Comment on New Books
Books of Reference. The tenth and closing volume of Chambers’s Encyclopædia, a Dictionary of Universal Knowledge (Lippincott), gives occasion for once more commending the excellent judgment with which the work has been designed and carried out. It is a dictionary ; therefore the articles are nut treatises, but compact presentations, under natural heads, of the essential features of a subject. There is no waste of words, there are no exhaustive essays; but the reader is supposed to desire a working knowledge of a great many subjects. The maps are admirable, the more extensive and important subjects are given their due value, and in general the proportion of the work is well considered. The scale is preserved, and the encyclopædia stands midway between a brief compendium and a full treatise. It is a very full dictionary, a very concise encyclopædia, and it is brought to date in a commendable fashion. — Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities, by William S. Walsh. (Lippincott.) The alphabetical arrangement followed in this book indicates that it may be used for reference, but the treatment of the longer subjects is so full and leisurely that the reader suspects the editor means to make him forget what he set out to look up, and beguile him into an hour’s -entertainment. Here one may find under Crank a sketch of one of the persistent followers of Miss Anderson, the actress, and under Criticism, Curiosities of, nearly eight pages of random notes. Nonsense Verse and Prose has as many pages of examples. Impromptus furnishes fourteen pages. Besides these longer essays —for such they are—there are a great many explanations of slang words and phrases, like “daisy,” “Tell that to the marines ;" proverbs, like “ There ’s nothing like leather ; ” literary events, like the Garfick Club Controversy; and a scrapbook of odds and ends of literature. The book is rich in American political slang. — A Guide to the Paintings of Florence. Being a Complete Historical and Critical Account of all the Pictures and Frescoes in Florence, with Quotations from the Best Authorities, Short Notices of the Legends and Stories connected with them or their Subjects, and Lives of the Saints and Chief Personages represented. By Karl Károly. (George Bell & Sons, Loudon.) A handy little volume which can be slipped into the pocket. It is edited with great skill ; the necessary information being clear and compact, the unnecessary information rigorously excluded. — References for Literary Workers, with Introductions to Topics and Questions for Debate, by Henry Matson. (McClurg.) Under the several heads of History, much subdivided, Biography, Politics, Political Economy, Education, Literature, Art, Science, Philosophy, Ethics, and Religion, the author sets forth a great number of subjects in the form of questions for debate, with a brief statement of the principles involved, and a large number of books which may be consulted. The book ought to be very useful to debating clubs and literary societies.
History. The Refounding of the German Empire, 1848—1871, by Colonel G. B, Malleson. (Scribners.) An interesting history of modern events, written from the point of view of a military man, whose habit of mind has been so formed under his profession as to look upon historic action as the almost scientific execution of predetermined thought on the part of emperors, prime ministers, and governments generally. One gets faraway, in this book, from conceptions which minimize persons and exalt movements, though it need not be supposed that Colonel Malleson is blind to the great motive power which lay in the passion for German unity. — France in the Nineteenth Century, 1830-1890, by Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer. (McClurg.) The intimation in the preface that this work had not been originally intended for publication leads ns to infer that it may have been in its first form a course of lectures, which would account for its somewhat conversational tone, and the special prominence given to picturesque or dramatic episodes. The writer has drawn her materials from various sources, notably from contemporaneous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as from the usual histories and memoirs ; and the result is an entertaining and readable, if rather journalistic sketch of the course of French history, and especially of some of the principal actors concerned therein, from the days of July to the death of Boulanger. — The Tuscan Republics (Florence, Siena, Pisa, and Lucca), with Genoa, by Bella Duffy. Story of the Nations series, (Putnams.) Miss Duffy has been fairly successful in the far from easy task of giving an interesting, accurate, and at the same time a very concise account of the rise, glory, and decline of the Tuscan republics. That a narrative which attempts to follow the complex and often confusing history of five different states during four centuries, within the limits here imposed, should sometimes lack continuity, and often suffer from undue compression, is not surprising. The latter condition may account for the fact that Guelph and Ghibelline appear upon the scene in which they are to play such memorable parts without introduction or explanation other than is conveyed in one curt sentence, though we fear that the author hardly realizes the slightness of the previous knowledge which the general reader will usually bring to the book. But in spite of its shortcomings the work has a real value, and deserves to rank among the better volumes of the series to which it belongs. — An Introduction to the Study of the Constitution, a Study showing the Play of Physical and Social Factors in the Creation of Institutional Law, by Morris M. Cohn. (Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore.) The attitude toward the Constitution which apprehends it as but a formal