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evidently keeps close to his canvas, working apparently like Anthony Trollope watch in hand ; George W. Cable, who discovered the Louisiana creole, opening thereby a new vein as rich while it lasted as that of Bret Harte's ruffian miners or Mrs. Stowe's plantation negroes ; Julian Hawthorne, whose mistake it was to try to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious father, a kind of step which it is difficult, if not impossible, to copy; Eugene Field, with his great childish heart, a mimic like Stevenson and as simple and garrulous as old Richard Burton; Boyesen, who started well with idyllic scenes and, steeping himself in a fairy-like atmosphere, might have attained high rank as a romanticist had he not in an ill moment been introduced to Tolstoi and become infatuated with the realisms of the great Russian; and Frank R. Stockton, who by a sleight of hand hard to be detected in the action of the story causes his reader to take his absurdities in good faith. All these and several others have done work which has a fair chance for the library of the next generation.
Coming down to the very latest candidates for the novelistic bays, we find the following in best feather at the bookseller's —a rating, however, by no means safe on which to base a judg. ment as to merit. The characterization of their works can be spared only a line each. Henry Seton Merriam staggers us with a sense of the frightful distance between the base and the apex of the pyramid of modern society. John Kendrick Bangs amuses us with a unique combination of ghostdom and drolldom. Amelia Barr wins our love for her Scotch peasants who have the home soil and are not emigrating like so many of the children of roving pens. Mary E. Wilkins presents us with some yarns almost as exquisitely cat as those of Maupassant, the French master of the novelette. Richard Harding Davis, a reporter of the impressionist school, convinces us that he has not only a “nose for news,” but also a scent of the popular taste. Gilbert Parker, with his French debonair and wild Indian grace—both real strains in his blood-interests us in old Quebec, the most romantic city on the continent. If we glance briefly at this later fiction as compared with the earlier, two or three things impress us as significant. The range is wider, the form is more artistic, and there is more skill in character-drawing, with less of fanciful plot and striking incident. At the same time there is a decided loss in power and pathos, a lack of depth and richness, a deficiency in those forces of imagination which alone can create commanding and enduring literature. For genius we have grace, for grandeur of conception we have quickness of perception, and for great characters casting continental shadows we have dexterous management of lights and shades. The fault is not so much in the limitation of the author's mind as in false literary standards. Could a critic of impartial judgment, infallible taste, and universal reading arise to teach his countrymen to lay more stress uuon creative sympathy than on subtlety of analysis, and to exalt the painting of a great character above the elaborate drawing of a mere portrait—as Brunetière, the most formative mind in France to-day, has taught his people to study the master minds of the past and of all lands for their exemplars the gain to American letters would be great. When, however, we compare our fiction with contemporary foreign products, we find that what is loss for literature is gain for morals. If our artists lack Thomas Hardy's sprightliness, neither have they his loose notions of the marriage tie. If they cannot lay on color like Zola, neither do they paint the nude. If they fail of Tolstoi's spontaneity, neither are they so natural as to be sinful. After allowing for the vulgarity of Stephen Crane and the subtone of pessimism that detracts from Howells's otherwise valuable work, the great body of our fiction is wholesome.
We may well sigh, however, for a master's touch on this strange organ of the soul, a literary Mozart who shall do for romance what that genius of music did for the symphony, lifting it to a plane of eloquence, power, and purity to which it had not before attained ; one who, amid the vast materials and complex conditions of modern life, shall be selective without being seductive, true to the time-spirit of his age, faithful to the best traditions and highest exactions of his art, and loyal to the widest claims of human sympathy and the most exalted dernands of the Christian conscience.
Wilbert 6. Blakemen, .
NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS.
On page 854 of our November-December Review, 1899, in the article on Dr. Kynett, Bishop McCabe is erroneously quoted as saying that the great Church Extension Secretary at his death left that Society with “a church-building power of two churches for every week of the rolling year.” This, of course,
It should read “TWELVE churches for every week.”
was an error.
That the Holy Bible is indeed the Book of God is power. fully evidenced by the truth of the statement by Dr. Abraham Kuyper, of Holland, on page 368 of his Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology: “That faith which leads individuals and whole circles to conscious worship, not of the Unknown God' at Athens, but of the knoron Father who is in heaven, is not found, except where the Scriptures have been the divine instrument, in God's hand, of that knowledge.”
TESTIMONY to the value of missionary enterprise comes not infrequently from sources supposed to be antagonistic. Thus the Indian Spectator, though it is a non-Christian paper, in a recent editorial says:
Whether by virtue or by necessity, the Indian people have acquiesced in the policy of a fair field for all faiths, and in the case of the Christian missions, they have even learned to value them for the wholesome moral influence which they diffuse all around. ... We absolutely subscribe to Lord Lawrence's opinion that, “ notwithstanding all that the English people have done to benefit India, the missionaries have done more than all other agencies combined.” Lord Lawrence was too much of a man of action to be punctilious about the rules of syntax, but he was the last person to express an opinion that he did not feel.
