Comment on New Books

Fiction. The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane (Appletons), is a narrative of the experience of a raw youth in battle, and of the steady screwing of his courage to the point of heroism. So vivid is the picture of actual conflict that the reader comes face to face with war. He does not see its pomp, which requires a different perspective, but he feels the sickening horror of slaughter and becomes a part of the moving line of battle. The process of becoming a hero is so naturally unfolded that the reader no more than the hero himself is aware of the transformation from indecision and cowardice to bravery. This picture, so vivid as to produce almost the effect of a personal experience, is not made by any finished excellence of literary workmanship, but by the sheer power of an imaginative description. The style is as rough as it is direct. The sentences never flow; they are shot forth in sharp volleys. But the original power of the book is great enough to set a new fashion in literature. — The Red Cockade, by Stanley J. Weyman. (Harpers.) Whatever its popular success, The Red Cockade will disappoint Mr. Weyman’s discriminating readers. The novel is ingeniously constructed, full of life and movement, and, we need not say, unfailingly readable, but there is no such ease and sureness of touch in indicating the spirit, the atmosphere of the time as is to be found in the author’s tales of the France of the religious wars and of Henri Quatre. The highly conventional types of character which appear in the book show, so to speak, a merely conventional study of the epoch. — The Years that the Locust Hath Eaten, by Annie E. Holdsworth. (Macmillan.) It evinces an unmistakable power in the author that, notwithstanding the almost unrelieved and peculiarly irritating painfulness of her tale, it holds the reader steadily to the end. It is the story of the slow doing to death of a bright, hopeful young creature, sacrificed to the monstrous selfishness of her husband, an indolent dreamer, who talks eloquently of the great book which he has not even begun, and in the mean time allows his gently nurtured wife to be both household drudge and bread-winner. The moral of the tale, so far as we can see, — and so strenuous a writer would probably insist that one must be found, — is that such a foolish and unequal marriage as the heroine’s would inevitably lead to poverty and misery unspeakable. Society, as at present constituted, can hardly he held responsible for her sufferings. —Master Wilberforce, the Study of a Boy, by Rita. (Putnams.) The hoy is an abnormally precocious infant with a passion for study, who amuses though he hardly convinces the reader ; but he develops into a lad of a more usual type, and the story of his dawning love for the tempestuous girl who is his playmate and foil is prettily told. — At Tuxter’s, by G. B. Burgin. (Putnams.) A cheerful and quite unrealistic tale of some dwellers in a squalid London street. So far as in him lies, the writer is a faithful follower of Dickens, but Mr. Burgin’s humor is a very faint reflex of that of his master. — The Three Impostors, or The Transmutations, by Arthur Machen. Keynotes Series. (Lane, Loudon ; Roberts, Boston.) Studies in the horrible, pure and simple. Three human fiends, two pleasantspoken men and an attractive young woman, are engaged in hounding a young man to a terrible death, and, to beguile the time thus spent, tell gruesome tales, with the properly vague psychological and occult touch and hints at the unnamable. The not inconsiderable literary and constructive skill which has gone to the making of the stories only partially veils their moral offensiveness.— Beatrice of Bayou Têche, by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones. (McClurg.) After a somewhat prolonged absence from American fiction, the white slave reappears in this tale. The book opens charmingly with the description of the child Beatrice and her home in the French quarter of New Orleans, and afterward of her introduction to the plantation on the Têche; but as the girl becomes the woman, the story, which is overcrowded with incident, grows commonplace and tediously diffuse. Though the infinitesimal drop of negro blood in the heroine’s veins is not perceptible, even to a Southerner, yet it is sadly true that it might perhaps have spoiled her life in her own land. But then America is not the world, and there are various highly civilized countries where success of every kind would await a woman possessed of dazzling beauty, a marvelous voice, extraordinary artistic ability, exceptional scholarship, phenomenal intelligence, and perfect health. Under the circumstances, a lifelong retirement to an isle in a far Eastern sea and a disuse of most of these good gifts hardly seem called for. — Two Women and a Fool, by H. C. Chatfield-Taylor. With pictures by C. D. Gibson. (Stone & Kimball.) That Guy Wharton, a successful Chicagoan artist, is a particularly weak fool probably no reader will deny. The two women, whom he first meets