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BOOKS NEW AND OLD.
A FEW SPRING NOVELS.
The flood of spring fiction," like other The pitiful relics of the proud old race spring floods, has been formidable in pro- which had reigned for generations at portion to the length and severity of the Blake Hall, going their ways of careless winter; but the river in which we stagger magnificence, and adored, in the main, will at least not ignite.
by the ever increasing swarms of their Out of a score or more of smartly at- childish dependents, are now reduced to tired volumes the most important among dire penury, and living a life of grinding the native American products is the toil, on the produce of a small fragment Deliverance, by Miss Ellen Glasgow,- of the ancestral tobacco fields, in the and even this is hardly up to the high house which was once the overseer's ; level of the author's previous work. It while the overseer, Bill Fletcher, a hoary is neither as broad and sane, nor as reprobate, who had stolen, bit by bit, all masterly in its grasp of complex and that was left of the Blake possessions chaotic social conditions, as the Voice of after the fall of the Confederacy, is inthe People ; nor has it all the solemn stalled in their place at the Hall. unity and concentrated pathos of the The hero of the tale is Christopher Battle Ground. Nevertheless, it is a Blake, the youngest child of the fallen searching and a striking book; and, like family, and the intrigue turns upon the its predecessors, it is especially interest- conflict in his warped mind between a ing for the strong light it sheds on what, steadfast purpose of revenge upon the after a lapse of forty years, is only now usurper and his love for the usurper's beginning dimly to be perceived as one granddaughter. The details of the story of the most momentous consequences to are necessarily painful. The father of our whole country of the war of seces- the Blake children had fallen early in sion, — the death, namely, and by vio- the war. The mother, blind, paralyzed, lence, or, at least, the mortal hurt, – and with memory much impaired, but of a comparatively ripe white civilization stately and overbearing still, is actually in the Southern United States.
kept in ignorance, through the pious menThe scene of the Deliverance is laid dacity of her children and one or two in Virginia. The time is about twenty devoted old servants, of the fact that they years after the close of the civil war. are no longer living at the Hall, and even
1 The Deliverance. By ELLEN Glasgow. Kwaidan. By LAFCADIO HEARN. Boston New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1904. and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1904.
Henderson. By Rose E YOUNG. Boston Cap'n Eri. By Joseph C. LINCOLN. New and New York : Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1904. York: A. S. Barnes & Co. 1904.
An Evans of Suffolk. By Anna FARQUHAR. Mrs. M'Lerie. By J. J. BELL. New York: Boston: L. C. Page & Co. 1904.
The Century Co. 1904. The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen. Lon- Running the River. By GEORGE CARY EGdon and New York: The Macmillan Co. GLESTON. New York: A. S. Barnes & Co. 1904.
1904. Violett: a Chronicle. By the BARONESS Said the Fisherman. By MARMADUKE PICKvon HUTTEN. Boston and New York: Hough- THALL. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co. ton, Mifflin & Co. 1904.
1904. The Day before Yesterday. By SARA ANDREW The Great Adventurer. By ROBERT SHACK LESHAFFER. New York: The Macmillan Co. FORD. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1904.
