The Horse Power of Realism

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/June, 1911

MR. HOWELLS, discoursing lately in Harper’s Magazine, gave orthodox sanction to a doctrine I have long cherished in secret and occasionally maintained (somewhat faintly and timidly) in public: to wit, that a work of art, sub-department literature, is most impressive and memorable, not when it wanders farthest into the interstellar spaces of fancy, but when it sticks closest to the actual facts of life.

One day a priest in the Shakespeare shrine, scenting this heresy in some idle newspaper article of mine, came at me savagely with his sacred vessels and was for condemning me to Gehenna. That is to say, he called me an infidel and an ass, and for a while his very vehemence half convinced me that he was right; but soon I was making a mechanical sort of defense, and by and by, as I fought on, I took heart and courage. In the end I reached such heights of confidence that I found myself bravely denouncing the first act of “King Lear” as a farrago of exquisite balderdash and the long scene between Lear and the Fool as an offense to the intelligent nostril, the while I gave extravagant praises to the searching last act of “A Doll’s House,” the whole of “El Gran Galeotto” and certain unforgettable chapters of “Huckleberry Finn.” It was some comfort later on to discover that Leo Tolstoy had lambasted “King Lear” even more heroically. It is some comfort now to find Mr. Howells lauding that “stark outrightness” which he himself, at least of late years, has so prudishly avoided.

The book specifically discussed by the reverend dean of our scriveners is Mr. Thayer’s “Astir.” The merit of this book lies, not in its poetic embellishments, its felicities of phrase, its moral subtleties, for it is entirely bare of such things, but in its ruthless, downright realism—as Mr. Howells says, in its “breath stopping, hair raising, heart-to-heart frankness, its astounding intimacy.” The actual incidents of the story are not often extraordinary—there must be incidents just as dramatic in the life of many another toreador of the counting room. But here, for the first time, such a story is set forth in cold blood, without the slightest effort to make it fit an affecting tune. When there is a success to describe the author doesn’t hesitate to describe it, giving himself full credit, and when there is a disaster to record he is equally openmouthed and equally appreciative of the victor. He gives names and dates, documents and witnesses. And withal there is artistic selection in the chronicle, as well as mere honesty. The trivial and unilluminating detail never intrudes. The sentimental man is not heard once, nor the dreaming man, nor the head of a house. It is a solo for business man a cappella.

It would be pleasant, says Mr. Howells, to have every man of mark tell his story in this forthright fashion—perhaps more so to hear the stories of a few men not of mark. And every story would break up inevitably into distinct and separate, and maybe antagonistic, substories—one dealing with getting on in the world, another with affairs passional, yet another with adventures spiritual, and so on. The true tale of one man’s—of any man’s—hazards and enterprises of the heart, for example, would make the world sit up. That true tale, of course, is not likely to be written. Only a scoundrel could do it honestly—and scoundrels are seldom honest. Witness Benvenuto Cellini. We get a hint, toward the end of his incomparable memoirs, that he had a son, but who was the mother of that son? Where and when did Benvenuto turn aside from his murders and larcenies to woo and win her? What was her place in the hierarchy of his loves? Alas, the deponent saith not!

A more copious effusion of what might be called professional autobiographies would add to the richness and savor of life, for it would both increase our store of useful facts and decrease our store of distracting fancies. The novel of the day could not long survive such competition. Who would dally with Indiana best sellers if the true story of John D. Rockefeller’s first million, written by the one man able to search out its last fact, were to be had for $1.08? And how long would the literature of Zenda stand up against the confessions of Theodore Roosevelt? The trouble is, of course, that not many men undertaking such personal records are able to make them true. Who has the courage to pull his own tooth? Who, indeed, can cut his own hair—or describe his own nose—or shave himself as cleanly as the barber? With the best intentions in the world, the portrayer of self finds his hand shaking when it should be firm—and the results are bad drawing, opaque shadows, cross lights, false colors. Witness the wabbly lines of George W. Smalley in his “Anglo-American Memories” (Putnam), and the preposterous curlycues of young George Borup in “A Tenderfoot With Peary” (Stokes).

