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There is one aspect, however, of this conscious and methodical wooing of the Muses which has received less cordial recognition than it seems to us to deserve. In what we may call technical proficiency -in workmanlike mastery of his art-Bayard Taylor is in our opinion superior to any other American poet. His skill and facility in versification are truly extraordinary; and, though he tried a much wider range of forms and combinations than almost any of his rivals, there will be found, even in the most difficult ones, remarkably few of those strained meanings, limping lines, and imperfectly expressed ideas, which so often disfigure the work even of the great masters of the art. We have reread a considerable portion of the collected poems with attention directed especially to this point; and the result is that we are more profoundly impressed than ever with Mr. Taylor's wonderful dexterity in the art of verse-making.
It is due chiefly to this exceptional skill in versification that Mr. Taylor's translations from other poets are in general so satisfactory. We imagine that his translation of Goethe's "Faust" is the work by which Mr. Taylor will be longest kept in remembrance; and in it the skill of which we have spoken is exhibited in its highest and richest development. The translation is not only verbally literal in its exactness, but it reproduces the meter, the rhythm, the very movement and music of the original verse in all its varied and intricate forms. The sufficiency of the English language to all possible demands that can be made upon it has seldom or never been more signally demonstrated; and the translations of the selected passages with which he embellished his lectures on German literature are only less remarkable. For this reason, too, his imitations of other poets were good in a quite unusual degree. The parodies which he introduced into his "Diversions of the Echo Club" are the best of the kind with which we are acquainted-reproducing not merely the external forms (which is a comparatively simple matter), but the dominant moods and tendencies of feeling in the authors chosen for experimenting upon.
These translations and parodies are omitted from Mr. Boker's collection, and so are the drama of "The Prophet" and the dramatic poems of the "Masque of the Gods" and "Prince Deukalion." With these exceptions, the volume contains the entire poetical works of Bayard Taylor, including all the poems published in a collected or separate form during the author's life, and also "a not inconsiderable number of heretofore unpublished poems, which were found among his manuscripts, in a more or less finished state." In arranging the contents of the volume, no particular scheme seems to have been followed, the poems being neither grouped according to subjects and treatment nor placed in their chronological sequence. This seems to us a disadvantage.
THE accumulation of the instruments of knowledge in our public and private libraries and in minor collections of books has been so rapid during the last
hundred years, and is now so great, that it may be justly said that the necessity of increasing the store is no longer so pressing as the necessity of learning how to use the instruments that have already been provided. Much of that aimless, unsystematic, and frivolous reading, which our public libraries have fostered rather than restrained, is no doubt due to the utter inability of the great majority of readers to select for themselves those books which are best worth attention; and it should be regarded as not the least important of the regular duties of a librarian to furnish such readers with advice, guidance, and assistance. Under this guidance, wisely and discreetly applied by properly accredited persons, it is not unreasonable to believe that a large part of the time and energy now wasted in dawdling over books of mere amusement might be diverted to studies which would widen the mental horizon of the individual reader, and which could hardly fail to elevate the general standard of culture in the community.
Fortunately, some of the most influential of our librarians are beginning to take this view of their functions. Mr. Justin Winsor, the able and accomplished Superintendent for many years of the Boston Public Library and now of the Harvard University Library, has lent to it the weight of his name, and what is more, of his example; and there are indications of a speedy conversion on the part of others. "I believe it to be," says Mr. Winsor, "a part of the duty of a public librarian to induce reading and gently to guide it, as far as he can, because I know that as a rule there is much need of such inducement and guidance, I am no great advocate of 'courses of reading.' It often matters little what the line of one's reading is, provided it is pursued, as sciences are most satisfactorily pursued, in a comparative way. The reciprocal influences, the broadening effect, the quickened interest arising from a comparison of sources and authorities, I hold to be marked benefits from such a habit of reading. It is at once wholesome and instructive, gratifying in the pursuit, and satisfactory in the results."