statement of a very much greater institute of law, to be interpreted by much that is unwritten, is here maintained even more positively than is common with publicists. Mr. Cohn’s Introduction will serve a most admirable purpose if it strengthen in students the habits of penetrating formal institutions, in their search for the real process of growth in the nation. He finds the foundations of the nation deep in organic law, and he hints at the psychological origin of organic law itself. He seems to be near the final step. — Manners and Monuments of Prehistoric Peoples, by the Marquis do Nadaillac ; translated by N. D’Anvers. With one hundred and thirteen illustrations. (Putnams.) Both the author and translator of this work have busied themselves frequently with the special subjects included in it, and this volume is in effect a gathering of the latest results in an orderly fashion, so that the reader may acquire from it a good survey of the archæological field as it relates to food, cannibalism, mammals, fish, hunting, navigation, weapons, tools, pottery, clothing, ornaments, caves, kitchenmiddings, lake stations, commerce, camps, fortifications, tombs, the use of fire, and many other marks and signs of human adaptation to nature in prehistoric ages. The dust and rubbish heap of early humanity is laid open by these industrious chiffoniers. — Outlines of Ancient Egyptian History, by Auguste Mariette ; translated and edited, with Notes, by Mary Brodrick. (Scribners.) A serviceable epitome of Egyptian history ; useful, however, rather to one already tolerably informed. It would scarcely win one to the study of the subject, but it would serve as a convenient manual in more general reading.
Fiction. The Last Touches, and Other Stories, by Mrs. W. K. Clifford. (Macmillan.) The nine short stories collected in this volume have already appeared in various magazines, and, on turning to them again, one finds, with perhaps a little surprise, how distinct and accurate an impression they have left upon the memory. Most of them are sombre in tone, and, with widely different forms of expression, have, to speak briefly, one prevailing motive, — woman’s constancy and man’s fickleness ; though the situation is reversed in the sketch, admirable in construction and finish, which deservedly gives its name to the book. Mrs. Clifford’s insight, imagination, and humor, though the Latter quality is sparingly used in this volume, together with her clearness and precision of style and artistic feeling, give unusual interest to her short stories, even when, as occasionally happens, they are experiments rather than successes. — Anthony Melgrave, by Thomas M’Caleb. (Putnams.) A curiously stiff novel, in which the letters and the conversation are put together with a studied care which implies an unfamiliarity of the author with anything livelier than the novels of the last century. The behavior of the various characters is most commendable, except for the outrageous lie which the mild villain tells, to the discomfiture of the heroine, but not of the reader. — Wolfenberg, by William Black. (Harpers.) This is another of what may be called the series of novels of which The Strange Adventures of a Phaeton was the first, and remains the best. This time it is on the deck of the Orient S. S. Orotania that we meet the shadowy teller of the story and his very evident wife, accompanied by Peggy, the charming American heroine of the HouseBoat, now Lady Cameron of Inverfask. To them, the Chorus, enter Wolfenberg, “the most imaginative painter that America has yet produced,” and his countrywoman, Amélie Duinaresq, also an artist, a brilliant, passionate, self-willed girl, with all the characteristics of a spoilt child. How, while cruising in Italian, Greek, and Turkish waters, Amélie wrecks her life, and, while doing so, inflicts cruel suffering on her faithful friend, is what the tale sets forth. But perhaps, to some hardened novel-readers, this tragedy will prove less interesting than the pleasant desultory sketches of the voyage, — it need not be said that Mr. Black is a most agreeable companion afloat, whether in northern or southern seas, — the renewal of old friendships, and the humors of some of the minor characters. — The Great Shadow, by A. Conan Doyle. (Harpers.) It is the author of Micah Clarke rather than of Sherlock Holmes that we meet in this story. The Borderer, Jack Cnlder of West Inch, who tells the tale, as a child remembers the night when the beacons were lighted, and a false alarm spread through all the countryside that the French had landed, and he grows to manhood while yet the fear of Napoleon hangs like a dark shadow over Europe. Jack himself, his dearest friend, his coquettish cousin, and a mysterious French refugee are the actors in the drama. The heroine jilts both the hero and his friend, eloping with the stranger, who proves to be an officer of the Imperial Guard ; and the story, which has been told simply and naturally, yet always effectively, finds a fitting climax in an extraordinarily vivid and forcible description of the battle of Waterloo. — Messrs. Roberts Brothers have added to their edition of Balzac The Chouans, the first hook published with the author’s name, and his earliest success after his laborious and discouraging literary apprenticeship. An enthusiastic admirer of Scott, the young writer had naturally projected a Series of historical novels, a scheme soon to be abandoned for the true work of his life ; but his presentment, at once realistic and powerful, of the distracted Brittany of 1799 shows what he might have achieved in the field first chosen. As usual, Miss Wormeley’s translation is altogether admirable. — Late additions to Harper’s Franklin Square Library are : In Summer Shade, by Mary E. Mann ; The Veiled Hand, by Frederick Wicks ; and A Girl with a Temper, by H. B. Finlay Knight.