Mr. Smalley is one of the greatest, if not actually the very greatest, of living journalists. He has stood by in the foundries of London, Berlin and Washington while history was being made; he has helped to cast the metal himself. He knew Bismarck, Charles Sumner, King Edward VII, Thomas Henry Huxley, Horace Greeley, Lord Randolph Churchill, the Empress Frederick—all the world figures of yesterday and the day before. He was a war correspondent during the Civil War; he was the first reporter to make large use of the Atlantic cable; he revolutionized newsgathering in 1870. Not a great event of the years between 1860 and 1900 failed to find him with his eye glued to a key hole. And yet this accurate observer and practiced writer, this professional teller of true stories, when he comes to tell the story of his own encounters with great men and his own part in memorable doings, goes careening to right and left like a high school essayist. Now and then, taking to the straight track for a moment, he achieves an engrossing chapter of genuine reminiscence. But at once he is off again, scattering pointless anecdotes, posing magnificently as a man of fashion, heading everywhere and arriving nowhere. In his 430 pages there are almost 430 disappointments.

Mr. Borup’s book is even worse. The author, it appears, was fresh from the Yale campus when he sailed in the Roosevelt, and it is as the college man of vaudeville that he chooses to depict himself in his story. So he writes the whole thing in slang—not the natural, picturesque, colorful slang of a yeggman or a policeman, for he is neither, but the artificial, far-fetched, impossible, mirthless slang of the popular stage. I know of no more tedious business than a two hours’ bout with such rubbish. Mr. Borup might have written an extremely entertaining book. He went North an alert and intelligent youngster; the whole drama of the struggle with the ice came upon him with great force; his impressions must have been vivid and startling; he himself was in the forefront of the fray; a great tale was there to tell. But what have we? Merely a childish effort to play the Katzenjammer Kid, to make high endeavor funny, to fit the Nibelungen with green whiskers and slapsticks, to turn the last of the epics into a vaudeville sketch.

But we had better leave such atrocities to the remorse that must needs follow them and get us at once to the novels, which arise on all sides in chromatic, almost indecent Himalayas and Singer Towers. The first half-dozen or so reveal nothing more laudable than a desire to fill three hundred pages and collar the money. Of this depressing species “What’s-His-Name,” by George Barr McCutcheon (Dodd-Mead), is a perfect example. Our hero is a stage husband, the humble consort of a Broadway star. No need to point out the dramatic possibilities in that pathetic figure. But Mr. McCutcheon, it appears, is too superficial and inaccurate an observer to notice them. His story is a mere collection of improbable anecdotes. With materials at hand for an incisive study of character, a mordant work or humor, he has fashioned nothing better than a third rate best seller. Of somewhat greater pretensions, but still a cheap thing, is “Yellow Men and Gold,” by Gouverneur Morris (Dodd-Mead), the chronicle of a search for lost treasure. Mr. Morris, as everyone who has read his excellent short stories is well aware, is a writer of considerable skill. His characters usually have individuality; his dialogue is lively and he shows a feeling for form. But here he grapples hopelessly with a story so absurd that even fine workmanship cannot redeem it. In “The Gold Bag,” by Carolyn Wells (Lippincott), “813” by Maurice Leblanc (Doubleday-Page); “Osru,” by Justin Sterns (Theosophical Pub. Co.), and “The Man with the Scar,” by Warren and Alice Fones (Badger), we strike bottom. The first two are detective stories of the painfully elaborate variety now in vogue, and the second two are occult tracts disguised hideously as bad fiction.

