19 NOVEMBER 1881, Page 24


Aunt Judy's Volume for 1881; and Aunt Judy's New Series, First Number.—It is a year since we noticed Aunt Judy. Her Christmas volume is before us ; not a Christmas volume in the modern sense of a "Christmas Number," because it is merely the monthly numbers, for the past year, collected and bound. Aunt Judy is a good, old- -fashioned lady, who does not give in to ephemeral literature, bat saves up her valuable periodicals, and has them prettily bound, at Christmas, for her young friends. The volume before us is as full of interesting stories, instructive papers, useful information, and beautiful illustra- tions, as usual. The leading story of the year is "Hector," by Flora L. Shaw ; one of striking originality, and containing sketches of two very lovable children ; but the little boy is much too wise for his years, and enters, quite precociously, into the feelings of the lovers ; and while seeing, so very clearly, the more subtle duties of a grown man, overlooks, quite marvellously, the self-evident duty of child- ren—obedience to those set immediately over them. The idea of blending a love-story, in which children are the agents, with the account of child-life in the country is original, but it has been impossible to make it natural. The philosophy, too, is more than questionable. Grandmere's teaching that the good are always happy is very false, in the sense in which a child, or indeed any one, understands earthly happiness; and again, that the .lesson of the woods is that of respect for the life and happiness of ethers, is very doubtful. Might we not say, with more apparent truthfulness, that the lesson they taught was one solely of self-con- sideration ? Does not the whole animal creation prey upon itself—the life of the individual or its offspring being its sole object ? The high estimate of the soldiery, again, is amusingly above the truth. The story is, in fact, a very picturesque and very original, but very faulty one. The scenes in the forest are delightful, and the incidents sufficiently exciting, after the opening chapters which drag. The latter ones, on the other hand, are too hasty, leaving many points uncleared up. Miss Kingsley's descriptions of the Far West are very graphic. The natural-history papers, too, are good, notably one in the March number, on "Bird Nurseries." Mr. Gatty's songs are often amusing—the one called " He, She, It," especially ; we wish it had been longer, and revealed the future fate of little "It." The philan- thropic papers, by Mr. Hope, are as useful as they are interesting. Mrs. Ewing's verses, called "Blue and Red," are very comic and spirited, defiant as they are of ordinary rhythm. But we heartily wish that the instructive papers were a less intrusive feature. The eight " Letters on Penmanship " have simply bored us to death, nor can we honestly say that we believe they will do any good. We hailed, therefore, with pleasure, the announcement of a new series of Aunt Judy, the first number of which is now before us. The very cover is a promise of more lightness and brightness and humour. Instead of a few outlined faces on a cold, grey-green ground, we have a happy family tennis-party—drawn by Caldecott—on a warm-toned yellow ground, standing under the trees on a lawn, and round an old lady, the personification of kindness and intelligence. The postman is retreating, having just left this very number of this very magazine. David Bogue is the publisher, and the list of promised contributors contains names that are a guarantee in themielves,—some of old friends to Aunt Judy, like Mrs. Ewing, Miss Peard, Mrs. Gatty, and others ; and some new ones, amongst which we notice especially that of Mrs. Moleswortb, so well known as a writer for children. This first number contains an admirable and complete story by Mrs. Ewing—cheerful, interesting, and high-toned, as usual ; and illustrated by a capital coloured picture by Caldecott—and the beginning of a promising one by the author of "Hector." Then follows a most in- teresting and well-written sketch of Charles and Mary Lamb's lives, which, nevertheless, should not have been given to young people. It is a most distressing subject, and exposes facts which, until quite re- cently, have been concealed altogether from the public, and which are certainly most undesirable mental food for sensitive and impression- able young people. Such papers as Mr. Gatty's on " Bulbs " are prompted by thoughtful kindness, and are very useful ; but we confess we cannot say as much for four pages on so insignificant a subject as "Japanese Netsukes." As in the old series, Aunt Judy de- votes much space to valuable information on the Ormond-Street Children's Hospital, and stimulates public feeling in favour of the good work, by interesting details of some of the poor little sufferers. It appears that there is a society—formed for providing material, and making it up into garments for the sick and convalescent children,— started in May last, and already numbering 289 members. Before we part with Aunt Judy and her new series, let us ask two things of the contributors to its pages. The first is, that they will keep up the character of English literature, and write classical and careful English, for the style is liable to a great falling-off in these days of universal authorship, when there is a consequent tendency to uphold the "elas- ticity," as it is called, of the language. Aunt Judy's writers are not at all above criticism in this respect. Our second suggestion is that they will not be too patronising to their young readers. We notice this manner frequently; such little remarks as the following are common,—" All of whose works you will read for yourself, some day." The insinuation of present ignorance, and the preaching of future duties, do not cheer the spirit of the young reader.