The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The Gathering of Brother Hilarius, by Michael Fairless (Murray, 2/6). We have recently had occasion to mention the death of Michael Fairless. The appearance of Brother Hilarius will give our readers further reason to be sorry. It is a prose idyll of singular grace and charm, and also full of the penetrating power, the intimate touch with life, which is the distinction of the author. This vital quality shews itself in the intense human interest of a story which on the face of it should depend for its charm upon any quality save this, for it is the story of a Religious from his noviciate to his death. The setting is the England of the Plantagenets, when the Black Death raged, and only the careful reader will perceive the care given to verify the details of time and place which, unobtrusive as they are, make every page alive with the life of the past. When you close the book you feel you have walked in pleasant places, and that it was good to be there.
Barbara West, by Keighley Snowdone (John Long, 6/-). This is a remarkable book, written with a certain incisive quality that reminds one a little of Charlotte Bronte, all the more so that it deals with Yorkshire life. All the trivial incidents, and all the incidents are trivial, are told with such clear biting power that they are as important for the moment to the reader as to the actor, and this quality we think it is which carries a vague reminder of Charlotte Bronte. Barbara West is a novel with a purpose. The author would have young people instructed that to marry and bring up children is not a personal gratification only, but a duty to the world. We are not sure how far books with a purpose of this kind answer their end, and we think that emotional reading is distinctly unwholesome however delicately done and well intended.
John Ruskin, by Mrs. [Alice Christiana] Meynell (Blackwood, 2/6). Messrs. Blackwood have done well to invite Mrs. Meynell to write this monograph of John Ruskin. An exquisite writer herself, she is the better able to appreciate that quality of Mr. Ruskin's which we venture to call "exquisiteness," i.e., the power of so precisely touching the thing with the right word, that the reader experiences a sudden sense of joy. This quality we think Mrs. Meynell has in common with Ruskin, if in a less degree. Sometimes the impact appears in a startling phrase like this,--"him who did more than any other to disorganise the English language--that is, Gibbon." Sometimes in nice discrimination as in "assuredly literature is a question, a recognition, a consultation, an evocation to the reader's spirit." This is not the book of a disciple. Mrs. Meynell protests against the hard measure dealt to "the tender Rembrandt," but again she rejoices in the delicate appreciation of Veronese. The writer takes a malicious yet tender joy in running down many of Mr. Ruskin's sweeping assertions and trying parallels and breathless paradoxes, but how she enjoys what she calls his "felicity of word." Mrs. Meynell does not hesitate to point out limitations, but the sum of all is that John Ruskin was "one of the greatest of great men of all ages."
Words by an Eye-witness: The Struggle in Natal, by "Linesman" [Maurice Harold Grant] (Blackwood, 6/-). We owe a great deal to this "Eye-witness." We cannot make war by deputy; the personality of the Nation (if we may speak of a collective personality) is involved in the great struggle going on in South Africa, and it behoves each of us to know as fairly and simply as we can what is going on. It is an amazing spectacle which "Linesman" puts before us, not the least amazing part being that war appears to have lost the element of personal savagery; there are no hacking and hewing, no sabre cuts, no dead shots, hardly a visible enemy, and therefore none of that incitement to valour which comes of a rush upon the enemy; and yet the courage, fortitude, patience, kindliness and good temper of the army, indeed, we might say of both contending armies ("Linesman" is a generous enemy), are matters for our wonder. The early chapters are harrowing reading, notwithstanding the becoming reticence of the author, and throughout there is a feeling of the tremendous seriousness of war; and we get a dim perception of the fact that multitudes of men, many of them commonplace enough at home, have embraced the "heroic good" with more or less consciousness and are giving their lives for the rest of us. It is a sobering thought and should lead us all to purer national purposes and simpler individual lives.
The Works of Goldsmith (Macmillan & Co., 3/6). We congratulate Messrs. Macmillan on the admirable edition of the works of Oliver Goldsmith in their library of English Classics. It is something to be tempted, by an open page and capital type, to read once more The Vicar of Wakefield, She Stoops to Conquer, the clinging cadences of The Deserted Village. Mr. Alfred Pollard writes the bibliographical note in which he justifies what seems to us his wise selection.
We think the following extract from a correspondent's paper may interest our readers:--
"Mrs. D--has at last found a book for Sundays which interests her little girl (aged 7). Before, she used to yawn or destroy things about her while Bible stories were being read or told to her, but Jesus, the Carpenter of Nazareth, by Robert Bird, fascinates her, and she often begs for it on weekdays. Last Sunday she was observed to take up the book and hug it and kiss it when the reading was over."
Typed by happi, Oct 2019; Proofread by LNL, Apr 2020
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