Literature, and Literary Criticism. Confessions and Criticism, by Julian Hawthorne. (Ticknor.) Mr. Hawthorne is so frank in his autobiographic introduction that it would be hard not to forgive him for a certain good-natured contempt of his audience. We may even find some clue to his rather contemptuous treatment of his profession of literature. Yet it is difficult to see why a writer who has so level a head as Mr. Hawthorne carries in his critical papers should not also have a keener literary conscience, and be a severer critic of his own work. So many good writers have been spoiled in him that we should think he would look ruefully on the general result. This book, a scrabble of half-finished works, irritates the reader by its healthy thought and hasty expression. — Eminent Authors of the Nineteenth Century, literary portraits, by Georg Brandes, translated from the original by Rasmus B. Anderson. (Crowell.) Dr. Brandes has selected nine subjects for his gallery: of these five are
Scandinavian, Andersen, Ibsen, Björnson, Tegnèr, and Paladan-Müller; two are French, Renan and Flaubert; one is German, Heyse; and one English, Mill. But all are modern, and all are rather distinct figures than representative men. Dr. Brandes is not only acute, he is sensitive and sympathetic ; he writes with real insight, and his results are stated not dogmatically, but with the manner of one who is eager only to miss nothing important in the relations of his subjects. His book does what many works of a like character do not, — it really opens the subjects, and leads one to wish to look deep. —Humorous Masterpieces from American Literature, edited by Edward T. Mason. (Putnams.) Mr. Mason was very likely restricted in his choice in individual cases. At any rate, a critical judgment of each author represented would substitute certain real masterpieces for some pieces which are humorous, but scarcely masterly. We are, however, relieved to find that better taste has presided over the selection than is commonly shown in such books, and one is not depressed by the presence of much sham humor. — Modern Idols, studies in biography and criticism, by William Henry Thorne. (Lippincott.) Mr. Thorne takes certain authors whom he conceives to be especially idolized, Arnold, Browning, Burns, Carlyle, George Eliot, Georg’e Sand, and a musician, Ole Bull, and inspects the images critically to see if they are as worshipful as their admirers think. He is often acute in his discrimination, and there is a healthy tone to his judgment, but his literary sense is not highly developed, his style is disjointed, and there is in general a hit or miss manner which does not increase one’s confidence in the author’s thoughtfulness and reasonableness of temper. — Genius in Sunshine and Shadow, by Maturin M. Ballou. (Ticknor.) Mr, Ballou seems to have taken for his model the Library Notes of Mr. Russell, and in a volume of three hundred pages has made a mosaic of anecdote respecting the habits and fortunes of men of genius, especially men of literary genius. After reading it through one would have the feeling that he had begun his feast at the latter end of the menu. —The Evolution of the Snob, by Thomas Sergeant Perry. (Ticknor.) Mr. Perry has made a capital book. He has searched literature for the snob at successive periods, and he has thrown an interesting side-light on contemporary manners and morals. His characterization of American life is acute and pungent. Indeed, a virtue of the book is its brevity, its willingness to stop when it has said its say. — Othello and Desdemona, their characters, and the manner of Desdemona’s death, with a notice of Calderon’s debt to Shakespeare, by Dr. Ellits. (Lippincott.) A small volume of Shakespeare studies, written with care and with confidence in Shakespeare’s truthfulness to nature. —William Shakespeare, by Victor Hugo, translated by Melville B. Anderson. (A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago.) Victor Hugo’s book was designed to accompany his son’s translation of Shakespeare’s dramas, and has a special interest from its illustration of the subject not only from the point of view of a great romantic writer, but from the French as opposed to the English temper. There is, as usual, a good deal of fireworks, and writer and reader frequently forget Shakespeare altogether. There is a whole Atlantic voyage between Victor Hugo and Shakespeare, and yet each dominates his fellows. — Home Life of Great Authors, by Hattie Tyng Griswold. (McClurg.) Some thirty sketches of English and American authors chiefly, and of those most familiar to the ordinary reader. They are pleasant, unpretentious papers, of no special critical value, but free from mannerisms and ignoble triviality.
