Comment on New Books

History and Biography. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Times, the Man, and his Work, an Historical Study in Eight Lectures, by Richard S. Storrs. (Scribners.) This book is the first adequate study in English of the man who, more than all others, represents what was noblest and most spiritual in the Europe of his time. Those who were so fortunate as to hear these lectures will not easily forget the profound impression made by the speaker — almost the last of our orators in the great style — upon his audience, though an inexorable time limit caused them to lose much that was admirable in illustration or elucidation, which, now that we have the lectures in their complete form, we feel could ill be spared. The work is not a continuous biography or history, but a series of studies of Bernard in the different relations and events of his life, fitly introduced by a picture of state and church in the tenth century; and surely that horror of great darkness has never been more graphically set forth. It is done in a few pages, but every touch tells. Equally vivid is the sketch of the revival in the succeeding century, with its superb portrait of Hildebrand ; and then follow the studies of Bernard in his personal characteristics, and as monk, theologian, and preacher, in his controversy with Abélard, and in his relations to general European affairs. Dr. Storrs brings to the work not only wide and accurate knowledge, a keen and highly trained intelligence, and sympathetic insight, but, in an exceptional degree, that rare gift, an historic imagination, and an enthusiasm for his subject which the reader needs must share. Nothing could be finer than the tone and temper of the work, its impartiality and large tolerance. Peculiarly interesting is the masterly and eloquent exposition of Bernard as a preacher, for that he was preëminently. It is no slight matter to give to nineteenth-century readers, as Dr. Storrs has done, a vivid conception even of the greatest preacher of the twelfth, so that they feel in very truth that he stands before them, not “ the supreme philosopher of his time or its most untiring acquisitive scholar, but as noble an example as that time offers, or any time, of the power which intensity of spiritual force imparts to speech ; of the power of that speech, as thus vitalized and glorified, to control and exalt the souls of men.” — Sir Henry Maine, a Brief Memoir of his Life, by the Right Hon. Sir M. E. Grant-Duff, G. C. S. I. ; with some of his Indian Speeches and Minutes, selected and edited by Whitley Stokes, D. C. L. (Holt.) It is now five years since the death of Sir Henry Maine, and yet that great jurist has found no fitting biographer. The first notice of his life, since the newspaper and magazine obituaries that appeared iu the spring of 1888, comes to us from the pen of Sir M. E. Grant-Duff, a man well fitted, on account of his personal and official relations with Maine, to form a true estimate of his character. But, instead of a biography of his friend, he gives us only a short memoir. Although the work that the author set out to accomplish is well done, we cannot help regretting that he did not see fit to admit us to greater intimacy with the personal life of his subject. The eighty-three pages of the memoir contain little more than an account of the various steps in the official career of Maine, interspersed with short but able descriptions of the works of his pen. It cannot be denied that the life of the Anglo-Indian jurist would be a difficult one to portray on its more personal side. Reserved, almost unresponsive, by temperament, the bent of Maine’s mind was almost entirely to the abstract and the impersonal. It was this very tendency that gave him that power of seeing the general in the particular which is perhaps the most prominent feature in his work and the foundation of much of his fame. It is this which makes his deductions, whether on ancient law or modern government, so clear and so convincing ; and this also made his sphere of practical usefulness so great in the Indian empire, that wonderful land where alone abstractions seem to have more reality than facts. But, on the other hand, Maine was a man of wonderful quickness of apprehension, and was also possessed of very great powers of persuasion. He was not a popular orator, but for the power of convincing qualified minds he had no equal among his contemporaries. The knowledge of this side of Maine’s character stimulates our interest in what may have been his relations with his fellow-men outside of the court and the council chamber, but of this no word escapes the author of the present memoir. The selection of the speeches is made from those least accessible to the public in other forms, and they treat of a variety of legal subjects. The layman cannot but be impressed by the keen logic and the wise judgment they contain, but their interest is almost exclusively for the professional lawyer. — Moltke, his Life and Character, sketched in Journals, Letters, Memoirs, a Novel, and Autobiographical Notes, translated by Mary Herms. (Harpers.) A mélange which has considerable ingenuity in its composition. No editor’s name is given, but the sources from which the material is drawn are indicated. Moltke was expert with his pencil as well as with his pen, and there are reproductions of sketches by his hand. The somewhat scrappy character of the book gives it the air of being a temporary substitute for a formal biography ; but until such biography appears the reader will get through this a good many cross-sections of the Moltke edifice.— Itinerary of General Washington from June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783, by William S. Baker. (Lippincott.) Mr. Baker is well known as an enthusiastic collector, especially of Washington portraits, and in this handsome volume he has made what is in effect a compact diary of Washington’s movements from the day he was made commander in chief to that when he surrendered his commission at Annapolis. The spirit of Washington surely must commend this orderly, workmanlike book. Much converse with the great general has imbued Mr. Baker with the same temper of account-keeping which characterized his subject.— The Duchess of Berry and the Revolution of 1830, by Imbert de SaintAmand ; translated by Elizabeth Gilbert Martin. (Scribners.) M. de Saint-Amand has given an account of the Revolution of July and its immediate causes, which, though written from a frankly Legitimist point of view, is in the main fair and candid. The social jealousies that were undoubtedly an element in the prevailing discontent are of course not overlooked. One sees again how little the people were at first concerned in the uprising, and how, even after the signing of the Ordinances, a moderate degree of wisdom, or even of prudence, might have saved the throne of the elder branch of the Bourbons, for the time at least. The Duchess of Berry scarcely appears in the narrative, though there are charming glimpses of her children ; the king being naturally the central figure. The volume ends in the not unimpressive departure of himself and his family for what was to prove a lifelong exile; for Charles X., however weak and wrongheaded as a sovereign, lacked neither patience nor dignity in misfortune. — Abraham Lincoln, by Charles Carleton Coffin. (Harpers.) Mr. Coffin has had much experience in writing, for young people, narratives of the war for the Union, and this book, a large-paged, profusely illustrated volume, is built upon the same pattern. It is anecdotical, warm-hearted, sometimes, one is tempted to say, unctuous. The reporter, eager to introduce as many telling incidents as possible, is at work rather than the cautious historian; but the young reader will hardly fail to be moved by the florid treatment, since it is genuine, and a hero worshiper like Mr. Coffin may be forgiven many sins.