as “ co-eds ” in college, are Dorothy, a good girl, and Moira, a worthless minx, with eyes that are lustrous, tantalizing, tormenting, dreamy, and fathomless by turns, who develops into a popular burlesque actress. From the lures of this vulgar enchantress the hero quite undeservedly escapes in the last page, doubtless to bestow the remains of his battered affections on Dorothy. The sketch is smartly written, with an occasional touch of cleverness worthy of a better use. — A Hilltop Summer, by Alyn Yates Keith. (Lee & Shepard.) Unpretentious but well-told stories of country life. The connection between them is that which exists between the people’s lives, interwoven more or less closely as they are pretty sure to be in a small New England village. The details are generally so true to life that we can forgive a tendency towards the sentimental which occasionally shows itself. The final tragedy is unexpected and unnecessary, and the blending of humor and pathos in the conversation of the grief-stricken old couple is not particularly well done.

Books of and for Children. The Second Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling. Decorated by John Lockwood Kipling. (The Century Co.) “ And this is the last of the Mowgli stories,” oue reads at the close of the book. We commend Mr. Kipling for the wise reserve he thus shows in his art, but we are glad he did not write these words in the previous volume after the death of Mowgli, and we are not sure whether or not he applies the term to all the so-called Jungle tales. Certainly literature is richer for the masterly story in this volume, The Miracle of Purun Bhagat, a story which will long live in the memory of those who read it. — Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses gives fresh delight through the illustrations which have been added by Charles Robinson, illustrations which show a kindred fancy, and often a fine imagination. One would have hesitated about putting this most winning book into the hands of a draughtsman, but Ms doubts would have disappeared upon seeing the picture which serves for The End or The Land of Nod. One is tempted sometimes to think that Robert Louis Stevenson’s eternity of praise is to come through this little book. — A Book of Nursery Songs and Rhymes, edited by S. BaringGould. With illustrations by members of the Birmingham Art School, under the direction of A. J. Gaskin. (Methuen, London; Lippincott, Philadelphia.) A pretty book, with an archaic setting of border and occasional design. The effective wood-cutting is the most praiseworthy feature. (Scribners.)—The A rubella and Araminta Stories, by Gertrude Smith. With an Introduction by Mary E. Wilkins. Embellished with fifteen illustrative designs by Ethel Reed. (Copeland & Day.) We have had books in one syllable which were very hard reading. It was like walking on squares without stepping on the lines, to read them. This book for very young children is of a different order. It is based on the primary principle of repetition. As like unto Arabella as Araminta is, so are the doings and the reports of the doings of the two children. “ Tell it over again ” may be said of almost every sentence. I f one can m ake his mind small enough in reading this book, he can get into an amusing toy world. We are curious to know how actual children of three or four will take to these stories, which are printed in very large type, for the benefit, probably, of the grandmothers who will read them aloud, for no child of the age interested could be expected to read the book to herself. “ Embellishment ” is a large word to apply to the puzzles in blackand-white, which are darkening, not illustrative designs, — Children’s Stories in American Literature, 1660-1860, by Henrietta Christian Wright. (Scribners.) The lives and works of sixteen writers, from Audubon and Irving to Parkman and Holmes, are successively considered ; a brief chapter devoted to our early literature serving as introduction to the book. These sketches are nearly as mechanical and as wanting in literary quality as those which used to be found in textbooks known as Compendiums of English Literature, and they can hardly convey to young readers any very vivid ideas as to the personality of our greater writers. — Harper’s Round Table, 1895. Harper’s Young People, of which this is the sixteenth annual volume, changed its name in the spring of 1895. Its general character remains the same, but several “ departments ” are added, — The Camera Club, lnterscholastic Sport, Stamps, Bicycling. A distinctive feature, and one which is significant of the times in which we live, is the space devoted to Interscholastic Sport. Under this heading “The Graduate ” gives reports of contests in all branches of field and track athletics from all over the country, besides much sensible advice to the schoolboy athlete. The girls also come in for their share of attention in The Pudding Stick, which is conducted (or should we say wielded ?) by Mrs. Margaret E. Sangster. — Joseph the Dreamer, by Robert Bird. (Scribners.)

