Books of the Month
Theology and Religion. The Dictionary of Religion is an encyclopædia of Christian and other religious doctrines, denominations, sects, heresies, ecclesiastical terms, history, biography, etc., and is edited by the Rev. William Benham, who took up the work begun by the late Rev. J. H. Blunt. (Cassell.) The range of the dictionary is tolerably wide, but it is not especially strong on the American side. Such names as Jonathan Edwards, Murray, and Hopkins are omitted, though Bishop Hopkins appears. The book, while colorless as regards opinion, is nevertheless written from the standpoint of the Church of England, the sects being dismissed with very brief paragraphs. The important body of Congregationalists, for example, is very unsatisfactorily treated in a single column, and there is not a word upon the order in the United States, where it is strongest. Religion in the United States of America is dispatched in a column, and is treated chiefly with reference to the Episcopal Church; but there is no special article on the Episcopal Church, or the Protestant Episcopal Church, while Protestantism itself is very meagrely and unsatisfactorily considered. The book is convenient and useful, but does not strike us as well edited. — Word Studies in the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent. (Scribners.) The first volume of this work has been published, covering the synoptic Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, and epistles of Peter, James, and Jude. Dr. Vincent’s method is to follow these writings chapter by chapter, and single out words and phrases which either are critical, or are liable to misinterpretation. The comments are often helpful, and are marked, as a rule, by plain sense and a freedom from straining after effect. Dr. Vincent is a trustworthy guide, even if he does not always point out the more recondite values. — Evolution and Christianity, a Study, by J. C. F. Grumbine. (C. H. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) A not very important little book, in which the author attempts to present an irenicon, but he seems to have left out of account the organic action of Christianity. — The True Explanation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, by James Johnstone. (The author, Edinburgh.) A somewhat confused wrangle by a Scotsman who has been having a wrestling match with the Westminster Confession. — The New Birth, with a chapter on the Mind Cure, by L. P. Mercer. (Chas. H. Kerr A Co., Chicago.) A little treatise, of a thoughtful character, in which certain general, vague truths are made more general and vague by being distilled in Swedenborgian spirits. — The Sunny Side of Shadow, Reveries of a Convalescent, by Fannie Nichols Benjamin. (Ticknor.) A little volume of essays containing a gentle optimism of a religions nature, and occasionally expressing a thought in an attractive way, but on the whole rather to be accepted as a grateful piece of occupation for the author.
Fiction. — Iván Ilyitch is the first of a collection of tales by Count Tolstoï, translated by N. H. Dole (Crowell), and taken from the miscellaneous volume referred to by Miss Hapgood in a recent article in The Atlantic. The stones are plainly intended to be read by the people, and are, as the translator says, essentially tracts. Indeed, in some instances they are provided with passages from the New Testament, which serve as texts for the sermon in fiction which follows. The reader will gather from these stories a very good notion of Tolstoï’s practical faith. - Forging the Fetters, and Other Stories, is a collection of three stories by Mrs. Alexander, in the Leisure Hour Series. (Holt.) The first of the stories is based upon that favorite absurd invention of novelists, that when a husband and wife have been separated for a number of years, one will remember the other upon again meeting, but the other will not remember the one. Mrs. Alexander does not do herself justice, of late. —A Lad’s Love, by Arlo Bates (Roberts), is the story of how a lad studied love-making on a widow, and graduated by becoming engaged to her daughter. It is a summer-resort story, bright in spots and reasonably entertaining, but surely Mr. Bates need not waste his cleverness on such trivialty. — Told at Tuxedo, by A. M. Emory (Putnams), is the title of a short collection of stories told in the tumultuous privacy of a snowstorm, at a country house, there seems to be a veritable rage just now for deeameroning. The stories are of a somewhat sentimental turn, dashed with a masculine bravado, which suggests a feminine authorship. — Thirteen Stories of the Far West, by Forbes Heermans. (C. W. Bardeen, Syracuse, N. Y.) Stories of the frontier which, stripped of their slang and profanity, amount to short anecdotes; but the slang is often funny, if one has not read too much of the same sort.—Mr. Bynner’s clever little story of Penelope’s Suitors has been issued in a fantastic dress by the Ticknors. —Recent numbers of Tieknor’s Paper Series are Eleanor Maitland, by Clara Erskine Clement; The House of the Musician, by Virginia W. Johnson ; Geraldine ; The Buchess Emilia, by Barrett Wendell; Dr. Breen’s Practice, by W. D. Howells; and Tales of Three Cities, by Henry James.—Allan Quatermain, by H. Rider Haggard, is issued in Harper’s Handy Series, and in Harper’s Franklin Square Library recent numbers are Disappeared, by Sarah Tytler; A Lost Reputation; A Choice of Change, by William Dodson; 99 Dark Street, by F. W. Robinson; and “ V. R.”
