Page images
PDF
EPUB

utterances of the “ Others” are occasion- and gain vividness of portraiture by conally quoted by way of contrast.

fining chronology chiefly to one chapter, Had the author confined his discussion thenceforth viewing facts and experiences to abstract questions and political issues, as bearing mainly on achievement and deand adopted a more conservative method velopment. ... The book thus divides of criticizing individuals, his book would itself into three parts: (1) Parkman's have been equally as instructive and per- preparation; (3) the reflection of his perhaps more dignified.

sonality in his works, and (3) the story of E. J. H. his moral growth.” An introductory

chapter deals with the Parkman ancestry,

“the raw materials of the human entity, FARNHAM'S “ LIFE OF FRANCIS Francis Parkman-the marble that his PARK MAN”

gifts, ambition and experience were to

carve into the historian, the citizen, the MR. R. CHARLES HAIGHT FARN

friend, the father.” HAM is to be congratulated on The chronological chapter recounts his Life of Francis Parkman. Those briefly Mr. Parkman's life, the dates of who recall the very brief obituary notices

his books, his honors, his death. In the of the author of "The Oregon Trail” and

chapters devoted to the preparation of the of “France and England in the New

historian's works, Mr. Farnham has had World” that appeared seven years ago, the use of the brief biographies prepared will remember that Mr. Parkman was a

by Parkman's friends for publication in confirmed invalid and almost a recluse,

the“ proceedings” of various societies, and concerning whom the dates of his birth, in some magazines; of Parkman’s diaries, his books and his death were almost the

of his few letters, and especially of two only information obtainable. These per- long autobiographical letters to friends, sons may be inclined to regard Mr. Farn

one of which, though Mr. Farnham does ham's sturdy volume as a monument of

not say so, seemingly covered nearly four padding. They will be mistaken, how

hundred pages. In Chapter VI, in this ever; the book is no longer than it de

part, Mr. Farnham touches on Parkman's serves to be, and is an interesting memo

mysterious illness, which disabled him rial to one of the great historians of the

from work for more than ten years at one time.

period, and made him an invalid for more Mr. Farnham departs widely from the

than forty years of his life. It seems to usual form of biographies. Let him ex

have dated from his trip west, the account plain his plan: “As in the case of many of which is to be found in “The Oregon other scholars, Parkman's external life

Trail; "and to have been due to his getting was unimportant compared with the more

tired of nursing himself when slightly uninterior interests of his education, his

well, pushing on his way without regard method of work, his historical productions

to his physical disabilities. Thereafter he and the growth of his character. It seemed

suffered from inflammation and weakness advisable, therefore, to depart from the

of the eyes, rheumatic gout, insomnia, and tradition that accepts chronological nar

paralysis of certain arteries of the brain. rative as the backbone of biography. I Despite these aflictions, he produced his have tried to simplify the reader's labor histories, although he never saw a per

fectly well day during his entire literary A LIFE OF FRANCIS PARKMAN. By Charles Haight Little, Brown & Co., 8vo, $2.50.

He himself wrote: “For two

Farnham.

career.

AFTER bearing Jean Myles's story of

periods, each of several years, any attempt his prodigious strength of character.

He was at bookish occupation would have been

ready to face the universe if nature would play merely suicidal. A condition

him fair. She had played him foul, yet she could A condition of sight

not prevent his victory. In his patient fortitude arising from kindred sources has also re

under suffering, in his persistent industry despite tarded the work, since it has never per- the greatest obstacles, and in his fidelity to his mitted reading or writing continuously for ideals, Parkman was certainly one of the most much more than five minutes, and often

heroic figures in the history of letters.” has not permitted them at all."

The book amply sustains this judgment. In his second part, Mr. Farnham de

R. G. Butler, scribes how Parkman made his histories, and endeavors, successfully, to show the man back of the books. Parkman's limi

THE MAGERFUL LIFE tations, which seem almost to have been his strong points, are revealed-his indifference to many studies which seem almost

, necessary qualifications for an historian- used to pray: “O God, keep me from his interest in life, manners and actions, being a magerful man!”—though he had rather than in the philosophy of history. a secret idea that he should like to be one. How well Mr. Farnham appreciates his Now, Governor Roosevelt is essentially a subject is shown by this extract:

“magerful” man, though of course in a “Parkman's highest wisdom lay in his percep

good sense. Life to him means fighting, tion of the dangers lurking in the pursuit of tech- and fighting means fun, and when face to nique. He knew how readily the mind becomes face with an angry mob, and when epienamored of the hand ; how rarely the artist pos- thets and brickbats fill the air, he will sesses breadth and strength enough to resist the

write pleasantly and declare that he's fascination, so that only the very greatest escape blindness to the fundamental human interests of having "the time of his life.” To such a art ; he saw that the most painful aberrations of man what he calls the doctrine of ignoble judgment, the worst of mistakes in subject and ease is relatively unimportant; the life treatment as related to vital interests, are to be of toil and effort, of labor and strife—that found in works of great technical excellence.

is the only life that counts. “I wish,” he Thus he feared the atmosphere of the study.

says, "to preach that highest form of success warned students against .emasculate scholarship,' and desired to keep himself broad and sane by all

which comes, not to the man who desires possible contact with the world.”

mere easy peace, but to the man who does

not shrink from danger, from hardship, or To the study of Parkman's spiritual from bitter toil, and who out of these wins growth, Mr. Farnham devotes the final

the splendid ultimate triumph.” part of his biography. The tendency of

Is that the highest form of success ? the whole part is indicated by the opening

And when all is over, does the ultimate sentence : “ Parkman’s greatest triumph triumph rest with the man of action or was not the writing of books, but the self

the man of thought? Or with both ? Or command acquired in remoulding his na

neither? And is it altogether fair to say, ture to his conditions.” It is Parkman, the

as Governor Roosevelt says, that the men conqueror, the man who did, in little as

who fear the strenuous life, who fear the well as in great things, that appears in this

only national life which, he thinks, is final part, and in the last paragraph is

really worth leading are "the timid man, summed up the whole book:

THE STRENUOUS LIFE. Essays and Addresses by “In looking back over his life, one is struck by

Theodore Roosevelt. The Century Co., 12mo, $1.50.

who tells us that a healthy state can exist A

the lazy man, the man who distrusts his from this essay which may be commended country, the over-civilized man who has to the notice, not of boys only, but of lost the great fighting, masterful virtues, men, strenuous and non-strenuous alike. the ignorant man, and the man of dull It is this: “There is no need to be a prig. mind, whose soul is incapable of feeling There is no need for a boy to preach the mighty lift that thrills 'stern men about his own good conduct and virtue. with empires in their brains'?” It may If he does he will make himself offensive be that there are some of us who think and ridiculous." that all this strenuousness, like Mr. "Expansion and Peace,” “Civic HelpWordsworth's world, is too much with us: fulness,

» « Character and Success,

» « Milithat after much beating of the tom-tom tary Preparedness and Unpreparedness," and tooting on the horn a little restfulness and a number of other subjects are treated is infinitely soothing-and that the quiet, of in these essays. thoughtful lookers-on have their place in

J. H. W. the great scheme of things equally with the men who act and talk and strenuously beat upon the loud, reverberating drum.

HOW TO READ WISELY Surely none will disagree with the essayist

MONG the things that may safely be only when the men and women who make

called difficult is the giving of adit up lead clean, vigorous, healthy lives

vice in reading books-giving it wisely and that we must be resolute to do our

and feeling sure that the advice will be duty well and manfully; resolute to up

used. This world of books has vast amhold righteousness by deed and by word; plitude and the needs and tastes of readresolute to be both honest and brave, to

ers are widely varied. So many things

must be known before definite advice can serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods. Yet one may wonder whether

be undertaken; and these things are alit be worth while so strenuously to insist

ways difficult, and are sometimes imposupon the acceptance of propositions so

sible, to know. One may deal in general self-evident.

propositions, it is true, and then feel enIn an essay on

“The American Boy” tirely safe; but general propositions will Governor Roosevelt tells him that if he

not satisfy most readers. They are apt to would turn out to be a good American

leave them as much in the dark as they man he must not be a coward or a weak

were before. Indeed, what one says may ling, a bully, a shirk or a prig. That he

contain nothing that the reader does not must work hard and play hard, and must

feel he already knew. He will then go be clean-minded and clean.lived, and able

away a sadder but not a wiser man. to hold his own under all circumstances,

Carlyle and Frederic Harrison are noand against all comers, which is all ad

table among writers who have undertaken mirably true; as also is the statement that something in these directions. Probably the boy can best become a good man by their influence has been potent in directbeing a good boy, and that he should be ing the minds of readers away from clean and straight, honest, truthful, gentle ephemeral books and centering them for and tender, as well as brave. Indeed it

COUNSEL UPON THE READING OF Books. By H. Morse seems, at times, as though we

were in

Stephens, Agnes Repplier, Arthur T. Hadley, Brander danger, like the virtuous lady, of protest

Matthews, Bliss Perry and Hamilton Wright Mabie.

With an introduction by Henry van Dyke. Houghton, ing too much. And there is an extract Mimin & Co., 12mo, $1.50.

a time on the books that last through finds it is not Bancroft, not Prescott, not generations of men. But few who have Parkman, who was the greatest American descended from general truths to particu- historical scholar, but Henry Charles Lea. lar instances can be said to have been well Taking ground somewhat contrary to rewarded. Readers who have been di- Professor Stephens, Miss Repplier, who rected, we will say, to Milton, Scott, Gib- never writes anything that is not of first bon, Wordsworth and Byron, would per- rate quality, pleads for putting deep huhaps report that two or three of these man interests into the writing of history. writers charmed their emotional natures She would have the life, not only of the and inspired their understanding, but the period, but of the author as he saw it, others brought to them no message of placed before us-colored, it may be, but consolation, no argosy of knowledge. It strong, personal and definite. It is a very is even worse where the advice pertains to charming paper that Miss Repplier conbooks of lesser rank, and worst of all when tributes, full of sound sense, fine and eleit pertains to current literature. It is a vated sentiments, and firmly right. Inwise man indeed who can be certain of his deed, most readers will find that among ground when he steps into those boggy the five men who bear her company, she meadows, or tries to find a way about in shines with a light all her own. The those tangled thickets.