As a specimen of the way in which such assistance may best be rendered, Mr. Winsor has compiled a little book, which is a monument of patient industry and extensive knowledge. In 1875, when the first fervor of the centennial period impelled many readers at the Boston Public Library to follow the history of our Revolutionary struggle, Mr. Winsor, then Superintendent of the Library, prepared some notes which should aid them in their researches. These notes admirably subserved their immediate purpose; but they were rightly regarded as too valuable to be confined to one library or to answer the requirements of a merely transient interest, and he has accordingly expanded them into "The Reader's Handbook of the American Revolution."* The book may be described with tolerable accuracy as a sort of index to the entire literature of the Revolutionary period,
The Reader's Handbook of the American Revolution-1761-1783. By Justin Winsor. Boston: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 16m0, pp. 328.
pointing out all the original sources, and including most of the second-hand authorities. Taken as a whole, it covers with completeness the leading events from 1761 to 1783; but it is also subdivided into topics which, arranged in their chronological order, enable the reader to confine his researches to any particular period or event in which he may happen to feel an especial interest. A citation of a few of the topics at the beginning of the book will convey an idea of its arrangement: "In Massachusetts, 1761-1765-Writs of Assistance"; "In the South, 1761-1765"; "Stamp Act, 1765-1766"; "In General, 1767-1775"; "Boston Massacre, March 5, 1770"; The Tea Party, December, 1773"; "Boston Port Bill, 1774"; "Continental Congress, 1774," etc., etc. In order to indicate the method of treatment in detail, we will describe the section under "Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775." Its contents are classified as follows: "Earliest Accounts," "British Accounts," "Later Special Accounts," "Accounts in General Histories," "In Biographies,' New Hampshire Troops," ," "Connecticut Troops," "Who commanded?" "Death of Warren," "Plans and Maps," "Views, etc.," "The Monument," "In Fiction."
The references are not merely by title to a particular book or pamphlet, but to the chapter and page; and a word or two of descriptive analysis usually indicates what may be found there. The usefulness of the book to students of the Revolutionary history can hardly be over-estimated; and it is to be hoped that Mr. Winsor will be encouraged to prepare those other handbooks on themes of his tory, biography, travel, philosophy, science, literature, and art, which he promises should the present volume succeed.
SINCE Dryden attempted to substitute for the genuine poems of Chaucer a translation of them into what he considered better English, various efforts have been made to "modernize" and otherwise render them acceptable to the general reading public; but, fortunately, in this as in many similar cases, the sane instincts of literary taste have refused to tolerate such tampering with the work of a great master, and those who really love poetry and care to read Chaucer at all, prefer to drink directly from that "well of English pure and undefiled." To the average reader, however, who can not be expected to possess a special knowledge of early English, Chaucer's poems present unquestionable difficulties. The obsolete words, the antiquated spelling and grammatical forms, and the unusual meters, discourage and repel; and, for lack of a little scholarly knowledge which would impart to these seeming barbarisms a flavor and a fragrance of their own, he is cut off from one of the richest and freshest sources of poetical enjoyment in our language. A popular edition of Chaucer's poems must, therefore, not only present a pure and complete text, but must also be furnished with such aids in the way of notes and interpretative comments as will render the reading of the original text comparatively easy.
