspersed is the seal of experience upon their right-mindedness; and this edifying book, by one who would never have thought of preaching, is imbued with a religiousness as wholesome and as vigorous as its likes and dislikes.

The last fifty or sixty pages of the vol ume relate to her sojourn in America, from 1832 till the time of her marriage. They are chiefly in letters, of which the tone to ward our provincial insufficiency of that time is amiable enough. The best things in them are two anecdotes of Washington Irving. She showed him with girlish joy a pretty new watch she had just got, and after turning it over in his hand, as if it were a child’s toy watch, he put it to his ear, anil exclaimed, “ Why, it goes, does n’t it!” Later, hearing that she was to marry and live in America, he told her she might he very happy if she would understand once for all that America was not England, and would not be like the painter Leslie’s wife, whose ceaseless complaints and comparisons made her such a nuisance that Irving always called her a creaking door.

There is something about our political affairs of fifty years, and a few lines here and there about our social life, but on the whole there is very little concerning all that so keen an observer must have seen. One turns back with a certain disappointment from thiis part of the book to the richer pages of the earlier chapters; but these our readers already know very well.

The incoherence of the work is in part remedied by a good index, a glance at which reveals the vast variety and abundance of its materials. There have been few famous men or women of her time whom Mrs. Kemble has not met, and of whom she has not preserved some significant recollection; and most of the great movements in the political and literary world find some sort of record here. Whatever she has to say of books she has read, or questions on which she has thought, is worth reading, and the whole spirit of her autobiography is admirable. If any one will feel how admirable it is, let him contrast its traits with the unsparing judgments, the narrow views, the warped pride, the imbittered philanthropy, and the aggressive unbelief which disfigure the autobiography of Harriet Martineau.

— One of the most singular and probably one of the most baffling things about Bismarck is his habit of taking the whole world into his confidence. Diplomacy having reached such a condition that it was only necessary for a statesman to say anything for the contrary to be believed, this astute man tells the truth, and gets, with an unstained conscience, all the advantages of the blackest falsehoods. He is like the shop-keeper who, no longer finding safety in barred shutters, heavy bolts, and complicated locks, pulls up his curtains, lights his gas, turns the key in the door, and walks off with a calm heart. This is not all that Bismarck decs; he gives the world a good deal of autobiography, not only through authorized interviewers whom, we are sorry to see, he afterwards disowns, but also by such a book as this,2 which could never have been published without his permission ; more than that, one may say, without his suggestion. Even now he is having published bits of his table-talk about all sorts of recent and contemporaneous subjects.

What is his object in this it is not easy to see. He certainly cannot be anxious to keep himself more prominently before the public than he is already, from his position. It would seem as if he felt a contemptuous indifference to the rest of the world, and had merely a cold curiosity, it vague desire, to be amused by what might be said about him.

The light thrown upon Bismarck’s character is certainly of a pleasant kind. He is the most un-German of Germans, being, what few of his fellow-countrymen are, a man of the world. But if we were to begin to define him, we should outrun all limits; the reader cannot do better than take up this remarkably entertaining volume. Copious extracts might he made, but the best thing to do is to look up the book. It is seldom one has a chance to rend such amusing letters, and then, too, they are very new.

—Mr. Hamerton is in no way a brilliant writer; he has no flashes of genius, but his pages are always lit by a steady, almost unflickering glow which gives satisfaction, at any rate, to the reader. In this volume3 we see both his good qualities and his faults fairly exposed. He has written the lives of five distinguished Frenchmen, making very good abstracts of the generally copious material that he had at hand, and bringing in hits of information that he has discovered by his own industry. He has certainly chosen his subjects well. Victor Jacquempnt, the traveler and scientific man; Rude, the sculptor; Regnault, the artist; Perreque, the priest; and Jean Jacques Ampère, the man of letters, certainly covered a good deal of ground, and may stand as excellent representatives of what is best in modern French thought and action.

Mr. Hamerton in his various essays is accurate rather than original; he tells us what the various men did rather than what they were, and in many of his comments it is easy to see that he is bound by rather hard and fast lines, as when he says that Perreque, if he had been born in England, “ would probably have found full contentment in Anglicanism; for such natures as his usually become warmly attached to the religious system they find ready to hand.” This last statement is probably accurate. Perreque certainly showed no desire to step outside of the religion he was born in, but yet how idle the remark is except as a sop to Hamerton’s Protestant readers! Perreque was so distinctly a Catholic, and a modern French Catholic, that one can imagine him a Buddhist priest quite as soon as a member of the Church of England, and it is hard to see how he could have been kept from joining a church which seems made to attract just such spirits as his. Again, in other narratives we come across little sandy places which might well have been cut out, as when, in the chapter on Victor Jacquemont, we are twice reminded of the difference between the time in which he lived and the present, “ with fast mail steamers and the Suez canal.” Alexis de Jussieu could run faster than five galloping mules. “ Who would not rather possess that young man’s physical powers than the handsomest equipage in Paris ? ”

— The English writers who have given any special attention to French literature are but few in number, and Mr. Morley has had almost a clear field in his design of writing about the three greatest predecessors of the French Revolution.

