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The Life and Letters of Dean Hook. By the Rev. W. R. Wood
STEPHENS, M.A., Prebendary of Chichester. 2 vols. (London:
Bentley and Son, 1878.) THESE two valuable volumes have reached us at a date so near to that of our going to press that we can only give them a space very disproportionate to their real interest. This, however, is of the less moment, as we should hope that the mere announcement of them will be sufficient to secure them, from all our readers, that attention which their subject demands. Retired, as he had been, from public observation during the later years of his life, the part which Dr. Hook played in the great revival of Church feeling and Church work of the present century, was such as to secure him no common place in the history of our times. If Bishop Wilberforce set up a new ideal of Episcopal, so Dr. Hook set up a new standard of parochial activity, so far as our great towns were concerned. In these volumes of his son-in-law, Dr. Hook lives again, and, we should think, will long live. His somewhat quaint character, his sturdy honesty, his vigorous independence, his long struggle and final success at Leeds, and his peculiar geniality and humour, are all well displayed, and have been read by ourselves with hearty interest. The Life and Letters of Baroness Bunsen. By A. J. C. HARE.
2 vols. (London : Daldy, Isbister, and Co.) Two deeply interesting volumes, consisting almost exclusively of the letters of this truly remarkable woman. Differing widely, as we must, from the religious and theological specialities of her husband and herself, it is most pleasing to recognise the depth and reality of the religion which animated her whole singular and chequered career, while the number and variety of the topics touched upon in these letters give them a never-failing charm. It is the sort of book which would furnish materials for a long and interesting notice, had not all our space been more than fully occupied before it reached us. . 1. For Percival. By MARGARET VELAY. (London : Srnith, Elder,
and Co., 1878.) 2. Macleod of Dare. By WILLIAM BLACK. (London : Macmillan
and Co., 1878.) 3. The First Violin. (London : Bentley and Son, 1878.) We have here classed together three novels as those which have for he past year been the chief attraction to the Magazines in which they have appeared, namely, the Cornhill, Good Words, and Temple Bar.
The last of the three is to our mind the most complete work of its kind in the sense of fitness for its place and purpose, that purpose being to provide mild excitement, and keep up interest and curiosity from month to month, claiming a certain amount of pleasurable admiration for the hero, but keeping below the line where the qualities become too high for this world's comfortable appreciation. The mystery as to who the First Violin' may be is cleverly kept in reserve, and his generosity and paternal affection make him thoroughly interesting, while his friend, Friedhelm, literally playing second fiddle, is so
loyally and undoubtingly constant to him, and so unshaken in confidence in his rectitude, as to make the story enjoyable. The drawback is the absolute negation of the religious side of life. The people are, and boast of being, mere children of this world,' prayerless, hopeless materialists, out of mere indifference to all but the interests of this life. The only religious person in the story is a melancholy countess, who is supposed to pass her time in reading Roman Catholic 'polemics;' and of the others, almost all the men, especially Friedhelm, have distinctly no religious belief at all. This might be accepted as the only too probable condition of the orchestra of a theatre in a little German town ; but the heroine, an English clergyinan's daughter, manifestly thinks them nothing the worse for it, and views Christmas-day as simply a time for family gatherings and amusements. She has left home to avoid an intolerable suitor whom she alone sees through ; and her family are left utterly undeveloped, except the elder sister, who willingly sells herself to the undesirable baronet, and comes to misery and disgrace in consequence. Indeed the English characters are so inferior to the German, that we should think the book must be the work of a person who had lived so long abroad as to have nothing of home but ease in the use of the language. However, as we have said, it is a clever story, quite according to the promise of its Magazine, and thus giving the subscribers what they have a right to expect.
