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England, whether it comes into the story or not. The New England that appears in it is evidently drawn from boyhood memories; but the mere fact that the village remembered is a Baptist and Methodist village, shows that it is not to be considered in the least a typical one, for these denominations -except, indeed, in Rhode Island-formed an inconsiderable part of New England's population at the time of the story, and did not give the characteristic color to its society. A great deal of stress is laid upon the decay of the New England village, which is credited largely to bigotry; but, in view of the way in which many towns in the middle West thrive upon this same bigotry, it is not worth while to join issue upon the point. The preface is well worth reading, for the sake of the author's ingenuous exposition of the trouble he had with his plot.
We judge A Social Experiment1 to be a first book. We do not think it a very pleasant one, but as we have already said, the novels of the season do not run to pleasantness and peace. It deals with a young factory girl, who was "taken up" by a capricious lady of fashion for her innocent beauty and delicate nature, made a social success, and then dropped, to the shattering of all her schemes of life. The moral is intended to be the cruelty of the patroness, and the careless selfishness of the girl in trying to separate herself from her duties in that walk of life whereto it had pleased the Lord to call her; but, in fact, the thing that spoiled her life was the selfish urgency of a rustic lover, who entrapped her into a secret marriage before she had entered the great world. The author's sympathies are—we think erroneously-given to the lover. The story contains impossibilities-first, in the rapidity and completeness with which the factory girl could be transformed into a refined and intelligent lady; and second, in such a lady's recovering -even at the point of death-the capacity of contentment in her other life. Yet it is well and prettily written.
2 Maruja. By Bret Harte. Boston and New York:
One ought to find something much better Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in San Fran
cisco by Chilion Beach.
1 A Social Experiment. By A. E. P. Searing. York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1885. sale in San Francisco by Chilion Beach.
when he comes to Bret Harte and Julian Hawthorne; but the novels of both these gentlemen now before us are far from leaving a sense of satisfaction. Both begin with the skillful handling that in the first dozen words reveals the touch of a man who knows how to write; and both leave us possessed of little besides good writing, when all is done. Mr. Harte's Maruja shows more than any previous book a falling-off in the vividness of his memory of California, and the plot is rather whimsical than dramatic. Yet, there is an endless picturesqueness in everything he does, an effectiveness in grouping of people, and incidents, and scenery, an intelligence and keen perception in the touches of satire (for satire it always is, rather than pure bumor-Mr. Harte takes the attitude of cov ertly ridiculing the world even when he sentimentalizes), which makes one like to read the book, and even to read it again, in spite of his recognition that it is essentially worth little. Mr. Hawthorne has not nearly so high a degree of literary power, and, accordingly, the graces of his story do not so nearly excuse its vices. He almost invariably begins a book in a peculiarly graceful and engaging tone, an echo of his own father and still more of Thackeray, an air of one bred in the very best traditions of the novelist's art; sketches in his characters in outline with a firm and pleasant touch, and foreshadows an excellent plot; and then "flats out" (to use an expressive old phrase), weakens and destroys his characters in the development, substitutes bizarre fancy for sustained invention in plot, and ends with some weak and sensational catastrophe. Love, or a Name has these virtues in a lower degree than usual, and these vices in a higher degree. It has some uncommonly disagreeable incidents, and leaves an unpleasant impression. The theme is a gigantic political plot, by which a gentleman of unbounded wealth and ability, who represents the best school of American statesmanship, proposes to secretly and fraud
8 Love, or a Name. By Julian Hawthorne. Boston: Ticknor & Co.
ulently capture the government, and convert it from a democracy to a dictatorship, in the interest of virtue and purity, which are lost under the present system; and this scheme, on the eve of success, is thwarted by the seduction of his high-bred and accomplished daughter, out of revenge, by a coarse, unattractive subordinate, whom he had offended. The story comes down about the reader's ears in a crash of suicide, despair, and destruction, from which the couple whose love affairs have been wound up in the course of events emerge free and happy. There is neither serious politics nor serious art about it all.
