Books of the Month
Political Economy and Sociology. Studies in Modern Socialism and Labor Problems, by T. Edwin Brown. (Appleton.) Dr. Brown is a Baptist clergyman in Providence, and his book is the outcome of a series of lectures delivered in his church. He writes intelligently, sympathetically, and earnestly, and gathers into convenient form much of the current thinking on the topics propounded. The book also contains a useful bibliography. We regard the studies as a contribution to a better knowledge of the subject, rather than as a new and forcible advance in thought. —The Labor Movement in America, by Richard T. Ely (Crowell), is an attempt at the history of what is mainly very recent in activity. Dr. Ely’s industry and honesty have made him familiar with the current which he is studying. His sympathy with the workmen, if sometimes a little unreasoning, is at least likely to win him their attention; and if he can keep his head clear on the distinction between a science and the practical application of the principles discovered in it, there is no reason why his continued work should not reduce the friction which exists between different kinds of workmen. His book brings together a great deal of interesting and valuable material, and it is a pity that it has no index. — Protection or Free Trade, an examination of the tariff question with especial regard to the interests of labor, by Henry George. (The Author, New York.) Mr. George is always interesting, and he has the advantage over other students of science that he has a clearly held hypothesis, — the ownership of land by the state, — which can he applied to any question that may come up. A panacea is a great simplifier, and the inventor of it always seems puzzled to explain why everybody does not want it. —Labor, Land, and Law, a search for the missing wealth of the working poor, by W. A. Phillips. (Scribners. ) Mr. Phillips has a good sense of the orderly development of his subject, and he has marshaled in convenient shape an array of interesting facts, involving criticism of many writers. But he is fair, and he appears to be unburdened by any theory which commits him to a single remedy. On the contrary, he recognizes the complexity of the subject, and sits down patiently before his problem. The book is worth consideration. — The Country Banker, his clients, cares, and work: from an experience of forty years. By George Rae, with an American preface by Brayton Ives. (Scribners.) Mr. Rae has been for many years a banker in Liver-
pool, and is a man of fine culture, who has been identified with art interests. His book is therefore not a purely technical treatise, but a clear and readable account of a business which has a wide bearing on human interests. —A Plain Man’s Talk on the Labor Question, by Simon Newcomb. (Harpers.) Mr. Newcomb, who holds a high rank as a mathematician, appears here without his scholastic gown, talking as plainly as he can. His main contention is that the expression of American thought in legislation is at odds with the plain sense of the American people, and he believes in legislative reform as an important factor. — Economics for the People, being plain talks on economics, especially for use in business, in schools, and in women’s reading classes, by R. R. Bowker. (Harpers.) It will not be the fault of writers if plain people miss a knowledge of economies. Mr. Bowker writes with an engaging frankness which leads one into his book before he can formulate any objections to it. Neither is one likely to leave it with many objections. Within the simple limits which it sets for itself it is sensible and suggestive. — The American Citizen’s Manual, by Worthington C. Ford, is a double number of Questions of the Day. (Putnams.) It is a useful and in the main impartial statement of the machinery of our government and of the relation which the government holds to the individual. So far as it explains the practical working of the machinery it is especially useful to young citizens. —An Investor’s Notes on American Railroads, by John Swann. (Putnams.) These notes do not traverse the whole railroad problem, but concern only that range of conditions which affects the interest of the investor, and by the investor the foreigner is especially intended to be edified. The general outlook is encouraging rather than otherwise. — Unwise Laws, a consideration of the operations of a protective tariff upon industry, commerce, and society, by Lewis H. Blair. (Putnams.) The author claims that he attacks the very citadel of protection, and that he writes in the interest of the greatest individual freedom. He is vigorous and headlong in his style, and gives himself very little concern about anything but the equality of men before the law, by which he means not only the law as administered by the courts, but the law as formulated by Congress. He pleads for direct taxation and diminution of governmental interference with trade and internal improvements. — The Irish Question (Scribners) is Mr. Gladstone’s apologia protheoria sua. — The Sovereigns of Industry, by E. M. Chamberlin (Lee & Shepard), is an interesting account of the organization, preceded by sketches of the rise and growth of similar combinations of laborers. Mr. Chamberlin writes from interior knowledge, and his little book is worth more than many speculative treatises. — The Labor Problem, plain questions and practical answers, by William E. Barnes. (Harpers. ) A large part of this volume consists of brief contributions to the subject by business men. The book, introduced by Dr. Ely, becomes thus a sort of plebiscite, by which one can gauge with some accuracy the general view of the country.
