Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Monday, August 15, 2016

The Writer, Volume VI, April 1892. by Various

[Pg 63]

THE WRITER:

A MONTHLY MAGAZINE TO INTEREST AND HELP ALL LITERARY WORKERS.


VOL. VI. BOSTON, APRIL, 1892. No. 4.

Copyright, 1892, by William H. Hills. All rights reserved.
Entered at the Boston Post-office as Second-class mail matter.

CONTENTS

WALT WHITMAN IN EUROPE.
SHALL WRITERS COMBINE?
NEWSPAPER COOKERY.
DO THE BEST WRITERS WRITE?
FASHIONS IN LITERATURE.
SNEAK REPORTING.
A PLEA FOR THE NOM DE PLUME.
TO WRITE OR NOT TO WRITE.
THE DELUGE OF VERSE.
CONCERNING SONNETS.
THE SCRAP BASKET.
THE USE AND MISUSE OF WORDS.
BOOK REVIEWS.
BOOKS RECEIVED.
HELPFUL HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS.
LITERARY ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS.
NEWS AND NOTES.


WALT WHITMAN IN EUROPE.

With the death and burial of Walt Whitman passes away the most picturesque figure of contemporary literature.

It is true that in England the name of the poet is more familiar than his poetry, and that students of literature are more conversant with the nature of his writings than are the mass of general readers; yet the character of the man and the spirit of his compositions were rapidly beginning to be appreciated by, and to sway an influence over, the whole higher intelligence of the country.

Considering the man and his works, it is almost surprising to find how easily he did conquer for himself an audience, and even admirers, in England. He was par excellence a contemporary American. Not that American who clings to the Puritanic traditions of his English ancestors, but that characteristic product of the New World who looks more with eagerness to the future than with satisfaction on the past, and whose pre-eminent optimism is inspired by his ardent appreciation of the living present. Walt Whitman stood forth as an innovator into such realms, where the rigor of conditions demanded an abstract compliance with rules which were based on absolute truths, and where a swerving from them was evidence of impotence. His unconventional forms, the rhymeless rhythm of his verses, which, in appearance, resembled more a careless prosody than a delicately attuned poesy,—this alone was enough to provoke, at first, an incredulous smile, even among those whose tastes were endowed with more penetration. But Walt Whitman stood forth, besides, as the representative of a principle which, as yet, is looked upon with suspicion by the old world,—of the principle of a broad, grand, all-embracing democracy, which elevates manhood above all forms, all conditions, and all limitations.

The question where metre comes in in poetry, whether it is simply a means of accentuating rhythm, and is not the rhythm itself, and whether it is legitimate to do as Whitman did, to prolong the rhythmic phrase at the expense of metre, until the sense is completed,—all this was a problem for the professors and the critics to decide, and they might wrangle as they pleased. But here was Walt Whitman, recognizing no beauty higher than creative nature, recognizing no law greater than the spontaneous dictates of the moral personality; here was Walt Whitman, a pagan, a pantheist, who recognized more divinity in an outcast human[Pg 64] being than in a grandly ordained king, who acknowledged nothing higher than the dignity of the human individuality,—all this was enough to make sober people pause and think, if not shudder.

'Tis true that some, almost all the representative men of literature in England, recognized in Walt Whitman, from the first, a beauty, a grandeur, which appealed to and captivated their higher susceptibilities and mental appreciation. Such critics as George Eliot, Dowden, and even Matthew Arnold, and such poets as Tennyson, Swinburne, and even William Morris, have uttered expressions of the warmest appreciation of his great talent; but the class of general readers are not endowed with such discrimination, and his works, till very recently, were excluded from the shelves of libraries which were catholic enough to embrace the writings of the earliest saints and the latest productions of Zola—on the ground that his poetry was too demoralizing for the general public.

This is not a general statement. I have a specific instance in view, when, in 1886, I went to the Leinster House in Dublin—the public library of the place—and asked for Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." On being informed that they had no copy of it in the library, I put down the book in the suggestion list. A number of Trinity students did the same. The matter was brought before the directors at their monthly meeting, and it appears it was strenuously objected to by the librarian, who pleaded the exclusion of the book on the ground of its being immoral, indecent! We carried the fight from private discussion to correspondence in the press; the editor of the Dublin University Review put the pages of the magazine at our disposal, and it was not until a year afterwards, and until considerable pressure was brought on the directors, that "Leaves of Grass" was admitted into the catalogues of the Dublin library.

But the genuine merit of Walt Whitman's works, as the true inspiration of individualistic genius is always destined to do, is rapidly conquering the opposition and prejudice even of those whose obtuse minds seldom discover the intrinsic good motive frequently underlying an indifferent form. Those whose objections rested on their incapacity of penetrating further than the surface of the headline are rapidly beginning to discern in Walt Whitman's writings a force, a sentiment, a moral passion, and a natural grandeur that is amply compensating for the occasional roughness or looseness of the expressions he mirrors them in. Before his death the good old poet had not only the satisfaction of knowing that his writings have been widely read and universally commented on, but he had the pleasure of seeing his "Leaves of Grass" translated into German by T. W. Rolleston, of Dublin, and Professor Schwartz, of Dresden, of having parts of it translated into French, and a few years ago Mr. Lee consulted me as to the advisability of rendering them into Russian, parts of the book having already been published in the periodicals of the Russian emigrés in Switzerland. Not only this, but his innovations, his genius, have even founded a school, and has a following. The little volume published some time ago in England, under the title "Toward Democracy," by Ed. Carpenter, written in the same style as "The Leaves of Grass," is also gradually finding its way to the surface of the highest consideration. And such passages as this, when Nature is calling to man:—

"I, Nature, stand and call to you, though you heed not:

"Have courage, come forth, O child of mine, that you may see me."

"As a nymph of the invisible air before her mortal beloved, so I glance before you. I dart and stand in your path, and turn away from your heedless eyes like one in pain. I am the ground; I listen to the sound of your feet. They come nearer. I shut my eyes and feel their tread over my face," etc. etc.; or such an outburst as this: "Ireland—liberty's deathless flame leaping on her Atlantic shore,"—are enough to convince the human mind that men who write them can be actuated only by impulses of which genius alone is capable!

It is this impulse—this sober, solemn love pervading the writings of Walt Whitman which has invested his compositions with a property far transcending in genuine beauty the effusions of those poets whose object in writing is more the display of a capacity for finished manipulation[Pg 65] of delicate form, than the manifestation of a free conception of a grand spirit. Walt Whitman is spontaneous without being careless. His style is unhesitating, his diction is flowing, smooth, without being searching or verbose! It seems as if his soul were responsive—not plaintively, but appreciatively responsive—to all the chords, influences, and objects of nature; and that his imagination were absorptive enough to embrace and love, and reflect all changes and transitions of light and shadow in nature and life, particularly in the inner human life,—for Walt Whitman's love for humanity, permeating all his writings, has more grandeur than the most heroic of classic epics!

Roman I. Zubof.

Boston, Mass.


SHALL WRITERS COMBINE?

Things in this world are often the precise opposite of what we should expect. The shoemaker's wife and the blacksmith's horse frequently go poorly shod. The man who makes his sole living from the product of his brains does not use them in disposing of his wares. He remains the slave of publishers who have enriched themselves from his labor, while he thoughtlessly plods on, apparently content with a few crumbs from the feast which he has provided for them.

One striking difference between the two halves of the nineteenth century is the gigantic combination which the shuttle of these latter years is weaving. The wealth of no single man was found sufficient to place a railroad across the continent. Men combined their capital, and to-day we can ride from New York to San Francisco in a car as luxuriously furnished as a drawing-room. Had it not been for this union of dollars, we should to-day be forced to use the stage coach or to walk. When the railroads were once built, their owners found combination necessary to keep them from cutting each other's throats and to maintain a good rate of profit.

By combination the working man has reduced his hours of toil, obtained a fairer share of the profits coming to capital from his labor, and made his own life better worth the living. These concessions did not come voluntarily: combination wrung them from capital, and then stood guard over them.

