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that the "average man" is well contented with either. "He likes sense and information, if they are not put in such a way as to tire or shock him. He is willing enough to put up with commonplace which imitates originality, for he finds nothing to object to in the commonplaces; but he has not sufficient confidence in his own judgment to detect the counterfeit originality. But it is a mistake to imagine that there is always a popular demand for any foolish fashion of writing which happens to exist. That very lack of discrimination which marks the uneducated man renders him quite as ready to accept sense as nonsense. But as nonsense only is given him, he accepts nonsense. Who is he that he should set up his opinion against persons who express themselves in such fine and confident words, whose sentences are printed in such elegant type, in papers sold at such grand hotels, and scattered by the thousand in such great cities? What is known as a popular demand might be more accurately described as a popular acquiescence. It seems very formidable when we think of the immense number of persons who form it; but then it is only skin-deep. Instead of a popular state of mind being, as we are apt to think it, a recondite and almost inscrutable matter, it is oftener the result of an obvious and even contemptible cause. Instead of there being a deep-seated and characteristic taste with which public caterers must comply, the fashion is often given the people from above. After the fashion is fixed, men write in accordance with it, and explain its existence by the fiction of a demand."
Mr. Nadal has given us a very delightful volume, -full of good things that one feels like marking with the pencil, or reading aloud, or quoting in a "book notice;" but we confess that these "Impressions "most interest us by the promise of their qualities. There are phases of American life,-and one of them at least he himself points out in the paper on "English Sundays and London Churches," —which are waiting for appropriate treatment at the hands of a writer whose tone is so high and reverent of truth, who has just such quick and subtile insight, just such exquisite poetic feeling, free from all taint of sentimentality.
Miss Phelps's "Poetic Studies." *
ONLY those whose occupation it is to listen closely to all the utterances and echoes of the period, in imaginative literature, can fully know the relief that comes with hearing unexpectedly, amid the uproar, a single note of genuine, spontaneous song. Such a note we seem to distinguish in Miss Phelps's modest volume, though the manner of uttering it is not quite so much her own as we could wish it to be, seeing how fine and how distinctive is the quality of her feeling. It is not that one blames a poet for resemblances which may be as natural as that close friends should have kindred tastes, and members of one family develop like features; and, if Miss Phelps's poetic accent
recalls, here and there, the time of Browning or Emerson, it is no less a ground for pride that she can write in their modern strain two poems like "What the Shore says to the Sea" and "What the Sea says to the Shore." It is, perhaps, not doing Miss Phelps justice to call attention first to these hints of poetic kinship; but rather the offering of a crumb to very strict literary consciences. The maxim of some readers as well as critics seems to be, "First catch your poet:" we have shown them how to do it in this case. But even in "Petronilla," a poem, the peculiar lace-like texture of which we should be tempted most strongly to call Point of Browning, we find a strange, visionary effect in the description of miracle, which seems quite new and very notable.
* Poetic Studies. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Author of "The Gates Ajar," etc. Boston: James R. Osgood & Company.
The most simply pleasing, and possibly therefore the healthiest verses in the book are, we think, those called "Did you speak?” They relate a childish anecdote of the sort which women poets have brought into literature; and we owe humble thanks for the simple, naïve, hearty sweetness imparted through them. Of "The Light that never was on Sea or Land," we must speak in a very different This is a poem which brings criticism into the attitude of silent awe; not so much for its art (though that is singularly subtle) as for its pure, far-reaching feminine holiness. Here again is a revelation which only a woman could have made, because she alone knows the depths of feeling whence it came.
If we speak solely of literary value, we must think Miss Phelps wise in calling her poems "studies." | In the main, they are simply this,—not, of course, cold, mechanical studies, but efforts in certain directions carried only to a given point. Some go farther than others, and several deserve a degree higher than that assigned by the title. But if these also are only" studies," we look with great hope for "works" to follow.
