ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN.
Thus our London correspondent : If Messrs Harper really expect ' The Martiau' to achieve the success of ' Trilby' they must be sanguine persons, blessed with singularly small literary judgment. I really don't think I ever read a duller novel. All the faults of Du Manner's earlier work are there, and none of the virtues. Occasionally, no doubt, we come across interesting bits of obvious autobiography, but they are smothered in discursive and often painfully trivial chatter. Altogether «The Martian' is a great disappointment. Chaltos have just issued a new library edition of * Mau and Wife,' which was the last good novel Wilkie Collins wrote before opium deteriorated hia remarkable abilities. Readers of tho younger generation who dou't know the book can be confidently recommended to buy or borrow it. The character drawing is particularly strong, Geoffrey Delamayne, Sir Patrick Lundie, Bishopbriggs, and Annie Silvester being all exceptionally successful studies. Mark Twain's book—now finally christened ' Following the Equator'—is complete, and he has received £B,OOO for it, half of which goes to his creditors. The New York 'Critic' says it contains about seventy or eighty chapters, each one of which is headed with a new Pudd'nhead Wilson maxim. One of these reads: "The best protection of principles is prosperity." The poster that will be used in advertising • Following the Equator' represents Mr Clemens sitting tilted back in a steamer chair, with a yachting cap pulled well over his eye*. Under the picture, in a fac-3imile of his autograph, is the line : " Be good, and you will be lonesome." "As there is no one in sight," addq " The Lounger," " I take it that Mr Clemens is good." One may with certainty look for unußual cleverness in any new novelist introduced to the British public by William HeinemEnn. I took up 'The Gadfly,' by E. L. Voynich, with even extra expectations. The title was distinctly good, alluring, and suggestive of many possibilities, and the text on the title page audacious. Also, the story began well. There was novelty in the character of the sensitive dreamer Rivarez, whose faith in God and mm was rooted up eternally by the discovery of the treachery of two Jesuit priests, one of them his beloved friend and teacher. When, however, after a prolonged disappearance, Rivarez returns in the character of the sharp-tongued Gadfly, and the story plunges into the intricacies of Italian politics, it failed to hold me. The writer, Mr Voynioh, is an Amerioan, and has not read Mr Howells in vain. His fellow-countrymen are biting eagerly at 'The Gadfly.' Though the physical beauties of Marie Corelli are, doubtless for good and sufficient reasons, hidden from an adoring public, which clamors abortively for her portrait, we are not suffered for long to forget the intellectual perfections of the author of • Ziska.' The fair Marie's latest admirer is, curiously enough, a near relative—Annie Mackay. This lady has added to the happiness, if not to the gaiety, of nations by cutting from the Corelli masterpieces a selection of wise, witty, and tender sayiags. They are appropriately bound in a small green volume entitled 'The Beauties of Marie Corelli,' and will materially lighten the gloom of many an editorial sanctum even if they don't do anything else. Here are six samples. The familiar ring of the first is a delusion. You have never, never heard aught like it before:— Methinks those who are best beloved of the gods are chosen first to die.—From ' Ardath.' The heart-whole appreciation of the million is by no means so " vulgar" as it is frequently considered.—lbid.
We are never grateful enough to the candid persons who wake us from our dreams.—From • Vendetta.' Who can adequately describe the thrilling excitement attending an aristocratic "crush"?— From 'Thelma.' Genius is a big-thing; I do not assume to possess it.—From The Murder of Delicia.' -* Great Heavens!— From ' Ziaka.' The most interesting portions of Mr Whymper's new and comparatively inexpensive 'Guide to theMatterhorn' are extracted -from '"The Ascent of the Matterhorn,' published some fifteen years , ago and long out of print. Amongst other titbits the author gives his thrilling account of the fatalaccident which wound up the first successful asceno of that till then inaccessible peak, and cost the lives of Lord Francis Douglas,- Mr Hadow, Mr Hudson, and the chief guide (Michael Croz). It is an impressive little story. The party were descending cautiously. Michel Croz, the guide (wrote Mr Whymper), had laid aside his axe, and in order to give Mr Hadow greater security was absolutely, taking hold of hislegal arid putting his feet one byoneinto their proper-position. This, at least, ia the author's belief, although he admits that the two men were hidden from his sight by an intervening mass of rock. Mr Hadow appears to have slipped and ter have knocked over the guide in falling. The two men shot down the frozen Bnowy elope, dragging Mr Htfdson after them. Lord Do'ugUjs followed. The ]
