Atlantic Shop-Talk

In Memoriam — Charles Boardman Hawes

Charles Boardman Hawes, whose name is well known to the readers of this page, died, after a very short and sudden illness, on the fifteenth of July. He was then in his thirty-fifth year and, in his chosen profession of writing, had already shown an unforced and fruitful growth toward the mastery of romantic story-telling. He lived in the port of Gloucester because he loved the sea, and the sea requited him by giving of its salt and its highways for his heroes and his villains.

In his Dark Frigate, to be published this October, a Scotch blacksmith forges for the hero a dirk, made from Damascus steel. As he works at the grindstone, finishing the blade, he mutters over and over: —

‘He that will a guid edge win.
Maun forge thick an’ grind thin.’

These words suggest the author of the tale, himself. He forged thick, in experience and study, and he ground thin, with art. His results were stories as true and as romantically bright as a blade of Damascus.

Mr. Hawes will be mourned by all those who knew his books, but we, his publishers, knew the man as well as the author, and we shall miss exceedingly the frequent visits of a sincere and straightforward friend.

Literature Not ‘Juveniles’

In an article, ‘The Children’s Librarian as a Book-Buyer,’ which appeared lately in the Library Journal, Alice I. Hazeltine, who is supervisor of children’s work in the St. Louis Public Library, says of children’s books: — ‘Originality of concept and distinguished presentation are, after all, the things to be desired. The bread of books, not the stones of juveniles will make our American children’s literature a shining treasure for the future as well as for now.’

The Shop-Talker is pleased to have come across this unintentional statement of the goal toward which all the Press publications for children have been directed. The very word ‘juvenile’ seems to him to have an odor of patronage, of writing-down-for-theyoung, about it.

Now, thinking of our goal, we are proud to see how close we have come to it. Mr. Charles Boardman Hawes’s books are grand, adventurous tales which have appealed to children, just as they do to their fathers, not because they were ‘juveniles,’but because they had stuff in them. Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer’sMany Children is charming poetry first, and poetry for children afterward. Henry B. Beston’sFirelight Fairy Book and Starlight Wonder Book are authentic literature, as carefully woven, in imagination and style, as any clear French prose. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim's Progress is a classic story of moral adventure, and Miss Edith Smith’s abridgment of it has cleared away those sections of the original text which would stand in the way of any modern reader, child or adult.

If there were more space this list could be extended until it became a catalogue of our publications for children; but enough has been said to show that our interest in books of this character has been, and is, and always will be to supply younger readers with literature rather than with ‘juveniles.’

Great Names and Small Books

Last month we pubfished, in book form, a reprint of Mr. Wilson’sAtlantic article, The Road Away from Revolution. Since then, the demand for this slender book with its weighty contents has justified our belief that such a statement of lucid, fundamental truths, by such a writer, would be wanted as a permanent addition to public and private libraries.

There are great names associated with another small book — Mr. Waldo R. Browne’s pocket-size anthology, Joys of the Road. Inside its covers the appeal of the walker for walking is set forth in many tones, from Hazlitt’s philosophy of wayward and purposeless strolling, to the more American appeal of John Burroughs, that a walker should get somewhere on the earth’s surface. The reviewers are fairly agreed as to the charm of this collection, but not as to its effects. One hyperbolist remarks that, after reading this book, ‘the most enthusiastic motorist among us is likely to leave his car in the garage and set forth at daybreak toward northern New England.’ But another reviewer complains that such is the charm of the selections that some innocent is sure to yield to their call, with no other result than to endanger his life on the roads in this automobile age.

A Speculation

It is interesting, if vague, to speculate as to the first sources of large public movements. For example, just what finally aroused public opinion to demand a reconsideration of the thesis that the twelve-hour day was an inevitable necessity to the American steel-industry? The sources of that demand are many; but it is a satisfaction for a publisher to know that one of his publications, Mr. Charles Rumford Walker’s Steel, is an important contribution, with its unstressed picture of the effects of the long hours on the workers.

A Subject of Discussion

Already the earliest readers of Miss Margaret Prescott Montague’sDeep Channel are proving that the vitality which flows through all her writing is present in a large measure in this, her latest novel. Deep Channel cannot be read passively, and these early readers have found that it causes in each one of them a different set of feelings, an individual reaction. One reader has said that the final discovery of fundamental character by the hero and the heroine justifies the unusual paths through which they must go to reach this end. Another reader disagrees; a third sees in this novel the simple, stark fatality of chance; and a fourth views the story in the light of the judgment of an abstract justice.

All of which is only to show that a living book, like a vital personality, is bound to be the centre of a discussion.

Again — ‘ Like a Novel’

Booksellers said of Mrs. Francis King’sThe Little Garden that it sold ‘like a novel.’ This was the first of our ‘ Little Garden Series,’ of which Mrs. King is editor and for which she has contributed two books. The second of her books, Variety in the Little Garden, was brought out in June of this year and has, during the summer, been reported in lists of non-fiction ‘best sellers.’ The author and the public should be congratulated — the author for bringing gardens into the active imaginations of book-buyers, and those buyers for appreciating what the author has done.

The Autumn Schedule

Now that September is here, our autumn books emerge from the mist of preliminary talk and galleys into the clear light of actual and notable publications. Mr. Charles Boardman Hawes’sThe Dark Frigate was the last of his books to be completed before his death, and it stands at the top of his achievement in literary quality and in the story-teller’s fertility of invention. Revolutionary New England: 1691—1776, a sequel to The Founding of New England, holds a high place among our September publications. Its author, Mr. James Truslow Adams, a Yale Master of Arts, was honored in June by the bestowal of a LL.D. degree from the Rhode Island State College. Then there is Miss Margaret Prescott Montague’s novel Deep Channel, a story of peculiar poignancy, which has challenged the Press to produce a work of fiction in a form of appropriate beauty. The form of Mr. Henry B. Beston’s new collection of stories, The Starlight Wonder Book, has been largely deter mined by its successful predecessor, The Firelight Fairy Book, just as Miss Sarah Addington’sPied Piper in Pudding Lane has been designed as a companion volume to The Boy Who Lived in Pudding Lane.Mrs. Edward Harding’sPeonies in the Little Garden will be the September addition to the Little Garden Series. Already Mrs. Hutchinson’s more elaborate volume. The Spirit of the Garden, is on the bookstalls. In October we shall be offering to the public Lord Charnwood’sTheodore Roosevelt.