"An Idyl of Work." *
A DEFENSE may be found for the strict literary conscience which we have alluded to in speaking of Miss Phelps. It is this. The alien notes in a poet's singing come there in two ways,—either through a semi-unconscious demand of a voice strong enough to carry them without hurt, or through adoption on theory. In the first case, of course, the defect excuses itself, in a measure. In the second, though the theory may be as unconscious as the distinctive demand was in the first case, it proves itself theory by the weakness of the voice, and cannot excuse itself— can only be excused.
When a poem in blank verse, something over four thousand lines long, is about to be written, it is advisable to reflect long and seriously whether the subject-matter takes the proposed form voluntarily, and whether it has in itself the peculiar elements and tendencies which will uphold the ponderous shaping, and keep it buoyant and battle-proof to the last. It seems to us that this was not safely to be
*An Idyl of Work. By Lucy Larcom. Boston: James R. Osgood & Company.
predicated in the case of Miss Larcom's work, and a thorough reading of it has made us wish that, with such high intentions, and such a knowledge of the life to be described, the poetess had cast her story in a more elastic form. All along through this tale of mill-girls' life there are gleams of that austere, pathetic kind of beauty which has made the far more meager peasant-life of Norway, for example, famous.
A natural error seems to have led to the adoption of the (in some ways) most poetic of all forms but the pure dramatic, in order to escape a strong sub-current of prosiness in the scenery. But this has only emphasized the obstacles. The verses are broken on the mill-wheels, as it were, at every turn; whereas a strong, musical prose would have put a spell on the machinery, and made the commonplace forcible and attractive in spite of itself. Take this scrap of talk:
"If she were from Connecticut, She might be-my third cousin." "May be-is"
"That is her native State."
"Permit me, sir, To call upon her with you."
This is clear and unrelieved prose, and is by no means an exceptional passage. Yet we sympathize entirely with Miss Larcom's brave effort to rescue, even by a mistaken method, the recondite and valuable romance of obscure lives; and we must add that, not only is her sentiment always true and dignified, but often her expression is very fortunate. These two facts, two extracts will prove:
"Woman can rise no higher than womanhood, Whatever be her title."
This has the right luster, but in a more successful setting it might have met readier recognition.
"One baby sister blossoms like a rose
Among her thorny brothers, all grown rough With farm-work,"
is like a breath of pure country air.
The plot is light and vague, but, with more distinctness and a poetic pitch more clearly sustained, the book might have been what we may still look to its author for, a long lever to advance American poetry on its true path.
"Foreign Dramatists under American Laws.'
THE recent case in the New York Superior Court, brought by Mr. Sheridan Shook of the Union Square Theater, to prevent Mr. Augustin Daly from producing at the Fifth Avenue Theater the French play "Rose Michel,” is the same in its main features as those discussed in our article on "Foreign Dramatists under American Laws." "Rose Michel" is a manuscript play from the pen of M. Blum, a French dramatist. It has been represented in Paris, but has not been printed there or here. A copy of the French manuscript, and one of the English translation, were purchased from the assignee of the author by Mr. Shook, with the exclusive privilege of representing the play in the United States, except
ing New England. Mr. Shook thus acquired a common law right of property in the manuscript, just the same as he would in a lot of scenery or costumes purchased in Paris. The Court protected this right as a common law right, and not under the copyright statutes. This general principle of law was not disputed by Mr. Daly, but he had also bought a copy of the manuscript which purported to come from an alleged assignee of the author in England. The question, therefore, before the Court was, whether Daly's title was good as against Shook's, and the decision was in favor of the latter. Daly, therefore, himself claiming title from the author, was not in a position to raise the question whether the public representation of the play in Paris was an abandonment of the author's rights. If this issue had been raised, it could have been argued only on the ground that the play had been obtained through the memory of one or more persons who had witnessed the performance in Paris. But it is probable that even this theory will never again meet with any favor in our courts, which will, doubtless, hold to the better doctrine, that the representation of a manuscript play is not a publication destructive of the author's proprietary rights.
