Books of the Month

Theology and Religion. The Divine Man, from the Nativity to the Temptation, by George Dana Boardman. (Appleton.) An elaborate amplification of the brief portion of the Gospels which refer to the Christ before his public ministry. It is exegetieal, homiletic, and occasionally literary. It is perhaps wordier than some readers of religious literature like, and less suggestive to thoughtful persons, but it is fervid, and implies no doubts or misgivings.

— Sermons Preached in St. George’s, by W. S. Rainaford. (Dodd, Mead & Co.) Earnest., direct, short sermons, that have the vitality of the preacher infused in them. Now and then a striking thought occurs, but for the most part the sermons are an eager voice, penetrating, if possible, the conscience and heart.

— The World to Come, by W. B. Wright (Houghton), is not the world of some future and other abode of human life, hut our present world when lifted to that place for which God designs it. Mr. Wright is a fresh sermonizer. He is often very keen in his exegesis, and wholly unconventional in his manner. He writes with nervous force and must, we think, catch many readers who would turn away from most books of sermons, — The Evolution of Immortality, or suggestions of an individual immortality based upon our organic and life history, by C. T. Stockwell (Charles II. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) A thoughtful little hook, which considers the growth of human being from embryologieal and cell-life up to the origin and evolution of consciousness, and, noting at every step the anticipation of the next, is justified in looking forward in the same line from the present point. It is worth reading’. — What and Where is God ? by H. B. Philbrook. (Philbrook & Dean, Chicago.) The title-page declares further that this book is “a discussion of the cause, character, and operations of the Creator,” and the preface, duly signed by the author, is as follows : “ An apology is wanted for a book’s appearance only when it is a work of no value to a community or any class of persons.” A further examination of the work convinces us that II. B. Philbrook is a community. It closes with what the author calls Psalms, but which are really Conundrums, as witness this verse : “Who gave a plain a creature, and who filled the air with birds ? Is there a plumage upon a eat ? Can a hird devour a grass ? ” We give it up. — Millennial Dawn, vol. i. ; the Plan of the Ages. (Zion’s Watch Tower, Pittsburgh.) The reader will pause long before the chart which prefaces this wonderful volume, and then, if lie likes, can read three hundred and fifty pages of small print, which aim to present the plan of God, as derived from the Bible, with special reference to present labor problems. It is a dreary piece of work. — Our Heredity from God, consisting of lectures on Evolution, by E. P. Powell. (Appleton.) The work of a preacher who, finding his traditionally received views of theology swept away by the Darwinian doctrines, yet moves through these same doctrines to what he holds as a more impregnable position regarding the being of God and the relation of man to him. The lectures have a good deal of unconventionality about them, and there is an apparent effort at sharpness and cleverness which makes one distrust somewhat the speaker, as if he had not that profound humility which is the unerring note of true seekers after truth. — Christian Facts and Forces, by Newman Smyth. (Scribners.) A score of discourses, marked by that frank yet reverent spirit which gives one the feeling that the preacher breathes the air that envelops the world, and not the carefully regulated air of the study. Mr. Smyth feels too keenly the life that goes on about him not to express his Christian faith in terms that show sympathy with that life. His book is honest, positive, and helpful. — The Story of the Psalms, by Henry Van Dyke. (Scribners.) An interesting treatment of the Book of Psalms, by which the historical basis, where there is one, is carefully disclosed and commented on. Others are made the occasion for fresh and earnest application. The entire book strikes us as a happy improvement in method upon ordinary commentaries. — Life’s Problems, Here and Hereafter: an Autobiography. (Cupples & Hurd.) The autobiographic form is chosen, apparently, to enable the writer to speak most freely on such subjects as Personality, Immortality, the Spiritual World, Prayer, and the like, since the results reached are determined by personal consciousness acting on rational lines. It is a story of intellectual and spiritual travail from Doubt to Faith. It is an interesting book by a thoughtful person, and, if not always incisive, it is honest and candid.