A Stack of Novels

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/March, 1911

 LET us plunge into the novels, good and bad. Some of them have been reposing in odd corners of my laboratory so long that they are covered with cobwebs and fall to pieces as I lift them. I shall take them as they come, beginning with one of the worst of them.

“The Fruit of Desire,” which is by some person who hides beneath the pseudonym of Virginia Demarest (Harpers, $1.20), is one of those solemn and pifflish tales which the newspaper reviewers of the hinterland describe as “strong” and “virile” and “thoughtful.” The hero is falsely accused of theft and unjustly punished for it; the heroine is falsely accused of unchastity and unjustly punished for it. The two gallop to New York together and are there mistaken for man and wife, though there has been no marriage, legal or actual. The door remains locked; it is a merely soulful union. After a year or so, however, they yield to the promptings of the devil and are duly joined in holy wedlock. Unpleasantness follows—psychological and obstetrical. The man nearly dies of jealousy; the woman nearly dies of what seems to be unskillful surgery. They see a light; they will go back to joint celibacy. Says she: “We are going to try for the highest.” Says he: “It is the only way.” Such, at least, is my understanding of the story. It was hard reading, believe me. Its characters are entirely incredible. Its machinery creaks. Its philosophy is wind. It is flapdoodle.

Let us breathe cleaner air! It is in “The Prodigal Pro Tem,” an unpretentious and diverting yarn of the best seller type by Frederick Orin Bartlett (Small-Maynard, $1.50). Old Man Van Patten, blind and at the gates of death, yearns to rest his hand once more upon the head of Joseph, his prodigal son. But Joseph is far away, somewhere in the Alaskan wilds, and all the letters and telegrams sent to him are returned marked “Not at.” Then appears Barnes, Jr., a roving young artist. Barnes, Jr., volunteers to ease the old man’s agonies by substituting for Joe, and the gentle deed is done. Then Barnes, Jr., makes love to Joe’s sister, the beautiful Eleanor; Joe himself bobs up; Van Patten, Sr., recovers—and the whole gang is happy. A pleasant and harmless story, with lively dialogue in it and not a little humor.

Henry James and George Barr McCutcheon! Well, why not? They are both artists, and each has his venerators, his disciples, his school. The only essential difference between them is that one is a good artist and the other a bad one. The James book is a collection of five short stories, published under the title of “The Finer Grain” (Scribners, $1 . 50). In the first of them, “The Velvet Glove,” we see how John Berridge, a brilliant young American dramatist, “tastes in their fullness the sweets of success.” Lolling at his ease in Paris, he is sought out by a young lord—just what lord we never find out—who talks to him eloquently about a princess—name also unknown—who yearns to meet him. Berridge glows; he is in full reaction against the democracy of his native soil; it will please him vastly to rub noses with this blooded and exquisite creature. But alas and alack, what bitterness awaits! The princess it turns out has literary ambitions. She has written gushy best sellers under the name of “Amy Evans.” She wants Berridge to do a log rolling preface for her next one. The poor fellow, aghast, backs away. “Why write romances?” he demands. “You are Romance. . . . Don’t attempt such base things. Leave those to us. Only live. Only be. We’ll do the rest.” And then he kisses her and takes to his heels, a disillusioned and suffering man. A good story. A story capitally told. Easy reading? Perhaps not. But a lot of very fine music, it may be recalled, is not easy listening.

The McCutcheon volume is “The Rose in the Ring” (Dodd-Mead, $1.50), a tale of love making and villainizing in a circus. It is fashionable to take a hack at Mr. McCutcheon, to make game of his heroes, to sneer at his popular success. I refrain for two reasons. In the first place, I believe that he is doing his darnedest, which is more than may be said at times for some of his rivals—Mr. Chambers, for example; and in the second place, I hold that it is not at all disgraceful to please the pit. After all the pit is sometimes right and the stalls wrong. Do you remember Dorante’s speech to the silly Marquess in “La Critique de l’Ecole des Fernmes”? It is really Moliere himself that speaks. “Then you, Marquess,” he begins scornfully, “are one of those fine gentlemen who won’t admit that the pit has any common sense, and would be mortified to laugh with it, even if the play were the best in the world. . . . I beg you to learn, my dear Marquess, that in the theater common sense has no exclusive abode. The difference between half a louis and fifteen sous has nothing to do with good taste; for either sitting or standing you may judge badly.” Again, the poet Lysidas is bombarded: “I should like to know whether the great rule of all rules is not to please, and if a play which attains that end has not traveled a good road? Can the entire public be mistaken?” Lysidas gave it up. So do I.

