Books of the Month
Poetry and the Drama. The Statues in the Block gives the title to the volume of poems by John Boyle O’Reilly, in which it stands first. A little of the author’s personal history may be read between the lines, but it will not be only for this that the book will be read. (Roberts.) — Mr. Franklin E. Denton, of Chardon, Ohio, sends us two poems, Kallotron and Autumn-Day Musings. They are quickly read, though one may linger over some lines, as in the partial description of a poet: —
Were haloed with unutterable light;
For ’neath his marble cupola of mind
A genius great peered thro’ the windows wild.”
— The fourteenth volume of Mr. Hudson’s Harvard Shakespeare contains Julius Cæsar and Hamlet. (Ginn & Heath.) — Gondaline’s Lesson and other Poems, by Mrs. Bloomfield Moore, is sent us by C. Kegan Paul & Co., London. There is a fatal facility about the poems. —Buds, by Miss C. E. Ricker (Boston: Goodwin & Drisko), is the title of a thin volume of verses. — Giorgio and other Poems, by Stuart Sterne (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.), follows the narrative poem of Angelo, published a few years since.
History and Antiquities. Mr. Rushton M. Dorman has written a volume on The Origin of Primitive Superstitions, and their development into the worship of spirits and the doctrine of spiritual agency among the aborigines of America. (Lippincott.) The book is a contribution to the comparative study of myths, with a reference to the progressive character of spiritual manifestations. It is, however, not only a collection of pertinent facts, but an argument in support of a theory. — The Origin of Nations, by George Rawlinson (Scribners), is an inquiry into early civilizations and ethnic affinities, with a purpose to substantiate the views supposed to be derived from the biblical narrative. — The Harpers have begun the issue of the Memoirs of Prince Metternich, and have sent out two volumes in the Franklin Square Library. The same work is issued in library style by Charles Scribner’s Sons.—Dr. Henry Cabot Lodge’s A Short History of the English Colonies in America (Harpers) is based on the author’s course of lectures before the Lowell Institute, and aims at a view of the colonies not so exclusively political as that given by most general histories.
Biography. A second series of Great Singers, by George T. Ferris, uniform with the first, has been published in Appleton’s New Handy-Volume Series. The range is from Malibran to Titiens, and excludes living singers, except where these have retired from the stage. Grisi, Alboni, Lind, Schröder-Devrient, are included, and the sketches are compact, but animated. —Mr. Froude’s Cæsar has been reprinted by the Harpers, in the interest of poor scholars, in two cheap editions. — The Life of George the Fourth, including his Letters and Opinions, with a view of the men, manners, and politics of his reign, by Percy Fitzgerald, has been issued by the Harpers in one volume 8vo, and in two numbers of the Franklin Square Library. The work will be found to justify Thackeray’s silhouette, and the minute detail with which this picture is drawn gives one a sense of thankfulness that a wit and literary artist has made it unnecessary for the busy man to linger before it. — Divine Guidance is the title which Gail Hamilton gives to her Memorial of Allen W. Dodge, her kinsman. Much of the work is drawn from Mr. Dodge’s own journals and letters, and some of the interest follows from Mr. Dodge’s attitude on religious questions, since he went over from the popular to the unpopular side in New England, and did it with excellent grace. (Appleton.) — Mrs. Mary Swift Lamson’s Life and Education of Laura Dewey Bridgman, the deaf, dumb, and blind girl, has been issued in a new edition by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. The phenomenal character of Miss Bridgman’s life renders any light thrown upon it of value, and Mrs. Lamson, as her teacher for many years, had exceptional advantages for describing her pupil.
