Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/110

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readers is Prof. Gilbert Murray's ' The Conception of Another Life.' The paragraphs upon the mysteries, summing up our present knowledge with the writer's well-known gracefulness, which is enhanced by no little interpretative originality, ,re much better, we think, than the paragraphs supposed to deal with the validity of the conception in question, which are remarkably slight. Dr. Hag- berg Wright treats pleasantly an unhackneyed but somewhat barren subject in 'Italian Epithalamia.' Mr. Gosse in 'The Napoleonic Wars in English Poetry ' has given us a delightful study, composed, however, of very slender materials. Our non- combatant forefathers seem to have been more nearly overwhelmed by the struggle between Eng- land and France, and the prospect of invasion, than we ourselves are by the present state of things. Exclusive of mere records in verse, the output of our own poets upon the war must already nearly equal in volume the slender output of a century or so ago on the Napoleonic campaigns, though we have not yet equalled in quality what Mr. Gosse justly calls "the most important English con- tribution made to the poetry of war" during the period, Wordsworth's 'Character of the Happy Warrior,' nor yet ' The Burial of Sir John Moore.' We have, however, also escaped falling "half so flat as Walter Scott" so far as names whose resounding at all approaches his are concerned. Mr. Gosse says that the Napoleonic war has had to wait till ' The Dynasts '

to be celebrated by "a panorama not unworthy

of its stupendous issues." There may, perhaps, be found critics who think that even ' The Dynasts ' does not quite come up to this praise, but none will dispute either that contemporary poetry, despite much that was vigorous and interesting, was on the whole inadequate, or that we too are likely to be judged as inadequate in this respect by our posterity. Yet, recalling the verse of a hundred years ago, it seems our average produc- tion in itself is somewhat stronger, carries deeper insight, and breathes a more reflective, but not less hardy courage than the average of those days, while it is almost entirely free from the old frigid Abstractions since then become worse than banal.

PART II. of The Quarterly Review for January is ^devoted to the war, with the exception of Prof. Paxson's account of the New American History, and Mr. Percy Lubbock's study of the novels of Mrs. Wharton. Prof. Paxson's is a most sugges- tive and instructive paper on a subject which every decade makes of greater importance. With so considerable a variety and complexity at the surface, America so far has, to European eyes, lacked what we may call depth. This is no new remark ; it will probably be new to many readers that, as to history, at any rate, the defect has begun in some perceptible degree to be supplied. Mrs. Wharton should feel gratified at having engaged the attention of so painstaking, in- genious, and sympathetic a critic as Mr. Lubbock, one, too, whose taking her work seriously, as he does, must stimulate alike her own inventive- ness and the interest of her readers. It may, perhaps, be said that her own function in American literature is akin to that of the newer American historian the rendering perceptible a gradual deepening of shallows. Of the other papers, Mr. Th. Baty contributes a paper on the neutrality of Belgium very much worth noting, and

Sir Valentine Chirol, writiner on * Turkey in the Grip of Germany,' gives us again an article which should not be missed.

THE contents of the January Antiquary (Elliot Stock, Qd.) include a paper by Dr. Francis Villy on the Roman roads of the West Biding, illustrated by a map of the district involved. Dr. Cox discourses on Louvain, the " mother of Brussels." He traces its history from. 891, when it possessed a castle or citadel, and a collegiate church (dedicated to St. Peter) of considerable size. He also gives particulars (derived from eyewitnesses) of the ruthless way in which the glorious library of 150,000 volumes, with its

griceless manuscripts, was destroyed by the ermans, and reminds his readers how different was the conduct of the French Revolutionists in 1793 when they occupied Brussels. They sent the choicest books and manuscripts to Pan- ; and when the Allies occupied that city in 18 If, the treasures were restored. Tancarville Castle in Upper Normandy, is described by M. Charl .- Roessler de Graville ; and the article is illustrate I by a pen-and-ink sketch made by him in 1868.

Mr. J. Reid Moir, through the courtesy of Dr Reck, has been able to study his report on tin prehistoric human skeleton discovered by him in the Oldoway ravine in German East Africa. Mr. Moir says that " when Dr. Reek's full account of the Oldoway excavations is published, the antiquity of the modern type of man will be generally accepted by all those who regard this question from an unbiased and unprejudiced standpoint."

Congratulations, in which we join, are offered to Dr. Mahaffy on his becoming Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. At the close of the meeting of the Irish Academy held on November 30th, Dr. Elrington Ball remarked that it was the first time that a Provost of Trinity College had occupied the position of President of the Academy. The Provost characteristically expressed his thanks in a brief sentence.


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