A writer who seems to make regular oscillations between the brave sentiment of “The Newcomes” and the depressing indecency of “Dodo” is E. Temple Thurston, the English author of “The Greatest Wish in the World “ (Kennerley, $1.50). In “Sally Bishop,” his last novel, he was dodoizing and doing it badly; in “The Greatest Wish in the World” he is newcomizing, and doing it very well indeed. We have here the simple story of Peggy Bannister, foundling. Father O’Leary finds her one day in his dismal chapel of Corpus Christi in Maiden Lane, bawling lustily for one so tiny, and takes her home to his presbytery, where his housekeeper, the excellent Mrs. Parfitt, makes shift to give the little stranger succor. There after we follow Peggy down the years, until at last a sailor lover, young Stephen Gale, claims her for his own. But it is Father O’Leary and not Peggy herself who will stick in memory—Father O’Leary, that sentimental fellow, with his celibate’s habit and his fairy godfather’s heart. Something of Thackeray’s mellowness is in the tale.

We are again among the gentler moods in “Adventures in Friendship” by David Grayson (Doubleday-Page, $1.50), a book in which most of the characters are humble village folk and most of the discourse is upon the abiding joys of friendliness and neighborliness and simple faith. It is difficult to write such stuff without growing maudlin, but Mr. Grayson does it. You will like his book. It has hope in it, that divine thing which life knocks out of most of us. “ The Unlived Life of Little Mary Ellen,” by Ruth McEnery Stuart (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.00), comes closer to the dangerous brink of sentimentality. It is the story of a bride deserted at the altar. Crazed by that adventure, she fancies that she is married and a mother. An ancient wax doll is her child. She nurses it tenderly for years and it goes with her to the grave. Very, very sweet. “The Singing Mouse,” by Emerson Hough (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.00), drops us frankly into the wallow. A man’s memories of his lost youth, of half-forgotten companions, of old dreams. It might have been poetry—but Mr. Hough is no poet.

The newspaper reviewers have come down rather heavily upon “The Doctor’s Christmas Eve,” by James Lane Allen (Macmillan, $1.50). A number of them dismiss it out of hand as an allegory which defies understanding; others find fault with its style; and at least one of them denounces it for pornography. Let us be less harsh. The story, it must be admitted, is very far from a masterpiece, but all the same it offers us an interesting picture of an old time country doctor, and has in it much pleasant writing in praise of Kentucky. The serious idea at the bottom of it seems to be this: that a loveless manage is an exceedingly disagreeable affair, even unto the second generation. As for the symbolism, the esoteric meaning, the allegory, I leave all that to the masters of such things. A pair of incredibly precocious children give the story a fantastic touch.

In “The Eagle’s Feather,” by Emily Post (Dodd-Mead, $1.50), we consort, as in this author’s earlier books, with the first aristocrats of Europe. But it is a great dramatist, Jan Piotrovski by name, and not a noble lord, that is the hero of the tale. Jan seeks to inflame his imagination with love, and so sets up housekeeping with Vera de Marsin, the Hungarian widow of a Latin Quarter duke. But he quickly finds that his passion for Vera, instead of helping him to make a great play of “Ysulinde,” which he has on the stocks, rather tends to interfere with his work. A sad dilemma; the artist and the lover clash. Then Vera dies—and Jan, it is to be presumed, goes back to his desk.