CONCERNING an irreverent and destructive biblical criticism, Professor H. S. Nash writes:
Criticism has many sins to answer for some of them heavy. A considerable part of it bas been characterized by an intellectual imperiousness wholly unbecom. ing the patient seriousness of scholarship dealing with a noble subject. Many a critic has been as a pope without jurisdiction possessing that kind of infallibility that is able to hear the grass growing in Palestine two thousand years ago. Criti. cism has often been grossly irreverent. The Bible deserves to be handled by everyone with the deepest respect. It has been taken to the heart of the whole Occident. It has blent with all that is most tender and holy in the eyes of the masterful peoples of the world. It is enshrined in the affections of those nations into whose keeping history has given her main interests. Yet many critics have treated the Bible as if it were the private property of the men of the chair. And sometimes there has entered into criticism the motive that stirred up Erostratus to burn down the Temple of Diana.
THE BIBLE FOR YOUNG MEN. Not all portions of Scripture are of equal interest, significance, value, or force. The Bible is a Koh-i-noor diamond of a million facets, each face thereof flashing light in its own direction. The moving vicissitudes of human life bring us successively opposite and facing different parts of it, so that we get the glint now of one face and next of another. The Bible has a message for each soul, season, and situation, and every individual of the fifteen hundred millions living on the earth, in any generation, may receive from the Bible his own specific flash of light at every stage of his experience and in each exigency of his need, as sure as every dewdrop glittering on the grass has its own particular sun.
Nothing is more convincing than explicit, first-person-singular testimony concerning what a capable and upright testifier has himself experienced. It seems not amiss to admit upon these pages the affirmations of four nonprofessional witnesses, literary men bred on books, bearing witness briefly to the beneficial power of certain particular parts of Holy Writ upon themselves in early and formative periods.
Professor John Stuart Blackie, of the University of Edinburgh, records that of all influences the Bible did most to enlarge his ideas, widen his sympathies, and purify his ideal of humanity, and adds:
To this book I am indebted for the greatest blessing that can happen to a young man at his first launch out of boyhood into youth, namely, the firm grip which it gave me of the grand significance of human life, and of the possibilities of human nature when true to its highest inspirations. I was not more than fifteen years old when I was moved to adopt the ideal ethics of the Gospel as my test of sentiment and my standard of conduct; and to this I adhered steadily thenceforward, just as a young seaman would stick to his compass and to his chart, and a young pedestrian to his map of an unknown country. This early intimacy with the best of books—not a mere Sunday acknowledgment, but a living dedication of the lifekept me free from the power of those youthful lusts against which St. Paul warns Timothy, and which, if not kept under, have a fatal tendency to taint the blood and to dull the nerve of the moral nature in man. To this book, and specially to this epistle, I here delight to confess my obligations as to no other infuence in the shape of printed paper; for, though I could have found a pure and elevated moral guidance in Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, or Marcus Aurelius, in my early years those teachers were not within my reach, and, even if they had been, could never have laid hold of me with the same authority.
Mr. W. T. Stead, Editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, noting that from age to age the Bible remains undeniably the most authoritative and valuable of books, and testifying that some parts of it have influenced him powerfully while other parts have not affected him at all, relates his progressive experience with it as follows:
The first time I felt the influence of the Bible was when I first went to a board. ing school. I was unspeakably miserable and forlorn. I was only twelve, and had never been away from home before. It was then I discovered the consolatory influence of many of the Psalms. Take them all round, the Psalms are probably the best reading in the world when you are hard hit and ready to perish. After I left school Proverbs influenced me most; and I remember, when I was first offered an editorship, reading all the Proverbs relating to kings as affording the best advice I was likely to get anywhere as to the right discharge of editorial du. ties. When I was busy with active, direct work among the ignorant and poor, the story of Moses's troubles with the Jews in the wilderness was most helpful. Later when, from 1876 to 1878, no one knew when he went to bed but that by morning Lord Beaconsfield would have plunged the empire into war, the Hebrew prophets formed my Bible. In 1885 it was the story of the evangelists. If I had to single out any one chapter which I am conscious of having influenced me most, I should say the first of Joshua, with its oft-repeated exhortation to be strong and to be very courageous; and if I had to single out any particular verses, it would be those which were taught me when a boy, and which I long afterward saw on the wall of General Gordon's room at Southampton: “Trust in the Lord with all tby heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Remarking that our best education from books is from those in which we breathe a magnanimous atmosphere of thought and meet generous and pious characters, Robert Louis Stevenson relates that the authors which found and served him earliest were John Bunyan, with his Pilgrim's Progress, Shakespeare, D'Artagnan, and Montaigne in his Essays, and that after these in order of time the next to invade, capture, and subdue him was the New Testament, and in particular the Gospel According to Matthew, of which he wrote: