NOVELS OF THE WEEK.*
WE have no hesitation in saying that all novel-readers who love the sea, and do not object to a certain amount of coarse- ness in language and brutality in treatment—a coarseness, be it understood, which is never really base or of evil report —will be captivated by Mr. Lander's novel, The Satellite's ' Stowaway. It is true, no doubt, that the novel would never have been written, or at any rate written in its present form, but for Mr. Jacobs's delightful sea-stories, and also true that in general sentiment and in the method of attacking -the subject the influence of Mr. Kipling is strongly marked. But to say this is not to condemn the book any more than to trace the influence of his contemporaries in a painter's work is to condemn a picture. Mr. Lander is evidently .subject to the influences we have named, but he is no plagiarist, and we should in no sense be surprised were he soon to work out a more original style. It is evident that he knows the sea well, that he has a genuine sympathy for sailors and their ways, that he delights in the pathless spaces of ocean, and that he holds the good old-fashioned belief that when all is said and done the British sailor is the finest fellow in the world. But such a way of looking at things nautical is sure just now to attract the English-reading public, and we shall not be sur- prised if The Satellite's' Stowaway numbers readers by the thousand. It is a very simple, and on the face of it a very improbable, story that Mr. Lander has to tell. The 'Satellite' is a sailing ship bound for Hong-kong, and some two days out
• (1) The' Satellite's' Stowaway. By Harry Lander. London : Chapman and
HalL 6d.]--(2.) Rupert, by the Grace of God. By Dora O. McChesney. London : Macmillan and Co. [Ga]—(3.) Willoirecood. By bather Miller. LondOn : Harper and Brothers. [6s.]—(4.) Rosalba. By Olive Pratt Rayner. London : C. A. Pearson. [es.]—(5.) Jesus Delaney. By Joseph Donnelly. London : Macmillan and Co. [6s.]—(8.) Life the Modeller. By C. Gasquoine Hardy. London : John Maconeen. (Baj---(7.) The Day of Recompense. By Silas E.
Hocking. London : Frederick Warne and Co. [3s. 6d.] 8.) The Gods Saw °ghettoise. By F. H. Mill. London : F. V. White. [6s.]—(9.) Rose Deane; or, Christmas Roses. By Emma Marshall. Bristol : Arrowsmitb. Wild Humphrey Synaston. By Henry Hudson. London : Began rani, Trench, and Co. (Be.]
0 young lady makes her appearance on deck, who has contrived to stow herself away in the lazarette. She is running away from an old aunt in order to join her father, a ship's captain, at Hong-kong, and having no money, resolves to run the risk of concealing herself on a ship bound for that port. She has made plenty of voyages with her father, and is therefore afraid neither of the sea nor of sailors. It was, of course, easy to make all the officers and crew except the captain fall in love with the stowaway, but Mr. Lander has done something better than, or rather in addition to, that. With a most charming combination of humour, pathos, and romance, he shows us how the whole ship's company turn the girl into a sort of human ship's pet, vice the ship's cat, washed overboard. We shall not tell the story here, or even let our readers guess how the element of pathos comes in, but if they like plenty of low comedy in the forecastle, some stirring storm descriptions, and a great deal of breezy sea-lore, and do not mind the vein of brutal but not unwholesome coarseness we have mentioned above, by all means let them read The ' Satellite's' Stow- away. Unless we are greatly mistaken, they will like the present writer, and finish the book with that sense of exhilara- tion which comes from the reading of a high-spirited and read- able book.
In a different category from the Stowaway, but not without its element of romance and excitement, is a story of the Great Rebellion by Miss Dora McChesney. The motive of the book is a supposed Royalist plot to put Prince Rupert on the throne instead of Charles I. Unfortunately, no one can per- suade Rupert to lend himself to the scheme, or to do anything but ran every one who suggests it through the body. We have nothing but admiration for the opening scene of the story, with its description of the taking and retaking of an old manor house. The Cavaliers are the first victors, but are surprised when holding high revel in the chapel of the house by a party of Roundheads. The Royalist hero, Will Fortescue, has happened on the struggle unexpectedly, and unknown to either friends or foes, he lies perdu in a side-chapel. There he discovers that what he takes at first to be an alabaster figure lying stretched on a tomb is really a beautiful young lady, who, though a Royalist, is afraid of the rough men-at-arms of both sides, and prefers to seek safety with the dead. The changing fortunes of the fight, in which she plays her part as an apparition, are ex- cellently described, as is the final escape with Will. The rest of the book, though very fair reading, sticks a little, and cannot be said to equal in vividness this excellent intro- duction.
