Comment on New Books

History and Biography. Familiar Letters of Henry David Thoreau, edited, with an Introduction and Notes, by F. B. Sanborn. (Houghton.) Readers of the old volume of Thoreau’s Letters, as edited by Emerson, were somewhat surprised when, a year or two ago, The Atlantic published a group of Thoreau’s letters. These seemed to he written by another Thoreau, and the explanation lies in the fact that Emerson’s judgment led him to print mainly what he thought reflected the permanent Thoreau. But a man is kept alive by his whole self, and it is not wise to give the world merely one’s own view of a friend. Mr, Sanborn, in editing this fuller collection, has done much to rescue Thoreau from the exclusive company of the woodchuck, and the book becomes, in connection with his writings, a most satisfactory exhibition of the man. Many will revise their judgment upon reading it. — Essays, Speeches, and Memoirs of Field Marshal Count Helmuth von Moltke. (Harpers.) A two-volume work containing the published studies of the great military critic and commander upon various questions of a diplomatic or military character connected with modern European history. Then follow speeches delivered by him in the Reichstag and in the Prussian House of Lords, as well as drafts of speeches delivered in the Customs Parliament. As these speeches extend from 1868 to 1890, and as Moltke spoke only when he had something to say, it will be seen how living a comment they afford upon very recent history. Finally, there are a number of lively reminiscences of the great field marshal by members of his family and others. — Field Marshal Count Helmuth von Moltke us a Correspondent, translated by Mary Herms. (Harpers.) Another of the series of volumes setting forth the great soldier, this time under his more familiar aspect. Many of the letters are trivial, but even these help to bring out the character of the man by the little touches of affection and friendship. The former part of the volume is taken up with letters to his family, the latter with letters to his friends. — Memoirs of Chancellor Pasquier, translated by Charles E. Roche. Vol. III. (Scribners.) Thisvolume covers the period of the first Restoration, the One Hundred Days, and the beginning of the second Restoration, the last records being of the autumn of 1815. We have before spoken of the quite exceptional value and interest of the work, which gives the experiences and impressions of a singularly clear-eyed and unimpassioned observer, who throughout the greater part of his narrative is in a position to know the inner history as well as the outward show of the events he describes. We see that notwithstanding the brilliant success of the first days of Napoleon’s return, sagacious men, not carried away by the enthusiasm of the moment, calculated pretty accurately the probable duration of his power ; added light is thrown upon the diplomacy of Talleyrand, and the perfidy of that universal deceiver, the ex-Terrorist, Fouché, who, to show perhaps that nothing is incredible in French politics, was for a brief space one of the ministers of Louis XVIII. Of the high position which these Memoirs will permanently hold among the authoritative documents of the Napoleonic era there can be no question. — Costume of Colonial Times, by Alice Morse Earle. (Scribners.) From old letters, diaries, inventories, and the like, with the very material assistance which the advertisements in old newspapers so often give in showing us our forefathers in their habit as they lived, Mrs. Earle has constructed not only an entertaining volume, but also one that should have a permanent value. Though with all her skill and patience in research she has not been able to solve every mystery, such cases are rare, and usually her explanations and illustrations are admirably clear and explicit. Much is condensed into a moderate space, and the alphabetical arrangement makes reference easy. The book should be especially useful to artists dealing with the colonial period, and may help to dispel the idea, among others equally rooted and erroneous, that one unvarying mode, commonly that of about the year 1770, with occasionally a premature Empire gown thrown in, characterized the whole eighteenth century. But why does Mrs. Earle imply that so general an article of attire as the hand was particularly Puritan ? — unless, perhaps, as the records might lead us fondly to imagine, seemly and, to the credit of the mothers of New England, well-cared-for neekgear was more universal in the eastern colonies than elsewhere.

