Comment on New Books

History and Biography. Memoirs of Barras, Member of the Directorate, edited by George Duruy. Translated by C. E. Roche. Vol. I, The Ancient Régime and the Revolution. Vol. II. The Directorate up to the 18th Fructidor. (Harpers.) While the Memoirs dealing with the Revolution from every conceivable point of view can hardly be counted, and those relating to the Consulate and Empire are only less numerous, there is a singular dearth of personal records of the political and social history of the Directorate, and this fact gives to the Memoirs of Burras a peculiar value which, under other circumstances, the wellknown character of the author would hardly bestow upon them. Though all future historians of the time will have to take serious account of the work, it is easy to foresee the perplexity it will entail upon the conscientious student. He will probably agree with M. Duruy that M. de Saint-Albin faithfully reproduced the thought of Barras, though the language is that of the scribe (all readers of to-day will regret that the latter felt it his duty to embellish overmuch the illiterate but forcible narrative of his friend), but there will have to be careful discrimination between notes on passing and recollections of long-past events, and, a more serious matter, between the degrees of truth or falsehood in certain reminiscences. It is an irony of fate that the work which has been awaiting publication for more than sixty years should at last have been issued under the editorship of an ardent Bonapartist, but his impassioned plea for his hero was hardly called for, as the greatness and littleness of Napoleon are now tolerably well understood by those who care for historical accuracy, and the malignant hatred of the Director towards the man of whom he had once been the patron will be evident to the dullest reader. The most vividly interesting portion of these volumes is the ex-Terrorist’s account of the 9th Thermidor, in which he was so important an actor. He had retained one quality of a son of the Crusaders, courage ; and it was owing to that, perhaps, more than to his unscrupulous ability that he was alive on that momentous day. — Sónya Kovalévsky : Her Recollections of Childhood, translated from the Russian by Isabel F. Hapgood ; with a Biography by Anna Carlotta Leffler, Duchess of Cajanello, translated from the Swedish by A. M. Clive Bavley ; and a Biographical Note by Lily Wolffsohn. (Century Co.) Miss Hapgood is inclined to explain the trouble and unrest of Madame Kovalévsky’s life by the union in her of “ a masculine mind with a feminine heart.” To us, it seems rather feminine weaknesses and foibles which helped to make it impossible that any real content, not to say happiness, should long abide with her. In her story we do not fail to find that Russian melancholy with which we have all become familiar, as well as the contest between mediævalism and an extreme modern spirit, fantastic and fanatical by turns. It is a history possessing in many ways a quite exceptional interest. Madame Kovalévsky was not only a great mathematician, but, if we may judge from the fragment of autobiography here given, had no mean gifts as a clever and graphic writer ; and her friend continues and completes the tale so sympathetically and truthfully that there is little dissonance between the two parts of the memoir, which together give an exceedingly lifelike portrait. It is an illustrative fact, the secondary place which maternal feeling appeared to hold in Sónya’s nature ; for mother love gives rather than takes, and the woman, at once so strong and so weak, whose exacting, jealous temperament continually craved exclusive devotion, never herself learned that the best part of love is self-sacrifice. — Tiie Poet among the Hills, Oliver Wendell Holmes in Berkshire, by J. E. A. Smith. (George Blatchford, Pittsfield, Mass.) Mr. Smith has traced Holmes’s connection with Pittsfield, where he lived for seven years, the occasional poems he read, the verses suggested by his life, and the family relations which he held with the place. He has rescued some interesting memorabilia, and has executed his task with enthusiasm and good taste.