It will not be the fault of the author if the readers of Willowwood do not obey Rossetti's adjuration, and " walk with hollow faces burning white," for, though powerful, it really is a most unpleasant work. It is a. pity that a writer who pos- sesses so vivid a pen as Esther Miller should choose to present as heroine a woman without either a spark of the commonest morality or a glimmer of human kindliness. The story is of a certain Frances Deltry, happily married to a soldier at the Cape. The unfortunate man is severely disfigured by a dynamite explosion, and his wife, unable to bear his repulsive appearance, departs to England, both of them knowing that, although it almost breaks the poor man's heart, she will never live with him again. There may quite possibly be women whose delicate nerves would force them to behave in this fashion, but it is almost inconceivable that, pretending widow- hood, Frances should actually marry an amiable literary man she chances to meet at the seaside. The book is well written, and the author tries hard to convince the reader of the reality of the hideous doings she relates. But the character of the heroine may be completely summed up in a certain brief and brutal sentence of Dr. Johnson's,—un- quotable here.
But for an irritating habit of the author's of addressing her readers in parentheses as very stupid, naughty children, Rosalba would be quite an interesting story. Some people (unworthily uncertain of the reality of Nature's gentlefolks) may be doubtful whether trailing across Europe at the tail of an itinerant scissors - grinder would tend to great elegance and polish of manner, in later life especially, in a young lady. But after reading Willowwood we rejoice when we can say of a book, as the French- man said of the Academy, " Au moins e'eat gai." And Rosalba, if not very probable, is at least readable and lively.
Rather out of the common run, and therefore more interesting to the glutted novel-reader, is Jesus Delaney, a story of life in Mexico. We must, however, protest against the title. To put it on no higher ground, it is in execrable taste. The description of " Jesus Delaney," generally called by his first name alone, leading political movements, performing at a ball-fight as a matador, Scc., does more than jar. The novel itself, as a picture of life in modern Mexico, is both curious and interesting. The reader is left with a pleasing sense of uncertainty as to whether the American missionary (usually addressed as "the Reverend Lamb ") is or is not intended to be a hypocrite of the deepest dye ; but it is quite clear that Mrs. Lamb is intended for the moving spirit and good angel of the mission. The book may be taken as an exemplification of the proverb about a silk purse, and the character of the Mexican hero, " Jesus Delaney," is very cleverly given. Beginning as the prize native semi-missionary, he is tossed by every passing emotion—love, patriotism, religion—into becoming for the moment a fanatic in the passion of the moment. Through it all he remains a loveable creature, and it is with regret that we leave him, quite happy and satisfied, as a common soldier in the Mexican Army.
If, as Mrs. Poyser says, it could be " hatched again and hatched different," Life the Modeller might be a very good book. Unfortunately, the very promising beginning tails off into utter commonplaceness. The clever sketch of Mary Braithwaite, the original and well-educated daughter of a rich very middle- class shopkeeper, is never developed ; and Mary, the only in- teresting person in the book, almost disappears after Part I. The heroine, Margaret Harvey, is of the usual stuff of which all heroines are made, and unluckily the germ of original description of the Braithwaite family perishes of inanition before the well-worn mischances and cross-currents of Margaret's love affairs. In a word, this is a clever book manqué.
Mr. Hocking is too anxious to make our flesh creep in hie latest work, The Day of Recompense, to care about such a trifle as probability. Even a very spendthrift, elderly Captain would hesitate before deliberately ordering his retainers to murder his nephew in order that he might inherit a baronetcy and estate, and the escape of the said nephew after being thrown down a well strains the reader's powers of belief not a little. The indispensable "love" interest is positively banal in its commonplaceness.
A sombre story is The Gods Saw Otherwise, with much about madness and lunatic asylums. Included in the dramatis personx are a madman, his son, who goes mad at the end of the book, and his sister, whose habits are so eccentric as to make her nearly mad too. Truly " a mad world, my masters." The heroine, Muriel Granton, is the orphan daughter of a mad-doctor, who was killed by the original and maddest madman, " Mr. Brasier." Muriel's own rather commonplace little love story is quite a relief in this uncomfortable atmosphere.
A strong contrast to these horrors is Rose Deane, an ultra- sentimental little story, in which, for no reason at all, the perfectly healthy heroine droops and dies, not able to get over the " shock " of a burn on her hand. Most of the characters pass their time in tears, and a rather irrelevant deathbed is dragged in at the beginning of the book apparently for what a Philistine might call the fun of it. The daughter- in-law, Caroline, is a clever sketch of an intolerable woman, and in spite of its lachrymose tendencies the novel is easy reading.
iVild Humphrey Kynaston is a romance of a highwayman in the days of Henry VII. The author disarms criticism in the preface by craving the indulgence of a critical public, probably on the ground of inexperience. No one can make a highwayman's adventures altogether dull, even though the reader is not spared the inevitable and incomparable high- wayman's mare. The book, however, is not specially improved by a portrait of the author, and two (one in full uniform) of the gentleman, Lieutenant-Colonel Thorneycroft, to whom the work is dedicated.