Medicine and Hygiene. Household Remedies for the Prevalent Disorders of the Human Organism, by Felix L. Oswald. (Fowler & Wells Co.) Apparently aimed at. showing how disease will yield to treatment from which drugs are excluded. The somewhat violent character of the preface scarcely prepares one for the calm sense which seems to prevail through a good part of the book. — Health of our Children, and Health in our Homes are two small books by “Doctor Frank,” issued by the Thayer Publishing Company, Boston. They are sensible and clearly written, free from technicality, yet not professing to be substitutes for the doctor. The author says nothing that has not been said a hundred times in similar books, but he seems to have the art of catching the ear, and that is an important element in such writing. — A Friend in Need, by the same author and publisher, is a more considerable work. It is an octavo volume, which aims to be a household guide in health and in disease. However sound the general principles presented in it may be, we distrust such a book when it undertakes to give detailed prescriptions. The human body is not a piece of ready-made manufacture, and no book like this can take individualism into account. We think such a volume should confine itself to general rules of diet and sanitary precaution, and let drugs alone. — The Cremation of the Dead, considered from an æsthetic, sanitary, religions, historical, medico-legal, and economical standpoint, by Hugo Ericksen. (D. O. Haynes & Co., Detroit.) A plea for cremation by an enthusiast who has worked himself almost into a passion. He offers a very interesting and full survey of the subject, including a report on the present condition of the public mind in America as instanced by the various societies and crematories. He closes with the prediction that cremation will make more rapid progress in the United States than in Europe. It may be so, but we think he underestimates the inert mass of traditional sentiment that will require to be overcome. Perhaps there are graveyards enough in the world, but we are thankful for those that exist. They make up no inconsiderable part of the world as a dwelling-place for humanity. It is refreshing to think of fields which will grow no gram. — Home Sanitation, a Manual for Housekeepers (Ticknor), is a rational and simple little volume, prepared by the Sanitary Science Club of the Association of Collegiate Alumnæ, and especially adapted to the needs of women. The book is valuable for what it omits as well as what it contains. We should suppose, however, that more might have been said regarding the care of a furnace.
Biography. Dante, a Sketch of his Life and Works, by May Alden Ward. (Roberts.) An unpretending and not very important contribution to Dante literature. The writer shows an external acquaintance with the subject and a sympathy with it, but her work is scarcely more than a convenient synopsis. In the series of Famous Women, a recent number is Mrs. Siddons, by Nina A. Kennard. (Roberts.) A gossipy, anecdotical kind of a life, as indeed it could scarcely help being, when the subject was set in the midst of a circle more written about and better known than any literary circle in England. Yet Mrs. Siddons’s nobility of nature rises above all the small, bustling activity of the green room. — A new edition of Henry B. Stanton’s Random Recollections has been issued (Harpers), revised and brought down to date, which was actually the death of the author, who had just corrected his last proofs. — Life of Leo XIII. from an authentic memoir furnished by his order, written with the encouragement, approbation, and blessing of his Holiness the Pope, by Bernard O’Reilly. (C. L. Webster & Co., New York.) We are sorry we cannot put in the capitals and red ink, nor communicate the enthusiastic whisper in which this curious and interesting book is written. Leo XIII. is a man of strong individuality, and his life, especially since his elevation to the papacy, connects itself with contemporaneous historic movements. Nevertheless, he is a living Pope, and the book is written by a priest of the Romish communion, and these facts are absolutely prohibitory of anything but a devout eulogy. Father O’Reilly, however, does not forget that he is writinglargely for an heretical audience, and it is interesting to see the circumspection with which he treats his subject. Altogether the book is a curiosity in its inception and execution. An American publisher, not unconnected with an American humorist, a Protestant, presumably, brings out an authentic, blessed life of the head of the Roman Church. Verily the force of contrast cannot go farther. — Reminiscences by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Charles Eliot Norton. (Macmillan.) A cheaper and more convenient edition of this work, the two volumes being bound in one. —Readers of Emerson and collectors of Emersoniana will welcome the choicely printed little volume entitled Ralph Waldo Emerson, his Maternal Ancestors, with some Reminiscenes of Him, by David Green Haskins, D. D. (Cupples & Hurd.)