The author stands almost alone with no union among his craft. The refiners of sugar and coal oil, the makers of matches, lead-pencils, screws,—in short, almost all other interests,—have some sort of combination. The brewers stand by each other in fixing the price of beer, and if a saloon keeper fails to pay one brewer, the others will not furnish him with the product of their vats.

There is plenty of freemasonry among publishers. Their contracts read very much alike. They resort to the same subterfuges to get the lion's share of the profits. They care nothing for the logic of the situation. What did a grasping palm ever care for logic which told against itself? An American author has just shown by indisputable figures that many of our publishers treat the writers of books as badly as the worst Hebrew sweating shops do their employees. An author in one instance worked for years upon a book which had every prospect of not being ephemeral. He signed a contract with a firm of publishers to receive a ten-percent. royalty only after the first thousand copies were sold. The work had much free advertising and sold well, as many booksellers testified. More than two years have elapsed since it appeared, and though clerks in book stores still say it sells well, the author has never received a cent for those weary years of labor. He knows there is an Indian lurking somewhere in the forest, but one author is not powerful enough to enter and dislodge the enemy.[Pg 66]

It may do us good to know that the English Society of Authors protects writers from dishonest publishers; but why should not our authors form a union of their own and enjoy the same advantages? It has been shown that our literary men have been repeatedly imposed upon; that the publisher in many cases takes all the profits; that his accounts are not open to the verifiable inspection of authors; and that this is one of the few exceptions of the kind in all business, that one of two interested partners is alone allowed to audit the accounts.

Mr. Besant has shown that in England the perfectly honest publisher is a rare exception. Are Englishmen less honest than Americans? Or is it true that human nature is very much alike everywhere and easily warped to look at things only in the line of its own advantage, wherever that can be done without coming to the knowledge of the world?

There will, of course, be strong opposition on the part of publishers to the formation of any protective authors' association, which would insist that the writer know the exact facts in those cases in which he is to be a partner in the share of the profits from his own work. If only a few authors joined the movement, publishers would undoubtedly combine to boycott them; but here, as in England, safety will be found in numbers. There is not a railroad in the United States that dares select any special engineer and treat him unjustly. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers is too strong to admit that for one week.

Some hysterical publisher may exclaim, "If you think we are rascals, you had better not deal with us." Ask him what he would think of the president and the cashier of a national bank if they said to the examiner, "You have come here to insult us by implying that we would steal the depositors' money. We resent such treatment; we are honest."

"Why, then, do you object to a careful inspection of your methods?" asks the examiner.

"Because it throws suspicion on us," is the reply.

"Are you aware that officials with reputations quite as good as yours are now embezzlers in foreign lands? I want to remove from you the temptation of making money in that way, so that nothing may rest heavily on your consciences in the great hereafter."

"Nevertheless, we object to an examination."

"Then I had better at once go over your accounts thoroughly. I shall probably be here several days."

History tells us that for a long time the English Parliament forbade any newspaper to publish a line of what was said there. A disobedient editor was speedily imprisoned. The members desired to receive bribes for their votes in as many cases as possible. If a member could keep his constituents in ignorance of the way he voted, he could often make money by voting in opposition to their interests. Of course, he dreaded to have the newspapers turn the light on his record, and he developed many remarkable arguments against such privileges on the part of the press. When more light streams in on certain publishers' methods, authors may then be able to select better men to represent them.

It has been said that the jealousy of authors is such as to keep them from working in harmony; that authors who have won their spurs have a supreme contempt for one who has not; that they omit no opportunity of indulging in sarcasm at his expense; that they would not throw him a plank if he were drowning, unless they could so throw it as to strike him on the head. If this were so, they would not differ much from the world in general, for it will not give quarter to any man who cannot claim it by his own might. But the case of Mr. Besant, the president of the English Society, disproves these sweeping statements against authors. He stands among the foremost of living novelists, and yet he is willing to spend a great deal of his valuable time to assist a writer just beginning to climb the tiresome ladder. This pure and undefiled religion of being willing to help a fellow-toiler is far more common than cynics will allow. It prevails among engineers, factory hands, and miners. With the exception of a few cads, it is doubtful if authors have sunk so low in the scale of humanity as to be unwilling to assist each other, when by so doing they will help themselves.

Some authors have been dreaming of a time when they could control the entire literary output[Pg 67] of the United States in the same way that the Standard Oil Company controls kerosene, or the chief of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers directs his men. He can tie up any railroad with a snap of his finger if his men are not treated squarely. In such a literary dreamland an author might do one-third of his present work and get far more pay than now. Publishers and editors would not then have a superfluity of matter. They would then have to bow to the authors' trust before the desired material could be obtained.

It might be claimed that if writers would pool their issues, put their manuscripts into a common stock, allow the publisher to select from them at a good round figure, and after a certain lapse of time burn all the rejected ones,—there would be less work and more money for all authors. Of course, it would be necessary to have a committee to decide when an author wrote well enough to be admitted to the pool, and also to determine what greater portion of the common fund the authors of specially meritorious work should receive.

Such a scheme certainly does work with sugar, kerosene, starch, and numberless other articles; but it is more than doubtful if it would prevail in literature. Some authors would be too desirous of seeing themselves constantly before the public. They could not be prevailed upon to limit the output of their brain, and they would be conceited enough to demand that everything appear in print.

It is well to lay aside thoughts of such a Utopia until we have secured an authors' protective association of wide membership, with permanent headquarters, legal counsel, and agents to learn the publishing business and expose unfair methods.

Let writers remember that Greece, in spite of her Æschylus, Sophocles, Xenophon, Thucydides, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle, perished because her independent states would not combine against a common foe.

John Braincraft.

Louisville, Ky.


NEWSPAPER COOKERY.

In a late number of a popular periodical, Mrs. Amelia E. Barr, while telling of her childhood a half-century ago, incidentally remarks: "I should have as soon thought of smoking my father's pipe as of reading his newspaper. There were no papers at all for women and children, if I except the Court Journal for women of rank."

Just when cookery and household affairs became a part of the newspaper's province, I do not know, nor is it my purpose to give its history. My earliest recollection of anything in this line is connected with Hearth and Home, an illustrated paper, the forerunner of the many household periodicals of to-day. A leading feature was "Mrs. Hunnibee's Diary," furnished by Mrs. Lyman, afterward on the staff of the New York Tribune. Her work was a worthy model for us to follow. Let us look at the work as it is, and as it ought to be.

Count Rumford—one of the pioneers in the study of foods—has said: "The number of inhabitants who may be supported in any country upon its internal produce depends about as much upon the state of the art of cookery as upon that of agriculture—these are the arts of civilized nations; savages understand neither of them." Naturally, therefore, the agricultural papers were the first to give space to cookery, and have ever been generous in that way.

Newspaper cookery is not an inappropriate phrase, since too often the "Home Column" in[Pg 68] half our papers is simply a rehash of what has appeared in the other papers of the country. The results of warming over in the kitchen are very diverse, and they are equally so in newspaper cookery; a rechauffé may be very sloppy or very dry, and give no hint of its original components, when it should be a savory combination, the ingredients of which have suffered no loss of flavor.

This does not include the class of articles which are made by careful study of books of reference and form a new setting for fragmentary information, such as is often lost if not rearranged; but what can be said in favor of the sort of work where a standard recipe forms the basis for a wishy-washy story?

Another variety of newspaper cookery to be avoided is the reporting of demonstration lectures by those who know nothing of the subject and have no conception of the lecturer's methods, or by those having a superficial knowledge who attempt to interlard their own opinions throughout the report.

Reporters having little or no knowledge of the literature of the kitchen are apt to make rash claims for their favorite lecturers or for themselves. In a recent paper an evident neophyte—in cookery at least—claims to set right in a new and original way the curdling of a mayonnaise dressing. She claims that none of the directions given in the cook-books tell what should be done if it goes wrong, yet in at least two standard works the whole thing is fully explained.

There are undoubtedly many recipes which belong to the whole world, and have been in use for generations, yet some teachers may claim original methods of combining these ingredients. Has a reporter any right to make such ideas appear as her own, without due credit to the authors? Whether this sort of work is done in newspapers, or appears in book form, or whether it is in direct violation of copyright laws or not, it is at least discourteous. Poems are sometimes stolen, but the literature of the kitchen oftener suffers.

