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and would alone give value to the volume, whose weakest feature is the stress laid upon the hero's rather boyish and quite commonplace agnosticism. The Wonderful Visit, by H. G. Wells. (Macmillan.) This agreeably readable fantasy tells of the haps and mishaps, usually the latter, of an angel who accidentally finds himself on the earth, the place of his involuntary descent being an English village, where dwell a collection of Philistines not differing greatly from other coteries to which we have frequently been introduced. The satire of the sketch is also of a rather familiar kind, but the little tale is told with originality of manner if not of thought, and with wit and humor as well. Nor does it lack a touch of pathos. - My Japanese Wife, by Clive Holland. (Macmillan.) The tale fitly contained in this pretty booklet is told with a charming and dainty grace quite worthy of the fascinating child-woman who is its heroine. It is impossible to imagine Mousmé in any but a Japanese setting, and her possible English experiences would cause some misgivings if we were able to take her pleasing history very seriously. — The Red Star, by L. McManus. The Autonym Library. (Putnams.) The history of a high-born Polish girl, in the days when the battle of Eylau was fought, who, when the only man of her house declines to join the French, disguises herself as a boy and leads some of her vassals to the war, where her fate becomes intertwined with that of her nominal husband, a Russian officer, to whom she had been forcibly wedded. The tale is told with so much spirit, and here and there so graphically, that it is quickly read, and for the moment its rather startling improbabilities are overlooked. Lady Bonnie's Experiment, by Tighe Hopkins. (Holt.) A sketch rather than a story, of the flimsiest texture, but sometimes brightly and always smartly written. - Moody's Lodging House, and Other Tenement Sketches, by Alvan Francis Sanborn. (Copeland & Day.) A baker's dozen of sketches of the mud age of civilization. Other writers go to this source for realistic sketches or for philanthropic designs. Mr. Sanborn seems to take the ground that he is to be a close reporter of men and things as they are on this low level. He has not the power of Stevenson to get at the real man behind his rags; and after all, what is

the use of the book? It has all the outside air of literature and not of a sociological report, but is in reality nothing more than an author's studies, and should no more be published than the sketches of an artist who is studying to make pictures. -The Adventures of Jones, by Hayden Carruth. (Harpers.) The spirit if not the genius of Baron Munchausen fell upon Jones. He struggles manfully, but the burden is heavy, and sometimes he is near sinking under it. His stories of wonderful inventions are only moderately wonderful inventions themselves, but the book can at least be commended as a terrible warning to young liars, and also for its entire freedom from vulgarity. — The Price of Peace, a Story of the Times of Ahab, King of Israel, by A. W. Ackerman. (McClurg.)


The Panglima Muda, a Romance of Malaya, by Rounseville Wildman. (Overland Monthly Publishing Co.). - Transplanted Manners, a Novel, by Elizabeth E. Evans. (Swan Sonnenschein & Co., London.) — Garrison Tales from Tonquin, by James O'Neill. (Copeland & Day.)

Books for the Young. A Life of Christ for Young People, in Questions and Answers, by Mary Hastings Foote (Harpers), covers the events from the Annunciation to the Ascension, as nearly as possible in what is now believed to be the true chronological order. There are more than eighteen hundred of the questions and answers, generally brief, clear, and pointed, many of them couched in the exact language of the Authorized Version. The author is orthodox and devout, and makes good use of the fruits of the latest scholarship. - A Midsummer Night's Dream: illustrated by R. A. Bell; edited, with an Introduction, by Israel Gollancz. (Dent, London; Macmillan, New York.) Mr. Gollancz, though possibly a little too much affected by the idea that he is writing to children, puts in capital form a scholarly and imaginative account of the origin and meaning of the great play. The illustrations are playful and suggestive in a modest, agreeable fashion. Two Little Pilgrims' Progress, a Story of the City Beautiful, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. (Scribners.) "Perhaps theirs was a fairy story," says the writer regarding the history of the twins, Robin and Meg, orphans of twelve years, who by months of hard, persistent work earn enough

to go to the Chicago Fair, and there meet their destiny, a rich, lonely, unhappy man, whom they comfort and cheer, and who of course adopts them. We fear that a stern Realist would agree with the writer, but for ourselves, we are quite willing that children should still have a good ending to their tales; and as they will instinctively feel that the boy and girl who go to the City Beautiful are an exceedingly uncommon pair, the good fortune that attends them will be accepted as, in their case, altogether natural.