—Uplifts of Heart and Will, a series of religious meditations or aspirations, addressed to earnest men and women, by James H. West. (Chas. PI. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) These meditations are drawn, we believe, from actual use in a congregation by the minister. They are especially characterized by the absence of personality, though the writer would probably claim that they expressed a higher spirituality. But’ religion which seems so unwilling to spell God without drawing it out into Good is rather apt to add naught to the original conception. —Philosophy of Theism, by Borden P. Bowne. (Harpers.) In the author’s words, he has sought to give an outline of the essential argument which might serve as a text for teachers, and as a somewhat critical survey of the subject for other readers. Mr. Bowne is a keen critic, and it is a pleasure to read a writer who thrusts so positively. He is slightly contemptuous over what he calls the “atheistic gust of recent years,” and remarks slyly that the “ British Association for the Advancement of Science has not favored us with a cosmological manifesto for the last dozen years.”—The Bhagavad Gîtâ, or The Lord’s Lay, with commentary and notes, as well as references to the Christian Scriptures; translated from the Sanskrit for the benefit of those in search of spiritual light, by Mohini M. Chatterji. (Ticknor.) This version differs from those already in English chiefly in this : that the translator has in mind not the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity, but the distinct guidance of the spiritual nature. Therefore he has availed himself of modern Brahminical comments, and has sought to show the essential harmony with the Christian Scriptures. It is a pity that the Scripture texts in the notes had not been given in full rather than by reference merely. — History of the Christian Church, by George Park Fisher. (Scribners.) Professor Fisher is a marvel of industry. More than that, he is not a dryasdust, but sees so clearly the just relations of historic movements and is so catholic in his judgment that he makes history, even when compact and closely narrative in form, an interpretation of life and thought. —Ecclesiastical History of Newfoundland, by the Very Reverend M. F. Howley, D. D. (Doyle & Whittle, Boston,) The size of this volume, an octavo of over four hundred pages, compels the author to treat his subject as a great one, and the figures in it of priests who have made the ecclesiastical history are “colossal-minded,” and their reign is “glorious.” One needs to get at the exact angle of the writer of this book in order to see proportions as he sees them.

Travel and Nature. Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle, by Karl Kron. (Author, The University Building, Washington Square, New York.) This is a book of eight hundred pages, in very small type, that it may be packed, we take it, in the haversack, or whatever the pillion of a bicycle is called ; for it is a traveler’s guide to all sorts of places on the American continent, besides containing a vast deal of cursory information, which the tired bicycler, if he has a microscope about him, may read when his wheel is lying gently on its side, or standing sidewise, at his nooning-time. The author is fatiguingly egotistical in his preliminary matter, — a little of the ego goes farther than a good deal of it, — but he certainly may be thanked for packing so much necessary information in the same parcel with his needless word-spinning. If he had condensed his matter and enlarged his type, we could have praised him more heartily. — Mountain Trails and Parks in Colorado, by L. B. Trance. (Chain, Hardy & Co., Denver.) An agreeable mixture of personal adventure and reflection. The customary characters that serve to give spice to hunting and fishing excursions in literature are introduced, but the author is much more interesting than his imagined friends. — Winter, from the Journal of Henry D. Thoreau, edited by H. G. V. Blake. (Houghton.) This volume, made upon the same general plan as Spring and Summer, introducing passages from Thoreau’s journals in the order of the season, but regardless of years, will have a strong interest for lovers of a writer who is winning a place in men’s regard as well as holding his place in literature. It seems to us that, a softer manner pervades this book, and that one might almost take it as expressing riper thought ; but that, of course, can be only fancy, since the plan of editing precludes such a notion. If the interest in Thoreau increases, his admirers and students will begin to wish that they had his writings before them more distinctly in chronological order. Mr. Blake’s careful dating, however, of these volumes of extracts will put the