Comment on New Books
Poetry and the Drama. Poems by Two Brothers. (Macmillan.) The date “ 1893 ” and the simple signature “ Tennyson ” under the preface of a new volume are fresh reminders that the present Baron Tennyson of Aldworth is not the poet ; for in sending forth this new edition of an historic little book of verse Lord Tennyson now says : “It is requested that none of the poems in this volume said to be by my father, and consequently signed A. T., be included in any future edition of his works, as my uncle, Frederick Tennyson, cannot be certain of the authorship of every poem, and as the handwriting of the manuscript is not known to be a sure guide.” The book, uniform in style with the Macmillan edition of Tiresias, Œnone, and The Foresters, brings the first work of the laureate as nearly ns possible into kinship with his last, and will be welcome to collectors of the landmarks of literature.—Later Canadian Poems, edited by J. E. Wetherell. (The Copp, Clark Co., Ltd., Toronto.) A few years ago Mr. Douglas Sladen put forth an Australian anthology, and now the English province nearer our own borders holds out its sheaf of recent song. The poets’ pictures with which the book is adorned show that the best Canadian verse to-day is coming from young men. American magazines have made much of it familiar to American readers, and the names of Archibald Lampman, Bliss Carman, and C. G. D. Roberts, to each of whom a goodly share of the book is given, speak for its general character. — Under King Constantine. (Randolph.) The three poems of this anonymous volume are so clearly lineal descendants of the Idylls of the King that comparison between the children and their forefathers is hard to repress. Be it said, however, that the author has chosen three capital stories of the British Court soon after King Arthur’s day, and tells them with quiet skill and effect. — Mâltôrda, a Metrical Romance, by Joseph I. C. Clarke. (Putnams.) An early Irish story of love and bloodshed, told in parts with considerable spirit, even if it is not informed with the breath of poetry. It will be better, however, when writers of narrative poems learn that a blank-verse speech of thirteen pages from one character impedes the movement of the story. — Narcissus and Other Poems, by Walter Malone. (Lippineotts.) —The Echo and the Poet,by William Cushing Bamburgh. (Houghton. Privately printed for the Author.) — Night Etchings, by A. R. G. (Lippincotts.) — Cosmos and Other Poems, by Anna Hubbard Mercur. (Peter Paul & Brother, Buffalo.)—The Decision of the Court, by Brander Matthews. (Harpers.) Patrons of the Theatre of Arts and Letters have seen this little play upon the stage. It has its share of witty speeches, but as a contribution to dramatic literature, appearing as it now does in the Black and White Series, it need hardly be taken more seriously than an expanded joke from Life upon the never-failing subject of divorce. — Adzuma, or The ,Japanese Wife, by Sir Edwin Arnold. (Scribners.) This play is based, we are told, on a Japanese story. It is the tragic history of a faithful wife entrapped by intrigue, and discovering no way out except by the strategic sacrifice of her life. The action of the play moves straight to a logical end ; hut the reader finds the verse — and the prose, for that matter —of a confectionery order. One suspects it to be as much like the real Japanese as Liverpool ware is like Canton china.
