Books of the Month
Literature and Criticism. Ignorant Essays, by Richard Dowling. (Appleton.) Eight lively essays by a writer who feigns ignorance and professes general carelessness. None the less, work has gone into his book; else it would not be so good as it is. There is little more than the idle chat of a good-natured lounger, but the assumption indicated in the title is sufficient to carry the book along without inviting very severe criticism.—Roman Literature in Relation to Roman Art, by Robert Burn, LL. D. (Macmillan & Co.), is a collection of essays showing that Roman art and literature sprang from the same national tendencies.—Thomas Carlyle’s Counsels to a Literary Aspirant, a hitherto unpublished letter of 1842, and what came of them [the counsels, we suppose, in this Scotch-English], with a brief estimate of the man, by James Hutchinson Stirling. (James Thin, Edinburgh.) Dr. Stirling is now a man of note in philosophical circles; it is not unlikely that this admirable, restless letter did something to make him such. His own comments on mirably. The text itself is simply delightful. Lamb grows mellow with age. — Messrs. Roberts Brothers have added to their neat edition of Landor’s Imaginary Conversations a volume containing The Pentameron, Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare, Minor Prose Pieces, and Criticisms. The first two divisions are in effect an extension of Imaginary Conversations. Landor’s criticism is always interesting, but rather from its vagaries than from its obedience to any well-considered canon. — Romances, Lyrics, and Sonnets from the Poetic Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. (Houghton.) The smallness of this volume forbids the introduction of all of those longer romances which showed Mrs. Browning in her most sustained flights ; but the book is a selection, not a collection, and whatever may be missed, we are quite sure that here is nothing superfluous.
Carlyle’s character are very interesting, because they are based on a wide knowledge of Scottish social life. — The Early Life of Samuel Rogers, by P. W. Clayden. (Roberts.) Interesting not so much for its account of Rogers, who was unimportant by himself, as for its lively representation of the world in which Rogers moved. This volume ends with the first years of this century, and is to be followed by one which ought to be even more entertaining. — Macmillan & Co. have issued a new edition of Walter Pater’s The Renaissance, Studies in Art and Poetry, originally published in 1873. Mr. Pater has revised and somewhat enlarged the work. The fact that this book has been fifteen years in reaching a third edition is not flattering to English taste. The Letters of Charles Lamb, newly arranged, with additions. Edited, with introduction and notes, by Alfred Ainger. In two volumes. (Armstrong.) The disorderly materials in Talfourd and other writers are here brought into excellent arrangement. The notes are brief and scholarly, and serve their purpose ad-
Books for Young People. A Guide to the Conduct of Meetings, being models of parliamentary practice for young and old, by George T. Fish. (Harpers.) A sort of dramatized Cushing’s Manual. Like books of conversation in foreign languages, one cannot be quite sure that all emergencies are provided for, or that the thorough mastery of a few general rules would not be a better introduction to practice than such a multiplicity of examples. — Kelp, a story of the Isles of Shoals, by Willis Boyd Allen. (Lothrop.) A story of camping-out life enjoyed by some boys and girls and their elders. Mr. Allen throws a good deal of naturalism into his story, but it is the easy-going naturalism of familiar phrases, not the artistic naturalism which is the result of fine choice of phrase and manner. — Little Helpers, by Margaret Vandegrift. (Ticknor.) A bright story, with its moral interwoven in a kindly spirit. The author makes her children behave with a good deal of naturalness without finding it necessary to make them either slangy or babyish. — The Recollections of a Drummer Boy, by Harry M. Kiefer. (Ticknor.) A new edition of a book which has already taken its place as a graphic picture of war scenes. —Christmas with Grandma Elsie, by Martha Finley. (Dodd, Mead & Co.) One of a series. It is an odd mixture of adventure, primness, religion, naturalness, and conventionality. The spice makes it palatable. — Abraham Lincoln, a biography for young people, by Noah Brooks. (Putnams.) Mr. Brooks has two qualifications for his task: he was at one time Lincoln’s private secretary, we believe, and he writes an agreeable, unpretentious style. The book will set the great President in a familiar light, and help, not to humanize him, for that he does not need, but to show his native strength. We cannot forgive publishers or author for allowing the misleading print from St. Gaudens’s noble statue to disfigure the book. — Queer People with Paws and Claws, and their Kweer Kapers, by Palmer Cox. (Hubbard Brothers, Philadelphia.) The pictures have more drollery than the doggerel rhymes, but even the pictures have a good deal of the kind of wit which lies in such distortions as “ Kweer Kapers. ” — Raymond Kershaw, by Maria McIntosh Cox. (Roberts.) A pleasant little book of self-help among orphans. There is a gravity about these young people who set up milk-routes and sell embroideries, which is due, perhaps, to the seriousness with which writers of such stories are apt to be impressed by their work. — The Dead Doll and Other Verses, by Margaret Vandegrift. (Ticknor.) Bright, playful poems, for the most part, a little stiff in the joints occasionally, and with the fun sometimes rather forced, but with a breezy good nature about them which would atone for worse faults.