In these days of specialties, when one man devotes himself to politics, another to finance, or music, or art, it would not seem that a woman, because she is a woman, is therefore fitted to care for the household department of a paper; yet this is usually the first work given into her hands. Probably there are many teachers of cookery who could not write a catchy newspaper article, but it may be questioned whether such writing is desirable upon this subject.

The time is coming when the cooking-school graduate will be called for to teach this art and science through the columns of the newspaper, as well as in the schoolroom.

The religious papers choose graduates of the theological seminaries for their editors, and medical journalism is conducted by physicians. If a sporting editor is essential, why should not special training be required for the cooking department?

Under present conditions, the best teachers can afford to do little newspaper work; a demonstration requires little more time and effort than the preparation of a newspaper column, and the compensation is double or quadruple, and is promptly paid.

Some of the advertising agents of patent medicines have been wiser in their generation than the newspaper men, and from the days of Mrs. ——'s Soothing Syrup until now their cook-books have been passports for their medicines into many a home, not that a call for medicine was the natural result of the use of these recipes, but that the name of the medicine became a household word through the use of the cookbook, and hence was the first thought when any panacea was required. Such good prices have been paid by manufacturers that they have been able to obtain the best writers, and the books distributed by various salves, sarsaparillas, meat choppers, baking powders, etc., contain many valuable recipes and suggestions. As a whole, they are far safer guides than the average newspaper column of recipes.

Furnished by untrained hands, the newspaper recipe has become a synonym for something utterly unreliable, and, therefore, a byword among those so old-fashioned as to believe that a woman who holds a pen is, of course, a poor housekeeper.

True, much of the blame for the uncertainty of the newspaper recipe must be laid at the door of the typesetter and proof-reader—who else would make a demonstrator whose programme included[Pg 69] a "Frozen Rice Pudding" responsible for a "Dozen Nice Puddings" in a single lecture.

Often the column headed "Dainty Dishes," "Hints for the Cuisine," etc., appears to be made up from recipes taken at random from the clippings of the year before—so we have strawberry shortcake and asparagus omelet in October, cauliflower in August, and blueberries in December. Without a hint concerning the proper method of combining the ingredients, a string of recipes are worthless, and mean as little as a column from the dictionary.

So accustomed has the public vision become to this artificial, improbable, housekeeping that it fails to recognize veritable facts and pronounces them impossible.

Food is a subject which demands the careful consideration of every human being daily, and therefore claims ample space in the newspapers. The wise man of the Old Testament has said: "All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled."

We are not all interested in the success of either political party, nor are we all thirsty for items of society gossip, nor are the details of every murder or railroad accident more important than our daily bread.

Our physical natures and our food are not so ignoble as some would have us think. We need only look at the thousand allusions to food in classic writings to realize that it is our attitude toward an object, not the thing itself, which makes it common and unclean.

Does it not seem strange that the art of cookery, which first distinguished man from beasts, has been so underrated and neglected?

"The art of cookery drew us gently forth
From the ferocious light, when, void of faith,
The Anthropophaginian ate his brother;
To cookery we owe well-ordered states,
Assembling men in dear society."

Surely no one better than a newspaper reporter, who must snatch a bite here and there of whatever is at hand, can appreciate the force of the words of an old physician: "The faculty the stomach has of communicating the impressions made by the various substances that are put into it is such that it seems more like a nervous expansion of the brain, than a mere receptacle for food."

Many a newspaper woman has found a safety-valve in doing her housekeeping with her own hands, the needed reaction after prolonged mental effort, and by the divine law of compensation has thus worked out with her hands something of which the brain alone was not capable. Michelet says that "A man always clears his head by doing something with his hands." Can we not all bear testimony that some of our brightest ideas have come when our hands were busy with rolling-pin or dish-pan?

The newspaper woman is expected to act as leader in many directions. Though not always competent to do special newspaper cookery in the best way, she may help mould public opinion in the right way on the great questions of temperance, domestic economy, coöperative housekeeping, and, above all, help to change the prevailing belief that work with the hands is degrading.

The great social questions of the day are largely dependent upon the food supply. Show the working men and women how to obtain attractive, palatable, and nourishing food at less cost than that which is unsatisfying, and their wages will really be doubled.

The temperance question is so closely connected with the food supply that it is astonishing that more attention has not been given to this side of it. We often ascribe the intemperance of the poor man to poor food; but are not the excesses of the rich also due to food, poor because it is too highly seasoned and improperly cooked?

Rev. T. De Witt Talmage has said: "The kitchen is the most important end of the household. If that goes wrong, the whole establishment is wrong. It decides the health of the household, and health settles almost everything."

May we all live to see the day when every town shall have a food experiment station, which shall do for the cook and the kitchen what the agricultural stations do for the farmer and farm. The cooking schools are a step in the right direction, but their work should be broadened and put upon a more scientific basis.[Pg 70]

Such an experimental kitchen should analyze and test food products as to best methods of preparation; it should try new utensils; it should fit young women for their own home life. Perhaps something in this line will grow out of the New England Kitchen, so successfully started in Boston.

To bring about such a state of things, public opinion must be educated in every direction, through the home, school, and newspapers, as well as by individual effort.

The newspaper's cooking, like its editorials, must not be so narrow and partisan but that it may command the respect of those who do not wholly agree with it.

We must strive to separate the essentials from the non-essentials in our housekeeping; to recognize the various conditions of life among those to whom we are writing.

We do not want to copy the food fashions of any other land in a servile manner; no French, Italian, or English teacher can best instruct us in methods of cooking.

But, following our national motto, let us select the best from all, and unite these principles to develop an American system of cooking that shall produce a race so well proportioned physically that their mental and moral natures cannot fail to be well balanced.

Anna Barrows.

Boston, Mass.


DO THE BEST WRITERS WRITE?

A few years ago my attention was attracted by an article in one of the leading magazines. It was an article of more than ordinary merit, possessing that rarity, even then, a plot dramatically conceived and executed. The scene was laid in a part of the world the truthful picturing of which showed the writer to be a person who had travelled much and observed keenly; the diction was "English pure and undefiled." There was but one drawback, that the author's name was withheld, and I was obliged to lay my offering of approval and admiration at an unknown shrine.

Lately, in conversation with a man who forms one of the great majority of those who gain a moderate competence in business life, his days spent in the wearisome routine of mercantile life, his nights in painful figurings about that delusive "deal" which is to settle satisfactorily all questions of financial perplexity, our talk turned on books, literary celebrities, the chat of the profession of letters. My friend suddenly became communicative and reminiscent—rare expressions in him.

"A few years ago," he said. "I, too, had the literary craze. I wrote a little—stray articles, stories, poems, the usual repertoire."

I wondered what kind of material this suave, cynical, reserved man could have produced—in other words, what was his undercurrent. I interrogated. To my surprise and consternation I had found at last the author of my pedestal-placed masterpiece.

"But why," I said, "did you not keep on; why hide, deface, forget, a talent like yours?"

"Allowing, for the sake of argument," he answered, "that I possessed talent to the degree you imply, I should still have been forced to my present attitude. I am not alone in this. I am convinced that the best writers (of course, with notable exceptions) are the people who never write, who could bring to the field varied experience, the results of travel, thought, and cultivation, but who are driven away by the knowledge that the wolf will have them if they attempt it. Notwithstanding the fact that there has never been a time when literature has been produced so prolifically, a man can only make a moderate competence, and that after years of weary uncertainty and a constant strain on the[Pg 71] waiting nerves, and, even at the end, he gets but a meagre reward: lots of newspaper notoriety and a scanty bank account. I am not complaining; I looked the facts squarely in the face, and chose what I regarded as the only sensible solution. I could not conscientiously use literature as a safety-valve or time-passer, giving to the world the result of tired brain and over-wrought nerves; consequently, I sacrificed inclination to necessity, and have left my muse alone. However,"—and he was once more the worldling,—"I have reserved to myself the right to criticise; and when I see a young man of talent enter the field of letters, I conclude he is like a man about to marry, either a great hero or a great fool."