Fiction. The World of Chance, by W. D. Howells. (Harpers.) There is a light interplay of seriousness and whimsiness in Mr. Howells’s latest story which leaves one in doubt whether it is going to turn out a song or a sermon. The characterization of the young man who makes a pretense at being a hero is singularly delicate ; but although the personality thus built up has its attractions plainly for the other people in the story, its creator has turned him so very inside out that there is almost an indecent exposure of the young man’s mind, and people outside of the book may be pardoned if they are a little skeptical of his charms. The heroine is drawn in so faint a light, and with her face so turned away from the spectator, that it seems almost an intrusion to try to know her too well. The story is rendered more shadowy by being about a story, but the book is charged with an unfailing humor.—John Paget, by Sarah Barnwell Eliot. (Henry Holt.) A story of twin brothers : one brought up in the Southern States,the other in the Northern ; one religious, the other an unbeliever ; and both in love with the same young girl. The style is good, but lacks life and vigor ; and while the book is unobjectionable, it does not rise to the level of the best novels. — Susy, a Story of the Plains, by Bret Harte. (Houghton.) Mr. Harte, in this clever novel, is more careful than usual in his characterizations, — more close, that is, to human nature as most see it, —and is, may be, thereby brought to the use of a somewhat more reasonable plot, for the two go together. Certainly the book is throughout in a more natural key, and there are in it many passages of genuine feeling. — Figaro Fiction. (W. J. F. Dailey, Chicago.) A collection of short, very short stories by ten writers in a Chicago journal. They have such virtue as may be in brevity, and in some instances they are the slightest possible incidents, requiring no fuller treatment ; in others they are efforts at extreme condensation. Nearly all of them impress the reader as efforts. The writers have tried their prettiest to produce something striking, but it often happens that the incident is insignificant and the telling is forced. There is little spontaneity in the work, and one is caught by the cleverness rather than by the art of the thing. — Harvard Stories, by Waldron Kentzing Post. (Putnams.) When one finds Hollis Holworthy, Charles Rivers, and Dick Stoughton bound up in a book, the first impulse is to regret the carrying of undergraduate journalism out into the larger world of letters. But this collection of tales about a very genuine group of Harvard undergraduates amply justifies its existence. If the stories are not always told with the highest literary art, — and it would be easy to suggest technical improvements,— they breathe such a hearty spirit of youth, and reflect so frankly the manners, good and bad, of the most amusing, and amused, set at Harvard, that the readers for whom they are meant must thank Mr. Post for what he has done. Indeed, the humorous career of Rattleton, a collegiate Van Bibber, and the pathos of the old Southern graduate’s story, In the Early Sixties, will appeal to more readers than those alone who love Cambridge. The book is dedicated to the class of ’90, but a much larger body of Harvard men will care for It, and some of them will be made better Harvard men for reading it. — The Odd Women, by George Gissing. (Macmillan.) An exceptionally interesting and forcible, but, as is the author’s wont, a peculiarly dreary and depressing book. “Do you know that there are half a million more women than men in this happy country of ours ? So many odd women, — no making a pair with them,” remarks the first to the second heroine, early in the story. And the former is trying, so far as in her lies, — and she has gi’eat capabilities, — to assist in the training of a few of the educated class belonging to this category. The forlorn and futile struggles of certain gently bred and inefficient women are sketched with pitiless realism and undeniable cleverness and insight, as is the pretty Monica’s loveless marriage for the sake of a home. But while every separate detail may be accurately given, we think that most readers will feel that as a whole the picture is more or less distorted and untrue. The self-reliant and emancipated women of the tale, who have, it is to be presumed, the writer’s approval, are only a little more attractive than their weak sisters. Of course they have thrown off “conventions” and “ superstition,” but there is also a lack of high or inspiring thinking to accompany their strenuous living, so that the assumed gain hardly seems to outweigh the loss. The book will attract thoughtful readers, even if it repel them as well, and it will not be left half read. — The Great Chin Episode, by Paul Cushing. (Macmillan.) A story of the detective order, by no means of the first class, but with a certain readable quality, as well as enough ingenuity and liveliness to probably insure its success as a summer novel.
History and Biography. Women of the Valois Court, by Imbert de Saint-Amand. Translated by Elizabeth Gilbert Martin. (Scribners.) The principal figures in the group of women here portrayed are, of course, Marguerite d’Angoulême and Catherine de’ Medici. Though one does not expect from M. de Saint-Amand a profound study of women so complex, yet he gives a Sufficiently vivid and picturesque presentment of the two queens — so different in character and aspirations—to hold the interest of the large clientèle which his later works have gained in this country. He is usually just in his instincts and moderate in tone ; and though, in a work of this kind, the truth can hardly be more than hinted at, he makes no attempt to minimize the unspeakable corruption of the time in church, state, and society, or to withhold an occasional incidental tribute to the courage and constancy of one and another of the great company of the confessors and martyrs of French Puritanism. Though he is inclined to acquit the queen, to whom the Machiavelian policy was literally an inheritance, of the charge of deliberately corrupting her sons, he finds it of little moment whether the gigantic crime for which she was chiefly responsible was one of long or short premeditation, as “ there are deeds for which neither excuses nor extenuating circumstances can be pleaded, and certain rehabilitations that can be nothing more than paradoxes.”