Poetry. Colonial Ballads, Sonnets, and Other Verse, by Margaret J. Preston. (Houghton.) Mrs. Preston has drawn from varied sources: her Colonial Ballads point to incidents in the early days of Massachusetts and Virginia, her Childhood of the Old Masters is a series of poetical renderings of familiar tales, and many of her poems are suggested by works of art. Meanwhile, through all the verse runs a strain of courageous acceptance of trouble, and a resolute interpretation of human life in the spirit of trust in God. The verse is clear and limpid, and the objective character of the volume will win readers wlio are a little weary of the subjective quality which is so persistent in most contemporaneous verse. — Arteloise, a Romance of King Arthur and Knights of the Round Table, by J. Dunbar Hylton. (The Hylton Publishing Company, Palmyra, N. J.) An octavo volume, in which the Arthurian romance is transmitted to the reader through the medium of a verse over which Scott’s shadow has passed. The picture of a Jersey farm which fronts the poem seems at first to strain a point in aptness of illustration, but is justified by the lines in the dedication : —
The pleasures on a Jersey farm,
Where every joy of mortal life
Around has nature scattered rife.”
— The Legend of Delaware Valley, and Other Poems, by Rev. Thomas J. Macmurray, LL.B. (William Briggs, Toronto.)—Poems of Ten Years, 1877—1886, by Matthew Richey Knight. (MacGregor & Knight, Halifax, N. S.)—A translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s poems, by Frederick Townsend (Putnams), will interest readers of Leopardi who cannot have recourse to the Italian ; but though Mr. Townsend evidently desired to be faithful in his work, he apparently had not that poetic power which will save a translation from being a mere metrical version. — The sailing of King Olaf and other pieces, by Alice Williams Brotherton (Chas. H. Kerr & Co., Chicago), has a few poems which will be likely to be sifted into anthologies from time to time. There is an interesting passage in the poems from the dramatic to the personal, and we are disposed to think Mrs. Brotherton most successful when she dramatizes. — The Poets and Poetry of America (Benjamin & Bell) is a satire reprinted from the edition published in 1847, with an introductory argument by Geoffrey Quartes, intended to prove that the poem was written by Poe. The editor’s essay is more convincing than the satire, in which we have been able to find neither Poe nor poetry. — A Venetian Lover, by Edward King (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.), is a long narrative poem, which, though it contains many striking passages, does not as a whole seem to us to be a success. The poetry of the context would have to be very strong indeed that could stand such a line as —
— Columbus, an Historical Play, by D. S. Preston (Putnam’s Sons), is to be added to the very few good dramatic poems produced by Americans. The subject is handled throughout with great skill and dignity. With a slight alteration at the end of the second act, the play would be immensely effective on the stage. We wonder that no American actor has seen the success that lies in this drama.