A somewhat similar conflict appears in “Son of the Wind,” by Lucia Chamberlain (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50), but here the artist is no manicured and frock-coated dramatist but the champion bronco buster of the world. Hearing of a stallion that no human being has ever dared to mount, he goes in search of it, proposing to spring upon its back, dig his spurs into its hams, reduce it to docility—and get his portrait upon the first page of the Police Gazette. A girl stands in the way. She knows where the wonderful beast is to be found, but she doesn’t want to see it conquered and so she refuses to tell. But the bronco buster makes love to her and she yields, and then he proceeds to his grim work killing the horse in the process and narrowly missing death himself. As he opens his eyes the girl’s arms are around his neck and she is telling him that she loves him better than any old horse that ever lived. A muddled and rather tedious tale.

Yarns of mystery! Four of them are in “The Guillotine Club,” by S. Weir Mitchell (Century Co., $1.50), and all four are good ones. Like Kipling’s “The House Surgeon,” two of them leave the reader puzzled at the end. A lot of ingenuity is in these tales, and the good doctor writes with unfailing grace and plausibility. “The Bainbridge Mystery,” by Grace Tyler Pratt (Sherman-French, $1.20), is less skillfully set forth, but all the same it is a nerve racking story and connoisseurs of that sort of thing will probably enjoy it. In “The Shears of Destiny,” by Leroy Scott (Doubleday-Page, $1.50), we are transported to Russia, that eternally mysterious land, and become involved in the doings of its army corps of spies and secret agents. Henry Drexel, the young American, arrives at St. Petersburg in no easy frame of mind, for he is escorting his fair cousin Alice Howard, whom he thinks he loves, and Alice is soon to be married to Prince Berloff, that magnificent barbarian. Then ensue the adventures. In the last chapter Henry is still gloomy, for by now he has fallen in love with the Princess Valenko, who, being an ardent patriot, refuses to marry him until Russia is free—an event apparently far in the future. However, Alice has been saved from Berloff—and we have had a very exciting time in St. Petersburg.

“The Imposter,” by John Reed Scott (Lippincott, $1.50), is an engaging romance of old Annapolis, with a number of interesting personages in it and a conscientious handling of the facts of history. The social life of the ancient Maryland capital is depicted with charm. In “The Vicar of the Marshes,” by Clinton Scollard (Sherman-French, $1.20), we go back to the Italy of noble poisoners and warlike popes. There is plenty of movement in the tale, but the thought will not down that the author is more successful in his poetry than in his rococo romances. Yet more history is in “The Purchase Price,” by Emerson Hough (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50), the second volume of an ambitious American trilogy, of which “54-40 or Fight” was the first. The scenes are laid in Missouri in the days before the Civil War, and the wild life of that remote and turbulent country is described. A beautiful adventuress from overseas, recalling the baroness of “ 54- 40,” is one of the principal personages.

No doubt “Second String” will disappoint most of the admirers of Anthony Hope (Doubleday-Page, $1.50), for we have here neither brilliant dialogue nor the stupendous doings of a Rassendyl. The story is rather slow moving and most of its characters are commonplace English types. In its way it is well done, but one is constantly reminded, so to speak, that it is not Hopeful. Back to Zenda! “The Annals of Ann,” by Kate Trimble Sharber (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50), purports to be a diary kept by “a girl at the gawky age.” Naturally enough, the subject of love is discussed exhaustively—and, let it be said for Mrs. Sharber, with considerable humor. Still better humor is in “Mr. Ingleside, “ a fantastic and discursive tale by E. V. Lucas (Macmillan, $1.50). Ingleside himself is a delightful fellow—a middle-aged Englishman, high in the Civil Service, who lives apart from his wife because he is happier thus; but more delightful still are Ann his daughter, who comes to live with him, Miss Ming, the dealer in curios, Sarah Wyborn, the nurse turned shopkeeper, Antoinette, that wholesale writer of letters, and half a dozen other quaint folk. Properly speaking, it is not a story at all but a panorama of pleasant people—with a dissertation, at the end, upon the mottoes suitable for sundials! A rambling, genial, happy book.

