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BOOKS AND AUTHORS
If the reading world could quite forget "The Prisoner of Zenda," and Anthony Hope should republish it, how many editions would it see? Not half, probably not one tenth as many as when it made its species fashionable. Imitated by at least a score of successful writers, and by as many justly unsuccessful, it would indeed have the charm of agreeable writing and would please the select few, but the royalty which is not royalty, the subject who simulates or is made to simulate royalty, and the subject who marries royalty are now as commonplace as Darby and Joan. As for the imaginary kingdom, those who construct it now take no more trouble than is necessary to make it a bob for the Hapsburg or Hohenzollern kite, and Mr. Harold Macgrath takes even less for his "The Goose Girl" and leaves the scene detached. The lover is Irish, but an American citizen and a fine fellow and the two heroines are charming. The three princes and two realms are equally fantastic, but pleasantly mysterious and it is only because its species is so large that the story fails to awaken enthusiasm in the reader. Those to whom the book comes as a first novel will not quarrel with it. Bobbs-Merrill Company.
The old fashioned whaling story, the "There she blows!" and "Starn all!" yarn is having a revival, and those familiar with whaling fiction only in its later phases with much glorified scenery and a love-story introduced, will find the elder style an agreeable change. Time was when every Massachusetts boy and girl could have learned the routine of whale fishing from the school "readers" and geographies, but after the year of misfornot only from the school books but tune the topic seemed to have departed
from conversation and from literature. Now comes a rumor that the right whale is returning and that whale oil and "parmaceti for the inward bruise" may come again, and so Mr. James Cooper Wheeler may be held to have chosen a fortunate moment for publishing his "There She Blows," a whaling yarn. It tells of one of the oldfashioned long voyages through many seas and describes not only the taking of the whale, but the disposition of his carcass, and the storage of the various valuable parts. The narrator is one of the crew and gives the hero's place to the captain, a shrewd, just man, who controls his crew because he understands each and every one of them. The book would have been worth writing if for no other purpose than to exhibit a man of this type. E. P. Dutton & Co.
Prof. R. M. Johnston's "The French Revolution" announces itself as "A Short History," and as it consists of less than three hundred pages the name is certainly justified. It is also an almost impartial history, equally free from rhapsodies on liberty and lamentations over the fall of picturesque unworthiness, and not exalting the claim of the fourteenth of July to be regarded as momentous in the his'tory of liberty. If one could wish that a little more emphasis were laid upon the enormity of the patrician folly which fluently prattled of philosophical theories too mischievous to be mentioned with safety, it is no small compensation to read the neat, contemptuous phrases with which the fashionable, sweet sensibility is treated. The horrors of the Terror are described as curtly as may be, but in words so well chosen that their frightfulness is by no means diminished. Indeed, the death of the Prin
cess de Lamballe has not many times, if ever, been so effectively described as in Professor Johnston's eight direct lines. An introductory chapter entitled "The Perspective of the French Revolution," and a second describing Versailles lead to the consideration of the economic crisis and the measures taken to meet it and these are all the preliminaries which the author permits himself; he nowhere indulges in that portrait drawing which is the almost invariable characteristic of histories of the French Revolution, but an occasional sketch, embodied in a phrase or two, shows that his abstinence does not proceed from inability. His preface does not say whether or not his work is intended for school or college use, but if it be, a chronological table and a fuller index should be added. Fabred Eglantine's nomenclature of the months and the rule for translating Julian dates into Revolutionary phrase make a welcome addition to the ordinary history of the period. Henry Holt & Co.
