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ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10441, 9 October 1897, Supplement
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN.
‘ White Ribbon,’ the organ of the Women’s Temperance Union, is a well-got-up paper, which concerns itself entirely with the betterment of the social and moral conditions of bur women. It properly knows no party in politics, and is not extreme in its views. At the back of it is a large union having at least fifty different branches in all parts of the colony. The size of the paper is to be increased as rapidly as possible without going into debt. It is a paper managed by women, owned by women, and edited by women; and though at present there may not be anything of very great merit in it, still its columns are open to any and every woman to ventilate there any frievence or give any information likely to e valuable to women.
‘ The Lonely God,’ by Coulson Kernahan (Ward, Lock, and Co., London, per Wise), is one of the ‘Strange Sms’ series, the realism of which have been generally admitted, rivalling Zola in the intensity of the vivisection of human passion, but having none of his uncleanness. When it is added that Lady Henry Somerset has stamped with her approval the first of the short stories—the conception of which she declares to be truly great—in this brochure, anyone can fake it up without the slightest dread of their finer moral or religious feelings being in any sense outraged. ‘ Cottage Cookery,’ forwarded to us by jeorge Robertson and Co , of Melbourne, is a republieation of the recipes and hints’to housewives supplied to the pages of the Melbourne ‘ Weekly Herald ’ by “ Rita,” whose knowledge of domestic economy and culinary methods is undoubted. The chapters devoted to invalid cookery, infant foods, the chemistry of our daily foods, and the hints on health and etiquette are not found in other publications of the kind ; therefore this little work should be highly acceptable to the heads of households. Airs Brightwen, F.E.S., has three times given to the world a book in which her intimacy with ‘Wild Nature’ has found genial expression and met with popular approval. She has now essayed something more designedly instructive in a book entitled ‘ Glimpses Into Plant Life,’ which Air T. Fisher Unwin will publish in the autumn. It is, in fact, an easy guide to the study of botany, and with its numerous illustrations by the author and Air Theo. Carreras at least makes for that end. It was the author’s belief that the many botany books which preceded hers might as well hive been written in Sanskrit, considering the nature of their appeal to the average intellect. It has been her intention to produce a work that should not bristle with Latinisms naked and unashamed. These terrible scientific weeds cannot wholly be uprooted, but she has deprived them of their thorns by the aid cf a copious glossary. Children are among the most fascinating products of real life, but invented children are not often a success. Ami between the flibberty gibbets of the immortal Helen aud the impeccable aristocrat known as Little Lord Fauntleroy lies the great army of urrecorded average children. Two of these have turned up in a literary sense to the surprise of a not altogether hardened publisher, aud have produced a book “ by themselves.” 1 Those Dreadful Twins, Bosun aud Aliddy,’ is the title, and the pictures thereof are real photographs of two real boys in sleep, in war, aud in mischief. It is a fact that they live in Kensington and patronise the Round Pond, that they go to school, and that they spend their holidays with a retired seaman with glistening white braces. They are devoted to one another, and in the long run, and taking one day with another, a good many people, including their relatives, and even a trade-engrossed merchant or two, is devoted to them. Air Unwin will publish the book in the autumn.
It is not Kcncrally known that the famous historian, M. Taine, left a posthumous work behind him which rient de pamii.re, in France under the title of ‘ Carnets de Voyage.’ Mr Fisher Uuwin has been fortunate enough to procure the English rights, and he will issue an illustrated translation in the autumn under the more precise title of ‘Journeys Through France : Being Impressions of the Provinces.’ The notes date from August, 1863, and were written in three successive years, during the journeys which Taine made as examiner for admission to the military school of Saint-Cyr. The volume may be compared with his ‘ Notes sur I’Angleterre,’ eto. Mr Unwin has had his translation “got up ” iu a form similar to that in which he produced h\s ‘ Riviera ’ and ‘ Rome aud Pompeii,’ volumes which were also translations.
Phil May has just signed a contract with George Allen to illustrate the new edition of Dickens which the Orpin gton publisher has resolved to bring out.
Our London correspondent, under date August 20, writes j—• It is a singular fact that, outride Scotland, the most_ sympathetic obituary notices of Mrs Oiiphant appeared in the Australian Prats. There was, I observed, a thoroughly appreciative leader in the Adelaide * Advertiser 1 on her work, and also well-informed articles in the ' Age,’ Sydney 1 Telegraph,’ and in several of the New Zealand papers. In the August ‘Bookman’ Miss Tulloeh draws a charming portrait ef this remarkable woman, which you who cared for her ought not to miss. Amongst other things au idea is given of her religious opinions. People who marvelled at the equal comprehension with which Mrs Oiiphant drew either an English clergyman or Nonconformist minister often wondered what her own beliefs were. Miss Tulloeh says :
Sue cared little, and attached no importance to ritual, and was at times impatient of it. as when in one of her many sorrows she wished the presence of one who would pray with her—“not out of a book.” And yet her sympathies were more with the High Church than the Low Church party in the Anglican Communion. She hud a deep sense of the Christian's communion with God in the Holy Sacrament, which was a Real Presence to her. Nothing could exceed the depth of her reverence and devotional feeling at the elevation of the Host when in a Roman Catholic church. _ At the supreme moment she seemed to believe in the doctrine of the Mass, though in what way it is difficult to say. She did not like Broad Church people as a rule, and I do not think she would have liked to be called Broad Church. She disliked all modern adjustments of the Gospel, and Unitarians such as Dean Stanley and Mrs Humphry Ward were not favorites with her. Unbelief was incomprehensible to her. She often said it was much easier for her to believe than not to believe. To her the difficulty was not to believe in revelation, and especially in the Fatherhood of God as revealed in our Lord.
The references to the painful close of Mrs Oliphant’s long life are particularly touching.
Traces of weariness were (the writer thinks) to be found in her otherwise blight and happy Jubilee articles. In them she seemed to take a long, lingering survey of her own life as well as of that of the Queen. Her thoughts turned a good deal upon the long illness and death of a dear little boy of one of my sisters. “How much better it will bo for him,” she wrote, “to commence the true life so soon, if we could only believe it. I have been thinking so much of the baby inmates of other countries, and it seems to me they must have a special place and a special blessedness, and get nearer God than any. ‘ Their angels do always behold the face of our Father which is in heaven’—your father said these words to me as I came out of the room in which my Maggie lay, and now I think ot her doing so much for her brothers.” And in another letter, dealing with the same thought and thinking of the children who died as God’s messengers, she breaks out: “God bless the radiant creatures; just human for love, all the rest heavenlv.” Much, too, iu her mind in the last days was the contrast between her own circumstances as she lay there dying and those of the Queen going forth on her triumphant progress to meet the cheers of her people. Five days before her death she wrote some lines about herself which she said she would like to see printed after her Jubilee verses already published iu the Juue ‘ Blackwood.’ In these she described herself as lying on the edge of the road poor and weary, weak and dazed, but looking up to the infinite blue of the great heavens and finding that all was Love—Love. Shortly afterwards the noble, heroic spirit passed into that Unseen which she seemed to know so well, and to which, if she cau, we may well believe she will beckon others.
Mark Twain’s next book may be an autobiography, portions of which would be new and portions taken from ‘ The Innocents Abroad,’ ‘ Roughing It,’ etc, Mr Clemens, like Morley Roberts, is one of those authors who has not only written of things, but has done them too. He has mined, and travelled, and starved, and flourished, and lectured, and printed, and experienced an earthquake, and watched bloodshed, and navigated steamboats on the Mississippi, and refused a subscription. His autobiography should be splendid. Despite the enthusiastic encomiums of J. M. Barrie, Mr Benj. Swift's 1 Nancy Noon ’ had but a momentary vogue, and is now forgotten. The youthful author has in hand another fiction, to bo called ‘ The Tormentor.’
The novels of W. H. Howells ore not, I fancy, much more popular in the colonies than they are at Home. It may, however, interest you to know that this author considers ‘A Modern Instance’ his strongest and ‘lndian Summer’ his beat book. ‘A Chance Acquaintance,’ however, made him most friends, white ‘The Undiscovered Country ’ is his wife’s favorite.