Gertrude F. Lynch.

New York, N. Y.


FASHIONS IN LITERATURE.

A veteran novel reader has learned to detect a plot in its early stages; to see from afar the marriage, the forgery, the hidden will; to him (or should I rather say to her?) the true inwardness of the different characters is manifest; no disguise, no blandishments, avail to conceal from his piercing vision the true heir, the disguised villain, the timid lover.

It has been stated by careful students that the original stories in the world number but two hundred and fifty; but we have not forgotten our arithmetic, and we have learned chess, so we know something of the manifold combinations of numbers, and we take courage.

But the veteran novel reader finds little variety in incident and machinery; there are fashions in fiction as in everything else, and the prevailing "style" of the time is followed apparently without question.

The heroines of an earlier generation differed from those of the present. They were slender creatures, living on delicate fare, and fainting at every or no provocation. When these lovely beings died it was usually of a broken heart, developing into consumption. They were depicted clad in white and holding flowers, reclining at open windows, regardless of draughts, and they lectured heart-broken friends and faithless lovers with a command of language and strength of lung rare in every-day life. For bringing about some needed explanation sprained ankles have played a conspicuous part, and a strong-armed hero or stalwart rival was ready to carry the fair sufferer

"Over hill, over dale,
Through bush, through briar,"

to some place of shelter, where friends and reader alike watched the progress of recovery. Runaway horses have been vastly useful in bringing matters to a crisis, and in New England stories a fierce bull is always ready to threaten the life of the heroine.

These casualties were especially the lot of the heroines, but fevers were open to all without distinction of "sex, race, or color." In the wanderings of delirium the cleverly-disguised villain betrayed his dark designs—the self-distrusting lover sighed his woes into the sympathetic ear of the damsel of whom in his "normal state" he had said—

"'Twere all as one
That I should love some bright particular star
And seek to wed it."

With the modern dissemination of knowledge and of sanitary science, the former ailments have become less fashionable; there has been a run of diphtheria, and heart complaints are slaying their thousands.

Athletics are restricted to no sex,—the hero is less frequently called to rescue his beloved from a watery grave. Indeed, her skill may be superior to his,—witness Armorel, one of the fairest of modern creations.

Now and then a leader has appeared,—an[Pg 72] inventor,—but the new style is imitated with no respect for patent right. Jane Eyre was new; here was a heroine with neither wealth nor beauty, and forthwith appeared a long train of ugly girls, and dark, middle-aged men promising henceforth "to forswear sack and live cleanly," yet in confidential moments giving glimpses of a past which caused all virtuous folks to shiver.

We have now the "novel of every-day life," wherein we are called to "assist" at commonplace incidents; to listen to inane talk, where adverbs, liberally bestowed, help our comprehension, as we are told that certain things were "coarsely," "suggestively," "tentatively," said. It is, indeed, "reading made easy."

Stuart Mill, lamenting the changes in the tendency of modern fiction, wrote: "For the first time perhaps in history, the youth of both sexes of the educated classes are universally growing up unromantic. What will come in mature age from such a youth the world has not yet had time to see."

These words were written half a century ago, the generation referred to has reached "mature age," and the world has read its novels.

Pamela McArthur Cole.

East Bridgewater, Mass.


SNEAK REPORTING.

I do not beg the reader's pardon for the apparent egotism of this article, for, though I use the first person throughout, I feel that I do so as the spokesman of a large (if not an important) class.

To begin at the beginning, I have always believed that in time I could succeed as a journalist, if I could but secure a position on a live newspaper, where I could gain practical knowledge. In pursuance of this idea, I haunted the doors of an afternoon paper, and finally, by dint of perseverance, fairly worried the city editor into giving me an assignment.

Naturally, a beginner was not given an important task, but it proved to be a very embarrassing one. I was required, in the line of my duty, to stick my impertinent nose into another man's business, and elicit from him facts that he did not want published. I did not feel the least curiosity about the matter, and, I am sure, looked as guilty as if I had been a dog engaged in the sheep-stealing industry, and had been caught with the wool in my teeth. I approached him with inward fear and trembling, and requested information on a subject in connection with which he had been held up before the public in an unenviable light. He refused to talk, and when I persisted, as per orders, told me to go to the residence of a personage whom I do not like to hear mentioned, except by authority and by gentlemen who have the legal right to wear a handle to their names.

I did not resent this as ordinarily I should have done. I was so humbled and ashamed by my consciousness of the impudence of my errand, that if he had pulled my nose, I am sure I should have commended the spirit with which he did it.

It was in vain I represented to him that to withhold this matter of public interest was to show an unpardonable disregard of the rights of others, which, as contrary to public policy, could easily be construed into an act of overt disloyalty. He did not seem to be interested in the rights of others, and entirely refused to see the matter in the proper light. He was not a rational man. When I attempted to argue the case with him, he became violent, and roared at me until, I am sure, had the bulls of Bashan heard him, they would have been tempted to "hide their diminished heads." I decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and left him to fight it out alone. I returned to the office, rendered an account of the manner in[Pg 73] which I had failed, and was the recipient of a scathing rebuke from the city editor. It was in vain I tried to get angry. Even to myself I could not simulate proper indignation, so thoroughly had the starch been taken out of me by my seance with an excusably irritated man, knowing the while that I was trespassing on the bounds of courtesy.

That experience was enough for me. While I might become a successful reporter, in doing so I fear I should lose that regard for the rights of others, the petty conscience of every-day life, that is conspicuously absent in so many of the men we meet.

While this incident has not altered my liking for newspaper work, it has very materially modified my ideas concerning certain branches of it. From the reporter's desk to the editor's chair is a natural and easy transition; and the outsider, unless he possesses the genius of George Kennan and his companions, must go through this stage of preliminary training. Those of us who have no influence, no startling genius, and a decided dislike to becoming inquisitive nuisances feel that we are overweighted in the journalistic handicap.

What course shall we pursue, that what few merits we possess shall not be overshadowed by the lack of one quality, which may be a useful one to the reporter, but is usually known and avoided in the ordinary man under the vulgar name of "gall"?

Herbert Corey.

Cincinnati, Ohio.


A PLEA FOR THE NOM DE PLUME.

Once upon a time there lived a good little girl whom everybody loved. She had six aunts, four uncles, and twenty-seven cousins, besides a brother and two sisters. All these relatives, of course, especially loved her, for that was only natural. And they were all very glad, indeed, to help her in every way possible.

She was a bright little thing as well as good, and by and by she thought she would see whether any of the papers and magazines cared to know of the things she thought, and she wrote a morsel of an article and timidly sent it off.

But before she sent it to the editor she read it to her sisters, each of whom had some slight correction to make; and she showed it to Aunt Emma, who was quite of a literary turn of mind, and Aunt Emma read it to her daughter Mabel, who had just left college.

These ladies so marked up the carefully written manuscript that the good little girl had to copy it all before it was fit to be sent.

After it had been gone eight days the article was returned. This made the little girl very sad, and she wept.

The other five aunts, and the uncles, and all the cousins were by this time interested, and they comforted her with many words, and censured her with a great many more, and gave her a great deal of good advice. But the little girl finally got so confused by the many conflicting opinions offered that she hardly knew what to do or say. One moment she would think she would write this and another that, and some of the time she declared that she would never write another line at all.

But one day a very pretty idea came into her mind all at once, and she did think it too sweet to be lost. So she wrote it down just as it came to her, and sent it away, and never told a soul a word about it.

By and by it was printed, and how happy the little girl was! She told nobody but her parents and her sisters this time, but all her friends saw her name in the paper, and they came running to her to talk about it.[Pg 74]

"I saw your name in the paper," said Cousin Ada.

"Did you?" said the good little girl, pleasantly.

"Yes; an' Bert an' I know who you meant by 'The Old Bad Man.'"

"But I didn't mean anybody," explained she; "that was only a little story."

"Oh, we know you did. Mamma says it isn't a nice story at all, an' Mabelle says, 'Ugh!'"

