Books of the Month
Biblical Criticism. The Pentateuch, its Origin and Structure, an Examination of Recent Theories, by E. C. Bissell. (Scribners.) Professor Bissell’s preface prepares one for a conservative yet generous treatment of the subject. He is clearly desirous of getting at the bottom of the matter, and that counts for a vast deal. In form the book is an examination of Wellhausen and similar critics, but in substance it is an inquiry into the documents which form the object of the destructive criticism, and bears many marks of independent thought as well as reverent handling. There is an extensive bibliography at the close, which is defective, however, in the fullness of name. Authors are entered sometimes with full name, sometimes only with surname. —The Blood Covenant, a Primitive Rite and its Bearings on Scripture, by H. Clay Trumbull. (Scribners.) This work is not exclusively a study in Biblical lore; it aims to include ethnic illustrations and interpretations of the Bible, but its main purport is to show how deep in human nature lies a very conspicuous element in Biblical ceremonial. Dr. Trumbull has brought together much interesting material, and if he has not opened a distinctly new subject, he has certainly let in a great deal of light from a side window which has been largely neglected by commentators and critics.
Education and Text Books. Summary of English Grammar, compiled for the use of the Notting Hill High School (Rivingtons, London): a compact little work built upon the same general principles as a Latin grammar. In the aim at condensation terms are used which, for beginners, would need explanation. — A Short Statement of the Aim and Method of the Rōmaji Kai, or Roman Alphabet Association of Japan (Tōkyō ; printed at the Insetsa-Kyoku, that is, Imperial Printing Office) : an interesting little pamphlet explanatory of the movement to occidentalize Japan by means of a transliteration of the alphabet into that used by Europe and America. —Elements of Universal History, for higher institutes in republics, and for self-instruction, by Professor H. M. Cottinger (Charles H. Whiting, Boston): a very compact work, which might well serve as a skeleton for a teacher’s use. The division by periods is judicious, and when one considers the task which the compiler set himself one is disposed to think he has got out of it very well, with no undue eccentricity of his own, but a steady regard for the essential facts. — The Science of the Mind applied to Teaching, by N. J. Hoffman. (Fowler & Wells Co.) The mental philosophy employed is that of phrenology, and whether or not as a consequence, the application is of a most vague and rule-of-thumb sort. — Manual of the Botany (Phænogamia and Pteridophyta) of the Rocky Mountain Region from New Mexico to the British Boundary, by John M. Coulter. (Ivison.) This manual is designed to be complementary to Dr. Gray’s well-known work, and its publication in solid, dignified form gives one a lively sense of the scientific and educational development of the people in the western half of the country. — In Harper’s classical series for schools and colleges appears Professor W. A. Lamberton’s edition of the Sixth and Seventh Books of Thucydides, with an introductory essay, explanatory notes, and indexes. — Elements of Inorganic Chemistry, descriptive and qualitative, by James H. Shepard. (Heath.) This elementary work embodies the experience and experiments of a teacher in a high school. — Colloquial Exercises and Select German Reader for schools and colleges, by William Deutsch. (Ginn.) Mr. Deutseh accepts the popular theory of the acquisition of a foreign language, by which the colloquial use is made the foundation, ne also advises the fuller use of the memory on the part of the student, and has therefore supplied a number of short stories and anecdotes for practice. — Studies in General History, by Mary D. Sheldon (Heath), is a presentation in orderly form of a series of exercises which employ the materials of history. That is to say, Miss Sheldon, taking in turn distinct periods in history, gives a hint of the sources of our information and of accessible authorities, follows with a chronological summary of leading events, provides lists of names of important persons then on the stage, and gives striking extracts from contemporary writers, laws, statutes, and other sources of historical knowledge, and also from trustworthy commentators. In connection with all this she outlines, by means of questions, the study of specific points. The book ought to be very suggestive to teachers. It. is provided with a number of maps, wisely relieved of much detail. — Reflections and Modern Maxims, by Batchelder Greene (Putnam’s Sons), is a little volume containing a great many pithy things.
