Poetry. A Branch of May, by Lizette Woodworth Reese (Cushings & Bailey), is a brief collection of verse, containing two or three lyrics of more than ordinary merit. Anne would be quite perfect of its kind were it not for the feeble “ I ween,”in the concluding stanza. — Underwoods, by Robert Louis Stevenson (Scribner’s Sons), is a volume of pleasant poetry. A stronger word than pleasant would overpraise the verse; a milder word would fail to do it justice. There is always a fine quality in Mr. Stevenson’s work; but we like him best in prose. — Mr. Gilder’s poems (Century Co.) come to us in three exquisite little volumes, with limp covers stamped in gold. This new issue, which includes a number of later lyrics, will give fresh readers a chance to make the acquaintance of a charming poet, and old readers the pleasure of rereading him. Books of verse that contain such honest poems as The Building of the Chimney and the lines to Robert Browning are not too common. — Early and Late Poems of Alice and Phœbe Cary (Houghton) is the title of a volume which precedes and follows in its contents the volume which has long done service as the poetical works of the sisters. Theirs was one of the infrequent cases in this country where verse was not only the staple of reputation, but the main resource of livelihood. Possibly for this reason, along with the facility of verse-making which constant occupation induced, the number of poems which have become fixed in the minds of people is not large. The somewhat tearful strain in which Alice Cary wrote was not an affectation, but was so large an element in her poetical make-up that the reader makes large allowance when he comes
upon her pathetic ballads. — Letters from Colorado, by H. L. Wason. (Cupples & Hurd.) To turn the incidents of a Western trip into verse, one must see them poetically. Unfortunately, Mr. Wason was not thoroughly equipped for his journey. He left his ear behind, for one thing, and if he packed up his imagination he forgot to take it out. — Sketches in Song, by George Lansing Raymond. (Putnams.) If by the title Mr. Raymond means to intimate that his verses are preparation for poems, we might agree with him. They all have intentions, they suggest a thoughtful interest in art, but they lack the spontaneity, the lyrical freedom, the unconscious grace, which we ask in poetry of a similar cast. — After Paradise, or Legends of Exile, with other Poems, by Robert, Earl of Lytton. (Estes & Lauriat.) Whatever else may be said of Owen Meredith’s poems, they are interesting, they have a charming air of worldliness, and they are neat. — Songs of the Mexican Seas, by Joaquin Miller. (Roberts.) The very audacity of this poet’s imagination sometimes enables him to throw out lines of singular beauty, and if one does not object to a good deal of red, and scarlet, and magenta, and solferino, and other bright colors, genuine and bastard, he will find much in the tropical fervor of Miller to please him. — Garden Secrets,—by—Philip Bourke Marst.on, with biographical sketch by Louise Chandler Moulton. (Roberts.) It is impossible to read this little book without tenderness, so completely does the spirit of the bereft author pervade it; but it is not necessary to know the circumstances of his life to feel the winning beauty of the fancies which play about the lily, the rose, the grass, and the wind. It is interesting and pathetically suggestive to see how little part the sight plays in these poems, and how much the poet relies on touch, scent, and hearing. — Dialect Ballads, by Charles Follen Adams. (Harpers.) Mr. Adams has made many friends by his Leedle Yawcob Strauss, and he will keep them by the poems in a similar vein in this volume. It is Hans Breitmann in a broader style, without Mr. Leland’s scholarship, to be sure, and with an excess of mild punning. — Under Pine and Palm, by Frances L. Mace. (Ticknor.) Dignity, sweetness, and a generous temper characterize these poems. Not so much in single lines or phrases as in the free conception of her themes, this writer indicates her poetic sense. —The Sentence, a drama, by Augusta Webster. (T. Fisher Unwin, London.) Mrs. Webster’s admirable work in translation from the Greek drama prepares one for receiving with interest this masculine play, in which Caligula is a chief character. The treatment is not archæological, but romantic, while based upon history. —Lyrics and Sonnets, by Edith M. Thomas. (Houghton.) Again Miss Thomas comes, in her half-bridal array of binding, with poems which will be read most eagerly by those who have previously read her A New Year’s Masque. She has begun to make an audience of her own, and this book will strengthen her hold upon it. The volume has the same marks of grace, poetic insight, and a half-statuesque interpretation of nature, which characterized her former book. — The New Purgatory, and other Poems, by Elizabeth Rachel Chapman. (T. Fisher Unwin, London.) The somewhat strained expression of a woman who has, through intellectual labor, brought herself into a state of protest against prevalent forms of belief. There is an earnestness about the work which forbids the notion that she is a mere dilettante free-thinker.
