Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

LITERARY

REFORMS THEIR DIFFICULTIES AND POSSIBILITIES. By the author of "Conflict in Nature and Life." New York: D. Appleton & Co.

This volume is designed as a supplement to a previous work by the same author, "Conflict in Nature and Life," which met with a favorable reception from thoughtful people as a vigorous and scholarly inquiry into the conditions entering into the most important social and political problems. In the book under notice the writer discusses the limitations of reform, and carries out the same line of reasoning toward a practical conclusion in various special directions. The title of the book accurately defines the author's purpose. He does not propose any panacea for the evils of the age, but aims to clear away all the sophisms which have grown around them like a dense underbrush of briars and weeds. If he can lay bare the fundamental facts and principles so that a clear perception of them can help others to a judgment, he rests satisfied. The great practical questions treated of course cannot be attacked at much detail in a volume of a little more than two hundred pages. Such questions as "Wages," Monopoly," 'Money," ""Protection and Free Trade," Technical Educa

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tion," the " Needs of Women," Divorce," 'Temperance," Crime and Poverty,' Civil Service Reform," etc., are vastly complicated, and an author, at best, is able only to elucidate them by getting at the elemental facts and principles of them without entering into any study of their widespread application. But in doing this in a simple, honest and unpretending fashion he does a good work. There is much that is stimulating in the book. The author has a knack of getting at the very core of the subject in a few plain words, and seeing what is essential and what non-essential and merely accidental. Perhaps as good an example of his method of treating subjects as can be found in the work is the chapter on Protection and Monopoly." After clearly and briefly stating the environment of the problems and making a pungent statement of the absurdities involved, he proceeds to say:

[ocr errors]

"

'No high class really means to plunder or to harm the people. It only means to do the best thing it can for itself. As little is it the intention to help anybody but self. The silver interest does not act from patriotic and philanthropic motives, though its success might be

NOTICES.

generally beneficial. The gold interest does not act from inalevolent motives, though its success. might crush debtors and damage the people in general. The commercial interest when it opposes restrictions on commerce has not for its ulterior object the good of the people, though its success might so result. It is simply laboring to establish conditions favorable to itself. So when the manufacturing interest seeks to impose shackles on commerce it does not mean really to harm anybody. On the contrary, no class talks more unctuously of patriotic duty and the good of the workingman, so natural it is to see the industrial landscape in the color of the business glasses we look through. These unobjectionable motives prompt the action of the strong classes, but none the less are the people common plunder."

"But since the high class interests do not always harmonize in action, the quarrels which spring up between them afford to real statesmen the opportunity to secure some small crumbs for the people. Examples: When the silver interest, co-operating with the bias of tradition, resists the total demonetization of silver, the people may well rejoice; it is the duty of level-headed men, while encouraging the movement, to moderate its fervor and give it practical direction. And when the commercial class organizes opposition to manufacturing and transportation monopolies, it would be well for honest men to co-operate with it on behalf of the public."

[ocr errors]

In each subject treated the author finds ground for abundance of bright and vigorous suggestion, though from the very nature of the reasoning it is more or less fragmentary. As we have before indicated, the general theory of the book accords with "Conflict in Nature and Life," which may be briefly stated as follows: The system of nature is a balance of antagonistic forces. This relation of forces is not a restful equilibrium, but a fluctuating and compensating one, like that of the wave-rocked sea. It is an equilibrium of action and reaction, which, in their more complicated forms, become great cycles of movement, co-extensive with the entire field of nature and history. Now if this antagonism prevails in nature and is woven inte the constitution of man, we should infer that the society which man forms would embody antagonistic elements in manifold forms of combination and inter-relation. We should further infer that every attempt to