History. The Pioneer Quakers, by Richard P. Hallowell (Houghton), is an expansion of a lecture delivered by the author, in which the peaceful sect is somewhat violently defended against the aspersions of historical writers. As a corrective of partisan views it is useful, but it does not touch the deeper question of quakerism in its relation to institutionalism. — The Aztecs, their history, manners, and customs, from the French of Lucien Biart, by J. L. Garner. (A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago. ) Instead of questioning the trustworthiness of a writer who is anxious to please, we ought to thank so skillful an author as M. Biart for fusing the various records of Aztec history and life into one comprehensive and intelligible narrative. It should be added that the author is not a mere closet student, but has been on the ground of Mexico and searched among the monuments of Aztec civilization. — A History of the French Revolution, by H. Morse Stephens. (Scribners.) This work is to be in three volumes, the first of which is now published. Mr. Stephens aims at a careful study of the material which has accumulated of late years, and modestly claims place among secondary writers. The value of his work lies chiefly, we think, in his close attention to the details of economic and social life, by means of which he is able to give definiteness to the picture of the condition of the French people. He provides a preface for the American edition, in which he points out in an interesting manner the variation in the influence of American ideas upon French doctrinaires. He makes the singular blunder of saying that Franklin died at Auteuil. — The Volcano under the City, by a Volunteer Special. (Fords, Howard & Hulbert.) A narrative of the draft-riot of 1863, in New York, with a suggestion of the lesson contained in it for New York to-day. The author has used the records of the police force, and has made a plain, uncolored statement. He writes without temper, and thus with the greater force, while his outlook is not that of a pessimist, but of a sagacious, discriminating observer of city life. Some of his statements as to the constituents of the population of New York city are startling. Thirty thousand convicts living there! —Perley’s Reminiscences of Sixty Years in the National Metropolis, by Ben: Perley Poore, vol. ii. (Hubbards, Philadelphia.) This volume completes the work, and brings it down to date. It covers the period of the war, and is a good deal like a dessert, of nuts. You look at your plate with its heap of shells, but you cannot remember that there were many kernels. — The History of Salt Lake City and its Founders, by Edward W. Tullidge; incorporating a brief history of the pioneers of Utah, with steelportraits of representative men. (Published by the author, Salt Lake City, Utah.) This book is issued under the authority of the city government, and it is idle to look in it for anything but a panegyric of Mormonism. There is a mountain of petty detail, but the representative portraits strike the reader at once as telling the story of this animal kingdom. — The Venerable Bede expurgated, expounded, and exposed, by Prig. (Holt.) An ironical examination of the claims of the English Church to Catholicity. The satire is meant for a few readers; most will be as puzzled as excellent people used to be by the libretto of one of Offenbach’s operas.
Biography. The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, K. G., by Edwin Hodder. (Cassell.) Mr. Hodder has taken three octavo volumes, with large print, however, in which to give an account of a notable man who has lately died, A dozen volumes could have been made, detailing the philanthropic labors of the evangelical earl, and the history of the movements with which he was connected. Twenty years hence probably some series will contain a little volume of a couple of hundred pages devoted to the same subject. Mr. Hodder was under the great disadvantage of writing the most of his work during the earl’s lifetime and with his aid. It would have been a very bold man who would have compressed his material, under the circumstances. One may read, however, with judicious skipping, and get at the interesting facts in a life which, if led on somewhat narrow lines, was powerful in effectiveness for good. A man of broader spiritual scope might easily have been less forceful. — In the series of American Statesmen (Houghton), the latest volume is a Life of Thomas Hart Benton, by Theodore Roosevelt. The volume was needed as a complement to the one on Jackson, and indeed gives much information which might well have been given in Mr. Sumner’s book. But Mr. Roosevelt’s interests are in politics, as Mr. Sumner’s were in economics. — Recollections of a Private Soldier in the Army of the Potomac, by Frank Wilkeson. (Putnams.) The author of this book, who was a volunteer, and afterward rose to the rank of second lieutenant in a company of artillery, tells the story of his personal experience; and as by some chance he enlisted in company with a crowd of bounty jumpers, his adventures were simply horrible. His story may be taken as a contribution to the history of the darker side of army life, but the reader, though he may sympathize with Mr. Wilkeson, is not likely to accept his sweeping conclusions as to the cowardice and inefficiency of officers, and the utter worthlessness of a West Point education.
— Years of Experience, an autobiographical narrative, by Georgiana Bruce Kirby. (Putnams.) Mrs. Kirby was English born, and drifted over to this country in girlhood. She knocked about in a manner not wholly explicable to the reader, spent some time at Brook Farm, taught in various schools East and West, took part in the anti-slavery crusade, and finally brought up in California, where she married. She had a luckless sort of training, and while her reminiscences cover interesting years and varied experience, they show a somewhat illregulated mind, and are not very contributory to our knowledge of the persons and scenes described.— The first volume of General Frémont’s Memoirs has been published. (Belford, Clarke & Co., New York.) It includes in the narrative five journeys of Western exploration, down to 1854. There is also a sketch of the life of Senator Benton, by his daughter, Mrs. Frémont.
Poetry and the Drama. — A Life in Song, by George Lansing Raymond. (Putnams.) Mr. Raymond has an artistic scheme for his poem, which strikes seven notes of life, dreaming, daring, doubting, seeking, loving, serving, and watching ; he has also a philosophical conception of life; he has ideas; everything, in fact, seems to be here for his purpose, except song. The artist and philosopher has selected the poetic form ; not, the poet has used art and philosophy. The result is that Mr. Raymond’s life in song does not sing, and a song may be without words, but must not be without music.
— Civitas, the romance of our nation’s life, by Walter L. Campbell. (Putnams.) Mr. Campbell eschews old-fashioned heroes, and takes for his figure America, or the state, who copes with one enemy after another, finally slaying Plutarch himself ; not our old friend the biographer, but the new monster who threatens modern civilization, the arch-millionaire, if we may so translate him. Well, writing such poems is certainly better than heading strikes and tie-ups. — Lyrical Poems, by Emily Thornton Charles, (Lippincott.) If variety of measures made a poet, one would not need to look beyond this book ; but a cripple, after all, may have as many gaits as one who has sound feet.