that the Southern Confederacy is no more. a blossom of time, long prepared, and If this deluded lady, and her brother, – slowly perfected. A revolution tears the a ruined Confederate officer, — horribly flower from its delicate stem, and grinds maimed and mutilated, but of an exceed- it into the dust. The revolution may ing sweet and gallant spirit, and, on the have been, by all historic law, a rightother hand, the coarse monster installed eous one; the flower not worth, upon the at Blake Hall, seem collectively a trifle whole, the lavish cost, to humanity, of its overdrawn, it cannot be said that either culture. The doomed order may have is an impossible, or even an improbable served its purpose, and deserved its figure: while that is indeed a keen ob fate. That is not now the point; but server, and a skilled artist as well, who simply the fact that something fair must can thus draw the hero of the Deliver needs perish even in a so-called holy ance as he first appeared to Fletcher's war,
which it will take uncounted lawyer, when the latter came to Christo years
peace to recreate. pher as the bearer of a peculiarly insult One of the most memorable passages ing proposition :
in that very stimulating and instructive “He perceived, at once, a certain book, Trevelyan's History of the Americoarseness of finish which, despite the can Revolution, is that in which the audeep-seated veneration for an idle ances thor turns aside from his lively narratry, is found most often in the descendants tive of the sequence of events in 1776, of a long line of generous livers. A mo to describe the modest affluence and quiet ment later, he weighed the keen gray beauty which had, by that time, come flash of the eyes, beneath the thick fair to characterize a good many of the rural hair, the coating of dust and sweat over homes in New York and New Jersey, so the high-bred curve from brow to nose, soon to be laid waste by the hireling troops and the fullness of the jaw, which bore, of his most sapient Majesty George III. with a suggestion of sheer brutality, upon The Whig historian paints a wistful and the general impression of a fine, racial beguiling picture of what the mere outtype. Taken from the mouth up, the ward aspect of life on the Atlantic seaface might have passed as a pure, fleshly board might have been by this time if copy of the antique ideal; seen down the American Revolution had never taken ward, it became almost repelling in its place. It is the race-ideal of the English massive power.”
home : “All things in order stored. A The plan of reprisals over which haunt of ancient peace,”
- a vision of Christopher Blake brooded throughout mild manners, healthful growth, modhis growing years was a ruthless, not to erate standards, and mellow surroundsay a revolting one. How he achieved ings. He can hardly be consoled for his grim purpose, and then, when sud- those lost amenities, and neither, for the denly awakened to a sense of its moral moment, can I. Yet even there, in enormity, what he voluntarily under what used, in those far days, to be called went by way of expiation, may best be the Middle States, - and though that read in the book itself. The title of the favored region was, and remained until tale foreshadows a hopeful conclusion, the long conflict was over, a chief theatre and we gladly accept its augury. Never- of military operations, the decivilizing theless, it is, as I have said, the haunting consequences, to a young community, thought of a civilization untimely slain, of seven years of war were hardly as which the Deliverance, no less than the marked as in the North, where manuBattle Ground, leaves uppermost in our factures were completely paralyzed, and minds.
exhausted men had to wring their scant A civilization any civilization — is living out of a harder soil and under less
kindly skies. I myself can perfectly re- white-haired Tuscan woman, bearing the member, as a child, hearing very old suggestive name of Massima, who went people describe the harrowing poverty, out charring at two lire a day, and who and profound depression among the gracefully apologized for pointing out to farming population of New England, of her employer that the latter had used the years immediately following the war an expression which was not Dantesque. of Independence. The men of the Revo- And a very dear old Parisienne — who lution had indeed won, while the men of had herself come down to taking pensionthe Confederacy had lost; but there are naires for practice in French, said once moments in the history, both of individ- to me: “Ma belle-mère était toute grande uals and nations, when victory, if less dame. She used the past subjunctive galling, seems almost more barren and without thinking.” Now the best of us disappointing than defeat. And so we in New England, and especially in Boscome back to Miss Glasgow, and her ton, can use with precision our equivalent Southerners of the old social order, and of the past subjunctive; but I fear we the good things which undeniably passed seldom do it without a lurking consciousaway with them.