Holiday Books. The Vision of Sir Launfal, by James Russell Lowell (Houghton), has been made the occasion for illustration and that decorative art which is making the externals of our books in proper keeping with the houses which entertain them, and the dress of the girls who handle them. Whatever has gone to the mechanical make-up of this book is certainly to be praised. The binding, the type, the paper, and the engraver’s skill all show careful workmanship and forethought. Nor are the designs, when they intend simple effects, unpleasing. The sense of disappointment comes to one when looking for the highest ends, for portraiture, for idealization, —in fine, for the highest poetic expression. The artists, for the most part, seem to have been more bent on illustrating certain forms of technique than on divining the scenes presented, and reproducing
them in sympathy with the poem. Mr. Juengling, by his marvelous fidelity of engraving, has done what they have not done. An exception should be made in the case of the two contrasting scenes by Bruce Crane and R. S. Gifford. — Geraldine, a Souvenir of the St. Lawrence. (Ticknor.) This rhymed story, which has somehow caught the ear of a good many readers, is now made to appeal to the eye by means of a number of matter-of-fact pictures which are happily married to the text. — An Unknown Country, by the author of John Halifax, Gentleman, illustrated by Frederick Noel Paton. (Harpers.) A souvenir of travel in the north of Ireland, which has a significance as the latest work of its kindly author, who throws her interest and sympathy into her studies of Irish character. The drawings are hold and, on the whole, effectively engraved. — Old Homestead Poems, by Wallace Bruce. (Harpers.) A volume of good-natured verse, with many illustrations, which generally accord with the verse, and one or two of more notable power, as Abbey’s “I have sailed over many a sea. " — Harbingers of Spring, edited by Susan Barstow Skelding, illustrated by Fidelia Bridges. (Frederick A. Stokes.) Four or five delicately tinted bird pictures, with wellselected verses, the whole looking, in its fanciful binding, like a spring bonnet. — Faust, the Legend and the Poem, by William S. Walsh, with etchings by Hermann Faber. (Lippincott.) A careful historical and critical study, accompanied by etchings, which are tolerably good, though rather stiff and conventional in handling. — The etchings by M. M. Taylor, illustrating Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village (Lippincott), are rather more interesting, though scarcely successes. — Under the title On the Track of Ulysses, Mr. W. J. Stillman has reprinted three recent studies in archæology, which are not only readable and fresh, but have pictures which really illustrate. The subject is one which might have been treated with pedantic dryness, but Mr. Stillman writes as one who has read his Homer on the spot, and not merely with lexicon and grammar. (Houghton.) — The Longfellow Prose Birthday Book, edited by Laura Winthrop Johnson (Ticknor), is cleverly made up from the diaries of Mr. Longfellow as contained in his brother’s Life. The limitation does not produce a sense of restriction ; on the contrary, the strong personal element which is infused gives the book a very pleasing individuality. — My Old Kentucky Home and Old Folks at Home, Stephen C. Foster’s familiar melodies, have been published with pictures and decorations. There was no difficulty in finding subjects, but it strikes us that a single picture, carefully studied by one who understood the scene, and well engraved, would have answered better for both volumes—say Eastman Johnson’s painting— than this collection of rather unimaginative and ineffective ones. (Ticknor.)