Travel. Churches and Castles of Mediæval France, by Walter Cranston Larned. (Scribners.) Mr. Larned modestly styles his book a record of a traveler’s impressions of some of the great monuments of France, and expresses the hope that it may lead others to follow in his footsteps. As he has a genuine enthusiasm for his subject, and shows considerable skill in transmitting his impressions to the reader, his book will without doubt prove a pleasant companion to many tourists, who will probably like his agreeable historical commentary none the less that it is sometimes a little obvious and conventional. The writer has imagination, and is more successful in reviving the associations of the past than in treating the architectural aspects of his theme. There are occasional happy bits of description, but his love of Gothic architecture surpasses his technical knowledge of it. The illustrations, from photographs, are well selected and well printed, and add distinctly to the value of the book. — A Vagabond in Spain, by C. Bogue Luffmann. (Imported by Scribners.) It was as a veritable tramp that Mr. Luffmaun journeyed for nearly five months in Spain ; for the most part, the vagrant’s rest-house his only hotel, the succor doled out by the alcalde his only means of sustenance. He claims that in no other way could he really see the life of the people ; but the reader is not quite sure, when he finishes the book, that the game, so far as he is concerned, was altogether worth the candle. At least, the experiences of certain other travelers, who did not play the vagabond, and encountered only in a positive degree the discomfort, dirt, vile food, and viler odors of which this writer had a superlative share, have proved, on the whole, more entertaining and enlightening. This is not to say that Mr. Luffmann’s itinerary does not in a measure possess both qualities, and that he does not give us at times graphic sketches of lowerclass Spanish life for which we are grateful ; but he hardly possesses the gift, either as observer or as writer, of making the fullest use of his exceptional opportunities. It is unfair to compare him with Borrow, yet it is his misfortune that the comparison will be made. — Our Western Archipelago, by Henry M. Field (Scribners), gives an account of a journey across the continent by the Canadian Pacific Railway, a tour of the islands of southern Alaska, and the return through Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Yellowstone Park. Dr. Field is so old a traveler and narrator that he knows what to see and how to describe, while the book has a freshness and simplicity of style which we are not apt to associate with the mature judgment of experience. Although he kept to the beaten track, his journey was not entirely without adventures of a mild type (such as riding down the Rocky Mountains on a cow-catcher), into most of which he pretends to have been drawn by the exuberant spirits of his young traveling companion, but which he himself seems to have enjoyed with all the enthusiasm of youth. Besides describing what he saw and heard, he makes several excursions into the field of history, and gives accounts of the building of the Canadian Pacific, the founding of the Hudson Bay Company, the Vigilantes of Montana, etc. He also devotes a chapter to Mr. William Duncan and his Indian mission at Metlakahtla. There are twelve full - page illustrations from photographs and drawings. — Pony Tracks, written and illustrated by Frederic Remington. (Harpers.) In a breezy, unconventional style which suits his subject, Mr. Remington tells of his travels in the wild West with soldiers, cow-punchers, Indians, Mexicans, on the plains and among the mountains. The author rode a pony most of the time (a high horse never), but occasionally trusted himself in a canoe, or even in a stage - coach. From his associations with all sorts of men under so many circumstances, he has acquired an intimate knowledge of the life of the Far West such as falls to the lot of few writers. The pleasures aud hardships of frontier army life occupy a large part of the book, and the reader can hardly help having an increased respect for the brave men who ride the ponies. Of the illustrations, it is only necessary to say that there are seventy of them, and all are by Mr. Remington. — The third issue of Macmillan’s Miniature Series in paper is Goldwin Smith’s A Trip to England.

Fiction. Terminations, by Henry James. (Harpers.) Readers of The Yellow Book and Scribner’s Magazine will be already familiar with the first three of these tales, while the fourth appears for the first time. One finds again all those qualities of infinite elaboration, exquisite care, and utter disregard of his reader’s time which in any other writer must at once be designated Henry-Jamesiness. In The Death of the Lion and The Middle Years there is an atmosphere of refined satire, —a little drowsy, perhaps, but dear to many nostrils, and welcome enough in days when many forget that letters were once called “ polite.” In The Altar of the Dead, Mr. James carries us into a sombre and fantastic land where Daisy Miller never came. — A Daughter of the Soil, by M. E. Francis. (Harpers.) This is the most elaborate tale the author has yet given us, but in no other respect can it take precedence of her two earlier books. Her North Country rustics are as delightful as ever, and the picture of the farmer’s daughter who is the heroine, if somewhat idealized, is, on the whole, lifelike and charming. But the plot is of a well-worn kind, and the gentleman who marries and deceives Ruth is such a contemptible creature that we should hardly acquiesce in his final rehabilitation if we were ever made really to believe in his existence. For the rest, the story, though so conventional in certain points, is steadily readable, and always gracefully told.