Let us struggle through a bit more such tedious stuff before tackling the novels of a better sort. Here are some that, despite occasional flashes of merit, I have found it well-nigh impossible to read: “A Question of Marriage,” by Mrs. George De Home Vaizey (Putnam), the gloomy story of a young woman condemned to celibacy by the menace of insanity; “The Catspaw,” by William Hamilton Osborne (Dodd-Mead), a tale of mystery with syntax suggesting Henry James and a final curtain recalling “Salomy Jane;” “The Riding Master,” by Dolf Wyllarde (Lane), an English novel of the horsey species, with a false heir and other aristocratic embellishments; “ A Woman with a Purpose,” by Anna Chapin Ray (Little-Brown), a dull chronicle of marital infelicity; “A Cossack Lover,” by Martha Gilbert Dickinson Bianchi (Duffield), in which one follows the riotous love affair of Nathalie Mainwaring, the rich American girl, and Serge Ivanewitch, the dashing, devilish Russian hero; “The Red Lantern,” by Edith Wherry (Lane), a tale of the siege of the legations at Peking, with a Chinese heroine who turns Christian and several intimate glimpses of the late Emperor and Empress Dowager; and “The Rogue’s Heiress,” by Tom Gallon (Dillingham), in which that ancient favorite, the rascal redeemed by love, once more bears his romantic burden in the heat of the day. I do not say that these stories are not worth reading; no doubt there are plenty of readers, not insane, who will find them charming. All I do say is that I have been unable, save fragmentarily and by dint of great effort, to read them.

Now come better things—for example, “Fortunata,” by Marjorie Patterson (Harpers), a study of crumbling aristocracy in modern Italy. The canned review supplied by the publishers says that this is Miss Patterson’s first novel, which only goes to show that a canned review, even when it tells the simple truth, cannot escape the aspect of mendacity. Not often, believe me, do these fair United States see a first novel of such admirable design, such finished workmanship, such fresh and lively wit, such shrewd observation, such arresting individuality. Fortunata Rivallo, half decadent Roman and half crazy American, is a figure that Meredith himself might have delighted to slap upon his canvas. One gets beneath the talcumed hide of this entrancing brigand of the ballroom; one sees into her pitiful soul; one fathoms the compound of weakness and soaring that brings her to destruction; one regards her, toward the end, with the sneaking affection that all true rascals, once they are known intimately, inspire.

It is, in brief, a character sketch of quite exceptional vigor and vivacity that Miss Patterson has here achieved. She shows, in her very first essay in the prose sonata form, a sureness of hand which not one novelist in a hundred ever attains at all. And Fortunata’s rotundity and reality are not accidental, not mere signs of a beginner’s luck, for the other characters of the story, down to the least important, have rotundity and reality, too—the leering old Princess Colibri, with her atrocious witticisms and her frank devotion to scoundrelism for its own sake (how Thackeray would have lingered over her!), the sentimental Contessa Antonio, tortured by her back stairs intrigues; the faint-hearted Luigi Decampagna; Lord Trevers, the English diplomat, whom Fortunata marries to escape the paleozoic Prince de la Tour Bichelle; even the children and servants. I do not know how accurately Miss Patterson has drawn the life of the Italian noblesse, besieged by rats and poverty in their damp old barns of palaces, but the picture, whether accurate or not, plainly hangs together. One rises from the book with the impression that one has lived for a while with real persons and that they have passed through real adventures. It is a book that reveals, not that mere impulse to write which is the sole excuse for most of our contemporary novels, but a genuine and distinctive talent for the art of fiction.

Other first novels that show merit, though in far less degree, are “Me—Smith,” by Caroline Lockhart (Lippincott), and “The Trail of Ninety-Eight,” by Robert W. Service (Dodd Mead), the first an elaborate study of a Western bad man and the second a tale of the stampede into the Klondike. Miss Lockhart occasionally grazes the Scylla and Charybdis of melodrama and low comedy, but on the whole her bad man is a very convincing fellow, and his motives, no less than his doings, seldom violate the probabilities. Mr. Service’s story would be better if its machinery were not so elaborate. He himself, I believe, hoofed the Chilkoot in ’98, and so his scenes of wild struggle and hot desire have the vividness of first hand impressions. Already secure in fame as the poet laureate of Arctic camps, it is pleasant to see him turning his hand to the novel. Another story that may be called a firstling is Gustav Frenssen’s “Klaus Hinrich Baas” (Macmillan), for Frenssen, though of high reputation in Germany, where his “Jorn Uhl” made a sensational success in 1901, has yet to win an audience in this country. “Klaus Hinrich Baas” will help him to that end. It is a painstaking and searching study of the commercial German—a story with cynical touches, but probably fair enough for all that. The ports of the North Sea are full of Baases—pushing, laborious, somewhat brutal fellows who have superimposed the cocksureness of the conquerors at Sedan upon the simple virtues of the old Hanse merchants. We follow this one through a thousand adventures, amatory and mercantile; the story is a structure of elaborate detail. But the thoughtful reader, once he has got past Klaus’s nonage, will probably skip few of the 175,000 words, for in all that detail there is little tediousness.

