Books of the Month

Literature. A very pretty edition of Walton’s The Complete Angler is published by T. Y. Crowell. It is noted as from the fourth London edition, and is the well-known Major’s edition. The page and type are good ; the woodcuts are apparently reproductions of somewhat worn plates, but they are printed with care, and in its neat binding the book is very acceptable. —A complete edition of George Eliot’s poems (Crowell) is accompanied by a number of fair full-page pictures, and preceded by an essay from the Contemporary Review written by the English critic who signs himself Matthew Browne. Besides the Spanish Gypsy, The Legend of Jubal, Agatha, Armgart, and How Lisa Loved the King, there are but ten minor poems. The binding is rather tasteless.— The Home in Poetry, compiled by Laura C. Holloway (Funk & Wagnalls), is a collection of domestic poems of greater or less notoriety. The English and American muse always was a housekeeper. There is no special judgment shown in the compilation. Every one must make from it his own selection.— Red-Letter Poems by English Men and Women (Crowell) is another selection, ranging from Chaucer to the Miss Robinson who alternates names and initials. The attempt is made simply to register the verdict already passed by multitudes of readers and many compilers. It seems to us unwise, however, to give selections from short poems. The weakness of the editor’s taste appears when it is exercised on contemporary verse. — Selections from the Poetical Works of A. C. Swinburne, edited by R. H. Stoddard (Crowell), consist of Atalanta in Calydon, Erechtheus, Chastelard, Bothwell, Mary Stuart, and the least erotic of Poems and Ballads, together with a score of sonnets. The selection is abundant enough to stand as a complete edition of Swinburne, with those poems omitted which the judicious parent would skip if reading aloud. — Stray Leaves from Strange Literature is a collection of stories chiefly from oriental sources, retold by Lafcadio Hearn. (Osgood.) Mr. Hearn has selected those subjects which trench on the marvelous, and is himself evidently in love with the fantastic and bizarre. He has relied upon translators, but has touched his material with his own art. — Wit, Wisdom, and Philosophy of Jean Paul Richter, edited by Giles P. Hawley (Funk & Wagnalls) is prefaced by extracts from Carlyle’s essay and Longfellow’s Hyperion. The editor has classified his extracts, and Richter stands excerpting so well that one may take the book up with confidence.— Henry James’s A Little Tour in France (Osgood & Co.) is a volume that requires no introduction to readers of this magazine, in whose pages the contents were originally printed under the title of En Province. These delightful sketches of travel are of a kind that bears reprinting. — The author of John Halifax, Gentleman tells the quaint, domestic tale of Miss Tommy ; a little overcharged, possibly, with sentiment, but with so substantial a foundation of fact that one submits cheerfully to the draft on one’s emotion. With the story is the little sketch In a HouseBoat, which makes one wish to read over again Rudder Grange. (Harpers.) — The Adventures of a Widow, by Edgar Fawcett (Osgood), is a social novel. We wonder sometimes if it is because people are becoming used to the style that they do not stare when they come across such a sentence as this: “Mrs. Poughkeepsie rose. It always meant something when this lady rose. It meant a flutter of raiment, a deliberation of readjustment, a kind of superb massive dislocation.” Our modern novels are getting to be too heavily weighted with stuff like this. — The House on the Marsh (Appleton) is a damp, gruesome sort of story, told with an unwholesome power.—Annouchka, a tale by Turgenef, is translated by Franklin Abbott from the French of the author’s own translation (Cupples, Upham & Co.). Mr. Abbott’s version strikes us as very good, — at least it is good English. —The King’s Men, a tale of to-morrow (Scribners), is the joint production of four gentlemen, who cast a fictitious horoscope for Great Britain. — The Story of a Country Town, by E. W. Howe (Osgood), is a novel, reprinted from its first form in a Kansas publication, which has justly attracted attention. It is worth while to put up with the author’s melodrama and his ineffectual close, to discover the delicious cynicism of Lytle Biggs and the strong portrait of Rev. John Westlock. — In the Transatlantic Series (Putnams), The World we Live In, by Oswald Crawfurd, will satisfy those who like to see a stage villain choked in a Spectacular fashion at the end of a melodramatic story. Mr. Crawfurd’s world is a watering-place sort of a world. Nobody in it does anything for a living.

— Ten Years a Police Court Judge, by Judge Wiglittle, of a country circuit (Funk & Wagnalls), has the form of fiction, but professes also to record the experience of a New England justice. The book has much to interest one, but it reads as if too close contact with petty crime had rendered Judge Wiglittle a trifle careless about his own manners in literature. — ’49, the Gold-Seeker of the Sierras, by Joaquin Miller. (Funk & Wagnalls.) Mr. Miller succeeds in casting such an air of unreality over his story that we have great doubts whether it will be placed in the archives at Washington as a veracious chronicle of California. — Recent numbers of Harper’s Franklin Square Series are Curiosities of the Search-Room, a collection of serious and whimsical wills, which is rather material for fiction, than fiction, and Smedley’s well-known novel of Frank Fairlegh.

Current Poetry. Songs and Lyrics, by George Ambrose Dennison (Putnams), is an agreeable little volume in its out ward form ; the verse is that of a man who has an admiration for poetry abstractly considered, and deals chiefly with the elemental sources of inspiration, —the sea, the night, the pine-tree, the stars. The result is an impression of sincerity, though not of singular power or insight.— Verses, by Herbert Wolcott Bowen (Cupples, Upham & Co.), have the merit of simplicity, but it is simplicity which is not always to be distinguished from commonplace. — Lays from Over Sea, by William H. Babcock (W. Stewart & Co., London), is principally occupied with three narrative poems or ballads and two or three sonnets. There is a certain freedom of movement, but no singular art.— Alexander the Priest is a libretto for an opera, by William A. Swank (Randolph & English, Richmond, Va.) — Seven Hundred Album Verses, compiled by J. S. Ogilvie (J. S. Ogilvie & Co., New York), is for the benefit of people who are asked to write in albums. “ Great care,” the author says, “has been taken to procure as many original pieces as possible.” That will be convenient, for the persons who ask one to write in albums always prefer original pieces. — A California Pilgrimage, by one of the Pilgrims (S. Carson & Co., San Francisco), is a series of rhymed lines which turn out to be crippled Alexandrines. They cover a number of visits to various missions, and have some interest as descriptions, but one cannot help thinking that sturdy, walking prose would have answered the author’s purpose better. — The Confessions of Hermes and Other Poems (David McKay, Philadelphia) bears upon its titlepage the name of Paul Hermes as author. There is a frankness and thoughtfulness in the longest poem — which is in the nature of a spiritual autobiography— quite sure to carry to its conclusion any reader who is persuaded into beginning it. It will not be found a complete interpretation of the mystery of life, — Hermes suggests hermetical as well as hermeneutics,—but it puts well some searching questions. Several of the shorter poems have melody in them, but it is clear that the poet has not escaped from the mesh of speculation. He does not yet sing outside of his cage. — Katie, by Henry Timrod (E. J. Hale Son, New York), is a graceful little poem, with passable illustrations. One cannot read it without regret that a poet so simple and honest as Timrod should not be living to share in the literary spirit of his section, and to give the example of his reserve and good taste to verse-writers in general.

History and Politics. Universal History, the Oldest Historical Group of Nations and the Greeks, by Leopold von Ranke; edited by G. W. Prothero. (Harpers.) Mr. Prothero claims for the work that no similar attempt has been made to present a connected view of universal history in the English language. If completed, the work will occupy six or seven volumes more, the author’s intention being to bring the subject to date. “A collection of national histories,” says Von Ranke, “ whether on a larger or a smaller scale, is not what we mean by universal history, for in such a work the general connection of things is liable to be obscured. To recognize this connection, to trace the sequence of those great events which link all nations together and control their destinies, is the task which the science of universal history undertakes.” —Speeches, Arguments, and Miscellaneous Papers of David Dudley Field, edited by A. P. Sprague. (Appleton.) The contents extend over a period from 1839 to 1884, and embraces chiefly legal, international, and political subjects. — The Discoveries of America to the year 1525, by Arthur James Weise. (Putnams.) Mr. Weise has given the reader who knows how to use his book much convenient material.

Biography. Life and Public Services of Grover Cleveland, by Pendleton King (Putnams), has the merit that it confines itself to the actual public life of the Democratic candidate, and supplies the reader with the evidence, drawn from Mr. Cleveland’s own words and acts, for a confidence in him. The writer rarely intrudes his own opinions.

Books for Young People. Little Arthur’s History of England, by Lady Callcott (Crowell), is, we believe, a popular book in England. It is adapted to young noblemen and gentlemen, but the Writer, who deals chiefly with persons in her history, and very little with laws and institutions, tries hard to be fair in her treatment of those whom she instinctively dislikes.—Captain Phil, a Boy’s Experience in the Western Army during the War of the Rebellion, by M. M. Thomas (Holt) ; a tale in which the incidents of the war are real, the author using but little invention, apparently. The style is one of earnestness, and there is a fervor of patriotism which ought to take boys captive. It is adapted to the country north of Mason and Dixon’s line. — The Voyage of the Vivian to the North Pole and Beyond, by Thomas W. Knox (Harpers), is an ingenious narrative based upon the voyages of Arctic travelers, and carrying a ship into the problematical open Polar Sea. Mr. Knox helps himself judiciously to the works of travelers, and while he has not much freedom of style his material is so good Shat boys, with their cast-iron digestive powers, will have no difficulty in bolting the book.