Honest sentiment has its innings in “Dixie Hart,” by Will N. Harben (Harpers, $ 1 .50) . Here we have certain chapters from the life story of Alf Henley, storekeeper in a little Georgia town. Alf marries a widow of the vicinage and settles down to the humdrum life of a virtuous family man. But in the course of time his eyes begin to turn longingly toward Dixie Hart, a pretty neighbor. Dixie looks back, blinking kindly at Alf —but no, there is no scandal. The love of these simple peasants heartens and sustains them; it puts poetry into their humdrum lives; it makes them stronger and better. In the end it turns out that Alf’s wife has an antecedent husband living; the good lady takes to her heels—and Alf and Dixie meet in that ante-nuptial embrace with which all orthodox American novels end.

Three stories of decidedly larger caliber are “The Shadow of a Titan,” by A. F. Wedgwood (Lane, $1.50), “Flamsted Quarries,” by Mary E. Waller (Little-Brown, $1.50), and “The End of the Rainbow,” by Stella M. During (Lippincott, $1.50)—particularly the first. We have here a full length character sketch of a South American dictator, not in the low comedy manner of O. Henry or the high school manner of Richard Harding Davis, but in what is not far from the careful, analytical, artistic manner of Joseph Conrad. The story ill bears condensation; it is crowded with incident and observation; its canvas is as wide as the Atlantic. A book out of the ordinary. An inordinately long book, but an unusually entertaining one. “Flamsted Quarries” deals with mere Americans—the AngloSaxon Americans of yesterday and the Latin and Slav Americans of tomorrow—and with their clashing ideals and ambitions. Secondarily, it preaches the gospel of redemption by hard work. Miss Waller forges ahead; her work gains in character. “The End of the Rainbow” is a study in disillusionment—the central figure being a young girl who passes through romantic idealism and heartbreak to a true sense of the realities.

The name of Mitchell Kennerley, one of the younger and more adventurous publishers of New York, has come to be associated with thoughts of excellent books, but in “The End of Dreams,” by Wood Levette Wilson (Kennerley, $1.50), he departs from his usual policy and tries to tempt us with literary lobscouse. The story deals amateurishly and incredibly with a man who is really two men—the one an honest (if dishwatery) fellow who harbors a virtuous passion for the fair Beatrice Collamer, and the other a scoundrel who tries to steal her jewels. We see the honest fellow pursue his felonious shadow; we see the two come face to face, and we see the shadow disappear in “a blinding flash of lightning that seemed to fill the room with blue flame.” Then the arms of Beatrice go snaking around the neck of the moral survivor, and pulling down his head to the level of her own, she implants an extremely agreeable buss upon his face. Little is to be said for Mr. Wilson, but that little I say gladly, to wit: he is a good speller.

To Warrington Dawson, author of “The Scourge” (Small-Maynard, $1.50), rather more may be allowed, for beside being an accomplished speller he is also worthy of praise for his good intentions. In “The Scourge” he seems to be attempting a serious study of life in a small Southern town today—an enterprise which no other Southern author has courage enough to undertake, for the South is very touchy and the muckraker goes promptly to the stake. But it is one thing to take aim at a duck and quite another thing to bring it down. Mr. Dawson misses because he is armed with a penny popgun. In other words, his equipment for novel writing is pathetic ally inadequate. He writes stilted and irritating dialogue; his characters are utterly lacking in reality; he shows little if any capacity for inventing situations; he is constantly spoiling his story in the telling. He is tedious, not because he is obscure but because he is empty. One discovers in the end that he has not actually written a novel, but has merely made a gallant and hopeless attempt. The canned review on the cover says that Colonel Roosevelt is one of Mr. Dawson’s admirers. It would not surprise me in the least to hear that Colonel Roosevelt also admires Hamilton Wright Mabie and Orison Swett Marden.