It was no wonder that the little girl felt hurt at these words. And it was queer, but every time that any of the friends had any fault to find, or any help to give her, which was the same thing, of course, they began it by saying, "I saw your name in the paper."

At last the good little girl could endure it no longer, and she said to herself, "They sha'n't see my name in the paper any more"; and she sat down on the green grass and thought of a nice new name that pleased her, and she called herself by that name always when she wrote for the papers. And as she never got famous so that she wanted to tell people what her pen-name was, her friends never found it out, and she lived and died in peace.

Hæc fabula docet—Don't be made to feel it's cowardly to use a nom de plume if you want to. It isn't likely to do any harm, and it may save you lots of bother.

Persis E. Darrow.

Wentworth, N. H.


TO WRITE OR NOT TO WRITE.

When any one living in this age of the world feels that he has thoughts clamoring for utterance, he seeks advice from some one who has attained success in the profession of literature. In most instances he receives no satisfactory criticism, and is compelled to act on innate conviction of his right to enter the "thorny path" and fight his way up to the top, where, we are told, there is always room.

There seem to be two literary factions pitted against each other. Those of one class employ their best effort in dissuading young writers from writing; those of another set forth an author's life in glowing colors. One faction will tell you that half the manuscripts sent to editors are not even accorded the courtesy of an examination unless signed by a well-known name. Another says that editors are keenly on the outlook for original matter, seizing with avidity anything that promises to make a new element in current literature.

A noted author writes to a young aspirant: "Sweet and natural though your utterance seems to be, let me ask you in the friendliest spirit not to write at all. The toil is great, the pursuit incessant, the reward not outward." To the same young woman writes another equally well-known writer: "Your work is excellent; you can and will succeed."

The fact is obvious that there is a literary aristocracy in America. Born in an intellectual atmosphere, with inherited talent, wrapped in their own dreams, knowing little of the struggle and toil of their less fortunate co-workers, its members stand aloof, saying: Thou shalt not enter therein. The old Italian poet quaintly puts it:—

"For singing loudly is not singing well;
But ever by the song that's soft and low
The master singer's voice is plain to tell.
Few have it, and yet all are masters now,
And each of them can trill out what he calls
His ballads, canzonets, and madrigals.
The world with masters is so covered o'er
There is no room for pupils any more."

Therefore, the individual who contemplates becoming an author must be a law unto himself. If he finds his truest expression, his greatest delight in literary work, let him[Pg 75] persevere, all the world to the contrary notwithstanding.

"There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
Can circumvent, can hinder, or control
The firm resolve of a determined soul.
Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great."

An editor, noted for his gentleness and courtesy, tells us that all writers must go through an evolutionary process of rejected manuscripts, and cites the instance of Mrs. Harriet Prescott Spofford, who awoke one morning to find herself famous. She had written "The Amber Gods." When congratulated as the first author who had attained reputation by a single effort, she replied:—

"No, that is not true. I have been writing for years under an assumed name."

Susan Andrews Rice.

Washington, D. C.


THE DELUGE OF VERSE.

A fragment of a conversation overheard the other evening, when the writer, half-buried with the daily proof-sheets from which he knows no escape, was hurrying westward on an afternoon train, is the raison d'être of this communication. The participants were two young and pleasant-looking girls: they discussed matters feminine, of which only the words "toque," "a bewitching little thing," and "pink velvet" had reached my ears; but when I heard the question, "What became of your last poem, Clara?"—and the reply, "Youth's Companion, came back with a printed slip; Independent, ditto; then I tried the Waverley Magazine, who accepted it, but did not pay young contributors"; I became unthinkingly an interested eavesdropper, and just then, with creak and clatter, the train stopped, the station, "Wellesley," was called, and the fair ones departed, taking my thoughts (and all power of concentration on work in hand) with them.

I mused in this wise: "Just why does the average young person give him (or her) self out in verse, good, bad, and indifferent?" The Youth's Companion does not want a Wellesley girl's lucubrations; it has verse on hand from many of the most skilled and charming writers in that line. But it does, I know, want good stories for boys, for girls,—and where can be a better "locale," materials for plot, sketches of life and character, etc., than at a girls' college? One could surely range "from grave to gay, from lively to severe," in such a field.

The editor of the Atlantic, dear young people, accepts articles—well-written, of course—on questions relating to higher education, university extension, matters of historical research. Harper & Brothers are glad to get character sketches (not New England particularly,—you cannot outdo, quite yet, Miss Jewett and Mary Wilkins,—but there are many other bits of humanity, quaint, odd, or pathetic). Scribner's and the Cosmopolitan like travels, but they must be bright and varied; and mechanical articles, young men, but these must be a direct and forcible presentation of their subjects, and not rehashes from old books; while the Century will pay you well for some dainty comic bit for its "Bric-à-brac." Friends of the Golden Rule, Cottage Hearth, and Christian Register have assured me that good—not goody-goody—juvenile literature is very hard to get. I know a young woman who is paid well by the page for all the children's stories she can write, and her[Pg 76] pages are fresh and good, with new themes and unhackneyed incidents; and a young man who is taking up themes of interest in our history,—the unprecedented message of a president which gave no report to Congress of financial or diplomatic matters for the preceding two years, and the three presidential protests against action taken in Congress (how many of you know about these state papers?),—there are a hundred other things, too, which might be told about in this line,—and he finds no difficulty in getting his matter accepted. There is an assistant editor not far from Beacon Hill who keeps track of the clergymen, the prominent families, and individuals in a certain large religious denomination. Every week she furnishes her quota of items to an eight-page paper, and she is a pearl of great price to her chief. The Marthas of the household, "careful and troubled," there is a place for in many journals to-day, whether their specialty be cooking, scrubbing, or lace-work. There is also a chance for those who possess a large fund of miscellaneous information, in Notes and Queries and like journals.

"The bearing of which lies in the application of it." Perhaps you may think, discouragingly, that there is no chance for you in these or any other specialties, but take my advice and try something awhile—get into a class and work to become at the head of that class; then, even if you do not attain the full measure of success you had hoped, you will certainly have the proud consciousness of having striven, and can contemplate with pity

Those green and salad days: Can I rehearse
What sweets I ate and what I put In verse?

Douglas Dane.

Boston, Mass.


CONCERNING SONNETS.

A few months ago the pages of The Writer contained some interesting suggestions as to the advisability of a uniform indentation for sonnets when printed; the writer favoring a New York method, which would bring out even the first, fifth, ninth, and twelfth lines, setting all the other lines an equal space to the right of these. I give a quatrain for example:—

"The early star, soft mirrored in the stream,
Dim vistas of the dewy forest-road,
Yea, even the solemn, high-walled glen, abode
Of mortal dust long quit of deed and dream."

The writer's chief argument for this style was, I believe, that it was used by a good printing house, and also made a neat appearance on the page; but the question at once occurred to me, What is indentation in verse for? Is it not a guide to the eye, to enhance the proper recurrence of the rhyme (and in the ode to show as well rhythm)? If we are to have a mere arbitrary arrangement of the sonnet, why not the same in a poem of regular or inverted quatrains, or of the Persian quatrain, which is now always given in this form:—

"I sometimes think that never blows so red
The rose as where some buried Cæsar bled;
That every flower the fragrant garden wears
Dropped in her lap from some once lovely head."

Or imagine an édition de luxe of Gray's "Elegy" with every stanza printed in this style:—

"Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, their destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor."
[Pg 77]

I could not take much pleasure in a book of sonnets where each page was thus stiffly arranged, but should greatly prefer the indenting of lines according to rhyme, the first, fourth, fifth, and eighth to be in line, and the second, third, sixth, and seventh to be set somewhat to the right of these; should there come, however, a Shakespearian sonnet to be provided for,—lines rhyming alternately,—or any of those monstrosities of fourteen lines, which have no regularity of rhyme, let the lines then be brought to a uniform indentation, and the reader disentangle the plan of the verse as best he may.