Literature. Abraham Lincoln. Complete Works, comprising his Speeches, Letters, State Papers, and Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay. In two volumes. (The Century Co.) The writers of the comprehensive Life of Lincoln do well thus to bring out an authoritative collection of Lincoln’s writings. It will he a surprise to some to see how large was Lincoln’s contribution to political literature before he was President. One volume is occupied with this period, hut it is swelled, wisely indeed, by the inclusion of Douglas’s rejoinders in the great debate. There is an admirable index, but no table of contents. The volumes may be regarded as an accompaniment to the Life, yet we think it was a mistake in editing not to give more headnotes or other explanation of the circumstances under which important addresses were given. For example, the last speech of Lincoln has no explanation of the occasion of its delivery. — Mr. A. M. Williams’s Studies in Folk-Song and Popular Poetry (Houghton) include not only what we ordinarily mean by popular poetry, as, for instance, the Scotch and English ballads, or the folksongs of Hungary and of Roumania, but also such diverse subjects as American seasongs, the folk-songs of the civil war, and the poetry of Lady Nairn. In method and treatment, these studies are popular rather than scholarly. They do not carry research to original sources, and they are not exhaustive. But perhaps on these accounts they are none the less appreciative, and they have the great merit of being written out of a genuine, intelligent interest in the subject, so that the book is not at all a piece of mere book-making. — American Authors, a Hand-Book of American Literature from Early Colonial to Living Writers, by Mildred Rutherford. (Franklin Printing and Publishing Co., Atlanta. Ga.) The work of an enthusiast, apparently, who loves literature, who has a patriotic sense of the value of American literature, and a desire, moreover, to see the Southern section properly presented. Miss Rutherford has been diligent in collecting anecdotes, and desires to make her readers students of history and literature, for she intersperses questions and reviews, and she adds also a good many portraits. Some of the comment thrown in is entertaining. We advise Mr. F. Ilopkinson Smith to read by himself the chapter devoted to him. — Alongside of Fielding, in J. M. Dent & Co.’s pretty reprint, should be placed the half dozen volumes of Laurence Sterne, in the same style, issued by the same publishers. (Dent, Loudon ; Lippincott.) These volumes, like Fielding, are edited by Mr. Saintsbury, and illustrated by E. J. Wheeler. Readers of The Atlantic have lately been reminded of Sterne by Mr. Merwin, and these attractive books afford an excellent opportunity for revising one’s judgment and reviving one’s memory, or it may be, making new acquaintance with one of the imperishable names. It is not necessary that he should be altogether acceptable at the present day ; it is enough that he was one of the sure spokesmen of his own day ; and so long as literature is historically interesting, so long certainly Sterne will need to be read, and the necessity will bring some agreeable things in its train. — The illustrated edition of Irving’s Sketch-Book in two volumes (Lippincott) has an interest, apart from the comely form in which it comes to the buyer and reader of to-day, in the use which it makes of a series of illustrations prepared long enough ago to make the representation of them now a means of comparison with the work of current draughtsmen. Darley, Hoppiu, McDonough, McEntee, William Hart, Eliniuger, Bellows, Edwin White, — these and others were once names to conjure with ; and on the whole, though the fashion has somewhat changed, the cuts, in spite of the rather heavy printing, have a certain mellowness which is not unattractive. We suspect some of the excellence is due to the fact that these artists themselves drew on the block. — Messrs. Scribners have begun the publication of a reprint of the principal novels of Henry Kingsley with the issue of Ravenshoe, in two attractive volumes, agreeable both to the hand and eye. The selection for the opening work of the new edition is a wise one, as this vigorous and exceedingly interesting tale, undeniably its author’s most notable work, will be his best introduction to a new generation of readers.— The Temple Shakespeare (Macmillan) is enricked by two more volumes. The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, each, after the manner of the edition, fronted by a pretty vignette, and equipped with a frugal but satisfactory apparatus of introduction, glossary, and notes. The fifth and sixth sections of the Ariel Shakespeare (Putnams) contain twelve volumes, and these complete the series, the whole consisting of forty pretty little volumes, printed with clear black type on good white paper. The volumes are neatly bound, and the text, though open to query now and then, certainly is not carelessly edited. The Poems are given in one volume, the Sonnets in another, and a Glossary, witli a convenient Index of Characters also, makes a volume by itself. Altogether this is an attractive edition.

