Page images
PDF
EPUB

sible to conceive. Nor will Bibliophilus less line; and nowhere in the rapid poetic find the book lacking in temperament, narrative is there a serious discrepancy for the soft, intricately stamped leather from Rowlandson's vigorous Hogarthcover and quaintly conceived title-page ian plates, which it was written to acagree most harmoniously with the ex- company quisite humor, poetic fancy, and all the If, during this ambrosial night and other kindred qualities of that light fan- long potation of the pride of life, any tastic pen which they embellish.

reader feel sharp compunction stir within The reader who has drunk his fill of him, he may find penitential reading in Peacock's inimitable distillation may the Bay Psalm Book. It was a sublime wish to round out the night by applica- adventure that called “the thirty pious tion to the good English ale of other and learned ministers "then in New Eng Early Victorian and Late Georgian hu- land to set all the Psalms of David over morists. Nothing can be more apt for into English metre; and it is a worthy the purpose of such an one than a series ambition that leads the present publishof reprints whose sleek red bodies and ers to call in the aid of Old Sol — subwhite labeled backs chime most conso- tlest of printers — in reproducing the nantly with their rubicund contents. The first volume printed in America. The Memoirs of John Mytton, the Napoleon metrical versions, not smoothed " with of English eccentrics, are as valuable to the sweetnes of any paraphrase," breathe students of the Byronic mood as they are more piety than poetry ; but they are full diverting to lovers of curious reading of the very quintessential spirit of quaintFor collateral reading with this veracious ness, and the page lacks only the savor memoir nothing could be more fit than of must in the nostrils of being an ideal the high-spirited sporting fiction wherein setting. Yet the last impression we bring R. S. Surtees set forth, in the ample away from the book is not that of rediction of his sub-title, " The Hunting, moteness and queerness, rather it is a Shooting, Racing, Driving, Sailing, Eat- feeling of the actuality and sempiterniing, Eccentric and Extravagant Exploits ty of what the men of those times were of that Renowned Sporting Citizen, Mr. pleased to call the motions of the Soul. John Jorrocks of St. Botolph Lane and Thus we are pleased to learn by the first Great Coram Street.” The amazing ac- words of the preface of the pious and tivity of those beefy times is still further learned ministers, that even in those and more strikingly shown in the Tour days church music was not always a of Doctor Syntax, and the other poems cause of congregational concord. For of William Combe, where his poetic fac- they tell us : “The singing of Psalmes, ulty is seen to be no mere trickling rill in though it breath forth nothing but holy a Castalian meadow, but a spring freshet harmony and melody: yet such is the and inundation. Yet in all the prodi- fubtilty of the enemie and the enmity of gious submerged area of his doggerel ver- our nature against the Lord, & his wayes, sifying there is hardly a dull or a nerve- that our hearts can finde matter of dif

1 Memoirs of the Life of John Mytton. By 'ored plates and woodcuts by John LEECH.
NIMROD. With colored plates by H. ALKEN and Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities. By R. S. SUR-
T. J. RAWLINS. The Life of a Sportsman. By TEES. With colored illustrations by H. ALKEN.
NIMROD. With colored plates by H. ALKEN. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1903.
The Tour of Doctor Syntax, The Second Tour of 2 The Bay Psalm Book. Being a facsimile
Doctor Syntax, The History of Johnny Quae Reprint of the First Edition Printed by STE-
Genus, The Dance of Life, each 1 vol. The PHEN DAYE At Cambridge in New England
English Dance of Death, 2 vols. All with col- in 1640. With an Introduction by WILBER-
ored illustrations by Thomas ROWLANDSON. FORCE EAMES. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.
Handly Cross. By R. S. SURTEES. With col- 1903.

