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Holiday and Children's Books. THE gift-season has so far produced no books equal in sumptuousness to one or two of last year's; but it is still comparatively early. The most elaborate production that we have yet seen is a heavy volume, large enough to be taken at first sight for a handsome edition of Holmes's complete works, which proves to be devoted to "The Last Leaf" and illustrations thereof. With heavy card-board pages, printed on one side only, and unlimited decoration, the little poem expands to incredible proportions. Leaving out of account frontispiece, decorated title page, etc., the contents begin with a fac-simile of the poem in Dr. Holmes's own hand--not from the original copy, which has doubtless been long out of existence, but from a re-copy made expressly for this book. This facsimile, enclosed in decorative margins, occupies three pages; twenty full page illustrations follow, each faced by a page containing a highly decorated presentation of the line or word illustrated; three more pages enclose within like margins a little "history of the poem," from Dr Holmes-that is to say, a little amiable reminiscence about it. The illustrations, by George Wharton Edwards and F. Hopkinson Smith, are both beautiful and unique, making this artistically an unusual gift-book. Their appropriateness is sometimes more to be questioned than their purely artistic merit, and the connection between text and picture occasionally of the shadowiest. Dr. Holmes's account of the poem mentions that it "was suggested by the sight of a figure well known to Bostonians," in the early thirties, "that of Major Thomas Melville, the last of the cocked hats,' as he was sometimes called. . . . He was often pointed at as one of the Indians' of the famous Boston TeaParty' of 1774." It seems that some readers have, rather unaccountably, been puzzled by the lines
"The last leaf upon the tree
and Dr. Holmes feels obliged to explain that "His aspect among the crowds of the later generation reminded me of a withered leaf which had held its
stem through the storms of autumn and winter, and finds itself still clinging to its bough, while the new growths of spring are bursting their buds and spreading their foliage all around it." The artists have made no especial effort to bring out this contrast, and, perhaps finding artistic difficulties in introducing nineteenth century people to their pages at all, have kept the old Major pacing lonely streets and
1 The Last Leaf. Poem. Oliver Wendell Holmes. Illustrated by George Wharton Edwards and F. Hopkinson Smith. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1886. For sale in San Francisco by Chilion Beach.
lanes, instead of "among the crowds of a later generation." Dr. Holmes explains the change of a "So forlorn" of earlier editions to the line from the "Sad and wan of later ones. The words are cer66 wan--gone is tainly less expressive, and although a true rhyme according to the dictionaries, we believe that most educated speakers outside of Boston do not make it so, but, on the contrary, a worse rhyme than "lorn-gone." The pictures in this book are said to contain many correct and excellent studies of the old graveyards, streets, and houses of
A less ambitious, but still large and handsome, volume is made by illustrating a dozen of Whittier's descriptive poems, under the title of "Poems of Nature."2 A few ballads, which have a background of scenery adapted to landscape illustration, are included among the descriptive poems. full-page illustrations by Elbridge Kingsley are of such subjects as a storm at sea, moonlight on a lake, wide views over hills and valleys, etc. They are all from nature, and a number of them are well-known New England views. They are curiously ineffective in perspective, giving no impression of distance whatever, and they are confused in the outlining of objects: but they are strong in effects of light and shadow, and very expressive of motion-the branches of trees in a wind, the driving of rain, the rolling of clouds, the waves of the sea.
Lieutenant Schwatka's book, Nimrod in the North, was out before the holiday season had come very near, and is illustrated, though profusely, with plain wood engravings, of medium quality. But its matter, and especially its cover (whereon, upon a pale green ground, the great letters of the title drip with silver gilt icicles, and heads of seal and musk-ox and other arctic decoration occupy all available space) decide us to class it among holiday books. As its title indicates, it is concerned with the sportsman's
side of Arctic travel-the hunting of the polar bear,
the seal and sea-horse, the reindeer, the musk-ox, the fox, the wolverine, and the various sea-fowl; fishing, too, is made to come under the title. It is not a mere account of hunting experiences, but an account of the Arctic animals and their habits, and the general subject of hunting them, merely illustrated by the Lieutenant's own exploits. There is as much of the naturalist as of the sportsman in it. Of
2 Poems of Nature. By John Greenleaf Whittier Illustrated from Nature, by Elbridge Kingsley. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1886.
3 Nimrod in the North, Hunting and Fishing Adventures in the Arctic Regions. By Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka. New York: Cassell & Co. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
all Arctic explorers, perhaps none has proved so able to turn his experiences into interesting literature as Lieutenant Schwatka. His magazine contributions have already made inost readers familiar with his quality as writer.
To many readers, the best book of the holiday season will be the charmingly illustrated and printed edition of the Rudder Grange papers.1 The illustrations are not the same through which we originally made acquaintance with Pomona and the boarder and Lord Edward, so that it takes a little mental readjustment to think these old friends under the new forms; but they are genuine illustrations, not decorations. They are unpretentious enough, and subordinated, as they should be, to the text. It is a real pleasure to have these scattered papers brought together in convenient book form. Nothing more delightful has ever been done in the line of domestic humor; if humor it can be called-the subtle mellow quality that pervades Mr. Stockton's unique and remarkable work. Nothing of the same quality has ever been done by any one else, nor even thought of, except of late by his imitators.
Miss Kate Sanborn supplies, in a very handsomely printed volume (much in the style of Miss Cleveland's book) a collection of illustrations of The Wit of Women. It is a familiar dogma that women are lacking in sense of humor. Miss Sanborn thinks this a fallacy, and has brought together a book of samples to prove her point That "women have no sense of humor " is easily enough refuted; that they have, as a whole, less than men, is too certain to be refuted. There seems no essential reason why this should be so, and it is probably a merely temporary phenomenon. Humor is evidently on the increase, both in literature and in society; and men, who are usually lighter-hearted and in better physical health, besides having much more of informal social intercourse in the way of business, etc., quite naturally learned it first. The alternation of seclusion with conventional society, the more harassing and fretting nature of her occupations, have retarded the development in woman. A confirmation of this view, so strong as almost to amount to demonstration, may be had by looking about us and noting two facts: first, that the two great schools of humor are the college, and the unaffected intercourse of business; and second, that most of the humor that goes back and forth among men on street and train, in mining-camp or stock exchange, is merely jocosity-all the perception of subtle relations involved in it would be possible to most women, but the light-hearted enjoyment of the perception would come very much less easily to them. One may even go a step farther in the demonstration, and note the increase of the jocose
habit among college girls. Miss Sanborn makes a suggestion that sounds rather wicked, but is not absolutely without foundation: that women suppress their wit, and pretend to be more stupid than they are, in order to flatter men. Certainly, wherever men have distinctly indicated an admiration for witty women, there has been no lack in the supply. In literature, women seem to excel in the creation of purely humor. ous character in fiction, and men in the creation of droll and farcical characters, in light humorous essay, and in sheer laughter-compelling fun-all of which is corroborative testimony that the difference is due to the greater light-heartedness of men.
The artists' competition for Prang's prizes for holiday-card designs has been suspended for a year or two, because the artists objected to being “mixed up with" so much amateur work. This year it was renewed, by the promise of Messrs. Prang & Co. to confine competition to "a limited number of artists of recognized ability and mutual esteem" (the italics are ours, and are intended to convey our appreciation of some difficult steering that must have fallen to the enterprising publishers). This arrangement produced paintings from twenty-two leading artists. Prizes for the four "most popular" were awarded by vote of the art dealers of New York, and resulted as follows: First prize ($1,000) to C. D. Weldon, for a design by Will H. Low, representing a child's ideal of Christmas; second prize ($500) for a design representing the nativity, with singing angels; third prize ($300) for a design by Thomas Moran, representing a Christmas angel hovering over a medieval city by night; fourth prize ($200) for a design of children's faces, by Fred Dielman. The remaining designs were then submitted in Boston to popular vote, and the one which received the suffrages there proved to be the same that the New York dealers had ranked next after the four prize cards. It is a figure-card by Miss Humphreys, something in the Greenaway style, with an exceedingly happy child-figure. It is called "The Boston Card." Among the less pretentious cards, there is a steady and gratifying increase in artistic qualities; and in child and animal groups, bird-flights, and symbolic figures, a very considerable originality. It would seem to be impossible to devise new combinations in these lines, but it has been done. With flowers, on the contrary, little that is at once novel and pretty has proved possible. The folding calendars, all of which illustrate in various ways the four seasons, are very happy; and there is the usual appendix to the card-collection of "artprints of satin "-sachet-cases, hand-screens, etc.