reader in possession of the means of such a survey. —A Vacation in a Buggy, by Maria Louise Pool. (Putnams.) An animated record of a drive through the Berkshire Hills ; written originally for a newspaper, and with something of the transient form still clinging to it. It is in fact sprightly enough in parts to make one wish the whole had been as good as these parts, and that then there had been more of it. — The Isles of the Princes, or The Pleasures of Prinkipo, by Samuel S. Cox. (Putnams.) If Mr. Cox were only lively, his book would be, as our cousins say, not half bad. But he is not content with being lively. He has too much the self-consciousness of a Congressional wit. —The Heart of Merrie England, by the Rev. James S. Stone, D. D. (Porter & Coates.) The record of the experience of a scholarly man, who knows England by books and by personal residence and saunter. There is a leisureliness about the work which is very agreeable, and there will be found many to echo the author’s sentiment for the nooks and corners which have not yet been spoiled by the tourist crowd. — Ancient Cities of the New World, translated from the French of Ddésiré Charnay by J. Gonino and Helen S. Conant, with an introduction by Allen Thorndike Rice (Harpers), is a record of voyages and scientific explorations in Mexico and Central America from 1857 to 1882. The general reader as well as the archæologist, will find this to be an important work. —An interesting series has been begun in Trees of Reading, Mass. Mr. F. H. Gilson, of that town, has been photographing, and then printing, by the heliotype process, the noble trees of his vicinity, accompanying each print by a page of description and history. He clearly sympathizes with and respects his subjects, and the naïveté of his letterpress accords well with the simplicity and dignity of the prints.

Fiction. The Count of the Saxon Shore, or the Villa in Vectis, a Tale of the Departure of the Romans from Britain, by the Rev. A. J. Church, with the collaboration of Ruth Putnam. (Putnams.) An historical romance, which is in some respects an odd translation of modern life into ancient terms. — The Story of Antony Grace, by G. Manville Fenn. (Appleton.) The story, being autobiographical in form, avails itself easily of conversation as the means of carrying forward the plot. There is hardly a description in the book more than three lines long. — Home Again, by George Macdonald. (Appleton.) The story of a young man who thought he had genius as a writer, and went out into the world to fulfill his destiny, only to come home again to his farm, there to work at his living, and to write his verses at his honest work. — The Story of an Enthusiast, told by himself, by Mrs. C. V. Jamison. (Ticknor.) The enthusiast is a painter, and a somewhat wordy one, who has sufficient acquaintance with ordinary composition to construct an autobiographic story, but not enough imagination to make any connection between the form of the story and the character of the story-teller. — Our Party of Four, a Story of Travel, by Mrs. H. B. Goodwin. (Cupples & Hurd.) The travel was in Spain chiefly, the four were American women, and there is a mild lovestory inwoven. The whole is a sort of waxwork show. — Zorah, a Love Tale of Modern Egypt, by Elizabeth Balch. (Cupples & Hurd.) The story is a romance spun out of whole cloth, with threads of Eastern scenery and life shot through it. It is hard to make the people real, or to believe in their possible existence. — Bledisloe, or Aunt Pen’s American Nieces, an International Story, by Ada M. Trotter. (Cupples & Hurd.) The graceful little proem to this story leads one to expect much more than he finds in the story itself, or perhaps, more strictly, much less, — less conventional tragedy, less tiresome repetition of wornout novel-themes. If the author had aimed at a simple pastoral, she might have reached a success, but she has superimposed upon a slight basis a tottering fabric of love, debt, heroism, self-sacrifice, et cetera. — In Paul and Christina (Dodd, Mead & Co.), Mrs. Barr is on familiar ground. She finds in the wild nature of the Orkneys and the rude fisher folk an excellent opportunity for presenting those studies of human life which collect about strong will, struggle with temptation, noble victory, in terms almost elemental. The absence of a complex civilization helps her, and she manages to give almost a Scandinavian value to her story. — The Flag on the Mill, by Mary B. Sleight. (Funk & Wagnalls) A domestic tale, with a self-sacrificing heroine and two young men, one noble and serious, the other frivolous and handsome; customary runaway teams, houses afire, and bedridden invalids. — Miss Curtis, a sketch, by Kate Gannett Wells. (Tieknor.) Under