IV.

cord in this harmony, and crotchets of the deep-rooted imaginative energy of division in this holy melody.”

racial integrity, at the same time that it endowed him with the wistful, brief

fecundity which so often appears in the To pass from the pleasant, busy land- hybrid. In Rossetti's work, poetry and scape, through which the reader of the painting were strangely interfused, and books we have been considering progresses in this arrangement of it the pictorial so wholesomely, to the devious coverts quality of his writing is strikingly maniof spiritual dismay which await him in fest, and the relation of the quality of his the poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti is art to the quality of his mind becomes a parlous affair. Yet the present pub- clear. Despite Miss Cary's and other lication of a notable edition of Rossetti's evidence of his bursts of epistolary anipoems,' illustrated from his own designs, mation, we do not get over the notion forces an issue which even a peace-lov- that he was a moody, preoccupied man. ing man like Bibliophilus cannot dare to Through this very preoccupation his passhirk. Let us follow him as, pulling the sionate dream of the world became deeply bolt upon his books, he grasps a stout colored and rich in beautiful detail. The staff, — which may be useful,- and fares depth of coloring and beauty of detail to his adventure.

appear equally in his pictures and in his In nearly all of its mechanical and poems. But in his pictures these qualieditorial details this edition is admirable. ties are adapted to the development of a The page is tall and noble-seeming, the composed theme, while in his poems — paintings excellently reproduced, and the save in sonnets where structure is given binding in commendable taste. Miss in the form, and in a few tales like the Cary has done her work well. One King's Tragedy where it is given in the wishes that more of Rossetti's paintings subject we have only a series of picmight have been offered, and that some turesque moments of arrested expression, of those given us might have been dis- slackly joined by an under-running mood. posed in a little easier contiguity to the The crystallizing heat of the true poetic poems they carnify. The propriety of fire is not there. We hear his sad music printing introductory notes continuously with its ravishing division ; we are subwith the poetical text and in the same jected to the witchery of a spell as sedutype is questionable ; but the notes them- cing as Lady Lilith's; yet, with all its selves are more than commonly intel- glamour, no poetry of this sort, so devoid ligent and sensible. All in all, by virtue of initial poetic energy, has ever proved of the presentation of both poems and more than a beautiful, short-lived hybrid. pictures, the chronological arrangement The reader of this new edition will not of them together with many earlier ver- see in its queer interfusion of poetry and sions, and the judicious statement of sig- painting any conscious and premeditatnificant biographical details, this is the ed Anderstreben, or Wagnerian striving best edition that we know of, to be studied after the effect of mingled arts; rather by a person wishing to get at the actual he will see a mind in which the visualizRossetti. It is, precisely, this Actual ing faculty of the painter and the sentiRossetti that will engage Bibliophilus and mentalizing faculty of the poet are inexhis stout staff.

tricably tangled in a mystical and unFor our final impression of the book is healthy temperament; in which neither that it contains the mongrel art of a man is of sufficient independent vigor to be whom a mixed ancestry had deprived of applied quite independently. As the

1 The Poems of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, with ELISABETH LUTHER CARY. 2 vols. New York: illustrations from his own designs. Edited by G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1903.

result of this he will find a dispropor- have startled the recluse of Woodbridge
tionate amount of imagery in the poems, could he in his retired and unlaborious
and an equally disproportionate amount days have foreseen such a monument
of sentiment in the pictures. Where the erected from the materials of his daily
poem and the picture are closely linked literary diversions. One who, already
together the effect is startling and phan- knowing his FitzGerald well, is lured by
tasmagoric; and this will be the interest- the dignified page and artfully contrived
ing and characteristic, if not the attrac- temperament of the set into a thorough
tive thing about Rossetti to the men of re-reading, so to taste again and re-mea-
the more classically minded age which is sure his joy in the Actual Books, will be
likely to succeed our own. To romantic not so much startled as more deeply de-
sensibilities easily touched by the wist- lighted and impressed.
fulness of beauty, or to shadowy souls Beginning with the four volumes of
who go mournfully adown the world, the letters, it is pleasant to notice that
“Ripae ulterioris amore,"

the letters to Fanny Kemble have been the appeal of the Blessed Damozel is the disposed in their proper chronological same whether she be painted in words places, thus giving to the collection someor in pigments. The malign light, as thing of the completeness and continuity of another world than ours of the sun, in of autobiography, and compensating in which Beata Beatrix sits ugly, unwhole a measure for Mr. Wright's extreme resome, and forlorn is the same that baffles ticence in the matter of biographical anand distorts our vision in the House of notation. Of the irresistible personal Life, - the same that Dr. Johnson in his charm of the letters it is as needless to Elysian conversation with Mr. William speak here, as it is impertinent to disWatson reprobated so severely.

