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idea to put him, as so many of his class and kind have put themselves, where he has about him deserts of idle hours. Episodes interest the American. There has come, too, if one trace Mr. Wister's stories through the years, an access of philosophic insight. He thinks. This is not common in novels. Given these and a careful habit of writing, and there follows the one book of the year which has marched to great though not record-breaking success under the suffrage.of buyers.
AN ABRUPT PAUSE IN BIG SALES OF NOVELS.
The year of American novels is without its array of vast circulation, because it has been without any books deserving it. Three years of big sales had bred the comfortable impression that everybody will buy anything. Everybody will not. The Booklovers' Library and the Tabard Inn may play their part, but there has been an abrupt pause to the big sales of the past. These are of two kinds,-sales to the trade and sales to buyers. It is too early to say whether Marie Corelli's "Temporal Power," which begins. with the first, will go on to the second. Miss
Corelli, who stands in her vogue for the same sort of thing which breeds Christian Science, -inability to know a fact when you see it or to have a logical idea,-will sell in England. Her sales
here are less. In this book she has left spiritism for politics, and turns a king into a leader of impossible men in an impossible realm, with evident conviction that she is it.
These three books have, for widely different reasons, a distinct place in the year's fiction. The other novels of the year group themselves. Two authors of great vogue in the close past, -Miss Mary Johnston in "Audrey" and Mr. Charles Major in "Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall," have tested fate once more. Both began with great editions, and both have sold, but neither book has cast any shadow. Miss Johnston has written rather better than before, is more skillful, and all the reviewers agree that it is quite wonderful,-this picture of old Virginia and the eerie maiden,-but the new book lacks the touch that moves. Mr. Major is "dramatic." He too has taken more pains than before. are the same tempests, and this young woman, like the other, tears passion and her clothes to tatters. Mr. Henry Harland, in trying, on his part, to repeat a past success, has the advantage that it was based not on plot, romance, and a capacity for incident, but on the power to write with skill on picturesque subjects, used as the setting for a shrewd knowledge, not of human nature, but of human types. While Mr. Harland writes in English, he thinks in French, and "The Lady Paramount," one might almost say, was painted on the lid of the "Cardinal's Snuff-box."
THE SUCCESSORS OF SUCCESSFUL STORIES.
The American public is in nothing more alike in all its acts than in the fashion in which it requires each new plea for favor to rest on its merits. In England, an author who has once
sold, sells again; not here.
"Castle Craneycrow does not gain because its author, Mr. G. B. McCutcheon, wrote "Graustark." Mr. Will N. Harben in " Abner Daniel" has improved on "Westerfelt," but it is doubtful if this close study of Georgia life wins a like attention, with its evident realism. This local chronicle is still at the point where it is more anxious to spread local color over the picture than to make the picture. Miss Nancy Huston Banks has taken Kentucky for "Oldfield." "The Desert and the Sown" adds the skill of the story-teller to the vision of the Western mountain, but lacks the substance of Mrs. Mary Hallock Foote's past work.
Two novels, Hearts Courageous," by Miss Hallie Erminie Rives, and The Mississippi Bubble," by Mr. Emerson Hough, are fitted to large sales and lavish advertising as a coat is fitted to a man. They are chosen for their purpose with unerring judgment. The Revolution in Miss Rives' book, an earlier period in Mr. Hough's, a clear style, much movement, action, familiar figures given life, a fresh hand,-out of these a year's success comes. Of a very different sort is Mrs. Gertrude F. Atherton's "The Con
queror." Here there is the direct attempt to reconstruct an historic character, Alexander Hamilton. It is not Hamilton, but a figure full of Greek fire, a sort of woman's statesman. True or not, it has made its mark on its readers. This was scarcely true of two historical novels by practiced hands, one suddenly stilled by death,
Kate Bonnet" (piracy story), by Frank R. Stockton, and "Dorothy South" (Virginia before the war), by George Cary Eggleston. Neither has here the characteristic quality of its author. Nearly three score of these historical novels have this year appeared, and their number has been swollen by the notable increase of publication at the author's expense.
HOWELLS AND HENRY JAMES.
In the recognized group of novelists who ly make their appearances, Mr. Howells and Mr. James lead. To one equally interested in the vote of the many and the verdict of the few, there is something pathetic in the middle-aged novel like The Kentons," with the atmosphere of the seventies on every page and a Dutch capacity for painting in the round the arid annals of this Ohio family, whose daughter falls in love in the right way with the wrong man and in the wrong way with the right one. "The Wings of the Dove" returns to Mr. James' earlier subjects and retains his newer method. How amazing and how exasperating that a man can write like this, produce this unique effect of woven words, and yet leave you, so far as reality is concerned, in this picture of the contact between the American and English, with the shimmering sense of the cinematograph, which always seems to be and never is the real thing.
