« ElőzőTovább »
ably abundant in the very heart of Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, etc.; the snow-bird is described as nesting in the White Mountains (p. 314), while the more remarkable fact that it nests on Monadnock is omitted; the meadow-lark is described as only remaining in New England through “mild winters” (p. 344), whereas near Newport it remains during the coldest seasons, more abundantly than any other conspicuous bird. These, however, are subordinate points, and there is no important matter in which we have seen any reason to impugn the author's accuracy. The inequality which marks the internal execution of this book marks also its externals. The plates of eggs—four in number, comprising thirty eggs—are admirable; while the plates representing birds are of the most mediocre description, and do discredit to the work. With all these merits and demerits, the book is of much value, because an unsatisfactory manual is far better than none. It does not take the place of that revised edition of Nuttall, which is still the great desideratum, but we may use meanwhile an eminently ornithological proverb, and say that a Samuels in the hand is worth two Nuttalls in the bush.
Richmond during the War. Four years of Aersonal Observation. By a Richmond Lady. New York : G. W. Carleton and Company.
MR. CURTIs, in his charming book, “Prue and I,” speaks of the novel effect of landscape which Mr. Titbottom got by putting down his head, and regarding the prospect between his knees; and we suppose that most ingenious boys, young and old, have similarly contemplated nature, and will understand what we mean when we say that the world shows to much the same advantage through the books of Southern writers. Especially in Southern histories of the late war is the effect noticeable. The general outline is the same as when viewed in the more conventional manner, with ideas and principles right side up ; the objects are the same, the events and results are the same; but there is a curious glamour over all, and the spectator has a mystical feeling of topsy-turvy, ending in vertigo and a disordered stomach.
The present book is in the spirit of all other subjugated literature concerning the war.- a vainglorious and boastful spirit
as to events that led only to the destruction of the political power of the South; a wronged and forgiving, if not quite cheerful, spirit as to the end itself. Vivid and powerful presentation of facts would not perhaps be expected of an author who calls herself “A Richmond Lady,” and there is nothing of the sort in the book. It contains sketches of public Rebels in civil and military station, washed in with the raw yellows, reds, and blues of Southern eulogy; and there is a great deal of gossip concerning private life in Richmond, where everybody appears to have spoken and acted during the four years of the war as if in the presence of the photographers and short-hand writers, and with an eye single to the impression upon posterity. It is an eloquent book, and—need we say?– a dull one.
Aathrina: her Life and mine, in a Poem. By J. G. Holland, Author of “BitterSweet.” New York: Charles Scribner and Company.
LET us tell without any caricature of ours, in prose that shall be just if not generous, the story of Mr. Holland's hero as we have gathered it from the work which the author, for reasons of his own, calls a poem. The petted son of a rich widow in Northampton, Massachusetts, whose father has killed himself in a moment of insanity, reaches the age of fourteen years without great event, when his mother takes him to visit a lady friend living on the other side of the Connecticut River. In this lady's door-yard the hero finds a little lamb tethered in the grass, and decked with a necklace of scarlet ribbon, and, having a mind for a frolic with the pretty animal, the boy unties it. Instantly it slips its tether from his hand, leaps the fence, and runs to the top of the nearest mountain, whither he follows it, and where, exalted by the magnificence of the landscape, he is for the first time conscious of being a poet. Returning to his anxious mother, she too is aware of some wondrous change in him, and says: “My Paul has climbed the noblest mountain height In all his little world, and gazed on scenes As beautiful as rest beneath the sun. I trust he will remember all his life That to his best achievement, and the spot Nearest to heaven his youthful feet have trod, He has been guided by a guileless lamb. It is an omen which his mother's heart Will treasure with her jewels.”
Resolved to give him the best educational advantages, his mother sends him to Mr. Bancroft's school; or, as Mr. Holland sings, permits him
“To climb the goodly eminence where he
In whose profound and stately pages live
Here the hero surpasses all the other boys in everything, and but repeats his triumphs later when he goes to Amherst College. His mother lives upon the victories which he despises; but at last she yields to the taint which was in her own blood as well as her husband's, and destroys herself. The son, who was aware of her suicidal tendency, and had once overheard her combating it in prayer, curses the God who would not listen to her and help her, and rejects Him from his scheme of life.