— The Time Machine, an Invention, by H. S. Wells. (Holt.) Tales of travelers into the future are not uncommon, and are often sufficiently dreary, with their ineffective visions of a perfected humanity, or perhaps merely of the triumph of some writer’s special fad. It is seldom that any essay of the kind shows the originality, the imagination, and the excellent workmanship of this story, in which the hero discovers that time is the fourth dimension of space, and constructs a machine on which he journeys in it, arriving at the year 802,701, and afterward venturing still farther till he reaches the very twilight of the earth. Reversing the usual experience, he finds mankind in their decadence, and is glad to return to the world’s youth. The narrative of his adventures is singularly graphic and unfailingly interesting, while the introduction and postscript thereto are exactly in the right manner. The author is artist enough always to give an air of truth to his fantasy, and never to weaken his work by overelaboration or diffuseness. — The Burial of the Guns, by Thomas Nelson Page (Scribners), is a volume of short stories. Mr. Page is one of those writers, all too few among us, whose style may always be praised for its simplicity. There is an austere and honest quality in it, a note of utter sincerity and a lack of all affectation, which gives peculiar force to his English and adapts it admirably to the matter in hand. In the first sketch, My Cousin Fanny, we are given a realistic portrait of a lady ; three other tales relate stirring incidents of the war ; while Miss Dangerlie’s Roses is a bit of social satire told in a very quiet manner. Indeed, quietness and good breeding mark this book, as they do all of Mr. Page’s work. — Hero Tales of Ireland, by Jeremiah Curtin (Little, Brown & Co.), is a worthy successor to its author’s Myths and Folk-Talcs of the Russians, and Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland. Many of these stories were first printed in The Sun, by Mr. Dana, who recognized their value, and thus materially assisted Mr. Curtin in his labor of collecting them. The book will find its own readers ; for those who love the marvels of old romance, which “ make the jaws of the hearers fall apart,” cannot pass it by, while students and delvers in folk-lore will prize it as a contribution to their knowledge fresh from original sources. The former will appreciate Mr. Curtin’s idiomatic English rendering of the tales ; the latter will be grateful for his scholarly painstaking. — An Old Man’s Romance, by Christopher Craigie. (Copeland & Day.) This is a simple old-fashioned love-story, told with something of the deliberate manner which charmed us in The Reveries of a Bachelor. With a flavor of sweetness and devotion about it, and depending as it does on sincerity and unspoiled sentiment for its effect, it is a refreshing change from much of the murderous and unwholesome fiction in present vogue. — Water Tramps, or The Cruise of the “ Sea Bird,” by George Herbert Bartlett. (Putnams.) A story of four young men who, having imprudently squandered their substance during the spring, find themselves without the means to take a summer vacation after their usual fashion. They conceive and carry out the plan of hiring a yacht and catching bluefish for a living, till their money comes in on the 1st of September. A large part of the book is taken up by their endeavors to escape their friends while engaged in the nefarious occupation of selling fish. This volume can safely be placed in the hands of the most innocent young man. — An Island Princess, by Theo Gift, has been brought out in the Hudson Library. (Putnams.)— Grania, by the Hon. Emily Lawless, has been added to Macmillan’s Novelists’ Library. — Other paper-covered reprints are, Hardy’s earliest novel, Desperate Remedies, and a translation of Daudet’s Fremont Jeune et Risler Aîné. (Rand, McNally & Co.)

Literature. New Studies in Literature, by Edward Dowden (Houghton), is a collection of miscellaneous essays, all more or less touched with the spirit of democracy and mild revolution in which Professor Dowden is wont to indulge. In his work oil Shakespeare we have this temperate critic at his best, perhaps ; though in the present volume, as well as in its earlier companion, he is a diligent if not a luminous expositor of certain thoughts and tendencies which appeal to him in various authors. One feels he is a pleasant annotator rather than a piercing or subtile appreciator ; a little apt, too, to see facts through his own glasses at times. His New Studies include essays on George Meredith and Robert Bridges, the poetry of John Donne, a long five-part essay on Goethe, Coleridge, Edmond Scherer, Literary Criticism in France, and The Teaching of English Literature. — English History in Shakespeare’s Plays, by Beverley E. Warner, M. A. (Longmans.) In his commentaries on the ten chronicle plays, Mr. Warner, who writes with intelligence and enthusiasm, aims to show Shakespeare as an illustrator and illuminator of English history. He supplements his studies with brief but sufficient notes regarding the chronicles and “ foundation plays ” followed by the poet, and also gives the chronology of each reign. It is curious to consider how few works have been specially devoted to this aspect of the perennially absorbing subject, and the measure of success Mr. Warner has achieved makes it probable that his volume may be favored by being placed in courses of study with those of Courtenay and Reed, whose books are now out of print, and exceedingly difficult to obtain outside of great libraries. The author does not indulge in new and startling theories, and usually follows safe and conservative guides, Shakespearean and historical. As with many other commentators, his views of the design and underlying moral of the Histories are sometimes those of a Victorian rather than an Elizabethan observer, even if the latter be Shakespeare. For the sake of readers still in a state of pupilage, we wish the discrepancies between drama