Books of the Month
Fiction. Lal, the heroine of Dr. W. A. Hammond’s story (Appleton), is short for Lalla Rookh The shortened name carries to the ears an impression which the book confirms. A more disagreeable book to one who loves art it would be hard to find. The veneer of philosophy which covers the cheap material out of which the book is constructed only makes the novel more objectionable. Every canon of good taste is violated, and one has not even a piece of rough humanity to fall back upon. The book is a piece of artistic falsehood.— The Fainalls of Tipton, by Virginia W. Johnson (Scribners), is a painfully elaborated work, with insufficient basis of story and character. It is a pity that so careful a writer should not see that her detail obstructs the story instead of carrying it on. — Among the Chosen (Holt) is an indistinct novel, which dimly hints at a community, vaguely outlines a few shadowy characters, confusedly suggests excellent sentiments, and in effect is written as if the author were trying to conceal the story. — Rutherford, by Edgar Fawcett (Funk & Wagnalls), is a novel in which Mr. Fawcett manipulates again the material which he has so frequently used. New York society, as an epitome of American life, young women who have high ideals, but are conquered by love as by something more valiant than they, young men who bring back more European mental clothes to America than the custom house allows, —all these are made to do service, and the result is scarcely more than a variation upon a familiar theme. We think we met this story years ago in periodical form. If so, it merely shows how long Mr. Fawcett has been doing pretty much the same thing. — Recent numbers of Harper’s Franklin Square Library are Lancelot Ward, M. P., by George Temple, and Matrimony, by W. E. Norris.
Biography. Elizabeth Fry, by Mrs. E. R. Pitman, is the latest issue in the Famous Women Series. (Roberts.) The abundant materials for a sketch of Mrs. Fry have been used with discrimination, and the result is an agreeable book, which ought to stimulate workers to-day. — A little nearer home is a brief sketch of Richard A. Dugdale, under the title The Work of a Social Teacher, by Edward M. Shepard. (The Society for Political Education, New York.) Mr. Dugdale made his name widely known by his terrible work The Jukes, but his modesty and singleness of purpose needed to be set forth by some one else, and this little sketch gives only too faint a portraiture of a notable man.—The Great Composers, by Hezekiah Butterworth (Lothrop): a small volume, designed apparently for young readers, containing scrappy accounts of Mozart, Liszt, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and others, so arranged as to give a somewhat chronological review of the progress of music. We wish Mr. Butterworth had not employed a sausage machine for many of his paragraphs.
Finance and Business. Comptroller John Jay Knox has prepared a serviceable volume on United States Notes, a History of the Various Issues of Paper Money by the Government of the United States, with an appendix containing the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States and the dissenting opinion upon the legal tender question. (Scribners.) The decision upon the legal tender question has put an ominous weapon into the hands of Congress, and the historical statement of the question is of great value to all students who wish to be forearmed. — Geology and Mineral Resources of the James River Valley in Virginia, by J. L. Campbell (Putnams), is a straightforward statement of the material advantages of an interesting section, and it would be well if immigrants could always have at their command so well studied a survey of the country to which they look for settlement and fortune.— Excessive Saving a Cause of Commercial Distress : being a series of assaults upon accepted principles of political economy, by Uriel H. Crocker. (W. B. Clarke & Carruth, Boston.) The frankness with which the author informs the reader of the rejection by various magazines and journals to which the several contents of this volume were once offered goes far to inspire confidence in his sincerity ; nor does one need to read far to know that the author is thoroughly in earnest and convinced of the integrity of his position.—The Labor-Value Fallacy, by M. L. Scudder, Jr. (Jansen, McClurg & Co.): a vigorous attack upon Henry George’s fundamental position. — Property in Land is another small work, called out by Mr. George, who, if not witty himself, is the cause of wit in others. It consists of a wordy duel between the Duke of Argyll and Henry George. The Duke heads his paper The Prophet of San Francisco; Mr. George heads his, The Reduction to Iniquity; and so they go at it, with the reader’s general sympathy on Mr. George’s side.—A paper on Cable Railway Propulsion, by W. W. Hanscom, has been published by the author at San Francisco. The paper has a value for its illustration of a practical experiment which has thus far found its most successful trial in San Francisco and Chicago.