Folk-Lore and Fun. Popular Tales from the Norse, by Sir George Webbe Dasent (Putnams), is a third edition of a book which is deservedly popular, both from the original charm of the tales and from the delightful English dress which they wear. Dasent writes as a lover of this folk-lore, and not as a mere archæologist, but he is none the less a most careful student.—Nonsense Books, by Edmund Lear, with all the original illustrations. (Roberts. ) If this age is forbidden to produce any new folk-lore, it is giving us a substitute for it. Nothing is more genuinely modern than Lear’s nonsense books, but they are already classical, and when the next century takes account of stock of this, we greatly mistake if Lear will not show precedence of many a poet and artist who outrank him now. —A Sea Change, or Love’s Stowaway, a lyricated farce, by W. D. Howells. (Ticknor.) A delicious bit of nonsense. If Mr. Howells had emphasized more the very clever hits at the obedience of parents to daughters, he might have raised his little play into a genuine satire. Of course the piece is a libretto and needs the musical complement, but as pure fun it is more delicate and delightfully humorous than the librettos of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas, with which one naturally compares it. The farce as it stands is adapted to a small audience and a vast stage.
Fine Arts and Holiday Books. Longfellow’s The Courtship of Miles Standish (Houghton) appears in a generous quarto, with large type, free engravings in the text, and very pleasing photogravures for full-page illustrations. The book is treated with special respect, for it has an introduction giving a history of the poem, and illustrated notes which furnish the reader with an opportunity of tracing the historical foundation of the verses. The work becomes thus something more than a gift-book; it is a handsome edition of an American classic. — The Rainbow Calendar for 1889, compiled by Kate Sanborn. (Ticknor.) Miss Sanborn in her lively preface can find no better reason for making this calendar from a variety of sources than that a great many persons have liked A Year of Sunshine, which she had previously published, and we do not see what better reason there could be, unless she used up her best material in her first compilation. — The Musical Year-Book of the United States, published and compiled by G. H. Wilson (152 Tremont St., Boston), is a compact record of the public concerts for the season 1887-1888, arranged alphabetically by places. It is in its fifth year. — International Copyright in Works of Art, a Letter to the American People, by Thomas Humphry Ward. Mr. Ward, an Englishman, calls attention to one phase of the copyright question winch has been little regarded, the injustice done to artists by the reproduction of their works through the means of cheap processes. The case is not quite the same as it is with books; for while many English books would be sold here if protected by copyright, it is by no means certain that the high-cost engravings would ever find a market where heliotypes and process engravings prevail. We are not arguing for the present sorry state of things. We believe that the artist should be as carefully guarded by us whether he works in London or in New York.
History and Biography. The seventh volume of the Narrative and Critical History of America, edited by Justin Winsor (Houghton), is occupied with the second part of the United States history. The period embraced is that between 1775 and 1850, excluding the war for independence, which was treated in the previous volume. The contributors, besides the editor, are E. J. Lowell, John Jay, George E. Ellis, George Ticknor Curtis, Alexander Johnston, James Russell Soley, James B. Angell, and Edward Channing, all writers of distinct ability, and more than one an authority in his department. The topical method followed permits each author to make his chapter a comprehensive study, and the full apparatus of bibliography and notes affords an opportunity for the student to work at the details of the subjects presented. The maps, as before, are an important feature, but the reproductions of portraits are rarely very satisfactory. — Two new volumes have been added to the series The Story of the Nations (Putnams) : Turkey, by Stanley Lane Poole, aided by E. J. W. Gibb and Arthur Gilman, and Media, Babylon, and Persia, by Zénaide A. Ragozin. The former has special claims upon respect as the work of accomplished scholars, and great skill has been shown in subordinating minor details so as to give the reader a quick grasp of the whole subject. Madame Ragozin is a brilliant writer, and her book shows evident signs of familiarity with her subject; but one may be pardoned for questioning if she has not had it in mind first and last to write an interesting book, whatever befalls her facts. — History of Tennessee, the Making of a State, by James Phelan. (Houghton.) The early part of this history is exceptionally well done, and the whole book indicates great industry and historical ardor on the part of the author, but we think the concluding chapters, with their lack of perspective, emphasize the difficulty of writing the history of one of our States after its life has become thoroughly merged in the general life of the republic. For Tennesseeans, we do not doubt, all the crowd of names and the details of political contests will have a charm, but for the general reader the struggle of the State to obtain a birth will have the greater interest.—The Federalist, reprinted from the original text of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, edited by Henry Cabot Lodge. (Putnams.) A reissue, apparently, of the same volume in Lodge’s edition of Hamilton. It is a convenient hand-book, and contains a careful inquiry into the authorship of the disputed numbers. — A Sketch of the Germanic Constitution from Early Times to the Dissolution of the Empire, by Samuel Epes Turner. (Putnams.) A monograph of a dry, critical order, of little use to the general student, but of service to the scholar. It has the air of having been a thesis for a degree. — A new series under the title International Statesmen series has been started, under the editorship of Lloyd C. Sanders. (Lippincotts.) Two volumes have thus far appeared : one on Palmerston by the editor, and one on Beaconsfield by T. E. Kebbel. They are brief, to the point, and reasonably impartial, but the authors so far content themselves with sketching their subjects, and do not attempt much in the way of analysis or generalization.