Poetry. Fortunatus the Pessimist, by Alfred Austin. (Macmillan.) A drama in five acts, in which the contemporaneousness is vouched for by many realistic touches, though the scheme is romantic. Mr. Austin has a facile pen, and his condemnation of pessimism is quite thorough and proper. His poetry and his philosophy are of a cheerful, ready-to-hand sort, and both deserve a reward-of-merit card. — Eleusis, and Lesser Poems, by William Rufus Perkins. (McClurg.) The main poem necessarily leads one to think of Tennyson ; for not only has the author used the measure of In Memoriam, but the speculative, brooding temper of the verse, the search which the poet makes for definite and secure ground on which to rest his philosophy, recall the great poet of nineteenth-century misgiving. Eleusis is well modulated ; it starts many thoughts ; it is choice in diction. The reader listens attentively ; yet, somehow, he Cannot escape the feeling that it is reverberation to which he is listening, not an outright voice.— A Country Muse, New Series, by Norman R. Gale. (Putnams.) Mr. Gale clearly has a genuine love of country life, but there is a thin veil of historical poetry through which he sees it, so that his verse, with all its grace and vigor, has also a delicate borrowed charm. The rhythmical beauty is always there, and the poet sings as the thrush sings ; but it is the tamed thrush ; the wild wood note has passed into a tone which is well trained. — Some Rhymes of Ironquill of Kansas. (McClurg.) Some fourscore fables, lyrics, editorial articles, anecdotes, poems, all in verse : many of them keen, witty, and vigorous, some of them touched with a restless melancholy, a few illumined with fine thought and bold with a free expression. The author moves easily in numbers, and he makes his muse undertake a good deal of homely, honest work.