We should be more disposed to take exception to the author's habit of occasionally writing of rather than for children, though this is less marked here than in some of her recent juvenile stories. A Boy of the First Empire, by Elbridge S. Brooks. (Century Co.) The revival of the Napoleonic legend was sure to produce a tale belonging thereto concerning the fortunes of some ardent boy Bonapartist to whom the Emperor plays the part of earthly providence, and in this handsome, profusely illustrated volume we find such a history. The author has brought out a good deal of juvenile historic fiction, and though he quite lacks a distinction of style very desirable in writing of this class, or any vivid imaginative power, he is generally spirited and readable, and follows his authorities with reasonable accuracy. The want of distinction of which we speak is more sensibly felt in another book from the same hand, Great Men's Sons, Who They Were, What They Did, and How They Turned Out A Glimpse at the Sons of the World's Mightiest Men, from Socrates to Napoleon. (Putnams.) This volume is also generously, and on the whole well illustrated. A Child of Tuscany, by Marguerite Bouvet. (McClurg.) An entirely conventional tale of a lost child, brought up by a peasant woman; the distinguishedlooking old gentleman and lovely young lady, with sad faces, whom the boy has admired from a distance, naturally proving to be his own high-born kinsfolk. The writer loves Florence, but this fact, and calling a child a bimbo, or scattering a few other Italian words through the dialogue, do not make the little hero and his friends Tuscans, or indeed the living denizens of any other land. The publishers have brought out the book in an attractive guise. Guert Ten Eyck, a Hero Story, by W. O. Stoddard.

(Lothrop.) - English Men of Letters for Boys and Girls, Chaucer, Spenser, Sidney, by Gertrude H. Ely. (E. L. Kellogg & Co.) - Polly Button's New Year, by Mrs. C. F. Wilder. (Crowell.)- Oscar Peterson, Ranchman and Ranger, by Henry Willard French. (Lothrop.)

Year-Books and Calendars. The beginning of the year brings a variety of prettily bound and otherwise attractive year-books and volumes of selections from favorite writers. In white and gold are Helpful Words, from the Writings of Edward Everett Hale, selected by Mary B. Merrill (Roberts), in which a single page is given to each extract, with a small picture opposite; and Messages of Faith, Hope, and Love, Selections for Every Day in the Year from the Sermons and Writings of James Freeman Clarke, with a portrait of Dr. Clarke as a frontispiece. (Geo. H. Ellis.) The Helen Jackson Year-Book, Selections by Harriet T. Perry. Illustrated by full-page designs by Emil Bayard, and vignette titles by E. H. Garrett. (Roberts.)

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- About Men: What Women Have Said. An Every-Day Book. Chosen and arranged by Rose Porter. (Putnams.) Selections from the writings of twelve women (one for each month), from Maria Edgeworth to Mrs. Humphry Ward. Thoughts from the Writings of Richard Jefferies, selected by H. S. H. Waylen. One of the handsomest of this season's books of the kind. Finally, and somewhat out of the ordinary course of these volumes, comes The Proverbial Philosophy of Confucius, Quotations from the Chinese Classics for Each Day in the Year, compiled by Forster H. Jenings, with Preface by Hon. Pom Kwang Soh, Minister of Justice to H. M. the King of Korea. (Putnams.) — L. Prang & Co., Boston, send an assortment of things to give away, because of their holiday air and general attractiveness Our Poets' Calendar for 1896, with heads of Whittier, Longfellow, Bryant, and Emerson; A Posy of Forget-Me-Nots, half a dozen cards, with the flower in various combinations and verses from various poets, the cards tied by a blue ribbon; another Calendar, composed of violets and figures; A Handful of June Pansies, the same kind of fancy on a larger scale and with more range to the poetry; A Posy of Sweet Peas, on the same plan; a Calendar, with infantile figures presiding over each quarter; a

Happy Childhood Calendar, a little more elaborate; Roses, Roses all the Way, dedicated to Rose, and a mingling of flowers and verse; and finally, Six British Authors, ribbon-tied cards with portraits of Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, Byron, Burns, and Browning, verses from these poets, and idealized houses in which the equally idealized portraits may be hung.

Periodicals. The fiftieth volume of The Century is characterized in part by the infrequency of serial matter and the abundance of poetry. The leading serial is Mr. Sloane's Napoleon Bonaparte. (Century Co.) The two volumes of St. Nicholas covering the year from November, 1894, to November, 1895 (Century Co.), enable one to see how varied are the contents of the magazine, and that the editors endeavor to mix in as much introduction to literature and natural history and science generally as they think omnivorous readers of stories will stand. The Yellow Book, Volume VII., October, 1895. (Copeland & Day.)

Household Economics. The Century Cook Book, by Mary Ronald. (Century Co.) The illustrations form the distinguishing and a distinctly valuable feature of this book. They are reproductions from photographs, showing various dishes, the garniture, thereof, as well as utensils used in their preparation. The volume also contains chapters on dinner-giving, directions as to laying the table, serving, and kindred topics, the directions and suggestions being usually clear and sensible. Viewed simply as a collection of receipts, the book should take a fair rank, though it is certainly neither better nor more complete than are several of the well-known compilations in general use. In its size and make-up this manual is probably the handsomest and most imposing cook book of the day. Swain Cookery, with Health Hints, by Rachel Swain, M. D. (Fowler & Wells.) Intended, we are assured, "to cultivate correct dietetic habits," and dedicated "to those who love the largeness of life and the bounty of good living." Food Products of the World, by Mary E. Green, M. D. Edited and illustrated by Grace Green Bohn. (The Hotel World, Chicago.)