—George William Curtis, by John White Chadwick. (Harpers.) On the 22d of February of every year an address is delivered at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences upon the character of Washington or “ some other benefactor of America.” The Black and White Series preserves the address of 1893, in which Mr. Chadwick, with sympathy and understanding, sets forth some of the many ways in which Mr. Curtis served his native land. — The French War and the Revolution, by W. M. Sloane. With Maps. (Scribners.) The second volume in the American History Series. Professor Sloane’s task was in some respects simpler than that of his predecessor, Dr. Fisher, who had to bring into orderly show the scattered beginnings of the colonies ; but though he has a more direct narrative to relate, he is equally with Dr. Fisher desirous of deducing the logic of events, and his book is a well-considered study of the problems in civil development which were subjected to the test of war. The successive steps taken in the formation of the nation, and the close connection with European, especially English history, are clearly borne in mind by the writer, who thus communicates them to the reader.— History of Federal Government in Greece and Italy, by Edward A. Freeman. Edited by J. B. Bury. (Macmillan.) This is a reissue of the first volume of the incomplete History of Federal Government, with the addition of a single chapter found in manuscript. The title is made thus to conform to the contents, and the unlucky reference to the end of federal government in North America disappears. The book is not otherwise changed, so that the reader may still be amused by Mr. Freeman’s predictions. History may be past polities ; it is questionable prophecy. - - Phillips Brooks, by the Rev. Arthur Brooks. (Harpers.) The reprint of a commemorative sermon in which Dr. Brooks presented a sympathetic, discriminating sketch of his eminent brother’s character and career. We like especially what he says of his Americanism. The entire treatment encourages one in his hopes for the coming full biography.
Philosophy and Religion. The Interpretation of Nature, by N. S. Shaler. (Houghton.) There is a personal note in this volume, all the more significant for not being obtrusively first personal. That is to say, Professor Shalor lays aside his academic robes, and addresses his readers, as he did the theological students who heard the book when it was in the form of a series of lectures, as one who, having given years to the scientific study of natural forms, and having meanwhile been called on constantly to consider the fundamental laws of human being, now pauses and asks himself what are those deeper relations of man and nature, which may indeed be expressed in terms of theology, but are not shut up in those terms. As a result, the book is singularly helpful to one who craves a thoughtful view of these relations, and even fuller than the writer’s books usually are of cosmological suggestions.—Leaves of Antiquity, translated from the German of Johann Gottfried von Herder by Caroline M. Sawyer. (Uuiversalist Publishing House.) It is to be supposed that these Prose Poems by Herder have never been done into English before. They are his Leaves of the Poetry of Hebrew Tradition, and are held to be the earliest known stories of the human race. Many of them have to do with Bible characters. All of them speak clearly from a time when the world was young, and have the quality, not inherent in folk lore, of interesting other readers than students.— The Æsthetic Element in Morality, and its Place in a Utilitarian Theory of Morals, by Frank Chapman Sharp. (Macmillan.) This might be a thesis for a doctor’s degree. It is a study of beauty as exhibited in conduct and character, and an attempt to establish a satisfactory criterion of right and wrong. It is a little singular that, in summing up what he is pleased to call the aid given by religion to virtue, the author should apparently overlook entirely the emotional nature of man ; he sees that religion means faith and hope, but he ignores, apparently, the third great member. — Present Day Theology, a Popular Discussion of Leading Doctrines of the Christian Faith, by Lewis French Stearns. With a Biographical Sketch by George L. Prentiss. (Scribners.) Dr. Stearns was a young man when he died, but the maturity of his mind was noticeable early, and this book marks the healthy growth of a nature which found in theology a congenial theme, and addressed itself to the task of discovering its vital relations rather than of reducing it to an exclusive system. Hence the thought is sane and free, and theology under his hands is a living, growing force. The book makes one regret more than ever the loss to American theological scholarship in the death of its author. — A History of Religious, being a Condensed Statement of the Results of Scientific Research and Philosophical Criticism, by Elizabeth E. Evans. (The Commonwealth Co., New York.) An arid little book, in which the negations of Christianity are presented in the most uninviting form. — Moses or Darwin, by Arnold Dodel. Translated by Frederick W. Dodel. (The Commonwealth Co., New York.) In somewhat violent language the writer seeks to demonstrate the antagonism between the doctrine of evolution and the doctrine of Christianity, with special reference to the relations between school and university. His observations are taken from the meridian of Zurich. The translator applies the results, in an introduction, to the public school system especially in the Northwest. — Miscellanies, Religious and Personal, and Sermons, by Rev. George W. Nichols. (Marigold Printing Co., Bridgeport. Conn.) Dr. Nichols starts off with some rambling reminiscences of men of eminence and some autobiographical notes, and then prints twenty-five sermons of a parochial character.