Holiday and Art Books. Home Fairies and Heart Flowers is the enigmatical-sentimental title of a book containing twenty studies of children’s heads with floral embellishments, head and tail pieces and initial letters, by Frank French, accompanied by poems by Margaret E. Sangster. (Harpers.) The book is peculiarly Mr. French’s. He has taken his subjects from life and from photographs, and has done his work with the graver, printing in black and white. The attempt was one worth making, but we wish the artist had taken more pains to give the children in action, or under conditions which free them from self-consciousnessThe charm in art when dealing with childhood is largely dependent upon the absence of selfconsciousness, and the great masters, notably Reynolds, were very apt to throw a slight veil of masquerading over a child in order to protect it. Mr. French has done this in one or two cases, but as a rule his heads have the air of being photographs translated into engravings, and as such lack the personal interest which saves the photograph. — A Trip around the World, by George Moerlein. (M. & R. Burgheim, Cincinnati.) This book is singular among the books of the season for its reliance on illustrations printed in oil-colors. There are 110 of these, occupying pages by themselves, singly or in groups. They certainly afford a variety to the eye sated with the refinements of wood-engraving. The text is mainly from newspaper letters, written by the author when on his tour. He writes in a plain, unimaginative style, not so highly colored as his pictures. — Happy Hunting-Grounds, a tribute to the woods and fields, hy William Hamilton Gibson. (Harpers.) Mr. Gibson, as is well known, uses both his pen and pencil, and in this handsome book has shown himself a true lover of nature and a delicate transcriber. Perhaps so much delicacy makes us hypercritical, but we are tempted to ask if he has not in some instances tried to give the eye more than it can carry; fineness of detail, namely, together with breadth of effect. This is not the
case with A Breezy Upland, which seems to us one of the best pictures in the book, and one where the single thought of the subject has not been confused by an attempt at telling too much. — The Closing Scene, by Thomas Buchanan Read. (Lippincott.) Mr. Read’s poem has been illustrated by a number of artists, Gibson, Pyle, Taylor, Garrett, Low, being some of them, and the designs have been engraved with great refinement of touch and a general even skill. The lines seem scarcely to warrant so much art, and the question naturally rises, Why give so costly a setting to so commonplace a stone ? To he sure, the lines contain convenient suggestions, but we hold that illustrated books should justify their being. —Aegle and the Elf, a Fantasy, by M. B. M. Toland. (Lippincott.) The poem here illustrated is of the class of poems of which Drake’s Culprit Fay is the best known example. It has no merit beyond the intention of the author to be satisfied with an idle fancy, and not to press it too far. Upon it as a basis has been built an illustrated book of the photogravure kind. The smallness of the book works against the success of the photogravures, which as a rule require more room for their best effects. One or two of St. John Harper’s pictures, however, are striking, and the representation of a high-relief sculpture is noticeable. — The Madonna of the Tubs, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, with forty-three original illustrations by Ross Turner and George H. Clements. (Houghton.) The process method does not seem to have been eminently successful in this book; the slight sketches which should owe their charm to lightness and grace are broken by the mechanical process into uncertainty and general feebleness. The story itself is one which appeals to the pathetic sense, and translates the plain experience of humble life into a form which is decorative and ornamental. — Beckonings for Every Day, a calendar of thought, arranged by Lucy Larcom. (Houghton.) Miss Larcom has arranged under three hundred and sixty-five heads selections in prose and verse from those writers, old and new, who are in finest sympathy with the spiritual aspirations, and the form of whose thought is neither antiquated nor fantastic. The thoughts are grouped under heads which suggest the procession of the months, and the book as a whole strikes one as well conceived and excellently executed. — Holy Tides, by Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney. (Houghton.) In a little paper-covered book, with titles printed in gold and colors, Mrs. Whitney has presented the subjects of the great Christian festivals and fast in verse. — Isaac Abbott, a ballad of Hartford, North America, with the original air, and illustrated by E. P. C. (Robert Clarke & Co., Cincinnati.) Mr. Cranch has rescued from oblivion an old New England ballad, with the music to which it was sung, and has set it forth with illustrations of his own, outlines in sepia. The ballad iS quite worthy to rank with “ On Springfield Mountain there did dwell,” and the editor has set it forth amusingly. Evidently Connecticut people had some fun in them in spite of Dr. Peters.