In editing copy or reading proof for a poet, I always follow the author's preference, if indicated, or if copy submitted is consistent; but having the matter to determine, I would first look to see if the sonnets were generally regular; and second, if the sextet (the last six lines) followed the Italian or the best accepted English forms: this done, it is easy to determine upon a style,—which would be the one adopted at the present time by the best English and American printers (as far as recent books of both countries give any clue), as follows:—

"What we miscall our life is Memory:
We walk upon a narrow path between
Two gulfs—what is to be, and what has been,
Led by a guide whose name is Destiny;
Beyond is sightless gloom and mystery,
From whose unfathomable depths we glean
Chaotic hopes and terrors, dimly-seen
Reflections of a past reality.

"Behind, pursuing through the twilight haze,
The phantom people of the past appear;
Hope, happiness and sorrow, fruitless strife,
And all the loved and lost of other days;
They crowd upon us closer year by year,
Till we as phantoms haunt some other life."

The octet, in the regular form of a sonnet, should stand as above; if the sextet varies, but is not too irregular, vary the indentation of the latter, as—

... "the great World-builder has designed
The wondrous plans which Nature's works disclose.
A child who scans the philosophic page
Of some profoundly meditative sage
May see familiar phrases,—then he knows
That his own simple thoughts and childish lore
Are part of the great scholar's mental store."

Should the sextet read as given below, instead of trying to follow the seemingly hap-hazard rhymes with the setting in or out of lines, it would be better to print the first eight lines uniformly even and the sextet at the end to correspond with them:—

"Then human Grief found out her human heart,
And she was fain to go where pain is dumb;
So thou wert welcome, Angel dread to see,
And she fares onward with thee, willingly,
To dwell where no man loves, no lovers part,—
Thus Grief that is makes welcome Death to come."

In like manner, let any irregularity of the eight lines settle the question of indentation, even though the latter portion of the sonnet should happen to be according to the best forms.

There are many other questions of style and appearance in getting up a collection of sonnets, a few of which may be referred to here. A little English book which I have at hand has the best of all the recent work in that line, and even runs back, in some cases, fifty years; from a literary point of view, it is unexcelled. But look at a few of the mechanical defects: it is printed as a very small 18mo.—all the long lines of the sonnets with a word or two "turned down," as the printers say. It is a "red-line" book, which means a large enclosed white space above and below the sonnet, and very little margin on each side. It has running titles standing in a lonesome way at the head of each page, and a folio in the page corner instead of being centred at the foot of each sonnet; and, to make a bad matter worse, each of these running titles has a rule beneath it, making the separation more obvious. These are only a few of the defects. Not the less displeasing to me is another book of sonnets, printed in octavo form. Not that one objects to a large margin, but the duodecimo, it seems to me, is much the best size and shape of volume for the proper display upon a printed page of this miniature poem, and a handsome old-style or Elzevir letter is the fittest type, instead of the sombre modern cut, so often used.

F. D. Stickney.

Cambridge, Mass.
[Pg 78]


THE WRITER.

WM. H. HILLS. Editor and Publisher.

The Writer is published the first day of every month. It will be sent, post-paid, One Year for One Dollar.

⁂ All drafts and money orders should be made payable to William H. Hills. Stamps, or local checks, should not be sent in payment for subscriptions.

The Writer will be sent only to those who have paid for it in advance. Accounts cannot be opened for subscriptions, and names will not be entered on the list unless the subscription order is accompanied by a remittance. When subscriptions expire the names of subscribers will be taken off the list unless an order for renewal, accompanied by remittance, is received. Due notice will be given to every subscriber of the expiration of his subscription.

⁂ No sample copies of The Writer will be sent free.

⁂ The American News Company, of New York, and the New England News Company, of Boston, are wholesale agents for The Writer. It may be ordered from any newsdealer, or directly, by mail, from the publisher.

The Writer is kept on sale by Damrell & Upham (Old Corner Bookstore), Boston; Brentano Bros., New York, Washington, and Chicago; George F. Wharton, New Orleans; John Wanamaker, Philadelphia; and the principal newsdealers in other cities.

⁂ Everything printed in the magazine will be written expressly for it.

⁂ Not one line of paid advertisement will be printed in The Writer outside of the advertising pages.

⁂ Advertising rates will be sent on request.

⁂ Contributions not used will be returned, if a stamped and addressed envelope is enclosed.

Address:—

THE WRITER,

(P. O. Box 1905.) Boston, Mass.


VOL. VI. April, 1892. No. 4.

It is hard to believe that Dr. Edward Everett Hale will be seventy years old April 3, but it will not do to contradict the birth record and the arithmetic, in spite of all his unfailing energy and youthful activity in many different undertakings. Dr. Hale is one of the men who will be always young, and it may be in consequence of this that he has written so many things that will never lose their freshness. One of the best of them is the chapter in "How to Do It" on "How to Write," which is full of crisp and practical suggestions. Dr. Hale's rules for writing are evidently those which have always governed his own literary work; and while others may not be able to follow them with equal success, they are worth remembering by every writer. The rules are:

First, Know what you want to say; second, Say it; third, Use your own language; fourth, Leave out all the fine passages; fifth, A short word is better than a long one; sixth, The fewer words, other things being equal, the better; finally, Cut it to pieces. Any writer who will make these rules his guide in daily work will find in them an important help to literary success.

W. H. H.


THE SCRAP BASKET.

It was proposed by a recent contributor to The Writer that authors should advertise their wares, like other manufacturers. In case the idea should meet with favor, I would suggest that the practice be carried a step further in the line of business methods. During the "Robert Elsmere" craze, a few years ago, a certain soap manufacturing company advertised a copy of the book with every quarter's worth of soap sold. It is unfortunate that Mrs. Humphry Ward, whose "History of David Grieve," it is reported, is not meeting with great success in this country, did not profit by the hint of the soap company and advertise a cake of soap to be given as an inducement with every copy of her book.

A. L. A.

Windham, N. H.


THE USE AND MISUSE OF WORDS.

[Brief, pointed, practical paragraphs discussing the use and misuse of words and phrases will be printed in this department. All readers of The Writer are invited to contribute to it. Contributions are limited to 400 words; the briefer they are, the better.]


"Cenotaph."—We are told that a cenotaph is a monument "in memory of one buried elsewhere"—otherwise, "an empty tomb." A recent number of a popular magazine contains an article on "Memorials of Edgar Allen Poe." When the author asked to be directed to the grave of the poet, the sexton pointed to the cenotaph of white marble in the corner at the intersection of two streets, and we are told that "the remains" were "transferred to this more conspicuous spot from the family lot in the rear of the church." Are not "high-sounding" words too often used without reference to their[Pg 79] suitableness? Mr. Pecksniff called his daughter "a playful warbler,"—not that she was, we are told, "at all vocal," but that Mr. Pecksniff was in the habit of using a word that rounded a sentence well.

P. MCA. C.

East Bridgewater, Mass.


BOOK REVIEWS.

Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins. Edited by Lawrence Hutton. With Portraits and Fac-similes. 171 pp. Cloth, $1.00. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1892.

The friendship between Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins began when Dickens was nearly forty, and Collins about twenty-five years of age. Ten years later the marriage of the daughter of Dickens to the brother of Collins cemented the intimacy then begun, and it continued unbroken until the death of Dickens, in 1870. Part of the familiar correspondence between the two men was printed in "The Letters of Charles Dickens"; but many more letters from Dickens were found after the death of Collins, and from these Miss Hogarth selected the specimens that make up the present volume. As Mr. Hutton says in his introduction: "They not only show their writer as he was willing to show himself to the man whom he loved, but they give an excellent idea of his methods of collaboration with the man whom he had selected from all others as an active partner in certain of his creative works." The replies from Collins cannot be printed, since it was Dickens' rule to destroy every letter he received, not on actual business. It is fortunate that his correspondents did not do the same with his letters, so great is the interest of everything that he put on paper: as Mr. Hutton happily puts it: "It is greatly to be regretted that he did not write letters to himself—like his own Mr. Toots—and preserve them all."