But we are obliged to say that we think families who take in Good Words ill-used by the insertion of such a story as Macleod of Dare. The periodical is freely given to young people and servants. : Now we are far from saying that every book or paper we lend ought to be of our own way of thinking, and we have always thought Dr. Norman Macleod's original principle of inserting whatever is good and earnest of its kind a right one; but in several cases it has led to the acceptance of what is not good of its kind, only clever, and therefore the more mischievous. Mr. Black has two perfections—the description of scenery and the description of passion; and it is an evil sign of the times that the beauty of his pictures of scenery and the vigour of his writing is allowed to bear down all scruples as to its soundness and morality. A Daughter of Heth is the mere sport of circumstances, and on the very verge of ruin. In the Three Feathers, Wenna is for ever resolving the right and doing the wrong, yet we are called on to admire her. Even Bell, in the Strange Adventures of a Phaeton, is encouraged in her inconstancy and ill-treatment of her honest English lover, and in Madcap. Violet, the ungovernable temper and unchecked impulse lead to the overthrow of the intellect, as well as to utter desolation and despair. And 'Sir Keith Macleod’is, as he certainly tells us from the first, a Highland savage, as ferocious and revengeful at heart as ever were his ancestors. The tragic effect is increased by his surroundings—the noble old lady mother, who has lost all her sons on battle-fields, save this, her youngest-the sweet, generous-hearted cousin, and the devoted clan: the interest is sustained, and the word-painting wonderful ; above all, the picture of the Western Isles covered with snow at sunrise. Keith, too, appears at first so fine a.creature that we feel it as piteous as it is in Hamlet to see his endowments like 'sweet bells jangled.' But it is neither fine nor manly to be so completely under the dominion of passion for an inferior being, as to brood on her and nothing else, until his mind falls into a morbid state, in which the hereditary ferocity of his Celtic nature gains the upper hand, and leads him to an atrocious and treacherous murder and suicide, all the more hauntingly horrible because only inferred from hints, not described. Now when we remember the tendency to plead as an excuse for everything
“Thou knowest that Thou hast formed me
With passions wild and strong'when we remember the sympathy shown in some instances by the crowd with murderers, as if being crossed in love were a plea for any desperate deed, we cannot but think such a novel as this utterly unjustifiable and demoralising. And, further, it is Mr. Black's own concern if he chooses to work out such a morbid study as how far civilisation is capable of prevailing over a Highlander's fiendish propensities to revenge; but the editor of Good Words is not justified in beguiling thousands of readers into dwelling on such an injurious contemplation, without knowing what they are coming to. 'It is like taking our children to see a museum and finding ourselves in La Morgue. . The other story we have named is of very different tone and ten
dency. It is not professedly a religious' tale, but religion is its backbone, as it were, for its great motif is truth. Here things stand on their real merits. Truth is the one thing worth self-sacrifice; lying, revenge, and self-gratification sink into unutterable meanness. Percival, the hero, is ready to suffer anything so that he may preserve his integrity, and he does suffer severely. When a wild tomboy of a girl takes his good-natured patronage for love, and shows her feeling, his genuine dismay, though manifested only by his countenance and by · his restraint of manner, leads the young lady to a revenge in which we are not taught to see anything glorious. In like manner, his uprightness and honour ruin his worldly prospects, and reduce him, an easy-going idler, to become a copying-clerk in a little country town.
The central interest is, however, on Sissy Langton, a very sweet and - winning creature, whose home is in the house of Mr. Thorne, grandfather to Percival and Horace. The former is the heir-at-law, but
owing to an old quarrel, his father had been disinherited, and Horace - had been regarded as the heir. A young lady, with whom Horace had been suspected of flirting, has an appointment with a brother in trouble, and asks Percival to take care of her on her way to the spot. . On her account, Percival tells Sissy not to mention his having gone out of the grounds that evening. A farmer mistakes him for his cousin, whom he accuses to his grandfather of secret meetings with the young lady. Sissy is appealed to, and 'for Percival' utters her untruth, declaring that he had been with her all the evening. The ordinary heroine would think this a most venial transgression, if indeed she would view it as wrong at all; but Sissy is namelessly
unhappy and conscience-stricken from that moment, and pines so that no one understands her malady, while even her betrothal to Percival does her no good. By-and-by Percival finds out the reason why his cousin had lost the favour that he had gained. Of course he makes full explanation to his uncle, and, moreover, when Sissy confesses to him, there is a severity and sternness in his manner that make her feel so utterly base and unworthy that she shrinks away and breaks off her engagement, feeling the standard of Percival's mind above her reach.