Children, or rather young boys and girls, are especially well treated this year by the issue of a group of large and handsome books of real interest and no flimsy character. Pliny for Boys and Girls is the last of a trio of volumes selected from classical
3 Pliny for Boys and Girls. By John S. White. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
writers by the same editor for young people, Plutarch and Herodotus being the two preceding ones. Perhaps of the three, Pliny is best adapt ed to the purpose. Most of the extracts here made are zoological; but a few of the miscellaneous subjects, such as "Mirrors," "Artists who Painted with the Pencil," "Silver," are included. Footnotes warn the young reader wherever the author's natural history is not to be trusted, except in the places where it is so preposterous as to need no contradictions. These would not be warning enough for little children, but in older boys and girls such a book must waken a sympathetic interest in the subjects treated, and respect for them, because of that which was taken in them so long ago by the fine old Roman warrior, statesman, and scholar. The two letters of the younger Pliny, the one describing his uncle's habits of study, the other giving Tacitus the account of his death are prefixed.
Another excellent book of the same sort is The Travels of Marco Polo.1 The original text has been followed as closely as possible, abridgement of course being made wherever it seemed desirable. essary notes of explanation and comment have been worked in by means of a 'Young Folks' Reading and Geographical Society," which is supposed to be engaged in the study of Marco Polo. We scarcely like these devices. It would seem as if young people, like their elders, if they are reading in good earnest, ought to prefer to take information frankly in the form of straightforward notes, rather than smuggled in under guise of what Frank asked and the doctor answered; but it is a matter of individual taste; and the persistent use of the method, ever since Mrs. Barbauld's days, would seem to indicate that it has been found successful. The book contains map, portrait, and abundant pictures.
Marvels of Animal Life contains accounts of the curious and outlandish types among fishes and reptiles, such as dry land fishes, but also of some of the little-known marvels among our commoner species. Extinct species are also described, where they throw light upon present ones. The sea-serpent question is discussed, with verdict on the whole favorable to the existence of the creature; and also the story of snakes swallowing their young by way of giving them a temporary refuge from danger. This story is vigorously combated by people who ought to know; and though the present author makes quite a fair showing of evidence as to the swallowing of their young, he does not bring much on the crucial point -that of their coming out alive again when the danger is overpast. It is a story which might better have been omitted from a children's book, until eith
1 The Travels of Marco Polo, for Boys and Girls. With Explanatory Notes and Comments of Thomas W. Knox. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
2 Marvels of Animal Life. By Charles Frederick
Holder. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by A. L. Bancroft & Co.
er it had been relegated to the region of popular myth, or its inherent incredibility had been crushed by weight of unmistakable evidence. The pictures throughout the book are excellent and attractive.
A series of papers from one of the young folks' magazines are now collected into a volume under the title Historic Boys. Beginning with Marcus Amicus Verus, afterwards the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, they come down through the middle ages to Ixtlil of Tezcuco, "the boy cacique," Louis of Bourbon, Charles of Sweden, and Rensselaer, "the boy patroon." They are thrown into narrative form, and do not despise legend, nor refuse to adorn the outline of the story with fictitious conversations and incidents; but as they are expressly said to be only "based on history," this is entirely legitimate. The "dozen young fellows" selected are all boys whom character or circumstance made men of mark before they went out of their teens. The pictures are especially good.
To say that The Satin-Wood Box is by J. T. Trowbridge is to say that it is a good boys' story. Nevertheless, it is not remarkably good as compared with his best work of the sort. It is a satisfaction to every real friend of young boys and girls, to see the Oliver Optic school yield place to the Trowbridge school of writing. We fear the records of libraries would still show a great preponderance in numbers of the Optic books read; nevertheless, it seems to casual observation certain that the tide is setting away from them, and toward that sort of story-writing of which Trowbridge was one of the earliest, and remains one of the very best writers. The union of entire refinement and simplicity with a never-failing ability to entertain, is the distinctive virtue of his stories.
In A Little Country Girls Susan Coolidge tells a pleasant story for girls, not without incident, but entirely without plot. It is something on the plan of "An Old-Fashioned Girl," a book whose popularity showed that a definite "story" was not at all necessary to making a successful book for young girls; but that, precisely like their elders, who read Howells, they read more for the study of life-of the life they
themselves live-than for narrative interest. A Litthe Country Girl is a fair representative of this sort of story-writing. It is a story of Newport young-girl life; has pleasant people in it, a good background of Newport in the season, and intelligent and refined talk.
grandmother with his friends, the bear, the coon, the squirrel, the dove, etc. There is something very picturesque and pleasant about it; it has a fair allow ance of humor, too, and a touch of the fascination of the magical and mystical in its friendly and sociable beasts.
But the prettiest child's book of the season is St. Nicholas Songs.1 There are one hundred and twelve of these songs, the words selected from St. Nicholas, the music written by several English and American composers of rank. Eleven are written by Homer N. Bartlett, and eleven by Albert A. Stanley; Leopold Damrosch contributes ten, and J. Remington Fairlamb, Arthur E. Fisher, W. W. Gilchrist, and Samuel P. Warren, each, seven. The binding and print are handsome, the pages adorned with pictures from St. Nicholas, and the songs musically good. design of the collection is to replace much of the children's music now in existence by something which shall be at once of really high quality, and specifically for children. Sentiment and pathos are avoided altogether, and child-fancies, lullabies, etc., have almost exclusive place. By what right Aldrich's "Bronze-brown Eyes" is in the collection, we do not know; but no one will grudge it the space. The music is intended to be, and is, for the most part, closely interpretative of the words. There is not much originality in it, and a decided tone of the German song-writers; but that was to be expected from songs written in this way.
"American Commonwealths." THE earlier volumes of this series, Virginia," Oregon," and "Maryland," give special prominence to certain historical episodes. They are written with clearness and force, particularly the first two, but they do not pretend to be complete histories of the commonwealths in question. Two later volumes, Shaler's Kentucky2 and Cooley's Michigan,3 deal more uniformly with the whole course of events which make up the history of the States. In "Virginia" and "Maryland" are presented certain features of early colonial history; in "Oregon," the acquisition and settlement of the extreme Northwest; in Kentucky and Michigan, the origin and develop ment of two of the great States which were formed by the overflow of population from the original Atlantic colonies. Of the last two volumes, the former has already received the recognition to which its excellence as a well-balanced history of a great commonwealth entitles it; while the latter, in the name of its writer, bears an adequate guarantee that it is not only fitted for a place in the series, but that it will help to fix even a higher standard for the later volumes. Taking the idea of the series to be "to
1 St. Nicholas Songs. Edited by Waldo S. Pratt, New York: Century Company.
2 Kentucky. By N. S. Shaler. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in S. F. by Chilion Beach.
show the growth of the commonwealth, that is, the growth of the forces, social and political, that have combined to produce the several self-governing communities" that make up the Union, Cooley's Michigan comes as near the attainment of the ideal as any volume yet published. It is brief yet compre. hensive. No part overbalances other parts. It is ordered with skill, and shows that remarkable facility of expression which characterizes the author's treatment of questions of law and government.
A passage taken at random from the chapter on "The State and its Elements," shows the writer's ability, also, to describe in fitting language the manners and morals of this simple pioneer society. "The agriculture of the farmers was of the most primitive character; the plow, except the share, was of wood, with a wooden wheel on either side of the long beam, the one small to run on the land side, and the other larger to run in the furrow. Oxen were fastened to this plow by a pole which had a hinged attachment; they were not yoked, but the draught was by thongs or ropes fastened about their horns. A little two-wheeled cart, into which was fastened a pony, or perhaps a cow or steer, was the principal farm vehicle. The early farmers did not appreciate the value of manure in agriculture, and removed it out of their way by dumping it in the river; but they were beginning now to learn in that regard better ways. The houses, for the most part, were of a single story, with a plain veranda in front; and here in pleasant weather would gather the household for domestic labor and social recreation. The houses of the wealthier classes were of hewed logs, with a large chimney occupying the space of a room in the center, and a garret hung with festoons of drying or dried fruits, pumpkins, garlics, onions, and medicinal and culinary herbs. The family washing was done at the river, and the pounding of the clothes was with a little hand mallet, after the method of their ancestors from time immemorial. Everywhere the spinning-wheel was in use, and the madam, with just pride in her deftness, made the clothing for the family. The kitchen was a common gathering room for the family, who liked to see the cooking going on, with pots, and kettles, and spiders, in an open fire-place. Around many of the old farm houses and yards were pickets of cedar ten or twelve feet in height, which were originally planted for defense against the Indians. But the Indians who had their homes about the towns were no longer feared, and were generally nominal Catholics and well treated. The only fastening to the front door of the house was a latch on the inside, which was raised to open the door by a strip of leather or deer's hide run through a hole in the door, and hanging down on the outside." The farmers whose simple manners are thus described were largely of French descent. But in the backwoods, away from the French settlements, where the 'coon-hunt, husking-bees, raising-bees, sleighing parties, and spelling-schools were the sports
8 Michigan. By T. M. Cooley. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in S. F. by Chilion Beach.
and amusements, we recognize our nearer kin. In this society "the morals of the people at this time were better than appearances might indicate. Coarse profanity and vulgarity were heard so often that they failed to shock the hearer, and treating at a public bar was common when friends met, and on all sorts of occasions. But domestic scandals were exceedingly rare, and divorces almost unknown. Society was very primitive, and there was little courtesy and less polish; but there was no social corruption, and parents had faith in each other, and little fear for the morals of their children. The general standard of business integrity was high, and as the time had not yet come when great funds were needed for the purposes of political campaigns, elections were honestly conducted."
In the closing chapter on "The State and the New Union," Professor Cooley speaks from the vantage ground of a great constitutional lawyer. Referring to the rallying cry of the people, and the plat form on which Mr. Lincoln proposed to found the policy of his administration, he ends with this significant paragraph: "The constitution as it is, and the Union as it was,' can no longer be the motto and the watchword of any political party. We may preserve the constitution in its every phrase and every letter, with only such modification as was found essential for the uprooting of slavery; but the Union as it was has given way to a new Union with some new and grand features, but also with some grafted evils which only time and the patient and persevering labors of statesmen and patriots will suffice to eradicate."
The latest volume of the series, Professor Leverett W. Spring's Kansas1 deals with a phase of frontier life which it is not always agreeable to remember. The early history of other States, as Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia, is by no means free from records of hardship and privation, but still the story is rendered attractive by episodes of Arcadian peace and simplicity. This volume, however, with the exception of a few introductory pages and a brief closing chapter, is wholly occupied with the struggle of two fanatical factions for the dominion of the territory. Even under the most skillful treatment, this subject could hardly be endowed with attractive features. But when it is presented in a manner becoming a newspaper report, not even snatches of poetry, though scattered, as they are here, with a profuse hand, can redeem the tale. But there is much more in the
subject than the author has made manifest. What appears here is the bloody work of a great tragedy, but no adequate motive. It is what an eye-witness
would set down; not what an historian would write. The deep cause of action, which makes action intelligible, is not revealed. That the importance of the events is sufficiently appreciated, may be seen in that they are characterized in the sub-title as constituting "the prelude to the war for the Union." In view of
this, the somewhat superficial treatment which they have received appears in the light of a serious defect; and through a lack of deeper inquiry, the author has been unable to set them forth in their true historical perspective. In these respects, it falls conspicuously
below the other volumes of the series.
1 Kansas. By Leverett W. Spring. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885. For sale in S. F. by C. Beach.
But notwithstanding these imperfections and a certain crudeness of style, Professor Spring's studies have led him sufficiently far into the details of this horrible episode of frontier history, to convince him that the truth does not appear from the stand-point of either faction. He grasps, moreover, with cleverness, and states with considerable force, the essential features of some of the leading characters. Take, as an illustration, his characterization of John Brown: "Whatever else may be laid to his charge-whatever rashness, unwisdom, equivocation, bloodiness -- no faintest trace of self-seeking stains his Kansas life. On behalf of the cause which fascinated and ruled him, he was prepared to sacrifice its enemies, and if the offering proved inadequate, to sacrifice himself. He belonged to that Hebraic, Old Testament, iron type of humanity, in which the sentiment of justicenarrowed to warfare upon a single evil, pursuing it with concentrated and infinite hostility, as if it epitomized all the sinning of the universe--assumed an exaggerated importance. It was a type of humanity to which the lives of individual men, weighed against the interests of the inexorable cause, seem light and trivial as the dust of a butterfly's wing. John Brown would have been at home among the armies of Israel that gave the guilty cities of Canaan to the sword, or among the veterans of Cromwell who ravaged Ireland in the name of the Lord."
Cattle Raising on the Plains of North America 2 treats of the past, present, and future of the business of cattle raising in the great cattle country west of the Mississippi, and paints its chances of success and money-making in most glowing colors, giving numerous examples in which men have made immense fortunes in a very few years. The statistics that the author gives do certainly make it look as if it had been a wonderfully profitable line of business in the past, and was now, and would, in all probability, be in the future. But it may be that his estimates of the future will go amiss in two ways. The first and most serious trouble that the cattle men have to
guard against is contagious and epidemic diseases; and their past immunity from these, when the country was supporting only a few wandering and disconnected herds, argues nothing for a time when the grazing land is certain to be taxed to its limit to support the immense herds that will inhabit it in the future. Climate, pure water, and nutritious grasses
2 Cattle Raising on the Plains of North America. By Walter, Baron Von Richthofen. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1885. For sale in San Francisco by James T. White.