act on human nature and on human society for their improvement, should take an account of this ineradicable antagonisin in the constitution of things in order properly to adapt the means to the end. A prevailing form in which this antagonism appears in life is the essential coupling of an evil with a good, of a general evil with every general good. Our author, applying this general theory to reforms, contends that all that can be done is to effect the greatest possible good with the least possible evil; that the ideal good is unattainable; and that the attempt to apply an absolute panacea for every moral evil is sure to lose on one side what it gains on another. This is illustrated by a great number of examples. Let us take this method of reasoning as applied to the education of the working classes. It is admitted that the education of the working classes is a good. Nevertheless, as the world goes, it leads to discontent, and out of this grow turbulence, agitation and revolutionary beliefs which redound not so much to the righting of wrongs as to deepening popular discontent and misery. Discontent and education then go hand in hand. It is of course the little learning which is a dangerous thing, and the problem is how to communicate the greater learning-that which must make its recipients thoroughly conscious that the good is only to be had by paying its price in work and waiting. Learning then becomes self-corrective and understands that it is gifted with no creative power to achieve absolute results, but can only exercise the difficult choice of adapting the best means to relative ends. We heartily recommend this little book to the thoughtful reader as one charged with stimulating and valuable suggestion.

LIFE AND LABOR IN THE FAR WEST; BEING NOTES OF A TOUR IN THE WESTERN States, BRITISH COLUMBIA, MANITOBA, AND THE NORTH-WEST TERRITORY. By W. Henry Barneby. New York: Cassell & Company. This new volume of travel is a pleasant, well-written, unpretentious record of travel on this continent of ours, by an educated, wideawake Englishman. He makes no claim to an exhaustive or dogmatic study, but sets things down just as he finds them. While duly critical, our traveller shows a notable freedom from those prejudices which handicap the judgment of many of our European brethren who come to America to make book. If there are no very profound or luminous observations, there are no malicious ones. The principal interest

in the book is found in the descriptions of life, scenery and industrial development in the Far West, and very often Mr. Barneby is aroused to genuine enthusiasm as he contemplates the wonderful present and the still more wonderful future of the great North-West, both in the United States and British America. While the purpose of the author is rather to give a general description of the region traversed than to carry out any special mission, his observations are full of valuable information concerning labor, land, crops, wages, and other facts which would interest the intending immigrant. To most Americans the chapters treating on British North America will be most interesting, as these facts will of course be fresher than matter relating to Oregon, Washington, Dakota, Montana, etc. Mr. Barneby's tour was cut short by the death of one of his companions, but it was sufficiently extensive to give occasion to a large accumulation of wellpresented facts. The book is, in a mechanicasense, admirable, composition, press-work and binding being everything that could be desired. LIFE ON A RANCHI. RANCH NOTES IN Kansas, COLORADO, THE INDIAN TERRITORY AND NORTHERN TEXAS. By Reginald Aldridge. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

In these days, when the attention of so many young men of ambition, particularly in England, is being turned to the possibilities of cattle-raising in the Far West, the experiences of one who was actually engaged in the business for several years cannot fail to be of interest. The author, a young Englishman, came to this country in 1877, and has since that time been engaged in cattle and sheepraising. His narrative is that of a man who, full of information of a practical and valuable sort, is able to give it in a plain, sensible, compact, yet thoroughly readable, way. Our author, though evidently an educated man, makes no attempt at pretentious writing, and is a good deal more anxious to tell what he knows than to exhibit himself, a characteristic which we wish were far more in vogue among those who write books. Certainly it would not be easy to obtain a more simple, vivid, direct narrative of ranch life than we get here, with its pleasures and annoyances, its profits, advantages and obstacles. Mr. Aldridge has his full share of British pluck and makes light of the troubles he has passed through, but he shows us plainly that the ranchman must have plenty of patience, determination. and hope to pull him through. Given these qualities, some lit.

[blocks in formation]

TEN DAYS IN THE JUNGLE. By J. E. L. Boston: Cupples, Upham & Co.

This little book of travel describes the rich tropical regions of the Malayan Peninsula as seen in a hurried trip by a lady. Descriptions of the splendors of the tropics are always readable if well done, and we can enjoy the mosquitoes and innumerable insects even in type as long as we do not suffer from them. The author travelled mostly by river during her journey, and she paints with an appreciative pencil all the beauties which encompassed her on every side. Several books have been published within a few years on those portions of the East Indies where the Malays are the principal residents, as those regions had been for the most part overlooked by travellers. The author of the little work under notice does not add much to our stock of knowledge, it may be, as the ground has been much more thoroughly traversed by others, but she says what she has to say in a graceful and picturesque

manner.