Any one who writes about Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot4 has a very serious task on his hands, and it is well that this work has been left to a man of Mr. Morley’s ability. He has ample knowledge, good judgment, and considerable tact. What he lacks is warmth. There is a certain chilly precision in these studies, as a result of which the reader would be slow to gather from this writer’s pages any precise notion of Voltaire’s diablerie, and of Rousseau’s glowing fire. In striving to be judicial Mr. Morley seems at times indifferent, and almost dull of perception. There are so many pages of Voltaire that imprint upon the reader ineffaceable impressions of his unceasing intellectual intensity that Mr. Morley’s cool examination seems in some ways, and in some important ways, almost unsatisfactory. Instead of building up a figure before us, he dissects the man and takes him to pieces, and while in this way we detect much that would have escaped observation with a different treatment, we do not form a complete notion of that bundle of qualities which after all formed a unit, a man, and a very remarkable man. The same thing is true of the Rousseau. We learn what went to the making of that great writer, rather than just what sort of a man he was.

This, however, cannot be said of this volume on Diderot. He was a man who was much more remarkable for the great variety of his interests and his performances than for any one or two master qualities, and Mr. Morley’s discursive treatment is the best that he could receive. It is not enough to say that this is an entertaining book; it is a wise one. The writer gives, besides sufficient biographical details, a running comment on Diderot’s work, and satisfactorily thorough accounts of the writings of some of his contemporaries. What we see is the turmoil of intellectual life before the Revolution. Mr. Morley is fair to Diderot’s share in this general excitement. We get a clear notion of his mental activity, and of that intellectual enthusiasm which did not find its best expression in literary work. For much as Diderot wrote, he was not, at least to the same extent as many others, a literary man. Where he found the readiest expression was, like Dr. Johnson, in talking, and it is in those passages that are most like talking that he is seen at his best.

— Mr. Calvert’s little volume5 is neither a complete biography of Wordsworth nor a thorough study of his poems, but it con tains a certain number of facts, and sufficiently full quotations to give the reader some knowledge of the great poet whose cause Mr. Calvert pleads against the general indifference of a public that can swallow Morris by the cart-load, but objects to Wordsworth’s luck of brevity. The aim of this book is excellent; it contains a sincere tribute of admiration, although this is at times dimmed by the author’s style, and it is always interesting to see how fervent and genuine is the feeling of Wordsworth’s admirers for their master. The book is much more an expression of this enthusiasm than a thorough study, and it is only in that light that it is to be viewed. No one can read it without renewed admiration for the poet, and a feeling of gratitude to Mr. Calvert for his words of praise. The introductory sonnet is excellent.

— There is a great charm in this volume of the recollections of Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke.6 First and last they saw a great number of the most interesting literary people of England, and the record they have made is most agreeable as well as complete. It will be remembered that it was Mr. Clarke who first lent Spenser’s Faerie Queene to Keats and first brought Chapman’s Homer to his notice, and if he had done nothing else he would thus have won the gratitude of all lovers of poetry ; but to have from his pen in these late days all that he can recall of Keats is indeed a pleasure. Keats’s short life has already been fully told by his biographer, but there are slight threads here and bits of personal observation which every one will be glad to read, as, for instance, when Keats said, concerning his indifference to the study of medicine, “ The other day, . . . during the lecture, there came a sunbeam into the room, and with it a whole troop of creatures floating in the ray ; and I was off with them to Oberon and fairy-land.” Or when Keats said of the passage,—

The boisterous midnight festive clarion,
The kettle-drum and far-heard clarionet,
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:
The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is

“ That line came into my head when I remembered how I used to listen in bed to your music at school.” Of value, too, are the accounts of Keats’s witnessing a bearbaiting and a prize-fight.

Charles and Mary Lamb both have new light thrown on them by these genial writers. There are a few letters of Lamb’s to them, a Serenata composed by him in honor of their marriage, and there are, besides, many new jokes of his recounted which bring him up clearly before the reader, and Mary Lamb is even more definitely described. It is Leigh Hunt,however, who gets the fullest account in this interesting volume. A number of letters and notes of his are given, of all kinds, serious and merry, while at all times graceful — that is the epithet the reader is surest to apply—and entertaining. Possibly those who do not set Leigh Hunt very high in the list of poets may read his letters with less interest than would others, but it is easy to see how his friends and those who felt his charm may have been delighted with his agreeable light touch.

The chapter on Dickens describes at considerable length the tour of the amateur actors, among whom was Mrs. Clarke, and of the way Dickens kept every one entertained. It sometimes seems, in reading the account of Dickens’s facetiousness, as if his friends shared with those of Mr. Peter Magnus the quality of being easily amused, if we may judge from the stories told of the celebrated novelist in private life by those who have been entertained by what in others would be called horse-play. But then, on the other hand, it is to be remembered that there is nothing harder to describe than any one’s way of being amusing. Honesty, good temper, punctuality, generosity, etc., can all be understood and admired by the sympathetic reader, but that quality, or combination of qualities, which makes a man amusing it is not easy for the narrator to present in a life-like and attractive way. About Douglas Jerrold, however, there is no such obscurity. Many of his jests have always seemed, for their brutality at least, on a par with removing the chair from beneath a man who is intending to sit down, but here some explanation is given of his humor, and its ferocity is considerably mitigated. We see that often his apparently savage remarks were but permissible thrusts of the foils of the fencing-room with the buttons on the end, not attempts at manslaughter. His manner, we are told, satisfactorily explained his apparent severity, and took off the deadliness from its sting.