— The Poet’s Praise, by Henry Hamilton. (Putnams.) In a hundred and forty-three lyrics and sonnets this writer hums the praise of the poet. The meed of sincerity can certainly be given to the praise, but there are poets and poets. — Consolation and Other Poems, by Abraham Perry Miller. (Brentano Bros., New York.) We are much obliged to Mr. Miller for defending the flirt in one of his poems. He points out with great force the injustice frequently done her in the careless speech of the world. It seems that the tendrils of her heart reached out, but never found the oak they needed.—Vagrant Verses, by Rosa Mulholland. (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., London.) A volume of poems chiefly in a minor key, not without a mournful beauty now and then, and always breathing resignation. Good taste is evident, and a fine breeding, which is always welcome. — Poems, by James Vila Blake. (Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) Poems charged with sentiment, not always very clearly defined, and filled with much vague, restless thought. One cannot help thinking that the writer must be more successful in other forms of expression. — Sonnets and Lyrics, by Helen Jackson (H. H.). (Roberts.) This little volume presumably collects all the poems by this writer not previously published in her volume. The sonnet form seemed to grow in favor with her, partly, we suspect because her genius in verse was for riddles of emotion, and the involution of the sonnet offers the most serviceable form. In this volume, also, is the pathetic story of Boon, and that striking poem written at the end of her days, which need scarcely have gone beyond its title, Habeas Corpus, to arrest attention. — Heart’s Own, by Edwin R. Champlin. (Charles H. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) A volume of verse, which claims a pretty high source of inspiration, as when the author says, —
“ When I would drink an everlasting draught, I lock my doors to all the world’s mixed drinks.”
— A Village Sketch and Other Poems, by Charles G. Fall. (Cupples, Upham & Co.) — Marguerite, or the Isle of Demons, and Other Poems, by George Martin. (Dawson Brothers, Montreal.) Many of the poems in the volume are suggested by events in Canadian history, or by personal incidents. The author has plainly had a healthy pleasure in his work. — The Romance of the Unexpected, by David Skaats Foster. (Putnams.) The reader at first thinks he would prefer something a trifle less sentimental than the verses in the earlier part of this volume, but as he goes on he thinks he would rather not have the comic. Yet there are touches now and then which give one hope of better things. — Lines and Interlines, by Julia P. Boynton. (Putnams.) Some of the poems read as if the writer had fallen asleep over her Browning. — The Sleeping World and Other Poems, by Lillien Blanche Fearing. (McClurg.) — Ballads of the Revolution and Other Poems, by George Lansing Raymond. (Putnams.) A reissue of some of Mr. Raymond’s earlier verses. His ballads are fortified with historical foot-notes, but the balladist, who is listened to breathlessly, is rather impatient usually of nice accuracy. If Mr. Raymond were always to strike as firm a note as in The Destiny-Maker, in this volume, we should look eagerly for his books. — Risifi’s Daughter, a Drama, by Anna Katharine Green. (Putnams. )
Philosophy and Theology. A second edition has been issued of Lectures and Essays by the late William Kingdon Clifford, edited by Leslie Stephen and Frederick Pollock. (Macmillan.) The edition is substantially the same as the first, but rendered a little more compact by some omissions. The singular sharpness of Clifford’s mind and the sweetness of his character conspire to make him and his work attractive to many who are so constituted that they are repelled by some of the conclusions which he reached. — Creation or Evolution ? a philosophical inquiry, by George Ticknor Curtis. (Appleton.) Mr. Curtis, who has pursued his studies in science as a rest from the duties of his profession, brings a lawyer’s acumen to a criticism of Darwin and Spencer. It is not certain, however, that a lawyer’s mind is the best trained for the consideration of these themes, His use of characters and dialogue is formal, and so faint as to seem rather superfluous. — Outlines of Æsthetics, dictated portions of the lectures of Hermann Lotze, translated and edited by George T. Ladd. (Ginn.) This volume is a companion to the previously issued outlines. It treats of the theory of the beautiful, and specializes on the various concrete forms of the beautiful. — Meditations of a Parish Priest, Thoughts by Joseph Roux, with an introduction by Paul Mariéton, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. (Crowell.) The Abbé, Joseph Roux, was an obscure priest in Provence when Mariéton discovered him and published his Thoughts. Their freshness and unstudied force, their boldness without irreverence, will give them new readers in their English dress, but it is to be regretted that the book in this form could not have had a finer flavor. The translation is often clumsy where one suspects the original to have been light. There is a wide range of subjects, including literature, peasant life, and all the great themes of life, death, immortality, and God. — Aphorisms of the Three Threes, by Edward Owings Towne. (C. H. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) Mr. Towne advises his readers in a note that these utterances were for the most part delivered at a Chicago club made up of nine gentlemen, who, instead of being at sixes and sevens with each other, hunted in threes. The aphorisms might easily have been so collected, but we should think a club which knew that its wit and wisdom were to be thus desiccated would find club life unendurable.