From Mr. Hawthorne's prententious undertakings and weak completions, we turn with real relief to Nora Perry's modest and charming little story, For a Woman. It is among novels what her verses are among poetry. It is fresh, healthy, and refined; has plenty of feeling, yet nothing dramatic; and is, we think, correct and wise in its reading of life and love. Its very completeness within its own degree excludes much comment. It is not one of the books that "every one should read"; but it is one that a great many people should, and we refer our readers to the story itself for farther knowledge of it.
Two collections of short stories, Color Studies, and A Lone Star Bopeep contain much that is good. Color Studies consists of the four stories which the author contributed to the "Century." Their trick consists in the use of names of colors for the characters, as Rose Madder," "Vandyke Brown"; which, as they are all about artists and are located in studios, and full of their shop talk, is a neat one, and proved taking. Of the four, "Jaune d'Antimoine" is the only one that has, apart from these ingenuities, much merit, but it is good enough to carry the rest. They are all written with a playful manner that is occasionally overdone, 1 For a Woman. By Nora Perry. Boston: Ticknor
& Co. 1885.
2 Color Studies. By Thomas A. Janvier. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
A Lone Star Bopeep, and Other Tales of Texas Ranch Life. By Howard Seely. New York: W. L. Mershon & Co. 1885.
but for the most part not unpleasant. stories of the other collection are of Texas ranch-life. The imitation of the Harte school is obvious, but not altogether successful. Harte's finer qualities of manner are not caught, while a certain burlesque tone, which he himself imitated from Dickens, is exaggerated. Thus: "I may remark parenthetically at this point that the gentlemanly proprietor of the Eden Saloon, as aggregating in his collective individuality the functions of hotel-proprietor, bar-keeper, and gambler, typified in the mind of Penelope the serpent of Biblical story, with the general outlines of whose disreputable advice to confiding womanhood and subsequent depressing influence upon mankind in general, she was mistily familiar." Now, this sort of thing is false style, whether Dickens, or Harte, or a young disciple writes it. It is bad because it is cumbrous and hard to read, and worse because it is artificial; and that it is more or less clever does not altogether excuse it the author should manage to keep the cleverness and avoid the cumbrousness and artificiality. Like the sample, the stories are clever and somewhat artificial ; they are vigorous and picturesque, jocose in their prevailing tone, and pressed down and overrunning with local color, much of which seems excellently caught. They do not always keep on the safe side of the line in their jocose treatment of the rowdy element. "A Wandering Melibaus" is beyond comparison the best of them as a study, and the most sincere.
Of all the uncomfortable stories of the season, the palm lies with As it was Written. It is a very well-written thing, but ghastly and repulsive in plot. Any one who does not mind this, will find it quite worth his while to read it. It is said to resemble "Called Back," and perhaps it does in manner, but the melodrama of "Called Back" is child's play to the gloomy effort of As it was Written after the utmost tragedy conceivable. Not that the story is of a noisy sort; it is very quiet. It claims to be a story of the
4 As it Was Written. A Jewish Musician's Story. By Sidney Luska. New York: Cassell & Co. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
Jewish quarter of New York, and interesting as a study of Jewish life; but there is no study of manners or life about it. The motive is supernatural, and the Jewish element merely incidental. Scarcely less unpleasant than As it was Written, and even better told, is A Wheel of Fire. This is by an author already more or less known. Its subject is hereditary insanity, and the worrying into madness of a lovely girl by the very fear of it, intensified by the question whether she might or might not marry, her lover and her love and her scruples and the conflicting advice of doctors tearing her to and fro in an agony of doubt which it is harrowing to read of. The gradual steps by which the beautiful young creature was fairly forced into the doom which she might have escaped are only too well told; and so real is Damaris made, and so lovely, that the reader perforce follows her story with painful interest, and cannot reconcile himself to the final catastrophe. The surroundings an ancestral home of the bluest blood in New England, with all its picturesque accompanimentsare well drawn, and the sombreness is a little relieved by a subordinate pair of lovers who come out all right. There are some unusually well-said things in it. For instance: "This power of human nature to suffer has so stamped itself upon the consciousness of mankind, it has so deeply penetrated the very inmost soul of the race, that there is scarcely a mythology which does not insist upon the incarnation of deity in the flesh, as the only means by which even omniscience could obtain a just appreciation of the intolerable anguish of human existence." Good, too, is the mention of "a Wainwright of the last century, who had broken his neck while fox-hunting on the estates of an English cousin, a method of leaving this world which had commended itself to his contemporaries as so eminently respectable, that his memory still preserved in the family the aroma of clever achievement."