The Clarkes were not merely the acquaintances of the people they write about, and the same thing that gave them the position of friends of so many distinguished men has enabled them to write a book of the excellence of this one. It is frank without being puerile, and full without being tedious.

— The lack of a history, in our own language, of the German literature is something that Mr. Hosmer7 has doubtless long felt, and he deserves the gratitude of many fellow-workers for his attempt to fill the void. He brings to the proper treatment of his subject experience, study, and considerable enthusiasm.

The method he has adopted is not that which so many Germans have made familiar in writing about the literature of their country. He has chosen a few representative names and has devoted much space to them, and he has, moreover, devoted something like two fifths of the book to an account of German literature before Lessing, which we cannot help regarding as a mistake ; for most readers who are not special students and willing to go to the fountain-head care incomparably more for only the later period which began with Lessing. Then, too, many who will be anxious to know what is to be known about Auerbach, Freytag, Reuter, Grillparzer, Rückert, Platen, Spielhagen, Voss, Eichendorff, Hoffmann, the Humboldts, Paul Heyse, etc., will be disappointed when they find sometimes hardly more than the name, and often not even that, in this history.

If we look, on the other hand, at what the book is rather than at what it is not, we shall find the separate chapters on the differont prominent men interesting. There are tolerably complete biographic details, and there is plenty of discreet criticism of the various writers, and sufficiently full account of their leading works. That the book is a reprint of a course of lectures is perhaps too frequently evident. There are in almost every lecture declamatory effusions on the scenery of this place or that, of Unter den Linden in Berlin, of the Rhine, of Frankfort, of Wagner’s Opera at Munich, and so on, which seem out of place in a book of this kind, as does the chapter describing a series of morning calls on different eminent Germans. The whole book has a rhetorical rather than a historical turn, which presents a marked contrast to the thorough-going, graceless German method which Mr. Hosmer denounces in his preface. There are occasional errors which half an hour’s revision can repair. But it is a pity that the writer did not close his book before he put down on paper the last sentence. It runs as follows : “ If the single name of Shakespeare be excepted, whose supremacy the Germans are as willing to accord as we are to claim it. there is no English name which cannot be matched from the great literature which has been the subject of our study.” This is a very bold statement, and one cannot help wondering who, in Mr. Hosmer’s estimation, are the German equivalents of Chaucer, Spenser, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, Marlowe, Bacon, Milton (we will remember that Coleridge called Klopstock a very German Milton), Dryden, Bunyan, Addison, Steele, Pope, Fielding, Richardson, Johnson, Sterne, Goldsmith, Gibbon, Wordsworth, Scott, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Thackeray, Dickens, and George Eliot? This is saying nothing against the few really great German writers, but it is unfair to them to put them in the balance against the magnificent abundance of English literature.

—In the early days of The Atlantic the head of John Winthrop used to look at the reader from the cover, and symbolized in a fashion the loyalty of the magazine to those New England ideas which found their earliest and finest expression in the historic governor; but the picture gave place to the flag, and that symbol intimated the national character which the magazine aimed to exhibit. None the less do we recognize the significant fact that the names of the early founders of New England are to-day not simply the shadows of past heroism, but signs of the worthy succession of the Puritan principles. Mr. R. C. Winthrop, in his recent collection,8 notes the fact that at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Endicott’s arrival at Naumkeag, Conant and Cradock and Endicott and Higginson and Dudley and Saltonstall were all represented by lineal descendants, and since he said this at Salem we may add the name of Winthrop. The volume before us, like the two which preceded it, bears witness to this intellectual and moral descent which makes the physical descent worth nothing. Like his great ancestor, Mr. Winthrop has served the state all his life, and this service has been continued during the past ten years in ways which have not always made him conspicuous, but have always been in directions of distinct public service. He has presided over the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Peabody Education Fund, the Boston Provident Association, the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology, the General Theological Library, and has been associated with other institutions and societies, and to all these various interests has given time and thought; he has been a conspicuous citizen upon occasions of historic interest, at the funeral of George Peabody, at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Landing of the Pilgrims, at the centennial celebration of the Boston Tea-Party, at the Boston celebration of July 4, 1876, at the unveiling of the statue of Daniel Webster, — at all which times he has been the orator of the day or the first citizen.

Mr. Winthrop hesitates in his preface to connect this volume directly with preceding ones which contained the evidence of his public service, but we doubt if people will question the expediency of giving the name of public servant to one who has withdrawn indeed from the political arena, but nevertheless holds himself in readiness to give his best work to objects of public good. This volume has a more distinct literary flavor than the preceding, and will be of interest to the general reader for its sketches of men of note whom Mr. Winthrop has been called upon to characterize from the chair of the Historical Society. These brief portraitures are always generous, animated, and finished. The few words said are in excellent taste, and the president almost always was able to draw from his own personal recollection anecdotes which were worth telling. One of the best examples of Mr. Winthrop’s careful and yet easy manner, the half-conversational disclosures of one gentleman to a company of gentlemen on a public occasion, is in his address at the opening of the Peabody Museum of American Archæology and Ethnology at Cambridge, in which he told with frankness and precision the story of its inception. The longer historical papers are all marked with evidences of a full mind and generous thought; they are not the less instructive for being strongly local and personal in their illustration, and the reader will constantly be pleased by the reference to historic coincidences, in which Mr. Winthrop is very happy. The Suavity of manner which marks all these addresses is not so common nowadays as to make us regret its presence here. We listen to the orator, and gently bow as he names one eminent man after another, always with some courteous epithet; we “assist" at the funeral services of historians and men of letters, and before we close the volume catch something of the well-bred air which is never disturbed by any unkind judgment or innuendo. Indeed, one cannot make this volume his own without having the feeling that he has not merely been reading history, but has been introduced to characters in history. One could not ask for a more courtly, yet familiar, introducer.