The letters included in the present volume are so interesting that the temptation is strong to reprint many extracts from them. They give charming glimpses of Dickens' personality, and illustrate the literary ideas and methods of work of two famous story-writers. Mr. Hutton connects the letters with all necessary explanations, and has performed his work as editor with admirable skill. A good portrait of Dickens, a better one of Collins, and some interesting fac-similes illustrate the book.

W. H. H.

Everybody's Writing-desk Book. By Charles Nisbet and Don Lemon. Revised and Edited by James Baldwin, Ph. D. 310 pp. Cloth, $1.00. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1892.

In this handy little volume are combined instruction regarding composition, English grammar, and punctuation; a list of synonyms and antonyms; a list of forms of addresses; information about writing for the press, proof-reading, writing and printing papers and books; rules for pronunciation and spelling; rates of postage, etc. The book is a compilation rather than an original work, and its chief merit is that it puts together in a single volume a good deal of information of different kinds, not elsewhere to be found in one book. Its spelling list and its list of synonyms and antonyms are the parts most valuable for reference; while the parts devoted to composition and grammar may be studied with profit by those in need of such instruction. The chapter on "Writing for the Press" is short and weak, and the book generally is adapted for use rather by non-professional than by professional writers.

W. H. H.

Christopher Columbus; and How He Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery. By Justin Winsor. 674 pp. Cloth, $4.00. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, & Company. 1892.

Mr. Winsor's rank as an historian is so high that whatever he writes is read with respectful attention. Especially regarding the early history of America he is an authority, and probably no one in this country is better fitted than he to write the story of Columbus. The view he takes of the life and character of the admiral in this exhaustive study of his career will surprise those who have looked on Columbus as a hero, with ideas far in advance of the age in which he lived, and with no blemishes upon his reputation. Mr. Winsor presents facts, so far as they can be ascertained, rather than the romantic notions of traditions, and his picture of Columbus is not flattering to the explorer. In the opening chapter of the work he gives a review of all the sources of information about the admiral's life, and shows a respect for the investigations of Harisse that is undoubtedly justified. Irving's well-known "Life of Columbus" he treats with scant reverence as an historical work. "The genuine Columbus," he says, "evaporates under the warmth of the writer's genius, and we have nothing left but the refinement of his clay." According to Mr. Winsor's estimate, Columbus was a pitiable man, who deserved his pitiable end. His discovery was a blunder, and he became the despoiler of the new world he had unwittingly found. A rabid seeker of gold and a vice-royalty, he left to the new continent a legacy of devastation and crime. Finding America, he thought he had discovered the Indies, and maintained that belief until his death. Claiming to desire the conversion of the Indians to Christianity, he did what he could to establish a slave trade with Spain. Slitting the noses and tearing off the ears of naked heathen are cruelties with which he is charged. In his early life he deserted his lawful wife and became the father of an illegitimate[Pg 80] son. In his last years his mind weakened, and he became the victim of wild hallucinations. Such is the man as Mr. Winsor describes him, in contrast to the demi-god of whom Prescott says: "Whether we contemplate his character in its public or private relations, in all its features it wears the same noble aspects." As a bold navigator Columbus won the fame of a world-discoverer; but he never knew himself what he had found; and if Mr. Winsor's estimate is just, it is not altogether unfitting that the name of a more clear-sighted voyager than he should be given to the world that he discovered.

W. H. H.

Picturesque Hampshire. Edited by Charles F. Warner, 120 pp. Large Quarto. Paper, 75 cents. Northampton, Mass.: Picturesque Publishing Company. 1890.

Picturesque Franklin. Edited by Charles F. Warner. 123 pp. Large Quarto. Paper, 75 cents. Northampton. Mass.: Picturesque Publishing Company. 1891.

At first sight it seems astonishing that such handsome books as these, with their lavish wealth of costly half-tone pictures, can be profitably sold at so low a price. They are exceedingly attractive volumes, and together they make a delightful picture-gallery of New England country life. "Picturesque Hampshire" was published in November, 1890, as a supplement to the quarter-centennial issue of the Hampshire County Journal, and its success was so great as to lead to the publication of "Picturesque Franklin," and to the preparation of "Picturesque Hampden," which will be issued in two parts next fall. Not only the residents of the counties illustrated, and of Western Massachusetts generally, but every cultivated person will be interested in these books. The illustrations are so numerous that each volume is really a picture book of New England life. The illustrations have been reproduced from photographs by the half-tone process, and they retain all the accuracy and sharpness of the original photographs. The text explains them sufficiently, and is generally well written.

W. H. H.

In Foreign Lands. By Barbara N. Galpin. 156 pp. Cloth, $1.00. Boston: New England Publishing Company. 1892.

"In Foreign Lands" is a pleasantly-written volume descriptive of European travel, and tells, in an interesting way, the experiences of a delightful summer journey.

W. H. H.

New Harvard Songbook. Compiled by R. T. Whitehouse, '91, and Frederick Bruegger, '92. Revised Edition. 92 pp. Flexible Covers. Boston: Oliver Ditson Company. 1892.

This new compilation of college songs contains many of the new songs which have been sung by the Harvard Glee Club during the last three years. Many of the songs are the compositions of Harvard undergraduates, and have never before been published. Some of the best-known among them are: "Boreen," "Holsteiner's Band," "The Hoodoo," "Jay Bird," "The Man in the Moon's Ball," "Mrs. Craigin's Daughter," "O'Grady's Goat," "The Party at Odd Fellows' Hall," "The Phantom Band," "Romeo and Juliette," "Schneider's Band," and "The Versatile Baby." The book is full of the rollicking college spirit, and college men and their sweethearts will find it an unfailing source of delight. It is adapted either for glee club or home use, and is exquisitely gotten up.

W. H. H.

Brunhilde; or, The Last Act of Norma. By Pedro A. De Alarcon. Translated by Mrs. Francis J. A. Darr. With Portrait of the Author. 311 pp. Cloth, $1.00. New York: A. Lovell & Company. 1891.

Mrs. Darr has translated this work of the Spanish novelist with fidelity and skill. It is an interesting story, with an unusual plot and a dramatic climax, and it is told in a peculiar style, which gives to it a distinctive charm. A good portrait of the author is given as a frontispiece.

W. H. H.

Trifet's Harmonized Melodies. Arranged by Charles D. Blake. 256 pp. Paper, 60 cents. Boston: F. Trifet. 1892.

Four hundred songs, sacred and secular, comic and sentimental, pathetic and humorous, are given in this collection, so harmonized and arranged that they may be played upon the piano or organ or sung with or without accompaniment. Every variety of song is given, and every one will find in the book something suited to his taste. The arranger has done his work well, and the music printer has made the book an attractive one. The selections range from "Old Folks at Home" and the "Sweet By and By" to "Comrades" and "Annie Rooney," and the price of the book, considering the quantity of music it contains, is remarkably low. It will undoubtedly have an extensive sale.

W. H. H.

A First Family of Tasajara. By Bret Harte. 301 pp. Cloth, $1.25. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. 1892.

The charm of Bret Harte's stories lies in their originality of conception, their well-defined local color, and the chaste richness of their literary style. The power to pique one's interest to the last page belongs to Mr. Harte above all other writers of stories of American life. His latest book has all the good qualities of its predecessors. It tells a perfectly natural story of life in California. The hero is a newspaper man; the other characters are a man who makes a big "strike" in land, and becomes suddenly rich, his two daughters, a newspaper proprietor with an axe to grind and a secret love, a beautiful and rich Boston widow, and a civil engineer. The denouement is startling, being none other than the wiping out by a flood of the town which made the rich man's fortune, and the lesson of the story is the suddenness[Pg 81] with which in the West riches have been made, and also lost.

L. F.


BOOKS RECEIVED.


[All books sent to the editor of The Writer will be acknowledged under this heading. They will receive such further notice as may be warranted by their importance to readers of the magazine.]


Paragraph-writing, With Appendices on Newspaper Style and Proof-reading. By Fred N. Scott, Ph. D., and Joseph V. Denney, A. B. 107 pp. Stiff paper. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Register Publishing Company. 1891.

The Principles of Style. By Fred N. Scott, Ph. D. 51 pp. Stiff paper. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Register Publishing Company. 1891.

