Books of the Month

Juvenile. Mr. Richard Jeffries calls his Wood Magic a fable, but the work has a fascination which does not belong to that species of obsolete composition. He has given the power of speech to birds and beasts, and not made them wearisome, as the conventional fabulist is apt to do. The story of little Sir Bevis, with his squirrels, and crows, and weasels, and woodpeckers, is a story that will go straight to the heart of childhood. One of the innumerable charms of the book is that it does n’t spring a moral on anybody. (Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.) — A very different sort of book, with a very different sort of purpose, is Harold Dorsey’s Fortune, by Mary Dwinell Chellis. (Congregational Publishing Society.) It is one of those fictions which go a good way towards putting the reader out of patience with propriety. We had supposed that this kind of book, like the dodo, was an extinct bird.

Biography and Memoirs. Madame de Sévigné forms the subject of the latest volume of Foreign Classics for English Readers, edited by Mrs. Oliphant. (J. B. Lippincott & Co.) Madame de Sévigné fell into sympathetic and skillful hands when she fell into those of Miss Thackeray, who has made a singularly charming study of her brilliant French sister. We shall hereafter have occasion to speak more in detail of the book, and also of the Letters of Madame de Rémusat, a selection from which has been made by Mrs. Cashel Hoey and Mr. John Lillie, the admirable translators of the Mémoires. (D. Appleton & Co.) The same work appears by arrangement in Harper’s Franklin Square Library.

Art. The proprietors of L'Art have presented to the subscribers of the present volume an exquisite etching by E. Champollin, after a painting by A. Casanova, entitled Un Coin dans le Jardin (A Corner of the Garden). The impressions, which are on Holland paper, are very carefully printed by Lienard of Paris. The plate measures 18½ by 15 inches, and is altogether a gem. The picture is Spanish in subject, representing a Capuchin monk seated on the edge of a stone bench, one end of which is occupied by a distracting señorita. The groseria and embarrassment of the holy man are capitally hit off, as is also the cool coquetry of the Spanish girl, with her fan and lace mantilla. The etching suggests great richness of color in the original, and is a worthy pendant to the artistic premiums issued with the two previous volumes of L’Art, — namely, Makart’s Entry of Charles V. into Antwerp, and Fortuny’s Academicians Choosing a Model. (J. W. Bouton, Hew York.)

Religion. The Bible Defended and Atheism Rebuked (E. J. Hale & Son) is the title of a neatly printed pamphlet in which Mr. Allan B. Magruder takes Mr. Robert G. Ingersoll sharply to task for his idiocy. Perhaps it was not worth doing, but Mr. Mngruder, who describes himself as “ layman and Bible student,” evidently thought it was, and has done it with great earnestness.

Education. Lee & Shepard have issued the first volume of a very valuable work (to be complete in two volumes), entitled New England Bird Life, being a Manual of New England Ornithology, edited from the manuscript of W. A. Stearns by Dr. Elliott Coues, United States Army. The present part treats of singing-birds, about which the reader will find a world of curious and novel information presented in a clear and entertaining manner. On the completion of the second part, we shall return to the work. It belongs to that delightful kind of scientific literature of which Mr. Scudder’s treatise on Butterflies is an excellent example.—Elementary German, an Outline of the Grammar, with Exercises, Conversations, and Readings, by Charles P. Otis, Ph. D., is a hand-book of uncommon fullness and clearness. The majority of German text-books lend difficulty to a very difficult language. When the world is a little more advanced, the Germans will probably adopt the Roman letter for their alphabet. The use of the Roman letter in the first pages of the present work simplifies much that would be hard to the beginner.—Prof. G. A. Wentworth, professor of mathematics in Phillips Exeter Academy, has prepared a valuable class-book in the line of his study, Elements of Algebra. (Ginn & Heath.) The advantage of this work over many others in use is that the author has not aimed to baffle the student with complicated exercises, but to furnish him with such problems as may be solved without a useless expenditure of time and energy.

Guide-Books. Wallace’s Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks, of which the present is the ninth edition, seems to have proved its usefulness. It is published by the author at Syracuse, N. Y.— We can speak less confidently of Mr. David Macbrayne’s Summer Tours in Scotland. It is not, easy to see where it ceases to be an advertisement of Macbrayne’s line of steamers and becomes an impartial adviser to the tourist.