Literature. Vailima Letters, being Correspondence addressed by Robert Louis Stevenson to Sidney Colvin, November, 1890 - October, 1894. In two volumes. (Stone & Kimball.) When one considers that this period covers the Samoan residence ; that Mr. Colvin, five years Stevenson’s senior, was his intimate friend and critic and go-between in the literary projects of these years ; and that Stevenson wrote with all the freedom of his gay nature of his work, his Samoans, his thoughts on life and letters, himself even, one can guess how much there is to enjoy in these two trig volumes. The lover of Stevenson wants the trivial, for he is eager to be intimate with this most friendly of writers ; and thus he will read of proofs and corrections and dealings with publishers and oily-skinned Samoans with an insatiable ardor. — Little Leaders, by William Morton Payne. (Way & Williams, Chicago.) Mr. Payne has collected from The Dial several of the thoughtful, sagacious papers on literary and educational topics which have made that journal so representative of sound criticism. There are some interesting appreciations at the close of the volume under the general heading In Memoriam, of which that on Huxley may be singled out as felicitous in its seizing upon salient points within brief compass. — In an agreeable pair of volumes M. J. Knight has brought together a Selection of Passages from Plato for English Readers, from Jowett’s translation. The aim has been to save the more distinctly dramatic and poetic elements of Plato, and thus offer an introduction to an acquaintance witli his writings which might lie forbidden by the formidable task of becoming familiar with his metaphysical speculations. Brief introductions and notes supply wliat is required for elucidation, and the reader gets a taste of the literature in a not altogether fragmentary way, (Macmillan.) — A Companion to Dante, from the German of G. A. Scartazzini, by Arthur John Butler. (Macmillan.) Access to this work of an eminent Dante scholar is a real convenience to an English student. The book belongs, indeed, not to the criticism which is literature, but to the criticism which gives apparatus. The Teutonic side is the more prominent in Scartazzini, and his book lacks entirely the fire and charm with which Carducci, for example, clothes his Dante scholarship. But it is valuable, despite a laboriousness of method which sometimes defeats its own end, for a departure from the Dante legend popularly repeated from the days of Boccaccio, and an independent and thorough investigation of real authorities. The present volume is decidedly more useful than the Handbook by Scartazzini translated by Professor Davidson in 1886 ; for it is more comprehensive in facts, and often less far-fetched in argument. Scartazzini retains, to be sure, his old claim that Beatrice was not Beatrice, but somebody else of a different name, because forsooth it would be immoral to suppose that Dante celebrated a married lady. But lie has dropped the yet more fantastic assumption, triumphanthy deduced from nothing, that “ Gemma Donati was worthy not only of the love, but of the respect of Dante,” and candidly confesses, after prolonged discussion, the obvious truth that concerning Dante’s domestic life we know nothing at all. —Five Lectures on Shakespeare, by Bernhard Ten Brink. Translated by Julia Franklin. (Holt.) No student of Shakespeare can read this little volume without a keen regret that the writer’s history of English literature should only have reached the Elizabethan age, and that these brief lectures, written for a popular audience, should be all that remains to us of a lifetime’s study of the poet. We say “the poet” advisedly, for it was to Shakespeare, and not to Shakespearean literature, that Ten Brink was primarily devoted, though of those books without end few foreign scholars could more justly estimate the relative worth or worthlessness. Though the lecturer can treat the various aspects of his