Travel and Nature. The Praise of Paris, by Theodore Child. (Harpers.) Mr. Child wrote, not as a stranger in Paris, yet with a keen sense of what the stranger most affected. So his book, in its chapters on the Banks of the Seine, Society, Life, the Parisienne, the Boulevard, the Comédie Franyaise, the Institute, and other themes, lets the reader into intimacies of knowledge which the formal writer might miss. There is a mingling of description and narrative which ought to satisfy both the Duke of Omnium and his wife. Now and then the author lifts the lid of the pot, and shows one the bubbling concoction of Paris. I he many illustrations are to the point, and often very clever, especially the single figures. — A Tour around New York, and My Summer Acre, being the Recreations of Mr. Felix Old boy, by John Flavel Mines. (Harpers.) Dr. Mines’s agreeable reminiscences of old New York and its neighborhood are made more attractive by a capital series of engravings, reproducing street scenes, buildings, old advertisements, and the like. The associations of the writer were with the substantial citizens of New York, and his anecdotes and personalia have a pleasant flavor of gentility. How far away the New York of his reminiscences seems from the New York of to-day ! Yet only a generation or so intervenes. The story is worth reading by those who have left leisure out of their thoughts. — The Toilers of the field, by Richard Jefferies. (Longmans.) A collection of the author’s earliest work,— magazine and newspaper articles, letters to the Times, and unpublished fragments. Though one finds little of the charm of the later Jefferies in this book, it was well that the papers originally printed in Fraser’s nearly twenty years ago, describing the daily lives of the Wiltshire farmer and farm laborer, should be republished. Not only were they written from exceptional knowledge, but they show extraordinary insight, and thus possess a permanent value, notwithstanding the time that has elapsed since they first appeared, and the number of admirable studies akin to them which have been published in recent years ; the agricultural depression and the extension of the franchise having made the condition of the rural laborer a grave problem, both economically and politically. It is, however, to be regretted that a few unimportant or merely tentative essays have been resuscitated or printed for the first time in this volume. They might have been omitted with advantage to Jefferies’ literary fame, and without loss even to Ins most ardent admirers. — Along New England Roads, by W. C. Prime. (Harpers.) A score of papers, which record in agreeable fashion the author’s experience and observation, chiefly in driving about the mountainous parts of New Hampshire and Vermont. The sketches are free, sympathetic, and touched now and then with a sturdy sort of moralizing. It is life more than nature, after all, that interests the writer, though nature was the occasion of his jaunts. — Meehan’s Monthly, a Magazine of Horticulture, Botany, and Kindred Subjects. Conducted by Thomas Meehan. Volumes I. and II. (Thos. Meehan & Sons, Germantown, Phila., Pa.) What immediately attracts the eye, in this double volume, is the series of colored lithographic plates of flowers and ferns, of which there are eighteeen. These plates are described at length, and are a combination in this form of Meehan’s The Flowers and Ferns of the United States. The rest of the number, in each case, is taken up with miscellaneous information, and notes on gardening, botany, books, and persons. The magazine in this collected form has a bright and unpretentious appearance. —The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World we Live in, by Sir John Lubbock. (Macmillan.) This volume, by a cheerful enthusiast, may fairly be taken as an indication of a somewhat new attitude on the part of men of science. The stress and strain of the fight for position, kept up by scientists since the early days of modern science, are giving place to a frank expression of delight in nature. That is to say, what poets had done before them, men of science are now beginning to do themselves. There is a readjustment of position, and to knowledge is now added enjoyment in the thing itself. An educated love of nature is to take the place of mere admiration, and Sir John Lubbock leads the way with his agreeable discourses on Animal Life, Plant Life, Woods and Fields, Mountains, Water, Rivers and Lakes, the Sea, and the Starry Heavens.