In due time he falls in love with Kathrina, a young lady whom he first sees on the occasion of her public reception into the Congregational Church at Hadley. Later he learns that she is staying with the lady whose pet lamb led him such a chase, — that she is in fact her niece, and that she has seen better days. We must say that this good lady does everything in her power to make a match between the young people ; and she is more pleased than surprised at the success of her efforts. It has been the hero’s idea that human love will fill up the void left in his life by the rejection of God and religion; but he soon finds himself vaguely unhappy and unsatisfied, and he determines to glut his heart with literary fame. He goes, therefore, to New York, and succeeds as a poet beyond all his dreams of success. For ten years he is the most popular of authors; but he sickens of his facile triumph, and imagines that to be happy he must write to please himself, and not the multitude. He writes with this idea, but pleases nobody, and is as unhappy as ever.
Meanwhile, Kathrina has fallen into a decline. On her death-bed she tells him that it is religion alone which can appease and satisfy him; but she pleads with him in vain, till one day, when he enters her room, and is startled by a strange coincidence : the lamb, which led him to the mountain-top and the consciousness of poetic power, had a scarlet ribbon on its neck, and now he finds this ribbon
“at her throat
Then Kathrina tells him that his mother's spirit has talked with her, and bidden her say to him this : —
“The lamb has slipped the leash by which his hand
Whereupon, having delivered her message, Kathrina bids him kneel. It is the supreme moment of her life. He hears his mother's voice, and the voice of the innumerable heavenly host, and even the voice of God repeating her mandate. He kneels, and she bids him pray, and, as before, all the celestial voices repeat her bidding. He prays and is saved. Such is the story of Kathrina, or rather of Kathrina's husband, for she is herself scarcely other than a name for a series of arguments, with little of the flesh and blood of a womanly personality. We have too much reverence for high purposes in literature not to applaud Mr. Holland's good intent in this work, and we accept fully his theory of letters and of life. Both are meagre and unsatisfactory as long as their motive is low; both must yield unhappiness and self-despite till religion inform them. This is the common experience of man; this is the burden of the sayings of the sage from the time of Solomon to the time of Mr. Holland; and we can all acknowledge its truth, however we may differ as to the essence of religion itself. But we conceive that repetition of this truth in a long poem demands of the author an excellence, or of the reader a patience, all but superhuman. How Mr. Holland has met the extraordinary demand upon his powers is partly evident from the outline of the poem as we have given it. It must be owned that it is rather a feeble fancy which unites two vital epochs by the incident of the truant lambkin, and that the plot of the poem does not in any way reveal a great faculty of invention. A parable, moreover, teaches only so far as it is true to life; and in a tale professing to deal with persons of our own day and country, we have a right to expect some fidelity to our contemporaries and neighbors. But we find nothing of this in “Kathrina,”—not even in the incident of a young gentleman of fourteen sporting with a lambkin ; or in the talk of young people who make love in long arguments concern
a nicer touch. If this is not yet shown nature. All culture, all art, without in the way of literature, it is only be- this, must be but rootless flowers, such cause the time has not come. It is as flaunt round a nation's decay. All visible everywhere else. The aim which the long, stern reign of Plymouth Rock Bonaparte avowed as his highest am- and Salem Meeting-House was well bition for France, to convert all trades spent, since it had this for an end, into arts, is being rapidly fulfilled all to plough into the American race the around us. There is a constant tenden- tradition of absolute righteousness, as cy to supersede brute muscle by the the immutable foundation of all. This fibres of the brain, and thus to assimi- was the purpose of our fathers. There late the rudest toil to what Bacon calls should be here no European frivolity, “sedentary and within-door arts, that even if European grace went with it. require rather the finger than the arm.” For the sake of this great purpose, hisIt is clear that this same impulse, in tory will pardon all their excesses, higher and higher applications, must cul- overwork, grim Sabbaths, prohibition of minate in the artistic creation of beauty. innocent amusements, all were better
And to fortify this fine instinct, we than to be frivolous. And so, in these may trust, secondly, in the profound later years, the arduous reforms into earnestness which still marks our peo which the life-blood of Puritanism has ple. With all this flexibility, there is passed have all helped to train us for yet a solidity of principle beneath, that art, because they have trained us in makes the subtile American mind as earnestness, even while they seemed to real and controlling as that of the robust run counter to that spirit of joy in race from which it sprang. Though which art has its being. For no joy is the present tendency of our art is to joyous which has not its root in somewards foreign models, this is but a tem- thing noble. In what awful lines of porary thing. We must look at these light has this truth been lately written till we have learned what they can teach, against the sky! What graces might but a race in which the moral nature is there not have been in that Southern strongest will be its own guide at last. society before the war? It had ease,
And it is a comfort thus to end in affluence, leisure, polished manners, the faith that, as the foundation of all European culture, - all worthless; it true greatness is in the conscience, so produced not a book, not a painting, we are safe if we can but carry into not a statue ; it concentrated itself on science and art the same earnestness politics, and failed; then on war, and of spirit which has fought through the failed; it is dead and vanished, leaving great civil war and slain slavery. As only memories of wrong behind. Let “ the Puritan has triumphed” in this us not be too exultant; the hasty wealth stern contest, so must the Puritan tri- of New York may do as little. Intelumph in the more graceful emulations lect in this age is not to be found in the that are to come ; but it must be the circles of fashion ; it is not found in Puritanism of Milton, not of Cromwell such society in Europe, it is not here. only. The invigorating air of great Even in Paris, the world's capital, immoral principles must breathe through perialism taints all it touches; and it is all our literature ; it is the expanding the great traditions of a noble nation spirit of the seventeenth century by which make that city still the home of which we must conquer now.
art. We, a younger and cruder race, It is worth all that has been sacri- yet need to go abroad for our standard ficed in New England to vindicate this of execution, but our ideal and our one fact, the supremacy of the moral faith must be our own.
A YOUNG DESPERADO.
B aldrich. N HEN Johnny is all snugly curled sponsibility of allowing Johnny to call W up in bed, with his rosy cheek me father. resting on one of his scratched and Johnny's aggressive disposition was grimy little hands, forming altogether a not more early developed than his duperfect picture of peace and innocence, plicity. By the time he was two years it seems hard to realize what a busy, of age, I had got the following maxim restive, pugnacious, badly ingenious lit- by heart: “ Whenever J. is particularly tle wretch he is! There is something quiet, look out for squalls.” He was so comical in those funny little shoes sure to be in some mischief. And I and stockings sprawling on the floor, - must say there was a novelty, an unexthey look as if they could jump upland pectedness, an ingenuity, in his badrun off, if they wanted to, there is ness that constantly astonished me. something so laughable about those lit- The crimes he committed could be artle trousers, which appear to be making ranged alphabetically. He never revain attempts to climb up into the easy- peated himself. His evil resources chair, — the said trousers still retaining were inexhaustible. He never did the the shape of Johnny's little legs, and re- thing I expected he would. He never fusing to go to sleep, -- there is some failed to do the thing I was unprepared thing, I say, about these things, and for. I am not thinking so much of the about Johnny himself, which makes it time when he painted my writing-desk difficult for me to remember that, when with raspberry jam, as of the occasion Johnny is awake, he not unfrequently when he perpetrated an act of original displays traits of character not to be cruelty on Mopsey, a favorite kitten in compared with anything but the cun- the household. We were sitting in the ning of an Indian warrior, combined library. Johnny was playing in the with the combative qualities of a trained front hall. In view of the supernatural prize-fighter.
stillness that reigned, I remarked, susI'm sure I don't know how he came piciously, "Johnny is very quiet, my by such unpleasant propensities. I am dear.” At that moment a series of pamyself the meekest of men. Of course, thetic mews was heard in the entry, I don't mean to imply that Johnny in- followed by a violent scratching on the herited his warlike disposition from his oil-cloth. Then Mopsey bounded into mother. She is the gentlest of women. the room with three empty spools strung But when you come to Johnny – he's upon her tail. The spools were rethe terror of the whole neighborhood. moved with great difficulty, especially
He was meek enough at first, -- that the last one, which fitted remarkably is to say, for the first six or seven days tight. After that, Mopsey never saw of his existence. But I verily believe a work-basket without arching her torthat he was n't more than eleven days toise-shell back, and distending her tail old when he showed a degree of temper to three times its natural thickness. that shocked me, - shocked me in one Another child would have squeezed the so young. On that occasion he turned kitten, or stuck a pin in it, or twisted very red in the face,- he was quite her tail ; but it was reserved for the red before, doubled up his ridiculous superior genius of Johnny to string hands in the most threatening manner, rather small .spools upon it. He never and finally, in the impotency of rage, did the obvious thing. punched himself in the eye. When I It was this fertility and happiness, if think of the life he led his mother and I may say so, of invention, that preSusan during the first eighteen months vented me from being entirely dejected after his arrival, I shrink from the re- over my son's behavior at this period. Sometimes the temptation to seize him could read him as cleverly as he reads and shake him was too strong for poor me. He knows all my weak points; human nature. But I always regretted he sees right through me, and makes it afterwards. When I sai hint asleep me feel that I am a helpless infant in in his tiny bed, with one tear dried on his adroit hands. He has an argumenthis plump velvety cheek and two little ative, oracular air, when things have mice-teeth visible through the parted gone wrong, which always upsets my lips, I could n't help thinking what a dignity. Yet how cunningly he uses little bit of a fellow he was, with his his power! It is only in the last exfunny little fingers and his funny little tremity that he crosses his legs, puts nails; and it did n't seem to me that his hands into his trousers-pockets, and he was the sort of person to be pitched argues the case with me. One day last into by a great strong man like me. week he was very near coming to grief.
“When Johnny grows older," I used By my directions, kindling-wood and to say to his mother, “I'll reason with coal are placed every morning in the him."
library grate, in order that I may have Now I don't know when Johnny will a fire the moment I return at night. grow old enough to be reasoned with. Master Johnny must needs apply a When I reflect how hard it is to reason lighted match to this arrangement early with wise grown-up people, if they hap- in the forenoon. The fire was not dispen to be unwilling to accept your view covered until the blower was one mass of matters, I am inclined to be very of red-hot iron, and the wooden mantelpatient with Johnny, whose experience piece was smoking with the intense is rather limited, after all, though he is heat. six years and a half old, and naturally When I came home, Johnny was led wants to know why and wherefore from the store-room, where he had been Somebody says something about the imprisoned from an early period, and duty of “blind obedience." I can't where he had employed himself in expect Johnny to have more wisdom eating about two dollars' worth of prethan Solomon, and to be more philo- served pears. sophic than the philosophers.
" Johnny,” said I, in as severe a tone At times, indeed, I have been led to as one could use in addressing a person expect this from him. He has shown whose forehead glistened with syrup,a depth of mind that warranted me "Johnny, don't you remember that I in looking for anything. At times he have always told you never to meddle seems as if he were a hundred years with matches ?" old. He has a quaint, bird-like way It was something delicious to see of cocking his head on one side, and Johnny trying to remember. He cast asking a question that appears to be one eye meditatively up to the ceiling, the result of years of study. If I could then he fixed it abstractedly on the answer some of those questions, I canary-bird, then he rubbed his ruffled should solve the darkest mysteries of brows with a sticky hand; but really, life and death. His inquiries, however, for the life of him, he could n't recall generally have a grotesque flavor. One any injunctions concerning matches. 'night, when the mosquitoes were mak- “I can't, papa, truly, truly,” said ing lively raids on his person, he ap- Johnny at length. “I guess I must pealed to me, suddenly: “How does have forgot it." the moon feel when a skeeter bites it?” “Well, Johnny, in order that you To his meditative mind, the broad, may not forget it in future — " smooth surface of the moon presented Here Johnny was seized with an idea. a temptation not to be resisted by any He interrupted me. stray skeeter.
“I'll tell you what you do, papa, — I freely confess that Johnny is now you just put it down in writin'.” and then too much for me. I wish I With the air of a man who has set