Criticism. The Making of a Newspaper, edited by Melville Philips. (Putnams.) This book is made up of a collection of papers by “certain representative American journalists,” which first appeared as the Journalist Series in Lippincott’s Magazine. Their editor calls them typical and trustworthy, and hopes they are readable ; and so they are, for, in the bustling fashion to be expected from such articles, they give as a whole a very clear idea of the energy of body and brain that brings us, every morning, the news of the world. If any of us would see it brought in a somewhat different form, that is another matter. —The Novel, What It Is, by F. Marion Crawford. (Macmillan.) Few men writing to-day can be expected to know better than Mr. Crawford what the novel is. In this little book, reprinted from The Forum, he gives it the two definitions of an “intellectual artistic luxury” and a “pocket-stage,” and, as the sum of all his observations, says, “ Humanity, the novelist’s master, bids him strike only at the heart.” The book is full of good things, well said, regarding various tendencies and conditions of the art Mr. Crawford practices. One random remark may well be quoted for the sake of the many readers who are sure to agree with it. “Dialect, ’ says Mr. Crawford, “ seems to me to rank with puns, and with puns of a particular local character.”
Illustrated Books and Books on Art. Scenes from Every Land. Over Five Hundred Photographic Views, embracing the most Beautiful and Famous Palaces, Cathedrals, Churches, Monuments, and Statues of the Old World ; Feudal Castles, Heathen Temples, and the Classic Ruins of Italy, Egypt, Sinai, and the Holy Land, together with the Masterpieces of Sculpture and Painting in the Art Galleries of Europe. A Photographic Panorama of the World, giving Exquisite Views of Mountain, Lake, River, Forest, and Ocean Scenery in every Country ; Instantaneous Photographs of Street Scenes in the Great Cities, and Objects of Natural Curiosity, Artistic Beauty, and Sublimity Everywhere. Designed to take the Place of an Extended Tour of the World. With an Introduction by General Lew. Wallace. Descriptions of every Scene prefaced especially for this Work by a Corps of Talented Writers, among them Rev. Edward Everett Hale, D. D., Hamilton W. Mabie, LL. B., Lit. D., Rev. Washington Gladden, D. D., Charlotte Reeve Conover, and Others. Edited by Thomas Lowell Knox. (Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick, Springfield, Ohio.) What remains to be added to this title-page ? Little, except that the pictures are for the most part nearly a foot long ; that they are half-tone process cuts ; that nature, art, and humanity are all on one flat level ; and that under each picture is a compact description, with occasional reflections. — The Song of the Ancient People, by Edna Dean Proctor. With Preface and Notes by John Fiske, and Commentary by F. H. Cushing. Illustrated with eleven Aquatints by Julian Scott. (Houghton.) The combination of poetry, science, and art in this volume is a little unusual, but there is an apparent equality of terms. Miss Proctor has taken a suggestion from the facts as related of the Zuñis and Moquis and worked it up into a rhythmic monologue, which begins with spirit, but perhaps necessarily gets lost in a somewhat generalized poetic rendering. Mr. Scott translates the Indian and his surroundings into something which seems to establish a likeness between the West and the East. Mr. Fiske and Mr. Cushing add prose comment which, perhaps unconsciously, serves especially to annex the Indian to the white man’s domain in thought and feeling. — The Evolution of Decorative Art, by Henry Balfour. (Macmillan.) In this interesting little essay the author confines himself to tracing the evolution of certain ornaments from their first Infantile form at the hands of primitive races to their later æsthetic conclusion. In illustration of his subject he tried the experiment of giving out a very simple design to be copied, that copy to go to a second, and the process to be repeated ; with the result that, after thirteen trials, the sketch of a snail crawling over a twig became a bird on a bough. Very like the game of scandal. The book is liberally illustrated, largely from objects in the Pitt Rivers collection at Oxford, of which Mr. Balfour is curator.