Fiction. Perlycross, by R. D. Blackmore. (Harpers.) After the unwholesome atmosphere of those fictions of the day whose writers think that the close of the century must needs be its decadence as well, Perlycross-comes like a breath of pure country air. Though the story proper of the book is very slight, and told in the slowest and most digressive fashion, and though one of the leading characters, the Spanish Lady Waldron, — in intention an impressive figure, — is a rather pronounced failure, the reader soon begins to find a peculiar pleasure in his leisurely progress, and lingers willingly by the way. The mere story matters little ; the humors, prejudices, superstitious, foibles, and virtues of the rural Devonians who play more or less, often less, important parts in it are a never failing delight. It is Mr. Blackmore’s misfortune always to bo compared, usually to liis disadvantage, with himself. His best book remains alone, but among those which without derogation may be called his second best the graphic records of Perlycross sixty years since should take a high rank. — Eyes Like the Sea, by Maurus Jókai. Translated by R. Nisbet Bain. (Putnams.) This tale, crowned by the Hungarian Academy as the best Magyar novel of the year 1890, is declared by the translator to be the most brilliant of its distinguished author’s later works. Though Mr. Bain confesses to an acquaintance with but five-and-twenty of Jókai’s one hundred and fifty romances, he has so greatly the advantage of almost all readers of English that they can hardly controvert his opinion in the matter. In his own proper name and person, the writer himself is the hero of his tale, and there is much in the reminiscences of his boy life and his later experiences in the Hungarian struggle for independence to appeal strongly to his country folk, and indeed to be found readable by outsiders, even after it has passed the ordeal of translation. But to them the real interest of the book will probably centre in the extraordinary story of Bessy and the five men who, legally or illegally, succeed each other in her affections, this history being the connecting thread in a most loosely woven narrative. The presentment of the lawless lady with eyes like the sea, a heroine in some respects sui generis, is an exceedingly vivid one. — The Prince of India, or, Why Constantinople Fell, by Lew. Wallace. (Harpers.) An historical novel in two volumes, told with the abundance of detail and succession of highly wrought incidents which make this writer’s books marvels of literary industry, impelled by an imaginative force which has been stored up for much better uses than the construction of commonplace melodramatic stories. — A Change of Air, by Anthony Hope. (Holt.) This is not a tale of romantic adventure, like the story by which “ Anthony Hope ” is mostly known to American rentiers, but is moderately realistic in tone, though there is perhaps an element of romance in the abundant prosperity which in the young hero’s case results from the writing of revolutionary and erotic verses. The poet takes a country house for a time, is graciously received in county society, falls in love with the squire’s charming daughter, anti, as a consequence, becomes reconciled to the institutions of his country ; thus exciting to frenzy the village doctor, an ill-balanced enthusiast who has taken the earlier poems for his gospel. The book shows the author’s epigrammatic cleverness in dialogue, and is agreeably readable, but it will not be likely to add materially to his reputation. His portrait and a brief sketch of his life are prefixed to the volume. — A Saint, by Paul Bonrget. Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley. (Roberts.) The story of a modern miracle wrought by a rather old-time saint. Incidentally, it makes a contrast between an earlier world of superstition and the present decadent age of restlessness and irony, — a contrast that, on the whole, is disappointingly ineffective. The characterization, on the other hand, is as clever, and sometimes as subtle, as one would expect of M. Bourget. — Pastime Stories, by Thomas Nelson Page. (Harpers.) The old-fashioned custom of having a little word at the start with the “ gentle reader ” Mr. Page has revived rather uiifelicitously. He is even unreasonable enough to ask the “ gentle reader ” not to complain if the stories in question are not entertaining ; for the writer tried to make them so ! If he had not succeeded, the “ gentle reader ” might not have thought it worth while to complain ; but when stories are worth noticing at all, then he may reasonably insist upon his right to criticise as he must. In the present case, it seems to us — who were ever gentle — that Mr. Page has neither made nor marred his tales in the telling, and that the least said about it would have been the better. — Brander Matthews’ Vignettes of Manhattan (Harpers) illustrate an artistic tendency, which we usually associate with the French, to present reality vividly, whether it be beautiful or not. In style these sketches are brisk and specific, but at the same time they are somewhat academic. They lack sympathetic quality ; they lack atmosphere. But in substance they suggest, again and again, a strong sense on the part of the author for a baffling aspect of the life with which he deals, for its meaningless tragedies, its unordered, inconsequential course. — Katharine North, by Maria Louise Pool. (Harpers.) Miss Pool has an ingenious faculty for seizing upon some very trying and uncomfortable situation, and then making it yield all sorts of complications and excitement. Here a widower lays siege to the heart of a young girl, and by the aid of her mother succeeds nominally in getting possession. But the moment the decisive word is said the girl asserts herself, and thereafter tries to live her own life, with the result of becoming really in love, and being called on to resist this new enemy. The book is strained and tortuous, and one cannot help feeling that much good work is misspent upon a forced situation. — Peak and Prairie, by Anna Fuller. (Putnams.) This series of Colorado sketches deals with the variety of subject and interest natural to the curiously transplanted life of a great health resold, a life in no way native or indigenous. Its special character and its scenic background these stories do not suggest with complete success. At the same time they are pleasing in tone, and have something like tlie bright and tonic quality of Colorado air. — Endeavor Doin’s Down to the Corners, by Rev. J. F. Cowan. (Lothrop.) A tale in rude country manner of the doings of the Christian Endeavor Society in a rough New England neighborhood. It is corduroy-road-traveling to go through the book, and genuine New England wit and humor are hard to find ; one has to put up with well-worn phrases and uncouth spelling in place of tlie more ingrain quality. But if one takes the trouble to get at the actual contents of the book, lie will find some sensible wrestlings with powers of darkness. — Salome Shepard, Reformer, by Helen M. Winslow. (Arena Publishing Co., Boston.) An attempt, in fiction, to set right the relations of employer and employed in a factory village, when the two elements in a common purpose have drifted apart. The application of the rule of Christianity is good, but we fear the fiction will scarcely do much toward solving the actual problems. — Seven Strange Stories, by J. AVallace Hoff. (Brandt Press, Trenton.) The rather common interest in weird things which had better be left to the Society for Psychical Research is forever seeking expression in literary art. Among the evidences that might be mentioned of this are the seven pale unrealities before us. Such significance as they may have in this way is, however, their only value. — J. K. Bangs’ Water Ghost and Others (Harpers) are the jolliest set of spooks we ever met. If more uncanny spirits haunt you, they will drive them off. Though they bear you company after candlelight, they will leave only the memory of extravagant fun and farce to hover about you at bedtime. — Balsam Boughs, by A. C. Knowles. (Porter & Coates.) An amiable but futile effort at telling a few Adirondack stories. — “Out of the Sunset Sea,” by Albion W. Tourgée. (Merrill & Baker.) A romance evidently designed for the World’s Fair trade. The money-making motive sometimes stimulates the production of great artistic work ; but when this motive gets the Letter of a writer’s desire for truth and beauty, it vulgarizes his art most abominably. — Among the paper-covered novels are, a reissue of Upon a Cast, by Charlotte Dunning (Harpers) ; and The Damascus Road, by Léon de Tinseau, translated from the French by Florence Belknap Gihuour (George H. Richmond & Co., New York), a not very alluring book, neither the content nor the manner having any attraction. — The Sea Wolves, by Max Pemberton, has been added to Harper’s Franklin Square Library.