course at large of the reality of learning,
the precision and intensity of taste, the

lively humanity, which everywhere in-
“The faces of the Madonnas are be- form them. It is enough to say that
yond the discomposure of passion, and they are of the priceless Actual Books
their very draperies betoken an Elysian of the world.
atmosphere where wind never blew.” When one comes to the volumes of
So wrote Edward FitzGerald in one of the translations of Æschylus and Sopho-
his casual, imperishable letters; and how cles and Calderon he is newly filled with
good it is to come up out of the dim and admiration for the mingled unction and
troubled places, whither our pursuit of grandeur of an English dramatic style,
Bibliophilus has led us, into the upper which in its harmonious union of racy,
air, the calm and quietude of high art, homespun speech with poetic phrases
there to hear one discoursing of great that go like arrows to the gold is nearer
things simply, in a style as pure and liv to the inapproachable Shakespearean
ing as ever mirrored the mind of a man style than that of any other dramatic
of genius :

writer in English for a hundred years. E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle.Nor will he complete the reading withTo the zeal of FitzGerald's authorized out an admiration still more profound publishers, and to the pious care of his for the intellectual force that would confriend Mr. Aldis Wright, we owe a lux vey into English both the pathos and the urious definitive edition of his complete ethos of alien drama, so fully and firmly, works in seven octavo volumes. It would and with so little loss. It is not easy to 1 Letters and Literary Remains of Edward

exaggerate the importance of such work. FitzGerald. 7 vols. London and New York: For all the long list of admirable transMacmillan. 1902–3.

lations that have appeared in our tongue

V.

1

since King Alfred set so high a standard graphers who have not been forgetful of in the translator's art, we are still far the popular appeal of lettered eccentribehind the Germans in the wealth of city. We know him for a sturdy sentitranslated literature which we possess. mentalist, who could ignore Rossetti and It is probably not too much to affirm rail at Mrs. Browning, yet weep over that there is no considerable piece of the Sophocles, Virgil, and Crabbe. If he world's literature which cannot be found was “eccentric” it was largely because done into German not only adequately, he preferred a breezy human talk with but brilliantly, — naturalized, as it were. the captain of his schooner to being The part played by such an inheritance bored in a parlor; the first-rate in literain enriching national culture is incalcu ture to the third-rate ; God's country to lable.

man's town. It is a fair question whether, from the As we by aid of the letters share his suffrage of the centuries, these free dra mood from his ardent, friendly youth matic translations may not appear to be down to his serene and solitary old age, a service to English literature greater we notice how tenaciously he held to the than the perfectly phrased and musical old friends and the old books; how, as rendering of the blasphemous Persian death and inevitable estrangement did Horace, greater than the faultless Eu their mortal work, he more and more phranor, with its exquisitely drawn pic found in these old books support against ture of young English manhood, greater, the failing and angustation of his life. even, than the incomparable letters. At "I read of mornings," he says, "the any rate, these two volumes, with their same old books over again, for I have dozen of plays, serve to put FitzGerald no command of new ones: Walk with quite out of that polite company of liter my great black dog of an afternoon, and ary idlers to which he is so often rele at evening sit with open windows up to gated. Despite his modest disclaiming, which China roses climb, with my pipe, they give evidence of a scholarship be while the black-birds and thrushes begin side which slovenly and ill-assimilated to rustle bedwards in the garden, and learning is seen for what it is, and of a the nightingale to have the neighborvital imaginative realization which could hood to herself.” He was the sincerest, only have been attained by the strictest sanest, most constant Book-lover since and most searching thought in a mind Lamb. of unusual native power. Furthermore, it is a good subject for psychologica) It is a moved and mellowed Bibliophinquiry by some earnest young man,

ilus that rises from this survey and perewhether there is not actually as much grination de fauteuil, and proceeds with volitional energy

as much overcom slippered shuffling to his bed. The Acing of organic inhibitions — involved in tual Books that have taken place within translating a difficult play from Greek him have left him the breath of a richer or Spanish as in taking a city.

