Books of the Month
Fiction. Black Beauty, his Grooms and Companions, by Anna Sewell. (American Humane Education Society, Boston.) A spirited autobiography of a horse, with the design of instilling kindness to animals into the minds of people. The intention of the book is so obvious that we wonder why the author, or her editor, has thought it necessary to italicize all the points. However, if this system impresses the special lessons on the mind, we ought not to complain, though so many shouts tend to defeat the loudness of each one. — A Waif of the Plains, by Bret Harte. (Houghton.) Like others of Mr. Harte’s recent stories, this is a story of real life in stage land, clever and kaleidoscopic. The bits of colored glass which constitute his artistic material are shaken about into everlastingly new combinations, with the same general effect. Mr. Harte can no longer escape from the world he has peopled into that which exists for ordinary men and women.— The Mistress of Beech Knoll, by Clara Louise Burnham. (Houghton.) Mrs. Burnham has a bright story to tell, and her characters have an ease of life which is nearly as good as profundity of conception. The incidents are simple, and if there is no absorbing demand on the reader’s attention, there is no lack of honest, straightforward movement toward a natural and agreeable end. —Yazoo, by Will J. Wheless. (Murray’s Steam Printing House, Dallas, Texas.) A first performance, we suppose, by a writer who has a story in his head, but is very much bothered to get it out in some extraordinary fashion, instead of trusting to the simple form of story-telling, —Albrecht, by Arlo Bates. (Roberts.) Mr. Bates essays a romance of a primitive type in the midst of a scoffing generation of realists, and has added thus to the necessary perils of his undertaking that of an unsympathetic audience. But if one has a poetic thought which naturally takes to itself this form, why should he not be true to his art ? It may yet be that we shall not be foolish partisans in our attitude toward the art of fiction. — A Chronicle of Conquest, by Frances C. Sparhawk. (Lothrop.) An enthusiastic story devoted to the exploitation of the Carlyle system of regenerating the Indian. Miss Sparhawk has the first requisite of success in a strong faith in this system, and her belief in it goes far to giving reality to characters which, without this faith, tend to merely conventional creations. — Circumstances beyond Control, by Luther H. Bickford. (C. H. Kerr & Co., Chicago.) Hypnotism is in the doctor’s hands for experiment with possible results in pathology. It is also in the novelist’s hands with possible results of adding new enormities to fiction. — Two Voices, by Henry Harland. (Cassell.) Dies Iræ, the former of the two sketches which make up this little book, is a study of morbid anatomy ; and De Profundis, the second, the meditation of a sinner on his deathbed. The work as a whole is crude, though not without force, but has an air of experiment about it.—Adrift, a Story of Niagara, by Julia Ditto Young. (Lippincott) We notice that the author dedicates her book to Mr. Howells. If she intends by this to express her regard for that writer as a writer, she intimates by the book itself that she has profited little by reading his works. The story is realistically improbable, and has a conventional plot rendered more conventional by the air of naturalness that is cast about it. — Heart Stories, by Theodore Bartlett. (Putnams.) A thin volume containing the beginnings in literature of a young man whose short life is told pathetically in the preface. The work is marked by sentiment and generous impulses, and if it has the sound of Other novelists’ voices in it, that is a note which belongs to beginners’ work. — Jack Horner, by Mary Spear Tiernan. (Houghton.) There must be a long step taken in the pacification of the North and the South when a Southern woman, writing a novel whose scene is laid principally in Richmond during the war, can use her art to bring about a marriage between a Confederate woman and a Union soldier, under circumstances which appear to cover the soldier with shame. Yet this is what Mrs. Tiernan has done with skill. Her pictures, moreover, of life in Richmond during the siege are vivacious and have the air of truthfulness. We are not quite sure that there is not some inconsistency in the development of the character of Madelaine, but the reader assuredly gets a very readable novel. — Pawnee Hero Stories and FolkTales, with notes on the origin, customs, and character of the Pawnee people, by George Bird Grinnell. (Forest & Stream Publishing Co.. New York) An interesting collection of Indian tales, told with evident intention on the part of the author to be faithful, and of notes drawn largely from first-hand observation. The treatment is sympathetic, but the author is neither a sentimentalist nor a blind partisan. He says some admirable things in his preface, especially when he is pointing out the false judgments passed on the Pawnee ; for instance: “To speak of their stealing horses, using that verb in the sense which we commonly give it, would be like saying that an army stole the cannon which it captured in an engagement, with the enemy. Captured horses were the legitimate spoils of war.”