Æsthetics, Its Problems and Literature. By Fred N. Scott, Ph. D. 32 pp. Paper. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Register Publishing Company. 1891.

Helen Young. By Paul Lindau. Translated from the German by P. J. McFadden. 183 pp. Paper, 25 cents. Chicago: Rand, McNally, & Company. 1892.

The Treasure Tower. A Story of Malta. By Virginia W. Johnson. 223 pp. Paper, 25 cents. New York: Rand, McNally, & Company. 1892.

The Light of Asia. By Sir Edwin Arnold. With Notes by Mrs. I. L. Hauser. 309 pp. Paper, 50 cents. Chicago: Rand, McNally, & Company. 1892.

The Book of Ruth. A novel. By P. L. Gray. 219 pp. Paper. Bendena, Kan.: P. L. Gray. 1892.

The Blue Scarab. By David Graham Adee. 348 pp. Paper, 50 cents. Chicago: Laird & Lee. 1892.

A Loyal Lover. By E. Lovett Cameron. 294 pp. Paper, 50 cents. New York: John A. Taylor & Company. 1892.

Mrs. Lygon. A Domestic Detective Story. By Shirley Brooks. 385 pp. Paper, 50 cents. St. Paul, Minn.: Price, McGill Company. 1892.

A Moral Inheritance. By Lydia Hoyt Farmer. 240 pp. New York: J. S. Ogilvie. 1890.

How to Get Married, although a Woman. By a Young Widow. 144 pp. Paper, 25 cents. New York: J. S. Ogilvie. 1892.

Classical Poems. By William Entriken Bailey. 108 pp. Cloth. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Company. 1892.

The Parson. A Satire. By Charles J. Bayne. Twelfth Edition. 19 pp. Paper. Augusta, Ga.: Chronicle Office. 1892.


HELPFUL HINTS AND SUGGESTIONS.

Envelope Pigeon-holes.—One of the most useful appliances that I use in daily work is the row of envelopes in the front compartment of the upper left-hand drawer of my desk. The envelopes are made of stout manila paper, almost as high as the drawer is deep, and eight and one-half inches long. They are arranged in the drawer at right angles with the front, so that as I sit at the desk the face of each envelope is toward me. The flaps are turned inside, and each envelope has an inscription on the upper left-hand corner. They are used for filing material wanted for early reference, and they keep such material classified, within immediate reach, and in much smaller space than if pigeon-holes were used. The first twenty-six envelopes are inscribed with the letters of the alphabet, and are used for filing material alphabetically. Those beyond are labelled with subjects, also arranged alphabetically, the subjects being those in which I have an immediate special interest. For instance, if I am preparing an article on "Misprints," any examples noted are filed away in an envelope so marked, and when I get ready to write the article the material is ready at hand. "Bills Unpaid," "Receipted Bills," "Ideas and Suggestions," "Postage Stamps," "Addresses," "Cards and Circulars," may be marked on other envelopes. If a drawer is not available, the envelopes may be kept in a box within easy reach, but the drawer is best. The scheme is easily adapted to any special needs. In the case of a writer collecting material, when an envelope bulges too much, it suggests profitable action.

W. H. H.

Somerville, Mass.


LITERARY ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS.

[Readers who send to the publishers of the periodicals indexed for copies containing the articles mentioned in the following list, will confer a favor if they will mention The Writer when they write.]


Writings of W. H. H. Murray. George Stewart, Jr. Belford's Magazine for March.

Reporters and Their Trials. Inland Printer for March.

Theory of the Comma. American Bookmaker for March.

Characteristics of Magic in Eastern and Western Literature. Talcott Williams. Poet-Lore for March 15.

What a Bibliography Should Be. Victor Chauvin. Library Journal for March.

Some Newspaper Bad Habits. With Portrait of E. W. Howe. E. W. Howe. Newspaperdom for March.

The Danbury News Man. George Watson Hallock. Newspaperdom for March.

A Complete Reference System. I. D. Marshall. Newspaperdom for March.

The Complete and Authentic History of a News Despatch. Samuel Merrill. Engraver and Printer (Boston) for March.

Edward Augustus Freeman. Critic for March 26.

Count Leon Tolstoi. Madame Dovidoff. Cosmopolitan for April.

Goodridge Bliss Roberts. With Portrait. Charles G. Abbott. Dominion Illustrated Monthly (Montreal) for April.

Literature and the Ministry. Leverett W. Spring. Atlantic Monthly for April.[Pg 82]

George Eliot and Mrs. Humphry Ward. Charles T. Copeland. North American Review for April.

Charles Keene, of Punch. George Somes Layard. Scribner's Magazine for April.

Isaac Judson Potter, Publisher of the Yankee Blade. With Portrait. Weekly Journalist (Boston) for March 24.

Fiction in the Court Room. George Stewart. Toronto Week for March 11.

T. W. Higginson. With Portrait. Weekly Journalist (Boston) for March 31.

Why Books Succeed. Duffield Osborne. American Bookseller for April 1.

Eugene Field. Inland Printer for April.

What Is Poetry. Edmund Clarence Stedman. Century for April.

Wolcott Balestier. Edmund Gosse. Century for April.

The Wife of Eugene Field. John Ballantyne. Ladies' Home Journal for April.

Mistaken Literary Success. Wolstan Dixey. Ladies' Home Journal for April.

Poetry and Eloquence. John Burroughs. Chautauquan for April.


NEWS AND NOTES.

D. Appleton & Co. announce a Holland Fiction Series, introducing to American readers the best literature of modern Holland. They have been led to do this by the interest shown in Maarten Maartens' "Joost Avelingh," which they published some time ago. A new novel by Maarten Maartens will be included in the series.

Mrs. James T. Field is abroad with Miss Sarah Orne Jewett.

Daniel Lothrop, head of the D. Lothrop Company, of Boston, died February 18. He was born August 11, 1831.

Edward Augustus Freeman, the English historian, died of smallpox February 16, at Alicante, Spain, aged sixty-nine years.

With the issue of March 11 the Epoch ceased to exist as a separate publication, having been merged with Munsey's Magazine.

Edward Everett Hale will be seventy years old April 3.

Rev. George Thomas Dowling, D. D., who has been pastor of the Madison-avenue Reformed Church in Albany for nearly three years, has offered his resignation, to take effect July 1. It is his intention, he says, to devote himself for a few years to rest and literary pursuits, probably in Boston. Dr. Dowling's salary is $6,500.

In the New York Herald for March 13 were printed the opening lines of a story, entitled "The Way Out," which American writers have been invited to complete. The opening lines are by John Habberton. The entire tale, inclusive of the opening, should not exceed eight thousand words, nor contain less than seven thousand words. No limitations are imposed as to scenes, characters, or incidents. The decision will be left to Mr. Charles Ledyard Norton. For the best story offered the Herald will pay $100, the story to become the property of the Herald, and be published in full Sunday, May 1. Manuscripts must be typewritten, and must reach the Herald office not later than Saturday, April 16.

The frontispiece of the Magazine of Art (New York) for April is an etching by Chauvel from Troyon's "The Watering-place."

The Chautauquan (Meadville, Penn.) for April contains an excellent portrait of John Vance Cheney, the popular poet and critic.

Charles Keene, the famous caricaturist of Punch, who died about a year ago, is the subject of an article in Scribner's for April, illustrated with many pictures from his original drawings.

A portrait of Walt Whitman, from the painting by J. W. Alexander, forms the frontispiece to Harper's Magazine for April. Guido Biagi writes of "The Last Days of Percy Bysshe Shelley."

A society of American authors, on lines similar to the British and French societies of the same name, is proposed by Charles Burr Todd, who has set forth the grievances of American authors in a paper in the March Forum. The first meeting is to be held privately in New York on or before May 1, and when one hundred members are enrolled the society will be organized at once. Its objects are extension of copyright, abolition of letter-rate postage on manuscripts, amendment of international copyright law, and the adoption in America of the French statutes in regard to literary property. All persons who have written a book, or are engaged in writing for the press, are eligible to membership.

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