Some of the comments on the decision in the case of "Rose Michel" assume that the rights here accorded to a foreign dramatist are withheld from other foreign authors. This, however, is not so. Any foreign author has the right to make exclusive public use of his work in this country, provided it be kept in manuscript. The same protection thrown around the play of "Rose Michel" will be extended to a lecture or a musical composition given from manuscript to the public, or to an original painting on exhibition, notwithstanding they are foreign productions. Mr. Charles Reade may read in public a manuscript novel from New York to San Francisco, and his common law right of property therein will be protected by our courts.
A Reading-Room for the Blind.
To the Editor of "Scribner's Monthly": Within the limits of New York city, there are now about six hundred blind. Nearly all of the children thus afflicted are in the Institution for the Blind on Ninth Avenue, near Thirty-fourth street; a few are in the Asylum on Blackwell's Island. Of the men, most have become blind since they reached manhood, and sadly remember what it was to see.
The amount of literature accessible to the educated blind is very small. Of this, there are two kinds: the raised letter, which, with some slight modifications, is the same in form as the Roman, and the point-print, in which the alphabet is represented by an arrangement of raised dots. The two systems are so dissimilar, that a proficiency in reading one is no assistance whatever in the acquisition of the other. The bound volumes of this print are cumbrous and expensive, the Bible consisting of some eight volumes, of a total weight of fifty pounds. Despite the greatest care of experienced attendants, the raised letter often becomes flattened by finger-reading, and wholly illegible to the blind. To the greater number of those who are educated in it, finger-reading is a process too slow and laborious to afford much pleasure. As a rule, the blind are very poor; moreover, their relatives are in the same condition, and can spare neither the money to buy such books, nor the time to read them to their sightless friends, were the books provided. Very few are self-supporting; their life is one of enforced leisure, with many a dreary waste of time; and yet, in none of
our great cities is there a reading-room for the blind. The writer believes such a project not only practicable, but comparatively inexpensive, and desires to offer some suggestions on the subject.
A reading-room of this kind need not be a separate institution. One of the many side-rooms of our large libraries, with the addition of a few fixtures, would be sufficient to make the experiment. The cases should contain at least one copy of every book printed in blind letter. Tables and writing materials should be provided for those who are able to take notes in point-print. The chief feature, however, should be oral reading by some intelligent person employed for that purpose, who might also act as librarian. The reading should be of two kinds: the daily news and literature.
The part of the newspapers which would interest the men could first be read, and afterward that which would interest the women. The hours of these various readings should be well known and rigidly observed. The intervals between the oral readings would be the time for the consultation of the raised-letter books.
The second class of readings should be given in two courses in consecutive hours, so that those who desired could attend both without extra travel or tedious waiting. For example, a two hours' daily reading, for two weeks, might comprise history for the first hour, and poetry for the second. This reading should be strictly secular, embracing in the year's course, history, science, poetry, and fiction. Perhaps the plan might include those who, though not blind, are unable to read. If a number of blind persons should desire religious reading, and agree upon the matter to be read, no doubt a special arrangement could be made, which would be open to no objection.
This experiment must not be labeled charity—a word that has become an epithet, except when used poetically-or it will be a failure It is the establishment of a means of education for a class of people shut out from our common schools, and debarred from the ordinary and the greatest avenue of knowledge. Yours very truly, P. B. K.
French and German Books.
Das Sprachstudium auf den Deutschen UniversiD. Delbrück.-These are some practical remarks for students of philology from a Jena Professor of Sanscrit, which will be of service in telling what languages are the most important in a modern comparative study of tongues. Besides Sanscrit, he considers Greek, Latin, and German indispensable but sufficient, laying great stress upon Greek. Inscriptions should be well studied for the variations of language which they exhibit. The grammars which treat these languages in the best scientific way are mentioned for the benefit of students, and some short remarks indicate the value of the science itself, an allusion to which might seem unnecessary, if persons were not still to be found who, irritated by the continual mention of Sånscrit, lose no opportunity to underrate the importance of that great elder sister among Indo-European tongues. Of course Professor Delbrück considers languages from their philological point of value, and not with reference to speech or literature.
positions in Persia and elsewhere, has become a Professor at Budapest, and has followed the Eastern question with the singular advantage of knowing both Asia and Europe thoroughly, without having cause to lean unduly in favor of one or the other. Hence we read his absorbing book with good faith in his knowledge of the subject, and that faith is not betrayed when we meet impartiality and calmness of reasoning on every page. Vambéry is not a Humboldt; he might be called a light weight when compared to some men Germany can offer, but he is a capital observer, a strict holder to the truth; and, as far as these qualities go-and they go farthe right man in a little-explored field.
Der Islam im XIX. Jahrhundert. Vambéry.-A man who has seen as much of Asia as Vambéry, and in such an intimate way, is at once an authority. It will be remembered that he traveled up and down Asia disguised as a dervish, and thus came in contact with the real people, sharing their misery and hardships, and learning to feel himself one of them in all their characteristic traits of fanaticism, sluggish resignation, and, it may be said, vice and filth. Since that time he has traveled in more conspicuous
Heinrich Heine. Essay by S. Born.-After reading what Vambéry has to say about Asia, it is not a little striking to come upon an essay on Heine, himself an Asiatic-an Oriental mind looking about in a sea of German Philistinism. His was the romantic soul, the witty, tuneful brain that Vambéry finds nationally at home in the East, but also the will too weak to resist temptations successfully and bear with ugly and trivial things; least of all, to apply the brain persistently to one end. The essay is excellent in its sympathy with a poet, and in pointing out the large lines on which he failed.
Reden und Vorlesungen. F. Hecker, LL.D. St. Louis.-A German refugee of 1848, Friedrich Hecker has further claims upon our notice, because he fought in our Rebellion, and is the possessor of a gift of public speaking, which makes him a mouthpiece of our fellow-citizens of German tongue. If we may trust the portrait that accompanies these his Speeches and Readings, he is in appearance as thorough a Teuton as his enthusiastic, close-pressed sentences argue him to be in mind. It is this quality which makes his words pleasant reading; there is no half way with him; he has not only the courage of his opinions, but wields a trumpet with which to blow them abroad in the ears of men. It is a pity there is not an English translation of all that he has to say, both because we ought to know what our German neighbors think, and because there are many among ourselves whom this kind of writing and no other will reach. He is not unlike some of our own public speakers of the past generation; not as fine as the best, but without the failings of the second best in the way of knowledge and good taste. The samples of his work before us combine speeches at festivals and meetings of Turnvereine, a Defense of the Republic, a parallel between officeholders here and abroad, another between Lincoln and Cromwell, much to the advantage of the former, and an impressive bit of German thunder against woman's rights. Although very unequal, all these pieces possess a vital breath of conviction, and are. well disposed to stir slothful minds into looking about them, and seeing what manner of land this is, especially what advantages they possess in their own country, and what national sins must be crushed. Like many persons of positive temperament, Herr Hecker is sometimes a partisan, even to inconsequence. He should not slur over the difficulty in Alsatia by say
ing that, because the inhabitants speak German, they ought to belong to Germany, or that theirs is land stolen from Germany. It would be more consistent in a refugee of 1848, and an ardent upholder of our institutions, to advocate freedom of choice for the victims (as they now think themselves) of Prussian tyranny. When Alsatia was taken from France and tacked willy-nilly on to the German Empire, there was no slavery question or certainty of national disruption, as when South Carolina hurried us into a great war.