In “Max,” by Katherine Cecil Thurston (Harpers, $1.50), an entirely  incredible story is told with a degree of skill worthy of a better cause. Max, the hero-heroine, is a young Russian princess who decides that being a woman is a woeful matter, and so flees to Paris disguised as a boy. On the way she is befriended by an Irishman of middle age, a man learned in the ways of the studios. She falls in love with him at once, and prompted by that love reveals herself to him as Maxine, the sister of Max. It is a long while before Ned Blake sees through the fascinating little devil’s deception. Here is the thing that is hard to swallow, for Ned, as an old Parisian, must be assumed to have an extremely keen eye for what the biologists call secondary sexual characters. But who demands probability or even possibility in a best seller—so long as it kills dull care? This gratifying murder “Max” achieves. So does “The Siege of the Seven Suitors,” by Meredith Nicholson (Houghton-Mifflin, $1.20), another extravagant but diverting tale. The slave of a despotic and superstitious aunt, Cecilia Hollister is compelled to accept the seventh man who offers her his heart and hand. How so to manage it that No. 7 shall be the lucky fellow who is No. 1 in her maiden meditations? Well, it is managed, and many other amusing things are managed, too. A farce with plenty of movement.

Fun of a higher order is to be found in “The Married Life of the Frederic Carrolls, “ a pleasant and pungent social comedy by Jesse Lynch Williams (Scribners, $1.50). We make acquaintance with the Carrolls just as the honeymoon reaction strikes them and they learn that there is more to marriage than billing and cooing. Thereafter we follow them for a dozen years, observing their joys and sorrows and leaving them in the end at the gates of middle age. We see them get on in the world; we meet their relatives and friends; we behold them struggling with the infernal problems of house building. Once Frederic is almost carried off by a Siren and we hold breath while Molly rescues him. Another time Molly herself has an appalling affair with a brother-in-law. It is a novel and entertaining story, well imagined and well written, and the Carrolls are near enough to the American mean to give it some value as a study of a typical marriage in this our fair land. The problems of matrimony also appear in “The Confession of a Rebellious Wife,” by some anonymous fictioneer (Small-Maynard, 50 cents) and in “The Diary of My Honeymoon,” by another shrinking scrivener (Macaulay, $1.50). The first has an air of genuineness; the wife in rebellion tells her story simply and impressively. The second is balderdash.

“Berenice,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim (Little- Brown, $1.50), tells a story of requited but hopeless love. John Matravers, a famous dramatist, conceives an ardent affection for Berenice What’s-her-name, an actress made famous by his skill, and she returns it compounded. But they cannot marry, for Berenice has a husband living, a scoundrelly fellow who will not die. What to do? Berenice offers herself to Matravers, husband or no husband, and at first he agrees to take her, but soon he perceives the folly of it. It will mean the ruin of both. He prefers death—and so commits suicide. Berenice chooses the greater sacrifice of living on. “The Gift of the Grass,” by John Trotwood Moore (Little-Brown, $1.50), is the autobiography of a famous pacer—to wit, Hal( Pointer, 2.04-1/2. But there are human personages in the tale, too, and they make love after the fashion of their kind. The Middle Basin of Tennessee—“the dimple of the universe”—is the scene. “The Spread Eagle,” by Gouverneur Morris (Scribners, $1.20), is a collection of thirteen of the author’s short stories—and excellent are some of the short stories that Mr. Morris writes, as those who remember “Putting on the Screws” will stoutly maintain.

Finally, and to make an end of fiction, we come to “Her Highness,” by some person or persons unknown to the jury (Badger, $1.50), a dull and incredible tale of mistaken identity; “The Road to Providence,” by Maria Thompson Daviess (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50), the sentimental story of a great singer who, on losing her voice, goes to a quiet Tennessee village for rest, and there gets it back again and a husband with it; “The Mayor of New York,” by L. P. Gratacap (Dillingham, $1.50), a preposterous romance of the future, in the last chapter of which the Pope moves from Rome to Staten Island, apparently that he may officiate at the marriage of the hero and heroine; “Plupy, the Real Boy,” by Henry A. Shute (Badger, $1.50), a sort of continuation of “The Real Diary of a Real Boy,” in which we follow that famous youngster through many new and amusing adventures; “My Brother’s Keeper,” by Charles Tenney Jackson (Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50), an extremely disappointing second novel by the author of “The Day of Souls”; “The Path of Honor,” by Burton E. Stevenson (Lippincott, $1.50), a workmanlike and interesting historical tale in the manner of 1890, with Revolutionary France as its scene; and “As the Gods Decree,” by Daniel Henry Morris (Broadway Pub. Co., $1.50), a well meant but somewhat ponderous effort to picture the life of the Romans.