It is a pleasure to be able to say that these requirements are fully met in the new Riverside Edition,* which may be pronounced unqualifiedly the best edition of Chaucer in existence. The editorial work of Mr. Gilman is admirably adapted to the needs of the general reader, while furnishing at the same time a complete and carefully collated version for students. The body of the text is that of the Ellesmere manuscript, which has long been regarded by scholars as the best, but which has only recently been rendered accessible to the public; and for comparison and correction the great Six-Text edition of the "Canterbury Tales" has been utilized for the first time. The chronological order of the poems adopted by the Chaucer Society is followed, and also Mr. Furnivall's arrangement of the "Canterbury Tales." The poems of doubtful authenticity, which have always hitherto been printed with the others with no indication of their possibly spurious character, are placed at the end in a group by themselves. An extended introduction comprises a sketch of "The Times and the Poet," a brief essay on Astrological Terms and Divisions of Time," another on "Biblical References," and a valuable section on "Reading Chaucer," containing simple and comprehensive rules for pronunciation, based upon the researches of Professor Child and the elaborate work of Mr. A. J. Ellis on "Early English Pronunciation." An especially commendable feature of the work is the plan adopted by Mr. Gilman of placing the notes and explanations of difficult words at the bottom of each page, thus saving the reader the perpetually recurring annoyance of turning to a glossary, where he must often distinguish the different parts of speech and choose between conflicting definitions. If the explanations seem at times inadequate, the reader must bear in mind the editor's pertinent suggestion that a good edition of Webster or Worcester is as useful in reading Chaucer as in reading Shakespeare, and is often necessary to the intelligent reading of much more modern writers.
authors of "Apple Blossoms." The conception which it carries out is a remarkably happy onethat of linking the native wild flowers of New England, in the order of their procession through the year, with descriptions of them in verse and pictorial representation. The verse is ingenious and graceful, but derives its chief interest from the fact that it is the work of two children, rather than from any intrinsic merit. Many readers will doubtless compare it with " Apple Blossoms," in the hope of finding indications of poetic growth on the part of the youthful authors; but in this, we imagine, they will be disappointed. The facility of versification is as striking as ever; but the verses, especially those of the elder of the two sisters, appear to us to have lost much of that simplicity and naturalness which constituted the chief charm of the earlier volume. Self-consciousness, that bane of spontaneity, has supervened, and it is painful to find a child talking about "aching brows," and "conscious pangs," and "dumb yearnings," and the other cant of the ecstatic school. For such a poem as that on “Bloodroot," a rigid diet of Crabbe and Goldsmith should be prescribed. Mr. Gibson furnishes twenty-four illustrations, which are tasteful in design and artis
tic in treatment.
More substantial viands are provided for the public appetite in "The Homes of America,"* edited by Mrs. Martha J. Lamb, and elaborately illustrated with upward of a hundred engravings, presenting in one connected view a sort of picturesque history of American domestic architecture. The first section, covering the “Colonial Period," includes views of the Philipse manor-house at Yonkers, of the Roger Morris house, of "Beverley," of the Van Rensselaer manor - house, and the Schuyler mansion at Albany, of Sir William Pepperell's house at Kittery Point, Maine, of "Hobgoblin Hall" at Medford, Massachusetts, of the old Bryant homestead at Cummington, of Washington's headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey, of the home of John Howard Payne, of nine mansions in Virginia, including Mount Vernon, and of many others in various parts of the country. The second section, entitled "Later Period," contains views of the residences of General Worth, the Hon. John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton; several views of "Old Morrisania"; the Adams homestead; "Cedarmere," the residence of William Cullen Bryant; the homes of Longfellow and Lowell at Cambridge; and the residences of Ralph Waldo Emerson and A. Bronson Alcott. The "Modern Period" is more copiously illustrated, comprising no less than fifty-two views, among which are nearly all the more noteworthy mansions and villas along the Hudson River and at Newport; "Armsmear," the famous Colt mansion; "Cedarcroft," the home of the late Bayard Taylor; "Ogontz," the former residence of Jay and Dora Read Goodale, authors of "Apple Blossoms." New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 4to, pp. 92.
The Homes of America. With One Hundred and Three Illustrations. Edited by Mrs. Martha J. Lamb. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 4to, pp. 256.
Cooke, near Philadelphia: "Lochiel," the home of the Hon. Simon Cameron, at Harrisburg; the Ohio home of President Hayes; the Probasco mansion at Cincinnati; a Planter's home on the Mississippi; a house and garden in Charleston, South Carolina; and a home in Florida. The frontispiece is a large and very beautiful view of the main front of the White House at Washington. Mrs. Lamb's descriptive text is judicious in its comments and very interesting in its historical reminiscences; and the book, as a whole, is one whose value will far outlast the festive season which calls it forth.