Poetry. The poetry of the month is not notable, if we except the collection of Oscar Wilde’s poems (Roberts Bros.), about which the critics are disagreeing. We shall have something to say later touching Mr. Wilde and the “utter” school.— Farm Festivals, by Will Carleton (Harper Bros.), needs no introduction to make him welcome to a large class of readers who like homely themes pleasantly rhymed. Mr. Carleton seems to furnish the missing link between poetry and prose. — The author of Motherhood, who wishes to remain anonymous, and claims the authorship of this work on the title-page of another published simultaneously, has higher aims than Mr. Carleton. The poem entitled Motherhood is purely and tenderly written, and is not without pathos of a very touching sort. It is much more satisfactory than the miscellaneous collection of lyrics put forth by the same writer with the title of Breath of the Field and Shore. Both books are exquisitely printed. (Lee & Shepard.) — A Tire-d’Aile, by René des Chesnais (Bray et Retaux, Paris), is the title of an exquisitely printed little volume of poems of a religious cast. M. Chesnais dedicates his work “ à tous ceux qui défendant cette triple cause, —le Christ, la France, la Liberté.” It is to mix paganism and Christianity to speak of Th. Gautier and M. Chesnais in the same breath, but the careful finish of several of the lyrics in this collection reminds one of the Émaux et Camées. In all other respects the two writers are worlds asunder. Gautier’s muse is a rosy bacchante, with a wreath dropping over her brows ; M. Chesnais’s muse wears a cowl and carries a crucifix. The strongest verses in A Tire-d’Aile are perhaps those addressed to Victor Hugo; the most graceful are those entitled Prologue, from which we quote a stanza:—

“Je suis trop hardi, je le crains,
De m’aventurer dans la rime,
Triolets, sonnets ou quatrains.
Je suis trop hardi, je le crains.
L'imprudence mèue aux chagrins;
Témérité peut être crime. Je suis trop hardi, je le crains, De m’aventurer dans la rime.”

— Legends of the Northwest, by H. L. Gordon, is one more attempt in the field of Indian poetry, and is not to be pronounced wholly successful. It is a field strewn with the bones of American poets.

Miscellaneous. From the press of Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, we have received a handsomely printed volume entitled On Renascence Drama, or History made Visible, by William Thomson, F. R. C. S., F. L. S. It is a Shakespearean study, whose scope cannot adequately be stated in the brief space allotted us here. Mr. Thomson, if we catch the drift of his argument, is inclined to believe that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare, but Bacon.—The Military Historical Society of Massachusetts have issued the initial volume of a series of volumes, in which are to be preserved the papers prepared from time to time by the members of the society and read at their meetings. The present collection relates to the Peninsular Campaign of General McClellan, and contains contributions from John C. Ropes, Esq., Brev. Brig. Gen. John C. Palfrey, U. S. A., and Brev. Brig. Gen. Charles A. Whittier, U. S. V. These papers fall somewhat short of being pleasant reading for General McClellan. (J. R. Osgood & Co.) — New York Illustrated (D. Appleton & Co.) is a model guide-book for the stranger, or for any one, visiting the great metropolis. The illustrations are admirable specimens of wood-engraving, and in every respect worthy of the carefully prepared letterpress. — In To-Day in America (Franklin Square Library) Mr. Joseph Hatton gives a rosecolored account of his recent visit to this country, where he seems to have had what we call in our untutored Americanese “ a good time.” If Mr. Hatton’s powers of observation are neither very wide nor very deep, they appear to have served his purpose. — The second part of The Art of Speech, by Prof. L. T. Townsend, D. D. (D. Appleton & Co.), treats of eloquence and logic.— Illusions, A Psychological Study, by James Sully, forms the thirty-third volume of the International Scientific Series. (D. Appleton & Co.)—The latest of Appleton’s Home Books treats of the amenities of domestic life, and contains some sensible essays on education, music, manners, and kindred topics. —Under the title of Butler’s Miscellanies, Mr. Noble Butler publishes through Claxton, Remsen & Haffelfinger a collection of papers dealing chiefly with literary matters. — Select Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by G. Droppers and C. A. P. Dachsel (Milwaukee), embraces a biographical sketch extracted from Gwinner’s Life of Schopenhauer. The essays translated are, The Misery of Life, Metaphysics of Love, Genius, Æsthetics of Poetry and Education. — A. S. Barnes & Co. issue a well-printed and large selection of hymns and tunes for service of the sanctuary, edited by Mr. J. P. Holbrook. — The two new volumes of Mr. Hudson’s edition of the complete plays and poems of Shakespeare (Ginn & Heath) embrace Macbeth, Othello, Cymbeline, and Coriolanus, with an abundance of critical notes and explanatory matter. This issue brings the work within two volumes of its completion. The Harvard Edition, as it is called, is one of the neatest and most convenient editions ever published.