Fiction. The Old Order Changes, by W. H. Mallock (Putnams), is an attempt by that showy, half-truthful writer to indicate through the medium of a novel something of the present social condition of England. His faculty for taking on the hues of the objects which he moves among is exceedingly deceptive, and almost takes the place of insight. —The House at High Bridge, by Edgar Fawcett. (Ticknor.) Mr. Fawcett disappoints us. His books seem to grow commoner instead of choicer, and now he hampers himself with a plot which has a second-hand air about it, and commits that blunder, which is worse than a crime, of making literature and literary men the material in which to work. What is more unreal in a small way than the picture of an artist painting an artist ? — and a novel in which a novelist is the central figure seems equally shadowy. — Memoirs of Arthur Hamilton, B. A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, extracted from his letters and diaries, with reminiscences of his conversation, by his friend Christopher Carr. (Holt.) A novel in the form of a biography, and illustrative of phases of doubt. The book is thoughtful and sometimes penetrating, but on the whole can scarcely be called successful as a work of art. In attempting to give vraisemblance to the biographic form, the author seems to us to have overworked himself, and thereby to weary the reader a little. — A Fortnight in Heaven, by Harold Brydges. (Holt.) This is, as the author says, ‘ a reductio ad absurdum of the argument for government interference in all the relations of life.” The conception of a heaven which is a magnified Chicago is not especially witty, and we wish the author had contented himself with assuming a Jupiter Chicago, instead of mixing it up with heaven. There is a good deal of rough sarcasm in the book and some effective passages. — The Marquis of Peñalta, a realistic social novel, by Don Armando Palacio Valdés, translated from the Spanish by Nathan Haskell Dole. (Crowell.) Mr. Dole has made a readable translation, marred occasionally by what seem errors of taste, of a book which throws some light on the interior life of Spain to-day, — a subject novel to most readers. — The Psychologist, by Putnam P. Bishop (Putnams), is a queer affair. The author gives himself very little trouble to tell a story with definite purpose, but he manages to reel off ever so many opinions, some of them sensible; to introduce a great many people, none of them very much alive ; and to keep the reader constantly baffled in his effort to determine just what the outcome of the book is. — John Jerome, his Thoughts and Ways, a book without beginning, by Jean Ingelow. (Roberts.) Miss Ingelow has perhaps been reading Southey’s The Doctor; at any rate, she follows somewhat the method, or want of method, of that book. We cannot say that she has achieved a success. There is no story to speak of, but a good many small incidents, a little characterization, some smart sayings, and a general hodge-podge, as if she had emptied her workbasket, and were putting back the things as fast as she found them. Miss Ingelow is hardly witty enough to shine in such an experiment.— It is just fifty years since The Pickwick Papers was given to the world. Macmillan & Co. have celebrated the event by issuing what they call the Jubilee Edition of that work, edited by Charles Dickens the younger, who furnishes an interesting introduction and other supplementary matter. The text of the two volumes is fully illustrated by designs from Seymour, Browne, and several later artists.