Still other two uncomfortable stories are
1 A Wheel of Fire. By Arlo Bates. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Samuel Carson & Co.
Andromeda and Criss-Cross. They are not nearly so bad as the two just noticed, however, involving no madness nor despair, but only heart-breaks. In Andromeda, the Italian hero, who is the most noble of men, and has all his life had his own happiness postponed to that of others, and bestowed much affection and received little, finds personal happiness at last come to him in the form of an English sweetheart, whom he soon has to renounce, finding that her heart has strayed to his nearest friend. The story is well told, but not so well as to make the heart-break very painful to the reader. CrissCross, though less mature, is more effective. It is instructive to note that this is Miss Litchfield's third book only, since she made a hit, in a small way, with a first one, some two years since; while in considerably less time since her hit with "The House on the Marsh," Florence Warden has run her books up to five. Miss Litchfield's writing, we think, improves; and the genuine study which she puts into it is evident. Criss-Cross is a study of a flirt-a subject to which the author has before given attention, and with very fair success; but this time she has done it with more than fair success. We doubt if there is anywhere as delicate, penetrating, and complete a study of the genus flirt. Miss Litchfield has caught admirably the lovableness which makes this class of women so dangerous; the baffling union of sweetness with the coolest selfishness; the temporary reality in them of the feelings which a shallower observer would say they pretend; the puzzling genuineness of their falsehoods. Mr. Black made a very good study of the type in "Shandon Bells," and it is testimony to the accuracy of both studies that they coincide in so many traits, too subtle for imitation to be possible. But "Freddie" is a more typical specimen than "Kitty." It is the more to Miss Litchfield's credit that she should draw her so justly
2 Andromeda. By George Fleming. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Samuel Carson & Co.
3 Criss-Cross. By Grace Denio Litchfield. New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Chilion Beach.
and appreciatively, because she does not at all approve of her. Her sympathies are entirely with the good, earnest girl who loves one only, but whom she makes rather more sentimental than is attractive. The moral of the book is the cruelty and wickedness of flirting, and it is well emphasized; but preaching the cruelty and wickedness of her sport will never reform a flirt; to make her see its vulgarity is the only way to reach a vulnerable point in the vain little soul. We do not think that "Freddie" would, in fact, have refused Davenant; still less that Lucy would have finally discarded him-though she would probably have done so very positively for a while, to yield at last to the pressure that he, if he knew anything of women's hearts, would have brought to bear. When women really and irretrievably love men, they do not renounce them for a notion. But it would have blunted the point of Miss Litchfield's moral if Lucy had been thus human.
luxuriant, full of sentiment and lavish dic-
It is very gratifying, too, to be able to say, after all the wonderful work Mr. Howells has done, that perhaps his last book is the best of all. It is always possible to criticise Howells: to say that he sometimes oversteps the line of good taste; that he is at bottom cynical and never heartily sympathizes with his characters, and so fails to catch in his stories the final glow of secret fire that would make them great and very great. But it is much better to appreciate what Mr. Howells is, than to seek out the few things that he is not. He is the most significant figure in American literature today, and still on the up-grade; he is the man who has given American nove writing its standing; who has achieved some virtues of insight and of expression that are new to literature. It is impossible to do justice to the precision and perfection with which he "takes off"
1 The Bar Sinister. A Social Study. New York: Cassell & Co. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by A. every-day life and speech; and more than that, L. Bancroft & Co.
