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JAMES LANE ALLEN.
When a book attains a large circula- travelling onward into space from an tion one usually says that it succeeds. orb turned black and cold, like an old But the fine books succeed of them. melody surviving on and on in the air selves, by their own virtue, and apart
without any instrument, without any
strings. from the acclamatory noises of fame. Immure them in cabinets, cast them into Sabara; still they imperturbably
A ine book is above the populace; if succeed. If on a rare occasion such a
the populace reaches up to it, let us book sells by scores of thousands, it is
praise the populace. Mr. Allen's novel,
"The Choir Invisible," has been bought not the book, but the public, which
in America to the extent of two hunsucceeds; it is not the book, but the public, which has emerged splendidly
dred thousand copies. America has from a trial. Look at this following
succeeded brilliantly; America has, in
fact, surpassed England, even assumpassage, and say whether the author or his readers are the more to be con
ing that her population is twice ours,
for no book of equal merit with Mr. gratulated on the fact that the book
Allen's ever had half such a welcome containing it has met with wide popu
from ourselves—that is to say, within lar acceptance:
a similar period of time. The phenomPoor old schoolhouse, long since be
enon of that two hundred thousand come scattered ashes! Poor little back- must give pause to the facile generalwoods academicians, driven in about izations of those who are saddened and sunrise, driven out toward dusk! Poor
disgusted by the triumph of mitigated little tired backs with nothing to lean rubbish. It must tend to reinstate the against! Poor little bare feet that
public in the artist's esteem, to correct could never reach the floor! Poor little
an undue pessimism, and to establish droop-headed figures, so sleepy in the long summer days, so afraid to fall
a sane and proper belief in the "ultiasleep! Long, long since, little children
mate decency" of the average man. of the past, your backs have become What, despised average man, you like straight enough, measured on the same this, you pay a dollar and a half for cool bed; sooner or later your feet, this! Miracles, then, have not ceased! wherever wandering, have found their .. But why should the thing be a resting-places in the soft earth; and all
miracle? Say, not that miracles have your drooping heads have gone to
not ceased, but that they have never sleep on the same dreamless pillow and
begun. And the young
The two hundred thousand there are sleeping. schoolmaster, who seemed exempt
which aspired to “The Choir Invisible" from frailty while he guarded like
did not aspire by chance. They, and sentinel that lone outpost of the alpha- perbaps two hundred thousand more, bet-he, too, has long since joined the are always alert, longing, anxious to choir invisible of the immortal dead. appreciate and ascend towards some But there is something left of him, nobility above them. Not all nobility though more than a century has passed is for their eyes, but when their eyes away; something that has wandered
see their hearts are lifted. And let no far down the course of time to us like
one think that these phrases are inapthe faint summer fragrance of a young tree long since fallen dead in its win propriate here.
“The tered forest, like a dim radiance yet
Choir Invisible," like Mr.
Allen's latest novel, “The Increasing Gray, in a valedictory sermon, exhorts
sons discourse, on some moral point, tending to become a minister; but there the exposition of which may assist him he found Darwin, and losing his faith in the business of characterization. in any dogmatic creed was expelled Note that it is always a moral point. from Alma Mater. David's tragic reHere we are concerned with morals; turn home-"I always knew there was the question is invariably of right-do- nothing in you,” was his father's bitter ing or wrong-doing; God and Con- sentence-is magnificently done; and science command the scene.
the description of his subsequent life Humanity, rendered grandiose by Mr. on the farm discloses Mr. Allen's feel. Allen's large and sublime trust in the ing for nature and animals at its most soul, makes a brave show. That is the intimate and most admirable. The inmost secret. Can you not see the weak portion of the book is the last, two hundred thousand, reassured by where David falls in love with a deMr. Allen's simplicity, strengthened lightful schoolmistress, and so recoups by his faith, charmed by his fine himself for previous loss of happiness. chivalry to women-can you not see These scenes appear to be over-subtilthem, now, watching with intent and ized, and decidedly they fail in original content faces the mighty struggle of imaginative power. There is, moreJohn and Jessica against themselves over, too much clever chatter (we hesi. and circumstances, confident of the re- tate to say that it is devised ad sult, and deriving from the spectacle a captandum vulgus) about men and personal stimulus and complacency? women. For example: “If this is human nature," they muse, “then we are not so bad after all."
