Page images

Concord, Boston, and Cambridge, the best regard. He was not too abashed to offer of America's literary life and thought his services as assistant-editor of the was to be found within a fifty-mile radius Monthly, when writers far beyond his age of the down-east Athens. There was no looked upon even an admission to its pages less learning, there was more original tal as too Olympian for their hopes. Yet how ent and more serenity than at Edinburgh soon, in fact, after his term abroad and in the heyday of the Reviewers. Howells the success of his first prose book, his felt it all, and saw it to heart's desire. Al presumption was justified as he found the ready an Atlantic contributor, he showed chair his own by tender,-and how soon, just a touch of naïveté and much self- again, he succeeded to Mr. Fields as the possession in his deferential but shrewd Monthly's editor-in-chief. This stage of

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][graphic][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

success could not have yielded him more “true joy” than his primal welcome by Ticknor and Fields, and from the whole Round Table of his quest. He was accepted of Lowell, who made a dinner for him, invit. ing Holmes and Fields,—and afterwards there was a tea à deux with the delightful Autocrat. At Concord he found Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and to the last-named two his pilgrimage was none too soon. After forty years we should be loth to miss his story of it.

A palpable hit, in rejoinder to personal strictures, has been made so often as somewhat to lose its force-that of saying, “We have heard what Mr. Smith thinks of Messrs. Brown & Jones. It would now be interesting to learn what these

From “Literary Friends and Acquaintance."-Copyright, 1900, by

Harper & Brothers.


made a sorry contrast. Yet here was life, and, with the spirit of his maturer years, an equal field of human interest. In appeal, the record may be cited of his own experience in the unremunerative market, and of conditions that forced the Bohemians to their wits for subsistence, to Pfaff's cellar for companionship, to an alliance against the classes in default of any recognition from them. As for the leisure for producing, and the chance for marketing, the better grade of work, their visitor himself held unawares the vantageground. The present writer,—who perhaps, on the score of some light successes, was thought by Mr. Howells to be on terms with the book-trade, remembers his abject reluctance to expose the narrow


From "Literary Friends and Acquaintance."-Copy.

right, 1900, by Harper & Brothers


ness of his own foothold to a comrade (whom, as when Pantagruel found Panurge, he was to love all his lifetime); remembers, too, how earnestly he sought, during Mr. Howells's Venetian residence, to find a publisher for a certain metrical story not without charm, and failed in all directions. To this day, he feels that he never quite made clear to its author, whose absence in time proved so mighty, why a friend's presence was so weak.

We have touched upon the first portion of this retrospect; a subsequent and larger course is left to the reader. Its narrative, anecdote, comment, successive portraitures, make up a volume eminently adapted to the fullest précis of a modern reviewer. It covers forty years, divided into the author's life in Venice, his brief probation in New York and on the staff of the Nation, his many years of editorial service and literary production in Cambridge and the vicinage. If there were an index to the book, a glance would show that there

From “Literary Friends and Acquaintance."-Copy

right, 1900, by Harper & Brothers.


has been scarcely a genuine man of let- scholar, will never be surpassed in value. ters, renowned or lowly, belonging to the Mr. Howells' unswerving fidelity to area of Mr. Howells's activities, who has truth is his

is his master-trait, and this not come within his ken and remembrance. quality affords a clue to the deterThere must remain a goodly number of mination of his own career. Though a friends,—“people of importance in their member in full standing of the most atday,”—whom he has met abroad, in peri- tractive group, exemplifying culture and ods later than that of his confabulations the labor poets delight in, which this with Motley and Hildreth; this supposi- country has known, that of Longfellow tion, and the fact that he closes abruptly and his Dante circle, his natural evoluafter his illuminating chronicle of the tion, unstayed by the exquisite Academic Cambridge life, lead us to hope for some influences, made him a realist in imaginafuture extension of these memoirs. Of the tive fiction, and the head of our native fine chapter on Lowell it may be said that school. That young D'Artagnan of the his living presence animates the retro- pen,-who must forgive this reversion to spect throughout; his nimble, gracious, the dearest hero of the romanticists,—well critical individuality returns again and and fairly won his marshal's baton, and to again. With none other was Mr. Howells our good fortune has lived, unlike the more closely and fortunately compan- King's Musketeer, to regild it on succesioned, and his sustained presentment sive fields. of that rare poet, wit, gentleman and

Edmund C. Stedman.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


To 10 the student of American history, written about him which can be called

the lovers of good literature, and books are very few. Cooper, although the to the multitudes of persons for whom critical writing of history was not known Paul Jones's mighty personality has un in his time, yet was so fair, so just, so natdying charm, Mr. Buell's book may be urally equipped for an historian that there heartily commended. It is, at last, a Life is much of value in his brief biography of of Paul Jones.

Paul Jones. Without pretending to proThis man, Paul Jones, belongs to that found knowledge of the man, and without class of human beings, like Hannibal, the access to stores of material now available, one-eyed son of Hamilcar, like Mary Stu- Cooper had so comprehensive a mind conart, like Napoleon Bonaparte, whose per- cerning everything connected with sea sonality is immortal. After the story has officers that his views must always be rebeen told of what these people have done, spected. Captain Mahan's masterly expothere is a quenchless thirst to know what sition in Scribner's Magazine of Paul they were, how they walked and talked and Jones as a commander and strategist is a ate and slept, and grew angry and were valuable contribution to the technical pacified, and loved and hated, and died side of the man. But it was left for Mr. and were buried. The world is always Buell to write a Life of Paul Jones. ready to turn a listening ear to anybody Nobody need trouble himself to write who discourses of them, and, conse another, and it would be no considerquently, plenty are found to make free able loss if all the other lives were with them. In the case of Paul Jones thrown into the fire. And let no one there is a special and peculiar reason why think he knows Paul Jones until he has he has become the prey of cheap histori read this book. It contains new and val

There are so many books about him uable and interesting matter not heretoand they are so easy to be had ! It is true fore seen in print and shows us the man, that most of them are worthless, but these Paul Jones, as well as the great sea officer. well-meaning, industrious and incompe- It clears up the hitherto unexplained tent transcribers don't know this and cheer- change of name on Paul Jones's part. No fully contribute more of the same kind person, well acquainted with the real Paul to the world's stock. Few men who ever Jones, even gave heed to the cock and bull lived left behind such masses of original story of his taking the name of Jones manuscripts as Paul Jones. It is amazing from Governor Jones of North Carolina, how he found time to cover so many thou but no authentic explanation was given, sands and thousands of sheets of paper. until in Mr. Buell's book, of why John Paul Most of these documents are readily acces

became Paul Jones. Also, Mr. Buell sible, nearly all have been printed. What, throws a flood of light upon the only then, so easy, to collect the whole heap of placid years in Paul Jones's meteoric life, printed matter and turn out a book on those quiet days passed upon his Virginia Paul Jones ?

plantation. Professor J. K. Laughton, Nevertheless, the books that have been without the slightest warrant, describes

those days as having been passed in "low PAUL JONES, FOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN Navy. By

dissipation." This, of course, was known Augustus C. Buell. With portraits, maps and plans. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2 volumes, 12mo, $3.

to be a mistake, and it was likewise known


« PreviousContinue »