— There is no branch in which a readable and trustworthy text-book has more been needed than in mediæval church history. Milman’s Latin Christianity covers the ground, and so do, in a way, Sir James Stephen’s eloquent essays on Ecclesiastical Biography. Mr. Milman was a learned man, but he never could describe an event or a person without getting dreadfully excited, and he was quite unable to transport himself to the times with which his history dealt. Sir James Stephen’s book will long he read on account of its charm of treatment and beauty of style ; but it was written thirty years ago, and was hardly as accurate as it might have been, even then. The present volume,9 its author tells us was “composed as Lectures for girls of the upper and middle classes; and I have recognized here and there certain reticencies and restraints of statement which this assumption of the age and sex of my hearers imposed upon me.’’ Hence the book is not one for students, but it is on this account none the worse for the purposes of general reading. We find good accounts of monasticism, of the crusades, of the school-men, and excellent descriptions of the relations of Popes and emperors, and of their struggles with each other. The results of careful reading are visible on every page ; especially as regards the secular history, one sees that Mr. Freeman and Mr. Bryce have not toiled in vain to scatter the cloud of error which hung so long about mediæval history. The enormous influence possessed and used by the monastery of Cluny is duly dwelt upon; not passed over without mention as in Stephen’s Essays, nor with a mere line as in Milman’s History. And Dr. Trench is able to appreciate not merely Hildebrand and Innocent III., but also the Emperor Friedrich the Second, and his great predecessor Charles the Great. There are chapters on the German Mystics, Mediæval Sects, the Revival of Learning, Wiclif, Hus (we follow the author’s spelling), Mediaeval Christian art, etc., etc. Nothing is badly done, nearly all is well done, though the style in the above extract is rather better than it usually is. The archbishop’s English may always be correct, but it often is curious, his pages being sprinkled with such odd phrases as “ to the outrance ; ” “submitted of a purpose;” “ a weird was upon him;” “ paying the things which he never took,” etc. Nor does Dr. Trench invariably prefer the simplest language, for the reader occasionally meets a sentence which would have astonished even Johnson, as when, speaking of Hildebrand, he remarks that “ he was one in whom the serpentine craft left little or no place for the columbine simplicity.” The introductory chapter closes with the following excellent sentiment, rarely appreciated by church historians: “ Accept, then, I would say in conclusion, with all reverence the fact that the church militant, if in all ages a success, is also in all ages a failure. The success may be more evident in our age and in our land, the failure may be more marked in another; but tokens of this and of that will never be wanting. . . . For us who believe the church to be a divine foundation in the world, it must be a success, even as it shows itself to he such by many infallible proofs. For us who know that God’s grace is contained in earthen vessels it must be a failure no less, — an imperfect embodiment of a divine idea. Let us boldly face this side of the truth no less than the other.”

— Mr. Sergeant has chosen an interesting subject,10 and in pleading the cause of Greece he strikes a note that will call forth the sympathy of most readers. That little country has at many times of late won the attention of the outside world, and the aim of this volume is to show how well-deserved is our interest in it. Mr. Sergeant begins by a statistical account of the rapid material growth of Greece, with a full description of the present state of education, commerce, finance, etc., within its borders. This is followed by a history of the country during the present century.

That Mr. Sergeant gives the reader the impression of being wholly impartial cannot be affirmed. He makes free use of statistics, as we have said, but they are made merely to confirm his assertion that the Greeks are very nearly faultless. It cannot be denied that they are a remarkable people, and that they have made great advance of late in the face of serious disadvantages, but there is no good done by wholly ignoring their faults or weakness. What is more to the purpose is the author’s plain exposition of the selfishness and injustice of the policy of England towards this comparatively insignificant country. The Greeks were simply deluded by Lord Beaconsfield, whose promises of future aid held them back, in the late war, from taking by force of arms additional and highly desirable territory. When the war was over, and Greece demanded the performance of the promise, the prime minister of England put it off with a refusal, and the insulting compliment that the country had a future and could afford to wait. The noble earl apparently preferred to interest himself in behalf of a country that had no future.

— When Mr. David Gill went to Ascension Island, in June, 1877, for a stay of six months on that most desolate and isolated of volcanic rocks, he had the good fortune to be engaged in one of the most important scientific works of this decade, and to he aided by the most indefatigable of assistants, — his wife. The expedition was a purely scientific one, set on foot by Mr. Gill himself, and furthered by a generous grant of £500 from the Government Grant Fund administered by the Royal Society of London. Its object was to determine the distance of Mars from the earth, and indirectly the distance of the sun, by astronomical observations made on the spot and under the circumstances most favorable to success. The scientific history of the expedition will soon be published, and the few score of persons who care for its details will find them duly set forth in the memoirs of some scientific society.