Hygiene and Physic. What is to be Done, a Handbook for the Nursery, with useful Hints for Children and Adults, by R. B. Dixon, M. D. (Lee & Shepard), is one of those serviceable little emergency books which would seem to make life more secure. There was an enthusiastic man once who was a propagandist for a little squirt gun which would put out any fire if one used it early enough, and he maintained that steam fire-engines would be rendered unnecessary. Doctors will probably lose none of their practice by reason of these little books, but they will be spared the necessity of running three miles, and waking up all the neighborhood, when a kerosene lamp is knocked off the shelf. — Tokology. A book for every woman. By Alice B. Stockham, M. D. (Sanitary Publishing Company, Chicago.) A plain-spoken book, with the customary anathema of the corset. It is singular that that article should not long ago have given way under the severe bombardment of words to which it has been subjected. It will probably disappear with that offense to beauty, the stove-pipe hat. — Notes on the Opium Habit, by Asa P. Meylert, M. D. (Putnams.) For so small a book there is far too much sentiment and far too little sense. — The Principles of Ventilation and Heating, and their Practical Application, by John S. Billings (The Sanitary Engineer, New York). Dr. Billings has collected into this volume a series of papers addressed to a young architect. It deals with principles, but it illustrates them by a great variety of examples drawn both from private and from public buildings. — Number One and How to Take Care of Him is the captivating title of a series of popular talks on social and sanitary science, by Joseph J. Pope (Funk & Wagnalls), who delivers the now well-known sensible views on food, dress, play, and so forth, with a good deal of vigor. Again war to the corset.
Politics. The season naturally brings plenty of reading matter for the American citizen, and it is a little sign of the times that political literature takes a somewhat historical form. Here, for instance, are two books on the Democratic party, The History of Democracy considered as a Party Name and as a Political Organization, by Jonathan Norcross (Putnams), and The Democratic Party, its Political History and Influence, by J. Harris Patton. (Fords, Howard & Hulbert.) Mr. Norcross is an old Southern Whig, who draws a vehement indictment against the party down to the time of the rebellion. He aims to define legitimate democracy, and then to demonstrate that the party bearing the name is like the man who kept a tavern, but kept nothing in the tavern for hungry travelers. Mr. Patton writes in a somewhat more judicial frame of mind, but with substantially the same conclusion. The only measure, he finds, which was inaugurated by Democratic statesmen, and has remained the policy of the nation, is the sub-treasury system.—Cupples, Upham & Co. publish in pamphlet form The Winning Argument in the Legal Tender Case of 1884, being the argument by Thomas H. Talbot in the case of Juillard v. Greenman. — The Eastern Pioneer of Western Civilization and the Recognition her Efforts Receive, is the title of a pamphlet by C. S. Eby, who writes from Tokio, Japan. Mr. Eby is an English missionary who discusses the relation of Japan to England, and modestly ventures into the arena of international politics. He makes a respectful but cogent protest against the present attitude of England toward Japan. Perhaps his protest gains from its coolness of tone, but those interested should re-read in connection with it the indignant paper entitled, The Martyrdom of an Empire, published in the Atlantic for May, 1881.
Education and Text-Books. Mr. W. J. Rolfe has edited Tennyson’s The Princess, and it has been brought out in the style, so familiar to students, of the same editor’s Shakespeare, Gray, and Scott. (Osgood.) The book is illustrated with cuts already used in the fine edition published by the same house last Christmas, and one discovers how much paper has to do with the excellence of wood-cuts. It is interesting to find The Princess thus turned into a school classic and supplied with notes. Such a book will help on the good cause of careful study of English literature as art. It is further to be commended as the outgrowth of class-work, and as giving young students the opportunity of using a variorum edition.—A Practical Method for Learning Spanish in accordance with Ybarra’s System of Teaching Modern Languages, by General Alejandro Ybarra. (Ginn, Heath & Co.) The book is also quite as convenient for Spaniards who wish to learn English, and in either case it is the English of colloquial use which is taught.—In the Dime Series of Question Books (C. W. Bardeen, Syracuse, N. Y.) is one on Temperance, relating to Stimulants and Narcotics. It teaches very little, it assumes a great deal, and is generally of no use except in the hands of a teacher who knows more than the book.—Outlines of Psychology, with special reference to the theory of education, by James Sully. (Appleton.) The author contends that ‘‘mental science is capable of supplying those truths which are needed for an intelligent and reflective carrying out of educational work,” and he has consequently had teachers in mind when writing his treatise, and has aimed to make frequent practical application of the result of his studies.