Mr Samuel Lsiog, who died the other day at a ripe old age, after a long and distinguished career, was loaf used by many with Andrew Lang. I once heard a man, who should have known better, wager £5 * Human Origins’ was by “dear Andrew with the brindled lochs.” His opponent replied: “Nonsense. You are thinking of ‘Modern Science and Modern Thought.’ That is Andrew Lang’s, if you like.” As a matter of fact, both books were Samuel Laing’s. The latter had a notable record as barrister, railway director, and politician before he touched literature. It was only, indeed, when bis official career had closed and bis parliamentary duties were no longer , demanding his energies Mr Laiug turned author. He had in 1863 written a book about India and China, embodying someof his personal observations and experiences, and had also published the results of a study of the prehistoric remains of Caithness. But his later works were of a different character. In 1885, the year of his retirement from the House of Commons, there appeared ‘ Modern Science and Modern Thought,’ a volume which was at the lime very widely read. The book aimed at being popular rather than technical, and had a decided success. * Problems of tho Future,’ published four years later, “was a natural sequel, dealing as it did with the developments which might be expected to follow upon the achievements of the recent past; while ‘ Human Origins,’ Mr Laing’s last hook, issued some five years ago, put into a readable form the fruits of discovery and speculation about the early days of the world’s history. Whatever may be the verdict on Mr Hajl Caine’s new novel ‘ The Christian,’ there can be no two opinions as to the glaring bad taste of his impudent puffs preliminary. For weeks past the papers have been full of them. The culminating offence occurred in the ‘ Daily News,’ an interviewer from which discovered the eminent novelist in an exhausted, if not sinking, condition—the result of his “ colossal labors " on this phenomenal fiction. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he
was not too far gone to be unable to talk | with sublime egotism for the best part of a column concerning his methods of work. These will not, I fear, strike even innocents as particularly remarkable. One has heard a few times before of novelists investigating, the East End, or even going to the Derby in the interests of realism. Where Mr Caine has struck out a new departure is in submitting his proofs to experts. “The proofs of my novel,” says he, “have been read by not less than twenty different persons, each a specialist in some walk of life, as divergent as, for instance, Albert Chevalier and Father Adderley. The literary editor of a big London daily read the whole book with a view to his suggesting any condensation which might seem advisable to him.” And so on. Not a bad form of advertising, was it ? The Authors’ Club do not like Mr Caine’s little ways, aud a member has been found to tell him so with much frankness. This gentleman points out: — ( When Mr Kipling writes such a poem as his ‘ Recessional ’ he does not state in public what he thinks of it, and how it came to be written. When Mr Barrie produces so fine a work as 4 Margaret Ogilvic’ there are no long interviews and explanations to advertise it before it appears. Theexcellcnceoftheliteraturc commendsthepoera or the talc to the discerning reader, and the ordinary advertising agencies presents its merit to the general public. As a literary man I would beg Mr Hall Gaiuc, to adopt the same methods. Mr Hall Came shook has not yet appeared—when it does appear I wish it every success —but I do think it unworthy of the dignity of our common profession that one should pick up paper after paper and read Mr Caine’s own comments on the gigantic task and the colossal work which he has just brought to a conclusion, with minute descriptions of i ts various phases and of the different difficulties which have been overcome. Surely in the case of another man Mr Caine would- clearly perceive that it is for others to say these things, and that there is something ludicrous and offensive about them when they arc self-stated. Each successive book of Mr Hall Caine’s has been self-heralded in the same fashion. All these wire pullings and personalities tend to degrade literature, and it is high time that every self-respecting man should protest against them, on no narrow individual grounds, but because it rests with us to preserve the honorable traditions which have been handed down from those great men who have preceded us. The alterations made in the ‘ Cornfcill ’ by Mr St. Loe Strechey have not, it is understood, improved the financial status of the periodical; and that gentleman retires shortly from the editorial chair. Mr Graves, author of the ‘ Hawarden Horace ’ and other anti-Gladstonian brochures,- succeeds him, but I fear it is out of bis power or anyone
else’s to revive the magazine’s pristine success without remodelling it. What suited readers of belles lettres in tho sixties and seventies won’t do at all now. Even the famous ‘ Alaga’ (Blackwood) with. alTits historic associations and influential clientele, is on the down grade.
.Next to Mr Stanley Weyman, the most successful English disciple of Dumas is, without doubt, the Indian Civil Service official Levett - Yeats. Hia ‘ Honor of Savelli ’ was a capital romance, and dealt with a peculiarly interesting period, and now we have another almost equally brisk and attractive .story fronv hia pen entitled ‘ The Chevalier D’Auriac.’ The period of this tale is a favorite one with novelists, as you will readily gather when I mention this; that Henry of Navarre appears early on the scene and blusters characteristically through the narrative. As for the high • born, chivalrous, and adventurous hero Auriac, not even D’Artagnan himself could give him points as a duellist and diplomatist; He fights the villain of the piece (needless to say, in defence of beauty in distress) in the first chapter and kills him in the last. Between whiles there are combats, escapes, and intrigues sufficient to satisfy even the greediest admirers of those old times. To all who want a wholesome historical romance I say read the ‘ Chevalier D’Auriac.’
‘The Choir Invisible’ (by James Lane Allen) is having a great vogue this summer in America, where 25,000 copies were sold in a few weeks. I have not read it yet owing to copies beiug temporarily unobtainable ; hub I look forward to doing so, as Mr Barry Pain says it will add a new pleasure to life. He dubs the tale one of those rare stories which make a direct appeal alike to the taste and the feelings of most men and women, and which afford a gratification that is far greater than that of mere critical approval. It is, in plain English, a beautiful book—beautiful in language and in sentiment, in dekign, and in execution. Its chief merit lies in.the fact that Mr Allen has grasped the true spirit Of historical romance, and has shown how fully he understands both the links which unite and the time-spaces which divide the different generations of man. The ‘Saturday Review’ •and ‘ Pall Alall ’ are also highly complimentary.
Besides the ‘ Invisible Man’ aud the ‘ War of the Worlds,’ Mr H. G. Wells has just completed a novel entitled ‘ Love and Mr Lewisham,’ which he has had in hand
| for more than a year. He is also preparing another scientific romance. As might be expected from the writer of ‘ The Wheels of Chance,’ Mr Wells is an enthusiastic cyclist. “ The cycle,” he told an interviewer the other day, “is one of the great blessings which the nineteenth century has brought us. Its value is simply inestimable to nervous men, and I think all writers are more or less troubled with nerves. There is no time to think of anything when you are on a piachine. It’s all nonsense for people to say that they think out stories and things when they are cycling. It is- just the simple fact that you are travelling so rapidly, and—however expert you may behave to mind what you are doing, which drives away all possibility of thinking of work, and that is the joy of it. All the cobwebs get brushed away from, the brain, and you return to your work really refreshed.” Mr Wells also let out that he thinks the ghastly ‘lsland of I)r Moreau’ his best book. “It has,” said he, “been stupidly dealt with, as a more shocker, by people who ought to have known better. The ‘Guardian’ critic seemed to be the only man who read it aright, aud who therefore succeeded in giving a really intelligent notice of it.” How mischievous and exasperating the “little knowledge which is a dangerous thing ” may be was shown us when Mr W. T. _ Stead thrilled humanity with ‘ The Maiden Tribute to Modern Babylon,’ and Mr Hall Caine has just afforded us another exemplification of the same truth in ‘The Christian.’ Here, of course, the work brine novel, glaring distortions of fact do not matter much. There would, indeed, have been small cause for reviewers to do more than marvel at Mr Caine’s exaggeration if this absurd little man had not, with much beating of drums and clashing of cymbals, : proclaimed them from the housetops unqueai tionable verities. Challenged to prove his preposterous pictures of London life, he replies: “I saw them myself.” And, no j doubt, he thinks he did. Mr Stead fancied I he discerned all sorts of horrors when, armored by a robust conscience and noble ■ purpose, he penetrated the purlieus of Pitn- ; lico and the stews of Stepney. But rigid investigation soon proved them to be frauds “ readied ” for the good man’s benefit or mere morbid imaginings. Mr Stead, in short, saw what bo wan ted to see and discovered what
he had determined to find out, and much the same thing has happened, to Hall Caine. Never was there, a novelist less fit to undertake a realistic fiction than this one. He is a romaucist of considerable powers, and in the ‘ Shadow of Crime,’ ‘ Tho Bondman,’ and above all, perhaps, ‘The Deemster,’ gave the world; good novels, for which it was properly grateful;, but ‘The Christian ’ resembles nothing so much, as an autumn melodrama at Drury Lane. The familiar scenes of London life are garish; bvoroolorad, caricatured, perhaps, effective undoubtedly, but not in the least like the real thing. Air Caine’s innumerable' types of modern life are,' as Max Beerbohm points out,' dashed' in without brilliancy, .and elaborated without insight. He lackt' both tact and intuition. His ruffians and'women of the streets are not in the least'real, as are Mr Arthur Morrison’s. His pictures of. the music hall and its agents and “ artistes ” are crudely conventional; For the, real thing one must turn to Mr Richard Pryce, who has drawn these folk with exquisite sympathy and humor in ‘Elementary Jane.’ Mr Caine’s ‘Seotchwoman ’ could have been done better by the humblest Kailyardcr, and is absurdly out bf place in a social milieu. His portrait of a fashionable canon is both dull and silly ; one thinks with a sigh of Mr Mallook’s very subtle portrait, Canon Bulman, in the ‘ Heart of Life.’ As for the smart folk, they are indeed amazing. Mr Caine, in one of tho puffs preliminary, of which he is past master, intimated that the fashionable scenes in ‘ The Christian’ had been revised by “an illustrious personage.” If this be so, I am sorry for the society H. R.H. keeps. Mr Caine’s guardsmen are unmitigated “bounders,” and his leading villain, Lord Robert Ure, might have stepped straight out of ‘ Comic Cuts.’ Not only does he wear a monocle, striped waistbands, and neckties of the nature of Joseph’s coat, but he never calls champagne anything but “ fizz,” says “ Helloa there,” and talks constantly of the “Bally Foreign Office.” This attractive creature seduces a flighty little nurse named Patty Love, and subsequently marries an American heiress, his victim committing suicide at the wedding. Tbs beat characters in the book are the hero and heroine, but even they are marred by exaggerations.
Buyer : “I want something nice in oil for a dining room.” Seller: “Yes, madam; a landscape or a box of sardines.”
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10441, 9 October 1897, Supplement
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