From debutantes to veterans! Here is another posthumous volume by Marion Crawford—the third or fourth to appear since his passing to the beyond. It is called “Wandering Ghosts” (Macmillan), and it contains seven creepy yarns of the supernatural, all save one of which were published in the magazines during the author’s lifetime. Needless to say, these stories are told with great skill. Mr. Crawford’s aim was to startle, to horrify, to appall, and if you don’t believe that he was equal to that trick just read “For the Blood is the Life” on some rainy, ghostly night. More supernaturalism is to be found in “The Dweller on the Threshold,” by Robert Hichens (Century Co.), a tale of lost, or rather of borrowed, personality. The thing is done artfully and shows all of Mr. Hichens’s customary mastery of stage business and particularly of stage lighting, but the principal incidents, at bottom, are utterly absurd, and that absurdity refuses to be concealed. The wrapper of the book is adorned with a twelve-point quotation from a fair critic who regards Mr. Hichens as “the greatest writer of fiction today.” In this judgment I find it difficult to acquiesce. I am firmly convinced, indeed, that George Moore and Joseph Conrad are just as good, not to mention Thomas Hardy, Johan Bojer, Leonid Andreief, Arnold Bennett, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, and Herbert George Wells.

John Galsworthy and Maurice Hewlett are also to be remembered. Both of them, it so happens, are with us, as it were, this evening. Galsworthy’s story, “The Patrician” (Scribner), is drab and slow moving, and in a dim, remote fashion suggests St. John Hankin’s plays. The two children of the Earl of Valleys—Barbara, his only daughter, and Miltoun, his son—are impaled upon the pikes of love, Barbara’s conqueror being one Courtier, political idealist and leader of lost causes, and Miltoun’s charmer being Audrey Noel, grass widow. It is the business of the tale to show how passion gradually yields to the sense of duty—not Barbara’s and Miltoun’s duty to themselves, but their higher duty to their caste. It is not meet that an earl’s daughter marry an enemy to all earls, however alluring his social graces and his merits as a man. And it is not fitting that the heir to a great name dally with a woman of dubious position, however clear her innocence and honest her love. So Barbara, her tears dried and her eyes to the front, goes bravely to the altar with Claud Fresnay, Viscount Harbinger; and Miltoun, accepting Mrs. Noel’s dismissal, plunges into his life work at St. Stephens. If “The Patrician” were an ordinary romance, love would find a way and the curtain would fall upon an affecting tableau. But this is a book by Galsworthy, and the books of Galsworthy are not ordinary. In this one you will find an acute and sympathetic study of the caste ideal—an ideal which, despite the hot strophes of the late Mr. Jefferson, has yet a lot of vitality in it, not to say a lot of sober sense. “The Patrician” must be set above the author’s last novel, “Fraternity.” It has its thin places and its places of heavy going, but there are passages in it which recall the best of the character sketches in “A Commentary.”

Mr. Hewlett—Gott sei dank! —goes back, in “Brazenhead the Great” (Scribner), to the Italy of the Renaissance—the Italy of turmoil and adventure, dreaming and romance—blest scene of “The Fool Errant” and other such galloping tales of the Hewlett of day before yesterday. Brazenhead is a figure out of Rabelais: liar, braggart, scoundrel, ever ready to knock out a citizen’s brains or drink an abbot under the table, Third Murderer to the Duke of Milan, shaker of thrones, half god and half swine. He gets his high post under the Duke by murdering Lisciassanque, his predecessor. The Duke, at the start, doubts his talents, his technique, his ardor. Lisciassanque set a fast pace, a high standard; he must have killed in his day a thousand men. “But I,” ventures the proud Brazenhead, “slew him.”

And so he is appointed and takes up his duties. “He was to kill daintily. Imagination was to go into it; it was not enough merely to kill. He must be an artist; he must compose murders, give them a lyrical pitch. . . . The Duke was a virtuoso; he collected murders as other men bronzes.” Of such tales of the grotesque and arabesque Mr. Hewlett has a natural monopoly. His involved and picturesque style, by Urquhart out of More, gives them life and color. Loud laughter is in them, and rough and tumble lovemaking and joyous medieval bloodletting. They belong to true romance.

And so let us have done with novels, taking a quick glance at half a dozen or more that remain: “Alise of Astra,” by H. B. Marriott Watson (Little Brown), a workmanlike Zenda tale, with the orthodox English hero and all the customary weltpolitik; “Out of Russia,” by Crittenden Marriott (Lippincott), a chronicle of electric adventures by land and sea; “The Honor of the Big Snows,” by James Oliver Curwood (Bobbs-Merrill), a romance of the Hudson Bay country; “Two on the Trail,” by Hulbert Footner (Doubleday-Page), another of the same sort, with a truculent newspaper reporter hero who goes gallivanting through the wilderness with a pretty girl, fighting the villains who wish her no good and marrying her himself in the end; “Robinette,” by a syndicate of authors headed by Kate Douglas Wiggin (Houghton-Mifflin), a somewhat sugary tale of lovemaking in placid Devonshire, with a heroine who is a widow, an orphan and twenty-two; “Forged in Strong Fires,” by John Ironside (Little-Brown), an interesting story of the Boer War, with an unusual heroine; “Captivating Mary Carstairs,” by Henry Second (Small-Maynard), in which we see how a meddler in family rows may sometimes win a pretty bride as well as a black eye; “A Prince of Romance,” by Stephen Chalmers (Small-Maynard), a record of patriotic and amatory adventures among the Jacobites of the bleak Scottish coast in the year 1810; “The Unknown God,” by B. L. Putnam Neale (Dodd-Mead), a tale of missionary doings and hazards in China, with much serious and illuminating discussion of Chinese problems; and “Miss Livingston’s Companion,” by Mary Dillon (Century Co.), a romance of old New York.

Two critical works of sound merit come together. One is Dr. Archibald Henderson’s “Interpreters of Life” (Kennerley) and the other is Dr. William Lyon Phelps’s “Essays on Russian Novelists” (Macmillan). Dr. Henderson, who is a professor in the University of North Carolina, deals with Meredith, Wilde, Maeterlinck, Ibsen and Shaw. In every one of his essays you will find proofs of earnest delving and shrewd reflection. He is no mere academic pundit, laying down the law with a lordly air. On the contrary, he has approached his work in a truly scientific spirit, alert for suggestions and equipped with sound knowledge, and the result is a very real contribution to criticism.

His study of Ibsen’s social dramas is of especial value, for it is based upon an exhaustive examination of the note books published since the great dramatist’s death. In these notebooks, which have not yet been done into English, one may follow step by step the embryonic development of each of the plays. “A Doll’s House,” for example, was begun at Rome, on October 19, 1878, and the first page of notes was headed by this one: “There are two kinds of spiritual law and two kinds of conscience, one for man and a quite different one for woman. The two do not understand each other, but in practical life woman is judged by the law of man, as if she were not woman but man.” Soon Ibsen was creating and naming the characters of the play and drawing up a sort of rough scenario. Nora Helmer, at the start, was Nora Stenborg, and the lugubrious Dr. Rank was Dr. Hank. On May 2, 1879, the actual writing of the play was begun, and three weeks later the first act was finished. While the second act was under way the weather grew so warm at Rome that Ibsen migrated to Amalfi, and there the first draft was completed on August 3. Three months sufficed for the final revision. On December 4 the most important drama of the century was published in Copenhagen, and a few months later all Europe was buzzing over it.