History and Biography. Perley’s Reminiscences of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis, by Ben: Perley Poore. (Hubbard Bros., Philadelphia.) The first volume of this work brings the narrative down to the war for the Union. Major Poore’s long residence and official position in Washington and his training as a newspaper correspondent have been both an advantage and a disadvantage to him. The scrappy style produced by a long series of gossipy jottings in a newspaper letter has passed over into the book, and the perspective is not especially regarded; great and small things are huddled together, and one reads and reads, with a feeling that he is coming to a point some time or other. On the other hand, familiarity with his subject enables the author to speak with a certain fullness and readiness which cause the reader to feel very much at home in the society of which he is getting this outside glimpse. — Reminiscences of the Filibuster War in Nicaragua, by C. W. Doubleday. (Putnams.) An entertaining book about a passage of history which seems to belong rather to romance. Every one who writes on this topic necessarily deals much with General Walker’s personality, and we see no reason why Walker may not become in time a picturesque figure in American historical romance. The whole filibuster movement was one of the sporadic shoots of the slavery policy, and as such will have an interest much beyond what its intrinsic importance would excite. —
Recollections of Eminent Men, with other papers, by Edwin Percy Whipple (Ticknor), is a collection of Mr. Whipple’s later magazine papers, and is prefaced by the discourse given at his funeral by Dr. Bartol. Mr. Whipple is known to readers so well by his criticism of the Elizabethan literature that such a volume as this goes far toward displaying that warm intellectual interest which he had in his contemporaries. Reading it afresh, one is struck by the fullness of Mr. Whipple’s knowledge as well as by the critical insight which he had. He never lost himself in merely wordy generalization. — The excellent work begun by Professor Baird in his History of the Rise of the Huguenots is continued in The Huguenots and Henry of Navarre, just issued in two volumes. (Scribner’s Sons.) It is to be hoped that the author will complete his plan of bringing the history down to the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. — Persia and the Persians, by S. G. W. Benjamin (Ticknor & Co.), is the interesting literary result of Mr. Benjamin’s two years’ residence in Persia as an attaché to the United States Legation at Teherân. We shall probably have occasion to speak more in detail of the work. — Macmillan & Co. have published a new edition of Lanfrey’s Napoleon the First in four neat volumes. That Lanfrey did not live to complete his brilliant history is regretted even by those readers who disagree with the author’s estimate of Napoleon Bonaparte, among which readers we class ourselves. — Documents Illustrative of American History, with Introductions and References by Howard W. Preston (Putnam’s Sons), consists of a series of reprints of important papers not easily accessible to the general reader. The period covered is from 1606 to 1863. To the student of American history this compilation is a necessity.
Poetry. Songs and Ballads of the Southern People, 1861—1865, collected and edited by Frank Moore. (Appleton.) This new collection is one more mournful testimony to the failure of war to produce poets. There are one or two striking lyrics by men otherwise unknown, but most of the verses come as near to poetry as a drum and fife do to a violin. — Chansons du Matin, by Rachel Reynear. (Putnams.) For morning songs there is a doleful absence of hope and bright prospect in these verses. They read as if the singer had waked after uncomfortable dreams. There is a certain amount of suggestiveness in the poetry, but the poems show signs of ingenuity rather than its kinsman genius. — The Vision of Gold and other Poems, by Lillian Rozell Messenger. (Putnams.) We wish Miss Messenger would cultivate her ear more carefully before trying ours. —Lyrics of Life, by John Grosvenor Wilson. (Caxton Book Concern, New York.)
This little book indicates more virility than is usually found in books of its class, bat it does not make one sure that poetry is a necessity to the writer. — Daisies of Verse, by Mrs. S. L. Oberholtzer. (Lippincott.) Written apparently for the reading of the author’s friends.