Two very sightly little volumes of essays come next, each made up of selections from the critical work of a poet recently dead, and each edited and introduced by Edward J. O’Brien. The first is “A Renegade Poet and Other Essays,” by Francis Thompson (Ball, $1.25), and the other is “The Man Forbid,” by John Davidson (Ball, $1.25). Thompson died in a London hospital in 1907, after a life spent chiefly in the gutter; Davidson committed suicide a year ago, having found existence too bitter a dose for his palate. Thompson’s essays are of considerable interest as revealing the esthetic creed of a poet of undoubted worth, but too often they are marred by a silly striving for the startling phrase. In one place, for example, one reads that “all beauty is passionate, though it may be passionless passion.” Here we have a combination of an untruth and an imbecility, and yet poor Thompson probably thought he had achieved an epigram. Such epigrams are easy to manufacture, as Mr. Chesterton has often demonstrated. Elsewhere Thompson is less artificial and more intelligible. In one essay he argues that Cervantes wrote “Don Quixote,” not to kill chivalry with guffaws, for it was already dead, but to voice a “secret but lofty contempt” for the materialism that had killed it. “At the deepmost core of the strange and wonderful satire, in which the hidden mockery is so opposite to the seeming mockery, lies a sympathy even to tears with all height and heroism insulated and out of date and mad to the eyes of a purblind world.” An ingenious theory! Davidson’s essays are more commonplace and show in general little critical insight. Some of them are plainly pot boilers. A number of Fleet Street eclogues in prose, hitherto unpublished between covers, accompany them.

The impression that one gathers from “Hunting With the Eskimos,” by Harry Whitney (Century Co., $3.50), is that the sport is scarcely worth the trouble. Mr. Whitney went North with Peary in the summer of 1908, dropped ashore at Etah on the west coast of Greenland and remained there for a whole year, fighting off chilblains and vermin, chasing the walrus, the arctic hare and the musk ox, and longing for a square meal. During the dark, dank arctic winter he turned a greenish yellow hue, grew bald and came near losing his feet, fingers and nose. It was not until the spring of 1909 that he actually got a chance at musk oxen, the kingly game of those parts. He found them on the heights of Ellesmere Land, many miles across Smith Sound. When his sledge dogs flushed them they took to the glassy hummocks and he had to scramble after them. Facing them at last, he killed thirteen of them in a few moments. The great, innocent beasts simply stood there like steers and gulped the lethal lead. The chief danger to the hunter was that of slipping on the ice. Better sport was had with the walrus and norwhal, and there was plenty of good duck and hare shooting. But one wonders, on closing the book, why a man should immerse himself in Eskimo filth for a whole year and lose acres of cuticle and miss a lot of good shows, all for the sake of slaughtering a few inoffensive cattle. Mr. Whitney tells his story simply and modestly, but he glosses over the most interesting parts of it. One memorable day Dr. Frederick A. Cook stalked into his camp—“half starved, thin and terribly dirty.” Of Cook’s story not a word is repeated. A month or two later Commander Peary appeared. Again a discreet silence!

A fat and juicy book is “ In Africa, “ by John T. McCutcheon, the Chicago cartoonist (Bobbs-Merrill, $4.00). It must weigh fully four pounds, one of which is accounted for by the innumerable illustrations —photographs, maps and pen drawings by the author. Mr. McCutcheon went to Africa not so much to drench its soil with the blood of its fauna as to have a high old time, and a high old time he had, and his story of it makes extremely diverting reading. He met Colonel Roosevelt on the Nzoia River and was but eight miles away when the Colonel and Kermit achieved their historic massacre of elephants. Kermit came galloping into the McCutcheon camp howling for salt, and soon the embalmers of both expeditions were hard at work salting down the slain. Later on the Colonel favored the assembled multitude with an anecdote. It concerned an elephant that he had recently assassinated and then abandoned in the jungle. When he went back to the carcass, he said, he found the head of a live hyena protruding from the dead pachyderm’s corporation. Nearby was a gaping wound, at least eighteen inches in diameter. The hyena had eaten its way in by one route and was coming out by another! Such was the tale that Bwana Tumbo told, sitting by his campfire on the Nzoia River. It is but one of many amazing tales in a book that is sure to please. Mr. McCutcheon writes briskly and entertainingly; he went through Africa with his eyes open. And at the end of his book there is a chapter of detailed advice and information for anyone who cares to follow in his footsteps.