Education and Text-Books. Handbook of Psychology, Senses and Intellect, by James Mark Baldwin. (Holt.) There is something very refreshing in the naive hope with which the preface of this work opens, — a hope that “no book [on psychology] will hereafter meet the requirements of higher education for more than a generation.” The author justifies his own course in producing one by a consideration of the rapid growth of the science. It would almost seem as if students of psychology who were also teachers would prefer to express themselves only on the lecture-platform and in the class-room, since by this means they could get out a new edition every year, if need be. Mr. Baldwin is an enthusiast, but a clearheaded one, and seeks to adjust the conflicting claims of psychology and metaphysics. Apparently he was trained in respect, at least, for the old school, while his individual bent is toward the new, and he seeks with much earnestness to do justice to each. The volume is to be followed by one on the Emotions and Will. The form of the work makes it adapted to class-room use — Ancient History for Colleges and High Schools, by William F. Allen and P. V. N. Myers. (Ginn.) Part I. is devoted to The Eastern Nation and Greece, being a revision and expansion of the corresponding part of Mr. Myers’s Outlines of Ancient History. It is a convenient epitome of modern research and theory. Part II., also a volume by itself, is a short History of the Roman People, by William F. Allen, whose death is a great loss to historical science in this country. A thoughtful, discriminating mind is at work on every page, and the part strikes us as having more unity of design and more individuality than the other, but the subject may account for that. — Les Trois Mousquetaires, par A. Dumas, edited and annotated, for use in colleges and schools, by F. C. Sumichrast. (Ginn.) The editing consists in the condensation of the original work by the omission of long descriptions, and of the immoralities which are out of place in the school-room. Where are they in place ? Au excellent body of notes contains the biographical and geographical ones in an alphabetically arranged section by themselves. — Report of the Commissioner of Education for the Year 1887-88. (Government Printing Office, Washington ) There is the customary body of statistics, and a great deal of testimony on a variety of topics from a number of persons holding educational offices. There is also a good deal of digest of published reports. in our opinion, local influences determine educational methods to so great an extent that the comparative method is of little value except in the hands of a master of statistical science. A considerable part of what is collected with so much labor is of no value except to a few persons, and they are likely to accept the results with allowance for error. — The Bureau of Education also issues Proceedings of the Department of Superintendence of the National Educational Association at its meeting in Washington, March, 1889, and the History of Federal and State Aid to Higher Education in the United States, by Frank W. Blackman. The latter contains a summary drawn from a number of accessible works, but no one portion of the subject seems to have been exhaustively treated. There is also the customary aimless kind of writing. It is hard to say why it should be so, but there is a sort of dry rot to most official documents of this class in America. Apparently no pains is taken to present matter in its best form, but volumes are ground out by the public printer which appear to have been written with no expectation that any one would read them. — The Nursery Lesson Book, a Guide for mothers in teaching young children : fifty easy lessons, each lesson combining simple and progressive instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, and singing : with one hundred illustrations in outline, and sixteen songs set to music. By Philip G. Hubert, Jr. (Putnams.) This full title page indicates the character of the contents. The book is rather for home use than for schools. We think the music and some of the hints given are of more value than the special method of the whole book. — Minna von Baruhelm, oder das Soldatenglück, by G. E. Lessing, edited by Sylvester Primer. (Heath.) A number of Heath’s Modern Language Series. The introduction to the play contains a good sketch of Lessing and the influence of the times, as also an analysis of Minna. The notes are critical and explanatory, and a bibliography of books of reference used by the careful editor is appended. — A Primer of School Management. (Bardeen.) A somewhat vague and generalized little treatise, with copy-book advice.— Sesenheim, from Goethe’s Dichtung and Wahrheit; edited, with an introduction and notes, by H. C. O. Huss. (Heath.) Tales from History, by Dr. Friedrich Hoffmann ; edited, with notes, by H. S. BeresfordWebb. (Heath.) Both of these little books are in Heath’s Modern Language Series, which appears to be a fresh and unhackneyed collection of reading manuals. — In the same excellent Series, two new numbers are Schiller’s Ballads, edited by Henry Johnson, and Sept Grands Auteurs du Dix-neuviéme Siécle, by Alcée Fortier. Mr. Johnson shows his careful scholarship in the body of notes which he has collected, and especially in his study of Schiller’s own attitude toward his work. Mr. Fortier’s book is a course of lectures which he delivered in French at Tulane University, on Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Alfred de vigny, Alfred de Musset, Gautier, Prosper Mérimée, and François Coppée. The lectures are running notes on the writings of these authors. Two Great Teachers. Johnson’s Memoir of Roger Ascham, and selections from Stanley’s Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold, with introductions by James H. Carlisle. (Bardeen.) Arnold’s life comes a little nearer to the experience of modern school-teachers, and both lives are valuable in proportion as methods are subordinated and principles given heed to.