Science and Nature. Man and his Handiwork, by the Rev. J. G. Wood (S. P. C. K., Youngs, New York), is a rambling, chatty book by a popular author, in which he connects the invention of man with many contrivances of lower animals, and shows the development of complex forms from simple ones. The book is an entertaining one, and is like the familiar talk of a very widely read and observing man.
— The Age of Electricity, from Amber-Soul to Telephone, by Park Benjamin, Ph. D. (Scribners), is not a technical treatise, but simply, as the author says, “an effort to present the leading principles of electrical science, their more important applications, and of these last the stories, in a plain and it is hoped a readable way.” It is pleasant to see the increasing volume of tribute to Joseph Henry. It is not impossible that his work in the initiation of telegraphs will yet be popularly recognized.
— Electricity in the Service of Man : a popular and practical treatise on the applications of electricity in modern life. From the German of Dr. Alfred Ritter von Urbanitzky, edited with copious additions by R. Wormell, with an introduction by John Perry. (Cassell.) This octavo, though called popular, is much more technical in its method than Mr. Benjamin’s book. It is full and very abundantly illustrated. The subject is treated topically rather than historically. —Life, its Nature, Origin, Development, and the psychical related to the physical, by Salem Wilder. (Rockwell & Churchill, Boston.) Mr. Wilder has read widely, thoughtfully, and with discrimination, and he has contributed his own views without ostentation or dogmatic positivism. His positions are seriously and one thinks slowly taken. — Two recent volumes of the International Scientific Series (Appleton) are Earthquakes and other Earth Movements, by John Milne, and Microbes, Ferments, and Moulds, by E. L. Trouessart. In the former case the experience of the author during his residence in Japan has been of great service, but his book after all leaves on one the impression that we are far yet from an exact knowledge of the nature and causes of seismic disturbance. The latter volume is written largely from a botanical point of view, and aims at practical elucidation of the microbian theory.
Education and Text Books. The excellent Studies in General History, by Mary W. Sheldon (Heath), is now provided with a Teacher’s Manual, in which the author supplements her work by carefully prepared analyses and by much suggestive criticism. Such books add dignity to teaching by lessening the opportunity for mere hearing of recitations. — The Chautauqua Movement, by John H. Vincent, with an introduction by President Lewis Miller. (Chautauqua Press, Boston.) This movement is about a dozen years old, but it has developed so rapidly and now reaches so many people that Dr. Vincent, who has been a prime mover, very properly undertakes to tell its story. It is not strange that he should be enthusiastic over the success of Chautauqua, — probably his own enthusiasm had something to do with that success; but it strikes us that the boastfulness of the volume is less of an indication of the future growth of the plan than a more reserved tone would have been. Has Dr. Vincent laid his armor off yet ? — Mr. W. J. Rolfe has added to his useful editions of the poets for schools Childe Harold, a selection from Tennyson (Ticknor), and a selection from Robert Browning (Harpers). It is a pleasure to have an editor who looks first, last, and always to the accuracy of his text. All else is based on this. — Professor W. S. Tyler, of Amherst College, has edited Books XVI.-XXIV. of the Iliad, with explanatory notes for the use of students in college. (Harpers.) His notes are copious and possibly a little too much in the nature of easy helps, but his treatment is that of a teacher who loves his author. — The Philosophy of Words, a popular introduction to the science of language, by F. Garlanda. (Lovell.) Mr. Garlanda uses the accepted results of scholars, and arranges his material in a methodical form, which is convenient to the general reader and sufficiently scientific to enable one to use the book as a general textbook introductory to the study of philology. — The Elements of Chemical Arithmetic, with a short system of elementary qualitative analysis, by J. Milnor Coit. (Heath.) Intended to supplement the teaching of the text-books of descriptive chemistry, and as a companion to them. — Entertainments in Chemistry, easy lessons and directions for safe experiments, by Harry W. Tyler. (Interstate Publishing Co., Chicago.) Useful as a coaxer into chemical studies, but not to be taken as a substitute.