"I may do well with science, but I (And we are not.) Long-dormant im
am not so sure about women." pulses are reawakened, forgotten pur- “Aren't women science?" poses remembered, and for a time the “They are a branch of theology," he world runs better because of Mr. said, “they are what a man thinks Allen. Æsthetically, "The Choir In. about when he begins to probe his visible" reaches a high standard. Im
Destiny." perfect it is, but it is noble—nobly conceived, nobly imagined and nobly Mr. Allen might well leave mere clev. written. Its imperfection is due partly erness to the merely clever, resting to Mr. Allen's lack of fertility and skill content with the simplicity of his own in the invention of incident, but more individual genius. Now there is a to a general looseness and inconse- book-or, rather, there are two books quence of construction. To borrow making one-which seem to us to be the terms of music, Mr. Allen seems to more personally and specially Mr. have been satisfied with the fantasia Allen's than even “The Choir Inform when he should have used that of visible," and which preceding that the sonata.
novel in date of composition, constitute In these technical respects, “The In. the most perfect work he has yet accreasing Purpose” is an improvement complished, if not the biggest. We reupon “The Choir Invisible," but the fer to “A Kentucky Cardinal” and its later book has scarcely the rich glow sequel, “Aftermath." Mr. Allen has of its forerunner. The hero of "The here set down in quasi-diary form, the Increasing Purpose" is the son of a ideas and sensations of a nature-lover, poor, old-fashioned, narrow-minded who was for a time snatched away Kentucky yeoman, who after exasper- from nature by an angelic woman, ating hardships reached college, in- and who returned to nature saddened and ennobled by the catastrophe of that lous little work, and from the playful. woman's death. The story is not con- ness of the opening to the austere ceived in the grand manner of "The sweet melancholy of the close it enChoir Invisible;" it is smaller, less con- trances and enchants. It may never be siderable, but in achievement it is ex- popular, but more than anything else quisite; its wit, its humor, its wisdom it will help to sustain Mr. Allen's repuand its tenderness must surely be tation with those few upon whose deamong the best that ever came out of cision his reputation must ultimately America. It is a radiant and marvel. depend.
2 Corinthians iii. 18.
“We have no bread to spare," the servants said;
"Send Thou this crowd away
To follow Thee to-day."
"This woman is not of Thy chosen race
Who crieth after Thee.
"These little children are too young to know
The Master's word,” they said;
His arms are round them spread-
But on a day of bitter tears and shame,
Ten souls to Jesus dear
For faithless flight and fear.
They drove away no more! "Come all,” they cried;
“The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.'
Let all who will come home!
Freely we have received and freely give!"
A. M. Atwool.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1900.
READINGS FROM NEW BOOKS.
THE GREATER GAME.*
When Brooks came to himself once rolled softly and reverently the Union more, out of a dream as it were, as he Jack, his thoughts went back to the stood upright and looked at the little old school, which he felt he would broken line of men at the left, he real- never see again. ized that he, Brooks Major, the cap- He gathered together little clods of tain of the school, was in command. earth and roots of grass around the He, an officer of twenty-four hours, in staff of the flag until it would stand command of an isolated detachment of alone, for he would not let the color men away out on the African plains, sergeant stand to hold it. As the outnumbered, outgeneralled, almost breeze, now scarcely more than hopeless and with all the responsibil- breath, gently fluttered the silken folds, ity resting upon him.
all up and down the line there came a The Captain, who lay at his feet, mo- hearty cheer, and Brooks' heart tioned with his finger, and Brooks put swelled within him, for he thought his ear to the stiffening lips. “Hold the they were cheering the flag; but in an men,” he gasped, -"hold the men all instant he saw it was not so. you can-as long as you can. Wait for Away out on the veldt, now half your orders.
Don't let the old corps hidden in flying dust and now in clear dishonor itself. Stand by our colors. sunshine, rode a man on a galloping Wait-for-your-orders—" That was horse. Brooks watched him with all, and the man who was shot passed heart standing still. on.
The man sat close and low, with his The men had settled down now into body bent well forward and down to stolid quietude. There was no hope, the neck of the horse. Around the no thought for the next moment, only end of the hill he swept spurring hard, a low crouching to the earth, a flatten- and then, when the speck of the horse ing of their bodies, a straining of their began to grow larger, and Brooks eyes towards the hilltop, nothing more. knew that his orders were coming, the
It was past noon. For some reason firing on the hill, which had wellnigh the fighting over yonder, over where died out, began again in sharp, the main body of the troops lay, had rhythmic volleys, some seconds apart, slackened.
but constant and steady; and all at As Brooks with his own hands loos- once the galloping horse fell into a ened the sheath to the colors, and un. trot, and the trot slowed down to a
walk, and the man on him began to dis*For the Queen in South Africa. By Caryl Davis engage one foot as if to dismount, Hasking. Copyright, 1900, by Little, Brown &
when all at once his hands went up,