Sociology and Finance. First Biennial Report of the State Board of Charities and Corrections to the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon. (F. W. Baltes & Co., Portland, Oregon.) The pictures of jails in this book tell a varied story to the reader : great stone jails incorporated with court buildings ; prosperous middle-sized jails ; homely, rather cosy little wooden jails, which suggest that the prisoner eats his supper on the doorstep. But behind all these pictures is the earnest inquiry into the best way of looking after the morally sick and dying in that new, cheerful country where one would think it would be very easy to be virtuous. —The Silver Situation in the United States, by F. W. Taussig. ( Putnams.) A volume in the Questions of the Day Series. Mr. Taussig has taken advantage of the reissue of his little work to revise it and bring it down to date. It is a careful and moderate discussion, with a distinct confidence in the elastic capacity of a gold standard. — The Light of the Ages. (Published by the Author, Charles Orchardson, Quincy, III.) From the signature under an appeal for money, at the end of this book, we infer that it has two authors, to one of whom the volume is dedicated. The title-page is so full that we give it in lieu of comment : The Light of the Ages, recently written by Ancient Immortals, and the Deathblow to Poverty, by the Modern Antediluvian. Crime-Breeding Poverty is a Flag of Distress on the Ship of State. You cannot save the Ship by cutting down the Flag with the Cold Axe of Charity.
Education and Textbooks. Abelard and the Origin and Early History of Universities, by Gabriel Compayré. (Scribners.) A volume in the series of the Great Educators. A brief but fresh presentation of the subject on its historical rather than biographical side. The author has a humane interest in his theme, and the reader comes pretty close to the actual life in the universities. We wonder if M. Compayré is indebted to his translator for the singular phrase which we have italicized in this sentence, taken from the close of his preface : “ I trust, also, that the literary dictionaries of the future, if they should grant me a place in their pages, will have the goodness, when they mention my name, to follow it with this notice : Gabriel Compayré, a French writer, whose least mediocre work, translated into English before being printed, was published in America.” — Another volume in the same series is Froebel and Education by Self-Activity, by H. Courthope Bowen. (Scribners.) This is a clearly written exposition of Froebel’s doctrine by an English teacher and student of teaching, — a more satisfactory interpretation, we venture to think, than the more technical treatises of Froebel’s direct disciples. We are not sure that Mr. Bowen meets the practical objections which have been raised to kindergarten methods, that they stimulate the activity of observation rather than the grip of intellectual power, but all that he says of the child’s faculty of expression is excellent. — Literary Criticism for Students, edited by Edward T. McLaughlin. (Holt.) The author, an assistant professor of English at Yale, speaks in his introduction of the difficulty with which many minds acquire anything like an appreciation of the real beauty of literature. He has here selected some classic bits of English criticism, which he supplements with notes, —not of the formal, academic sort, but designed to point out the spirit and the broader significance of the passages considered. The idea and the execution are good. The book will lead some young people into the better paths of appreciation, but we suspect that nothing short of a miracle will quicken the apprehension of the class Mr. McLaughlin has already found so difficult of approach.
Sports and Humor. Practical Lawn Tennis, by James Dwight, M. D. (Harpers.) People who know absolutely nothing about tennis can learn but one thing from this book, —that the game is infinitely less easy than it looks. Actual players will find the little volume full of useful and interesting suggestions. They might have been somewhat more effectively arranged, but after all a veteran’s counsel is worth more than a book’s form to tennis players ; and if Dr. Dwight’s advice could be generally followed, there is no doubt, that better, more “ scientific ” tennis would be played the country over. — Bou-Mots of Sydney Smith and R. Brinsley Sheridan, edited by Walter Jerrold. (Dent.) If to such a little book as this, adorned with grotesque sketches of the Japanese sort, could be added the remarks Sydney Smith and Sheridan might make upon seeing their random witticisms so preserved, its value would be doubled. We do not attempt to guess what they would say, but cannot help thinking that the reputation of a wit loses, perhaps, as much as it gains by the scraping together of all the words with which he has made people laugh. Yet of course the humor that endures leavens any lump of speeches from England’s two greatest wits. In the same series with this volume are two other collections of mots by Lamb and Jerrold, Hook and Foote.