two Taugwaldera and Mr'Whymper planted ther °cki would permit; the rope I™*"* betw eenus,and the jerk came on us as ?££ lT n - W rS Md, but the rope broke midr£Lw W !? n T and.lord Francis ?,n„r- aB V- Fo ?-? few Bf9°nds we saw our unforw£* °-companions sliding downwards on their backs and spreading out their hands endeavoring ™££ e the °^ elves - .They passed from our sight uninjured,,disappeared one by one, and then fell ;i«SK Pre vT lce «> .Precipice to the Matterhorngletcner below, a distance of nearly 4,000 ft. Whether their lives were sacrificed to the careless use of a rotten rope or whether naa•at-floti^bfo^en-'M^ : two Taugwaldera would also have perished is a question on which opinions will differ, but which will never be cleared up. There is no more pathetic story In Alpine climbing. The victims had just planted their flag on the summit and were descending, the arduous and most dangerous part of their task having been completed. Ihey died in the hour of their triumph. Ine horror-stricken survivors for a time were helpless. For the space of half an hour they remained on the spot without moving a single step. The two guides," paralysed by terror, cried like infants, and trembled in such a manner as to threaten us With the fate of the others." The descent was a terrible ordeal. The panic-3tricken laugwalders, father and son, might have slipped at any moment. Their nerve was lost. "Several times old Peter turned with ashy face and faltering limbs and said with terrible emphasis 'I cannot.'" The very face of Nature seemed changed by the catastrophe. When the party arrived upon the long slope descending towards Zermatt the danger was over. Lo ! three mighty crosses appeared rising above Lyskammhigh into the sky. Pale, colorless, and noiseless but perfectly sharp and well defined, except where it was lost in the clouds, this un earthly apparition seemed like a vision from another world The Taugwaldera thought it had some connection with the accident, and I alter awhile, that it might bear some relation to ourselves. But our movements had no effect on it. ine spectral forms remained motionless It was a fearful and wonderful sight, unique in my experience and impressive'beyond description, coming at sucn a moment. The phenomenon, however, seems to have been analogous to the fog-bow, and similar atmospheric manifeßtatations are not uncommon in the Arctic regions. Thus the Matte'rhoro, conquered at last, took terrible vengeance.
' Ttie Invisible Man,' Mr Wells's last contribution to semi-scientific romance, begins in a vein of farce, and ends in grimmest tragedy. I don't care at all for the opening chapters, which rise little above the level of Jules Verne, but the finale is tremendous. From the chapter which the Invisible Man describes to his old friend his complicated experiments and their highly uncomfortable and unfoween results, the tale moves at a great pace. We see him first of all a wrapt student, expecting marvels from invisibility. Instead he finds him3elf cold, naked, hungry, hunted from pillar to post, and more helpless than the meanest beggar; unable, too, to recover his visibility, though ever trying. Honors grow on him. From being an outcast he becomes a rebel—an enemy of society, one mm against the world, the maddest and most dangerous of anarchists. The neighborhood hunt him, and he hunts and terrifies the neighborhood, killing and maiming the weak and the old. Finally there takes place a grim tight for life between the Invisible Man and his old friend the doctor. The hunted terror of eosiety is caught at last, and most pitiful is the re-entry he makes into the visible world he left so boldly. The articles on 'My Contemporaries in Fiction' which Mr Christie Murray contributed to a syndicate of newspapers last year have now been revised and bound up in book form. Mr Murray places George Meredith at the top of the tree amongst liviog writers, Hall Caine second, and Kipling third. Few will be found to deny the claims of the first and last named. The complexity of his style and subtlety of his philosophy make Meredith's novels caviare to many of us. But there can be no question that three at least of them will live. Kipling, of course, appeals to a far vaster public Mr Murray's appreciation of him seems kind enough. But, ais a writer in the • Pall Mall' shrewdly points out, in is inadequate. For Kipling's pen has told us the story of men who would never have spoken for themselves—has taught us to admire the workers, not the spouters. "In straight-flung words and few" he has given a new ideal of duty and of honor—the two drummer boys marching alone against an army, the beardless subaltern dying cheerful in a cholera camp at honor's bidding, the weary Commissioner thinking, while his glazing eyes watch his wife's boat tack too slowly aoross the Indus, of his duty towards his charge—of duty without any palaver or high falutin'. The crimson thread of his sympathy for those who would never think of claiming any recognition for themselves seems to link our great Empire closer to the Mother Country. When the future historian comes to examine all the causes which marked the rise and growth of the Imperial idea during these later years the work of Rudyard Kipling will be appreciated to the full. As for Hall Caine, one can only say Mr Murray overrates him. His high-water mark—' The Deemster'—may live, but the less said of his later work the better.
THE GREAT EDITOR. Mr R. H. Hutton, of the 'Spectator,' whose long illness terminated fatally on Friday last, was one of the most remarkable judges of literature and influential editors of the Victorian era. Amongst the alumni of letters he for years held an absolutely unique position. The riding novelist, the budding bardlet, and ambitious essayist hungered above all things for his good word. A favorable notice in the ' Spectator' gave a new book a cachet it could obtain in no other way. Matthew Arnold used to say that he owed his readers to an appreciation of Mr Hutton, and all the world knows that he discovered William Watson the poet.,, As editor and journalist Hutton practically founded a school to counteract the ' Saturday Review' (then in its hey-day) influences. It discouraged flashy, meretricious criticism _ and savage snarling, and itß characteristics were a reverent care for the best in life and letters, a Bturdy ohampionship of religion, sobriety, and earnestness. I remember once, at the time when the 'National Observer' seemed to be shrivelling up the old sixpenny weeklies with its smart young men, hearing a discussion at the Savile Club. The current number of Henley's paper contained, in addition to the usual brilliant reviews by Whibley and Co., papers by Barrie and Stevenson and some verso by the then but partially-known Kipling. " What dull reading is this podgy, prolix, priggish stuff of Hutton'sbeside the 'NationalObserver ] "said a young barrister, flinging down the 'Spectator ' contemptuously. " Don't blaspheme," quoth Andrew Lang. "Grandmamma Hutton can't be done without. His sobriety is invaluable. Moreover, let me tell you, Mr Inkspiller, a good word (if you can get it) in the ' Spectator' will sell your next book better than a column of compliments in Henley's bundle of squibs."- And this was perfectly true. Four years ago the ' Speaker' paid an interesting tribute to Mr Hutton. " His individuality it is," it said, " which we find impressed upon every page of the review, and in its successive phases of political thought it is his mental wanderings which it has followed. Bit by bit the conviction has been forced «ipon many of us that if English journalism has a chief—and even a Republic acknowledges a head—he is to be found in Mr Hutton.' And great as the distinction of being the 'chief newspaper man' of his generation must be under any circumstances, it is immeasurably increased when we consider under what circumstances it has been acquired by the editor of the-'Spectator.' He has certainly not gained it either by an exceptional gift in the way of that flashy writing which is so dear to the Philistine public, nor by any of those adventitious circumstances which sometimes force a journalist into prominence. The 'Spectator' has never pretended to be more than a review, in which the opinions of certain'men upon the questions of the hour were to be found. It was never the mere advocate of a particular party, and when a few years ago it ceased to be the representative of the cause which it had so long championed . with such success there was not a single man among its readers who had the right to approach it or to charge its editors with backsliding. It continued to be what it had been all along, the perfectly honest and straightforward exponent 0! the opinions of certain able and indepen-1
dent men. Bub that which afcamps the: Spectator'with a oharaoter of its own is the fact that for thirty years past through its pages the reading public of Great Britain nave been brought into constant contact with a powerful and noble mind, and that here, without any bragging over the great-' ness of the functions of the Press or any attempt at self-advertisement or self-eulogy, we have seen a great journalist exercisng those functions without fear and without reproach, to the lasting benefit of his fellow creatures.
rr PersonaUy--Mt.\Hutton' was the'-most modest and magnanimous of individuals. He 13 the only man I ever heard of who forgave, another, for. mistaking him for a waitetr The story' goes" that Mr "Le G allienne went to a. reception in the hope of meeting Hutton.. Unfortunatelv he did riot know him by sight, anddid not "realise that in giving some sharply-worded instructions to a-person whom he took to be a waiter he had actually been addressing the great editor. I hei latter bore him no grudge, and when- Lo talhenne s poems appeared they received, if anything, from the ' Spectator.' Mr Hutton was the son of Dr Hutton, many years Unitarian minister in Birmingham, and the influence of Dr Martineau is easily visible in his earlier writings. In middle age he drifted into the Church of England, and latterly, it was alleged, developed Romish tendencies. That story, however, I believe untrue. Dr Robertson Niooll, in the course of some remark* on Mr Hutton in the 'British Weekly' says:— •
When Mr Chamberlain began to become prominent he was not a stranger to Mr Hutton, of the spectator. Many years before both of them had attended the same Unitarian Chapel in Carter's lane, ministered to for many years by Mr Hutton s father, the Rev. Dr Hutton. The lather of Joseph Chamberlain was one of the most uncompromising Unitarians to be found anywhere. Joseph Chamberlain, at that time a young, reticent, self-contained, carefully-dressed lad, was one of the Sunday school teachers in connection with the chapel. He has always done everything thoroughly and his Sunday school teaching was no exception. It was done with the utmost punctuality aud assiduity, although Mr Chamberlains manner was too reserved for his feUow-teachers. Mr Solly, Dr Hutton's successor, conceived the idea of having a Bible class for young men in his church, and said to the elder Mr Chamberlain that he hoped Joseph would attend. Mr Chamberlain replied that he was sure his 6on would have been very glad to take advantage of the class, but that he had just decided to put him into business in Birmingham. For years after Mr Chamberlain minded his business, and with such results that at a very early age he was able to take a prominent part in politics.
Permanent link to this item
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Evening Star, Issue 10476, 20 November 1897, Supplement