Books of the Month

Holiday Books. In a Fair Country, illustrated by Irene E. Jerome. (Lee & Shepard.) The text of this oblong, old-gold-covered volume consists of essays from Out-Door Papers, by T. W. Higginson. It is much if the decoration which Miss Jerome has expended recall attention to the limpid flow and fresh air of Colonel Higginson’s prose. The illustrations also are done evidently con amore. The treatment is somewhat conventional, but the intention to secure good masses and vigorous form is almost always visible. Such a picture as Through Green Pastures and Still Waters atones for the stiff prettiness of some of the less successful designs. Cardinal Grosbeak is another design one can praise, in spite of the conventionalism of treatment. Indeed, the whole book shows a freedom of hand which it is a pity should have been cramped by a fancied necessity for variety. — The Low-Back’d Car, by Samuel Lover. With illustrative drawings by William Magrath. (Lippincott.) A pleasing series of alternating designs, slight sketches on wood and full pictures in photogravure. The Irish character is not very marked, and there is a little of the air of Stage-folk about the figures. It is a pity that the letter-press should he so heavy and stubby. — Daddy Jake the Runaway, and Short Stories told after Dark, by Uncle Remus. (The Century Company.) Welcome accessions to the stock of Uncle Remus’s stories. The clever pictures by Kemble determine, we suppose, the ungainly form of the book. but we thought we had done with those varnished covers which make one’s flesh goosey. — Florida Days, by Margaret Deland, with illustrations by Louis K. Harlow (Little, Brown & Co.), is to be ranked among the choice holiday books of the present season. Mrs. Deland’s account of Florida life in town and country is charmingly and freshly written, and Mr. Harlow has thoroughly caught the spirit of the text. He contributes sixty-five drawings, large and small, many of which are exceedingly graceful in design and handling. Only a few of them fall below the standard which the artist set for himself, and the fault of these lies mainly in the subject. The head of Sir Francis Drake, on page 30, and the full-length figure of the military gentleman, on page 103, suggest respectively Mitchell’s geography and a leaf from some illustrated " war paper.” There are two or three full-page colored prints, very cleverly done, the best of which is a view of the old city gates of St. Augustine; but we greatly prefer the black-and-white cuts. Here and there is a bit of landscape whose suggestiveness and delicacy cannot easily be overpraised. The sketch on page 196 is an example. The volume is handsomely printed on heavy paper and tastefully bound. — The land of the ancient Norsemen has furnished the indefatigable Du Chaillu with the material for two very interesting volumes, which he calls The Viking Age. (Scribner’s Sons.) The result of his studies of the Eddas and Sagas, and the archæological collections in the Northland museums, is a graphic picture of the life, laws, and customs of the early Scandinavians, whom he claims to be the ancestors of the English-speaking race. The work is illustrated with innumerable cuts, chiefly in the text, and is altogether a valuable contribution to the subject. — The sixth volume of Good Things of Life (Stokes) is full of cleverness; but in our copy three or four of the plates are duplicated, which is too much of a good thing.

Books for the Young. The Story of the American Soldier in War and Peace, by Elbridge S. Brooks. (Lothrop.) Mr. Brooks begins before the beginning, for he introduces his story with an imaginary contest on American soil between two parties of primeval savages. He follows with an account of the Conquistadores, and we are pleased at seeing again an old friend, Balboa, in his waterproof armor, Wading out into the ocean. The main part of the book is taken up with the colonial wars, the war for independence, the war of 1812, the Mexican war, Indian fighting, and the war for the Union. The criticism which we should make upon Mr. Brooks’s book is that it has no distinct limits. There is a great deal of rhetoric and general talk in it, but not nearly enough simple narrative of heroism. Nobody doubts the bravery or patriotism of the American soldier, but we think the young reader does not need to be fired half so much as he needs instances of devotion, and those genuine illustrations of courage and sacrifice which do not need the accompaniment of gun and trumpet to make them stir the pulse.— Coal and the Coal Mines, by Homer Greene. (Houghton.) The fifth volume of the Riverside Library for Young People. Mr. Greene writes a very direct, simple, and wholly unpretentious English, and he has kept close to the mark of telling as plainly as he can the origin of coal, the discovery of its locality in this country, the process of mining, and in general whatever a boy with an interest in such a subject would naturally wish to know. Some may think the book a little hard to read, but the digestive capacity of a boy interested in mechanics is wonderful, and we are glad that Mr. Greene has not made the mistake of disguising his honest work. — To the Lions, a Tale of the Early Christians, by Alfred J. Church. (Putnams.) An interesting combination of the sensational story with historic romance. It is difficult to give the ordinary reader a lifelike picture of