Education and Text-Books. The ninth number of The Reading Club and Handy Speaker has been edited by George M. Baker. It contains selections, chiefly in verse, and including serious, humorous, pathetic, patriotic, and dramatic subjects. The elocutionary rather than the literary test has been applied. (Lee & Shepard.) — Mr. Henry B. Buckliam, Principal of the State Normal School in Buffalo, has prepared the first of a series of Handbooks for Young Teachers (Syracuse, N. Y.: C. W. Bardeen), intended to give hints and suggestions which occur to an experienced teacher. The points are made quickly and in a spirit of common sense. — Advanced Readings and Recitations is a combination of Reader and Speaker, by Austin B. Fletcher, Professor of Oratory in Brown University and Boston University School of Law, intended for use in advanced classes in colleges, as the editor says. It would seem as if by the time students had reached college classes the selection might be made by themselves. (Lee & Shepard.) — Common Schools of Cincinnati is a bulky pamphlet issued by the Board of Education of that city, and containing the annual report and a hand-book of the schools. It is immensely statistical.—We would call attention to the continued enterprise by which Education, an international magazine (New England Publishing Co., Boston), is made to serve as a medium for thought and discussion upon the whole range of the subject.—The essays which Mr. Hudson has been printing in his current edition of Shakespeare have been collected into a little volume entitled English in School, a Series of Essays (Ginn & Heath), and it is much to be desired that readers who have missed his school Shakespeare should get this volume, and see how many shrewd things he has to say on the important subject of teaching English literature. — Outlines of Elocution and Comprehensive Manual of Principles, by G. Walter Dale (Danville, Indiana: Normal Teacher Publishing House), is an appalling book; if the student ever masters the Dale style, and adjusts his vocal mechanism according to the inscrutable Dale methods, he has still before him a hopeless mixture of good and bad selections to practice upon.
Social Science. Ireland continues to invite the attention of students and writers. The riddle is attacked in four recent volumes published by Macmillan: The Life’s Work in Ireland of a Landlord who Tried to do his Duty, by W. Bence Jones, a series of papers combining experience and reflection; Disturbed Ireland, being the letters written during the winter of 1880-81, by Bernard H. Becker, special commissioner of the Daily News; The Irish Land Laws, by Alexander G. Richey, who aims to present these in untechnical and popular form; and New Views on Ireland, or Irish Land, Grievances, Remedies, by Charles Russell, of which the second edition followed quickly on the first. — Rev. S. H. Tyng, Jr., has written a paper for Harper’s Magazine in defense of the current life-insurance business, under the title Life Insurance does Assure, which has been published in pamphlet form by E. P. Goby & Co., New York.—In the Franklin Square Library (Harpers) has been published Social Etiquette and Home Culture, the Glass of Fashion, which purports to be a universal hand-book of social etiquette for ladies and gentlemen; and as it is furnished with a full index any one who is conscious of his defect in some small particular, as in the care of his nails, or in the skill of matching guests, may use it as a book of reference. — The Annual Report of the Operations of the United States LifeSaving Service (Government Printing Office), besides its array of statistics, has an amount of thrilling narrative, which if copyrighted and published would help pay the national debt. — The third number of the Civil Service Reform Association publications (Putnams) is Mr. Dorman B. Eaton’s The Spoils System and Civil Service Reform in the Custom-House and Post-Office at New York. It is a history and an argument.
Fiction. Lady Clara de Vere is a story by Spielhagen, in Appleton’s New Handy-Volume series, and strikes one as a discovery of a Germanic England. — Mrs. Harriet Prescott Spofford’s two tales, Azarian and The Amber Gods, have been reissued by Holt in the Leisure Hour Series. Many will be glad to renew their early impressions. Never was New England more tropically regarded. — His Little Mother gives the title to a volume of short tales and sketches, of which it is the first, by the author of John Halifax, — it is sufficiently known by this time what Mr. Halifax’s occupation was. Among the sketches is one of Sydney Dobell. The Harpers publish the book both in cloth and in the Franklin Square Library. — We should be glad if we could place here Buried Alive, or Ten Years of Penal Servitude in Siberia, by Fedor Dostoyeffsky, translated from the Russian by Marie von Thilo. (Holt.) The introductory explanation of the work partakes of the hackneyed devices of novelists, and yet the earnestness of the writer seems born of positive experience. It is doubtless based upon life in that vast prison house, which is Russia’s contribution to imaginative history. — Every month now seems to bring a new book by Henry Gréville, — at least the translation of one; this time it is Xenie’s Inheritance, translated by Laura E. Kendall. (Peterson.) — in the Franklin Square Library (Harpers) recent issues have been The Glen of Silver Birches, by E. Owens Blackburne, a novel of the Irish peasant and the English landlord; The Wards of Plotinus, by Mrs. John Hunt, an attempt at historical romance in the line of Kingsley’s Hypatia and Dr. Ware’s Zenobia, and dedicated to Dean Stanley ; Into the Shade, and other Stories, by Mary Cecil Hav, author of Old Myddelton’s Money, a score of short tales; From Exile, by James Payn, a most industrious novelist; Miss Williamson’s Divagations, by Mrs. Richmond Ritchie (Miss Thackeray), and we cannot pretend to know what they were. — Meta Wallace, or the Seen and the Unseen, by Agnes D. Randolph, (Boston: Congregational Publishing Society), is a Sunday-school book of objectionable type, artificial and unwholesome, professing religion and teaching worldliness. — The Woman in Black (Peterson) is further described as the story of a handsome and ambitious woman; it is called also a companion to the Woman in White, but the Man in Red is its real companion. — Shadows of Shasta is Mr. Joaquin Miller’s latest piece of story-telling. It w as born, he says in his indiguant introduction, of the wrongs done the Indian ; it is, however, carried to its conclusion upon the wild horses of the author’s imagination. (Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Co.) — Knights of To-Day, or Love and Science, by Charles Barnard (Scribners), is a collection of seven tales ingeniously built upon “all the modern improvements.”