Fiction. A Born Player, by Mary West. (Macmillan.) Matthew Hare has grown up among the rural Nonconformists of two generations ago, and his personal and oratorical gifts are supposed by those around him to peculiarly fit him for the ministry, his destined calling ; but, secretly, the boy has a passion for the stage, and the discovery of his stolen visits to a theatre brings matters to a crisis. Filled with shame at thus yielding to what he has been taught to regard as a temptation of Satan, he burns his play-books, devotes himself to theological study, and finally preaches his first sermon. But the consuming desire is only smothered for the time. To the horror of his friends, he becomes an actor, and dies untimely, at the moment when brilliant success seems assured. It is a touching and, in the main, well-told story, though one must mildly protest against the writer’s occasional asides to the reader. Some of the character sketches are excellent, notably those of the gentle, scholarly minister, Matt’s guardian, and his harassed and plaintive wife. — Time’s Revenges, by David Christie Murray. (Harpers.) Mr. Murray is by no means at his best in this novel, in which character and incident are alike conventional. We have the innocent convict transported to Tasmania, who, after his sentence has expired, finds a cinnabar mine on his land (not to mention silver), and so grows rich beyond the dreams of avarice. After the lapse of twenty years, the English-bred son, brought up in ignorance of his parentage, so that no stain may rest upon his name, appears among the guests at his father’s house in Sydney, to which city he has accompanied the proud soldier who was in a way the cause of all the father’s woes, and who, it is needless to say, has a charming and high-spirited daughter. Then there is a foreign adventurer, a good specimen of the type, and his criminal satellites, and, naturally, theft, forgery, murder, and suicide. The experienced reader can easily construct the story from these hints. It is, of course, a readable tale, but the judicious cannot fail to draw comparisons between the author’s latest and some of his earlier work. — Catherine, by Frances M. Peard. (Harpers.) The heroine whose loss of beauty is the test of the quality of the rival heroes is a familiar friend of all novel-readers, but in this pleasantly written story the situation is treated with considerable freshness. Catherine, despite her youthful vanity and thoughtlessness, is charming and lovable, and her history is told with a refinement of tone and manner which is in itself attractive. The action occurs during the closing years of England’s long struggle with Napoleon, and the contrasts of the time, the peaceful English life and the ever-present shadow of the great war, are not unskillfully indicated. — A Moral Dilemma, by Annie Thompson. (Longmans.) A dying man, who has been falsely accused of theft, entrusts to the hero the papers by which his name may be cleared, and the guilt brought home to the true criminal. The latter has now become rich and penitent, and is the accepted lover of the girl whom the hero loves in vain. For her sake he spares the culprit, and destroys the incriminating documents. For the moral question involved in this action the reader will probably not be concerned, for the story will claim his interest rather than the characters, though one or two of these have some show of vitality. This is not the case, however, with the heroine, for whom so much is done and suffered. Her childlike softness, innocence, ignorance, and obtuseness quite pass the limit permissible even to ingénues of her type when they have reached five and twenty. — Among the volumes lately added to the new and revised edition of Mr. Black’s novels (Harpers) are, Sunrise, the interesting if rather sensational tale of an Englishman’s experiences as a member of one of those secret societies whose aim is to revolutionize and reform the world, but which, pending that consummation, exemplify in their own council the most ruthless of tyrannies ; the more characteristic and agreeable if lighter story, White Wings ; and The Beautiful Wretch, one of the author’s minor tales. — The charming novel A Roman Singer, to which readers of The Atlantic need no introduction, has been issued in the Messrs. Macmillan’s attractive uniform edition of Mr. Crawford’s works.