Fiction. The Lutanist of St. Jacobi’s, by Catharine Drew (Henry Holt & Co.), is a charming addition to the Leisure Hour Series, in which, by the way, we have seldom found a mediocre novel. An episode in the life of George Neumarck — a minor German poet and small musician of the seventeenth century — has furnished Mrs. Drew with the material for a delightfully tender and realistic sketch. It is an evidence of the writer’s rare art that she has made a simple love affair as fresh and interesting as if it had all happened last week, instead of two hundred years ago. — Paul Hart, or the Love of his Life, by Uncle Lute, is an indigestible American fiction, full of cheap sentiment and reckless grammar ; in brief, an overgrown dime novel. On the title-page of the volume an amusing person, who signs himself “Critic” offers a synopsis of the work, which he describes as “ a thrilling story, so truthful in its presentation of individual traits of character and superstitious dialogue that many readers, no doubt, will imagine that it is literally founded on facts.” Though Uncle Lute himself does some very fine writing, he does nothing quite so — so superstitious as that. We strongly suspect ourselves of quoting from the “critical opinion” which induced the publishers to give this chef-d' œuvre to the world. (T. B, Peterson & Brothers.)—The Skeleton in the House (G. W. Harlan) is a short romantic story, by Friedrich Spielhagen, and is by no means one of his best. At his best, Spielhagen is apt to be dull and prosaic. The present translation, by M. J. Safford, appears to have been conscientiously done. — The Exiles is a Russian story told by two French authors, Victor Tissot and Constant Améro (T. B. Peterson & Brothers), who have evidently made close studies of Russian life and scenery. When we have said that the principal characters in the drama are one Yégor Séménoff, a political convict, and a chief of police named Yermac, we have sufficiently indicated the scope of the romance. It is not uninteresting in parts, but as a whole it is theatrical. Perhaps Tourgénieff has spoiled us for liking this school of Russian novel. — An English translation of almost any book by Gustave Droz requires a generous sprinkling of asterisks to save it from the hands of the police. The translator of Monsieur, Madame et Bébé (T. B. Peterson & Brothers) has adopted this expedient, and has shown excellent taste in his suppressions, though he here and there blunts the point of the too witty Frenchman. The story remains a little risqué, however, but to relieve it of that fault it would be necessary to suppress the whole thing. Its great cleverness is undeniable. As to its morality, it is moral compared with Mr. Mallock’s Romance of the Nineteenth Century.—Harper & Brothers have added four very entertaining novels to the Franklin Square Library : Ayala’s Angel, by Anthony Trollope; An Ocean Free Lance, by the author of The Wreck of the Grosvenor ; Sidney, by Georgian a M. Craik; and The Neptune Vase, by Virginia W. Johnson. Of Mr. Trollope it is only necessary to say that no other English writer has anything like his skill in story-telling pure and simple. Mr. W. Clark Russell may be dismissed as briefly; whenever the author of The Wreck of the Grosvenor undertakes to tell a sea-tale he has “ the right of way.” He is the only living novelist who knows how to sail a ship through the perilous waters of fiction. The novels of Georgiana M. Craik are alway commendable for their earnest purpose and good sense. Of the fourth author on the list it is not so easy to speak. While writing The Neptune Vase Miss Johnson had it in her hand to produce a little masterpiece. Up to the twentieth chapter the story is told with a freshness and grace that must captivate the most unimpressible novel-reader. Nothing could be more natural or exquisite in the way of character drawing than Katy Osmond, Dr. Brent, the Padre Gebezzi, and that wily little Italian contessina, who, though she plays a minor part in the comedy, gives one a very high idea of Miss Johnson’s power of delineation. Nothing, we repeat, could be more charming than the first twenty chapters of The Neptune Vase, and then the author spoils the whole thing with the sudden unearthing of a melodramatic and tiresome lost father, who has been masquerading some ten or fifteen years in Siena, disguised in the conventional false beard of a third-rate theatre. The author was within four chapters of the end of her work when she made the fatal mistake of offending probability. In spite of all this, The Neptune Vase is interesting as showing that what is called “ the international novel ” is capable of an inexhaustible variety in the way of situations and characters.— A. Williams & Co. have Issued a new edition of Cape Cod Folks, an anonymous novel, which has proved to be one of the successes of the season.