THE BABY'S GRANDMOTHER. By L. B. Walford. New York: Henry Holt & Company. This is one of the most fresh and delightful stories recently published in English literature, and the skill with which the story is told is fully equal to the novel charm of the conception. The idea of making a young grandmother, who in beauty, tenderness of nature, and vivacity of intellect far surpasses her own staid and prosaic daughter, the mother of the baby, could only come from a person of genius. The group, Lady Matilda Wilmot, and her brothers, Lord Overton, the clumsy, silent, shy but golden-hearted man, and the flighty Teddy, gay, affectionate, but empty-headed, is one which cannot be surpassed in the boldness and brilliancy with which it is drawn. The priggish Lotta and her pedantic ass of a husband are hardly less well sketched, and they set off the more attractive figures with the force of an antithesis which the author seems to have carefully studied. All these figures revolve around

the young grandmother, the lovely, fascinating, delightful Lady Matilda, who captures our hearts immediately, and holds them in the hollow of her hand from first to last. The nexus of the story is evolved from the events of the baby's christening, where the two godfathers, Challoner and Whewell, immediately proceed to fall in love with Lady Matilda. It is in the relations of the former of these admirers to the heroine that the story mainly consists. Challoner is a curious mixture of strength and weakness, and we feel there is something queer about him from the first. That his heart goes out to the "Baby's Grandmother" at once is evident, and we quickly suspect that Lady Matilda is also conscious of a similar weakness on her own part. We wonder that Challoner, who is for some time invalided at Overton House, should fight so desperately and remorsefully against his passion, till we learn that he is already the betrothed husband of another woman. At last he ceases to struggle, and all but tells his lovely mistress that he loves her. She knows he loves, and wonders that he should hold back. Her soliloquy apropos of this is a delightful bit, and is a good sample of the general quality of the book:

"What am I to think-what am I to think ?'-Lady Matilda had dismissed her maid, and was musing over her fire ere she went to bed upon the Christmas Eve whereof so much has already been narrated. 'What am I to think?' was the refrain of all her puzzled, happy, foolish thoughts. In reality she imagined she knew very well what to think; but somehow it pleased her to be perplexed and discomposed, and affectedly vexed, and secretly more charmed with Challoner than ever. Bold, heartless, presuming man-craven caitiff-to dare so much, to stop so short; villain-coward—by turns she flouted him for this, by turns for that in very truth, she had never thought aught became him better than those extremes of presumption and modesty, those alternations betwixt forwardness and backsliding. She had heard his breathing short and thick, had caught the broken whisper, marked the catch in the throat, and felt the clasp of the hand. She had seen the revulsion, the struggle, the resolution growing apace; and then what the humility of the man doubtless termed the hold regained over his runaway passions, but which she, so superior in her knowledge of all, and contempt of all, scouted as the unwelcome and unnecessary and tiresome and provoking voice of an inward mentor, who ought by this time to have had his mouth stopped. 'Really, I can show him no more plainly than I do,' mused she, half sighing, half smiling; 'really, my dear Mr. Challoner, it is very pretty to see you look so lugubrious, and very touching and pathetic to hear your voice tremble and shake, and to watch you force down your throat again the kind words and accents that will come up when poor Matilda is by. He is in love-I'd stake every womanly power I have, the man is in love. He does all he can do, he says all that he can say, short of the thing, the one thing. Opportunities? He has had hosts of opportunities: he has opportunities at every turn; this whole evening was one long opportunity. Were

we not together, always together, often alone together? He never left me for above a few minutes at a time, and

characters are strongly and brightly drawn, but Lady Matilda, in her tenderness, buoyancy, then only when I sent him. I sent him for the pleasure sprightliness, her courage, truth and simplicity,