and history could, in a few cases, have been a little more emphasized, as also the dubious authorship of certain of the plays. It is, for instance, well to make very clear the incalculable difference between Henry V. and the three parts of Henry VI. — The Elizabethan Hamlet. A Study of the Sources, and of Shakspere’s Environment, to show that the Mad Scenes had a Comic Aspect now Ignored. By John Corbin. With a Prefatory Note by F. York Powell. (Elkin Mathews, London ; Imported by Scribners.) Whatever we may think of Mr. Corbin’s theory, we should be grateful that at least it is a result of intelligent and conscientious study, and not one of those crude fantasies which our country produces in such abundance, set forth by writers whose ignorance of Shakespeare’s work and world is both invincible and inconceivable. That, in all probability, insanity, coarsely and brutally treated, formed an element in the lost play of Hamlet, as in many another which was accepted as comic by the auditors thereof, may be conceded, as well as the fact that Elizabethan playwrights (often) worked in a “ hasty and haphazard way.” But a study of our Hamlet will show to all who choose to see that it was not produced in any such careless fashion ; neither was Shakespeare, except in his earliest work, tied and bound by the conventions of his time. If he had been, he would not have been Shakespeare, but only one of those others who are now to most of the world little more than names. After all, it is just possible that we, in our wisdom, find in Hamlet only what its author intended we should, and that its meaning was not altogether hidden from the judicious in that fortunate audience which Mr. Corbin holds in such scant esteem, to whom it came as a contemporary word. — The Arthurian Epic, by S. H. Gurteen (Putnams), is announced as a Comparative Study of the Cambrian, Breton, and AngloNorman Versions of the Story, and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. It must not be mistaken for an exhaustive work in research ; it is rather the excursion of an amateur into the realms of scholarship. Mr. Gurteen has collected for popular use a few of the varying legends of the Arthurian cycle, and pointed out where these have been followed, and where abandoned, by the English poet. —The fourth and concluding volume of H. E. Watts’s Don Quixote (Macmillan) contains, among other treasures, the delightful account of Sancho Panza’s government. — The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, by James Morier. Illustrated by H. R. Millar. With an Introduction by the Hon. George Curzon. Standard Novels. (Macmillan.) The book which Scott called the Oriental Gil Bias is still, after seventy years, a marvelously faithful picture of the unchanging Persian life, while simply as a story of adventure it has extraordinary interest and vitality. Not only is the verisimilitude of the environment and varied experiences of Hajji Baba perfect, but that entertaining knave never for a moment speaks or thinks otherwise than as a Persian. Mr. Curzon’s introduction is excellent from every point of view. — Hajji Baba has also been reprinted in the series of English Classics, edited by W. E. Henley. (Methuen & Co., London; Stone & Kimball, Chicago.) This edition is in two handsome volumes, and contains a portrait of Morier after Maclise. The introduction, by E. G. Browne, is quite in accord with that of Mr. Curzon in its estimate of the unique value of the book.— A new volume in the uniform edition of Thomas Hardy’s novels is the ever delightful A Pair of Blue Eyes. Mr. Macbeth Raeburn again furnishes an etching, this time a bit of water view, and the map of Wessex is repeated. (Harpers.)

Poetry and Art. Intimations of the Beautiful, by Madison Cawein (Putnams), is the fifth or sixth goodly volume that its author has issued since Mr. Howells launched him upon the perilous career of a young poet, two or three years ago. It cannot be said to show any marked advance upon its predecessors. There is the same abundance of fancy, the same occasional novelty of phrase, and, one must add, the same disbelief in the saving grace of simplicity. Mr. Cawein is a trifle too clever, and inclined to work his Muse a little too hard. Ladies are more spontaneous, more entertaining, when they are not overburdened with duties.— Poems, by Lionel Johnson (Copeland & Day), is a pretty volume on hand-made paper, printed at the Chiswick Press. If Mr. Johnson’s range were limited to the mild platitudinous sentiments of such lines as those To Leo XIII., one would think of his career with slight hope. The future hardly belongs to mediævalism, either in art or in religion; and if a poet will content himself with tradition alone, he may as well crawl away at once into the little pigeon-hole prepared for him under dust of ages. But Mr. Johnson is capable of better things. His poem on Laleham, with its memories of Arnold, has not a little of that master’s clear and plaintive tone. In England, too, has some graceful and finished stanzas, while The Dark Angel and Cadgwith are not without a touch of the plangent sorrow of the world, and the valor to front it undismayed. — Poems of Paul Verlaine, translated by Gertrude Hall. (Stone & Kimball.) If Miss Hall has not succeeded in making Verlaine at home in English, she has at least succeeded in making a book of graceful and often striking verses. With her own lyric gift it could hardly be otherwise. — Modern Art, edited by J. M. Bowles. (L. Prang & Co., Boston.) This periodical, formerly published in Indianapolis, has been translated to Boston. The number which has fallen in our way contains for its chief paper a delightfully outspoken article on Meeting-Houses or Churches, by Ralph Adams Cram, though Mr. Cram, with an artist’s eye, heightens his contrasts by drawing extremes. The decorations in this number are for the most part in the hammered-brass style, and some of them are very good indeed.