subject but in outline, he writes with such rare knowledge, insight, and, we may add, sanity, that his book is eminently suggestive, and so has a value quite out of proportion to its size, in happy contrast to the effect produced by many ponderous Shakespearean tomes. The translation is usually excellent, but it is difficult to understand why the editor’s introduction should have been omitted in the English version, as, under the circumstances, it might almost be called an essential part of the volume. — Two volumes — Due Preparations for the Plague, and The King of Pirates, with Lives of Other Pirates and Robbers — complete the new sixteen-volume edition of Defoe’s Romances and Narratives, edited by George A. Aitkeu, and illustrated by J. B. Yeats. (J. M. Dent & Co., London ; Macmillan, New York.) Tlie former of the two volumes contains also The Apparition of Mrs. Veal. If our modern realistic writers would give to Defoe the attention they seem to give to newspapers, they might discover something of the secret of his power to impress his narratives on the belief. It is somewhat melancholy, however, to observe tlie down grade on which Defoe traveled, till at last his imagination was overcrowded with thieves, strumpets, pirates, and ruffians. The edition now Completed is edited with great skill and good judgment. — Natural History of Selborne and Observations on Nature, by Gilbert White, with the Text and New Letters of the Buckland Edition. Introduction by John Burroughs ; illustrations by Clifton Johnson. In two volumes. (Appletons.) There is a special fitness in an introduction from Mr. Burroughs to this new edition of one of his favorite books. He has told us before, in Indoor Studies, why he likes Gilbert White’s book, and has there pointed out some of the sources of its “ perennial charm,” but the present essay brings out characteristics of the Selborne parson which had not been touched upon before. The illustrations are almost all from photographs taken by Mr. Johnson, though the title-page would lead one to expect drawings. They show us the streets, houses, people, gardens, fields, and woods of the Hampshire parish, with an occasional glimpse at its feathered inhabitants, apparently taken from “ mounted groups.” The subjects are attractive, and the photographs are well taken, and so numerous that we are sure the sun must have reproduced for us, under Mr. Johnson’s direction, almost everything of interest that he shines upon in that neighborhood.

Poetry and the Drama. The Father of the Forest, and Other Poems, by William Watson. (Stone & Kimball.) Three or four longish poems, two lyrics, and three sonnets, all marked by Mr. Watson’s seriousness of mind and literary attitude toward poetry. The Tomb of Burns is the best, because it most directly reflects Mr. Watson’s distinctive excellence in the treatment of human subjects connected with the high realms of imaginative production. It is man in connection with nature that offers a theme to this poet, and thus such exalted images as Wordsworth and Burns afford inspire him most deeply. — Macaire, a Melodramatic Farce, by Robert Louis Stevenson and William Ernest Henley. (Stone & Kimball.) A three-act farce ending in a tragedy, but so nonsensical throughout that Maeaire’s death itself seems like a light jest. It ought to be acted like lightning, and it reads as if it were written between two pipes. — To-Day and Yesterday, by Edward Willard Watson. (Henry T. Coates & Co., Philadelphia.) — Shadows of Yesterday, by Charles Gifford Or wen. (Rochester, N. Y.)—Dies Inc. Nine Original English Versions, by W. W. Nevin. (Putnams.) — Undergrowth, by George C. Bragdon. (R. J. Oliphant, Oswego, N. Y.) — Pauline, and Other Poems, by Arthur J. Stringer. (T. H. Warren, Printer, London, Out.)—Nicodemus, by Grace Shaw Duff. Illustrated by Frederick C. Gordon. (Arena Publishing Co.) — Acrisius, King of Argos, and Other Poems, by Horace Eaton Walker. (George I. Putnam Co., Claremont, N. H.)