Literary Criticism. Mr. Jesse Shepard prints in Paris, at the press of T. Symonds, a little volume of Essays and Pen-Pictures upon various themes suggested by life in Europe, such as Aristocratic Paris, A Visit to Gatchina, together with discussions upon topics which do not require a familiarity with life abroad, but are due to interest in æsthetic and literary subjects, such as Wagner’s Music, Joseph Roux, Dumas. There is an imaginary dialogue between Euripides and Æschylus on the tragedy of Macbeth, an imaginary discourse by De Quincey on Optimism, and other papers. The general tone is that of protest against the physical school of philosophy, and of reverence for every form of genius as displayed in art. The same writer sends us his Pensées et Essais (Librairie Documentaire), which is in part, at least, the same material in a French dress. We have not the two books by us at once, but our impression is that in using the French form the author has introduced matter which finds a more familiar association with the French language than with the English. — The Poetry of Job, by George H. Gilbert. (A. C. McClurg & Co., Chicago.) Mr. Gilbert gives a rhythmical translation, and afterwards an interpretation of the poem. His translation may be more exact, and it may aim at a studied rhythm, but it has not the fullness, the real rhythmic splendor, of the authorized version, which no one should attempt to meddle with who is not a poet as well as a scholar. It does not seem to us that Mr. Gilbert’s interpretation, which is chiefly of details, sufficiently consider the work as a whole, as regards either its literary form or its philosophic content. Mozley’s essay is more likely to set the reader to thinking, and Mr. Genung’s essay in the Andover Review shows possibly an acuter perception of the structural character of the work. The reader, however, will find many interesting and sympathetic comments in Mr. Gilbert’s study. — Lectures on Russian Literature, by Ivan Panin. (Putnams.) The authors treated are Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenef, and Tolstoy. Mr. Panin finds in literature a revelation of soul through its manifold changes and developing forms, and holds that a certain cycle is run by each nation. Such a cycle he discovers in Russian literature, but he denies any originating force in this literature. The comparative method which he adopts is an interesting one, and his book, illustrated as it is with many translations from the representative authors whom he selects, offers a suggestive study, of more value to the reader than such books are apt to be, because the critic constantly appeals to the reader’s familiarity with parallel manifestations in Occidental or classic literature. The great need, in any study of a foreign literature, is of standards of comparison. — Literature and Poetry, by Philip Schaff. (Scribners.) Dr. Schaff discourses on the English Language, the Poetry of the Bible, the Great Latin Hymns, the Umversity, Ancient and Modern, and Dante, with various illustrative and companion subjects. We do not see the significance of the title. Does he exclude poetry from the class of literature ? The work is encyclopædic and matter of fact rather than marked by the insight which belongs to a quickening apprehension of literature. — Studies in Literature and style, by Theodore W. Hunt. (Armstrong.) “ It is the purpose of these Studies,” says the author in his preface, “to state, discuss, and exemplify the representative types of style with primary reference to the needs of the English literary student.” Under the captions, thus, of the Intellectual Style, the Literary, the Impassioned, the Popular, the Critical, the Poetic, the Satirical, and the Humorous, with special studies of the style of Matthew Arnold and of Emerson, the author undertakes to state principles and to give examples. It is a temperate book, with a certain independence of judgment about it, and a vigor of moderation which imparts a sane air to the work.— In a Club Corner, the Monologue of a Man who might have been Sociable, overheard by A. P. Russell. (Houghton.) The slight mannerism of the title fits well the book, which is a mosaic of bits of criticism and comment from a great variety of authors. Mr. Russell has studied this literary art so long and faithfully that he has become exceedingly skillful in joining his bits, so that one sees no longer a collection, but a whole. — W. A. W., a Souvenir of the Fourth Annual Convention at Warsaw, Indiana, July 9, 10, 11, and 12, 1880, by L. May Wheeler and Mary E. Cardwill. (M. Cullaton & Co., Richmond, Ind.) It is plain that we must look beyond the title-page for an explanation of W. A. W., and we find it on the first page of the book in the expansion into Western Association of Writers. The book is a report of the Convention of Western Writers. The West is a large term ; perhaps it was the place where the convention met which gives the reader the impression that the West means Indiana. It is clear that the writers all had a capital time, and read poems and papers in the most reckless manner. At the East we fear they would have played base-ball. It to a reader not born within reach of Warsaw there seems sometimes to be a little lack of proportion, the thought quickly comes that the West will cure that trifling evil, if the enthusiasm of the Western Association may be taken as an indication.