Why doesn’t Dr. Henderson translate the whole of the Nachgelassene Schriften, as he has so admirably translated parts?

Dr. Phelps’s excellent observations upon the stories of Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevski, Tolstoi, Gorki, Chekhov, Artsybachev, Andreev and Kuprin—I preserve his spelling of the names—are introduced by an essay upon the Russian national character. The educated Russian is inevitably a gloomy fellow; an incurable melancholy consumes his vitals; he sees the world as a wailing place. Dr. Phelps blames this depression upon a racial weakness of will. The Slav, he says, lacks the Anglo-Saxon’s readiness to turn discontent into acts of rebellion; he is too apt to moralize sadly when the need of the hour is for the cracking of skulls. It may be so—but perhaps at bottom Russian pessimism may be of the intelligence as well as of the will. The whole country is steeped in misery; an ignorant peasantry, human only by ecclesiastical fiat, is exploited and oppressed by a corrupt aristocracy—and neither serf nor master knows contentment. What is the remedy offered? All the doctors, it appears, prescribe democracy. But what has democracy done for England and the United States? The folk of Gorki’s “Lodgings for the Night” are to be found on the London embankment as well as in the sties of St. Petersburg, in the Pennsylvania mining towns as well as in the villages along the Volga. The educated Russian, whatever his defects, is certainly not parochial. His gaze sweeps the world. And what he sees in the world is not apt to make an optimist of him.

Dr. Phelps regards Andreev (Andreyev or Andreieff) as the most important of the living Russian fictioneers, and to this judgment there will be few objections. Not for a long while has a more striking figure appeared upon the literary horizon. Superficial critics are in the habit of comparing Andreev to Poe, but as a matter of fact the two have little in common, and at the few places where they come together Andreev is plainly the greater artist. Read the best of Poe’s tales of horror and then read Andreev’s “The Seven Who Were Hanged.” The one is artful, artificial, a pretty thing. The other is staggering. Poe was a romanticist—and romance, like a warm bath, is a thing to be enjoyed and forgotten. But Andreev is a realist—and realism sticks.

“The Recollections of a Society Clairvoyant,” by a mysterious Mr. S (Lane), is a rambling and somewhat tedious chronicle of petty swindling. The author tells of sittings with various royal, noble and plutocratic fools, and betrays the scandalous confidences of certain clients of less exalted rank; but he makes the fatal mistake of trying to convince the reader of the genuineness of his magic. An honest confession, with clear directions for beginners at the graft, would have been far more interesting. English fashionable society, says Mr. S, has grown so alkaline that almost every trace of what Nietzsche used to call moralic acid has disappeared. The doings at the average house party in the country would send a Broadway chorus girl galloping to the nearest Sunday school. The fair guest is protected by a benevolent conspiracy of silence. “She can be as immoral as she pleases; she can use her—” But you had better get the book and find out for yourself. Now and then the author philosophizes heavily. “A great deal,” he observes in one place, “has been said and written about platonic love. My own belief is that it rarely lasts long.” A wise saying—but unfortunately not a new one. In another place he sets it down as “a well known fact that the majority of people keep their private lives a dead secret from their relations.” It is also a well known fact that ninety-nine percent of all human beings are liars. But neither fact is sufficiently novel or startling to be solemnly maintained.