But there was an intensely interesting personal side, which dealt with the struggles and anxieties of the astronomer and his party, with the obstacles to success, one by one overcome, and with the spirit in which these hindrances were met and conquered. This is the side which in ordinary circumstances would remain unpresented. Fortunately, there is preserved to us, through the intelligent notes of Mrs. Gill,11 an admirable account of this island itself, of the manners and habits of its inhabitants (some two hundred in number), and of its curious and unique government. Ascension Island is a British coaling station, and is governed like a man-of-war. In fact, it is a manof-war, since its population is down in the Naval Gazette as the “ crew of the Floratender,” For safe anchorage, the H. M. S.

Flora is at the Cape of Good Hope, but her tender, with its naval crew and its cargo of coal, swings to its anchor eight hundred miles from any land. The interesting nautical fiction goes even further, and a naval officer serving there has full sea-going pay, — a commentary on the arduous service.

This desolate island, which is almost entirely volcanic clinker, and on which there is scarcely an acre in all of vegetation, was the station best fitted for the astronomical observations of Mars which were desired. It was selected at once with the same spirit in the astronomer that we admire and honor in the soldier, and after great hardships the scientific success of the expedition was attained. To accomplish this the party had to live in tents, under a tropical sun, exposed in all ways, and with an allowance of one gallon of water per day per person. Every condition of civilized life was reversed. Green turtles were to be had for the asking, but the water to make the soup had to be carefully hoarded. Milk was unknown, and a cabbage (brought from St. Helena) was eagerly bought at auction for Is 6d. There being only six women on the island, the servants were marines and Krooraeit, and the supply of the commonest necessaries of life was fitful and uncertain. Life under these strange and novel conditions necessarily has strange and novel sides to eyes that can see them. It is one of the chief merits of Mrs, Gill’s book that all these sides are fully and unaffectedly brought out. She is a Scotch gentlewoman under novel surroundings, intelligently and modestly telling of them, No one can read her work without interest; rightly considered it has lessons of fine courage and immense fidelity to duty. It is with positive pleasure that one remembers, in laying down the book, that all this devotion did not go for nothing, but that the object of the expedition was finally attained, and in no small measure by her persistent and intelligent aid.

— We have Dr. Johnson’s authority for saying that no woman can write a good book on cookery, but we have the experience of many refutations of this rash statement. Women, he said, could spin, but they could not write good cook-books; now that spinning is a lost art, perhaps they have acquired the power of directing how food should be prepared. Certainly, there are many who have tried their hands at it. In the last century there was Mrs. Glass’s cookbook, which Dr. Johnson said was written by Dr. Hill, and it was poor enough to have been written by any hack writer; but in these more enlightened days it is curious to notice that it is almost entirely women who have acquired some reputation in the field of pure literature who have afterwards sought to set off domestic skill with literary charm. Our readers who have discarded pinafores will of course remember Miss Leslie’s contribution to the art of cooking, and she had won a good place as a writer of fiction. Miss Beecher has written about other, and we may say higher, things than the duties of the kitchen-maid, and now we have before us two volumes of hard fact by women who have earned a name in fiction. Marion Harland 12 and Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney have both written novels, and a good many novels, and it would have been hard to conjecture in either of these writers a fondness for the practical side of life, such as is displayed in these books. It would be a safe prophecy that the Shakespeare of cook-books will yet be written by George Eliot, though it seems more probable that this author will write the final book on chemistry. Meanwhile, we have no cause of dissatisfaction. Both of these books before us to-day are good. Marion Harland has taken the pains to give a bill of fare, with directions for preparing it, for every day of the year. More than this, she follows a large roasting-piece through its various appearances until the last scrap is eaten, and does not, like one, now deservedly forgotten, who preceded her in this business, order cold roast beef for breakfast when the hot roast has not been mentioned for two or three weeks. Her book is excellent, and although only a year’s trial can make the affirmation sacred, it seems, from study alone, good and trustworthy.

— Mrs. Whitney,13 too, has prepared a useful volume. To be sure, she boils her coffee, and devotes something like one fifth of her precious pages to cake, cookies, and such trash,and, what is worse (page 175), recommends that “ if beef has been roasted rare, and there is a considerable quantity left upon the bone, do not cut it off, but put it in the oven and heat through, basting with some of the gravy to keep it from drying,” — a recipe which must have been devised by vegetarians in council assembled; and there is no mention of curries or meat pies : yet, in spite of these sins of commission and omission, the book is on the whole deserving of praise. The recipes seem to be the fruit of wisdom and experience, but the great American cook-book seems as remote as the great American novel, and it will probably come from the same pen.

— General Howard has stopped chasing Indians to write a book for boys ; or, if we may judge from the style of the book, he has not stopped at all, but has written Donald’s School-Days 14 in the saddle or by the camp fire. Musicians point out the place where Haydn,—was it ? — was interrupted in his work, and it would be easy to guess that General Howard was called off from his writing at the end of every page or two. The story is of a boy in Maine, who is brought up on a farm, and, having aptitude for books, is sent successively to several schools, and finally to college. His schooldays is a term which fairly covers his college career, where he appears as an overgrown boy, and the book carries marks of being an unvarnished tale of just such life as could be discovered in Maine country towns thirty years ago. It has thus an odd kind of value to the reader, who will probably open his eyes at some of the revelations of country civilization, though it is perhaps not to be expected that boys will care a great deal about its antiquarian value. They will be more likely to be interested in the ingenuous tale of the hero’s love affairs, who abandons himself to catching girls in the most extraordinary fashion, or rather we should say to being caught by them. We doubt if the innocent amours of a Maine youth were ever related with so much naïveté. The pictures of college life and of fireside sports, among which “ Hul, gul, handful,” comes in for a sober description, are unreserved to a singular degree, and the people who move through these sketches of Donald’s early life are artlessly made known to the reader. The tough palate of a boy will not be offended by the somewhat strong flavor of some of the scenes, and certainly when vice or bad manners are presented a spade is called a spade. The book is a curiosity to older readers; so far as boys go, it has at least the merit of singular honesty, and of a slapdash movement which keeps everybody in the book doing something or saying something from first to last. Even when one of the many heroines dies, the boys and girls get together and pass resolutions, a performance in a story which robs death of some of its terrors,

