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THERE is a certain agreeable and modest school of literature, whose traditions have been better preserved, on the whole, in America than in England. It may be called the Meditative School. In this country, it fairly dates back to the Lay Preacher of Joseph Dennie, and could thence be easily affiliated upon the essayists of Queen Anne's day. But it first rose to conspicuous notice, and in some respects to high-water-mark, in Irving's Sketch Book -a "timid, beautiful book," as John Neal

| a better destiny; for it showed all his graceful ease, with something nearer to thought than he elsewhere gave his readers. Then came the Reveries of a Bachelor, long dear to youths and maids, but quite surpassed in literary execution by some of its author's later works. And now comes Mr. Warner to continue the succession.

Charles Dudley Warner was born September 12, 1829, in the small village of Plainfield, in Western Massachusetts. His father, a farmer, died when the boy was


called it, which was closely followed by Dana's Idle Man. Of these two, the earlier work attracted the more attention, not by reason of its thought, since in this Dana surpassed Irving; nor through the charm of its style alone, but rather from the merit of its delineations of English society, a feature no doubt secondary in the original design of the writer.

In later years, Willis made several efforts in this direction, but they have shared the fate of his other short-lived books, though his Letters from under a Bridge deserved

five years old, and Warner went to a district school in Charlemont, near Plainfield, until he was thirteen. In 1842 his mother removed to Cazenovia, in central New York; there he went to the "Oneida Conference Seminary" and was prepared for Hamilton College, where he graduated. in 1851. He wrote the successful English prize essay of that year; and ventured into print about the same time, being a contributor to the New York Knickerbocker, and then to Putnam's Magazine. He edited, two years later, a Book of Eloquence,

which was published at Cazenovia. He soon Magazine, in 1872, and issued in collective after went to the West and formed a plan form during the same year, he did himself for a monthly magazine to be published at more ample justice. A comparison of the Detroit. This project was abandoned be- two works plainly shows that though My cause of the failure of the proposed pub- Summer in a Garden may have a pleasant lisher; and Warner then joined a survey- taste of the soil that is wanting in its succesing party on the Missouri frontier, where sor, and though, as often happens, the earhe remained for some time. Returning at lier book is the more wholly unconscious length to New York, he devoted several in its tone, yet the step from the one months to special studies at the Astor to the other is, in reality, a step from bookLibrary, and then began his preparation making to literature, or, as Joubert phrases for the bar, to which he was admitted, it, from masonry to architecture. at Philadelphia, —in 1856.

He entered at once on the practice of his profession, in Chicago, where he remained until 1860, when he became assistant editor of the Hartford, Ct., Press. He was afterwards editor-in-chief; and when the Press was merged in the Courant, in 1867, he became assistant editor and partial proprietor of that journal. In 1868-9 he spent fourteen months in Europe, writing letters and essays for periodicals at home. His volume of Saunterings is apparently based upon these earlier sketches. He has also given addresses before Hamilton and Bowdoin Colleges and Cornell University, in 1864, 1871, 1872 and 1873. His main reputation came to him with some suddenness, however, on the publication of a volume called My Summer in a Garden, in 1871. So little was he at that time recognized among authors, that his name was not mentioned in Hart's Manual of American Literature or Drake's Dictionary of American Biography, both published in 1872, and both quite comprehensive collections. In Underwood's Handbook of American Authors, however, which appeared in the same year, his literary talent found hearty recognition.

My Summer in a Garden was simply a series of papers reprinted from the Hartford Courant. They retained, even in book form, an unmistakable newspaper flavor. Yet they had a freshness that delighted every one, a charming out-door atmosphere, and much delicate and quiet humor. On the other hand, their literary quality was alloyed by some cheap puns and short-lived political allusions; and these gave the impression that the author, even at forty-two years of age, did not fully discern his own highest vein, orwhich is more probable that he did not fully trust his public, and would not risk himself on his best work alone. Happily, the reception of the book re-assured him; and in Back-Log Studies, published in this

In Back-Log Studies there are, no doubt, some essentially inartistic things-some long episodes, for example, such as the "New Vision of Sin" and the "Uncle in India," which are clearly inferior in texture to the rest, and not quite worth the space they occupy;-but, as a whole, the book is certainly a most agreeable contribution to the literature of the Meditative School. And it is saying a great deal to say this. To make such an attempt successful, there must be a lightness of touch sustained through everything; there must be a predominant sweetness of flavor; and that air of joyous ease which is often the final triumph of labor. There must also be a power of analysis, always subtle, never prolonged; there must be description, minute enough to be graphic, yet never carried to the borders of fatigue; there must also be glimpses of restrained passion, and of earnestness kept in reserve. All these are essential, and all these the Back-Log Studies show. If other resources were added-as depth of thought, or powerful imagination, or wide learning, or constructive power-they would only carry the book beyond the proper ranks of the Meditative School, and place it in that higher grade of literature to which Holmes' Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table belongs. Yet, it may be better not to insist on this distinction; for it is Mr. Warner himself who wisely reminds us that "the most unprofitable and unsatisfactory criticism is that of comparison."

It is as true in literature as in painting that "it is in the perfection and precision of the instantaneous line that the claim to immortality is made." The first and simplest test of good writing is in the fresh and incisive phrases it yields; and, in this respect, Back-Log Studies is strong. The author has not only the courage of his opinions, but he has the courage of his phrases, which is quite as essential. What an admirable touch, for instance, is that

where Mr. Warner says that a great woodfire, in a wide kitchen-chimney, with all the pots and kettles boiling and bubbling, and a roasting-spit turning in front of it, "makes a person as hungry as one of Scott's novels"! Fancy the bewilderment of some slow and well-meaning man upon encountering that stroke of fancy; his going over it slowly from beginning to end, and then again backward from end to beginning, studying it with microscopic eye, to find where the resemblance comes in-until, at last, it occurs to him that possibly there may be a typographical error somewhere, and that, with a little revision, the sentence might become intelligible! He does not know that in literature, as in life, nothing venture, nothing have; and that it often requires precisely such an audacious stroke as this to capture the most telling analogies.

There occurs just after this, in BackLog Studies, a sentence which has long since found its way to the universal heart, and which is worth citing, as an example of the delicate rhetorical art of understatement. To construct a climax is within the reach of every one; there is not a Fourth-of-July orator who cannot erect for himself a heaven-scaling ladder of that description, climb its successive steps, and then tumble from the top. But to let your climax swell beneath you like a wave of the sea, and then let it subside under you so gently that your hearer shall find himself more stirred by your moderation than by your impulse; this is a triumph of style. Thus our author paints a day of winter storm, for instance, the wild snow-drifts beating against the cottage window, and the boy in the chimneycorner reading about General Burgoyne and the Indian wars. "I should like to know what heroism a boy in an old New England farm-house-rough-nursed by nature, and fed on the traditions of the old wars-did not aspire to. 'John,' says the mother, 'you'll burn your head to a crisp in that heat.' But John does not hear; he is storming the Plains of Abraham just now. Johnny, dear, bring in a stick of wood.' How can Johnny bring in wood when he is in that defile with Braddock, and the Indians are popping at him from behind every tree? There is something about a boy that I like, after all.”

I defy anyone who has a heart for children to resist that last sentence. Considered critically, it is the very triumph of

under-statement,-of delicious, provoking, perfectly unexpected moderation. It is a refreshing dash of cool water just as we were beginning to grow heated. Like that, it calls our latent heat to the surface by a kindly reaction; the writer surprises us by claiming so little that we concede everything; we at once compensate by our own enthusiasm for this inexplicable lowering of the demand. Like him! of course we like him-that curly-pated, rosy-cheeked boy, with his story books and his Indians! But if we had been called upon to adore him, it is very doubtful whether we should have liked him at all. And this preference for effects secured by quiet methods,for producing emphasis without the use of italics, and arresting attention without resorting to exclamation points-is the crowning merit of the later style of Mr. Warner.

After freely conceding these high merits, it is but right to point out that even in Back-Log Studies there are sentences which would have been better for a final revision with the microscope of grammatical criticism. Such sentences as these ;"Speaking like an upholsterer, it [the fire] furnishes the room," (p. 30;)—and "There isn't a wife in the world who has not taken the exact measure of her husband, weighed him and settled him in her mind, and knows him as well," &c., (p. 56;)— have no doubt simply escaped the author's attention in correcting his proof. But noblesse oblige, and a writer who keeps the higher laws so well must not be permitted to indulge in so much as a peccadillo.

Yet after all questions of style are settled, it must be remembered that a man's real service to literature depends on quantity as well as quality; upon how much he has to say, and not merely on how he says it. It is very desirable to have a perfect fire-arm, but after all it is the ammunition that does the business. Style makes the writer, provided he has plenty to write. It is undeniable that up to this time, Mr. Warner's works, with all their uncommon charm, yet suggest the suspicion of a certain thinness of material. He may possess greater resources than he has yet shown, deeper motives, higher originality, firmer convictions. This is the problem which his admirers are waiting to see him solve. Until its solution, he is in the position of the American troops at Bunker Hill; victory within his grasp, if only the ammunition holds out; and a highly creditable service, even if the supply should fail.

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CHLOE'S prediction proved true in so far that a drizzling rain set in towards night, bringing the winter twilight earlier than usual. All day Katey had been tormented by fears in regard to Ben. What if her mother should chance to make one of her rare visits to the attic rooms, and Ben, thinking it herself, should call out? What if the "pleecemen" of whom he stood in such terror should track him to the house in her absence? If she were only there she might perhaps prevent the discovery of his hiding place, or warn him

to escape.

At noon she ran all the way home, and as soon as she found an opportunity flew to the top of the house. Everything was undisturbed, the bed occupied the place still before the little door, and, leaning her head against the partition, no sound came from Ben's retreat. Perhaps he slept after his wakeful, wandering night, and somewhat relieved of her anxiety the child crept noiselessly down again.

At night less impatient but more heavyhearted under her weight of care, she plodded home in the rain full of forebodings as to Ben's exit from the house. How could she ever accomplish it? She carried her drenched cloak to the kitchen and lingered over the fire warming her chilled fingers while Chloe moved heavily

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