Sociology and Political Economy. It is a little difficult to find a term under which to class Mr. Henry T. Finck’s Romantic Love and Personal Beauty, their Development, Causal Relations, Historic and National Peculiarities. (Macmillan.) Mr. Finck has made a sort of compilation from a variety of authors, has arranged his material in accordance with a system, and has encompassed the whole in a semiphilosophical treatise, with apparently two objects in view : to prove that we are more highly developed in our amatory nature than our rude ancestors, and to charge the young to be more beautiful and attractive. We suspect that the book will be read more for its curiosa than for its philosophy. — The Pleasures of Life, by Sir John Lubbock. (Macmillan.) This volume grew out of the author’s opportunities for giving words of counsel and encouragement at opening meetings of schools and colleges. " Being myself naturally rather prone to suffer from low spirits,” Sir John says, “ I have at several of these gatherings taken the opportunity of dwelling on the privileges and blessings we enjoy.” It is usually enough to produce low spirits to have to make such addresses, and we cannot too highly commend the author’s courage and resolution. It is a moderate sort of pleasure, however, which he produces, for he has little power to stir enthusiasm, and his patchwork of quotations does not glitter the more for being attached to his own sober, not to say depressing, text. — Greater America, hits and hints, by a Foreign Resident. (A. Lovell & Co., New York.) The writer of this little book is an Englishman, apparently, who came to America with his faith in ideals sadly weakened, was gradually converted to a perception of the future of the new country, was inspired by the prevailing buoyancy, and now, heartily in sympathy with it, feels bound to turn honest critic. He touches on politics, religion, society, labor, land, and subordinate topics. His temper is excellent, his judgment sound, and many of the conclusions which he reaches are admirable. We particularly like what he has to say of the Romish church in America. His book should not he overlooked. — Henry George versus Henry George is a review, by R. C. Rutherford (Appleton), in which the author, by showing the inconsistencies of Mr. George, hopes to pull down the whole structure erected by him. Not only so, but by his sharp and quick-witted pursuit he drives the whole subject into an inescapable corner. — What to do ? Thoughts evoked by the Census of Moscow, by
Count Lyof N. Tolstoï, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. (Crowell.) It was not so much what the census contained as what it did not contain that suggested thoughts to Count Tolstoï. In fact, he made his own census, appointing himself a committee of one to inquire into the condition of the poor in a great city, and reasoning therefrom upon the relations of the poor to the better classes. The book is in that tone of wondering seriousness which marks Count Tolstoi’s work; and though the problems are not in the same terms always as those which confront the American student of cities, they are the same problems in the main. It is worth while to see how so individual a man strikes at evil, in these days when organization is the thought of most. — The Republic of the Future, or Socialism a Reality, by Anna Bowman Dodd. (Cassell.) This skit purports to be letters from a Swedish nobleman, living in the twenty-first century, to a friend in Christiania. This nobleman writes from New York, and describes the city and its life after individuality has been crushed out, machinery made to do all the work, and life reduced to a monotonous level. Rather profitless imagination. The satire is not very keen, and the monstrosity frightens no one. By the way, why does not the Swede write to Stockholm ?
Books for Young People. The Boy Travellers on the Congo: adventures of two youths in a journey with Henry M. Stanley through the Dark Continent. By Thomas W. Knox. (Harpers.) This book grew out of a request from his publishers to Mr. Stanley that his large book should be condensed for youth. Colonel Knox has done two things: he has condensed Stanley, and supplied his customary machinery of a party of boys under a mentor. We doubt whether young people who like travel and adventure would not have been quite as well satisfied to take their Stanley straight, and not mixed with Dr. Bronson. The method used is mechanical. — Ida Waugh’s Alphabet Book ; verses by Amy E. Blanchard. (Lippincott.) A very pretty, ingenious, and graceful series of pictures and little stories in verse, beginning successively with the letters of the alphabet, the designs often including the letters very cleverly. — Bird-Talk, a Calendar of the Orchard and Wild-Wood, by Adeline D. T. Whitney. (Houghton.) A prettily printed volume, in which Mrs. Whitney has gathered a dozen or more little dramatic lyrics of bird-life, and has attempted to express the supposed individuality of the birds, going so far even as to imitate their notes. Her interpretations are ingenious rather than very melodious. — Juan and Juanita, by Frances Courtenay Baylor. (Ticknor.) A story of the very uncommon adventures of two young Mexican children captured by Indians, and escaping after four years’ captivity to find their way back by walking three hundred miles to the frontier of Texas. Miss Baylor fortunately had her story made for her by actual facts, and so had free play within excellent bounds for her humor, her pathos, her unfailing freshness of narrative. — Prince Little Boy, and other Tales