Another superb volume, which in a certain sense complements the last, is "Landscape in American Poetry,"* with illustrations after original drawings by J. Appleton Brown, and descriptive text by Lucy Larcom. The great majority of the pictures represent actual scenes described in the verses of Bryant, Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Bayard Taylor, and others of our poets; thus securing, in addition to their artistic beauty, the interest of personal and literary associations. Merely as pictures, however, their value is very great-anything more exquisite than some of the designs being difficult to imagine, while the engraving is fine and delicate. Miss Larcom's text shows both familiarity and sympathy with her subject, and is made the vehicle for some of the choicest morsels of descriptive poetry to be found in American (or in any) literature. In the volume, as a whole, Art and Poetry are very gracefully wedded, and seem destined to live a long and happy life together.
Still another book in which utility and beauty are very happily combined is “Art in America," + by S. G. W. Benjamin. In it the author has aimed to give an historical outline of the rise and growth of American painting and sculpture, and, by a critical comparison of the work of the leading artists, to indicate the characteristic qualities of each. He has, as is usual with him, brought together many facts which the student of art will find it convenient to know; but his text is chiefly important as furnishing the vehicle for a series of woodcuts whose execution is a marvel of delicacy and beauty. It would really seem that the art of engraving on wood could be carried to no higher point than is attained in some of them. These pictures were much and justly admired as they appeared originally in the pages of 'Harper's Magazine," but, as here printed on thick, laid and tinted paper, one gets a new sense of their excellence.
Strictly speaking, Colonel Waring's “Tyrol and the Skirt of the Alps " does not belong in the list
* Landscape in American Poetry. By Lucy Larcom. With Illustrations on Wood from Drawings by J. Appleton Brown. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Large Svo, pp. 128.
† Art in America. A Critical and Historical Sketch. By S. G. W. Benjamin. Illustrated. New York: Harper & Brothers. 4to, pp. 214.
Tyrol and the Skirt of the Alps. By George E. Waring, Jr. New York: Harper & Brothers. 4to, pp. 171.
of holiday books, but its unusually rich and tasteful binding, and its truly exquisite illustrations, would doubtless render it a graceful and acceptable memento of the gift-making season. The pictures, indeed, are so copious and so admirable as to relegate the text to a somewhat subordinate position, the author's simple and direct but rather home-spun style being a scarcely appropriate vehicle for such pomp of ornamentation. Colonel Waring is always judicious and sensible, with a special aptitude for those details which interest the "practical man"; and he has written an animated and no doubt perfectly accurate account of his travels in the Tyrol, in Venice, and in the lake region of Italy and Switzerland. But he has the practical man's contempt for fine writing, and his usual way of dealing with a particularly impressive or picturesque scene is to say that it would be hopeless for him to attempt to describe what an artist in words would describe, or has described, so much better, but that he enjoyed it as much as one who might be more voluble about it. The pictures, however, compensate for all such deficiencies in the text; and the book as a whole has this advantage over most holiday books-that it will maintain its interest all the year round.
Few books in our military biography are more readable than “The Life and Letters of Admiral Farragut," ," and the men whose life and deeds were equally deserving of record are probably fewer still. The career of Admiral Farragut extended over nearly the entire period of the existence of the American navy. As a boy he served in the War of 1812; as a youth he participated in those Mediterranean cruises which first made the United States known to Europe as a great naval power; and in the full maturity of his years and powers he directed the most important of those brilliant naval operations which contributed so largely to the overthrow of the Southern Confederacy.
The early life of Farragut was full of adventure and romance. By his father's side he was descended from a good Spanish family, whose record can be traced back to the fifteenth century; and his mother was a North Carolinian. At the age of eight he was adopted by Commodore David Porter, who had received kindnesses at the hands of Farragut's family while in New Orleans; and when little more than nine years old was appointed midshipman in the navy. In this capacity he accompanied Commodore Porter in his famous cruise in the Pacific Ocean, and served as captain's aide in the terrible fight of the Essex with the British ships Phoebe and Cherub. His professional precocity was such that at the age of thirteen he was intrusted by the Commodore with the temporary command of a vessel; and at the un
* The Life of David Glasgow Farragut, First Admiral of the United States Navy. Embodying his Journal and Letters. By his Son, Loyall Farragut. With Portraits, Maps, and Illustrations. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo, pp. 586.
usually early age of eighteen he received his appointment of lieutenant. Promotion in the navy is necessarily slow during peace, and it was not until 1842, when he was already forty-one years old, that Farragut obtained a commission as commander; and but for the civil war this was the highest grade to which he could have hoped to attain. Long before this, however, he had shown that he possessed exactly those qualities which are requisite in a great emergency; and when in January, 1862, the naval expedition against New Orleans was organized, he was selected as the officer best fitted to conduct it to a successful issue.
Much the larger part of the earlier portion of the biography is composed of selections from a journal which Farragut began to keep when only fourteen or fifteen years of age; and all this part of the narrative is extremely fresh and interesting. Few things of the kind in naval literature are more graphic and realistic than the description of the cruise of the Essex in the Pacific, and of her heroic defense against the combined attack of the Phoebe and the Cherub; and the later entries give us a very close view of life on board a man-of-war. The chapters, constituting the bulk of the work, which describe in detail Farragut's achievements during the civil war, are hardly so interesting to the general reader as the earlier narrative; but they are carefully and accurately written, and they cover the most memorable period in the history of our navy
THE second volume of the series "Classical Writers" is a monograph on Euripides by Professor J. P. Mahaffy, A. M. As was explained in our notice of the first volume ("Milton "), this series is designed primarily for use in schools and to meet the wants of special students, and elegance of expression and originality of view are less aimed at than the systematic and thorough presentation of facts which have stood the test of criticism. Judged by this standard, Professor Mahaffy's monograph is a praiseworthy and practically useful work. It is less interesting to the general reader, perhaps, than Mr. Stopford Brooke's similar volume on Milton; but the student will find in it all that he needs to know of the man Euripides, of the times in which he lived and the circumstances under which he wrote, of his distinguishing characteristics as a dramatist and poet, and of the history and fortunes of his works. Especially valuable, not merely to the student of Euripides, but to all students of the golden age of Greek poetry, is a chronological table of Euripides's life and times, giving a political and a literary and artistic chronicle in parallel columns.
.. Under the title of "Gems of Thought," *
*Gems of Thought: Being a Collection of more than a Thousand Choice Selections, or Aphorisms, from nearly Four Hundred and Fifty Different Authors, and on One Hundred and Forty Different Subjects. Compiled by Charles Northend, A. M. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
Mr. Charles Northend has brought together a collection of more than a thousand selections from nearly four hundred and fifty authors, classified under a hundred and forty different heads, from "Abstinence" (which had better have been cailed Temperance) to "Zeal." The selections are all brief, and for the most part moral and didactic, and, while some of them are gems of the purest water, others are a very inferior quality of paste. The author's reading appears to have been curiously limited in range, nearly all the more modern passages being taken from sermons or theological works, while under "Heroes," Carlyle, the great apostle of heroworship, who has written more fine things about heroes and heroism than all other writers combined, is not even mentioned. No doubt, however, the book will be found useful where a more copious collection would only repel.