Beruf der Frauen zum Studium und Ausübung der Heilwissenschaft. W. V. Zehender.-A speech delivered at the University of Rostock reflects pretty well the sentiments of most educated physicians, not only of conservative Germany, but even of the United States, in regard to the question of the study and practice of medicine on the part of women. It is needless to say that the opinion is adverse as far as the practice is concerned; as to the study, that the speaker would leave to women themselves. He advocates giving them all possible advantages, but thinks them better fitted for nurses than doctors. The number of women who can stand the hard study and hard work of practicing the profession is
so small, that it is not possible to recognize them as a class; but if diplomas are open to one they must be open to all. The inference is, that the few abnormal women who are mentally and physically equal to the strain must go without the usual formal recognition of graduation, although nothing shall stand in the way of their self-improvement. The number of poor physicians is already great enough, without turning on a flood of imperfectly capacitated women doctors. The real genius will show without diploma.-Schmidt.
The Hydro-Carbon Furnace.
AFTER being the subject of elaborate and costly experiment for a number of years this furnace has recently assumed an interesting and apparently successful form near this city. In this instance it was employed in heating "wrought scrap" (refuse wrought iron, boiler plates, etc.) for rolling into plates. old furnace, with a steam-boiler on top, was used, and immediately in front of the fire door was erected the new apparatus. The design of this furnace is to reduce crude petroleum to an inflammable vapor by the aid of superheated steam. To do this, a 66 generator" and a simple form of superheater are employed in combination with a brick "mixing chamber" and a kind of "Bunsen burner" made of fire-brick. The generator consists of an upright cast-iron vessel, somewhat higher than wide, and containing a series of thin iron shelves, one above the other, from top to bottom. At the top is an inlet for the oil, and an escape-pipe for the resulting At the bottom is an inlet for the steam, and below, enclosed in brick-work, is the superheater, made of a coil of iron pipe, resting in a small furnace. Steam under ten pounds pressure is taken through this coil, and, becoming incandescent, it enters the generator. Crude petroleum is then allowed to flow into the generator, and, as it drips
Le Mariage de Gérard. Une Ondine. A. Theuriet.-Slight plots moving in charming scenes of provincial life make these a very pleasing brace of novels, which will not "raise a blush to the cheek" of that young person famous in modern English literature. The heroines are, of course, Parisiennes in manners and attractive wiles, but their caprices only make them all the more charming in contrast with stiff provincials. The author strains a point of conscientiousness, when he acknowledges his obligations to an English novel called "Good-bye, Sweetheart," for the idea of "Une Ondine;" such pains are hardly necessary, his own story being very different and much the better.-Christern.
THE WORLD'S WORK.
downward from shelf to shelf, it meets the slowly ascending steam, and becomes completely vaporized, and is taken up and carried forward in the form of vapor through the escape-pipe to the furnace. To burn this combined oil and steam, air must be supplied, and it is led into the "mixing chamber." This is a brick chamber erected just where the fire door stood when the furnace employed coal for fuel. Air is here mingled with the vapor through a regulating-damper, and the mixture flows on, still under pressure, to the "combustion chamber." In a solid brick wall, forming one side of this chamber, is left an opening opposite the pipe that discharges the vapor from the generator. Here is a tier of firebricks, 18 inches thick, and so arranged as to present a net-work of openings through the wall. This serves to break up the stream of mingled air and vapor, and the flame that burns immediately behind it spreads out and fills the entire furnace. Six piles of scrap-iron, averaging 500 lbs. each, are placed in the furnace, and in the dazzling white heat of the hydro-carbon flame are reduced to a workable condition in less time and with less trouble than by the usual coal-burning process. The flame and heat, after passing the furnace, flow on through the tubular boiler overhead, and there make steam for driving the rolling-mills, where the reheated scrap is finally made into plates. The advantages claimed
for this pattern of hydro-carbon furnace are: a gain in time in heating the furnace and raising steam, a large saving of labor, entire freedom from dust, soot, cinders, and smoke in the furnace and boilerflues, and a greatly improved quality of iron. The number of hands employed in maintaining the fire is reduced, and the cost of fuel and labor is much lessened. The experiments were entirely satisfactory in every respect, and hopes are entertained that the hydro-carbon question may by this apparatus reach a satisfactory solution. The same plan is about to be tried upon a first-class locomotive. Details of the results will be promptly furnished as soon as the engine is in operation.
THIS new apparatus does not differ in its action from the ordinary weighted lever-valve. In place of the usual sliding weight upon a solid arm, is a hollow arm carrying metallic chambers at each end. This arm passes through eyes in the top of three small uprights over the valves. One of these is jointed; one, in the center, is fixed to the top of the valve, and the other moves up and down in guides. Set screws hold the hollow bar in these at any desired position, and a locked cover prevents access to them. At the weighted end of the hollow lever, and communicating with it, is a cast-iron chamber made heavy by a thick base. At the opposite end of the lever is another and smaller chamber. When ready for use the large chamber is filled with mercury. When the steam pressure exceeds the desired limit the valve rises and lifts the lever. The mercury at once flows through the lever to the chamber at the opposite end. This transfer acts as a counterpoise, and the valve instantly opens wide and the steam escapes freely. When the pressure is relieved the lever falls, and the mercury flows back to its former position. The object of this device is to prevent the usual hesitation in safety valves, and in practice it is said to work well.
THE race between guns and plates has been quite even for the past few years. Recently, a novel application of electricity to the firing of guns seems to place the guns ahead. Four or more guns having been shotted and trained upon the target, are fired simultaneously by wire. The combined shots striking at the same instant, shatter the target in a manner that no armor plates could survive. This method of firing opens a new field in artillery practice, and places plates as a means of defense at a disadvantage. In shells, a new application of guncotton and water forms a formidable and destructive shot known as the water-shell. This is a common iron shell charged with half an ounce of gun-cotton, and provided with a suitable fulminate and fuse. These are placed in the shell, and the remaining space is filled with water. When exploded, the shell breaks into a great number of very small frag- |
ments. The common powder-charged shell breaks into only a few large pieces, and for this reason is less destructive. The theory of this is, that the powder burns slowly, and that the shell splits only in places where the pressure is first exerted. Guncotton, on the other hand, explodes instantaneously, and the shock being communicated by the uncompressible water to all parts of the shell at once, it is more thoroughly shattered, and the resulting cloud of missiles is greatly increased, in number and destructiveness.
THIS apparatus is designed to assist the signalman on steamships in marking the intervals of time at which the fog-horn or whistle is to be blown, and to regulate the sounds in such a way as to cause them to announce the ship's course. It consists of a horizontal clock, placed, face up, in some convenient position in sight of the signal-man. The face is about eight inches in diameter, and indicates seconds
only, the minute and hour figures and hands being
upon a small dial near one edge, just as the secondhand is placed on watches. The second-hand has four arms at right angles with each other, and above the face is a movable disk, or dumb card, that obscures about three-fourths of the whole dial. Around the edge of the clock face are painted sections or segments. One of these covers ten seconds' space; four mark five seconds each, and between each are blanks of three seconds each. Outside of the clock is a flat brass ring, having the points of the compass marked upon it. In using the phonometer, the disk is moved round till the open part comes opposite the ship's head and in line with her course. The segments on the dial that are then visible indicate the number of blasts to be given on the whistle. The second-hands, as they then come into view, give the duration in seconds of each blast and each pause. The signal-man has no thought or choice in the matter. He merely watches the hands as they traverse the segments in sight, and sounds his whistle accordingly, and it is impossible to commit an error. The sounds, if they follow the instrument, announce the ship's direction. For instance, one blast of ten seconds indicates that the ship is steering within the points north and east, quarter north. Two blasts of five seconds each, with an interval of three seconds between them, would announce the ship's direction as between east and south, quarter east. Three blasts, and two pauses of five and three seconds, would mean south to west, quarter south, while four blasts of five seconds, with the same pauses, would indicate the ship's course to be between west and north, quarter west. These signals would be sufficient to give a general idea of the direction from which the unseen steamer was approaching, and the formula, being easily remembered, would be quickly and readily understood by all. The disk employed is designed to prevent mistakes, and the four hands serve to save time in watching for their appearance and journey over the visible portion of the dial.