Winthrop Peckard’s “Florida Trails” (Small-Maynord, $2.00) is the narrative of a naturalist’s winter wanderings in the most colorful and romantic of all American states. Who, having once seen them, ever forgets those languid, twilight streams, with their Gothic arches of gnarled trees; those hard white beaches, incandescent by day and phosphorescent by night; those spectroscopic sunrises; those “soft, lascivious stars”? It is not at Palm Beach that Florida is most beautiful, nor even at St. Augustine, but along the lonely reaches of the coast, where the palm trees come down to the water, as they do along the Spanish Main, and the wild things of the tropics are undisturbed by the cacophony of hotel orchestras and the sickening odors of talcum powder, cigarettes and false hair. It is into this lovely wilderness that Mr. Packard takes us, his eye alert for snake and butterfly, bird and flower. The trip is well worth making with him. He knows his Indian River as the Seminoles knew it; the eternal spell of the tropics is upon him; he writes pleasantly and understandingly. Incidentally his book is full of illustrations which do great credit to the printer. They are simple half tones from photographs, printed in but one color, but not a few of them have the depth and richness of etchings. Mr. Packard is also the author of “Wood Wanderings” (Small-Maynard $1.20), whose title sufficiently describes it.

We are still out of doors in “My Grandmother’s Garden,” by Mary Matthews Bray (Badger, $1.00), and “October Vagabonds,” by Richard Le Gallienne (Kennerley, $1.50). The former is made up of two pleasant little essays upon old-fashioned flowers and old time orchards, and the latter is the story of an autumn walking tour through New York State. Mr. Le Gallienne’s walking companion was an artist, and the pair swallowed many a savory country dinner on the way and discoursed with many a simple peasant and stopped to listen to many a bird and fell flat upon their facades to drink from many an upland rill. They drank, alas, once too often, for toward the end of their long route the artist began to grow bilious and dizzy and had to be brought to New York by train. It was typhoid fever, and for several weeks it kept him to his bed. The name of this artist doth not appear, but I have no doubt that he was Thomas Fogarty, the illustrator of the book. It is an extremely pretty book, printed and bound in Mr. Kennerley’s best manner, and here and there its prose rises into a song.

Le Gallienne again—this time as essayist. The book is called “Attitudes and Avowals” (Lane, $1.50) and it includes a number of the fanciful and charming papers which the author has contributed during the past few years to the Smart Set. Accompanying them are various reviews—of Stephen Phillips’s plays, of Sidney Lanier’s poetry, of Arthur Symons’s criticism; of Maurice Hewlett’s various styles, of Hawthorne’s novels. A book to pick up and put down; a book for converting idle half-hours into profitable ones. Another volume of essays is the “Constrained Attitudes” of Frank M. Colby (Dodd-Mead, $1.20). Mr. Colby chatters amiably about all things under the sun, from the morals of Hedda Gabler to the flubdubbery of the British weeklies. I am unable to report that he says anything likely to be preserved for long in the great storehouse of human thought.

 

Three Modern Seers—

by Mrs. Havelock Ellis. (Kennerley, $1.25)

Brief accounts of the principal writ ings of James Hinton, Edward Carpenter and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche.

 

What Eight Million Women Want—

by Rheta Childe Dorr. (Small-Maynard, $2.00)

The story of the woman’s club movement in the United States, with particular reference to the great campaign for the rescue of the working girl.

 

The Automobile —

by Robert Sloss. (Outing Pub. Co., $1.25)

A little book of valuable pointers in the selection, care and use of a motor car.

(Source: Hathitrust.org, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=njp.32101076380318;view=1up;seq=574)