Books for the Young. Among the unfailing avant-coureurs of the holiday season are certain books for boys, whose popularity may be considered as assured. Foremost among these are the tales of G. A. Henty (Scribners), with their illuminated covers, greenedged leaves, and three or four hundred amply filled pages, a length which somewhat daunts the older reader, but is regarded by the younger with a sigh of satisfaction, because the story “will last so long.” We are sure to meet the same modest, manly, well-bred English lad, whatever be the age or clime in which he has Ids being, who, after many haps and mishaps, will be finally left in peace and prosperity. This year be first appears in Wulf the Saxon, a Story of the Norman Conquest, as a valiant young thane, a ward of Earl Harold, and faithfully follows bis lord from the days of the Norman captivity to the end at Hastings. He figures in When London Burned, a Story of the Great Plague and Eire in London, as Sir Cyril Shenstone, the orphan son of a ruined Cavalier, and, after serving in the Dutch war and escaping harm from plague and fire, he triumphantly comes to his own again. As Tom Wade, a seeker after fortune in the Far West a generation ago, he is the hero of In the Heart of the Rockies, a Story of Adventure in Colorado, and his search is rewarded by the discovery of a gold mine. These are spirited, wholesome tales, and the first two follow history, so far as events go, with reasonable accuracy. — Mr. Kirk Munroe, who rivals Mr. Henty in the favor of the American lad, is more sensational in his methods than his co-worker, and his boy, while sharing many of the estimable qualities of his English fellow, is less amenable to authority, more self-confident and self-assertive, and so oftener falls into difficulties of his own making. In The Fur-Seal’s Tooth, a Story of Alaskan Adventure (Harpers), we find the writer in a new field, whose possibilities in the way of exciting narrative are by no means exhausted in this volume. There is the usual breathless succession of thrilling situations and hair-breadth escapes interspersed with a good deal of information regarding the hunting, lawful and unlawful, of the furseal.— Another annual is The Boy Travelers in the Levant : Adventures of Two Youths in a Journey through Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Greece, and Turkey, with Visits to the Islands of Rhodes and Cyprus, and the Site of Ancient Troy. (Harpers.) The “two youths,” who must, in the course of their wanderings up and down the earth during the last fifteen years, have stumbled upon the fount which eluded Ponce de Leon’s search, are, after the boys we have been considering, rather wooden young gentlemen. But the mixture of story and guidebook which records their doings is usually readable, often instructive, and always popular, aided as it is by an abundant supply of altogether admirable illustrations.

Travel and Nature. Three Years of Active Service, an Account of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-84, and the Attainment of the Farthest North, by Adolplms W. Greely. (Scribners.) Lieutenant Greely published, shortly after bis return, an official report and one for the public. He has now gone over his material again, with the view to presenting clearly and in more moderate compass an account of an expedition which has not been surpassed in late years in positive results. He has used illustrations and maps freely and made a handsome volume, but we cannot help wishing that lie bad taken the occasion to bring his material into still more compact form. We think be would have increased the number of his readers. — A Japanese Interior, by Alice Mabel Bacon. (Houghton.) Miss Bacon has already proved herself an admirable reporter of woman’s life in Japan in her Japanese Girls and Women. This second book is even more direct in its report, since it is practically a rehearsal of her own life, and that of her comrades engaged as teachers or pupils in the Peeresses’ School in Tōkyō, as they set up housekeeping by themselves, and thereby entered more intimately into Japanese daily life. Based on letters written at the time, the book strikes one as truthful, and certainly is interesting, the interest springing from the fidelity of the narrator, and not from any effort to make a good story. Miss Bacon has made a real addition to our knowledge of Japan. — Brief Guide to the Commoner Butterflies of the Northern United States and Canada, being an Introduction to a Knowledge of their Life-Histories, by S. H. Scudder. (Holt.) The main part of this manual is occupied with a catalogue raisonné of the commoner butterflies in their separate stages, the technical description being followed in each case by a less formal account of peculiarities, food, habits, etc. An introduction goes rapidly, but clearly, over the general subject of the butterfly, caterpillar, and chrysalis, the eggs, difference in sexes, mimicry, classification, and the book is at once a very convenient manual for the young collector and an intelligent introduction to a delightful study. — What might be called an untechnical monograph by the same author (Holt) is the Life of a Butterfly ; a Chapter in Natural History for the General Reader. Here he has taken the milkweed butterfly and followed it through life, making each stage furnish a text for a liberal study, one may say, of all butterfly life at that stage. It is a most enjoyable little work, and gives a glimpse of wliat is possible in our natural history literature when precise knowledge is joined to a power of seeing and presenting relations of a single type. — In the convenient though somewhat unequal series of University Extension Manuals, edited by Professor Knight (Scribners), is a volume by Patrick Geddes, entitled Chapters in Modern Botany, It illustrates well the method by which the more agile lecturer seeks to start students by an appeal to their curiosity and interest, and, while developing the science in an orderly fashion, constantly stimulates inquiry, and leads to independent search, if not research. To the reader already familiar with botanical study the book is a delightful résumé, and we do not see how it could be taken up seriously by a novice without inspiring in him a desire to know the matter by personal observation.