— Among the more retiring books for young people which were not brandished in advertisements at the holiday season is a simple account of the life of some children in the country. Two stories make up the book,15 but both have their scenes laid on the banks of the Connecticut. Brother Ben gives the name to a story of a Southern family of four children joining their cousins in the North. The Bird Summer tells the slight adventures of a city family spending the summer in the country, and occupying themselves chiefly in studying the habits of the birds in the neighborhood. Some very simple and pleasing knowledge of birds is thus given in an unpretending, sensible way, and we commend it cheerfully to those who would interest their children in ornithological observation. Both stories are quiet in tone, healthful, refreshingly free from cant and slang, — the two black beasts of juvenile literature,— and with an honest love of country pleasures in them. No special knack at story-telling is shown, but one will be pretty sure to be interested in the children and their doings.

— This attractive book 16 contains two excellent heliotypes, one of Plato and one of Socrates, after engravings of the well-known busts in the Naples Museum. The translation comes to us with the high recommendation of Professor Goodwin, whose description of it as both readable and accurate is fully justified. Great progress has been made within the last thirty years toward a natural tone in translating from the ancient authors. This translator has certainly recognized that Plato “was not born of wood or of stone, but of man,” as Socrates says of himself in the Apology. It is perhaps especially easy to feel this in the case of Plato after the wonderfully natural translation of Professor Jowett; but it is just as hard as it ever was to embody this feeling in a good English version. To do full justice to the excellent choice of words in the translation before us would require many quotations; here only two can be made. In the Apology (35 A) aἱσχúυη τῆ πóλϵl πϵρláπτϵlυ is rendered " to fasten disgrace u|)ou the city,” which exactly reproduces the sense of 7repidvT€iy, a word used in the middle voice of wearing an ornament, such as a necklace. This is paraphrased by Jowett, who translates “ were a dishonor to the state.” Again, in 39 D, παραkϵυáζϵlυ ὄ&3960;ωs έσταi ὡs βέλτiστos, is translated “ to endeavor to grow in all righteousness.” A good test of the translation will be to take some of the humorous passages and compare them with a translation of the old school, such as that of Charles Stanford. In the Apology (30 D) our anonymous translator makes Socrates say, “ For if you kill me, you will not readily find another man who will be (if I may make so ridiculous a comparison) fastened upon the state as I am, by God. For the state is exactly like a powerful, high-bred steed, which is sluggish by reason of his very size, and so needs a gadfly to wake him up.” Stanford’s version runs, “ For if you condemn me, you shall not find another such, evidently (however ludicrous it may be to say so) affixed to this state by the deity as to a large and noble steed rather lazy on account of its size, and requiring to be excited by a gadfly.” In the Crito our unknown translator is more uneven, and in one humorous passage has perhaps sacrificed too much to a literal rendering. This will be noticed in the words in italics. Crito 53 D. The laws of Athens are expostulating with Socrates; “ But suppose you . . . go to the friends of Crito in Thessaly, for there reigns the greatest disorder and license; they will very likely be glad to hear how ridiculously you ran away from prison in some disguise, perhaps clad in leathern jerkin or some garment such as runaways are apt to wear, so that your whole semblance was changed. This is far better than Stanford, who says, “ They would gladly hear of your ridiculous escape from jail, clad in some novel robe, or in a hide, or such other disguise as fugitives are accustomed to assume, having completely changed your own deportment.” But for the real humor of the passage we have to read Jowett: “ They will be charmed to have the tale of your escape from prison set off with ludicrous particulars of the manner in which you were wrapped in a goatskin or some other disguise, as the fashion of runaways is —that is very likely.”

To the full translation of the Apology and Crito are appended such extracts from the Phædo — rather less than half — as the translator thought of importance in the story of the last days of Socrates. Of course, in spite of the summaries given in each of the eleven cases of omission, this interrupts the connected interest which is so great in ail that Plato wrote. Three of these omissions are particularly to be regretted; first, the truly Socratic account of the danger in a habit of shirking discussion (Phædo 89 D-90 E); second, the delightful account (96 A-99 B) of Socrates’ disappointment in the theories of Anaxagoras ; and third, the poetical account of the universe (103 D-114 D). These last, though not of great importance for understanding Socrates’ character, are necessary to light up the course of the argument. The great closing scene describing Socrates’ death is given in full. It ought to be added that in passages like this last one, where the expression of intense feeling is called for, this translation is least happy. But such defects will not seriously mar the interest of the reader, who will drink off the story “ right easily and blithely,” to quote the words which the translator was betrayed into using to describe Socrates drinking the cup of hemlock.


