Books of the Month

Biography. Yesterdays with Actors, by Catherine Mary Reignolds-Winslow (cupples & Hurd), is a charming addition to stage literature, rich as it already is in biography. The author treats of Charlotte Cushman, Forrest, John Brougham, Sothern, Warren, and a score or two of scarcely less famous players, who are kindly remembered though they “ are heard no more.” The two chapters on the Boston Museum and the notable actors who have been associated with that establishment are especially entertaining. We find nothing in the book, however, that is pleasanter than the preliminary sketch, in which the writer touches lightly on her own biography, as a prelude to what she has to say of others. Mrs. Winslow writes with directness and freshness, and her reminiscences, full of lightsome anecdote and generous spirit, are deserving of the attractive form in which the publishers have presented them. The volume is tastefully printed, and illustrated with full-page photogravure portraits of Warren, Charlotte Cushman, Forrest, Brougham, Laura Keene, Sothern, and Matilda Heron. The seventeen or eighteen small vignette heads given in the text, though not so excellent, are in several instances wonderful likenesses, — that of John Wilkes Booth, for example. — The articles in the eleventh volume of Leslie Stephen’s Dictionary of National Biography {Macmillan & Co.) are more condensed than those of the previous issues. The editor contributes two of the longest and most important papers, — the articles on Arthur Hugh Clough and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. John Morley furnishes a masterly sketch of Cobden. Among the other contributors to this section, which brings the work down to Condell, are Sir Theodore Martin, Professor Blaikie, Austin Dobson, and Wilkie Collins. — Famous American Authors, by Sarah K. Bolton. (Crowell.) Mrs. Bolton’s list is a catholic one; so much so that one or two of the gentlemen included in it may feel that their biographer has been discounting their notes on the bank of fame. All of them must feel that they have given pleasure to Mrs. Bolton, for he must be a churlish famous author who would ask for more optimistic treatment than these have received. They must take the bitter with the sweet, however, like more ordinary mortals, and certainly the most honeyed morsel would be necessary to take the edge off the gritty pictures which frighten the reader of this book. — Patrick Henry, by Moses Coit Tyler, is the latest number in the American Statesmen Series. (Houghton.) It has special importance as giving in definite form the figure of a man who has been at once very nebulous and luminous at one or two points. — Martin Luther, his Life and Work, is a two-volume octavo work, by Peter Bayne. (Cassell.) It is some time since Mr. Bayne has appeared with biographic work, but in this solid book he has not changed his earlier methods. He is still the champion of religious ideas, and his steed prances in the arena. Why do we look with coolness on so warm, so perfervid a writer ? We suspect that it is because, as the world grows older, it demands, not rhetoric, but clear, translucent images of its great men. — The Harpers have published in one volume a new translation of the entertaining Memoirs of Wilhelmine, Margravine of Baireuth. The translation is by the Princess Christian, and is excellently done. — Boswell’s Life of Johnson, edited by George Birkbeck Hill (Macmillan & Co.), is presented in six handsomely printed volumes. For the ordinary reader there is little to explain which is worth explaining, in Boswell’s Johnson; it is best for him to read the work without notes, and so to enjoy it uninterruptedly, as the editor himself advises. But for the student of literary history a fully annotated Boswell is an encyclopædia of multitudinous details, and only he can appreciate the long labor, the carefulness, the incessant and unwearied research, which have gone to the illumination of the dark passages, the obscure references, the people and things long ago forgotten, which must be treated by a commentator on this varied and voluminous biography. Of new material of value there is little, but much of what is new is interesting, most of all to Johnsonians: there are some unpublished letters, some verification of disputed passages, some “finds” in the way of investigation. The best of all this is put into a number of appendices: one of these latter traces Johnson’s hatred of the American cause to his greater hatred for slavery, and his indignation that “ drivers of negroes ” should howl the loudest for liberty ; another treats of the popular conception of him, enforced by Macaulay, that he was a Londoner, shows how large a portion of his days were spent in the country or in traveling, and proves that he held travel in high regard, both for pleasure and for education ; a third gathers up all that is known of the Gascon impostor, George Salmanazar, who gave himself out as a Formosa convert, and wrote a lying book on the country, but afterwards repented and became venerable for his excellent life, and descended to history as the man whom Johnson declared he should never think of contradicting. An index of portentous length fills nearly one entire volume, and it is supplemented by an alphabetical list of Johnson’s sayings, where one can find all of his famous mots and those of others of the club. The editor promises, if this work is well received, to edit in a similar way the Letters, never yet collected, and the Lives of the Poets; should he complete these further tasks, the whole series would be a rich repository of literary facts. Poetry. The Apotheosis of Antinous, and other Poems, by Ella Sharpe Youngs. (Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., London.) The author aptly describes her poetry as a “little pebble flung by a weak hand at Vice ; ” her whole imagination seems to move about subjects which she abhors, and the book is without much relief. Vice has a hideous mien, no doubt, and no one will fall in love with it by any familiarity with this irritating little book. — Two Harvests, a poem read before the Alumni Association of Vanderbilt University, at the annual meeting of the association, by W. R. Sims. (Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, Nashville.) Good sentiment, and verse which, if not good, at least is energetic, and drives ahead at a mark, which is more than can be said of all occasional verse.