Books for Young People. The Blind Brother, a story of the Pennsylvania Coal Mines, by Homer Greene (Crowell), commends itself by the brevity and compression of its treatment of a conventionally romantic story. It might have been wildly sensational; it is sensational, but with a reserve which argues well for the author. It is, however, a conventional story ; such an one we venture to say, as could not have been written had the author not read stories and tried to make one himself. — Cuore, an Italian Schoolboy’s Journal, by Edmondo de Amicis. Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. (Crowell.) It would apparently be somewhat difficult to extract the real boy from this singular infusion of boy in rhetoric. One may catch at Italian juvenile life, but one never can be sure of gettingthe real article. Surely, though there is ardor and sentiment in Southern people, there is not such an excessive gesticulation of sentiment. — Bar Harbor Days, by Mrs. Burton N. Harrison. (Harpers.) We do not quite see what Mrs. Harrison gains by pretending that this story is told by a dog. There is no special individuality in the dog teller, and the story remains the same, a lively if somewhat idle narrative of youthful life in vacation time.
Education and Text Books. Dr. MeCosh publishes a second part of his Psychology, treating in this volume of The Motive Powers, emotions, conscience, will. (Scribners.) He maintains that the twofold division into cognitive and motive powers is a fundamental one, and recognized not only in philosophy, but in literature and in common usage. The study leads up to a recognition of man in his relations to God. — Professor George T. Ladd has now completed his translation of Lotze’s Philosophical Outlines, in Outlines of Logic, and of Encyclopædia of Philosophy. (Ginn.) “In brief,” Lotze says in conclusion, “laws, facts, and final purposes (Ideas) are for us three principles, distinct from each other, and not deducible from each other. For this reason philosophy can never be such an unchanging science as to be able to deduce from one supreme principle all its results in uniform sequence ; but its investigations will always be separated into (1) those of Metaphysic, which concern the possibility of the world’s course; (2) into those of the Philosophy of Nature, which concern the connection, in fact, of its reality; and (3) into those of the Philosophy of Religion, which concern its ideal significance and final purposes, ” —Educational Mosaics, a collection from many writers (chiefly modern) of thoughts bearing on educational questions of the day, by Thomas J. Morgan. (Silver, Rogers & Co., Boston.) The arrangement of these thoughts in an alphabetical order of writers is a singular one, and gives a somewhat unnecessary patchwork character to the work, but it emphasizes authorship rather than subject, and in that respect has its advantage. The work is rather stimulating and suggestive than directly practical. - English Composition and Rhetoric, Intellectual Elements of Style, by Alexander Bain. (Appleton. ) There is a certain mechanical view of the mind underlying this book, which is strikingly exhibited in Mr. Bain’s criticism of Homer’s shield of Achilles, because, forsooth, the shield could not be drawn from Homer’s description!—Sketch of the History of Yale University, by Franklin Bowditch Dexter. (Holt.) A serviceable little volume by a very painstaking and accurate scholar. The sketch follows chronological lines, and the movement of the institution is marked by the successive administrations. There is a commendable absence of brag, and an appendix contains much curious minute information. — In Heath’s Monographs on Education, a recent number is The Study of Rhetoric, by John F. Genung. It has a special value from the illustrations which it gives of the writer’s method with students in Amherst College. — The Fortunes of Words, by Federico Garlanda (Lovell), can scarcely be called a text book, but will be most serviceable to those who are teaching the English language. It is in the form of letters to a lady, and takes up almost at random a variety of words which have histories. The writer philosophizes a good deal, but not heavily, and often much to the purpose.
Travel and Nature. China: travels and investigations in the Middle Kingdom. A study of its civilization and possibilities, with a glance at Japan. By James Harrison Wilson. (Appleton.) General Wilson’s interesting work gains from the simplicity and directness of his aim. He went to the East to see if it would pay for Americans to build railroads there, and he not only gained valuable information on this point, but incidentally saw a great deal of Chinese life. His book is a capital instance of how much a man will see in traveling who has a special object in view. — Prose Pastorals, by Herbert Milton Sylvester (Ticknor), is a collection of amiable reminiscences and reveries of country life. If there is not much that is refreshingly new, the spirit of the book is pleasing and there are many cool and shady places in it.—By the Way, an Idler’s Diary, is an odd little volume. It is a collection of quotations, familiar and unfamiliar, upon such topics as travel, the sea, the mountains, the farm, leisure, pastime, people, etc., the pages being interleaved with blank pages for the owner’s addition in the way of verses, comment, sketches, and photographs. It is a book, therefore, which largely remains to be written. (Clarke & Carruth, Boston.) — Horsemanship for Women, by Theodore H. Mead. (Harpers.) A book of practical suggestions, which appear in the main to be sensible, though we should not be prepared to advise a woman, when her horse was running away, to “ saw ” at the bit.