Guidebooks and Handbooks. The Harvard Guide-Book, by Franklin Baldwin Wiley. (C. W. Sever, Cambridge.) It appears that

for more than twelve years no comprehensive guidebook of the university at Cambridge has been newly published. Mr. Wiley's is excellent in arrangement, and should be commended especially for the manner in which it brings forward the many lines our Cambridge poets, old and young, have written of the scenes they have loved. A useful appendix describes the windows in Memorial Hall. - Hand-Book of Sanitary Information for Householders, containing Facts and Suggestions about Ventilation, Drainage, Care of Contagious Diseases, Disinfection, Food, and Water. With Appendices on Disinfectants and Plumbers' Materials. By Roger S. Tracy, M. D., Sanitary Inspector of the New York City Health Department. (Appletons.) The title sufficiently explains what the book is. In addition, it is only necessary to say that there are thirty-three illustrations and a complete index. Ancestry, the Objects of the Hereditary Societies and the Military and Naval Orders of the United States, and the Requirements for Membership Therein, compiled by Eugene Zieber. (The Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co., Philadelphia.)

Science. Life and Love, by Margaret Warner Morley. Illustrated by the Author. (McClurg.) ""T is love that makes the world go round." This is Miss Morley's text, although she does not announce it in these words. The book is a natural sequel to her Song of Life, published a few years ago. The present volume was written rather for the uninformed general reader than for children, but is so elementary in treatment and so elevated in tone that it could well be placed in young hands. The reproductive instinct and functions, as exhibited in all classes of animals and plants, are explained in a delicate and sometimes even poetic manner, yet without the slightest departure from strict scientific accuracy; and the author's idea of love, in the purest and most exalted sense of the word, as the underlying principle of life, is kept constantly in view. The book might well be used as an antidote for the teachings of the physiological novel. - Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, by the Rev. T. W. Webb. Fifth edition, revised and greatly enlarged by Rev. T. E. Espin. In two volumes. (Longmans.) — Popular Scientific Lectures, by Ernst Mach, Professor of Physics in the University of Prague. Translated by

Thomas J. McCormack. (Open Court Publishing Co.) The Growth of the Brain, a Study of the Nervous System in Relation to Education, by Henry Herbert Donaldson, Professor of Neurology in the University

of Chicago. (Imported by Scribners.) The Forces of Nature, a Study of Natural Phenomena, by Herbert B. Harrop and Louis A. Wallis. (Harrop & Wallis, Columbus, Ohio.)



The Decam- THE monograph on Boccaccio by Mr. J. A. Symonds, which has been lately published, sets one a-thinking again about the Decameron. Mr. Symonds is exceedingly enthusiastic in his praises, and hands on the Boccaccio tradition bright as a dollar. Everybody has flattered Boccaccio, great men, little men, grave old plodders, gay young friskers, until it should seem that the consent of many generations had correctly expressed the measure of the


You have almost a conviction of this until you read the Decameron; then comes over you a growing sense of irreverence, of a sort of sans-culottisme iittéraire, and you look around you over the great gravestones in the churchyard of literature, and wonder if it be a sacred place. Why has there been this deal of courtesy to Messer Giovanni Boccaccio? Ulysses says that

"Time is like a fashionable host

That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand, And with his arms outstretched, as he would fly, Grasps-in the comer."

And in truth, Time commonly deals with men in a most unmannerly way; but once you get on the right side of Time, he proves the best of friends. The more the years roll on, the firmer stand his favorites, especially if they be writers of books; for the years sweep away the books, and no sooner is all evidence gone than judgment of immortality is entered at once. Howbeit, it is easier to say why a man wins Time's partiality than why he should deserve it. Boccaccio's success is readily explained. He was the first in the field, and came in on the rising tide of the Renaissance. Yet the Decameron is a book with a feeble pulse of life. It has more genuine fin de siècle flavor than any such put forth nowadays. Once a man is first, by the law that whips creatures along the line of least resistance, he will have imitators, disciples, advocates,

and a grand army of pensioners, all living on his reputation. So it fell out with Boccaccio, and at last he got into encyclopædias and literature primers, and such like perdurable niches of fame, as the "Father of Italian Prose" and the "Prince of StoryTellers," and his name shall live forever. Professors, sub-professors, and essayists make literary genealogies immortal as that of Noah. And so it has come to be common report that Petrarch while he was yet young begat Boccaccio, and Boccaccio after living two hundred years begat Ariosto, Sannazzaro, Aretino, and many others. And in fact by that time, Boccaccio, having no rivals, was lauded and applauded by the cinquecentisti till they too passed away, and since then nobody has read him. I mean that nobody reads him for the pleasure of it, but by authority or curiosity, or to pass examinations, except that noble company to whom a book is a book and a thing of beauty, and its contents may be such as pleases God.

All this I say, admitting, of course, that Boccaccio was an artist and a very clever man. In art he was full of the true spirit of the Renaissance, and he put his hundred tales into a most enduring form. The story of the plague in Florence is mightily interesting; and in front of this horrid black background, fearful as the scrubby thickets where the harpies roost, come tripping along seven delightful young ladies and three charming young gentlemen, like a troop from one of Burne-Jones's pictures. You may think, as you read, that your interest is absorbed by this description of the plague because it is a tale about the wonderful city of Florence told by an eye-wit


But that explanation is not enough, as is proved by Machiavelli's account of a plague in Florence. Machiavelli, weighed in moral scales, tips up Boccaccio ten times

over, but his plague compared to Boccaccio's is a very humdrum and chickenpox affair.

The places whither these ladies and gentlemen go are very delightful places, but how can they help themselves, all dressed up in la favella Toscana? You have only to shake an Italian dictionary, and such wonderful words drop out that you at once dream of "magic casements opening on the foam of perilous seas in fairyland." In the Decameron carissime donne e nobilissimi giovani wander over montagnette, through boschetti verdissimi, alongside of chiarissimi fiumicelli, brushing with loitering feet the rugiadose erbette, and everything is so gradevole, piacevole, and dilettevole that there care could not kill a cat. This lovely frame peeps out again at the end of every ten stories; for after all the company have told their tales, they dance and sing and sup, and one among them recites a ballata. The workmanship of this is like the shine of beads on a rich brocade. I wish some one would get out an edition of the Decameron without the stories. Those hundred stories are some ninety-eight or ninety-nine too many.

As to the matter of Boccaccio's invention, Mr. Symonds admits that he laid his hands upon plots wherever he found them, and says, What of it? It is Boccaccio's art that has given them their value. That may be true, but it is Boccaccio's misfortune that Cymbeline should have been built on the plot of one of his tales, and The Clerk's Tale and the Pot of Basil on those of others. These Englishmen whet your appetite for poetry till it becomes so voracious and intolerant that you cannot abide a story of life without it; and they convince you that wherever two or three human beings are gathered together the spirit of poetry is there also, and that the chief business of the story-teller is to bring it out. In all Boccaccio's hundred tales there is not one breath of poetry.

However, it may not be fair, and it is not necessary, to go to Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Keats. Take the famous story of the husband who murdered his wife's lover, cut his heart out, and had it served up to her for dinner. Compare Boccaccio's version with the same story told of Guillem de Cabestahn, the troubadour, which Mr. Francis Hueffer has taken from a Provençal manuscript in the Laurentian Library at Flor

ence. It is possible that Boccaccio got his story from that very source. The Provençal version is full of passion, and Boccaccio has kept nothing but the bare brutality of the plot. Boccaccio's artful way of stabbing romance shows itself in this story. The wife, on being told that she has eaten her lover's heart, kills herself, and the husband's emotion is "parvegli aver mal fatto." In most of the stories the plot is the most interesting thing, and it must be confessed that the variety of incident is most excellent work.


Mr. Symonds, in his athletic way, calls the Decameron "that stately art work, completely finished, fair in all its parts, appropriately framed, subordinate to one principle of style, with the master's Shakspearean grasp on all heights and depths, on the kernel and the superficies, the pomp and misery, the pleasures and the pangs of mortal life." This is a melancholy instance of the hand being subdued to what it works in. In the Decameron there are no heights or depths, nor mountains nor valleys, nor hills nor dells; only little hummocks and hollows. It is merely excellent landscape gardening. In fact, it is the monotonous human level that strikes the reader, no virtue, no vice. For there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so, and Boccaccio was an extraordinarily clever Florentine epicurean, to whom virtue and vice were but two Dromios playing the world's farce.

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Inability to depict character is another conspicuous failing. Giannello and Peronella, Frate Cipolla, Madonna Agnese, Messer Calandrino, and Niccolosa are a stock company of bad actors, who change their names and clothes from time to time, but nothing else.

The principal objection to the Decameron for the modern reader must necessarily be the indecency of the stories. After making all allowances for autres temps, autres mœurs, and for the fact that human beings are akin to the brutes, the reader is forced to the conclusion that this perpetual indecency is not due to the fact that the writer was a cittadino Fiorentino and a trecentista, but that he was Messer Giovanni Boccaccio. Indecency may be more popular and more public at one time than at another, of course, but probably there are always some people who believe that decency makes life richer and more enjoyable, and others who

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