Page images

yard Kipling's "Departmental Ditties," first edi tion, in the original wrapper, 1876, 14 15S.; the proof sheets of Vol. VII. of Samuel Richardson's "History of Sir Charles Grandison," 1754, sent by author to Lady Bradshaig, and annotated throughout by her, £14; J. Ruskin, "Poems," 1860, one of 50 copies, 122; J. J. Heywood's "The Spider and the Fly," 1556, extremely rare, 23; a fifteenth century "Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis," with 19 large and richly painted and illuminated miniatures, £71; three autograph letters to R. P. Gillies from Sir Walter Scott, and the original manuscript of an article contributed by Scott to The Foreign Quarterly Review, £25, and a copy of the Edition Princeps Euclid, Venice, 1482, £14.



It may also be interesting to take a glance at some of the magazines which have been issued for the benefit of boys, and of which the Public School Magazine and the Captain are the newest and most remarkable examples. Their history is a very brief one. The well-remembered Every Boy's Magazine (1863), published by Messrs. Routledge, and numbering among its only contributors those excellent friends of our childhood, R. M. Ballantye, Anne Bowman, Amelia B. Edwards, and the Rev. J. G. Wood, was one of the first of them. Its only predecessor of any importance was Beeton's Boy's Own Magazine, of which the first number appeared in 1855. Critics of this said it was "too high, too solid, too good;" and now that one turns up an old volume, it certainly does seem to show a tendency to sacrifice amusement to instruction. There is no fiction. Instead of short stories we have short biographies of such personages as Oliver Cromwell, James Watt, Christopher Columbus, and Cardinal Wolsey. Instead of a serial story we have a serial account of the Conquest of Mexico; and the amount of useful information of one sort and another is rather large.

BEFORE Beeton's there were, strictly speaking, no boys' papers at all, but only papers for children in general, for Sunday-school scholars, etc., such as the Children's Weekly Visitor (1833), the Youth's Instructor and Guardian (1817), and the Youth's Magazine, or Evangelical Miscellany (1805). This latter publication offered the young no more lively reading than is afforded by biographies of biblical characters, moral essays on such grave subjects as "Obedience to Parents" or "The Beneficial Effects of Sunday-Schools," and plenty of hymns, of the cheerful tenor of which the following lines are fairly typical:

"Since I soon must part forever From the joys of Time and Sense, Let it be my first endeavor

To prepare for going hence.

"What though I am young and healthy? Children less and younger die;

If my friends are great and wealthy, Low as others I must lie.

"Shall I, to indulge in pleasure,
Overlook the judgment day?
Shall I waste time's precious treasure
Wantonly in idle play?"

BETWEEN this sort of thing and the Captain there is clearly a great gulf fixed. But we may go even farther back than the Youth's Magazine, As early as 1799 there began to appear in England the Young Gentleman's and Lady's Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction and Amusement, intended to open the tender Mind to an acquaintance with Life, Morals, and Science, the Works of Nature and Art, and to serve as an useful auxiliary to Public and Private Tuition. This ingenious periodical contains short stories and lectures on botany and reviews of books, together with dialogues and essays on educational subjects. A Letter from a Nobleman to his Nephew on his entering at the University is perhaps the most interesting of these. It is against sceptical companions that the nephew is chiefly warned:

"Against such I would warn you with the most fervent anxiety. I have heard some weak and wicked men argue against a superintending Providence, when themselves were living instances of his power, and against a final retribution, while it was evident their hearts smote them with remorse, and tried to expiate the blasphemy of their tongues. Whatever may be the rank of such persons, however fascinating their manners, and warm their professions of friendship, if you have any value for yourself, for your family, or me, shun their contagion, nor ever mix your soul in close connection with theirs."

Before 1799 there were no magazines whatever for young people.



Three hundred years ago Edmund Spenser died at an inn in King street, Westminster, and, if we are to credit Ben Jonson, "lack of bread" was the cause. Perhaps the sympathetic Ben may have somewhat exaggerated conditions, but it seems certain that the creator of the "Faerie Queene" died at the age of forty-seven, and in want, without a penny in his wallet.

In commemoration of Spenser's tercentenary, the Merchant Tailors' Company of London will place in their hall a stained glass window, for the great English poet is closely associated with this ancient guild. It was Mr. R. B. Knowles who discovered that Spenser was one of the beneficiaries of the Merchant Tailor School, and that his education began there. From the school he went to Pembroke Hall, in Cambridge. We get in this way at the age of Spenser, for he left the school when he was seventeen, the date of the benefaction being 1569. The name of the benefactor is -worthy of record. It was Robert Norvell, a London citizen.


What is "Yiddish?" Yiddish is another way of writing "Judisch," the name of the native language of Jews, whether of Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Galician, or American birth. It is also called Ju disch-teutsch, or Judeo-German, as it is a dialect, or rather a group of dialects, of the German tongue. Because of its being a mixture of languages the sobriquet "Jargon" was fastened upon it by the Jews of the Haskala or Mendelssohnian Reform, who sought to foster German culture amongst the Jews and a purer German speech. Many Jews, in recent years especially, have chosen to write in the language of their adopted country, but "Yiddish literature" is the literature of Russian Jews, wherever born, who write in their common Judeo-German tongue. As Mr. Wiener thinks that this lauguage will no longer be spoken or written when the Jews cease to be persecuted and secluded in ghettos (Jews' quarters), a time which the author, however, leaves quite uncertain, this literature may come to have the added value of a curious stage in the tortuous progress of civ


Mr. Wiener has special qualifications for the work which he has undertaken. He writes of one of his journeys in search of data: "At Oxford I familiarized myself with the superb Oppenheim collection of Judeo-German books of the older period stored in the Bodleian Library. . . . In London the British Museum furnished me with a few modern works which are now difficult to procure, especially the periodicals Kolmewasser and Warschauer Judische Zeitung. . . . In Warsaw I obtained books in large numbers by rummaging the bookstores. In a dark and damp cellar many rare books were picked up. . . . In Warsaw, I received many valuable data from Perez, Diensohn, Spektor, Fried, and Levinsohn. . . . In Bialystok I called on the venerable poet, Gottlober. . . . In St. Petersburg Professor Harkavy most generously presented me with one thousand volumes out of his own private library. . . . In Kiev I had a long conference with S. Rabinowitsch and with A. Schulman. In Odessa I learned many important facts from conversations with S. J. Abramowitsch, J. J. Linetzki, J. J. Lerner, and P. Lamostschin, and depleted the bookstores, especially that of Rivkin, of their rarer books." Evidently the author spared himself neither trouble nor expense in procuring a complete outfit.

The history of Yiddish is interesting. In the beginning of the sixteenth century Bolemia, Poland, and Russia, whose native Slavic inhabitants

*Yiddish Literature in the Nineteenth Century. By Leo Wiener, Instructor in the Slavic Languages at Harvard University. Charles Scribner's Sons. $2.00.

were averse to town life, admitted German Jews in order to create the nucleus of a city population. By their intellectual superiority these Jews were cut off from the people amongst whom they dwelt, and although preserving, with modifications, their native German language, no longer took part in the mental life of their German contemporaries. Hence their folk-lore retained a medieval cast long after Germany had been awakened by the Reformation, and the stories of the Nibelungen, of Siegfried, of Dietrich, of Bern, of Wigalois, of King Arthur, though fading away from the folkbooks of Germany, lived on amongst the Jews in the Slavic countries. Gradually, however, the Jews would have become absorbed in the larger life of Russia, says Mr. Weiner, had not the persecutors of the eighties fanned their national life once more into flame and stirred again their interest in their own language. In that crisis some of the finest literary productions in the JudeoGerman tongue had their origin.

It will be a pleasure for the reader to accompany Mr. Weiner through his narrative of his folk-lore, the folk-song, and the general literature of this singular people, who have so keen a sense of nationality and yet no national home. Strange, indeed, was the double part which they played, of adopting the superstitions of all the peoples amongst whom they dwelt, and of acting as disseminators of ideas. Yet, while the imaginary beings of the Talmud, of German mythology, and of Russian tales are jumbled together in the mind of the Jew, the distinctly Jewish cast of thought pervades the whole mass. Witness, by way of illustration, the most popular song in Judeo-German, Berenstein's cradle-song, as it is sung from Galicia to Siberia, and from the Baltic provinces to Roumania:

[blocks in formation]

Gordon, "written upon parchment, has been our consolation in our poverty! All in the world we have lost; the Temple has been laid in ruins, in ruins the land which we have inhabited; even our tongue we have forgotten-we have lost our kingdom and our priesthood; only our faith ('Emune') is left us. God in our hearts, the law in our hands, we went from land to land, suffered many tribulations, yet have lived through it all by means of the Law written upon parchment:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

This inner, spiritual, and emotional side of Jewish life, often hidden even from the observant and trusted traveler, is revealed in the poems, many examples of which Mr. Wiener has wisely given in a Chrestomathy covering about one hundred pages. He adds: "Should the present work rouse any interest in the humble literature of the Russian Jews, the author will undertake a more complete Chrestomathy, which will do justice to the linguistic requirements as well. Mr. Wiener has drawn so fascinating a picture of a people to whose secluded life and thought the public at large are without a key, that many ought to be eager for the fuller selections. Perhaps he is the only man who can do the work, and it ought to be

done soon.

one of the most accomplished and unerringly well inspired of revisers; FitzGerald himself was apparently his exact opposite in these respects. A comparison stanza by stanza of the first version of the Rubaiyat published in 1859 with the revised text of the poem, will show that it is not going too far to say that FitzGerald has seldom touched any of his original work save to mar it, or varied its form of expression except for the worse. Who, for instance, being familiar with the splendid audacious opening stanza of the 1859 edition:


A writer in a recent number of Literature, under the title "An Unhappy Recension," takes Edward FitzGerald severely to task for what he terms the latter's manifold and grievous sins against literary judgment in his several revisions of the Rubaiyat. He writes:

"FitzGerald's greatest friend, Tennyson, was

"'Awake! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.'"

can forget the blank discomfiture with which he saw that both these daring strokes of Oriental imagery had disappeared under the reviser's hand in the edition of 1868, and that for the novel and vividly picturesque figure of the hunter with his lasso of rays has been substituted a hackneyed comparison with the archer."

The later edition there were altogether five editions in FitzGerald's lifetime - prints the lines as follows:

[ocr errors]

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

leian Library at Oxford, together with a transliteration of this manuscript into modern Persian characters, a literal translation into English, and extensive bibliographical and critical matter. The Bodleian manuscript contains altogether one hundred and fifty-eight quatrains.



Who say these walls are lonely-theseThey may not see the motley throng That people it, as thick as bees

The scented clover beds among. They may not hear, when footfalls cease,

And living voices, for awhile, The speech, in many tongues and keys, Adown each shadowy aisle.

It need hardly be said that FitzGerald, while preserving in a marvelous manner the spirit of the original, often departed very far from the letter, suppressing many quatrains and combining others. Prof. Charles Eliot Norton, in a passage which has been said to be "unsurpassed in the literature of criticism," calls FitzGerald's translation "the poetic transfusion of a poetic spirit from one language to another, and the representation of the ideas and images of the original in a form not altogether diverse from their own, but perfectly adapted to the new conditions of time, place, custom, and habit of mind in which they reappear.

.. It is the work of a poet inspired by the work of a poet; not a copy, but a reproduction; not a translation, but a redelivery of a poetic inspiration."

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Here are the friends that ne'er betray; Companionship that never tires; Here voices call from voiceless clay,

And ashes dead renew their fires. For death can touch the flesh alone;

Immortal thought, from age to age Lives on, and here, in varied tone, It speaks from many a page.

Here searching History waits-the deeds.
Of man and nation to rehearse:
Here clear-eyed Science walk and reads
The secrets of the universe.

Here lands and seas, from pole to pole, The traveler spreads before the eye; Here Faith unfolds her mystic scroll The soul to satisfy.

Here Homer chants heroic Troy,

Here Dante strikes the harp of pain, Here Shakespeare sounds the grief, the joy, Of all human life the strain.

Alone and silent? Why, 'tis rife

With form and sound! The hosts of thought Are dwellers here; and thought is life. Without it earth and man were not.

To war and statecraft leave the bay

A greater crown to these belongs; The rulers of the world are they Who make its books and songs.


He was looking around in the book department of one of the largest department stores in New York when he was asked by one of the clerks if he was looking for anything in particular. "No," said he, "but if you have a copy of "Josephus," I would like to look at it." Said the clerk: "I don't know whether we have it or not; but if you will tell me the author's name, I'll find out!"

In the department store where perhaps they make more of a specialty of books than in any of the others, he asked young lady clerk to show him a set of "Pepy's Diary." "You'll find them down stairs in the stationary department, Sir; we don't keep diaries here!"

BOOKS CONDEMNED TO BE BURNT. title of my book.

BY J. ANSON FARRER. (From the book, published by Elliot Stock, London)


When did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was the last book to be so treated? This is the sort of question that occurs to a rational curiosity, but it is just this sort of question to which it is often most difficult to find an answer. Historians are generally too engrossed with the details of battles, all as drearily similar to one another as scenes of murder and rapine must of necessity be, to spare a glance for the far brighter and more instructive field of the mutations or of the progress of manThe following work is an attempt to supply the deficiency on this particular subject.


I am indebted to chance for having directed me to the interest of book-burning as an episode in the history of the world's manners, the discursive allusions to it in the old numbers of "Notes and Queries" hinting to me the desirability of a more systematic mode of treatment. To bibliographers and literary historians I conceived that such a work might prove of utility and interest, and possibly serve to others as an introduction and incentive to a branch of our literary history that is not without its fascination. But I must also own to a less unselfish motive, for I imagined that not without its reward of delight would be a temporary sojourn among the books which, for their boldness of utterance or unconventional opinions, were not only not received by the best literary society of their day, but were with ignominy expelled from it. Nor was I wrong in my calculation.

Although primarily a book for the library, it is one of which no drawing-room table need be in the least afraid. If I have found anything in my condemned authors which they would have done better to have left unsaid, I have, in referring to their fortunes, felt under no compulsion to reproduce their indiscretions. But, in all of them put together, I doubt whether there is as much to offend a scrupulous taste as in many a latter-day novel, the claim of which to the distinction of burning is often as indisputable as the certainty of its regrettable immunity from that fiery but fitting fate.

But could I impart or convey the same delight to others? Clearly all that I could do was to invite them to enter on the same road, myself only subserving the humble functions of a signpost. I could avoid merely compiling for them a bibliographical dictionary, but I could not treat at length of each offender in my catalogue without, in so exhausting my subject, exhausting at the same time my reader's patience. I have tried therefore to give something of the life of their history and times to the authors with whom I came in contact; to cast a little light on the idiosyncrasies or misfortunes of this one or of that; but to do them full justice, and to enable the reader to make their complete acquaintance, how was that possible with any regard for the laws of literary proportion? All I could do was to aim at something less dull than a dictionary, but something far short of a history.

I trust that no one will be either attracted or alarmed by any anticipations suggested by the

The custom I write about suggests some obvious reflections on the mutability of our national manners. Was the wisdom of our ancestors really so much greater than our own, as many really profess to believe? If so, it is strange with how much of that wisdom we have learnt to dispense. One by one their old customs have fallen away from us, and I fancy that if any gentleman could come back to us from the seventeenth century he would be less astonished by the novel sights he would see than by the old familiar sights he would miss. He would see no one standing in the pillory, no one being burnt at a stake, no one being "swum" for witchcraft, no one's veracity being tested by torture, and, above all, no hangman burning books at Cheapside, no unfortunate authors being flogged all the way from Fleet street to Westminster. The absence of these things would probably strike him more than even the railways and the telegraph wires. Returning with his old-world ideas, he would wonder how life and property had survived the removal of their time-honored props, or how, when all fear of punishment had been removed from the press, Church and State were still where he had left them. Reflecting on these things, he would recognize the fact that he himself had been living in an age of barbarism from which we, his posterity, were in process of gradual emergence. What vistas of still further improvement would not then be conjured up before his mind!

We can hardly wonder at our ancestors burning books when we recollect their readiness to burn one another. It was not till the year 1790 that women ceased to be liable to be burnt alive for high or for petit treason, and Blackstone found nothing to say against it. He saw nothing unfair. in burning a woman for coining, but in only hanging a man. "The punishment of petit treason," he says, "in a man is to be drawn and hanged, and in a woman to be drawn and burned; the idea of which latter punishment seems to have been handed down to us by the ancient Druids, which condemned a woman to be burnt for murdering her husband, and it is now the usual pun

« PreviousContinue »