Manners and the Household. Manners and Social Usages, by Mrs. John Sherwood. (Harpers.) A new and enlarged edition of a book which serves a very good purpose. It owes its success in part to the fact that it has “growed.” Numberless distressed women have written to Harper’s Bazaar to know how they ought to behave, and their cases have been codified in this work. Hence if any one scorns the elementary instruction he or she may find here, let him or her remember that some forlorn and shipwrecked brother or sister has seen it and taken heart again. —Ourselves and our Neighbors, short, chats on social topics, by Louise Chandler Moulton. (Roberts.) A volume of short essays upon familiar topics of our social life, the conversation of a fluent woman solidified into essay form. A basis of good sense and charity and optimism renders the comment on minor morals sane if not especially striking. — The Universal Cookery Book, practical recipes for household use, by Gertrude Strohm. (White, Stokes, & Allen.) The characteristic of this book, as distinguished from others of its class, is in its being an anthology. It is a book of elegant extracts from other cook books. It whips the cream from them all.
Politics and Finance. The American Electoral System, by Charles A. O’Neill. (Putnams.) Mr. O’Neill confines himself mainly to the system of electing the President, and follows it historically to the present day. We think he is unnecessarily alarmed by figments of the imagination when he conjures up possible difficulties in the case of cabinet officers succeeding to the presidency, and in the case of the election being thrown into the House. The country lias passed through several emergencies, and, as the outcome, in each case has modified the system. A system which, originally sound in the general, is modified by the experience gained in special cases is worth more than one which is logically perfect, but is an untried substitute for existing historical methods. — The Fishery Question, its origin, history, and present situation, with a map of the Anglo-American fishing grounds, and a short bibliography, by Charles Isham. No. forty-one of Questions of the Day. (Putnams.) A careful survey of the subject in its historical relations, and a thoughtful summary of the trend of the question. — The Margin of Profits, how it is now divided, what part of the present hours of labor can now be spared, by Edward Atkinson. (Putnams.) Mr. Atkinson delivered an address on this topic in Boston, to which E. M. Chamberlin replied, and then Mr. Atkinson made a rejoinder to Mr. Chamberlin’s address and an additional note ; and the addresses and note being all printed in this little book, the reader gets the benefit of the entire discussion. — Colonial Liquor Laws ; part two of Liquor Laws of the United States: their spirit and effect. By G. Thomann. (The United States Brewers’ Association, New York.) Incidentally considerable light is thrown on colonial customs and manners. — The True Philosophy of the Land Question, by Rev. Edw. A. Higgins. (St. Xavier’s Conference, Cincinnati.) A little pamphlet address, which exposes and refutes, so the cover says, the fallacies of Henry George.
Literature and Criticism. Henry Brooke’s The Fool of Quality has been issued in paper in The Leisure Moment Series, two volumes. (Holt.) We should be interested to see the effect upon certain novel-readers who were attracted to it because it looked like a novel of the day. — In the English Men of Letters Series (Harpers) the latest volume is Sidney Colvin’s John Keats. It seems rather a pity that in a book which is not necessarily a biography there should be so little study of the influence of a great poet upon his successors. Keats’s life did not stop with his death. — Obita Dicta, second series, by Augustine Birrell (Scribner’s Sons), is a delightful collection of brief literary essays. They suffer by comparison with nothing of the kind except the first series, which has a freshness and a charm not easily to be repeated. — The Victoria Edition of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, in three volumes (Macmillan & Co.), is to be commended for its compactness and its admirable typography. The text selected is that of the Globe Shakespeare, edited by Messrs. Clark and Wright. The publishers have added a valuable glossary, prepared expressly for the present work, which is appropriately dedicated to the Queen.—Imaginary Portraits, by Walter Porter (Macmillan & Co.), is a collection of four masterly little studies, to which we shall hereafter have occasion to refer.