Domestic Economy. Dinnerology, our Experiments in Diet, from Crankery to Commonsense. (Belford, Clarke & Co.) The writer of this book resorts to the expedient of connubial conversation and similar frippery to enable him to set forth various experiments looking to the reduction of weight, the extirpation of dyspepsia and similar evils in modern good living. The embellishment of small and usually poor jokes adds to the discouragement of the reader who is trying to find the real substance of the book. Still, patient labor will disclose a residuum of good sense.— Delicate Feasting, by Theodore Child. (Harpers.) This book was written in the meridian of Paris, and the author is at the top of an Eiffel Tower of supreme condescension for England and America. If he had as much lightness of touch as he has earnestness of principle in all matters relating to the dinner table, he might have made an amusing as well as an instructive book. We find most useful hints in his work, and we take the chastising with good nature. it is something for an American to be whipped into an appreciation of the stomach and the palate as the last fine retreat of the spirit of man.
Poetry and the Drama. Eleusis is the title of a poem privately printed in Chicago, copyrighted, but by nobody, and dedicated to W. H. S. We can give the reader no further clue to the publisher or author, but we wish we could, for the poem is worthier attention than many that come heralded with pomp of advertisement. We cannot say that, it impresses us as a work of original power. On the contrary, it is quite assuredly reflective. It reflects in its measure In Memoriam, in its thought it reflects the pessimistic philosophy of the day, in its phraseology it reflects Tennyson; but it is thoughtful and it is musical, the work of a man of fine feeling and sensitiveness. If one drifts along with it, he is suffused with a not disagreeable melancholy ; if he stops to analyze, he begins to question the fundamental thought ; and if he be pretty sane, he is likely to consider at the close that noble poetry is not built upon negations. Fitzgerald’s poem, for example, depends for its life upon its positive philosophy, not upon its superficial denials.
Economics. The Economic Basis of Protection, by Simon N. Patten. (Lippincott.) A temperate, thoughtful little book, in which the writer studies his subject from the point of view which assumes the question of a freetrade or protection policy in be an individual one for each nation, and not capable of being formulated into a general law. Hence his inquiry is, What conduces most to the growth and well-being of the United States, that nation having certain differentiated conditions not to be averred of other nations ?— Silver in Europe, by S. Dana Horton. (Macmillan.) A pamphlet in cloth covers. The author, a well-known authority on bimetallism, aims to get a hearing, from those whom it is important to influence to-day, upon the theme of the general restoration of silver to legal equality with gold. His book is historical so far as it treats very recent movements like the Paris monetary Congress of September, 1889, and argumentative as it undertakes to pass in review the objections which have been raised by monometallists.
History. The Dutch in America, by William Henry Arnoux (Privately printed), is an argument in a New York elevated railway case, involving the question whether the Dutch Roman law prevailed in Manhattan Island previous to 1664. The railway corporation claimed that, under this law, the state held full control of the streets, and that the owners of abutting property had no lights or easements therein. The point furnishes Mr. Arnoux with the text for a very interesting historical essay.
Handbooks. Barnes & Co. have issued a new and revised edition of A History of Art for classes, students, and tourists in Europe, by William H. Goodyear, late curator in the N. Y. Metropolitan Museum of Art. This excellent handbook is very fully and handsomely illustrated with process plates in various tints.
Travels. A Naturalist s Voyage around the World in 1831, by Charles Darwin, has a staying charm not usual in books of travel. This new edition contains a number of excellent illustrations. (Appletons.)