Fiction. Mrs. Herndon’s Income, by Helen Campbell (Roberts), is a novel which leaves on the mind a great respect for the author’s earnestness of purpose in grappling with the problems of poverty and wealth, and for her power of living into her characters, but also a regret that a finer instinct for art should not enable her to present her subject not merely within briefer compass, but in a form which invites reading. To read the book as it stands is to set one’s self a task, and however excellent the results may be which one reaches, the reader ought not to be made to pay so dearly for reaching them. — White Heather is one of William Black’s clever novels, —there is no reason why he should not go on forever with them, now he has caught the knack, — and an entertaining touch is given by the introduction of the Western girl as conceived by the English novelist. (Harpers.) — A Lucky Waif, a Story for Mothers of Home and School Life, by Ellen E. Kenyon. (Fowler & Wells.) There is a good deal of naturalness in this book to atone for the lack of clear conception of what constitutes a novel. The author has seemingly sketched real people, and her desire to tell a simple story has saved her from failure. — Without a Compass, by Frederick B. Van Vorst (Appleton) : a novel in which the author and reader both lose their way repeatedly. Mr. Van Vorst has a confused notion of the unpleasant story he wants to tell, but he has no skill in telling it. — A Long Search, by Mary A. Roe (Dodd, Mead & Co.): a sentimentalist’s story, who uses sensational scenes for the purpose of her story, and does not let them grow naturally out of the conditions of the characters, — Sweet Cicely, or Josiah Allen as a Politician, by Marietta Holley (Funk & Wagnalls): a temperance story, with much inconsistent bad spelling, a good deal of irrelevant and forced humor, and a substratum of sense and good feeling. — An Iron Crown (T. S. Denison, Chicago): a laborious story, apparently intended to lay bare the iniquities of railway monopolies. As fiction it is hopelessly dull.— The Quiver, an Illustrative Magazine for Sunday and general reading, Vol. XX. (Cassell.) Fiction occupies a considerable part of this miscellany, and one can hardly help noting how different an evangelical miscellany is to-day from what it was two generations ago. There is a good deal of direct religious teaching in The Quiver, but it is on its stories, we should say, that it relies for popularity. — The Story of Margaret Kent, by Henry Hayes (Ticknor) : a story of unhappy married life, of heroism in woman, of temptation, and of final satisfaction to the parties most interested.—The Record of a Ministering Angel, by Mrs. Mary J. Clark. (Belford, Clarke & Co., Chicago.) Mrs. Clark by the introduction of angels among the characters in her story does what she can do, unintentionally, to weaken one’s faith in the existence of such beings; but then, by the same reasoning, her treatment of human beings might lessen one’s faith in the existence of persons. Or rather, if her men and women are so far from correct portraitures of life, one may guess that her angelic beings are equally remote from the actual. — Cleopatra, by Henry Gréville (Ticknor): a moral tale of unholy passions. There is something exquisitely absurd in the impulse of the heroine, when she finds herself loving and loved by the young hero, to rush into her old husband’s arms and tell him of it. — The Major’s Christmas and Other Stories, by Patience Stapleton (News Printing Co., Denver, Col.) A collection of what may almost he called old-fashioned Christmas stories, in which faith, hope, and charity are given their just dues once a year, and fiction is touched with the rosy hue of the Christmas rose. Good-will to men is at the bottom of the stories, and optimism seem the natural gospel. — A Strong-Minded Woman, or Two Years After, by William A. Hammond (Appleton), is a sequel to the author’s Lal, and belongs in the third class of novels, as arranged by Dr. Hammond, — Recent numbers of Harper’s Franklin Square Library are Cradle and Spade, by William Sime; The Golden Flood, by R. E. Francillon and William Senior; and Unfairly Won, by Nannie Power O’Donoghue. — Recent numbers of Harper’s Handy Series are The Dark House, by G. Manville Fenn; The Bachelor Vicar of Newforth, by Mrs. J. Harcourt-Roe; In the Middle Watch, sea stories by W. Clark Russell; Last Days at Apswich; Cabin and Gondola, by Charlotte Dunning.