of seeing him return. I could not discover so obscure a nook to fly to, but what he would track me instantly and follow; I could not be tired but he would rest too. And then he held my hand, and kissed it twice. Yes, he kissed it just here, and held the place afterward. What right had he to hold it and yet not a word, not a single word? Oh,' with a burst, 'I like his silence-I love his silence. His silence is more, a thousand times more to me, than any other man's speech. He shall be silent, silent as the grave, silent forevermore, if so he pleases, once he has spoken out. Poor man,' mocking, 'puor— dear-blind man. Matilda is too good for you, is she? Too beautiful, too rich, too highly born? Oh dear, yes, she is all that, we know very well; but stop a little, my friend, you will find she is too clever also. You are not clever, Mr. Challoner-not particularly clever, at least; and certainly you are not beautiful, and probably you are not rich. I wonder what you are, or why I-Pshaw! you shall speak, sir; I say you shall. You have no right now to hold your tongue, and hang your head, and put your finger in your mouth like a baby. Baby? It is I that am the baby to let him play with me thus. He sees, he knows his power, and abuses it. He shall not, he shall not, excitedly; 'I-oh, if I can but preserve this bold heart when I am with him, if I can but keep a merry heart and tongue, and cheat him with my face. Let me seecan it be that I have been too soft and yielding? Perhaps I have. Then how remedy the damage? Coquet with another? But there is no one else to coquet with except Robert, and one might as well dance round a tombstone. No, no; no coquetting. No; I must be all in all to myself and by myself. I will amuse myself, be good friends with myself, and have no need of any one but myself. I will send the gentlemen about their business. It will be fit for them to go out of doors to-morrow; but it shall be too cold, or too wet, or too early, or too late, or too anything, for me. They will have to excuse me. Then I will-shall I have a headache? But a headache of that kind is missyish and vulgar; headache is unbecoming. too, and troublesome to manage. So I will be just myself -myself as I am when this wicked Jem Challoner is not by; a much better self in reality than the self that appears for him -a silly, subdued shadow of the real Matilda. What can he see in her to fancy, I wonder? But these mild, soft-eyed impostors, these abominable, hypocritical, make-believes of men, one never knows what they do not see. Well, Mr. Challoner, you have done so well that you deserve to do better still; and so, to bed, Matilda, my dear,' gayly saluting the mirror as she passed, 'Goodnight, my poor, little, ill-used, tormented, tantalized Matilda-enter to-morrow morning, her Ladyship.'"

When Lady Matilda, through the blundering intervention of brother Teddy and the malicious Whewell learns the treachery of her lover, she is heartbroken, and dismisses him, as she supposes, forever. The deus ex machina is found in the death of Challoner's fiancée, a pretty, wholesome, but uninteresting English girl, and the good sense of Lord Overton, through whom Challoner, his friend, and Lady Matilda are reconciled. This is but a tame indication of the charm and delightsomeness of a book as fresh and dewy as a June rose. All the

has few characters in fiction to equal her. The book has humor and vivacity, with pathos and enough tragedy to relieve its lighter portions. The narrative is quiet and not very eventful, but it has the charm of flowing logically out of the clash and collision of character. If this novel does not materially enhance the reputation of Mrs. Walford, we shall be very much mistaken.

ANNOUCHKA. A Tale. By Ivan Sergheievitch Turgeneff. Translated from the French of the Author's own translation, by Franklin Abbott. Boston: Cupples, Upham & Co. Any new translation from Turgeneff will hardly fail to be welcomed by people of literary taste, yet we do not believe that the masses of English-reading novel-readers care much for the man whose genius stands among the first of the century. The utter simplicity and delicacy of his treatment of elemental passion, the shrinking and illusive characters of his people and descriptions, his utter scorn of all the.ordinary tricks of the novel-writer, raise him out of the atmosphere of the ordinary reader. The book under notice, though not one of his greatest, has the distinguishing qualities of his genius. There are but three characters, and the story is only a sketch, but it is full of the tragedy of suffering. The girl Annouchka, whose timid and selfish lover, innocently aided by her brother-who errs from an excess of virtuebreaks her heart by his calculating pride, is a charming and tender picture, painted with all that freshness and delicacy of color which the Russian novelist had at command. The book is rather a short story than a novel proper, as it is not much longer than a magazine tale; the characters are painted in a few broad strokes of the brush; the action is almost nothing; yet the spell of genius is on it all, and the imagination lingers over the pictures given by the author with a pleasure not the less for the sadness with which it is dashed.

FOREIGN LITERARY NOTES.

THE new volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica will contain an article on 66 Palmyra" by Prof. Robertson Smith, in which the story of Zenobia will be rewritten by the light of the Aramaean and Greek inscriptions, and of the coins that have recently come to light.