Current Affairs. The New Exodus, a Study of Israel in Russia, by Harold Frederic. (Putnams.) Mr. Frederic, with the swift intelligence of a journalist and the moral sense of an American, has related, in a series of chapters, the story of the recent movement in Russia for the expulsion of the Jews. He believes that it is but one symptom of a relapse of Russia from a surface civilization to a native barbarism, and he apprehends that the German will follow the Jew. But the German has a power behind him which the Jew has not. The story is one to stir the blood, and to make Americans, it may be, more tolerant of those who find here an asylum. Yet the expulsion means a grave problem for America. Mr. Frederic does not attempt a solution of the great problem for Russia herself, and he writes somewhat as a special pleader ; but his book is a strong one, and contains food for thought. — The Maybrick Case, English Criminal Law, by Dr. Helen Densrnore. (Stillman & Co., New ork.) This pamphlet of a hundred and fifty pages is devoted to an examination of the ease, and a demand for justice to the unfortunate woman involved, as well as an arraignment of the process of English criminal law. — Hygienic Measures in Relation to Infectious Diseases, comprising in Condensed Form Information as to the Cause and Mode of Spreading of Certain Diseases, the Preventive Measures that should he resorted to, Isolation, Disinfection, etc., by George H. F. Nuttall. (Putnams.) A book of a hundred pages only, direct, positive, and to be regarded as a handbook for use especially “till the doctor comes.”
Education and Textbooks. An Address to the Members of the Legislature and the Citizens of Montana, issued anonymously, pleads for the centralization of the proposed University, School of Mines, and Agricultural College, instead of the separation of the three in different towns. The plea is a strong one, and is reinforced by the almost unanimous testimony of a number of heads of colleges appealed to, whose letters are copied in the pamphlet; but the consideration urged by General Walker and President Thwing, that the School of Mines should be in close proximity to the mining district, seems unanswerable. — A Greek Play and its Presentation, by Henry M. Tyler. (The Author, Northampton, Mass.) Professor Tyler has given in this little volume a detailed account of the performance of Electra by the students of Smith College in 1889. It is an interesting record, and, with its illustrations, offers a convenient handbook for any other company of students who may essay a similar production. Unquestionably, the greatest service of such a performance is in the vivifying of the original in the minds of the performers. — Studies in American History, by Mary Sheldon Barnes. (Heath.) This is a teachers’ manual, and, by means of sample lessons, bibliographic suggestions, and the like, aims to set both teachers and pupils on the track of investigation and illustration. The bibliography, apparently, is made up of the most accessible books. We think a little more fullness here would have been wise. — Nature Stories for Young Readers, by M. Florence Bass ; illustrated by Mrs. M. Q. Burnett. (Heath.) This small book is designed to accompany a first or second reader. We are not, sure that the writer has put herself alongside of the child, and in the effort to make her work simple she has made it too fragmentary. There is not enough continuity in the style. — Rhythmical Gymnastics, Vocal and Physical, by Mary S. Thompson. (Werner.) A series of exercises by a practical teacher. — Elements of Deductive Logic, by Noah K. Davis. (Harpers.) A stiff textbook for undergraduates in college. It seems to suggest the necessity for much illumination by the teacher. — German Lessons, by Charles Harris, an elementary book ; Andersen’s Marclien, edited by O. B. Super ; and Loti’s Pêcheur d’lslaude, edited by R. J. Morich, are recent numbers of Heath’s Modern Language series.
Art. Recent numbers of L’Art (Macmillan), the latest we record being that for December 15, 1892, continue the same judicious policy which has marked the magazine since its incorporation of the Courrier de l’Art. Nearly every number contains some monograph either of contemporary or of historic art, as, for example, articles on Cosimo Tara, J. B. Hüet, Élie Delaunay, Ingres à Montaubau, Silhouettes d’Artistes Contemporains, in which Piguet and Courcelles-Dumont figure, all interestingly illustrated ; large etchings from early and late masters, as Pieter de Hooch, Rubens, and Brueghel, J. Dupré, Lapostelet, Cornélls de Vos ; notes on contemporary literature, music, art, and the. drama ; and, in general, a well-chosen survey of whatever is most notable in museums and galleries. — Scenes from the Life of Christ, pictured in Holy Word and Sacred Art, edited by Jessica Cone. (Putnams. ) A gift-book. It contains a series of photo-engravings from pictures by old and later masters, a variety of forms of treatment being given, with texts of Scripture or passages from the poets placed in decorative borders opposite the pictures.
Poetry. Birch-Rod Days, and Other Poems, by William C. Jones. (American Publishers’ Association, Chicago.) The introductory poem is entitled The Water-Lily. We pause at the first stanza : —
Are but tears which the winter has shed,
When the Flower-Angel melts them all free,
And her cold, chilly ice-chains have fled.”
— With Trumpet and Drum, by Eugene Field. (Scribners.) Verses, sometimes poems, which have for their suggestion some bit of childhood, either what one observes or what one remembers. Now and then are pieces in which a child would take pleasure, but for the most part it is the older person who will now laugh, now cry, over these bright and pathetic rhymes. Mr. Field’s sense of humor keeps him from going too far with his pathos. His sense of the ideal in childhood checks him in what otherwise might he merely fantastic nonsense. — Amenophis, and Other Poems, Sacred and Secular, by Francis T. Palgrave. (Macmillan.) The pretty little volume of Hymns and Sonnets which Mr. Palgrave issued twenty odd years ago is here expanded into a larger but still comely book. The verse is scholarly, tender at times, graceful always, and sometimes touched with an almost mystic simplicity. The religious element is pure and sweet. — A pretty edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost is included in the series of Laurel-Crowned Verse. (McClnrg.) It contains the author’s arguments and prefaee, hut no notes. — Poetry of the Gathered Years, compiled by M. H. (McClurg.) The compiler has made a somewhat fanciful classification of her poems. September represents the age of thirty-five, October of fifty, November of sixty, and December of seventy-seven. The sentiment of growing old is thus graded, and under each division the compiler has brought together poems, from a variety of sources, fit for the period. The scheme leads sometimes to the necessity of going out into the highways and byways and compelling the poets to come in, but it is more successful than one would suppose possible.
Science and Philosophy. Finger Prints, by Francis Galton. (Macmillan.) Instead of his portrait facing the volume, Dr. Galton prints on tlie title page an impress of his ten digits. Thus can one identify the venerable gentleman, if one meets him traveling incog. The study which lie lias given to this most interesting subject is worked out more fully in this volume than in tlie articles which led up to it, but, with the zeal of a genuine man of science, Dr. Galton advises the reader that his octavo is only a sort of prolegomenon. He writes with so keen a pursuit of his clues that the reader is irresistibly drawn into the chase with him. It is not unlikely that society will take up the hunt, and that we shall he invited, not to write our autographs, but to smear our thumbs lightly and print the fair page with our sign manual. There is a large field for science opened in this interesting study, and, oddly enough, its practical application is at once to the dangerous classes. — A History of Modern Philosophy, from the Renaissance to the Present, by B. C. Burt. (McClurg.) A two-volume encyclopædic and biographic history. The author makes his own contribution, in the main, in the classification and characterization of periods, but for the most part contents himself with a condensed statement of the position taken by the large number of philosophers whose works he records. At the close of each summary of the creed of a man of great influence, Mr. Burt indicates what in his judgment is the result of the man’s contribution to philosophy. So useful a book of reference would be aided by an index, though the analytical table of contents is a tolerable substitute. — Experimental Evolution, by Henry De Varigny. (Macmillan.) Five interesting lectures delivered in Edinburgh by this French scientist. Beginning with a rapid survey of the development of the scientific hypothesis of evolution, he proceeds to illustrate, in a very interesting manner, the experiments which have followed the acceptance of this working hypothesis, and to point out the wide field which awaits human activity in the transformation of plants and animals through processes which are in themselves tests of the evolution doctrine. — The Supernatural, its Origin, Nature, and Evolution, by John H. King. In two volumes. (Williams & Norgate, London ; Putnams, New York.) Mr. King has collected a great deal of material, from undeveloped races largely, with the purpose of showing that the doctrine of the “ united and universal Deity ” is an evolution from lower forms, and that in the highest known concepts of the present day there lurk survivals of concepts of a lower stage. The reader lays down the book to speculate why the writer should have left out. of account almost absolutely the Jewish contribution to the subject. There is barely enough reference to it to show that he has once or twice glanced at the Bible.