Science and Philosophy. The Helpful Science, by St. George Mivart (Harpers), is a scientist’s plea for a revival of interest in philosophy. In the history of the world, there have always been, the author points out, alternating periods of idealism and materialism ; and the present culmination of the scientific spirit, after three or four hundred years of physical research and physical modes of thinking, demands and foretells a return of faith, or at least a return of something more positive than mere skepticism. — The Sexuality of Nature, an Essay proposing to Show that Sex and the Marriage Union are Universal Principles, Fundamental alike in Physics, Physiology, and Psychology, by Leopold Hartley Grindon. Second American edition. (Massachusetts New-Church Union.) When Mr. Grindon writes of the sexuality of animals and plants, every one must agree with him ; but when he carries this principle into the inorganic world, and finds a sexual union in the mutual attraction of oxygen and hydrogen and in the falling of the rain upon the earth, he will meet with doubters. And in psychology, we can as readily see the difference between man and woman in mental and moral as in physical characteristics ; but when the author gets into metaphysics, and pronounces wisdom male and goodness female, we shall not all be as ready to follow him. His exaltation of man as literally the immediate end and aim of creation is a comforting belief, though not strictly in accord with the views of modern science. The book is ingenious and interesting, and is of course in harmony with the Swedenborgian philosophy. — Life and the Conditions of Survival. The Physical Basis of Ethics, Sociology, and Religion. Popular Lectures and Discussions before the Brooklyn Ethical Association. (Kerr, Chicago.) These fourteen lectures are all constructed on the lines of the present tendency to carry the light of the theory of evolution into the mental and moral worlds. They range from the practical to the abstruse through such subjects as Sanitation, Solar Energy, Locomotion and its Relation to Survival, Habit, Cosmic Evolution as related to Ethics, The Origin of Structural Variations. The writers, for the most part experts in the topics they treat, have approached their work in a scientific spirit, and the results are generally interesting. — Walt Whitman, his Relation to Science and Philosophy, by William Gay. (Mason, Firth & M’Cutcheon, Melbourne.)

Nature. Game Birds at Home, by Theodore S. Van Dyke. (Fords, Howard & Hulbert.) In his preface Mr. Van Dyke remarks that “to the majority of sportsmen the love of nature is the principal element in the love of hunting.” However open to question that may be as a general statement, the reader of this book cannot doubt that its author is a genuine lover of Nature. Like every true devotee of the goddess, he is a close observer, and not only birds, but trees, flowers, woods, meadow, and stream, all receive his attention. It is an anomalous state of mind that permits a man to kill what he loves, and yet there can be no doubt that many sportsmen have a real affection for the game they shoot which the most tender-hearted member of the S. P. C. A. can neither share nor understand. Mr. Van Dyke writes in a pleasant and reminiscent strain from a forty-years’ experience with American game birds of all kinds and in all parts of the country. There are chapters on Bob White, The Woodcock, The Ruffed Grouse, Days among the Ducks, The Wild Goose, Salt-Water Birds, The Wild Turkey, etc., but no attempt at systematic biography, although here and there we find interesting notes on the habits of the various species. —Part XII. of Nehrling’s Our Native Birds of Song and Beauty (George Brumdor) gives excellent biographies of the song sparrow, swamp sparrow, towhee, cardinal, and some other finches. The author’s enthusiasm is so refreshing that we can forgive him for laying a little too much stress on the beauty of the towhee’s call-note ; but why does he speak so slightingly of this bird’s song ? In New England, at least, it is something more than “ a number of rather monotonous, guttural notes,” and is by no means “scarcely audible among the voices of the woodland choir.”