Biography. Margaret Winthrop, by Alice Morse Earle. In series Women of Colonial and Revolutionary Times. (Scribners.) The letters between Winthrop and his wife have been drawn upon often, for they are among the most tender memorials of early Puritan life ; but this is the first attempt, we think, to use them for setting forth the character of the wife toward whom the great founder of New England showed such a lover’s regard. After all, the book is quite as much a picture of New England and of John Winthrop. We suspect the subject of the sketch would have been somewhat dismayed at the notion of being treated as the occasion for a biography. Mrs. Earle’s well-trained antiquarian mind leads her to lay too much stress upon the reproduction of documents in the ancient spelling. A little of this flavor goes a good way. Mrs. Earle has really gathered and used with skill pretty much all one could expect to find of the feminine aspect of early New England. — The Gill— mans of Highgate, with Letters from Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Illustrated with Views and Portraits. Being a Chapter from the History of the Gillman family. By Alexander W. Gillman. (Elliot Stock, London.) The author appears to he engaged on an extensive family history, of which this volume is a fragment, but of more than genealogical interest, since inwoven with an account of this special branch are interesting memorabilia of Coleridge, hitherto unprinted notes, letters, and memoranda. The illustrations help to reconstruct Coleridge’s outer life at James Gillman’s house.

Nature and Travel. Vacation Rambles, by Thomas Hughes. (Macmillan.) Readers of The Spectator will recall the letters which for thirty years and more have appeared occasionally in that journal signed “ Vacuus Viator,” It was an open secret that they were by the author of Tom Brown’s School Days at Rugby, and Mr. Hughes has now collected them into a plump volume, which may be read with genuine pleasure, since the author writes with a boyish freshness which is indifferent to the parade of knowledge and full of hearty enthusiasm. The rambles recorded were in Europe and America, and amongst other places visited was the settlement in Rugby, Tennessee, in which Mr. Hughes was personally interested. A slight veil secludes most American proper names from all but those who know or know something about the persons frankly and agreeably noted. — Constantinople, by F. Marion Crawford. Illustrated by Edwin L. Weeks. (Scribners.) Readers of Paul Patoff will not need to be told that Mr. Crawford can write of Constantinople and its inhabitants with exceeding vividness and picturesqueness. Such a description, for instance, as that of a service at Agia Sophia during the last week of Ramazán is not easily forgotten, and may be matched in this book by the word-picture of the ever-changing throng on Galata Bridge. These sketches, admirably supplemented by the illustrations of Mr. Weeks, give wonderfully lifelike glimpses of places and people in this meeting-ground of Europe and Asia. It is interesting at present to note Mr. Crawford’s well-defined opinions regarding the Turk, whom he is inclined to believe in, when be can be found, and is not a Greek, Armenian, Persian, or African calling himself by that name. “He is sober, he is clean, he is honest,” qualities not especially characteristic of the so-called Christian population of his city. In a few graphic touches the writer so well indicates the mixture of races and creeds in this swarm of humanity that it seems a natural sequence that it should be the most ill governed of municipalities. The publishers have united with author and artist in making this little volume attractive. — The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn, a Study of Life in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, by John R. Spears. Illustrated. (Putnams.) This is a collection of miscellaneous information— with perhaps some misinformation ? — picked up by a newspaper man on a journey to the end of the continent. The interest which this book possesses is that which naturally attaches to the novelty of the places and peoples visited, for Mr. Spears lays no claims to literary excellence, and we must confess to finding him for the most part exceedingly dull reading. The occasional coarse newspaper witticisms do not serve to enliven the narrative to any appreciable extent. The author gives us an account not so much of what he saw as of what he heard, and, in spite of the authoritative fashion in which he delivers himself, we may be pardoned for assigning it the value of all hearsay evidence. The chapters on the several tribes of Indians are the most interesting, but — we wish we could be sure it was all true. — Window and Parlor Gardening, a Guide for the Selection, Propagation, and Care of House Plants, by N. Jönsson Rose. With illustrations by the author. (Scribners.)