The fact that Octave Feuillet is a member of the French Academy, while Scherer and Taine are not yet admitted, is one among many reasons why English-speaking people smile when they read Matthew Arnold’s plea in favor of establishing some such body as the Academy in London. It is very much as if Mr. Edmund Yates were made a member of this new collection of immortals, while Mr. Arnold knocked at its doors in vain. To be sure, Feuillet writes French very neatly, and he gives the talk of his dukes and countesses in a very natural way ; but while his method of expressing himself is smooth, and even at times elegant, what he has to say is generally, one can fairly say always, of the least importance. He adds one to the long list of examples of how a man’s cleverness in adopting the tone of a period gives him the appearance of a genius in the eyes of his contemporaries. His plays are good enough to give him prominence in his own country for a brief time, until another man appears who has some new device for securing the public attention ; but his novels, by which he is best known outside of France, are made up of triviality set off by smooth writing. Le Roman d' un Jetinc Homme Pauvre, for instance, with its stock of well-worn incidents, that air of lofty morality which is to be found in French only in a novel that sets out to be virtuous, and in English in the writings of Mr. T. S. Arthur, —this story doubtless owes its long life (for such it is, considering the constitution of the book) to the fact that it can be read in girls’ schools. The Histoire de Sibylle, again, with its marvelous record of the conversions wrought by the infantile heroine, pays for the privilege of being unexceptionable with the loss of any other prominent quality. The fact is that Feuillet is as much out of place in describing the religious and the virtuous poor as he would be in digging a trench. The only characters he knows well are women of the world. His men of the world outdo the decorations of handkerchief-boxes in elegance and a languid air of dissipation ; other qualities they have not, with the single exception of M. de Camors, who adds to these a more than Byronic gloom. The women, however, are cleverly drawn by a sharp-eyed observer of society, who, it is true, serves up the well-known dish of scandal, but with a new dressing, and consequently there is considerable curiosity about every one of his novels as it appears. His especial trick is describing the woman of fashion, who is alleged to he honnête, whoso conduct, however, gives the he to her reputation. On this interesting theme Feuillet has composed many variations.

During the empire it all seemed natural enough. Feuillet was an excellent chronicler of what was represented by manytongued rumor to be the society, or a part of the society, of that period, and he held a prominent place, naturally, in fashionable literature.

The tricks he learned in old days he cannot unlearn now, and it is curious to observe the new story in which he writes about some incidents that have taken place in the last six years. Of course, the world was not made over again immediately after the battle of Sedan, but no one can help noticing the changes that have taken place in France since then, — they began with alterations in the names of streets, but they have gone further, —and that have made this novel old before its birth. To be sure, the society that Feuillet writes about is not one that changes suddenly, for the better at least. He has struggled against this, however, by the not wholly new device of dating the last entry in the Journal d’un Femme,17 March 20, 1878 ; even this leaves the reader cold. Perhaps novelists will set the dates into the future, like the illustrated papers, so that in the evening we can read what has happened in the novels that very afternoon. Feuillet also lends an additional charm to the book by pretending that he is here not the author but merely the editor of its revelations. Of course all mystification is allowable, and this is doubtless an attempt in that direction ; at any rate, as a brief sketch of the story will show, this is the fairest explanation of what would otherwise be a very bold attempt to communicate with the absent in other ways than through the post.

The journal is kept by a woman who in May, 1872, is, she tells us, young and pretty. Her name is Charlotte. Her great schoolfriend is Cécile do Stèle. Charlotte manages to give us the impression that she is intelligent and amiable, and that her friend is a tolerably giddy young person, and this impression is more or less confirmed by the events of the story. These young friends go, under suitable escort, to make a visit in the country, where Cécile is adored by two attractive young men, but they withdraw before two other men, and especially before M. d’Eblis, who is everything that is fascinating. He, after paying considerable attention to Charlotte and winning her young affection, turns sharp round and asks Cécile to marry him, which she is willing enough to do. In the castle, however, there is a young man, the son of the house, its future owner, the only child of the hostess, who in the Franco-Prussian war had been wounded in one leg, had lost his left arm, and received a scar on his face; and he feels so low in his mind on account of the alteration these honorable, wounds have made in his personal appearance that he has had a separate suite of apartments made for him, into which he can withdraw when there is company at the castle. If he had been branded on the forehead as a deserter he could not have been more ashamed of himself, and yet his face was “ beau et pur,'' and the slight scar on the forehead did not disfigure him. “ He had, to tell the truth ” (Charlotte’s journal is our authority), “ un air sauvage et un peu égaré, mais qui doittenir surtout à l’état inculte de sa chevelure et de ses tongues, trop longues, moustaches.” It is hardly necessary to say that he falls madly in love with Charlotte, who, in the reaction against M. d’Eblis’s desertion of her, accepts him, and devotes herself very loyally to making herself a good wife to him.