Of a decidedly lower literary quality is The Bar Sinister.1 It is a novel with a purpose, intended to be the Uncle Tom's Cabin of Mormonism. It has not, however, sufficient merit to accomplish very much in the way of rousing people. It is fairly well told; but a story must be more than fairly well told to be much of a reforming power. It is not so violent in setting down all Mormons as depraved brutes as previous books have been, but it adds really nothing new to any one's comprehension of the question, and does not even touch upon its most difficult elements.
The two most important novels of the year are yet to be mentioned-The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains and The Rise of Silas Lapham.3 Both are books of real significance in literary history. They make a curious contrast: the Southern woman's,
he has only to turn his scrutiny upon the The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains. By most bare and unromantic phase of life, Charles Egbert Craddock. Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in San Fran- and the reader sees it in its true light, as it
cisco by Chilion Beach.
The Rise of Silas Lapham. By William D. Howells. Boston: Ticknor & Co. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Strickland & Pierson.
appears to the one that is living it. When was the romance of business-the anxiety and pain and desire that do, in fact, make
business life almost as full of human emotion as love affairs-so brought out, as in The Rise of Silas Lapham? Moreover, there is a warmer quality in this than in any previous book-a movement toward the higher plane yet, that his admirers have always longed to see him rise to. It must be granted that The Rise of Silas Lapham ends unsatisfactorily the general criticism to that effect seems to us just. The enthusiasm and in terest with which the reader follows it along, receive an impalpable chill in the last chapter. It is hard to say why, for the conclusion is well judged; but there seems to be a relaxation of the author's own interest-the writing sounds if he had grown tired of his characters, and meant to hustle them out of the way as soon as he could, and had done it a little too hastily for dignified exit from the stage. Nor can we acquiesce in his handling of one minor point-the giving the sympathy of third parties to the sister who openly took a man's suit for granted without warrant, instead of to the one who had kept silence, and allowed her sister to arrogate to herself the lover whom both desired. Mr. Howells's own sympathies are apparently with Penelope, and we think he would have been more true to nature if he had turned those of all except the parents the same way. It is hard, too, to believe that proud New Eng. land rural people, like the Laphams, would ever have let a suspicion of Irene's discomfiture reach the Coreys. But waiving criticisms, it remains that both the love-romance and the business romance are carried through with an almost unparalleled comprehension of character and feeling, and perfection in expressing them. Lapham himself is, of course, the central figure, and nothing could be more perfect than the rough man of success, all whose gentlemanly virtues at bottom cannot make him agreeable. No social study has ever made so clear the inevitable differentiations that create themselves in even a democratic society.
The new editions of old novels that we mentioned above are of Uncle Tom's Cabin1
1 Uncle Tom's Cabin. By Harriet Beecher Stowe. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co, 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Chilion Beach.
There remains to be noticed a collection of the Saxe Holm Stories,* the popular interest in which has been renewed by Mrs. Jackson's death. No authoritative statement of her authorship of them has been made, but little doubt seems to be felt that she had at least a share in them. To us, it seems that, however unlike her later fiction they undoubtedly are, it cannot be questioned that the same hand was in them and in the "No Name" novels now acknowledged as Mrs. Jackson's. Mercy Philbrick and Draxy Miller are sisters. The insistence upon love of beauty, and upon extreme sensitiveness to impressions, are identical in the acknowledged and unacknowledged writings. The very details of people's behavior, their ways of adorning their rooms, coincide. The stories are not up to the reputation of "H. H." "Joe Hale's Red Stockings," for a simple trifle, and "How One Woman kept her Husband," for a wise and powerful bit of fact or fiction, are simply and strongly told. But the rest, though they always possess some good qualities, have more or less crudity and a sort of unreal attitude. There are dreadful bits of bad taste in dress and furnishing, as in the dress embroidered with a lapful of pond lilies; but these are not without parallel in "Mercy Philbrick's Choice." "H. H." must have been too good a critic not to know that these stories did not represent her real powers, or her deliberate taste.
2 The Scarlet Letter. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Chilion Beach.
8 Père Goriot. By Honoré de Balzac. Boston: Roberts Brothers. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by Samuel Carson & Co.
4 Saxe Holm Stories. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1885.