early Christendom. The painstaking student can pick out a few scenes and take refuge in general conceptions of the relation of old Rome to new Christendom, but it takes another art to reproduce this for those who are not students. Mr. Church’s way is an accepted one, and possibly it is the only one likely to be very popular; but it certainly is desirable that the young should have the actual life clearly and without pedantry presented to their view. — The Story of Boston, a Study of Independency, by Arthur Gilman. (Putnams.) Mr. Gilman does not trouble himself to live up to his title. He makes a judicious gleaning from the annals of Boston, keeping his mind upon distinctive features of the organic growth of the community so far as possible, but there is no story. The reader may be pardoned if he does not see the woods for the trees, and becomes lost in the minute details which a conscientious collector has spread before him in orderly fashion — A Summer in a Cañon, a California Story, by Kate Douglas Wiggin. (Houghton.) The author of the Birds’ Christmas Carol needs no introduction to many readers, who will seize upon this merry book without particularly caring whether they are or are not of the age of most of the characters in it. It chronicles the adventures of a party of youngsters, under proper supervision, who camped out under a California sky. The literature of the picnic is reinforced by this book, which has plenty of fun in it, and some of that truthspeaking which lies close to laughter. — Is there not more ozone in the California air than in that which young people breathe on the Atlantic coast ? At any rate, to turn from Mrs. Wiggin’s young people, with their high animal spirits, to Miss Jewett’s young people, who haunt the wharves and lanes of a New England seashore village, is to find the same human tune, but set to a different key. Betty Leicester, a Story for Girls (Houghton), is a little book that may promise itself a very great success. We would say that it is the best story of its kind, if there were a class of story showing anything like the same freshness and charm of touch. — Battle Fields of ’61, by Willis J. Abbott (Dodd, Mead & Co.), is a narrative of the military operations of the war for the Union up to the end of the peninsular campaign, by a writer who has already been before the public with similar books on American sailors. It is a pleasure to read a book upon the war written with so much sobriety, and yet with so much intelligence and animation. It is also interesting to note, what is likely to be more familiar in the future, that the author has a sense of perspective in treating the war, and sees the natural divisions into which the struggle cleaves.

Biography. Scribner’s Sons give us a popular edition of the Memories of Fifty Years, by Lester Wallack, with an introduction by Laurence Hutton. — Monk, by Julian Corbett, forms the seventh volume of the English Men of Action Series. (Macmillan.) — The Diary of Philip Hone. (Dodd, Mead & Co.) These two portly volumes will greatly interest the New Yorker whose memory goes back to 1828, — the starting-point of the present record. Mr. Hone’s journals, though of no exceptional literary value, have a charming old-fashioned flavor, and give us really entertaining glimpses of the social and political life of New York at a period when there were many distinguished and picturesque figures on the stage. The writer, a retired merchant, with a liking for the sunny side of things, seems to have known everybody worth knowing in his generation, — authors, painters, statesmen, actors, and foreign notabilities, upon several of whom his revelations throw a pleasant side-light. We shall have occasion to refer to the work later. — The Life of Lessing, by T. W. Rolleston, is the latest addition to the Great Writers Series. (W. Scott.) — The Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, compiled from her letters and journals, by her son, C. E. Stowe (Houghton), is a work that will commend itself to a large audience. The chapters dealing with the writing and production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin possess especial interest. The book contains the most recent portrait of Mrs. Stowe, and portraits of other members of the Beecher family. — The Letters of the Duke of Wellington to Miss J., edited, with extracts from the Diary of the latter, by Christine Terhune Herrick (Dodd, Mead & Co.), is a curious epistolary revelation. It shows that the Iron Duke was not all iron. Though lacking the charm of Prosper Mérimée’s Inconnue, the proselyting Miss J. appears to have been too much for his Grace, whose fame is securer in the field than in the library. The remarkable thing about it all is that Wellington allowed this morbidly pious young woman to bore him more or less for seventeen years. He found her very tedious at last — as the reader does at first. — Letters of Horace Walpole, selected and edited by Charles Duke Yongo. (Putnams.) A fresh selection from Walpole’s delightful correspondence is always welcome. It is almost impossible to make a dull book in that kind ; but it is not easy to make the very best. Mr. Yonge, so far as his limits go, seems to have done this. His introduction is brief but sufficient, and his explanatory notes are valuable. These two volumes will perhaps have the effect of sending the new reader to the larger work, if he is a tasteful reader.