Humor and Sport. The Good Things of Life, second series. (White, Stokes & Allen.) It is a dangerous thing to bring these good things together. Seen accidentally, one at a time, they have good points, but taken together they are rather depressing. They make a poor show by the side of Du Manner, and above all by the side of Leech. Occasionally they are silly and offensive, — Here may be placed, also, Wonders of Bodily Strength and Skill in all ages and countries (Scribners), since it deals especially with games and acrobatic exploits. —A Handbook of Whist, and ready reference manual of the modern scientific game, by “ Major Tenace ” (Putnams), avoids discussion, but digests rules and principles, and presents them in a direct, dogmatic form. — The Infant Philosopher, Stray Leaves from a Baby’s Journal, by Tullio S. Verdi, M. D. (Fords): a somewhat amusing little book, supposed to be a record of the way in which a baby looks upon the familiar objects about him. Dr. Verdi manages also to work in some good sense as to the treatment of babies. We must commend the author for keeping on the right side of the line in his humor, for the subject could easily be spoiled.
Poetry and the Drama. The Harpers have published Tennyson’s Tiresias and Other Poems in their Handy Series. There have been some interesting changes, especially in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade and All Hands Round, since the first printing of some of the poems, — The Humbler Poets, a collection of newspaper and periodical verse, 1870 to 1885, by Slason Thompson. (Jansen, McClurg & Co., Chicago.) The preface to this book contains also a brief list of the Lesser Poets, who Stand just above the line. We wonder who stands below the line of the Humbler Poets. The book is in effect the Poets Corner of the newspaper, extended so as to occupy the space of the entire abbey. The collection is considerable and has its value, though we fancy a reader, even within ten years, will be puzzled to know why the editor included some writers: who seem to one well up in the line of the Lesser Poets. — A Bundle of Sonnets, and Other Poems, by Henry Hartshorne. (Porter & Coates.) From the date attached to some of these poems we can hardly excuse Mr, Hartshorne on the score of youth. — Songs of Sleepy Hollow, and Other Poems, by Stephen Henry Thayer. (Putnams.) Mr. Thayer’s collection of his poems ranges over a number of years, and includes apparently the casual recreations of an otherwise busy man. — Joseph, a dramatic representation in seven tableaux, by Rev. Henry Iliowizi. (Tribune Printing Co., Minneapolis.) The author follows the Biblical account, and undertakes to give a series of dialogues within the range of presentation by young men’s literary societies. We really think the voting men might commit to memory poetry better worth the trouble. — Ashes for Flame, and other poems, by Caroline Dana Howe. (Loring, Short, and Hannon, Portland, Me.) — Three Score Poems, by William P. Tynan. (Hurst & Co., New York.) — Montezuma, an Epic on the Origin and Fate of the Aztec Nation, by Hiram Hoyt Richmond. (Golden Era Co., San Francisco), reads as if the author, from struggling with such proper names as Nezahualpilli, Huitzilopototchli, Moctheuzoma, Quetzalcoatl, and the like, had resolved even his English phrases into a sort of Mexican unreadableness, in which grammar, spelling, and rhythm frequently disappear. It is not often that one comes upon such a foggy poem as this. — Poems of the Law, collected by J. Greenbag Croke (Whitney, San Francisco), contains poems by W. Allen Butler, Thackeray, Story, and one or two others, which are amusing in greater or less degree to the layman, while the lawyer will often laugh all by himself. The version of Story’s A Roman Lawyer in Jerusalem is very incomplete. — Poems, by William Wet more Story, in two volumes (Houghton), gives in trig form a collection which will surprise many by its variety and interest. The author has an uncommon gift at storytelling, he has a quick eye and ear, he has melody, and sometimes he interprets with singular felicity. It may be said that one reads these volumes without effort, for they have a companionable quality, and this is a somewhat unusual element in poetry. If is the first time that the American reader has had the opportunity to measure the scope of Mr. Story’s poetical faculty, and we shall be surprised if the two volumes do not at once find a response among readers. — The Poems of Henry Abbey. (Henry Abbey, Kingston, New York.) We cannot but respect the sturdiness and independence with which Mr. Abbey quietly insists upon being heard ; nor can it be denied that he has justification for his confidence. — The Thought of God in Hymns and Poems, by Frederick L. Hosmer and William C. Gannett (Roberts Bros.): a collection of verses into which has gone much sincerity of feeling, some poetical thought, and a good deal of easy, metrical expression. — Poems, by Jamin Willsbro. (Benjamin F. Lacy, Philadelphia.) Large type, large page. — The Inca Princess, an historical romance. (Lippincott.) The poem dates, for its subject, from the time of De Soto. It is illustrated by a number of engravings on wood which do not detract from the merits of the verse.
Theology and Philosophy. Ideology, by Dr. La Roy Sunderland. (J. P. Mendum, Boston.) Dr. Sunderland thinks that if Ideology, or the laws of Involution and Evolution, were to be appreciated and generally adopted, it would annihilate Christianity from the face of the earth, and the curious reader will find in this work an odd collection of psychological freaks and whims. — For lack of a better place, though the subject wants a section to itself in this sleeping-car, we enter here The Next World Interviewed, by Mrs. S. G. Horn. (Thomas R. Knox & Co., New York.) Mrs. Horn stays, we understand, on this side, and overhears people talking across the chasm. It is a varied and friendly lot of people who hail Mrs. Horn. Titian and Horace Greeley and Herodotus, Secretary Seward, John Stuart Mill, the Pope, Longfellow, Darwin, George Eliot, and ever so many more, ending with A Stranger, who appears not to have found anybody to introduce him or her, — all deliver themselves with ghosts of voices squeaking a little like their human ones. It will be a comfort to some that Jane Carlyle has telephoned to Mrs. Horn, “ I assert that Thomas Carlyle was ever thoughtful of my comfort and happiness.” — The Insuppressible Book: a controversy between Herbert Spencer and Frederic Harrison, with comments by Gail Hamilton. (Cassino.) Insuppressible, that is, because, though the original publishers yielded courteously to the request of one of the authors, there is no international treaty or law which prevents another publisher and editor from reviving the work. We suspect, however, that time will suppress this edition as faithfully as it did some of the editor’s earlier work. — In Questions of the Day (Putnams) a recent number is The Evolution of Revelation, by James Morris Whiton. Perhaps a short, hasty piece of writing like this helps on its subject, but we doubt whether it be not wiser to take large subjects in a large way. — My Study, and Other Essays, by Austin Phelps. (Scribners.) Dr. Phelps’s collection of essays, previously printed in ephemeral journals, is not wholly, but mainly, theological in its subjects, it contains also some half-personal sketches like that which gives the title to the volume, and there are many agreeable observations on society and public life from the point of view of a thoughtful theologian whose half-recluse life follows one of active participation in discussion and in religious movements. — Problems in Philosophy, by John Bascom (Putnams), is a collection of contributions to the discussion of the more obscure topics of philosophy. President Bascom is well worth listening to, and we scarcely know why he has not before this secured a very conspicuous place in philosophical literature, unless it be that the form of his writing is not altogether a lucid and attractive one. — Ecclesiastical Institutions, being Part VI. of the Principles of Sociology, by Herbert Spencer. (Appleton.) Mr. Spencer in this volume carries forward his method of comparison of existing types, by which he hopes to reach fundamental principles. — Beyond the Grave, by Dr. Hermann Cremer, translated from the German by Rev. S. T. Lowrie, and introduced by Dr. A. A. Hodge. (Harpers.) While an inquiry into the state after death, this little book is based upon biblical exegesis, quite exclusively. — Evolution and Religion, from the standpoint of one who believes in both, by Minot J. Savage (Buchanan, Philadelphia): a lecture which is in part a criticism of a previous lecture by the Rev. Mr. Talmage. — Progressive Orthodoxy, a contribution to the Christian interpretation of Christian doctrines, by the editors of the Andover Review. (Houghton.) The papers making up this trim little volume have already appeared as editorial articles in the review from which they are taken. Collected, and read continuously, they furnish, so to speak, the creed of a school of Christian thought. We suspect that the position of the writers leads them to emphasize certain questions somewhat more than a purely rational consideration of the relation of these subjects to the body of Christian faith would require.