. . . . The incomparable Chronicles of Froissart have been the great storehouse from which nearly all later writers have drawn their stories of chivalry and adventure, and are themselves not less fascinating to-day than when they charmed the court circles of Edward III. of England and King John of France five hundred years ago. Unfortunately, however, like so many other good and interesting books, they have long been crowded aside by the fleeting generations of ephemeral literature, and have been the occasional reward of a literary knight-errantry scarcely less daring than that which Sir John himself records. In "The Boy's Froissart," Mr. Sidney Lanier has undertaken the pleasant task of rendering this famous work acceptable to the class of readers by whom its peculiar fascination will be best enjoyed. By eliminating the drier descriptive pas sages and the somewhat tedious dialogues of the original work, and by rearranging what remains, he has produced a version which is much briefer than the original, and more intelligible, while retaining all its spirit, and fire, and romance. His own in troduction to the volume is very good, though he would have done well to bear in mind Dickens's earnest protest against "writing down" to any class of readers; and the illustrations are remarkably vigorous and animated.
... Encouraged by the success of his general anthology, Mr. Henry T. Coates has compiled a "Children's Book of Poetry," which he is perhaps correct in claiming to be the most comprehensive collection of the kind that has yet been made. It contains upward of five hundred poems, ranging
The Boy's Froissart: Being Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of Adventure, Battle, and Custom, in England, France, Spain, etc. Edited for Boys with an Introduction by Sidney Lanier. Illustrated by Alfred Kappes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 8vo, PP. 422.
†The Children's Book of Poetry carefully selected from the Best and most Popular Writers for Children. By Henry T. Coates. Illustrated with nearly 200 Engravings. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates. 8vo, pp. 525.
from lullabys and nursery rhymes to selections from the old English ballads, and fills a large and handsomely printed volume. All the old favorites are there, together with many new pieces which deserve to become favorites; but in his desire to secure comprehensiveness, the editor appears to have dispensed with any theory of selection or standard of merit. Everything in verse that referred to children or dealt with child-life has been gathered in, and a considerable portion of the volume is children's poetry only in the sense that none but children could be induced to regard it as poetry.
.... Few things in the way of fiction that have appeared in "Harper's Half-Hour Series" are so good as Mr. Barnet Phillips's novelette "Burning their Ships."* It is a piquant and animated story of American life, with some good character-drawing on a miniature scale, and written in a crisp and vivacious style, which affords a pleasure quite independent of the interest felt in the narrative itself. . . . Under the title of "Sealed Orders and Other Stories," † Miss Elizabeth Stuart Phelps has gathered nearly a score of the short stories and sketches which she has contributed to the various magazines since the appearance of her last collection. They show much ingenuity of invention, and a surprisingly uniform level of merit; but there is none, we think, quite so original and forceful as some of her earlier stories. . . . . "A Gentle Belle," by Christian Reid, is a lovestory of a pleasing if somewhat conventional kind, in which it is duly exemplified that the course of true love never does run smooth, but that the virtues and vices are duly rewarded in the end. . . . Additional volumes in the "New Plutarch" series, which started off so grotesquely with Mr. Leland's "Life of Lincoln," are "Judas Maccabæus," § by Claude Reignier Conder, R. E., and "Gaspard de Coligny," by Walter Besant, M. A. The story of Judas Maccabæus forms one of the most important episodes in Jewish history, "if only," as the author says, "because it explains how the nation first developed that peculiar phase of character which marked it at the time when Christianity was given to the world." The life of Admiral Coligny, the martyr of St. Bartholomew's day, affords the opportunity for describing that great catastrophe which proved to be the death-blow of the French Reformation, and which constitutes the most lurid page in the annals of the Church.
*Harper's Half-Hour Series. Burning their Ships. New York: Harper & Brothers. By Barnet Phillips.
18mo, pp. 120.
+ Sealed Orders and Other Stories. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Boston: Houghton, Osgood & Co. 16m0, pp. 345.
A Gentle Belle: A Novel. By Christian Reid. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo, pp. 142.
Judas Maccabæus, and the Jewish War of Independence. By Claude Reignier Conder, R. E. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 16m0, pp. 218.
| Gaspard de Coligny (Marquis de Chatillon). By Walter Besant, M. A. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 16mo, pp. 232.