Literature,. In the series of English Men of Letters, the most recent volume is Saintsbury’s Dryden. (Harpers.) A better subject for a purely literary sketch could scarcely be found.—Mr. John Burroughs’s latest volume is entitled Pepacton (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.), that being the special title of the first of eight essays which make the book, — essays which will be read again and again. The subjects are all drawn from the observation of a genuine lover of nature, who lhs a fine sense of the value of brevity of expression.
Philosophy and Religion. A History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two Hundred, by Charles B. Waite (Chicago: C. V. Waite), is distinctively a history of the doctrines, and of the books in which these doctrines were formulated. The result reached by the author excludes the immaculate conception, the miracles of Christ, and his material resurrection.—The work on Christian Institutions, by Dean Stanley, to which we referred last month, has been issued also by Harper & Brothers, in what they style a popular edition. — The Rev. Henry Cowles is a learned and patient Bible student, who, in his work on Matthew and Mark (Appleton), completes a series of sixteen volumes of comment on the Bible. The entirely modest yet confident bearing of this expositor wins the attention of readers. —Rabbi Jeshna, an Eastern story (Holt), is a thinly disguised sketch of the Saviour, in which the writer, professing to rescue the historical character from the fictions of later romancers, really drives it back into limits which are rendered impossible by the very fact of the writing of this book. In other words, Christianity is the answer to this piece of trivial satire. — Rev. James Freeman Clarke has attacked the same subject in a somewhat different manner. His The Legend of Thomas Didymus, the Jewish skeptic (Lee & Shepard), professes to occupy a middle ground between a rationalistic and a theological view of the Saviour. He conceives the supernatural to be an integral part of the gospel narrative, and explains what he can by reference to natural law; what he cannot understand he would leave unexplained, but not therefore inexplicable. The doubts are not the doubts of Thomas, but of the nineteenth century.—The Student’s Dream (Jansen, McClurg & Co.) is a modest little venture in philosophy, by a beginner who has been reading Herbert Spencer carefully. He describes his book farther as “a horoscope of mental growth, containing a metaphysical discovery.”
Fine Arts. The Magazine of Art (Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.) appears in its enlarged form as a liberally illustrated publication of about fifty pages. The special articles are followed by a few pages of art notes, discussing current events in the art circles abroad. The April number contains articles on The Dulwich Gallery, Wood-Carving, Italian Modern Sepulchral Art, Symbolism in Art, Léon Bonnat (with a portrait of the artist), A Roman Majolica Manufactory, Architectural Sculpture, The Story of an Artist’s Struggle, The Ideal in Ancient Painting, The Story of an Old Picture, The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition.
Travel and Geography. Mr. Laurence Oliphant, who has been interested in colonization schemes, both in this country and in Palestine, has written a work on The Land of Gilead, with Excursions in the Lebanon (Appleton), which grew out of his personal experience there. The book is thus a book both of travel and of economic exploration. — Turkish Life in War Time, by Henry 0. Dwight (Scribners), contains the well-digested observations and reflections of a Tribune correspondent during the progress of the late Eastern war.