ness of literary merit, and a modest anOne of the best of these I take to ticipation of applause. have been the most beautiful use of our There is, however, great danger that mother tongue, in every-day speech, that what we typify by the past subjunctive America has yet known. From father may soon become more completely a to son, for generations, the well-born thing of the past among us than even its Virginian or Marylander went to Wil- name implies; and one of its worst foes is liam and Mary College, as a matter of the lavish, not to say shameless, employcourse, and lightly forgot, in his after ment in print of that rude, shapeless, inlife of landed proprietor and sportsman, choate utterance which can be represented a good deal of what he learned there ; to the eye only by bad spelling and worse but seldom the trick of that sub-scholarly grammar, and which has no legitimate English, easy, racy, and felicitous, which claim whatsoever to the honorable name was so much more excellent than the of dialect. Even Miss Glasgow's pages speaker himself knew. The wives and are disfigured by too much of what that daughters of these men used their lan- fine purist, Theodore Winthrop, used to guage instinctively, but with a touch of call “ black babble.” But her own Engadded refinement, which enhanced its lish is very nearly impeccable, — which charm. Happily there are localities and is more than can be said for the unquesthere are clans in which the tradition tionably clever author of Henderson, or of that pure speech and the soft intona- the unterrified author of An Evans of tions that accompanied it yet live, and Suffolk. many a fondly guarded chest of old let- Yet it is hardly fair to bracket these ters ad Familiares to attest the truth two books, for Henderson is a great deal of what I say. When a Southerner of the better performance of the two, and the ancient type stood
a decided advance upon its predecessor, to make a speech, or sat down to write a Sally of Missouri. The author can in book, he frequently became stilted and deed use that as a qualifying adverb, self-conscious; but his unstudied utter- make the nicest of her people preface ance was both noble and simple; and their most serious remarks by some such most admirable of all in that it was un- simian aggregation of consonants as studied. The unconscious use of gram- “mh-hm," and write nonsense, in her own matical niceties is one of the most infal- person, about “the dying day, trailing lible marks of race. I have known a off in a shining halation," and the “sud
den break” in a woman's “plastic burlesque. Surely there is, even yet, strength.” Nevertheless, her tale is and though we live, as one may say, tersely and dramatically told. The young after the deluge, a character and a cachet surgeon who figures as its hero is an un- about society there, as marked as in that commonly fine fellow, who passionately of the old-time South ; yet I cannot at does his professional best to save the this moment recall a single really good husband of the woman whom he loves ; Boston novel. The Bostonians of Mr. and may be said to deserve, in a general Henry James was written a long while way, and under the code prevailing in ago; and though the author had, as a fiction, that a big oak tree, uprooted by matter of course, full knowledge of his a Missouri hurricane, should fall upon theme, and could never have committed the patient he has loyally healed, in the those violations of probability and sins last chapter of the book but one. against good taste into which most of his
Miss Young, it appears, has herself followers have fallen, his purpose was a been a medical student, and a brilliant little too obviously and exclusively one
“ There's only one little mistake of persiflage. The Rev. Bolton King, in in that whole thing !" was the admiring Let Not Man Put Asunder, caught a betcomment of a successful surgeon on the ter likeness, but was not quite fair, upon strong chapter entitled the Life on the the whole, to the morals of the Puritan Table, which first appeared, I think, in city; while Alice Brown, in her able and this magazine. But let her make her thoughtful story of Margaret Warrener, next story a little less pathological. A did not pretend to go outside the circumromance ought not to reek of chloroform. scribed limits of Boston's rather colorless
Miss Anna Farquhar, having previ- Bohemia. The true comedy - and it ously tried her hand at social satire in should be in the fullest sense of the term Her Boston Experiences, and Her Wash- high comedy — of the three hills, and ington Experiences, returns to the attack the westward flats, and the reclaimed of the former city in An Evans of Suf- fens, is yet to be written. folk, but can hardly be said to have The Anglo-Germans are also here, effected a serious breach in its venerable bearing what the department stores call defenses. This book is clever too, — in their “ Easter gifts.” The tricksy but a vain, jaunty, trivial sort of way, with ever fascinating Elizabeth, who, though a cleverness that might be better em- still reveling in the joy of a semi-transployed. We can hardly be expected seri- parent incognita, takes unquestioned preously to believe that a respectable Bos- cedence both by social and literary law, tonian, returning to his native town is at her best and brightest in the new after a long sojourn in Paris, and being book, - a narrative of the adventures, gravely reminded by somebody's maiden comic and sad, that befell her in the aunt that her ancestors commanded his Baltic island of Rügen. She would at the battle of Bunker Hill, is so pros- seem to have discharged, once for all, trated by amusement at the idea as to in that rather caustic tale, the Benedrop upon the main stairway of a Bea- factress,
factress, — all her accumulated spleen con Street house, in the midst of an against the petty ways of the German evening reception, and laugh until a female, and the oppressive ways of the lady's maid has to be summoned to re- German official, and she now offers herplace his missing buttons! As a bit of self most amiably to be the reader's burlesque, upon the other hand, this in- guide upon an entirely novel kind of cident fails to amuse.