Still all would have been made up, if at that very time a bank failure had not made Percival penniless, so that he would have felt it mercenary and dishonourable to approach her again. His grandfather dies suddenly without making any provision for him ; Horace has the whole property, and Sissy, in her remorse, makes a will, the day she comes of age, leaving her fool. a year to Percival. Poor child, ere many months are over, she is fatally injured by an accident. Percival is sent for, and as she lies dying, she implores him to accept her fortune. Then comes the truth, stern truth, once more. During this time, he had met the one woman who, seen for a moment, had been his ideal, before his engagement to Sissy. He cannot feel it honest to accept the bequest without letting her know that he is engaged to Judith Lisle. It is hard ! The dying girl faints—Percival is banished from her room almost as a monster. He watches. A day and a night go by. People come and go. The vicar is casually mentioned among them. At last there is the call to the bedsideSissy says, softly, 'My love to Miss Lisle,' and while giving the one sweet look of pardon, her mind sinks into the last unconscious murmurs about childish wanderings in the woods and fields, and all is soon over.
We cannot but ask, which story of these three is likely to leave the reader a better Christian? Records of a Girlhood. By FRANCES ANNE KEMBLE. (London :
Bentley and Son.) THERE is even less occasion to enter on the delicate subject of conjugal difficulties in dealing with this book, since it concludes with Fanny Kemble's ill-starred marriage with Mr. Pierce Butler. It is in fact a compilation by her own hand from the letters and journals of her youth, beginning with her childish recollections, and going through her brief theatrical career. It is in the nature of things that such a record should be garrulous and gossiping, but it is full of interest, and the home portraits it gives are very striking, from their being so utterly different from preconceived notions of a theatrical family. The hard-working, practical, half-educated, but very clever inother wins our hearts, especially by her exceeding carefulness of her daughters and her quick intuitive clearness of judgment. The father, Charles Kemble, borne down by heavy difficulties and losses, and bravely struggling against them with gentlemanly uprightness and pathetic perseverance, comes out gallantly. Then we have the good maiden aunt, an actress herself for a short time, but much
happier in attending to her sister's children, and so tender-hearted even to fictitious woes that, though she daily chaperoned her niece Fanny to the theatre, she never but once saw her act. The elder brother, afterwards the celebrated Anglo-Saxon scholar, comes in occasionally with his friends of the elite of Cambridge, and we go along with the family anxieties when he shared in the Quixotic expedition to assist the Spanish constitutionalists, which was halfludicrous, and wholly melancholy, in its results. And the younger brother makes one amusing appearance, when there was an attempt to make him Romeo to his sister's Juliet, and after rehearsing the part in a stolid school-boy tone, he celebrated his signal failure by a series of exulting cock-crowings. Good, conscientious people they all were. Theatrical talents were the inheritance of most, and therefore fixed their profession, and, when acting, they could not but be the persons they represented, at the cost of a terrible wear and tear of feeling. But strong religious feeling and high principle went along with the whole. Mrs. Kemble, as a Swiss, inherited much of Calvinistic strictness of training, and Fanny, though more catholic in sentiment, had much of the same grave self-control. Thus, at seventeen, she voluntarily gave up reading Byron, because of the sense of intoxication the poetry gave her. And though forced on the stage by family difficulties, the excitement acting caused her was the subject of conscientious scruples, and in after times she was far better satisfied to read than to act. The Directorium Anglicanum : being a Manual of Directions for the
right Celebration of the Holy Communion, for the Saying of Matins and Evensong, and for the Performance of other Rites
Church of England. Fourth edition, carefully revised, with numerous emendations. Edited by the Rev. F. G. LEE, D.C.L.
(London: John Hogg and Co., 1879.) It is about twenty years since the first edition of this work was published by the late Mr. Purchas, in an ornate and expensive form, and the issue of three entire editions of a work of this character sufficiently indicates the estimation in which it is held. The present edition is substantially the same as previous ones, though we notice a foot-note here and there. It is perhaps a pity that no reference is made to the eventful history of Ritual since the issue of the third edition in 1866; so that the judgment in the Knightsbridge case is the latest event recorded in it. A second Appendix would have brought up the narrative to the present time. The Preacher's Storehouse: a Collection of Pithy Sayings and Choice
Passages on Religious and Moral Subjects. From the Works of
Prayer-Book. (London: G. J. Palmer.) CLERGY who lack time for reading, or have no access to a good and constantly changing library, will find this book a profitable purchase.