When Kant, or John Wilson, benevolently acting in his place, wrote that any man's full, candid, and unaffected account of what he had seen and thought would make the most interesting and instructive book in the world, he did not, it is fairly evident, intend that such an account should include every detail of every year, much less of every day. Comparatively few actions of a man's life from its beginning to its end are in the least interesting, and none but the Omniscient can know the bearing of many of them, and in most hands such a book would be a weariness to its readers. Mr. William Allen White is an exception inasmuch as his "A Certain Rich Man" is not dull throughout all its length, but only at the beginning which he is so illadvised as to write in the fashion of "The Court of Boyville." The remainder of the book is an extraordina
rily good study of thorough-going fiendishness. The subject of the study, John Barclay, clever while a boy, his small wants supplied by his mother's toil, becomes a little fiend as soon as he begins to depend upon himself, sacrificing all persons whose evil fate puts them in his way to his love of money, and thereafter his only change is in size. The loss of the young girl who loves him does affect him slightly, but having already set foot in the downward road of utter selfishness he takes no step backward. He drives every creature upon whom he has any influence either to misery or to sin, and takes measures which kill his wife, for no other end than to obtain money, and always he sins against knowledge. He repents at last, and sets himself right with the world at the expense of his entire fortune and for four years lives the life of a man, and then is given the privilege of dying in a manly fashion. His friends forgave him with wonderful charity, his mother loved him even while she despised his sin, and they and she wept over his grave, but Mr. White cannot convey the slightest glimmer of his charm to the reader once advised of his wickedness and he is the most repulsive creature to be found in modern fiction. Still Mr. White has produced a work of art. That he has not been able to blot out the memory of the sin by the picture of the repentance is merely to say that he is human and that his readers are like unto him and cannot forget in the very act of forgiving. Even the forgiveness is a severe task and it is to be feared that in real life- repentance even at the cost of millions would by no means end such hostility as Barclay had richly earned; but Mr. White has drawn some uncommonly good Christians to offset Barclay and has made a book worth all of his former work taken together. The Macmillan Company.
NATIONAL REVIEW 591
Hardy-on-the-Hill. Book II. Chapter VII. By M. E. Francis (Mrs.
On the Labrador. By H. Hesketh Prichard. CORNHILL MAGAZINE 602
Macdonald, K.C. B..
6:3 The Green Door. By Marguerite Curtis. BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE 620 Edinburgh in the Time of Sir Walter Scott.
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THE CULT OF THE UNFIT.
We are celebrating this year the centenary of Darwin's birth and the jubilee of the publication of the Origin of Species. It is well that we should recognize these dated days, though the complacency with which we assume credit for "our Mr. Darwin" or "our Mr. Shakespeare," salutary enough in itself, is not without a touch of humor. We are all Darwinians to-day, and we have travelled far from the time when the disciple of Darwin, who was also the heir of Goethe and Lamarck, was classed with the fool who said in his heart "there is no God." Men remember-not without amusement-Disraeli's diatribe before the Oxford Diocesan Society some five years after the appearance of Darwin's famous work. "I hold," he said, "that the highest function of science is the interpretation of Nature, the interpretation of the highest nature is the highest science. What is the highest nature? Man is the highest nature. But I must say that when I compare the interpretations of the highest nature of the most advanced, the most fashionable, of modern schools of modern science-when I compare that with older teachings with which we are familiar-I am not prepared to say that the lecture-room is more scientific than the Church. What is the question which is now placed before society with a glib assurance which to me is most astounding? That question is this is a man an ape or an angel? My Lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence these new-fangled theories. I believe they are foreign to the conscience of humanity, and I say more-that even from the most intellectual point of view, I believe the severest metaphysical analysis is opposed to such conclusions." Those
who smile over the remembrance of the invective of a party politician addressed to an ecclesiastical audience forget that thirteen years later the influence of one of the most distinguished scientists that Germany has produced, Rudolf Virchow, not only combated with relentless animosity the theories of Darwin, but attempted, and, in the case of the two chief German States, succeeded in excluding the dangerous doctrine of evolution from the schools and in forbidding the teaching of Darwinian ideas. But, as I have said, we are all Darwinians today, and Bishops in lawn sleeves expound the doctrines of evolution which fifty years ago conjured up before the affrighted mind of Disraeli terrible pictures of "young ladies lisping atheism in gilded saloons." But while most fairly educated people accept the Darwinian theory or hypothesis in its main outlines, it is very doubtful if the practical lessons involved in acceptance of the theory of evolution are more clearly understood to-day than they were in the time of Disraeli and Virchow. Among the many grave problems that confront this generation, none is more perplexing and more universally debated than that of poverty and unemployment with all their attendant difficulty. Yet very few even attempt to understand the nature of the problem, as it reveals itself in the light of the doctrines of evolution. The late Henry George, of whose name and principles the present Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to be the residuary legatee, stated what he imagined to be the problem in a once popular work entitled Progress and Poverty. It is quite possible that Mr. Henry George had never read a word of Darwin, and, in any case, his book, which gave an enormous fillip to So