summer tour. Her temper is, for the that, after all, and for whatever reason, moment, perfectly sunny; her wit sponthe ways
of old Boston are not easy to taneous, unflagging, irresistible. Under
It would appear
the spell of her careless and yet
can always tell. What graphic word-painting, we behold great could be more supremely senseless, for breadths of dancing waves and the sol- instance,' — and she waved a hand over emn glory of ancient beech woods ; we the bay, -than calling the Baltic the see acres of salt meadow all silvery with Ostsee ?' plumed cotton-grass, and fairly scent the “Well, but why should n't they, if exhilarating breeze that blows across they want to?' them. And then, the attendants who “ • But, dear Frau X., it is so foolish. minister to my lady's whims, – and the
and the East sea? Of what is it the east ? One few other tourists whom she meets upon is always east of something, but one her eccentric way, — Cousin Charlotte, does n't talk about it! The name has no the feministe, and her ineffable spouse; meaning whatever. Now Baltic exactly Mrs. Harvey-Brown, the bishop's lady describes it.'” from England, with her simple-minded On another occasion, when Mrs. Harson “Brosy," — how demurely, how in- vey-Brown sniffs insolence in a waiter, imitably, with what infectious and yet not she inquires of the long-suffering Amunkindly gayety all these are depicted ! brose whether he does not think they had
“« Why Brosy?' I took courage to in- better “ tell him who father is ;” and quire.
this parochial use of the word father "It is short for Ambrose,' he an- gives the reader a momentary pause. swered.
Not for the first time since the auspicious “He was christened after Ambrose,' beginning of our acquaintance with Elizasaid his mother, one of the Early Fa beth do we catch, amid her Teutonic acthers, as no doubt you know.'
cessories and her studied Anglican allu“But I did not know, because she sions, the strangely familiar gleam of an spoke in German, for the sake, I suppose, echter Americanism. “Besides," observes of making things easier for me, and she the inimitable Charlotte, when explaining called the Early Fathers frühzeitige Vä- how she, too, happened to be in remote ter, so how could I know ? • Frühzeitige Rügen, “I was run down.” He who Väter,' I repeated dully. Who are can tell us why she did not say “pulled
down” will prove, by the same token, “ The bishop's wife took the kindest that he “knows what Rameses knows." view of it. • Perhaps you do not have In Violett, by the Baroness von Hutthem in the Lutheran Church,' she said; ten (Violett is a boy's name, with a prebut she did not speak to me again at all, sumable accent on the final syllable), we turning her back on me, quite, this time, have a pathetic and original donnée, and and wholly concentrating her attention much of the peculiar grace of narration upon Charlotte.
which characterized Our Lady of the “My mother,' Ambrose explained in Beeches. The new book is a musical subdued tones, “meant to say Kirchen- novel, and not exempt from the touch of väter.'”
morbid sentimentalism which no musical Later on in their acquaintance, Mrs. novel wholly escapes. But the profesHarvey-Brown confesses that she had sional people, in particular, who figure in been much disappointed in the Germans. its pages, are drawn with a vigor and veri"" How sensible English people are
similitude which argue personal acquaincompared to them!'
tance ; – the rather cruel Bohemia where you think so ?'
they play their parts is invested with no “Why, of course! In everything.' false glamour ; and the tragic end of the
“ • But are you not judging the whole sad little story is too inevitable and too nation by a few ?'
simply told to appear melodramatic.