“five” men, I have said, and yet there are The writers in the present volume make six. But the sixth is the author of “Litno attempt to furnish lists. They deal tle Rivers.” Dr. Van Dyke writes the inwith books in their larger aspects, and troduction. Very charming fun he has mainly with great books. Scarcely any with those whose colleague he is. Well others are mentioned. What they under- he may, for to him was given the last take to do is to define and elucidate great- word. ness, or to distinguish between kinds of Mr. Mabie, who writes of essays and greatness. Professor Stephens, who brings criticism, enters a field very much his to the theme of history learning and con

This is also true of Brander Matvictions, born of a lifetime spent in the thews, whose topic is fiction. Bliss Perry's study and treatment of history-not to theme is poetry, and he writes with a say, the writing of it also—shows us whence scholar's understanding. In Mr. Mabie's came the inspiration out of which has paper we find an amplitude of knowledge been developed the modern school of sci- and that felicity of expression which never entific historians. It was Niebuhr and fail him in whatever he undertakes to say. Ranke who gave definite direction to sci. Perhaps felicity of expression should be entific history, although it was a called Mr. Mabie's greatest gift. Indeed, born long before their time, who was first the variety of sentiment and view with to practice it on the amplest field and in which he may approach subjects closely the most notable manner-Gibbon. Pro- allied, and the charming newness with fessor Stephens makes a plea for truth in which he may present some familiar the historical narrative, as opposed to aspect of it, the whole theme being mere style and charm of expression. He wrought out each time in happy phrases says of writers like Froude and Carlyle and nicely turned sentences, are somethat they “rank among the glories of thing which I think might without exagEnglish literature, but their genius for geration be called one of the marvels in literary expression has done great harm to contemporary literature. Mr. Mabie here the study of history.” In this view he explores the great field of the past. It is

own.

man

needless to say that he writes out of a full MANY POINTS OF VIEW mind and that his characterizations are delightful ; whether it be of Greeks that I N reading a story by Mr. Henry James, he discourses, of Macaulay, Bacon or old

it is always a question whether one is Montaigne.

facing a serious problem, or treating

. The most serious aspects of this task of whipped cream as if it were solid food telling people what they should read, pre

Age does not wither his power to analyze sents itself to the professional reviewer of

a situation to its fullest psychological exthe day's literature. Fortunately those tent; nor does custom make of his char.

acters who wrote the papers in this volume

very much more than puppets, movwere able to escape the responsibility of ing in accordance with the workings of dealing with books which the world has

their clever maker's personified mind. not yet tried; but it is the fate of other

From the perplexing titles which brood men that they can take no refuge in the shadowingly over the complexities under great writers of past ages. They cannot

the covers, to the advertisements at the deal with principles and facts that are

end, there is a feeling of existence where fixed and eternal, but must at once con

a great deal of cleverness is going on, with front a proposition lying right before you sometimes alert, but oftentimes in a them—the proposition, Is this book worth

half dream, and utterly unable to keep reading? Sometimes they go right; quite up. It is the feeling which you have often they go wrong; for it is in the long its work, and you can hear the doctors ;

when an anæsthetic has almost completed run, not the critic, however gifted, who

, determines what shall be the fate of any speak in voices real, yet unreal, through the book, but that wise and great public haze of your ebbing consciousness. The which in all times has reserved to itself

sensation is of a situation which is somethe inalienable right to determine it.

what beyond reach, yet with which you It is probably the fault of most review

are concerned. At times one wonders if ers that they fail to look beyond their own

it is really worth while to follow the taste—fail, that is, so to project them- thread, even though one may be an ad,

mirer of Mr. James. selves, as it were, into the common intelligence as to know what the popular judg

Perhaps it is too much to demand of a ment will be. Literary history abounds

writer literary finish and human interest. in examples of critics who have gone artistic perfection, and to his skilful con

We are so accustomed to Henry James's widely astray, and so will it forever abound. There can never be a guide for versations, that we have gradually come readers that shall approach anywhere near

to ask for something more, for real heart infallibility. I think the history of criti

behind the automatic hearts which never cism will show that its greatest services vitally beat. If the Roman prince would

. have been, not in severe and searching only be spontaneous and follow Miss examination of books, but in making the

Gunton of Poughkeepsie to her home, and public know what books worth their at

marry her! But none of Mr. James's tention had newly come into existence.

heroes are so rude. Actual guides critics were not, and will

There is, however, consolation in the not be. Let us call them rather heralds,

fact that this last book of stories, The their duties ceasing when the procession Soft Side, has a degree more of human starts.

THE SOFT SIDE. By Henry James. The Macmillan Co., Francis W. Halsey.

12mo, $1.50.

« PreviousContinue »