NOVELS OF THE WEEK.*
Mn. LYSAGHT'S new novel is admirably designed to illustrate the drawbacks of the universal application of the one-volume system, its dimensions involving the employment of painfully small type. Formerly, when publishers had the option of issuing fiction in one, two, or three volumes, they were able to show some consideration for the eyesight of the public. But now if an author is disposed to give full measure, a crowded page is inevitable. If it had been possible to read One of the Grenvilles in the same type as The Treasury Officer's Wooing (published by the same firm and noticed in these columns last week), its originality and charm would have been greatly enhanced, but even in its present format it has proved a welcome oasis in the progress of at least one reviewer through the never-ending Sahara of modern fiction. It is, as we have said, of a length that would be formidable but for the quality of the entertainment ; it is leisurely in its movement, though the action is spread over a number of years and two genera- tions of dramatis persona are engaged; and it is somewhat over-discursive in style. Furthermore, the removal of the hero from the scene for seven out of the first twelve chapters, though logical enough, gives his competitors for the affections of the reader, and in particular his uncle, a start which Martin Grenville never quite makes up. Turning to the motive of the plot, we cannot better the description given by the author when he says that "it was a strange thing that for the sake of the good name of one weak lovable woman brothers of two generations should have hated each other and • (1.) One of the Grenvilles. By Sidney Royee Lyeaght. London : Macmillan and 0o. [Bel —(24 The Amateur Cracksman. By R. W. Hornung. London Methuen and 0o. [Us.] —(3.) Miss Nanse. By Sarah Tytler. London: John Long. (3e. $1.1-14.) The Mormon Prophet. By L. Dougell. London : A. and 0. Black. [68.]—(5.) Young Lines. By Richard Le Gallieune. Bristol : J. W. Arrowsmitb. [68.]—(13.) The President of Soravia. By George Lambert. London: (Matto and Windue. [3s. 6d.l—f7.) The Bapin. By Henry de Vera Btacpoole. London : Heinemann. [6e.]—(8.) A Stolen Idea. By Elizabeth Godfrey. London: Jerrold and Bons. [6e.]—(9.) Shanghaied. By Frank Norris. London : Grant Richards. [3s. 6d.]—(10.) An Opera and Lady Grasmere. By Albert Kinross. Bristol; J. W. Arrowsmith. [3s. &Li—M.) Many Ways of Love. By Fred Whishaw. London; J. X. Dent and 00. Os. 6d.1 sworn that they would never forgive." The generous rivalry of Captain Grenville and his brother Sir Henry for the hand of the Marchesa Alessano is turned to implacable resentment by the stolen march of the elder brother, and the feud is perpetuated by Sir Henry's treatment of his illegitimate son Martin, who subsequently effaces himself on his rescue from captivity in the Soudan, with the consent of his younger brother, rather than publish the shame of his dead mother. Painful and hazardous as are the crucial situations of the plot, they are redeemed from offence by the artistic reserve and good taste of their treatment, while welcome relief, humorous, satirical, and sentimental, is furnished by Mr. Lysaght's incisive portraiture of a number of characteristic types of modern society, English and Irish, gentle and ag- gressive, idealist and utilitarian, aristocratic and parvenu. Sir Parkes Macey, the Pecksniffian manufacturer who de- clares that "England's greatness is founded on the poverty of the working classes"; and the Colonial Bishop who concludes all his remarks on any subject by an index word, e.g., "I love the squirrel. The squirrel is the schoolboy of the English woods. My brother had a white squirrel to which he was devotedly attached—Squirrels,"----are entertaining rather than convincing figures. But the two prime donne, so to speak, Nancy Gifford and Creina Moriarty, are admirable representatives of English frankness and Celtic glamour ; and the old Captain and his two cronies are as attractive a bachelor trio of genial eccentrics as we have encountered for a long time. We note, in conclusion, that although Mr. Lysaght is at times a severe critic of the English character, he has a fine appreciation of British grit, a sound view of the responsibilities of "the white man's burden," and a wholesome contempt for the millionaire*as hero.
The detective as hero has been very prominent of late years. It has been reserved for Mr. Hornung to show us the other side of the medal in The Amateur Cracksman, which stern moralists will hardly fail to reprobate as a new, ingenious, artistic, but most reprehensible application of the crude principles involved in the old-fashioned hero-worship of Jack Sheppard and Dick Tarpin. The narrator is a young man about town, who, having already overdrawn his account and lost heavily at a gambling party in the rooms of a school friend, settles his debts of honour with cheques which he knows must be dishonoured, and returns when the other guests have de- parted to confess his misdemeanour to his host and throw him- self on his mercy. Raffles—the host in question—promises to raise the money and see his friend through, after confessing that he too is at the end of his resources; exacts a promise of unflinching obedience; and straightway inveigles his partner into assisting in a most audacious burglary at a Bond Street jeweller's. The remainder of the volume is occupied with the record of their subsequent villainies, and piquancy is lent to the recital by the fact that Raffles, by virtue of his personal charm, his good looks, and his prowess as a cricketer, is a persona gratissima in the best society, and thus enjoys exceptional opportunities for the gratifying of his predatory instincts. More than this, he always approaches his task in the spirit of the artist, scorning the facile acquisi- tion of petty cash, finding irresistible incentives in the presence of difficulty and danger, and never so well-pleased as when he is wiping the eye of the professional burglar. The episode in Lord A.mersham's country house, where Raffles and his accomplice are staying for a cricket week, and cut out a pro- fessional gang of thieves under the nose of the detective from Scotland Yard who is passing himself off as one of the house-party, is admirably told ; but the beat chapter of all is that in which Raffles tells the story of his first burglary, committed when a member of an English cricket team in Australia. No one, we may incidentally remark, has made happier use of the actualities of cricket in fiction than Mr. Hornung, unless it be Mr. Horace Hutchinson. Here, for example, is Raffies's description of an Australian bank- manager :—" He was a convivial-looking party, with a red moustache, a very humorous face (not unlike Tom Emmett's),
and a treble-seamed, hand-sewn head." It is only fair to Mr. Hornung to add that in the long-run dire disaster befalls Raffles and his comrade. Still we cannot refrain from expressing our satisfaction that this audaciously entertaining volume is not issued in a cheap form. It is emphatically a feat of virtuosity rather than a tribute to virtue.
Miss Tytler gives us in Miss Na use a curious and at times fascinating study of manners in a Scottish seaport town half a century back. The mechanism of the plot—the mysterious foundling with his undecipherable papers and Oriental heirlooms—and the courtship of the young lovers are of slight interest. But the two elderly ladies—daughters of a former Provost of the town—reduced by their father's failure to set up as dressmakers, more than compensate for these shortcomings. One is reminded of Cranford, not only by the chance resemblance of names—one of the sisters is a Miss Mattie—or by the return of the brothers from India, but by the delicacy and humour with which the homely dignity of provincial gentlewomen is set before us. If a reviewer may be permitted to make such a suggestion, it is that the book ought to have been called "The Return of the Nabobs," since that is the crucial event in the story. The Provost's two elder sons, having rebuilt the fortunes of the family in India, return as elderly men, and take up the role of domestic tyrants for the nominal benefit of their sisters. The dressmaking establishment is broken up, and Miss Mattie and Miss Nanse are dragooned into the reassump- tion of their proper position in society. Their favourite niece, the daughter of another brother—the skipper of a trading vessel—who had lost caste in the eyes of the Nabobs by his choice of so undignified a calling, is similarly harassed and "regulated"; in short, this accession of wealth by no means conduces to the peace of mind of the ladies of the house of Fotheringham. It has, however, its good results in bringing to a bead the patriarchal courtship of Miss Nanse by an elderly admirer whom the Nabobs have done their best to suppress, and indirectly solving the vexed problem of the foundling's paternity. By way of a foil to the more genial characters of the plot, Miss Tytler gives us some land glimpses into the menage of Cathcart Ruthven, a wild rake of the sinister type peculiar to Scotland, and a striking portrait of the heroine's handsome, domineering orphan cousin, "Prideful Patrice," who, though reduced to poverty, had refused to join in the dressmaking business, and set up on her own account as shroud-maker for the town.
Mormonism is not ordinarily regarded as capable of roman- tic treatment, but in the hands of the author of Beggars All it has yielded results which are calculated to attract the general public as well as the student of psychology. Miss Dougall does well to remind her readers at the outset that Joseph Smith, who never saw Utah, and whose public teach- ing was for the most part void of reproach, is revered by the Mormons as their only prophet, and that a large division of the latter-day saints of to-day, the " Smithite Mormons" as they are called, regard Brigham Young as a usurper, and are strictly monogamous. Allowing herself the necessary latitude in dealing with incidents, Miss Dougall has en- deavoured to present Smith's character as she found it in his own writings, in those of his contemporaries, and in the memories of the older inhabitants of Kirtland, Ohio, where the prophet fixed his headquarters in 1831. Her conclusions are worth quoting from the preface,—viz., that the prophet's life is "more marvellous and more instructive than the book whose production was accounted its chief triumph," and that Smith was "genuinely deluded by the automatic freaks of a vigorous but undisciplined brain, and that yielding to these, he became confirmed in the hysterical tempera- ment which always adds to delusion self-deception, and to self-deception half-conscious fraud." In the course of the narrative she renders full justice to his "huge courage," his indomitable perseverance, and his kindliness, without minimising the coarser aspects of his nature. He is happily described in his mid-career as "like a child playing among awful forces—clever enough often to control them, to the amazement of himself and others, but never compre- hending the force he used ; often naughty ; on the whole, a
well-intentioned child. But childishness combined with power is a more difficult conception for the common mind than rank hypocrisy." Although Joseph Smith is the most striking figure in this very interesting historical romance, the sympathy of the reader is concentrated on the fascinating personality of the heroine, an orphan girl who, moved more by resentment at the cruel and un-Christien persecution of the Mormons than by any belief in their doctrines, deserts her natural protectors, casts in her lot with
the Smiths, and becomes the wife of the most visionary and saintly of his followers. Still, though hypnotised to a certain extent by the masterful will of the prophet, Susannah remains a sceptics throughout. The force of association is strong, however, and the links of common suffering—her husband and child are brutally slain before her eyes in an anti- Mormon rising—bind her to the sect until the prophet makes bigamous overtures to her at Nauvoo, and she flies for her life before the vindictive hostility aroused by her refusal. Miss Dongall has handled a difficult theme with conspicuous delicacy ; the most sordid details of the narrative are redeemed by the glamour of her style, her analysis of the strangely mixed character of the prophet is remarkable for its detachment and impartiality, while in Susannah Halsey she has given us a really beautiful study of nobly com- passionate womanhood. We certainly know of no more illuminative commentary on the rise of this extraordinary sect than is furnished by Miss Dongall's novel.
Mr. George Lambert introduces us in The President of Boravia to a type of ruler unfamiliar to students of the politics of South America, where the scene is laid. For da Piera, on the expulsion of his Sovereign, accepts the Presidentship simply in order to compass the restoration of the monarchy. To achieve this end the necessary sinews of war are provided by an English engineer, who discovers a hidden treasure of the Jesuits, and marries the Presi- dent's beautiful daughter. Mr. Lambert tells his story in a brisk, straightforward manner, without any special distinc- tion of style or characterisation.—Mr. Stacpoole unveils the gilded rottenness of Parisian high life in The .Rapin more in the spirit of the showman than the satirist. This is just the sort of book that justifies "Mr Dooley's" re- mark that the favourite drink of the French is what he calls " obscenthe."—Mr. Le Gallienne's romance of middle-class life in Liverpool shows a slight advance in taste and the literary exploitation of lingerie on his earlier efforts. It deals with the fortunes of a revolting son and minor poet, who loves a young lady called Angelica, who in turn is unjustly jealous of another lady called Myrtilla. For the rest, there is a great deal of love, kisses, saccharine sentiment, and finical facetiousness. If a reader wants to enjoy Dr. Johnson, or Dryden, or Sir Walter Scott, ten pages of Young Lives will serve as an admirable appetiser. —Delicia Watson, the heroine of A Mt:den Idea, is an aspiring authoress, who steals the plot of a story which has fallen into her hands, and afterwards steals the author's heart. Her subsequent confession produces an estrangement, but in the end her remorse and humiliation win ample for- giveness. To a journalist novels which deal thus freely in the " ahoppy " side of the profession of authorship are some- what fatiguing. We shall soon have a romance with a literary agent as chief villain.—Shanghaied is a strange tale of a young Californian dandy, fresh from Yale, who is drugged in a San Francisco crimping-house and carried off to sea in a pirate schooner. His strange alliance with a Norwegian Amazon, rescued from a derelict, supplies an element of barbaric romance in a narrative which reminds one in its main motive of Mr. Kipling's Captains Courageous.—In An Opera and Lady Grasmere, as in Mr. Dircks's The Libretto, noticed in these columns a couple of weeks ago, we find a modern instance of the Greek saying faoyeaci)v "Elia; Salcieagi. The hero's first opera is stolen and produced by another man, but he is rewarded by winning the heart of the Countess of Grasmere, who, with a self-sacrifice rare in real life, surrenders her title on her marriage to a commoner.—Mr. Whishaw gives us a pleasant, if somewhat attenuated, romance of the Court of Catherine the Great in Many Ways of Love. The heroine is Catherine's maid-of-honour, and her lover—a German Count of Scottish extraction—suffers as much from the favours as from the persecutions of the Muscovite Semiramis.