the guise of a study of an impossible character, Mrs. Wells has given herself the opportunity of talking rationally about charity and social life, without frightening away the hearers. —The Lost Wedding Ring, by Mrs. Winter and Mrs. Boy. (Putnams.) A discussion of marriage set in a somewhat confusing border of conversation, club, and incident. The writer appears so eager to escape the charge of dullness as to be open to the charge of talking in riddle. — Tony, the Maid, by Blanche Willis Howard. (Harpers.) Has not Miss Howard dropped two or three pegs in this book ? She used to write careful stories, and stories which aimed at high success. This is a cheap thing. — Frau Wilhelmine, the concluding part of the Buchholz Family, by Julius Stinde, translated by Harriet F. Powell. (Scribners.) More of this curiously wrought piece of assumed naïveté. — Within and Without, a Philosophical, Lego-Ethical, and Religious Romance, in Four Parts. (J. Thompson Gill, Chicago.) Rather an alarming notice to post at the entrance of a novel, and readers will be likely to stay without, rather than go within and face the problems which would appear to confront them. The book is a somewhat tiresome story, made to carry a good deal of not very new nor very incisive criticism of evangelical religion. There is, it must be said, an absence of cheap ridicule, and an evident desire to do justice to a form of faith which the author has outgrown. But the book is dull, and not important. — Mona’s Choice, by Mrs. Alexander. (Holt.) Mrs. Alexander has not lost her skill as a novelist, but much practice seems to have deadened her sensibilities, and her latest work does not have the charm of the earlier. — Mr. Absalom Billingslea and other Georgia Folk, by Richard M. Johnston. (Harpers.) A collection of the rough, humorous stories which Mr. Johnston and his readers find very entertaining. They do not belong to the school of the New South, —they may be classed rather with Georgia Scenes, and they have an old-fashioned air about them; but they have an unctuousness of humor which renders them acceptable to many who are tired of finespun character sketches. — Seth’s Brother’s Wife, by Harold Frederic. (Scribners.) A novel of New York country life, which has been running as a serial in Scribner’s Monthly. —Jack the Fisherman, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. (Houghton.) A strong story, as unpleasant as life. The grim logic of events is not interrupted by any softhearted Providence of an author.

History and Biography, Brief Institutes of General History, by E. Benjamin Andrews. (Silver, Rogers & Co., Boston.) This book differs from such a work as Fisher’s Outlines by undertaking to set forth the underlying principles of historic development in chronological order, events being introduced as illustrative. The book thus becomes a good companion to Fisher’s Outlines, the one complementing the other. Bibliographical aids are given, and abundant foot-notes. The value of such a work is largely in the success with which it discerns the logic of history. Dr. Andrews seems reasonably free from pet theories; he has availed himself of substantial works by German students, condensing their results, and thus putting the reader into possession of the suggestions which are so profuse in such literature, and its most serviceable characteristic. The book is one which will appeal to thoughtful students ; the ordinary mechanical student would be bewildered by it. It ought to serve an important end in quickening thought and enlarging conceptions. — A new series has been started, English History by Contemporary Writers, under the editorship of F. York Powell. Its design is to select such passages as may give in quickest fashion the salient points. The idea is a capital one, provided the subjects taken for illustration are sufficiently limited to allow of the treatment. We wish that the editor had gone a step beyond, and indicated in detail further illustrative passages, named by title only, for the convenience of students who wish to pursue the same method. The series will be of greatest help to those who are already prepared with a definite knowledge of the times. The first volume is Edward III. and his Wars, 1327-1360, and is arranged and edited by W. J. Ashley; the second, The Misrule of Henry III., 1236-1251, by Rev. W. H. Hutton. (Putnams.) — The Lawyer, the Statesman, and the Soldier, by George S. Boutwell. (Appleton.) Biographical and personal sketches of Choate, Webster, Lincoln, and Grant. There is not quite as much reference to the author’s personal acquaintance with these men as we had hoped to find, and we do not see that he brings a very acute criticism or power of characterization to bear on the subjects.