Early in the year 1878 the journal is resumed once more, and it seems that in the mean while the scarred veteran has died, and that Cécile has made her husband’s life unhappy by her extreme devotion to society. A certain prince has fallen in love with Charlotte, but she refuses him, especially because she still is as she was half a dozen years ago, in love with M. d’Eblis, who had been kept from marrying her only by the fact that the wounded hero was in love with her, and he could not injure a friend. Of course, M. d’Eblis is still in love with her. Complications soon arise. The prince transfers his attentions to Cécile, who falls a ready victim to his fascinations during the absence of her husband. She is overcome with remorse, and makes away with herself after writing two letters: the first can be read so that it would seem as il’ her husband were to blame for her suicide; the other tells exactly how matters stood. Charlotte, when M. d’Eblis wants to marry her, shows him only the first, and burns the second, so that he leaves her to try to make up by a life of celibacy for his cruelty to his wife. Charlotte has the consolation of knowing that she has kept her friend’s name pure at the cost of her own love. Consquently, if Feuillet’s pretense that the story is true is anything more than a pretense, he has put Ids heroine in the unpleasant light of a woman who will give information to the reporters which she will not give directly to the man who is in love with her. Of course, this is only a trick to get the reader’s sympathy, but it miscarries, and his modest claim of being merely the editor of the journal can be considered only part of the fiction.

Trivial as the story is, it has the merit of being entertaining, and no one who takes it up by chance will be very likely to lay it down before finishing it. All of the women are cleverly drawn, their talk is as natural as possible, while the men are mere vague creations, with no life in them. More shadowy beings were never seen, from the gilded youths who slink away by the back door when the action is really beginning, to the soldier who is ashamed of his crutch, and to his friend, beloved of all, M. d’Eblis. The prince, by his actions and his conversation, which the heroine thought it necessary to report in her journal, lends the amount of impropriety which usually seasons the French novel of the period, the tang of what a plain-spoken person would, and with justice, call nastiness. Feuillet has rather the gift of saying offensive things in the ordinary tone of conversation, as calmly as if he were speaking of the weather; he has often done it before, and will probably continue to do so as long as he writes. The lifelike talk of the women is, as has been said, admirably given, — so well, indeed, that the book will probably be liked much more than it deseryes by those experienced persons who read Feuillet as regularly as their husbands read the daily newspaper. In fact, the book has the great merit of being amusing, and this hides the total emptiness of it, and such trivialities as Cécile’s arraying herself in her hall-dress in order to feel more badly when she commits suicide. This little touch is as incongruous as is the raiment of most expensive dolls with the circumstances in which they are destined to spend the active part of their life.

To be sure, there are many other French stories quite as valueless and much less well written, but their authors are not held up as geniuses, nor rewarded as Feuillet has been. He holds a high place among conteniporary French novelists, which he has won by studying fashionable society, and by flattering the largest class of his readers by putting them, with their little ways, into his stories ; thus he makes them interested, and he wins those also who have great curiosity about the alleged ways of the great world. He does his work cleverly, but it is a poor piece of business that he has undertaken, and one that can have only brief success. His admission into the Academy is very much like the choice of a photographer for a vacant seat in the Royal Academy.

  1. Records of a Girlhood By FRANCES ANNE KEMBLE. New York : Henry Holt & Co. 1879.
  2. Prince Bismarck’s Letters to his Wife, his Sister, and Others, from 1844 to 1870. Translated from the German by FITZH MASE. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1878.
  3. Modern Frenchmen. Five Biographies. By PHILIP GILBERT HAMERTON, Author of Round my House, The Sylvan Year, etc. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1878.
  4. Diderot and the Encyclopœdists. By JOHN MORLET. New York : Scribner and Welford. 1878.
  5. Wordsworth. A Biographic and Æsthetic Study. By GEORGE H. CAIWKRT. Boston: Lee and Shepard New York: Charles T. Dillingham. 1878.
  6. Recollections of Writers. By CHARLES and MART UOVTDEN CLARKE, Authors of The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare, Riches of Chaucer, etc. With Letters of Charles Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Douglas .Terre id, and Charles Dickens. and a Preface by MART COWDEN CLARKE. New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1878. 2 Short History of German Literature. By JAMES K. HOSMER,Professor of English and German Literature, Washington University, St. Louis ; Author of The Color Guard, The Thinking Bayonet, etc. St. Louis. 1879.
  7. Addresses and Speeches on Various Occasions from 1869 to 1879. By ROBERT C. WINTHROP. Boston : Little, Brown & Co. 1879.
  8. Lectures on Mediœval Church History. By RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH, D. D., Archbishop of Dublin. New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1878.
  9. New Greece. By LEWIS SERGEANT. With Maps specially prepared for this work. London, Paris, and New York : Cassell, Petter and Galpin. [1878.]
  10. Six Months in Ascension. An Unscientific Account of a Scientific Expedition. By MRS. GILL, With a Map. London : Murray. 1878.
  11. The Dinner Year-Book. By MARION HARLAND. Author of Common Sense in the Household, Breakfast, Luncheon, and Tea, etc. With Six Original Full-Page Colored Plates. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1878.
  12. Just How: A Key to the Cook-Books. By MRS. A. D. T. WHITNEY. Boston : Houghton, Osgood & Co. 1879.
  13. Donald’s School-Days. By GEN. O. O. HOWARD, U. S. A. Boston: Lee and Shepard. 1879.
  14. Brother Ben and The Bird Summer. By MART ESTHER. MUTER. Boston : Congregational Publishing Society. 1879.
  15. Socrates. A Translation of the Apology, Crito, and parts of the Phædo Of Plato. New York ; Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1879.
  16. Le Journal d'une Femme. Par OCTAVE FEUILLET, de l'Academic Française. Paris : Lévy. 1878.