THE Municipal Council has lately undertaken the task of giving names to a large number of streets at Paris. Among French names selected are those of George Sand, Sainte-Beuve, Gustave Doré, Henri Martin, and Cavaignac. But it is more remarkable that several foreigners have been chosen for this distinction, including Darwin and Faraday, Heine and Peter the Great.

THE University of Heidelberg has declined the offer of 100,000 marks because of a condition accompanying it that ladies should be permitted to study at the university.

THE patriotic poetess "Anna," whose real name was Madame Anna Kristiane Ludvigsen, died at Tinglev, in Denmark, on the 27th ult., at the age of ninety. Her songs on the Schleswig-Holstein question were popular with hundreds who had no idea that their author was a retired old lady living on her estate in the south of Jutland. Her maiden name was Lauterup.

For the recent examination for the degree of baccalauréat ès lettres at Paris, three women presented themselves, and all three were successful. One was Mdlle. Lemoine, the two others were the daughters of M. de Vacaresco (Roumanian minister in Belgium), of whom the elder is not yet nineteen. Out of eightyeight candidates of the other sex, as many as forty failed.

THE Wargawsky Drewnik, the official journal of the Russian Government at Warsaw, publishes a list of books which may not be taken in at the public libraries. In this novel Index, by the side of Zola, Lassalle, Karl Marx, Louis Blanc, and Büchner, are to be found also the names of Herbert Spencer and Huxley.

THE Copyright of Heine's poems having just expired, the public is likely to reap the benefit. A Vienna publishing firm announces an illustrated edition of his works in about ninety parts, at sixpence each; and the former publisher of Heine, Messrs. Hoffmann & Campe, promise to bring on a popular edition of his collected works, together with his recently discovered Memoirs and a Life by Dr. Gustave Karpeles, at the price of ten shillings.

ENGLISH and American schoolmasters ought to be thankful that they do not live under the paternal government of Prince Bismarck's curassiers. Dr. Deecke, equally distinguished as a scholar and as the director of the Lyceum at Strasburg, recently published a little book called Plaudereien über Schule und Haus. In this he pointed out one or two particulars in which

he thought the present school system of Germany might be improved. General Manteuffel, Governor of Alsace, at once took the alarm, accused him of undermining the authority of the Government, and Dr. Deecke has now been removed to a small town in the Vosges. It is understood that Ultramontane influence has dictated this high-handed measure.

By an imperial decree recently promulgated, one hundred and twenty-five works of various authors (some of them the foremost of the day) have been prohibited in the public libraries and reading rooms of Russia. Among the names enumerated in the alphabetical list which has been circulated, it is curious to note the following: Agassiz, Arnould, Büchner, Huxley, Lecky, Michelet, Bagehot, Zola, Lassalle, Lubbock, L. Blanc, Lewis, Lyell, Marx, Mill, Moleschott, Prudhon, Rochefort, Reclus, Adam Smith, Spencer.

The death is announced at the age of eightysix of Dr. A. Jung, of Königsberg, once a popular writer and one of the leaders of "Junge Deutschland."

"WE may communicate," says the Academy, "a few more details in regard to Dr. Schliemann's important discoveries at Tiryns. The walls of the prehistoric palace he has disinterred there are formed of limestone and clay; the latter has been turned into brick by the action of fire, while the stone has been burned into lime. In some places the surface of the walls had been coated with stucco, on which traces of painting can still be observed. The colors used in these paintings are black, red, blue, yellow, and white; and Prof. Virchow has pointed out that the blue is composed of pulverized glass mixed with copper, but without cobalt. One of the paintings represents the same pattern as that found on the roof of the thalamos attached to the Treasury of Minyas at Orchomenos. Another depicts a man riding on an ox, whose tail he holds. The artist has made three attempts to draw the tail, and has forgotten to obliterate the two unsuccessful ones. The paintings have been carefully removed and sent to Athens. Among the ruins of the palace twenty-seven bases of limestone columns have been discovered, but no drums, besides a sandstone capital in the old Doric style. The chambers of the building were full of objects of all kinds, including pottery, obsidian knives, rude hammers of diorite, and grapestones. No iron has been met with, and but little metal of any sort, though lead is relatively plentiful. All traces of writing are equal

« AnteriorContinuar »