Politics. The latest volume of Dr. Von Holst’s work on The Constitutional and Political History of the United States covers the period 1856-1859, and includes the election of Buchanan and the close of the thirty-fifth Congress. Mr. Lalor continues the translation, and it is not always possible for the reader to determine how much of the involution of the text is due to the author and how much to the translator. We quote a single paragraph in an interesting treatment of the subject of Western railways, to illustrate the conflict which goes on between language and ideas in this oddly provoking book: “As the State was not the railroad builder with both the moral right and the actual practical possibility, in enterprises of a permanent character conducive to the common welfare, to throw a larger or smaller part of the cost on the future, the evil consequences of all the uneconomic — uneconomic in the sense just referred to — construction of railways would, necessarily, within a conceivable time, be keenly felt by a large part of the people ; but that fact — the fact that the State was not the builder of the railways — was only another reason that made them shoot up like mushrooms after a rainy night.”All our respect for Von Holst and all our admiration for his industry and keenness of judgment cannot reconcile us to such serpentine language. After one has uncoiled the paragraph he cannot get the kinks out. (Callaghan & Co., Chicago.) — Constitutional History of the United States, as seen in the Development of American Law. (Putnams.) This work contains five lectures given before the Political Science Association of the University of Michigan, by Judge Cooley, Henry Hitchcock, George W. Biddle, Professor Charles A. Kent, and D. H. Chamberlain. Professor Rogers, of the University, provides an introduction. The scheme is a very simple and satisfactory one, for it contemplates a survey of our constitutional development by reference to the successive decisions of the Supreme Court, and it takes into account the masterly influence of Marshall, Jay, and their successors. The final lecture considers the relation of the state judiciary to the American constitutional system. The whole volume gives an agreeable and fresh introduction to the study of constitutional history. — An Introduction to the Local Constitutional History of the United States, by George E. Howard. (Johns Hopkins University.) This is the first volume of a proposed series, and is devoted to the development of the Township, Hundred, and Shire; and though it does not open the subject, it does for the first time make something like a full comparative study of the norms of political institutions as seen in both the East and the West, the Southern variation being less fully considered. The illustrations are drawn from a great variety of sources, and there is ample foundation of authority. We shall be surprised if this book does not stimulate a great deal of special work in the departments so comprehensively treated by Professor Howard, and the advantage is very great of having the subject first presented in its wider aspect. — The State : Elements of Historical and Practical Politics; a sketch of institutional history and administration. By Woodrow Wilson. (Heath.) Mr. Wilson has done for the larger domain of the state, including its minor forms, what Mr. Howard has done for the less highly developed organisms. He has given a text-book of comparative politics, and almost for the first time, if not for the very first, the student has the opportunity of comparing all the great modern forms of government, as well as of Greece and Rome, within the compass of a single volume. It is an inductive study of governments, with concluding chapters on the nature and forms, the functions and objects, of government and the character of law. No one who knows Mr. Wilson’s methodical mind and clear statement will doubt that he has achieved an extraordinary success in making his book at all. He is scientific in his method, but he is also intuitive in his perception of the profound relations of law which underlie the forms of government, so that the hook has a unity which is always helpful to the student. — The United States, its History and Constitution, by Alexander Johnston. (Scribners.) Mr. Johnston is seen at his best in this book, and one cannot read its compact, orderly sentences without keen regret for the loss of a writer who applied the test of clear sense to the interpretation of our history, our politics, and our public men. There was a downright honesty in the man and a lawyer-like sagacity of judgment which kept him free from illusions, yet there was also an enthusiasm which made him quick to see the generous side of American history and politics. The book was written originally as an article in the Encyclopædia Britannica, and thus was intended for English as well as American readers. It sometimes happens that one who writes for a foreign audience gains almost the advantage of posterity, and we think that this book has thus peculiar value for Americans of to-day.