Captain Macklin," Mr. Richard Harding Davis has the precise fighting hero who stirs and wins. This man has blood in his veins, not ink. With him, "Ranson's Folly," and "In the Fog," Mr. Davis has suddenly emerged again, and readers Swarm once more. Sir A. Conan Doyle has recurred to an earlier popularity in the "Hound of the Baskervilles," in which the method of an episode is applied to a longer span. Mr. Fergus W. Hume has repeated his past, "The Pagan's Cup" brimming with artificial mystery.
NO NEW POPULAR AUTHOR THIS YEAR.
No one new author has made a sudden sweep this year to the first rank. Several suggest a future by a present. Miss Anne Douglas Sedgwick bloomed unseen until the Century published "The Rescue" and the Century Co. brought out the "Confounding of Camelia" and the "Dull Miss Archinard." These three novels have had no run, but they have added Miss Sedgwick to
those who so write that their work is literature. The canary-bird loves of "Hezekiah's Wives,' by Miss L. H. French, go in this short list. Yet the atmosphere is of the English novel list, not the American. Not so the Story of Mary MacLane." It would have been published nowhere else. Many think it should not have been possible anywhere. But if you are catholic you can admire both, for this, too, is a document which lays bare the dumb misery of platoons of American girls, none the less real because imaginary, grotesque. This and the "Confessions of a Wife" are really the only books of sex this year. Women detest this feminine revelation. They feel it a betrayal. It began well. It broke down after marriage, it being easier for most people to articulate affection before than after wedlock. Our plain-spoken English speech does not express what is easier in Latin tongues and Eastern languages. For myself, I would rather be one of the "Misdemeanors of Nancy," by Miss Eleanor Hoyt, than the object of these letters. Nancy" is nearly perfect,-too finely framed for a big sale. Of first books, turned out by three and twenty, is "The Late Returning," by Miss Margery Williams, a vivid tropical story, short, hot, and penetrating, which prefigures surprising work in the future. The Decoy" is another first book, by a man, Mr. Francis Dana, which wrestles awkwardly, but with
SIR A. CONAN DOYLE.
effect, with New England spiritualism. It has a definite purpose. This appears in the "Things that Are Cæsar's," of Mr. Reginald Kauffmann, whose Jarvis of Harvard" gave no hint of the very serious treatment of the difficulties which environ the convict seeking work and finding none.
These two belong to a growing group of American novels, -for the most part, however, without definite aim,-which seek to give the moving show. Journalism has a large share of this attention, because journalists are men trying to write, some of whom write. "Many Waters," by Mr. R. Shackleton, photographs a paper like the Journal just as Mr. John Graham, in the "Great God Success," took his man into the New York Sun office. Neither get anywhere. This is the difficulty with the mining family which have struck it rich in "The Spenders" (Mr. H. L. Wilson), the Russells in Chicago "-Boston in the West- The Minority" (Frederick Trevor Hill), a novel of trusts, the Thirteenth District" (Brand Whitlock), an Illinois political fight and failure, these all describe. They do nothing more. Reportage does not make a novel. When Josiah Flynt"-Mr. Josiah Flynt Willard-gives the tramp as he has never been given before and probably never will be again, it is of small moment that "The Little Brother" has a rudimentary plot. Mr. F. Hopkinson Smith has the same advantage added to long training in
the conduct and contents of a story when he brings Oliver Horn," a Southern boy, to New York forty years ago and sets him at work study. ing art. Exaggerated as his method is, Mr. Fuller gives the distinctly local habitation and name ofart" in Chicago "Under the Skylights." Clara Morris' (Mrs. Harriott) "A Pasteboard Crown" compensates for crude story by accurate knowledge, and, as is the habit of the feminine author, says boldly what men hesitate to express. "Sir Richard Calmady" had this characteristic, but it has also that power of continuous consecu tive characterization which lifts a story out of the ordinary. It may almost be said to share alone with "The Valley of Decision " the elevation of manner which belongs to the higher walk of the novel. "Scarlet and Hyssop," for all its moralizing, lacks this altogether, and Mr. E. F. Benson is still left with "Dodo" as the only work for which he will be remembered.
Two paths of past success each year sees trodden anew-sacred and historical. Few see that the technical difficulties of the storyteller increase as his framework is fixed. Mr. Aaron Dwight Baldwin turns into dullness itself the "Gospel of Judas Iscariot," and Mrs. Rosamond D. Rhone has retold, with patient minute care, "The Days of the Son of Man." Dr. Paul Carus touches with sentiment the "Crown of Thorns."
"Belshazzar" has been done with archæological accuracy by Mr. William Stearns Davis, but while it is well to be accurate, it is indispensable to be interesting. This lacks. 66 Hohenzollern "has this, though Mr. Cyrus Townsend Brady lacks knowledge, and is now and then bumptious
BY ROSSITER JOHNSON.
