Page images
PDF
EPUB

66

ness.

sweet-natured, sweet-tempered men who ever From his sub-title it will be in ferred, naturlived. ... His band never took a liberty with ally and truly, that Mr. Gissing is treating of a human face, or a borse's bead; and whenever Dickens the novelist, not of Dickens the indiit went a little astray, you could always read vidual; of whom he seems to have known but between the lines, and know exactly what it little, if anything; for he says we are told meant." We are not so fond of, because we tbat the eyes of Dickens were very bright; are not so familiar with, Charles Keene in this impressing all who met him with a sense of country as we should be; but every word du their keepness." No mau wbo ever caught Maurier has written of him is true.

the eyes of Dickens, even from a platform in A number of du Maurier's works have ap- New York, or from a bansom iu Loudon, ever peared since his death. Perhaps these “Remi- failed to be impressed, directly, by their keenniscences and Appreciations of Euglish Ilus

But, as a critical study, thorough, untrators of the Past Generation,” will prove to prejudiced and exhaustive, the book cannot be the last. They certainly are not the worst. be too highly commended. It touches upon, In the volume he has carried out his purpose and in most ivstances, it dwells upon, each one to speak of the craft to which he devoted the of the great community of characters who best years of his life, the craft of portrayivg have formed, for so many years, a little world by means of little pen-and-ink strokes, by lives in themselves. Mr. Gissing evidently knows and scratches, a small portion of the world in them all intimately, he has certainly studied which we live; and he bas given us a better them all carefully and analytically; and, genunderstanding of the humorous and satirical erally, he does them full justice, as human betreatment of the illustrated criticism of life in ings; although be dwells upon what he calls the last balf of the century, as it is to be found their “far-fetched eccentricity” and their frein the work of Leech, Keene, and du Maurier, quent fantastic exaggeration; which seem to than we bave ever had before.

have impressed all the critical students of If Mark Lemon bad accomplished nothing Dickens, since Mr. Winkle and the Wellers were else, he would have dove the world in which first created. Impossible as many of these perwe live good service in advising the young sons appear,-in cold type; is there not in the artist on “ Punch” to “ do the graceful side of mind's eye of every reader of these lines, at life.” Since du Maurier took up the pen as well least some one particular individual of either as the brush and the pencil, these pages have sex, in real life, acquaintance, relative or contained many words concerning him in his friend, who, if put into a book would not seem double career, as author and artist; written quite as exaggerated, as impossible, as eccenby one who, in bis uvimportant way, bas had tric, as typical as is Miss Betsy Trotwood, Mr. tbe great good fortune to know, in the flesh, Wopsle, Jobu Jarndyce, or as Sally Brass lierno matter how slightly, not only du Maurier self? bat Thackeray and Charles Keene; and he We look upon Mr. Gissing in this conntry as wonders if some day-where there are no days a story-teller, rather than as an essayist, or as

- he will see them in the spirit, with the add- the reviewer of the stories of other persons. ed spirit of John Leech!

His name appears upou the title - pages of a

dozen works, which are what one of our conMR. GEORGE Gissing, in one of the later temporaries calls “ solid, honest, patient, and chapters of a volume called Charles Dickens, A full of ideas.” He treats of the seamy side of (Critical Study,' says that—"twenty years ago life, of the lower middle classes of whom a familiar topic for debating societies was a Dickens was so fond; his scenes, generally, comparison of the literary characteristics of are laid in the East End of London, or in what Dickens and Thackeray. Not impossibly, the is called “ across the River "; and his people theme is still being discussed in country towns, are the small shop-keepers and toilers of Kenor London suburbs.” Aud then he goes on to vington, not of the Kensington of Thackeray; show how absurd this all is, how manifest are —the slight changing of the spelling marking, the points of difference between the two au- most emphatically, the distance intervening thors, how easy of dismissal their mutual rela between the two quarters of the Metropolis. tions in literature; and he adds that debate, They are four miles apart, as the 'bus creeps, in the proper sense, as to which is the greater they are four huvdred miles apart, in the sopovelist there could, and can, be done. We do cial scale. As a realist himself, Mr. Gissing not know how the country towns of England may be pardoned for seeing in the Dick or the London suburbs discuss the matter Swivellers and the Tom Linkwaters of Dicknow; but it is curious that no reader in Amer- eus, certain qualities which be thinks are vot ica to-day, wbo bas the courage to say that he real; but we can hardly forgive him for saycannot read Dickens, does not fail to put on ing “that a novel more sliapeless, a story less record, as a half-apology and almost immedi- coherent than · Martin Chuzzlewitt will not ately,--the fact that he does like Thackeray, or easily be found in any literature!" Nevertherice rersa!