Economics and Sociology. The Unseen Foundations of Society, an Examination of the Fallacies and Failures of Economic Science due to Neglected Elements, by the Duke of Argyll, K. G., K. T. (Imported by Scribners.) It is not often, in these democratic days, that we are favored with a free discussion of economic questions by a person occupying the peculiar position in relation to such matters held by the Duke of Argyll. But in this volume we have a profuse discussion, in fact almost a polemic, on the various credos of the Schoolmen, Old and New, and on the social laws and conditions which they represent, or, as the duke would say, misrepresent. Rejecting nearly all the definitions of the Old School, as forming a sort of artificial skeleton specially constructed for the support of an Economic Man, both impossible and unnatural, the author also attacks the New School through many of its members. In his opinion, these definitions are largely to blame for the little honor which is at present allotted to the science of political economy ; and if, in the war of words against words, the victory is to be with the heaviest battalions, the palm undoubtedly goes to the author. The cause of failure to reach the root and essence of things by the economic writers of the past is due principally to “neglected elements.” In their theories and definitions they leave out some important constituent part, or fail to reduce each element to its lowest terms, and so their conclusions will not stand the severe test of economic experience. Natural laws, and not artificial ones, can alone be considered in the field of economics, and they are always the most simply expressed in terms free from the jargon of the schools. In the discussion of rent, the Duke of Argyll should, if anywhere, be on his own ground, so to speak ; and when, in the progress of a fierce attack on the Ricardian theory, he asserts that there is no such thing as rentless land under cultivation, his Scotch holdings should give his words authority. But whether in eloquent appeal for more consideration to be given to the unseen agents of production as against the material ones, to mind as against matter, or whether in bitter denunciation of the “ profligate conclusions ” of all who would attack the established ideas about property and landholding, we recognize the spirit and the state of mind of a prominent member of those fruges consumere nati. Much useful historical information is scattered through the work, and there are some shrewd remarks on municipal government. The book is of interest because all economic questions must be considered from different standpoints, but its deductions will never bear the weight of those of a master. It brushes away some cobwebs, but adds little to the economic building. — The Children of the Poor, by Jacob A. Riis. (Scribners.) That an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that the future of every nation lies in the hands of its members under twenty-one years of age, are a couple of truisms so true as to have become proverbs. But, perhaps on account of their very simplicity and incontrovertibility, they are too often neglected by even the most practical. They are brought home to us in plain but forcible fashion by the series of object lessons contained in this work. Starting out with the idea that the most accessible solution of the question of the so-called “ submerged tenth ” lies in the regeneration of its progeny, and in the using of them as the most effective missionaries to introduce a leaven of healthy life into the mass of corruption from which they spring, the author shows, in a simple, practical way, the results which have been and which may be achieved by such a method. Let the kindergarten and the primary school seriously attack the street and the tenement, and there will be little doubt of ultimate victory for the forces of law and of industry. Using New York as the best, or rather the worst, example for analysis, Mr. Riis justly recognizes the differences between the problems presented by the slums of an American city and those of the Old World. For here the life and the energy of a country still young are felt even to the cellars and attics of its darkest slums, and the proportion is comparatively small of those whose hopeless apathy extends over more than one generation. The proportion borne by this element, among even the helplessly poor, is the first problem to be attacked by social regenerators, and to diminish it their first object. In addition to this, immigration and other causes produce a continuous process of change and unrest in the most thickly settled portions, and in the struggle for room more are forced up than are driven down, as the greatest competition is for the lowest and cheapest scale of living. In these very facts lies the principal strength of the case presented by Mr. Riis. It is in making the children good men and women, and consequently good citizens, that society is to be repaid for the losses occasioned by the social condition of the parents, and to be protected from further losses in the future ; and the peculiar conditions of life, even for the poorest in American cities, render this the easiest solution of the problem. Save the children, and each one removed from the street to the school is not only a brand snatched from the burning, but a missionary sent among the heathen at our own doors. It is the opinion of an optimist ; but if a man with the practical experience in such matters that Mr. Riis has had still remains an optimist, who shall cast the first stone ? It is good advice to grapple with an enemy that is hard to beat by the most accessible part first; and the facts given by Mr. Riis are an encouraging proof that this course is being pursued by many noble men and women to-day, in the city of New York and elsewhere. — Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian, edited by Martha D. Adams. (A. K. Smiley, Lake Mohonk, N.Y.) The difference between this and most annual reports is that it is readable, and represents a genuine conference, not a perfunctory meeting. There are certain great, fundamental questions affecting the welfare of the Indian ; to the solution of these questions, the lawyer, the publicist, the man of business, the teacher, the minister, the observer, all bring their separate contributions, and the outcome is in a programme upon which all practically agree. The student needs not only the programme, he needs the inspiration which comes from the earnest minds of the contributors ; and there is a satisfaction in considering that the opinions here recorded are operative opinions ; that the conference is a great moral and political instrument, unselfish and forcible. — Amor in Society, a Study from Life, by Julia Duhring. (Lippincott.) A series of essays on woman in her relation to man in American society. The writer assumes Amor to be speaking, hut there is not much consistency in the carrying out of this illusion. A good many vigorous things are said, rather more commonplace ones, and perhaps somewhat unnecessary ones most of all.

Books of Reference. A Supplement to Allibone’s Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, containing over thirty-seven thousand Articles, and enumerating over ninety-three thousand Titles, by John Foster Kirk. In two volumes. (Lippincott.) The original Dictionary, which was completed in 1871, not only required the addition of these volumes to bring it to date, but necessarily determined the general plan of the Supplement. This plan calls for a brief biography of the author, if it is nothing more than the dates of his birth and death, a chronological list of his writings, and comment from critical sources upon his work, if it is important enough to demand it. The fullness of the treatment makes the work both biographically and bibliographically significant ; and the drag net has gathered a vast school of minnows as well as more edible fish. It is to be noted that the editor draws for his comment mainly upon a small number of critical journals, and but rarely cites individual authorities. His authorities are indeed those of weight, but there is a certain narrowness of judgment in consequence. We are not disposed, however, to regard this feature as one of great value, and we suspect it is introduced more for the sake of consistency than from a regard for its intrinsic importance.

Military. The Armies of To-Day, a Description of the Armies of the Leading Nations at the Present Time. (Harpers.) A composite volume, in which General Merritt treats of the United States army ; General Viscount Wolseley, that of Great Britain ; Lieutenant - Colonel Exner, that of Germany, as well as of the military situation in Europe ; and other competent officers treat respectively of the armies of Italy, France, Russia, Austria, and Mexico. General Lewal, who writes of the French army, is the only one, apparently, who takes his subject other than very seriously. There are some good illustrations, and if one can regard war as a game of chess, he can get a good deal of intellectual excitement out of the book.

Travel. Morocco As It Is, by Stephen Bonsal, Jr. (Harpers.) This is an interesting little volume, describing the Morocco of to-day. The writer accompanied the English embassy, with Sir Charles Euan-Smith at its head, which was sent out to try to obtain from the Sultan his signature to a commercial treaty with England. The attempt was fruitless, but the opportunity to see something of the country was unusually good, and Mr. Bonsal describes it in a lively and vivacious style. His ability to speak Arabic enabled him to take a nearer view of Moorish life than foreigners can often do, and one gets a good idea of those ancient inland cities which still live the life of past centuries. He speaks of the climate as being, from May to November, the finest summer climate in the world ; and he might have added, from November to May, the best winter one. — Road, Track, and Stable, Chapters about Horses and their Treatment, by H. C. Merwin. (Little, Brown & Co.) Readers of The Atlantic have enjoyed the greater part of this book already ; but its value is increased in this final form, not only by revision, by illustrations, and by three new chapters on Trotting Horses, Saddle Horses, and the Care of Horses, but by the comprehensiveness which the subject gets in this orderly group of topics. The writer brings keen observation, sympathy, wide experience, and sound judgment to his task, and he writes throughout as a gentleman, and not as a horse-fancier.

Books for the Young. Typical Tales from Shakespeare’s Plays, edited by Robert Raymond, A. M. (Fords, Howard & Hulburt.) This work contains A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, and Julius Cæsar. It is an attempt to bring these plays nearer to the comprehension of the child by explaining the plot in prose, interspersed with the text of the plays. We are disposed to think that any child of intelligence enough to wish to read Shakespeare at all would be able to puzzle out the story for himself, and that it would be good mental exercise for him to do so. But the volume is unobjectionable in style and manner for those who wish to read it. — Three Vassar Girls in the Holy Land, by Elizabeth W. Champney. (Estes & Lauriat.) Mrs. Champney has more of the novelist in her than most of the school of book-makers to which she belongs. Her girls go to Palestine with that ease which characterizes all these book travelers. They see everything of which a picture exists that can be reproduced, and some member of the party is always prepared with the necessary historical and archæological information ; but, in addition, a story of character and adventure is cleverly worked out, and the reader feels that he or she has taken in ever so much information through the pores of the fiction.— Prince Tip Top, a Fairy Tale, by Marguerite Bouvet ; illustrated by Helen Maitland Armstrong. (McClurg.) A bit of fancy, in which Milton’s “ blue-hair’d deities ” are made to suggest a race of bluehaired beings. Blue also suggests water and the sky, and we are bound to say that a fantastic idea is not often more diluted or made more vaporous by thin language. — Short Talks on Character Building, by G. T. Howerton. (Fowler & Wells.) A series of well-accepted truths expressed in colloquial style, and enforced by reference to the system of phrenology. — The Midnight Warning, and Other Stories, by Edward H. House. (Harpers.) Half a dozen welltold stories in good English. Gracie’s Godson makes a somewhat heavy demand on probability, but Try Again Trescott’s Wager is capital, and the goodness of the book is most proper.

Music. Sound and Music, by the Rev. J. A. Zahm. (McClurg.) An octavo volume of four hundred and fifty pages, devoted to a careful analysis of the relation of acoustics to the art of music. Helmholtz and Koenig are the author’s chief authorities. The treatment is comprehensive and detailed. The author is professor of physics in the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and his book is the substance of lectures delivered by him at the Catholic University of America.