HEN the Authors' Club gave a reception to Edward Eggleston, on the occasion of the publication of the first volume of his most important work, "The Beginners of a Nation," one of the speakers said Dr. Eggleston had discovered the perfect way to write history. This was, to write first all the fiction that he possibly could, and after that, by logical necessity, whatever he wrote would be truth. The jest was in reality more than a jest; for, in fact, Dr. Eg gleston, after writing a great deal of fiction-some of which has a world-wide reputation, and had been translated into several foreign languages,— set himself at work upon those early periods of
in his note. "Jezebel" has about it no shred of the original, except the proper names; but Mr. Lafayette McLaws keeps his story moving, and that is more than to have your gods and weapons of the right date. There is nothing after all quite so unreal as an historical novel like "The Assassins," Mr. Nevill Myers Meakin,-which is worked by machinery instead of imagination.
THE ENGLISH STORY WRITER'S STYLE IS BEST.
The advantage which the English novel has in the same task is that it almost always is better written. The journalist, Mr. Hugh S. Scott, who issues a novel or two a year as "Henry Seton Merriman," has no special power in the Polish story, The Vultures," or in its Spanish companion, The Velvet Glove." These are both carefully studied; though no more than a round dozen of American stories; but they are well written. They read well. They have not the slips which even men of note have with us. So with the very commonplace stories of a princely Italian family, "A Roman Mystery," and of English society, "The Just and Unjust," which Mr. Richard Bagot has added to his list-they enjoy a certain level of expression unknown in the average American novel.
Throughout the American fiction of the year this lack is apparent. Whether it be the newspaper or the absence of a certain selection in speech bred by a highly organized society, through all the round of prose expression the American lacks style, something which the Englishman, more stupid, less facile,-manages to acquire.
American history about which the least is known, and was so skillful and conscientious in his research that he has come closer to the truth, and revealed more of it that was before unknown to the general reader, than any of his predecessors.
He was born in Vevay, Indiana, in 1837. His father was a lawyer from Virginia, who died when Edward was very young. Delicate health prevented the boy from going to college, but did not prevent him from acquiring a fine and thor. ough education. At the age of twenty he became a Methodist preacher in Indiana, riding circuit, after the fashion of those days. A little later he was the general agent of the Bible Society in
Minnesota. The nature of his work there, or at least some of its incidents, is indicated by a story that he once told me of being overtaken in his travels on foot by a snowstorm, and wandering about the prairie until he was lost and sat down in despair, but, rousing himself to one more effort, succeeded in reaching a house, and found that he had traveled in a circle. These vocations were not very remunerative, and he was obliged to do something in addition to support his family, the additional pursuits being, as he expressed it,
always honest, but sometimes undignified.' From this work he advanced naturally to the profession of an editor, and was so successful from the first that when he edited the Sunday School Teacher, in Chicago, its circulation rose quickly from 5,000 to 35,000. A little later he had some connection with the New York Independent, but passed from that to the editorship of the newly established Hearth and Home. Here, when a serial story was wanted, he recalled his boyhood days in Indiana, and partly from memory, partly from imagination, produced The Hoosier Schoolmaster," which was published, with realistic illustrations, and made an immediate success. The End of the World," The Circuit Rider," and other stories followed rapidly. It was not alone the Western picture that made the strength of his first novel, but the peculiar shrewdness of old Mrs. Means, and the striking originality of the boy who wished to
belong to the church of the best licks," that gave it a Dickens-like distinctness that fixed it in the memory of every reader. He told me, when I asked him, that his account of the device by which the schoolmaster drove out the boys who had barred the door against him was imaginary. But it is a curious fact that Horace Greeley, in his Recollections," tells exactly the same thing as actually happening in his boyhood. I believe Dr. Eggleston had not read the "Recollections." It has been laid down as almost an axiom that only a rich man can write history effectively, be.. cause of the costly research and the slow returns. But Dr. Eggleston, in that work to which he was most devoted, showed once more that some things can be done as well as others. He did not hesi tate to expend freely whatever he had for the necessary research, and when funds were giving out, he laid the history aside and wrote something that would bring immediate returns. This was his reason, for instance, for writing The Faith Doctor."
The doctor had all the qualifications for an admirable talker; a genial personality, a pleasant voice, a picturesque head and mobile face, a vast abundance of interesting facts at command, including a great many that were new even to
DR. EDWARD EGGLESTON.
(Who died at Lake George on September 2.)
the best educated of us, and a command of language that gave a rhythmic flow to his words. While the object of his search was solid and significant fact, he had a keen sense of humor and an eye for the picturesque which caused him to pick up all the incidental plums by the way.
Of that which he considered his crowning work, two volumes have appeared: "The Beginners of a Nation" and "The Transit of Civilization." Something had been done on a third, but how much I do not know. I fear we shall look in vain for the man to take up the work and continue it in the spirit and manner with which he had so far carried it on.
"In seclusion and remote from men
Which at its topmost speed let fall the pen,
Ah! who shall lift that wand of magic power,
The unfinished window in Aladdin's tower