less, in the present book, he has certainly suc

ceeded in considering, faithfully and honestCharles Dickens. A Critical Study. By GEORGE G1S&TNG. 12m0, Cloth, 82. New York: Dodd, Mead, ly, the career of Dickens, in reviewing his and Co.

literary work, in regarding him from the stand-point of posterity, and in estimating his of which all “Learners," in all the schools of relation to an age which is passing away; but criticism, may well profit. which in the pages of Dickens is likely to live In regard to the power of expressing for some ages to come.

thought in musical words, he says, “ This,

though but a small matter in itself, contribThe author of " English Words, An Elemen- utes more than any other element to giving tary Study of Derivations," Mr. Charles F. a production lasting popularity. It is a comJohnson, Professor of English Literature, at plex matter of vowel sequence, consonant seTrinity College, Hartford, has lately published quence, phrase cadence, and sentence wave, an admirable little book called the Elements subtly related to the thought, and a result of Literary Criticism, well worth the serious of the complex personality of the writer. It attention, not only of the “Learners," for colors the thought, somewhat in the same whom it was prepared, but of those who think way that the tone of the voice, modulation, they have learned, by study and by experi- gesture, and expression of the face, color vocal ence, something of the proper expression of utterance, making it infinitely richer and fullthoughts and ideas. He has divided his dis- er, and sometimes giving words a meaning course into a number of chapters, devoted to quite different from their bare significance.” “Unity,” to “ The Power of Drawing Charac- Elsewhere the author writes :-"Literary form ter,” to “The Writer's Philosophy,” to “The gives language a scope and a reach which it Musical Word Power,” to “ The Phrasal Pow. does not possess as a language. Furthermore, er,” to “The Descriptive Power," and to “The although the primary motive of the writer Emotional Power"; and while their admirers does not affect the literary value of the promay not always accept some of his conclusions duct--he may wish, for instance, merely to enconcerning the works of Byron, Thackeray, tertain—there is in our race a bond between Whitman, Dickens, George Eliot and others, the love of beauty and the love of reality or they must admire the word power and the truth, so that what is put in the literary form pbrasal power in which these conclusions are is almost invariably instructive in the highest couched. He “relegates Byron), magnificent sense, and moral in the highest sense." artist as be is, to the second or third rank.” Professor Johnson does not write to enterHe speaks of“ the formless waste of words that tain. What he writes is moral and instruclies on the pages of Whitman.” He says that tive in the highest sense, and it is invariably in the novels of Dickens “the course of events put in the literary form. is unpatural. Everything is theoretical, and all the characters are posing.... He was successful too early, and too easily, to compass the To the copy of HARPER's NEW MONTHLY MAGmeaning of life. His work can never take a AZINE, which bears the date, July 1886, the strong bold of future generations, and he lacked present writer contributed his first “Literary the philosophical insight which understands Note"; and, at the end of twelve years, voluntarwithout experience, and interprets by the ima- ily, but with no little natural regret, be discongination." Of George Eliot he writes :—“In tinnes his connections with this particular Declearness and individuality of ber characters partnent of the periodical ; feeling that he, slie is hardly inferior to Shakspere. Her per- and his readers, need a rest and a change ; sonages are well rounded-out human figures, and asking for his successor all the kindly though lacking in the full rich buman vature sympathy and attention which he himself has of Shakspere's. But they are confined to the received. genus Englishman of the early Nineteenth He has enjoyed the work; and he hopes Century, with the exception of the Fifteenth that he has done, or bas said, nothing to harm Century Italians in ‘Romola,' and do not em- those of whom he bas written, or to whom lie brace types of the man universal. They are has written. Although, generally, he has dealt insular and contemporaneous. ... In affluence with but one line of publications, he bas alGeorge Eliot is not remarkable. •Middle- ways been left free to express his personal esmarch' is a broad canvas, but it is not very timation of the works in question ; and he has closely crowded.” And in contrasting “ Van- looked, in books and in authors, for what was ity Fair” with “The Newcomes," he declares good rather than for what was bad. While it that " in real life so able a woman as Becky is very much easier to blame than to praise, be Sharp would never have failed as Becky Sharp has tried to show his appreciation of the best did."