out of Fairy-Land, by S. Weir Mitchell, M, D. (Lippincott.) Dr. Mitchell wrote these tales for the amusement of certain children, and to help forward some charities. They are bright, nonsensical stories, with some good random hits, and delightfully free from too urgent morals. — The Northern Cross, or Randolph’s Last Year at the Boston Latin School, by Willis Boyd Allen. (Lothrop.) The writer has drawn upon his recollections of a period in the school history when a very marked figure, that of Dr. Gardner, was at the head. He has displayed considerable skill in reproducing the local color, and if the general treatment of boy and girl life is still touched with sentimentality rather than with the genuine poetry of youth, the book shows an advance upon this writer’s previous work. —A Flock of Girls and their Friends, by Nora Perry. (Ticknor.) A collection of a dozen or more stories, in which girls still in their early teens figure. The stories are nickel-plated, bright, attractive, and almost as good, for ordinary uses, as the real article. — The Modern Vikings, Stories of Life and Sport in the Norseland, by Hjalmar H. Boyesen. (Scribners.) Mr. Boyesen manages to put into these stories a good deal of the vim and breeziness which belong to the earlier Norse life. There is activity, out-of-door energy, and a good manly hold on adventure. The book is charmingly dedicated in verse to his three boys. — Gritli’s Children, translated from the German of Johanna Spyri by Louise Brooks. (Cupples & Hurd.) Mrs. Brooks made a happy find when she translated Heidi, but the subsequent translations hardly have the pastoral charm of that book, though they all share its sweetness. A certain sameness of incident marks them all. There is usually an invalid child who is taken to the mountains, and peasant life is brought into contrast with city life. However, we ought not to complain when such pure, simple stories are granted us, and the consecutiveness of the book gives more promise than the scrappiness of some recent stories by the same author. — The Boyhood of Living Authors, by W. H. Rideing. (Crowell.) The authors included in the list are all Americans save W. C. Russell, J. Payn, and W. E. Gladstone. Mr. Rideing remembers his title, and stops short when his heroes have begun to grow whiskers, but he is able in many cases to draw from their writings agreeable little sketches of their youth. There is a satisfactory absence of fulsome eulogy, and a willingness to rest in the main upon the outward incidents. — Who Saved the Ship and The Man of the Family, by J A K. (Crowell.) A couple of plainly written, well-planned stories, with a somewhat old-fashioned air about them and a little stiffness in their joints, but better worth reading than some more sprightly and showy books. —Elsie’s Friends at Woodburn, by Martha Finley. (Dodd, Mead & Co.) A domestic tale, with an infusion of evangelicalism. There is a great deal of detail of youthful life, which tends, we fear, to make children think too much about themselves. — Uncle Rutherford’s Attic, by Joanna H. Mathews. (F. A. Stokes.) A seashore story, with considerable incident and movement. The tone is natural. — In The Wonder Clock, Howard Pyle has a delightful book for children. (Harper Bros.) — A bound volume of Harper’s Young People for the current year is one of the safest of holiday presents.
Literary Criticism. Two notable works in this department are to he mentioned here, — Mr. IPowells’s long-desired essays on the Modern Italian Poets (Harper & Bros.), and the new edition, the thirteenth, of Mr. Steelman’s Victorian Poets, revised, and augmented hy a supplementary chapter. This essay, which, like the fresh preface, is admirable, brings the work down to date. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co.) — Pen-Portraits of Literary Women, by themselves and others, edited by Helen Gray Cone and Jeannette L. Gilder, with biographical sketches by the former. In two volumes. (Cassell.) The subjects of these sketches are almost wholly English, ranging in time from Hannah More and Fanny Burney to George Eliot, but the number includes also George Sand and Margaret Fuller. The method is to give a brief outline of the facts in the life, and then a succession of extracts from the nearest, most accessible books, detailing special incidents or characteristics. The plan is not objectionable, but we think the editors might have made a little more diligent search for material, and not have relied so much upon books which are readily procured. The introductory sketches are in good taste.
Domestic Economy. Mrs. Shillaber’s CookBook, a Practical Guide for Housekeepers, by Lydia Shillaber, with introduction by Mrs. Partington. (Crowell.) Again an attempt to get at the bottom of good cooking. If books could make cooks, we should be a nation of epicures. Perhaps every one helps a little, and this book wastes no words, but gives directions in a summary, authoritative fashion which it would seem impossible to misunderstand. A sort of oil-cloth binding guards it against hard wear in the kitchen. — Childhood, its Care and Culture, by Mary Allen West. (Woman’s Temperance Association, Chicago.) An octavo volume of more than 750 pages, intended for parents, and having to do with the physical, moral, intellectual, social, and religious well-being of children. Practical hints are scattered freely through the book, though for the most part the pages are taken up with profuse talk. The spirit and purpose of the book are well, but the writer has allowed herself altogether too much latitude of commonplace.
Hygiene and Medicine. The Curability of Insanity and the Individualized Treatment of the Insane, by John S. Butler. (Putnams.) Dr, Butler’s long experience at the head of the Hartford Retreat renders his moderate but firm words in favor of the segregation of the insane worthy of attention by all. He writes earnestly, if discursively, and fortifies his position by several examples. His book is scarcely more than a tract, and perhaps as such wall gain an entrance where a treatise would not. — Diet in Relation to Age and Activity, by Sir H. Thompson. (Guppies & Hurd.) The reissue of what was originally a paper in the Nineteenth Century magazine. It calls attention to the fact that in our close concern for the evils of drink we have overlooked the less obvious but no less certain evils of over-feeding, and in the short space at command lays down certain reasonable propositions as to the wisdom of lightening one’s diet as one grows old. — The Children of Silence, or The Story of the Deaf, by Joseph A. Seiss. (Porter & Coates.) Perhaps the fact that Dr. Seiss is a director of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb accounts for a singular weakness in this book. Statistics are produced, the causes of deafness are considered, an historical résumé given of the efforts made for the relief of deaf mutes, and yet hardly more than a page of the merest generalities is devoted to the extremely interesting and important subject of visible speech. A somewhat grudging assent is given to the usefulness of this new method, but the ordinary reader would hardly perceive the full meaning of this revolution in the treatment of deaf mutes.
Humor and Nonsense. — Rabelais is not an author usually placed in the hands of children, but John Dimitry’s Three Good Giants, whose Famous Deeds are recorded in the Ancient Chronicles of Francois Rabelais (Ticknor & Co.), is likely to be a favorite book during the Christmas holidays. The exciting letterpress, as well as the grotesque illustrations by Doré and Robida, will make strong appeals to the imagination of the young folks. — Culture’s Garland, by Eugene Field (Ticknor & Co.), is the whimsical title of a collection of very clever newspaper extravaganzas. Mr. Field is witty, scholarly, and delightfully good-natured ; in spite of which Chicago has much to forgive in him. — The fourth series of Good Things of Life (F. A. Stokes) enables one to make a swift survey of the journal which is just now the fashion with society. The effect produced is of a general thinness of wit; but then society itself is a somewhat thin subject. Now and then there is a clever hit, but for the most part there is rather a waste of artistic energy.
History. The fifth volume of Justin Winsor’s Narrative and Critical History of America has been issued by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. The great importance of this work does not need to be insisted upon. —Recollections of a Minister to France, 1869-1877, by E. B, Washburne, LL. D. (Charles Scribner’s Sons), is a reprint in two volumes of the very interesting series of papers lately contributed by Mr. Washburne to Scribner’s Magazine. The work, we infer, contains some material and several illustrations that did not appear in the periodical. Mr. Washburne had a stirring episode to relate, and he has told his story with great effect, simply and earnestly, and with a lack of literary intent that adds a charm to the narration. A more detailed reference to the book is deferred. — A Short History of the City of Philadelphia from its Foundation to the Present Time, by Susan Coolidge. (Roberts.) A wellwritten, interesting account of the origin and growth of the city, under the limitations which exist in the very nature of modern American cities, which start life with half their autonomy taken from them by the State. But is there not a slight impropriety in publishing an historical work under a pseudonym ? — Half-Hours with American History, selected and arranged by Charles Morris. (Lippincott.) The work is divided into two volumes: one devoted to Colonial, the other to Independent, America. The method adopted is to arrange in an order as near chronological as possible the main topics of our history, and to give passages relating to them from historical writers, the editor occasionally supplying an introduction, connecting link, or note. The result does not impress us as very important. The authorities drawn from are not all first class, and it is not always fair to a writer to give an excerpt from his work, when a fuller reading would show how he reached his conclusions or what he deduced from them. Would it not have been worth more to have arranged a series of contemporary illustrations, drawn from obscurer and less accessible sources ?