Education and Textbooks. Practical Lessons in Fractions by the Inductive Method, accompanied by Fraction Cards, by Florence N. Sloane. (Heath.) Miss Sloane’s method, which she has worked out and tested, is the simple one of making actual divisions of circles of pasteboard by which to illustrate to the eye various fractions. The book contains a large number of examples. — In the series Headings for Students (Holt) two books have come to our notice ; Selections from the Prose Writings of Coleridge, edited by H. A. Beers, and Specimens of Argumentation, compiled by George P, Baker. The former gives extracts largely from literary criticism ; the latter brings together an interesting and varied group of argumentative speeches. It is a capital idea to put these in the way of a student as exercises in analysis. — Matthew Arnold’s Sohrab and Rustum has been brought out with explanatory notes, by Maynard, Merrill & Co, — The same firm issues also Motley’s essay on Peter the Great.

Religion. In the series of American Church History volumes, publishing by the Christian Literature Company of New York, a useful compendium appears which presents The Religious Forces of the United States, Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890, with an Introduction on the Condition and Character of American Christianity, by H. K. Carroll. The volume is mainly statistical and descriptive, and it is in the introduction only that the editor ventures upon generalization and characterization. He shows a candid and catholic spirit here, and tlie conclusion he reaches when he says, “ Evangelical Christianity is the dominant religious force of the United States,” is the result plainly of a wide range of observation. — In the same series is a more specific volume, A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States, by Henry Eyster Jacobs. (The Christian Literature Co., New York.) This is a more historical work, devoted to origins and development, written of course in sympathy with the church, hut not in a partisan spirit.— Sabbath Hours, Thoughts, by Liebman Adler. (Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia.) A series of discourses and practical application of Old Testament truths by a Jewish rabbi who lived long in Chicago. It is interesting to see in this book, full of lessons of high morality, the kind of preaching which would result were men to be content with the Sermon on the Mount without the preacher behind that sermon.

Sociology and Hygiene. Masses and Classes, by Henry Tuckley. (Cranston & Carts, Cincinnati.) This book, which introduces itself rather pretentiously as “A Study of Industrial Conditions in England,” must not be taken too seriously, for it is neither exhaustive nor scholarly, but slight, sketchy, journalistic. Nevertheless, it rather forcibly suggests the deplorable condition — a condition so very much worse than anything in America — of English wage-earners. — Vagaries of Sanitary Science, by F. L. Dibble. (Lippincott.) Dr. Dibble, having been irritated by what he conceives to have been the unscientific theories of certain sanitary experts, sets to work, by the accumulation of a great number of cases, to disprove some of the generally accepted theories of the origin of disease. He holds a brief for filth, bad drainage, tainted meats, dead bodies, polluted springs, and other much-abused public offenders, and, after the manner of a criminal lawyer, girds at the public prosecutor. We leave him to the tender mercies of the women and the plumbers.

Household Economy, The Chafing-Dish Supper, by Christine Terhune Herrick. (Scribners.) Formerly the chafing-dish was regarded as a somewhat Bohemian utensil, associated with bachelor apartments, happy-go-lucky “light housekeeping,” and the evening Welsh rabbit, a mild dissipation of many conventional households ; but now it has received wide social recognition, and even appears in solid silver as a rather needless adjunct to rich men’s feasts. Mrs. Herrick gives some very sensible advice as to its use, and furnishes a variety of excellent receipts, all of which will be found practicable for chafing-dish cookery, though we think it would be more convenient to relegate some of them to the kitchen and the prosaic sauce-pan and frying-pan. The book is brought out in the same attractive style as The Little Dinner, and should win equal favor with house-mistresses.

Ceramic Art. The Pottery and Porcelain of the United States, an Historical Review of American Ceramic Art from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, by Edwin Atlee Barber. With 223 Illustrations. (Putnams.) A book chock-full of forgettable details, but containing also much admirable material. The author is an enthusiast, and drags the reader in bewildering fashion from one pottery to another, introduces the principal persons in the business, and sometimes narrates their personal history. The subject is treated largely from the commercial point of view, but the illustrations give a good idea of what has been achieved, and the book is a fair bird’s-eye view of the present condition of the pottery industry in the United States.