“Gardens Near the Sea,” by Alice Lounsberry (Stokes), is a notable addition to the fast growing literature of garden building in America. Its specific theme, of course, is the floriculture of the coast, and it will be welcomed by a bewildered host of amateurs who have vainly attempted to teach Dame Nature new tricks. The city man in a garden is quite as legitimate a subject for humor as the countryman on Broadway, but he seldom accepts the role with good grace. Miss Lounsberry shows him the way of escape from his commonest pitfalls, and throughout her admirable book makes an effective plea for sanity and good taste. “A place to sit, a place to walk and to think, sweet water, a little tree”—so a Japanese defined a garden. Somewhere between this severe “arrangement,” as Whistler would have called it, and the bizarre jumbles of color which affront the eye at every popular watering place, lies a happy medium America would do well to seek.

Anne Warner’s new novel bears a title that piques interest and causes the reader to conjure up a vision of some lively doings between the covers. She labels this book “How Leslie Loved” (Little-Brown), and the way that fascinating and kittenish little widow did love her way along through a series of house party flirtations, from the very cut-uppish society of an English manor house, where the frivolous old ladies sat up till after nine o’clock every night solving puzzles published in the newspapers, to a final visit to a stately, tumbledown old German schloss, makes a story attractive enough to lead the reader along without a stop to the end. Miss Warner has the knack of making her characters very lifelike. Leslie makes a hit with the reader early in the story by the very human, feminine way in which she rises above the terrible grief that threatened to make all of life a valley of desolation. She’s rather a light, frivolous piece, after all, we conclude—but Hugo, who marries her in the end, is a pretty lucky chap.

Among other books that have come to me are: “The Guilty Man,” by Francois Coppfe (Dillingham), a graceful and apparently accurate translation of Coppee’s “Le Coupable,” by Ruth Helen Davis; “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” translated by Isaac Dooman (Badger), a native Persian’s ingenuous attempt to do better than Fitzgerald, full of excellent but unconscious humor; “The Thirteenth Man,” by Mrs. Coulson Kernahan (Dillingham), an English best seller of the devilish variety, with a kidnapping, a secret marriage and many other thrilling doings in it; “The Siege of Boston,” by Allen French (Macmillan), a straightforward and extremely well written account of the events which began with the so-called Massacre of Boston and came to a climax in the Battle of Bunker Hill; and “The Individual and Society,” by James Mark Baldwin (Badger), a popular summary of the social theories that Dr. Baldwin has heretofore set forth at length in the works upon which his reputation is founded.

“His Struggle Magnificent,” by William Sidney Bond (Cochrane), aroused no enthusiasm. In the third paragraph the hero says: “I have been abroad is why I had not known it.” I lack the courage to read further. Apparently the story deals with the stock market.

“How to Read Character in Handwriting,” by Mary H. Booth (Winston), is an extremely amateurish treatment of a subject which, after all, is probably not worth much serious study.

“A Cycle of Sunsets,” by Mabel Loomis Todd (Small-Maynard), is a literary curiosity. The desperate piling up of words soon grows monotonous, even to the author, and so she seeks relief in an inconsequential love story.

“Wood Wanderings,” by Winthrop Packard (Small-Maynard), is another of Mr. Packard’s excellent collections of nature sketches, this time dealing with the woods and birds of autumn.

“Science and Immortality,” by Sir Oliver Lodge (Moffat-Yard), is an elaborate statement of Professor Lodge’s exceedingly bad reasons for believing that when his time comes to die his soul will go marching on. Of all the arguments for immortality that have appeared in the world during the past 2,000 years, this is one of the least plausible.

“Maurice Hewlett,” by Milton Bronner (Luce), is an interesting description and analysis of Hewlett’s work, with a brief account of his life.

“Subconscious Phenomena,” by Morton Prince and others (Badger), shows a serious attempt on the part of the authors to reach a scientific definition of the word “subconscious,” which has been much abused of late by the snide wizards of psychotherapy. “Benares,” by C. Phillips Cape (Badger), gives an illustrated description of the Hindoo Jerusalem, with many interesting glimpses of the daily life of its people. In “The Dream Road,” by William D. Goold (Sherman-French), we find a lot of safe, sane and uninspired verse, bound in a pretty book. Then here is “Coco Bolo,” by Sidford F. Hamp (Badger), which is a rather bad imitation of “Alice in Wonderland.”