efforts of the older writers, and to encourage, It must not be inferred from these extracts not to dishearten, the younger. that Professor Johnson is nothing if not critical. When the volume submitted to him showed, He does due justice in all cases where justice what he felt were, signs of indefensible careis due. He is broad and liberal and unpreju- lessness, incompetency or indelicacy, he has diced in his views; and he is the master of a preferred to remain silent altogether, rather style of English diction, by the careful study than to condemn.

This may not be the Element of true Liter. 5 Elements of Literary Criticism. By CHARLES F. 16mo. Cloth, 80 cents. New York and Lon

ary Criticism; but it seems to him to be the don: Harper and Brothers.

spirit of The Golden Rule!

JOHNSON

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

“JUDGE MORRISON READ THESE HARMLESS JINGLES, CHUCKLING AND SNEERING."

Vol. XCVII

JULY, 1898

No. DLXXVIII

A PRINCE OF GEORGIA.

BY JULIAN RALPH.

[ocr errors]

are going to have the great sen- ship of a Baptist sewing circle, a progres

course of the naval lieutenant who had made the trip talked-about novels of each year. upon which Ethel Barrowe was starting, On the way to Moscow and southward and she remembered the prophecy day to the Black Sea the lieutenant's predicafter day as the “great sensation ” spun tion lost weight. The Czar's wheat and itself out. It was a sight-seeing sensa- cabbage farm, called Russia, is mainly a tion that he meant to predict, for Miss · great flat dish of earth, with a dull sky Barrowe was going through southern bent down all around to meet the rim-a Russia as far as Batoum, and then across tiresome monotone of grass and grain, the Caucasus, and so back again. Ec- flecked with villages of wretched cabins centric old Mrs. Barrowe, her rich aunt with thatched roofs, brown as so many had invited her to leave home in Cincin- rats in a granary. If there is variety, its nati and visit her in Athens, where the effect on the mind more than offsets the old lady employed her wealth and leisure little pleasure it brings to the eyes, for it in the pursuit of such pious and humane must consist of an over-costly church and projects as the succor of the Cretans and of the squalid people who have built it. the relief of the Armenians - projects But by nine o'clock on the third day from which the scoffers among her friends Moscow the earth began to rumple into characterized as “dreams,”and other per- broken limestone hills, guttered with cansons, of less importance to her—the lead- yons and crevices. Orchards appeared, ing statesmen of continental Europe, and the shade trees became willows and regarded as mischievous nightmares. locusts, instead of the incessant pines and Now that she had her pretty niece to en: birches of older Russia. The houses tertain, she was starting upon a journey changed into the modern Greek typeshe never would have made alone, to one-storied stucco or stone, painted white show the young woman what the Rus- or yellow, roofed with heavy red tiles, sians call their Riviera and their Switzer- always walled around, and usually showland, and to meet those Armenians through ing the soft round tops of small trees starwhom she had been generously contribu- ing over the walls. ting for the cause of their oppressed brethren in Turkey.

Suddenly the train crawled out of a * Dreams," did I call her amusements? tunnel to the edge of a cliff overlooking Then both women were dreamers, because the blue, yellow, and white port of SebasMiss Ethel was a poor girl floated above topol. Beyond the blue of the harbor, the trials of her position by her fond dotted with stately men-of-war, lay a bighopes, for she knew that her aunt liked ger reach of liquid indigo--the Black Sea. her better than any relative she had, and It was October, and only the day before she aspired to become her heir. And now all Russia, apparently, had been whitened she was about to cross Europe and pene- by hoar - frost. But now the car wintrate Asia-she who until a month before dows, all opened, let in air as warm as the had never been twenty miles from Cin- breathings of cattle. Arrived at the stacinnati, and in that city learned no more tion, the travellers found themselves in of the world than one gets from member- a Levantine city, with the usual white

Copyright, 1898, by Harper and Brothers. All rights reserved.

« PreviousContinue »