being, and stirred him with the undulaThe character of Old Fitz emerges tions of a deeper self. So let us leave from this monumental collection of his him, stepping bedwards with no evil in classic"scribblings ” less eccentric, more his heart ; none toward those wan, sad human, more melancholy than he has women of the painter-poet; toward Mersometimes seemed to essayists and bio cator and his Units, none.

Ferris Greenslet. NO. 556.

18

VOL. XCIII.

ries.

THE editor of the Contemporary Men mentarily, to other traits that also belong The Contem- of Letters Series i

announces in the picture. Less truth would have POR MOS that its purpose is to pro- been somehow more true. Hazlitt had

vide brief but comprehensive a friend who bound Burke's Reflections sketches, biographical and critical, of liv on the French Revolution and Paine's ing writers and of those who, though dead, Rights of Man into one volume, claiming may still properly be regarded as belong- that together they made a very good ing to our time. European as well as book. If by some lucky accident Mr. English and American men of letters are Howells's delightful reminiscences of to be included, so as to give a survey of

Bret Harte in the December Harper's the intellectual and artistic life of a cos could be bound up with Mr. Boynton's mopolitan age. It is too soon to hazard study, we should have an excellent coma guess whether this new venture will seri posite portrait of the author of Dickens in ously dispute the territory now occupied Camp and the Outcasts of Poker Flat. by the well-known English and American Compared with Mr. Boynton's cool Men of Letters Series. Externally, as expertness in walking around his object compared with them, the new volumes and making swift sketches of it, Mr. are evidently to be much more brief, con Greenslet's book on Walter Pater retaining scarcely more than twenty to presents criticism of the “ laborious ori. twenty-five thousand words. Their typo ent ivory” order of workmanship. It is graphy is unusually attractive.

wrought with true inwardness, consumThe critical work of the authors of the mate refinement, a happy ingenuity, and first two volumes issued is already fami the merest touch, here and there, of

preliar to readers of the Atlantic. Mr. ciosity. Like Pater's own writing, it is Boynton's easy command of the resources intended for the judicious and attentive of sound objective criticism is seen to reader, for “modern young men of an good advantage in his study of Bret uncommercial turn.” The little book Harte. Independence of attitude, clarity invites and rewards the very closest and precision of treatment characterize scrutiny. If in certain passages there it throughout. The skillful, if somewhat are traces of a preference for the “huover-generous use of illustrative quota manistic” rather than the human, and tions supports his position, and as an for the superfine rather than the fine, assessment of the value of Bret Harte's these are faults which in our day of dicstories, Mr. Boynton's book leaves little tated composition and of blurred sense for the Judgment Day to complete. For for literary values

may
almost

pass for it is doubtless true, as Mr. Boynton re virtues. The third and fifth chapters, marks, that Bret Harte's talent was not devoted to Criticism of Art and Letquite of the first kind, and that “he had ters and The New Cyrenaicism, contain one brilliant vision and spent the rest of especially valuable contributions to the his life in reminding himself of it.” One intelligent study of Pater. Mr. Greenscannot quarrel with the essential justice let does not lack audacity, as witness his of this estimate. But in sketching Bret clever defense of his paradox that Pater Harte's personality, Mr. Boynton's right- is essentially a humorous writer. Of his eous and almost petulant resentment of many felicitous passages this description the elder author's idleness, extravagance,

of the “ African " quality of Pater's prose and irregularity seems to blind him, mo must serve as a single example :

1 Contemporary Men of Letters Series. Edited Walter Pater. By FERRIS GREENSLET. New by WILLIAM ASPENWALL BRADLEY.

York: McClure, Phillips & Co. 1903.
Bret Harte. By HENRY W. BOYNTON. New
York: McClure, Phillips & Co. 1903.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »